Marx-Engels Correspondence 1869

Letter from Marx to Engels
In Manchester


Written: August 10, 1869;
Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence;
Publisher: International Publishers (1968);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe;
Translated: Donna Torr;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 1999;
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

It cannot be denied that the section of the speech made by Wilhelm [Liebknecht] in Berlin, reprinted in the supplement, shows, beneath its stupidity, an undeniable cunning in arranging the affair to suit himself. This, by the way, is very fine! Because the Reichstag must only be used as a means of agitation, one must never agitate there for anything reasonable directly affecting the interests of the workers! The worthy Wilhelm's illusion that because Bismarck "is fond of" using expressions friendly to the workers he would therefore not oppose real measures on behalf of the workers is really charming. "As if"--as Bruno Bauer would say--Herr Wagener had not declared in the Reichstag that he was for the factory laws in principle but against them in practice "because they were useless under Prussian conditions." "As if" Herr Bismarck, if he really wished or was able to do anything for the workers, would not himself enforce the carrying out of the existing laws in Prussia itself! The mere fact of this happening in Prussia would be enough to force the Liberal "Saxony" to follow suit. What Wilhelm does not grasp is that while the present governments coquette with the workers they are very well aware that their only support lies with the bourgeoisie; they therefore scare the latter by phrases friendly to the workers but cannot ever really go against them.

The cow [Liebknecht] believes in the future "Staat DER Demokratie" [democratic state]. Privately this means at one moment constitutional England, at another the bourgeois United States, and at the next the wretched Switzerland. "It" has not the faintest idea of revolutionary politics. This is what he gives as a proof--according to Schwabenmayer--of democratic energy: the railway to California was built by the bourgeoisie presenting themselves, through Congress, with an enormous mass of "national land"; that is to say, therefore, they expropriated the workers from it by importing a mob of Chinese to force down wages and finally formed a new branch of themselves, the "financial aristocracy."