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The New International, August 1944

Karl Marx on Herr Vogt

Timely Excerpts from a Classic



From The New International, Vol. X No. 8, August 1944, pp. 257–260.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Marx’s Herr Vogt, almost entirely unknown in the English-speaking world. It nevertheless one of the most brilliant of his writings. Engeis considered it better than the Eighteenth Brumaire; Lassalle spoke of it as “a masterpiece in every respect”; Ryazanov thought that “in all literature there is no equal to this book”; Mehring rightly wrote of its “being highly instructive even today.” Karl Vogt was a renowned revolutionary democrat who fled from Germany to Switzerland in 1849. He was also a famous scholar, “known as one of the chief exponents of nature-historical materialism.” In Geneva he was the center of the German democrats, among whom he enjoyed great esteem. Napoleon the Little won him to his side and the scholar began devoting himself actively to literary support of the French Emperor and his European adventures, ostensibly in the cause of German democracy and unification. Encouraged by a Prussian court victory against Wllhelm Liebknecht, who accused him in an Augsburg paper of receiving money from Napoleon, Vogt published a special pamphlet filled with the most venomous attacks on Marx as “the head of a gang of expropriators and counterfeiters who stopped at nothing.” Marx finally decided to reply. The remit was not only annihilating for Vogt, who was politically destroyed, but constituted the most illuminating and erudite criticism of European politics of the time, particularly of the politics of Napoleon and his Czarist ally. One of the most remarkable features of the polemic was Marx’s relentless deduction, purely from Vogt’s writings, that he was a Napoleonic agent. After the Emperor’s fall in 1870, the republican government of Thiers published documents from the archives of the imperial government which included a receipt signed by Vogt for 40,000 francs from the secret fund of Napoleon! In spite of some of the obscure historical and personal references, the reader will find the chapter we reprint here of absorbing interest for its revelation of Marx’s treatment of the Little Bonaparte’s foreign policy and the foreign policy of the Russian autocracy. Points of comparison with contemporary politics will not escape the attentive reader. The section printed here appears for the first time in English, to our knowledge, and is translated from the edition published in Leipzig in 1927 by the Rudolf Liebig house as a photographic reprint of the almost completely unavailable original which appeared in London in 1860. – Ed.

VIII. “Da Da” Vogt and His Studies


About one month before the outbreak of the Italian war there appeared Vogt’s so-called Studien zur gegenwärtigen Lage Europas [Studies of the Present Situation in Europe], Geneva 1859. Cui bono?

Vogt knew that “England will remain neutral in the impending war.” (Studien, page 5) He knew that Russia, “in agreement with France, will make every effort, short of open hostilities, to injure Austria.” (Studien, page 133) He knew that Prussia – but let us have him say himself what he knows about Prussia: “It must now have become clear even to the most short-sighted that there exists on understanding between Prussia’s government and the imperial government of France; that Prussia will not draw the sword in defense of the non-German provinces of Austria, that it will give its approval to all measures relating to the defense of the domain of the Bund, but will otherwise prevent any participation of the Bund or of any of the Bund’s members on Austria’s side, in order to receive, at the subsequent peace negotiations, its compensation for THESE efforts in the North German lowlands.” (L. c., page 19)

Why Does Vogt Write for Bonaparte?

So that, Facit: In Bonaparte’s impending crusade against Austria, England will remain neutral, Russia will be hostile to Austria, Prussia will keep the somewhat pugnacious Bund members hi check, and the war will be localized in Europe.

As was formerly the case in the Russian war, Louis Bonaparte will now conduct the Italian war with high magisterial permission, so to speak, as the General-in-Secret of a European coalition. Why then Vogt’s pamphlet? Since Vogt knows that England, Russia and Prussia are acting against Austria, what compels him to write for Bonaparte? But it appears that besides the old Francophobia with “the now senile Father Arndt and the phantom of the Stinkpot Jahn at its head” (page 121, l. c.), a sort of national movement shook up “the German people,” and found its echo in “chambers and newspapers” of all kinds, “while the governments enter the prevailing stream only hesitantly and with reluctance” (page 121, l. c.). It appears that the “belief in a threatening danger” caused a “cry for joint measures” (l. c.) to ring out from the German “people.” The French Moniteur (see, among others, its issue of March 15, 1859) looked upon this German movement with “distress and astonishment.”

