Marx-Engels Correspondence 1868

Marx To Engels
In Manchester

Source: MECW, Volume 43, p. 127;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1931.

London, 10 October 1868

Dear Fred,

Thanks for the 5. I have given Lessner 8. There is, incidentally, a fairly important mistake in his bill which he had, however, corrected before the intervention of my wife.

Enclosed letter from Schweitzer together with a number of the Social-Demokrat which he sent me in the letter. You must return the letter to me by Tuesday, together with your advice. We cannot temporise any longer. So that you knew exactly how matters stand, the following:

For the time being, I have written to Liebknecht that I could take no action, that Schweitzer had hitherto given no official occasion, that an intervention on my part could only consolidate Lassalleanism, etc.

As to Schweitzer, I have not yet answered his previous letter, the dispatch of which he is probably now cursing. Since his Trades Unions Congress was so near, I thought it better to await the course of events, and to watch his operations. Now I must, of course, break my silence.

As regards the letter from Schweitzer, it is clear that he does not feel quite happy in his boots. His threat of ‘open war’ is silly, though the phrase is ‘ostensibly’ only aimed against Liebknecht et Co. His claim that Mr Nobody started it, is in no way correct. His alleged identification with the International Working Men’s Association stands in a certain contradiction to his hints in the Social-Demokrat after the Nuremberg affair that his association had ‘not’ joined the IWA. Above all it emerges from the whole letter that Schweitzer still cannot drop his fixed idea that he has ‘his own workers’ movement’. On the other hand, he is unquestionably the most intelligent and most energetic of all the present workers’ leaders in Germany, while Liebknecht in point of fact was only forced by Schweitzer to recall that there existed a workers’ movement independent of the petty-bourgeois democratic movement.

My plan is not to use diplomacy but to tell Schweitzer the unvarnished truth about my view of his dealings, and make it clear to him that he must choose between the ‘sect’ and the ‘class’. If he wishes to come to a rational understanding with the ‘Nuremberg majority’, I am ready as ‘Secretary for Germany’ to be of aid on terms which appear reasonable to me. If he does not desire this, I can only promise to maintain the necessary objective impartiality vis--vis his agitation. What I cannot promise, however, is that I will not, in my private capacity, publicly attack the Lassallean superstition as soon as I regard this as useful.

Pretty and truly Lassallean is Schweitzer’s notion that ‘two organisations can only be harmful’ and hence, since he preceded the others, they are, if not legally, then in a way morally, obliged to ‘dissolve’ themselves in him.

As you know, Mr Odger is standing for Chelsea, but I believe he has no chance of success. Odger has shown us the cold shoulder for the whole of last year since, on my proposal, ‘the president of the IWA’ and thus also ‘President’ Odger were abolished once and for all. Now he gives thanks for his re-election by the Brussels Congress and wishes us to support his election with a letter to his Electioneering Committee. We are only meeting his request because it is a step that is useful to the International and that recommends it in the eyes of the London workmen.

When you were here last, you saw the Blue Book on the Irish land question 1844-1845. By accident I found the Report and evidence on Irish Tenant Right 1867 (House of Lords) in a small second-hand bookshop. This was a real find. The economist gentlemen regard it purely as a question of conflicting dogmas whether rent is payment for natural differences in land, or on the other hand merely interest on the capital invested in the land; but here we have a real life and death struggle between farmer and landlord as to how far rent should include, apart from the payment for land differences, also the interest on the capital invested in the land not by the landlord but by the tenant. Political economy can only be turned into a positive science by replacing the conflicting dogmas by the conflicting facts, and by the real antagonisms which form their concealed background.


K. M.