Marx-Engels Correspondence 1866

Friedrich Engels to Karl Marx in Margate, 13 April 1866

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

... So Bismarck has brought off his universal suffrage stroke even though without his Lassalle. It looks as if the German bourgeois will agree to it after some resistance, for Bonapartism is after all the real religion of the modern bourgeoisie. It is becoming more and more clear to me that the bourgeoisie has not the stuff in it to rule directly itself, and that therefore unless there is an oligarchy, as here in England, capable of taking over, for good pay, the management of state and society in the interests of the bourgeoisie, a Bonapartist semi-dictatorship is the normal form. It upholds the big material interests of the bourgeoisie even against the will of the bourgeoisie, but allows the bourgeoisie no share in the government. The dictatorship in its turn is forced against its will to adopt these material interests of the bourgeoisie as its own. So we now get Monsieur Bismarck adopting the programme of the National Association. [1] To carry it out is something quite different, of course, but Bismarck is hardly likely to come to grief through the German middle class. A German who has just returned relates that he has already found many who swallowed this bait; according to Reuter the Karlsruhe people have accepted the business and the profound embarrassment which this affair has caused the Kölnische Zeitung [2] clearly indicates the forthcoming turn of events...


1. The National Association was set up on 15-16 September 1859, at a conference held in Frankfurt on the Main of bourgeois liberals from the German states. Its purpose was the unification of all German states except Austria under Prussian hegemony. After the Austro-Prussian war and the creation of the North German Confederation on 11 November 1867, it disbanded itself – Progress Publishers.

2. Kölnische Zeitung – German daily newspaper published in Cologne since 1802; it was the organ of the big Rhenish bourgeoisie and the National Liberal Party; in the 1870s it was regarded as Bismarck’s mouthpiece – Progress Publishers.