“A sort of crusade against France,” it exclaims, “is being preached in the chambers and the press of some of the states of the German Bund. It is charged with entertaining inordinately ambitious plans which it has disavowed, preparing conquests which it does not require,” and so forth. As against these “calumnies,” the Moniteur shows that “the Emperor’s” intervention in the Italian question must “contrariwise inspire the German spirit with the greatest assurance,” that German unity and nationality are, so to speak, the hobby-horse of Decembrist France, and so forth. The Moniteur acknowledges, however (see April 10, 1859), that certain German apprehensions may have been “provoked” by certain Parisian pamphlets – pamphlets in which Louis Bonaparte urgently entreats himself to give his people the “long yearned-for opportunity” “pour s’ttendre majestueusement des Alpes au Rhin” (to extend majestically from the Alps to the Rhine). “But,” says the Moniteur, “Germany forgets that France stands under the shield of a body of legislation that permits no preventive control on the part of the government.” These and similar declarations of the Moniteur evoked, as was reported to the Earl of Malmesbury (see the Blue Book: On the Affairs of Italy. January to March, 1859) exactly the opposite effects from those intended. What the Moniteur could not accomplish could perhaps be accomplished by Karl Vogt. His Studien are nothing but a Germanized compilation from Moniteur articles, Dentu pamphlets and Decembrist maps of the future.

* * *

Vogt’s tub-thumping about England has only one purpose – to make the manner of his Studien obvious. Following his original French sources, he transforms the English admiral, Sir Charles Napier, into a “Lord” Napier (Studien, page 4). The literary Zouaves attached to Decemberdom know from the Porte St. Martin Theater that every eminent Englishman is a Lord at the very least.

”With Austria,” relates Vogt, “England has never been able to remain in harmony for long. If momentary community of interests brought them together for a short time, they were always parted again immediately by political necessity. With Prussia, on the other hand, England entered ever and again into closer contact” (page 2, l. c.)

England, Austria and France

Indeed! The joint struggle of England and Austria against Louis XIV lasted with slight interruptions from 1689 to 1713, that is, almost a quarter of a century. In the Austrian Wars of the Succession England fought for about six years with Austria against Prussia and France. It is only in the Seven Years’ War that England allied herself with Prussia against Austria and France, but as early as 1760 Lord Bute left Friedrich the Great in the lurch in order alternately to make proposals for the “partition of Prussia” to the Russian Minister Gallitzin and the Austrian Minister Kaunitz. In 1790, England concluded a pact with Prussia against Russia and Austria which, however, melted away again the same year. During the anti-Jacobin war, Prussia, despite Pitt’s subsidies, withdrew from the European coalition through the pact of Basle. Austria, on the contrary, egged on by England, continued to fight with France (February 9, 1815, against Russia and Prussia. In 1821, Metternich and Castlereagh arranged a new agreement against Russia at Hanover. While, therefore, the British themselves, slight interruptions from 1793 to 1809. Hardly was Napoleon eliminated, in the very midst of the Congress of Vienna, than England promptly concluded a secret pact with Austria and history writers and parliamentary speakers, speak of Austria preeminently as the “ancient ally” of England, Vogt discovers, in his original French pamphlet appearing at Dentu’s, that apart from “momentary community,” Austria and England always parted, whereas England and Prussia always banded together, which is presumably why Lord Lyndhurst, during the Russian war, called out in the House of Lords, with reference to Prussia: “Quem tu, Romane, caveto!” Protestant England has antipathies against Catholic Austria, liberal England antipathies against protective-tariff Austria, solvent England antipathies against bankrupt Austria. But the pathetic element has always remained alient to English history. Lord Palmerston, during the thirty years of his government of England, did indeed occasionally gloss over his vassalage to Russia with his antipathy against Austria. Out of “antipathy” against Austria, he,refused, for example, England’s mediation in Italy, offered by Austria and approved by Piedmont and France, according to which Austria withdrew to the Adige line and Verona, Lombardy would, if she wished, annex herself to Piedmont, Parma and Modena would fall to Lombardy, Venice, however, constituting herself an independent Italian state unde.r an Austrian Archduke and adopting a constitution of her own. {See, Blue Book on the Affairs of Italy. Part II, July 1849, No. 377,478.) These conditions were, in any case, more favorable than those of the Peace of Villafranca. After Radetzky had beaten the Italians at all points, Palmerston proposed the very conditions he had rejected. As soon as Russia’s interests required a reversed procedure, during the Hungarian War of Independence, he refused, on the contrary, despite his “antipathy” against Austria, the assistance to which Hungary, relying upon the Treaty of 1711, invited him, and even rejected any protest against Russian intervention, because “the political independence and liberties of Europe are bound up with the maintenance and integrity of Austria as a European Great Power.” (Session of the House of Commons, July 21, 1849.)

