Marx-Engels Correspondence 1868

Letter from Marx to Engels
In Manchester


Written: November 7, 1868;
Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence;
Publisher: International Publishers (1968);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe;
Translated: Donna Torr;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 1999;
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

Borkheim is translating the chief passages from the Russian book on the disintegration of agriculture for me, and has also given me a French book about it by the Russian, Shedo-Ferroti. The latter makes a great mistake--he is altogether quite a superficial fellow--when he says the Russian communal system first originated from the law prohibiting the peasant from leaving the land. The whole thing, down to the smallest details, is absolutely identical with the primitive Germanic communal system. What the Russians have added (and this is also found in a section of the Indian communal system, not in the Punjab but in the South) is (I) the non-democratic but patriarchal character of the commune leadership, and (2) the collective responsibility for taxes to the state, etc. It follows from the second point that the more industrious a Russian peasant is, the more he is exploited for the purposes of the state, not only for taxes, but for the supply of produce, horses, etc., during the continual passage of bodies of troops, for government couriers etc. The whole foul mess is in process of collapse.

I regard Dietzgen's development, in so far as Feuerbach, etc.--in short, his sources--are not obvious, as entirely his own independent achievement. For the rest, I agree with everything you say. I will say something to him about the repetitions. It is bad luck for him that it is precisely Hegel that he has not studied.