The International Workingmen's Association

Statement on Der Social-Demokrat

Written: on February 6, 1865;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Bd. 3, Stuttgart, 1913;
Translated: by Barrie Selman.

In No. 16 of your newspaper Herr M. Hess from Paris casts suspicion on the French members, with whom he is entirely unacquainted, of the London Central Committee of the International Working Men's Association with the words:

"There is really no knowing whether it would matter if some friends of the Palais-Royal [1] also belonged to the London Association, since it is a public one, etc."

In an earlier issue[2] , while prattling about the newspaper L 'Association, the same Herr M. H. made similar insinuations about the Paris friends of the London Committee. We declare his insinuations to be preposterous slander.

For the rest, we are glad to find in this incident confirmation of our conviction that the Paris proletariat is as irreconcilably opposed as ever to Bonapartism in both its forms, the Tuileries form [3] and the form of the Palais-Royal, and never for a moment considered the plan of selling its historical honour (or should we, instead of "its historical honour", say "its historical birthright as bearer of revolution"?) for a mess of pottage. We recommend this example to the German workers.

London and Manchester


1 An allusion to Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon lII's cousin nicknamed Plon-Plon. Palais-Royal was his residence.

2 Der Social-Demokrat, No. 8, January 13, 1865.

3 An allusion to Napoleon III whose residence was the Tuileries. -- Ed

Background: This statement was written by Marx and sent to Engels for his signature on February 6 1865. By that time, they were convinced that Schweitzer, the newspaper's editor, was continuing Lassalle's policy of flirting with the Bismarck Government and was acting in accordance with Lassalle's dogmas, treating the workers' movement in other countries with nationalist contempt. Marx and Engels regarded their statement as a warning to Schweitzer. It was prompted by an item in Der Social-Demokrat of February 1 which was written by the newspaper's Paris correspondent, Moses Hess, who libellously accused French members of the International of being in contact with Bonapartists.

The criticism by Marx and Engels compelled the editors to change the newspaper's tone to some extent. Issue No. 21 of February 12 1865 carried an item by Hess in which he withdrew his assertions. For that reason, Marx and Engels did not insist on the publication of this statement; at the same times, as is seem from Marx's letter to Engels of February 13, 1865, they decided to stop contributing to the newspaper for the time being. Marx and Engels announced their final break with Der Social-Demokrat on February 23. The text of the statement sent to Schweitzer has not survived. It is published here according to the rough manuscript attached to Marx's letter of February 6 to Engels. A passage from the statement was later quoted by Marx in the statement on the reasons for their refusal to contribute to Der Social-Demokrat, published in the latter half of March 1865 in the Berliner Reform and other newspapers. (From the Collected Works)