The “Interests of the United Kingdom”

Vogt relates further:

“The interests of the United Kingdom ... are everywhere hostile to them” [the interests of Austria]. (Page 2, l. c.)

This “everywhere” is immediately transformed into the Mediterranean.

“England wishes to maintain at any cost her influance in the Mediterranean and its coastal lands. Naples and Sicily, Malta, and. the Ionian Islands, Syria and Egypt, are fulcrums of her policy directed toward East India; all along these points Austria has placed the most vigorous obstacles against her.” (L. c.)

What doesn’t Vogt believe in that Decembrist original pamphlet published by Dentu in Paris! The English imagined up to now that they fought alternately with Russians and Frenchmen for Malta and the Ionian Islands, but never with Austria. France, not Austria, once sent an expedition to Egypt and is establishing herself at this moment on the Isthmus of Suez; France, not Austria, made conquests on the norst coast of Africa and, united with Spain, sought to tear Gibraltar from the British; England concluded the July 1840 treaty with reference to Egypt and Syria, against France, but with Austria; in “the policy directed toward East India” England collides everywhere with “the most vigorous obstacles” from the side of Russia, not Austria; in the only serious question of dispute between England and Naples – the sulphur question of 1840 – it was a French and not an.Austrian company whose monopoly of the Sicilian surphur trade served as the excuse for friction; finally, there is indeed talk occasionally on the other side of the Channel about the transforming of the Mediterranean into a “lac français,” but never about its transformation into a “lac autrichien.” However, an important circumstance should be examined here.

During the year 1858. there appeared ia London a map ot Europe entitled: L’Europe en 1860. This map, which was published by the French Embassy and contains many predictions that were prophetic for 1858, Lombardy-Venice, for example, annexed to Piedmont, and Morocco to Spain – redraws the political geography of all of Europe with the single exception of France, which apparently sticks within her old borders. The territories intended for her are given away with sly irony to impossible possessors. Thus, Egypt falls to Austria, and the marginal note imprinted on the map reads: “Francois Joseph I, l’Empereur d’Autriche et d’Egypte.”

Vogt had the map of L’Europe en 1860 lying before him as a Decembrist compass. Hence his conflict of England with Austria over Egypt and Syria. Vogt prophecies that this conflict would “find its end in the destruction of one of the contending Powers,” if, as he remembers just in time, “if Austria possessed a naval power” (page 2, l. c.) The pinnacle of the historical erudition peculiar to them is reached by the Studien, however, in the following passage:

“When Napoleon I once sought to blow up the English Bank, it saved itself, for the period of one day, by counting out the sums and not weighing them, as was the custom up to then; the Austrian State Treasury finds itself in the same, aye, in a far worse position, 365 days in the year.” (L. c., page 43.)

The cash payments of the Bank of England (“the English Bank” is another of Vogt’s phantoms) remained suspended, as is commonly known, from February 1797 to the year 1821, during which twenty-four years the English banknotes were not exchangeable in metal at all, weighed or counted. When the suspension began, there did not yet exist a Napoleon I in France (although there was a General Bonaparte who was conducting his first Italian campaign) and when the cash payments were resumed in Threadneedle Street, Napoleon I had ceased to exist in Europe. Such “studies” beat even La Guerroniere’s conquest of Tyrol through the “Kaiser” of Austria.

Frau von Krudener, the mother of the Holy Alliance, distinguished between the principle of good, the “white angel of the North” (Alexander I), and the principle of evil, the “black angel of the South” (Napoleon I). Vogt, the adoptive father of the new Holy Alliance, transforms both, Czar and Ceasar, Alexander II and Napoleon III, into “white angels.” Both are the predestined emancipators of Europe.

Piedmont, says Vogt, “has even won the respect of Russia” (page 11, l. c.)

What more can be said of a state than that it has even won the respect of Russia? Particularly after Piedmont ceded the war port of Villafranca to Russia, and as the same Vogt recalls with regard to the purchase of the Bay of Jahde by Prussia: “a war port on foreign territory without organic links with the country to which it belongs, is such ridiculous nonsense that its existence can acquire significance only if it is regarded, so to speak, as the goal of future aspirations, as the hoisted pennant toward which the line of direction is aimed” (Studien, page 15). Catherine II, as is known, already sought to acquire war ports for Russia in the Mediterranean.

