Letters of Marx and Engels, 1846

Marx To Pierre-Joseph Proudhon [49]
In Paris

Source: MECW Volume 38 p. 38;
Written: 5 May 1846;
First published: in Die Gesellschaft, Jg. IV, H. 9, Berlin, 1927.

Brussels, 5 May 1846

My dear Proudhon,

I have frequently had it in mind to write to you since my departure from Paris, but circumstances beyond my control have hitherto prevented me from doing so. Please believe me when I say that my silence was attributable solely to a great deal of work, the troubles attendant upon a change of domicile, [50] etc.

And now let us proceed in medias res [to the matter in hand] — jointly with two friends of mine, Frederick Engels and Philippe Gigot (both of whom are in Brussels), I have made arrangements with the German communists and socialists for a constant interchange of letters which will be devoted to discussing scientific questions, and to keeping an eye on popular writings, and the socialist propaganda that can be carried on in Germany by this means. [51] The chief aim of our correspondence, however, will be to put the German socialists in touch with the French and English socialists; to keep foreigners constantly informed of the socialist movements that occur in Germany and to inform the Germans in Germany of the progress of socialism in France and England. In this way differences of opinion can be brought to light and an exchange of ideas and impartial criticism can take place. It will be a step made by the social movement in its literary manifestation to rid itself of the barriers of nationality. And when the moment for action comes, it will clearly be much to everyone’s advantage to be acquainted with the state of affairs abroad as well as at home.

Our correspondence will embrace not only the communists in Germany, but also the German socialists in Paris and London. [52] Our relations with England have already been established. So far as France is concerned, we all of us believe that we could find no better correspondent than yourself. As you know, the English and Germans have hitherto estimated you more highly than have your own compatriots.

So it is, you see, simply a question of establishing a regular correspondence and ensuring that it has the means to keep abreast of the social movement in the different countries, and to acquire a rich and varied interest, such as could never be achieved by the work of one single person.

Should you be willing to accede to our proposal, the postage on letters sent to you as also on those that you send us will be defrayed here, collections made in Germany being intended to cover the cost of correspondence.

The address you will write to in this country is that of Mr Philippe Gigot, 8 rue de Bodenbrock. It is also he who will sign the letters from Brussels.

I need hardly add that the correspondence as a whole will call for the utmost secrecy on your part; our friends in Germany must act with the greatest circumspection if they are not to compromise themselves.

Let us have an early reply[53] and rest assured of the sincere friendship of

Yours most sincerely
Karl Marx

P.S. I must now denounce to you Mr Grün of Paris. The man is nothing more than a literary swindler, a species of charlatan, who seeks to traffic in modern ideas. He tries to conceal his ignorance with pompous and arrogant phrases but all he does is make himself ridiculous with his gibberish. Moreover this man is dangerous. He abuses the connection he has built up, thanks to his impertinence, with authors of renown in order to create a pedestal for himself and compromise them in the eyes of the German public. In his book on French socialists [Grün, Die soziale Bewegung in Frankreich und Belgien], has the audacity to describe himself as tutor (Privatdozent, a German academic title) to Proudhon, claims to have revealed to him the important axioms of German science and makes fun of his writings. Beware of this parasite. Later on I may perhaps have something more to say about this individual.

[From Gigot]

It is with pleasure that I take advantage of the opportunity offered by this letter to assure you how glad I am to enter into relations with a man as distinguished as yourself. Meanwhile, believe me,

Yours most sincerely
Philippe Gigot

[From Engels]

For my part, I can only hope, Mr Proudhon, that you will approve of the scheme we have just put to you and that you will be kind enough not to deny us your cooperation. Assuring you of the deep respect your writings have inspired in me, I remain,

Yours very sincerely
Frederick Engels

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