Marx Engels Correspondence 1864

Marx to Engels
London, November 4 1864

Source: Labour Monthly, July 1923, pp. 229-236, “Further Selection from the Literary Remains of Karl Marx,” Translated[1] and Annotated by Max Beer;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

The following fragment forms part of a letter written by Marx to his friend Frederick Engels, in Manchester, telling him of the foundation of the International and particularly the drafting of the Inaugural Address and the Rules of the new association. This letter shows at the same time the great importance which Marx attached to any forward movement of organised Labour. Of interest are likewise his critical remarks about the ethical appeals to society.

The other part of the letter deals with Bakunin, who had paid a visit to Marx, after an interval of sixteen years. Marx speaks of the excellent impression which Bakunin made upon him and also of some conversation with him concerning the denunciation which David Urquhart had published.

From the same letter it is further evident that Marx had contributed economic articles to Ernest Jones’s Notes to the People in the years 1851 and 1852.

London, November 4, 1864.

DEAR FREDERICK, – .... Some time ago London workmen sent to their Paris friends an address concerning Poland and invited common action in this matter. Whereupon the Parisians sent to London a delegation, headed by M. Tolain, the Labour candidate at the last Paris election, a decent fellow. A public meeting was arranged for September 24, at St. Martin’s Hall, by Mr. Odger, a shoemaker, chairman of the Council of All London Trades Unions (also of the Trades Unions. Suffrage Agitation Society, which is connected with Mr. Bright), and by Mr. Randall Cremer, mason, secretary of his union. (Those two Labour leaders had arranged the great meeting of the trade unions in favour of the Northern States of U.S.A., which was held under the chairmanship of Bright at St. James’s Hall, likewise the Garibaldi Demonstration.) A certain Le Lubez, a Frenchman who speaks an excellent English, was sent to me to inquire whether I would take part on behalf of the German workmen, and send a German workman to speak in that meeting. I sent Eccarius[2] who acquitted himself exceedingly well, while I assisted as a dumb figure on the platform. I was aware that this time it was no sham affair, but that on the part of London and Paris Labour there came real ‘powers’ into play. I therefore made an exception to my rule and did not decline the invitation.

At the meeting, which was crowded to suffocation, for there is evidently a revival of the working classes taking place, Major Wolff (Thurn-Taxis, the adjutant of Garibaldi) represented the London Italian Working-men’s Society. A resolution was carried to establish a Working-men’s International Association, the General Council of which should have its headquarters in London and should serve as intermediary between the workmen’s societies in Germany, Italy, France, and England. It was resolved also to hold a general Labour congress in Belgium. The meeting appointed a provisional committee; Odger, Cremer, and several others – partly old Chartists, old Owenites, & c. – for England; Major Wolff, Fontana, and other Italians for Italy; Le Lubez, & c., for France; Eccarius and myself for Germany. The committee was empowered to co-opt a certain number of members.

So far so good. I attended the first meeting of the committee. A sub-committee (myself included) was appointed for the purpose of drafting a declaration of principles and provisional rules. Illness prevented my being present both at the meeting of the subcommittee and the subsequent meeting of the provisional committee. I learned, however, that the following occurred in those two meetings: Major Wolff moved that the rules which he had drafted for the Italian Working-men’s Societies should serve as material for the drafting of the rules of our new Association. I saw the stuff later. It was evidently the work of Mazzini, from which you may infer the spirit and phraseology, in which the real question, the Labour question, was treated. Likewise, how the nationalist business was shoved in. Then Mr. Weston, an old Owenite, now a manufacturer, a very amiable and good fellow, submitted his own programme, an extremely confused document and of unconscionable length.

The provisional committee, to whom those documents were submitted, instructed the sub-committee to recast the Weston and Wolff papers. Wolff himself left for Naples to attend there the Congress of the Italian Working-men’s Societies and to get the latter to join our Association.

There was again a sub-committee meeting, which I failed to attend, owing to the invitation having reached me too late. Le Lubez submitted a declaration of principles and the remodelled Wolff rules, which were adopted for consideration of the provisional Committee. The latter met on October 18. Eccarius having informed me that there was danger in delay, I attended that meeting and listened with dismay to the reading of the paper which Le Lubez had prepared and which was purported to be a preamble to the declaration of principles. It was a Mazzinian pie, covered with crusts of. French socialism. The rules of Wolff were likewise adopted, which, apart from all other defects, were quite impossible, since they presupposed a sort of central government (of course, with Mazzini in the background) of the European working classes. I mildly opposed, and after a discursive debate Eccarius moved that the sub-committee should again recast the rules. On the other hand, the “sentiments” of Le Lubez were adopted.

Two days later, on October 20, Cremer, Fontana, and Le Lubez came to my house concerning the recasting of the rules. As I had not had the papers of Le Lubez and Wolff in my hands before, I could not prepare anything, but I was determined from the outset to consign the whole stuff to the waste-paper basket. In order to gain time I proposed to discuss first the rules. We settled down to a discussion, and it was 1 o’clock a.m. when we got through the first of the forty rules. Cremer then proposed that the meeting of the provisional committee which had to take place on October 25 should be postponed to November 1, when he hoped we should be prepared to put something definite before the meeting. All the papers were left to me, which I then put aside, and I wrote ‘An Address to the Working Classes,’[3] a sort of review of the adventures of the working classes since 1845. Instead of the forty rules I put ten. As far as foreign affairs are touched upon I speak of countries and not of nationalities, and I denounce Russia and not the smaller fry. The sub-committee approved my draft, but I was obliged to put into the preamble of the rules two phrases about ‘duty’ and ‘right,’ likewise about ‘truth, morality, justice,’ which, however, are so placed that they can do no harm.

The provisional (now general) committee adopted my drafts unanimously and with great enthusiasm. Le Lubez was instructed to translate the ‘Address’ into French and Fontana into Italian. Potter’s Beehive is meanwhile our official organ. I have to translate the ‘Address’ into German.

It was very difficult to write the thing in such a manner that our views should be published in a form which would be acceptable to the present point of view of the Labour movement. The same people, on whose behalf I wrote the ‘Address,’ will in a few weeks hold meetings under the auspices of Cobden and Bright. It needs time before the revived movement will permit of the old boldness of speech. It was therefore necessary to be fortiter in re, suaviter in modo.[4] As soon as the stuff is printed, you will get it. ...

1. Marx and Engels, Briefwechsel, vol. iii, p.188.

2. J. G. Eccarius, a German tailor, who lived in London from about 1850 till his death in 1890. He published a pamphlet in criticism of J.S. Mill’s “Political Economy” and was Labour correspondent of The Times during the First International.

3. Since then known as the “Inaugural Address.”

4. Uncompromising as to principle, conciliatory as to form.