Tender deference toward the “white angel” of the North induces Vogt to offend with extravagant clumsiness the “modesty of nature,” in so far as it is still to be noticed in his original sources from Dentu. In La Vraie Question, France-Italia-Autriche, Paris 1859 (at Dentu’s), he read, page 20:

“What right, moreover, would the Austrian government have to invoke the inviolability of the Treaties of 1815, a government which violated these Treaties through the confiscation of Cracow, whose independence the Treaties guaranteed?” [1]

This French original of his he Germanizes as follows:

“It is strange to hear such a language from the mouth of the only government that has up to now impudently broken the Treaties, by extending its wanton hand, in the midst of the peace, without cause, against the Republic of Cracow guaranteed by the Treaties, and incorporating it without further ado into the imperial state” (page 58, l. c.).

Nicholas of course destroyed the Constitution and the independence of the Kingdom of Poland, guaranteed by the Treaties of 1815, out of “respect” for the Treaties of 1815. Russia was no less respectful of the integrity of Cracow when it occupied the free city in 1831 with Muscovite troops. In 1836, Cracow was once again occupied by Russians, Austrians and Prussians, was treated entirely as a conquered land, and as late as 1840 appealed in vain to England and France by invoking the Treaties of 1815. Finally, on February 22, 1846, Russians, Austrians and Prussians occupied Cracow all over again in order to annex it to Austria. The breach of the Treaty was made by the three northern powers and the Austrian confiscation of 1846 was only the final word of the Russian invasion of 1831. Out of delicacy toward the “white angel of the North,” Vogt forgets the confiscation of Poland and falsifies the history of the confiscation of Cracow. [2]

The fact that Russia “is thoroughly hostile to Austria and sympathetic to France,” leaves no doubt in Vogt’s mind as to the people-emancipating tendencies of Louis Bonaparte, any more than the fact that “his [Louis Bonaparte’s] policy today goes hand-in-glove with that of Russia” (page 30), allows him the slightest doubt about the people-emancipating tendencies of Alexander II.

“Friends of Emancipation”

Holy Russia must therefore be regarded just as much the “friend of the emancipatory aspirations” and the “popular and national development” in the East as Decembrist France in the West. This slogan was distributed among all the agents of the Second of December. “Russia,” read Vogt in La Foi da Traités, les Puissances Signatires et l’Empereur Napoléon III, Paris 1859, published by Dentu – “Russia belongs to the Slavic family, an elite race ... Surprise has been occasioned by the chivalrous accord suddenly arrived at between France and Russia. Nothing is more natural: concordance of principles, uniformity of goal ... submission to the law of the holy alliance of governments and of peoples, not to trap and to constrain, but to guide and assist the divine machine of nations. From the most perfect cordiality [between Louis Philippe and England only an entente cord]iale prevailed, but between Louis Bonaparte and Russia prevails la cordialité la plus parfaite] have risen the happiest results: railroads, emancipation of the serfs, trading stations in the Mediterranean, etc.” [3]

Vogt promptly snaps up the “emancipation of the serfs” and suggests that “the impulsion now given ... ought to make Russia a comrade of the aspirations of freedom rather than a foe.” (L. c., page 10.)

Like his Dentuan original, he traces the impulsion to the so-called Russian emancipation of the serfs back to Louis Bonaparte and toward this end he transforms the English-Turkish-French-Russian War which gave the impulsion into a “French War” (page 10, l. c.)

As is known, the cry for the emancipation of the serfs first rang out loud and perseveringly under Alexander I. Czar Nicholas occupied himself throughout his life with the emancipation of the serfs, created a Ministry of Domains for this purpose in 1838, had the Ministry take preparatory steps in 1843, and in 1847 even enacted laws friendly to the peasants on the alienation of lands of the nobility, which he was driven to withdraw in 1848 only by the fear of the revolution. If therefore the question of the emancipation of the serfs assumed vaster dimensions under the “benevolent Czar,” as Vogt good-naturedly calls Alexander II, this seems to be due to a development of economic conditions which even a Czar cannot repress. What is more, the emancipation of the serfs would increase a hundred-fold the aggressive power of Russia in the sense of the Russian government. It aimed simply at the perfection of the autocracy by tearing down the barriers which the great autocrat encountered up to then in the person of the many little autocrats of the Russian nobility who were based upon serfdom, as well as in the self-governing peasant communes, whose material foundation, communal ownership, is to be destroyed by the so-called emancipation.

