Marx-Engels Correspondence 1865

Karl Marx to Friedrich Engels in Manchester, 11 February 1865

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

Dear Fred

As today is Saturday I imagine you will not be sending off your thing [1] on the same day, in which case there will still be time for these ‘additional’ proposals for modification:

1) In the passage where you ask what the workers want I should not answer as you do that the workers in Germany, France and England demand so and so. For the answer sounds as if we accepted Itzig’s [2] slogans (at least it will be so interpreted). I should say rather somewhat the following:

It would seem that the demands put forward at the present moment by the most advanced workers in Germany amount to the following, etc. This does not commit you at all, which is all the better considering that later on you yourself criticise universal suffrage without the requisite conditions. (The word ‘direct’ moreover would indeed have no sense in England, etc, for example, and is only the opposite of the ‘indirect’ franchise invented by the Prussians.) The form in which the philistines in Germany conceive state intervention ā la Lassalle is of such a kind that one must avoid identifying oneself with ‘them in any way’. It is much grander (and safer) if you take the philistines at their word and let them say themselves what they want. (I say the philistines, because they are the really argumentative and Lassalleanised section.)

2) I should not say that the movement of 1848-49 failed because the middle class was against direct universal suffrage. On the contrary, the latter was declared an ancient German right by the Frankfurters and it was proclaimed with due formality by the imperial Regent. (I think moreover that as soon as the matter comes to be discussed seriously in Germany, this franchise must be treated as part of the rightfully existing law.) As that is not the place for a longer exposition, I would extricate myself by using the phrase that the middle class at that time preferred peace with slavery to the mere prospect of a struggle with freedom, or something of the sort.

As a whole the thing is very good and I am especially tickled by the part where it is shown that the present movement of the philistines exists in fact only by the grace of the police.

I'm in a great hurry.



1. Marx is referring to the pamphlet Die Preussische Militärfrage und die deutsche Arbeiterpartei (The Military Question in Prussia and the German Workers Party) by Engels – Progress Publishers.

2. Ferdinand Lassalle – Progress Publishers.