Marx-Engels Correspondence 1856

Karl Marx to Friedrich Engels in Manchester, 30 October 1856

Source: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975). Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

... In Mieroslawski [1] you will notice yourself: 1) that the same person who considers ‘a diplomatic kingdom’ in Poland impossible wanted to make there ‘a diplomatic revolution’, that is, under the auspices of Louis Bonaparte and Palmerston; 2) that the fate of the ‘democratic’ Lechitic community was inevitable. The dominium proper is usurped by the crown, the aristocracy, etc; the patriarchal relations between the dominium and the peasant communities lead to serfdom; optional parcellation creates a sort of peasant middle class, the Equestrian Order, [2] to which the peasant can rise only so long as war of conquest and colonisation continue, both of which, however, are also conditions which accelerate his downfall. As soon as the limit has been reached this Equestrian Order, incapable of playing the role of a real middle class, is transformed into the lumpen-proletariat of the aristocracy. The dominium and the peasants among the Latin population of Moldavia, Walachia, etc, have a similar fate. This kind of development is interesting because here serfdom can be shown to have arisen in a purely economic way, without the intermediate link of conquest and racial dualism...


1. Ludwig Mieroslawski, De la nationalité polonaise dans l'équilibre européen (The Polish Nation Within the European Balance of Power). Ludwik Adam Mieroslawski (1814-1878) – Polish politician and military figure, took part in Polish uprising of 1830-31, headed uprising in Poznan (1848), during Baden-Palatinate insurrection was in command of revolutionary army (1849), in 1850s sought support in Bonapartist circles, at beginning of Polish uprising of 1863 was in command of insurgent detachment, later emigrated to France – Progress Publishers.

2. Rich citizens who formed a special, privileged group of the population and whose duty it was to serve in the cavalry were called equites in the early stages of Ancient Roman history. Members of the trading and moneylending strata of Roman slave-holders who belonged to the Equestrian Order subsequently adopted this name – Progress Publishers.