Czarism and Serfdom

It so happens that the Russian serfs understand the emancipation is a different sense than the government, and the Russian nobility understands it in still another sense. The “benevolent Czar” therefore discovered that a genuine emancipation of the serfs is incompatible with his autocracy, just as the benevolent Pope Pius IX once discovered that the Italian emancipation is incompatible with the conditions of existence of the Papacy. The “benevolent Czar” therefore perceived in the war of conquest and in the carrying out of the traditional foreign policy of Russian which, as the Russian historian Karamzin notes, is “immutable,” the only means of postponing the revolution at home. Prince Dolgorukov, in his work, La Vérité sur la Russie, 1860, critically annihilated the fabrications about the millenium inaugurated under Alexander II, fabrications assiduously disseminated all over Europe since 1856 by paid Russian pens, loudly proclaimed by the Decembrists of 1859, and parrotted by Vogt in his Studien.

Already before the outbreak of the Italian War, the Alliance between the “white Czar” and the “Man of December,” founded exclusively for the purpose of liberating the nationalities, stood the test, according to Vogt, in the Danubian Principalities, where the unity and independence of the Rumanian nationality was sealed by the selection of Colonel Couza as Prince of Moldavia and Wallachia. “Austria protested with hands and feet, France and Russia applauded” (page 65, l. c.)

In a memorandum (reprinted in Preussisches Wochenblatt, 1855) drawn up for the present Czar by the Russian cabinet in 1837, we read: “Russia does not like to incorporate immediately states with foreign elements ... At any rate it seems more fitting to allow countries whose acquisition has been decided, to exist for a certain time under separate, but entirely dependent sovereigns, as we did in the case of Moldavia and Wallachia, etc.” Before Russia annexed the Crimea, she proclaimed its independence.

In a Russian proclamation of December 11, 1814, it says among other things, “the Emperor Alexander, your Lord Protector, appeals to you, Poland. Arm yourselves for the defense of your fatherland and for the maintenance of your political independence.”

And now these very Danubian Principalities! Since Peter the Great’s march into the Danubian Principalities, Russia has worked for their “independence.” At the Congress of Nye-mirov (1737) the Empress Anna demanded of the Sultan the independence of the Danubian Principalities under a Russian protectorate. Catherine II, at the Congress of Fokshani (1772), insisted on the independence of the Principalities under a European protectorate. Alexander I continued these efforts and sealed them by transforming Bessarabia into a Russian province (Peace of Bucharest, 1812). Nicholas blessed the Rumanians, through Kisseleff himself, with the still operative Règlement Organize, which organized the most infamous serfdom to the acclamation of all Europe over this code of liberty. Alexander II only brought the century-and-a-half policy of his forbears a step further through the quasi-unification of the Danubian Principalities under Couza. Vogt discovers that as a result of this unification under a single Russian vassal, the “Principalities will be a dam against Russia’s penetration to the South” (page 64, l. c.)

Inasmuch as Russia applauded the selection of Couza (page 65, l. c.), it becomes as clear as day that the benevolent Czar is himself blocking “the road to the South” with might and main, although “Constantinople remains a permanent aim of Russian policy.” (L. c., page 91)


(To be concluded)


1. “De quel droit d’ailleurs, le gouvernement autrtchien viendrait-il invoquer l’inviolabilité de ceux (traités) de 1815, lui qui les a violés en confisquant Cracovie, donc ces traités garantirrèrent l’indépendance?”

2. Palmerston, who kidded Europe through his ludicrous protest, collaborated tirelessly in the Intrigue against Cracow since 1831. (See my pamphlet: Palmerston and Poland, London 1853.)

3. “La Russie est de la famille des Slaves, race d’élite ... On s’est étonné de l’accord chevaleresque survenue soudalnement entre la France et la Russia. Rien de plus naturel: accord des principes, unanimité du but ... soumission à la loi d’alliance sainte des gouvernements et des peoples, non pour leurrer et contraindre, mais pour guider et aider la machine divine des nations. De la cordialité la plus parfaite sont sorties les plus heureux effest: chemins de fer, affranchisement des serfs stations commerciales dans la Méditerranée, etc.” Page 33, La Foi des Traités, etc., Paris 1859.

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