Marx-Engels Correspondence 1870

Marx to Engels
In Manchester


Written: August 8, 1870;
Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence;
Publisher: International Publishers (1968);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe;
Translated: Donna Torr;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 1999;
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

[London,] 8 August 1870

The Empire is made, i.e., the German Empire. It seems as if all the trickery that has been perpetrated since the Second Empire has finally resulted in carrying out, by hook and crook, though neither by the path intended nor in the way imagined, the "national" aims of 1848--Hungary, Italy, Germany! It seems to me that this sort of movement will only come to an end as soon as the Prussians and the Russians come to blows. This is by no means improbable. The press of the Moscovite party (I have seen a lot of it at Borkheim's) has attacked the Russian government just as violently for its friendly attitude to Prussia as the French papers representing Thiers' point of view attacked Boustrapa [Napoleon III] in 1866 for his flirtation with Prussia. Only the tsar, the German-Russian party and the official St. Petersburg Journal sounded a note hostile to France. But the last thing they expected was such a decided Prussian-German success. Like Bonaparte in 1866, they thought that the belligerent powers would weaken each other by a long struggle so that Holy Russia could intervene as supreme arbiter and dictate to them.

But now! If Alexander does not want to be poisoned, something must be done to appease the national party. Russia's prestige will obviously be even more "injured" by a German-Prussian Empire than the prestige of the Second Empire was by the North German Confederation.

Russia therefore--just as Bonaparte did in 1866-70--will intrigue with Prussia in order to get concessions in relation to Turkey, and all this trickery, despite the Russian religion of the Hohenzollerns, will end in war between the tricksters. However silly German Michael may be, his newly fortified national sentiment will hardly allow him to be pressed into the service of Russia without any remaining reason whatever, or so much as a pretext (especially now when he can no longer be lectured into putting up with everything in order that German unity may first be achieved). Qui vivra.verra [who lives longest will see most]. If our Handsome William lives on for a bit we may yet witness his proclamations to the Poles. When God wants to do something especially great, says old Carlyle, he always chooses out the stupidest people for it.

What troubles me at the moment is the state of affairs in France itself. The next great battle can hardly fail to turn against the French. And then? If the defeated army retreats to Paris, under the leadership of Boustrapa, the result will be a peace of the most humiliating kind, perhaps with the restoration of the Orleans. If a revolution breaks out in Paris, the question is whether they have the means and the leadership to offer a serious resistance to the Prussians. One cannot conceal from oneself that twenty years of the Bonapartist farce have produced enormous demoralisation. One is hardly justified in reckoning on revolutionary heroism. What do you think about it?