Karl Marx

A Correspondent of The Kölnische Zeitung vs. The Rheinische Zeitung

Source: MECW Volume 1, p. 277;
Written: on November 16, 1842;
Published: in the Rheinische Zeitung No. 321, November 17, 1842;
Transcribed: in 2000 for marxists.org by Andy Blunden.

Cologne, November 16. The stoutest champion of the “separation of town and countryside” in the Kölnische Zeitung today again raises his rumbling voice, and today it is not the province but the Rheinische Zeitung which he selects for the honour of being the victim of his private intelligence and his private illusions. We believe the good man when he says that the reading of the articles on communal constitution in the Rheinische Zeitung at breakfast numbed his head and hurled him back into “exceedingly confused dreams”. We believe that it is very inconvenient for one who knows Cologne and Bickendorf well to be bustled through the Orient, through Greece, Rome, the German Empire, Gaul and France and even through thoughts which necessarily appear as “sophistries” and “dialectical tricks” to the routine of practical intercourse and narrowly limited outlook. We do not want to judge this cheerful self-complacency amiss for the by no means moderate courtesies which it is capable of bestowing on its own achievements, for it belongs to the character of narrow-mindedness to consider its own limitations as the limitations and the pillars of the world. And as our good and humorous friend adduces no new grounds but supports the view that a ground which has been rejected and refuted at its first presentation can, like an importunate petitioner, achieve its aim in the end if only it has the obstinacy to return again and again; as therefore our friend, true to the principles established in respect of newspaper articles, expects the effect of his well-worded and correctly ordered grounds not from themselves, but from their repetition, nothing else remains for us but finally to banish from the real world a few phantasmagoria that may have come to him in “sleep” and in “confused dreams” and so to contribute as much as is in our power to eliminating the reappearing belief in ghosts, which is known to confuse its dreams of things with the things themselves. Our somnambulist saw in a dream how the peasants were alerted by the Rheinische Zeitung to march with spades and hoes on the towns because the latter harboured tyrannical intentions.

In his intervals of clear consciousness our somnambulist will have to agree with himself that the “towns” do not lie in the Kölnische Zeitung, that we have even rejected its arbitrary interpretation of the towns’ intentions, and that finally a work which even goes beyond the range of vision of “one who knows Cologne and Bickendorf well” is still less able to provoke the peasant to a demonstration with “spades and hoes"-which probably play their role as a sample of “unprejudiced views” drawn “from practical life and intercourse”. On awakening, our somnambulist will further find it beyond all doubt that to put right an alleged “correspondent” of the Kölnische Zeitung is no “distortion of the truth”, that provoking “dissatisfaction” with the Kölnische Zeitung and taking sides against its contemplative correspondent is no ,,arousing of dissatisfaction and frenzy of parties” against the state; or can it be that not only the “towns” lie in the Kölnische Zeitung, but the state itself is embodied in it and its contributors! Our friend will then also grasp that one may have the “boundless arrogance” to irritate the literary productions of the sign — — without “challenging by indecent sallies” “the highest state authorities”, whom he makes responsible not only for his opinions but even for his arguments and who would like to disavow this self-styled ally.

With the present level of German science it will be more than an upheaval if the hollow theories which strain to conceive themselves as the result of world history, and the general range of vision of today’s doctrine were to experience the bitter fate of finding their critical yardstick in the “unprejudiced” views, drawn from civil intercourse and practical life, of “one who knows Cologne and Bickendorf well”. This gentleman will find it understandable that pending the epoch of this Reformation and of the conjectural literary magnitude of the sign-.-, we consider his present isolated endeavours too fragmentary, and, with his permission, too insignificant in every respect to nourish and cultivate the dream of their importance by any further assessment of them.