Marx-Engels Correspondence 1878

Marx to Wilhelm Liebknecht
In Leipzig


Written: February 11, 1878;
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,] February 11, 1878

The Russians have achieved one good thing; they have exploded England's “great Liberal Party” and made it incapable of governing for a long time to come, whilst the trouble of committing suicide has been officially accomplished for the Tory Party through the traitors Derby and Salisbury (the latter the real driving force of Russia in the Cabinet).

The English working class had been gradually more and more deeply demoralised by the period of corruption since 1848 and had at last got to the point when they were nothing more than the tail of the great Liberal Party, i.e., henchmen of the capitalists. Their direction had gone completely over into the hands of the corrupt trade union leaders and professional agitators. These fellows shouted and howled behind Gladstone, Bright, Mundella, Morley and the whole gang of factory owners etc., in majorem gloriam [to the greater glory] of the Tsar as emancipator of nations, while they never raised a finger for their own brothers in South Wales, condemned to die of starvation by the mineowners. Wretches! To crown the whole affair worthily, in the last divisions in the House of Commons (on February 7 and 8, when the majority of the great dignitaries of the “great Liberal Party” – Forster, Lowe, Harcourt, Goschen, Hartington and even [on Feb. 7] the great John Bright himself – left their army in the lurch and bolted away from the division in order not to compromise themselves too much altogether by voting) – the only workers' representatives in the House of Commons and moreover, horribile dictu [horrible to relate] direct representatives of the miners, and themselves originally miners – Burt and the miserable Macdonald – voted with the rump of the “great Liberal Party,” the enthusiasts for the Tsar.

But the rapid development of Russia's plans suddenly broke the spell and shattered the “mechanical agitation” (fivepound notes were the main springs of the machinery); at the moment it would be “physically dangerous” for Mottershead, Howell, John Hales, Shipton, Osborne and the whole gang to let their voices be heard in a public meeting of workers; even their “corner and ticket meetings” are forcibly broken up and dispersed by the masses.