Marx-Engels Correspondence 1882

Engels to Marx
In Ventnor


Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence;
Publisher: International Publishers (1968);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe;
Translated: Donna Torr;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 2000;
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

London, December 22, 1882

To return once more to Podolinsky; I must make a correction, namely, that storage of energy through work really only takes place in agriculture; in cattle-raising the energy accumulated in the plants is simply transferred as a whole to the animals, and one can only speak of storage of energy in the sense that without cattle-raising, nutritious plants wither uselessly, whereas with it they are utilised. In all branches of industry, on the other hand, energy is only expended. The most that has to be taken into consideration is the fact that vegetable products, wood, straw, flax, etc., and animal products in which vegetable energy is stored up, are put to use by being worked upon and therefore preserved longer than when they are left to decay naturally. So that if one chooses one can translate into the physical world the old economic fact that all industrial producers have to live from the products of agriculture, cattle-raising, hunting, and fishing – but there is hardly much to be gained from doing so....

I am glad that on the history of serfdom we ‘proceed in agreement’, as they say in business. It is certain that serfdom and bondage are not a peculiarly medieval-feudal form, we find them everywhere or nearly everywhere where conquerors have the land cultivated for them by the old inhabitants – e.g., very early in Thessaly. This fact has even misled me and many other people about servitude in the Middle Ages; one was much too much inclined to base it simply on conquest, this made everything so neat and easy. See Thierry among others.

The position of the Christians in Turkey during the height of the old Turkish semi-feudal system was something similar.