Marx Engels Correspondence 1881

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
To the Chairman of the Slavonic Meeting

Source: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975). Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

21 March 1881,
in Celebration of the Anniversary of the Paris Commune [1]


With great regret we have to inform you that we are not able to attend your meeting.

When the Commune of Paris succumbed to the atrocious massacre organised by the defenders of ‘Order’, the victors little thought that ten years would not elapse before an event would happen in distant Petersburg [2] which, maybe after long and violent struggles, must ultimately and certainly lead to the establishment of a Russian Commune;

That the King of Prussia [3] who had prepared the Commune by besieging Paris and thus compelling the ruling bourgeoisie to arm the people – that that same King of Prussia, ten years after, besieged in his own capital by Socialists, would only be able to maintain his throne by declaring the state of siege in his capital Berlin. [4]

On the other hand, the Continental governments who after the fall of the Commune by their persecutions compelled the International Working Men’s Association to give up its formal, external organisation – these governments who believed they could crush the great international labour movement by decrees and special laws – little did they think that ten years later that same international labour movement, more powerful than ever, would embrace the working classes not only of Europe but of America also; that the common struggle for common interests against a common enemy would bind them together into a new and greater spontaneous International, outgrowing more and more all external forms of association.

Thus the Commune which the powers of the old world believed to be exterminated, lives stronger than ever, and thus we may join you in the cry: Vive la Commune!


1. The meeting, which took place in London under the chairmanship of the Russian Narodnik Leo Hartmann, was attended by representatives of Russian, Polish, Czech and Serbian Socialists. A revolutionary Slavonic club was formed at the meeting – Progress Publishers.

2. An allusion to the fact that, after being sentenced to death by the Executive Committee of the secret society Narodnaya Volya (People’s Will), Emperor Alexander II was killed in St Petersburg on 1 March 1881 – Progress Publishers.

3. William I – Progress Publishers.

4. The reference is to the Anti-Socialist Law of 1878, which in the spring of 1880 was extended for another five years – Progress Publishers.