Marx-Engels Correspondence 1869

Karl Marx to Ludwig Kugelmann, 11 February 1869

Source: Karl Marx, Letters to Dr Kugelmann (Martin Lawrence, London, undated). Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

Dear Friend

The delay in this letter is due to two circumstances. Firstly, the damned foggy weather here – nothing but mist – gave me an extraordinarily severe grippe, which lasted nearly four weeks. Secondly, the enclosed photographs were taken at least seven weeks ago, but only just recently could copies be made from the plate, because of the same weather and the atmospheric darkness.

The enclosed letter from A Rüge [1] was given to my friend Strohn [2] in Bradford by one of his business friends. Rüge obviously could not resist the ‘negation of negation’. You must send the letter back to me at once, because Strohn has to return it to the addressee.

The treasurer of our General Council, Cowell-Stepney [3] – a very rich and distinguished man, but wholly, if in somewhat foolish fashion, devoted to the workers’ cause – enquired of a friend in Bonn about literature (German) dealing with the labour question and socialism. The friend sent him en réponse [4] a list made out by Dr Held, [5] Professor of Political Economy at Bonn. His comments show the terrible limitations of these learned mandarins. He (Held) writes about me and Engels:

Engels – The Condition of the Working Class in England, etc. The best product of German socialist-communist literature. Closely connected with Engels is Karl Marx, the author of the most scientific and most erudite work which Socialism as a whole can boast of, Das Kapital. Although it has only recently appeared, this book is still an echo [!] of the movement of 1848. That is why I mention it here in connection with Engels. The work is at the same time [!] of great interest for the present because [!!] in it we may study the source of Lassalle’s basic ideas.

Fine company to be in!

A reader in political economy at a German university writes me that I have quite convinced him, but – but his position compels him, ‘like other colleagues’, not to express his convictions.

This cowardice of the experts, on the one side, and the conspiracy of silence of the bourgeois and reactionary press, on the other, is doing me great harm. Meissner [6] writes that the accounts for the autumn quarter turned out badly. He is still 200 thalers below the cost of production. He adds: ‘If in a few large places such as Berlin, etc, half as much had been done, as Kugelmann has done in Hanover, we should already have had a second edition.’

I became a grandfather on 1 January; the new year present was a little boy. Lafargue has at last managed to get excused from three examinations and now has only two to take in France.

With best greetings to your dear wife and Fränzchen.

Karl Marx

The cross which my eldest daughter, Jenny, is wearing In the photograph is a Polish insurrection cross of 1864.


1. Arnold Rüge (1812-1880) – Radical German publicist and politician well known as a Left Hegelian. Together with Marx published the Deutsch-Französischer Jahrbücher in Paris in 1846. Fled to London after the Revolution of 1848, in which he took part. Remained a petty-bourgeois democrat until the 1870s when he went over to the side of Bismarck. The text of the letter from Rüge mentioned above is as follows:

25 January 1869, 7 Park Crescent, Brighton

Dear Mr Steinthal

Simultaneously with this letter I am having sent to you by book post Marx’s Capital.

Most cordial thanks! This book has kept me continuously occupied all the time, although I have had to work at all sorts of subsidiary things as well.

It is an epoch-making book and sheds a brilliant, often piercing light on the development, decline and the birth pangs and frightfully painful days of social periods.

The proof of surplus value through unpaid labour, of the expropriation of the workers who worked on their own account and of the approaching expropriation of expropriators, are classical.

The last on page 745: ‘The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of production, produces capitalist private property. This is the first negation of individual private property, as founded on the labour of the proprietor. But capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation. It is the negation of negation. This does not re-establish private property for the producer, but gives him individual property based on the acquisitions of the capitalist era: that is, on cooperation and the possession in common of the land and of the means of production.’ [English edition, page 789.]

Marx possesses a wide erudition and a magnificent dialectical talent. The book exceeds the horizon of many men and newspaper writers; but it will quite certainly make its way through and in spite of the broad foundation, indeed, just because of it, it will exercise a powerful influence.

With reference to religion, the author very pertinently remarks on page 608: ‘As in religion, man is governed by the products of his own brain, so in capitalist production he is governed by the products of his own hand.’ [English edition, page 635.]

And in order to set him free, it is far from sufficient to throw a light in the eyes of the owl; indeed, if he ever loses his master, like the Frenchman or the Spaniard, he himself sets him up again over himself.

Anyhow, much happiness for the year 1869! May it prove itself like its predecessors! My best greetings to Frau Steinthal and Herr Heydemann!

Entirely yours

Dr A Rüge – (Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute)

2. Wilhelm Strohn – German merchant; a member of the Communist League and, as an emigrant in England, a friend of Marx and Engels – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.

3. Fred Stepney-Cowell – Treasurer of the First International, 1869-72 – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.

4. In reply – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.

5. Adolf Held (1844-1880) – German economist and ‘professorial socialist’ – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.

6. Otto Karl Meissner (1819-1902) – Hamburg publisher who brought out Marx’s Capital and a number of other works by Marx and Engels – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.