Marx-Engels Correspondence 1877

Marx to Friedrich Adolph Sorge
In Hoboken


Written: September 27, 1877;
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, 27 September 1877

This crisis [Russo-Turkish war and Near Eastern crisis] is a new turning point in European history. Russia has long been standing on the threshold of an upheaval, all the elements of it are prepared--I have studied conditions there from the original Russian sources, unofficial and official (the latter only available to a few people but got for me through friends in Petersburg). The gallant Turks have hastened the explosion by years with the thrashing they have inflicted, not only upon the Russian army and Russian finances, but in a highly personal and individual manner on the dynasty commanding the army (the Tsar, the heir to the throne and six other Romanovs). The upheaval will begin secundum artem [according to the rules of the art] with some playing at constitutionalism and then there will be a fine row. If Mother Nature is not particularly unfavourable towards us we shall still live to see the fun! The stupid nonsense which the Russian students are perpetrating is only a symptom, worthless in itself. But it is a symptom. All sections of Russian society are in complete disintegration economically, morally and intellectually.

This time the revolution will begin in the East, hitherto the unbroken bulwark and reserve army of counter-revolution.

Herr Bismarck was pleased to see the thrashing, but it ought not to have gone so far. Russia too much weakened could not hold Austria in check again as she did in the Franco-Prussian War! And if it were even to come to revolution there, where would the last guarantee of the Hohenzollern dynasty be?

For the moment everything depends on the Poles (in the Kingdom of Poland) lying low. If only there are no risings there at the moment! Bismarck would at once intervene and Russian chauvinism would once more side with the Tsar. If on the other hand the Poles wait quietly till there is a conflagration in Petersburg and Moscow, and Bismarck then intervenes as a saviour, Prussia will find its--Mexico!

I have rammed this home again and again to any Poles I am in contact with who can influence their fellow-countrymen.

Compared with the crisis in the East, the French crisis is an altogether secondary affair. Still it is to be hoped that the bourgeois republic will be victorious or else the old game will begin all over again, and a nation can repeat the same stupidities once too often.