Letters of Marx and Engels, 1846

Engels To Marx [119]
In Brussels

Source: MECW Volume 38 p. 86
Written: 23 October 1846;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, 1913.

Paris, about 23 October 1846

Dear M.,

Have received the thing against Kriege.[120] Not bad. Since you alone signed, Kriege will no doubt put the more peremptory tone of the first document [Marx and Engels, Circular Against Kriege] down to my personal account, and eat humble pie in respect of the second, but little do I care. Let him give free rein to his personal malice and paint me as black as may be in the eyes of the American Straubingers,[86] if that gives him any pleasure.

You will see from the Committee letter’ how successful I was with the Straubingers here. The devil knows, I didn’t spare them. I attacked their worst prejudices, and told them they were not proletarians at all. But Grün also played very beautifully into my hands.

For heaven’s sake don’t stamp your letters to me. If it hadn’t been for that damned Leske, who finally sent me a worthless bill of exchange, which I had to return, for the old stuff I had sent to Püttmann [Engels, Description of Recently Founded Communist Colonies Still in Existence] — if the cur hadn’t left me in the lurch, I'd send you 25 fr. immediately for Committee funds. But meanwhile I shall take upon myself at least the cost of the correspondence with me. If I failed to stamp my previous letter, it was because it was too late and I could only get it off by dropping it straight into the letter box. As soon as Leske sends me the money, you'll get a share of it.

None of the Straubingers are to be allowed to see the reply to Kriege. Otherwise it wouldn’t be safe from Grün. We must be careful not to let anything disturb the chap until he’s finished his work on Proudhon’s book, with notes by K. Grün [Proudhon, Philosophie der Staatsökonomie oder Nothwendigkeit des Elends]. Then we'll have him. In it he completely retracts a mass of things he has previously said, and delivers himself up body and soul to the Proudhonian system of redemption. Then there'll be no more exploitation, unless he is willing to turn his coat again.

Is Weitling still in Brussels [121]?

I think I shall be able to pull it off with the Straubingers here. True, the fellows are horribly ignorant and, their condition in life being what it is, completely unprepared. There is no competition whatever among them, wages remain constantly at the same wretched level; the struggle with the master, far from turning on the question of wages, is concerned with ‘journeymen’s pride’, etc. The slop-shops are now having a revolutionising effect on the tailors. If only it were not such a rotten trade!

Grün has done a frightful amount of harm. He has turned all that was distinct in these fellows’ minds into woolly daydreams, humanitarian aspirations, etc. Under the pretence of attacking Weitlingian and other doctrinaire communism, he has stuffed their heads full of vague literary and petty-bourgeois catchphrases, maintaining that all else was system-mongering. Even the cabinet-makers, who have never, save a few exceptions, been Weitlingians, entertain a superstitious fear of ‘bread-and-butter communism’ [Löffelkommunismus] and — at least before the resolution was passed — would sooner have associated themselves with the woolliest daydreams, peaceable philanthropic schemes, etc., than with this ‘bread-and-butter communism’. Here utter confusion reigns.

A few days ago I wrote to Harney, gently attacking the pacific nature of the fraternal democrats [122] and told him, by the way, that he should continue to correspond with you.


[On the back of the letter]

Monsieur Charles Marx
42 rue d'Orléans
Faubourg de Namur
Affranchi. Bruxelles