Letter by Wilhelm Weitling to Moses Hess

This personal letter was written by Wilhelm Weitling, to Moses Hess, the day after the meeting of the Communist Correspondence Committee. Present at this meeting were: Weitling, Marx, Engels, Philippe Gigot, Louis Heilberg, Sebastien Seiler, Edgar von Westphalen (Marx’s brother-in-law), Joseph Weydemeyer, and Pavel Annenkov.

Brussels, March 31, 1846
Dear Hess!

Last evening we met again inpleno. Marx brought with him a man whom he presented to us as a Russian [Annenkov], and who never said a word throughout the whole evening. The question was: What is the best way to carry on propaganda in Germany? Seiler posed the question, but he said he could not go into further detail now, since some delicate matters would have to be touched upon, etc. Marx kept on pressing him, but in vain. Both became excited, Marx violently so. In the end, the latter took up the question. His resume was:

  1. An examination must be made of the Communist party.
  2. This can be achieved by criticizing the incompetent and separating them from the sources of money.
  3. This examination is now the most important thing that can be done in the interest of communism.
  4. He who has the power to carry authority with the moneyed men also has the means to displace the others and would probably apply it.
  5. “Handicraft communism” and “philosophical communism” must be opposed, human feeling must be derided, these are merely obfuscations. No oral propaganda, no provision for secret propaganda, in general the word propaganda not to be used in the future.
  6. The realization of communism in the near future is out of the question; the bourgeoisie must first be at the helm.
  7. Marx and Engels argued vehemently against me. Weydemeyer spoke quietly. Gigot and Edgar did not say a word. Heilberg opposed Marx from an impartial viewpoint, at the very end Seiler did the same, bitterly but with admirable calm. I became vehement, Marx surpassed me, particularly at the end when everything was in an uproar, he jumping up and down in his office. Marx was especially furious at my resume. I had said: The only thing that came out of our discussion was he who finds the money may write what he pleases....

That Marx and Engels will vehemently criticize my principles is now certain. Whether or not I will be able to defend myself as I would like to do, I don’t know. Without money Marx cannot criticize and I cannot defend myself; nevertheless, in an emergency it may not matter that I have no money. I believe Marx and Engels will end by criticizing themselves through their own criticism. In Marx’s brain, I see nothing more than a good encyclopaedia, but no genius. His influence is felt through other personalities. Rich men made him editor, voila tout. Indeed, rich men who make sacrifices have a right to see or have investigations made into what they want to support. They have the power to assert this right, but the writer also has the power, no matter how poor he is, not to sacrifice his convictions for money. I am capable of sacrificing my conviction for the sake of unity. I put aside my work on my system when I received protests against it from all directions. But when I heard in Brussels that the opponents of my system intended to publish splendid systems in well-financed translations, I completed mine and made an effort to bring it to the man [Marx]. If this is not supported, then it is entirely in order to make an examination. Jackass that I was, I had hitherto believed that it would be better if we used all our own qualities against our _enemies_ and encouraged especially those that bring forth persecutions in the struggle. I had thought it would be better to influence the people and, above all, to organize a portion of them for the propagation of our popular writings. But Marx and Engels do not share this view, and in this they are strengthened by their rich supporters. All right! Very good! Splendid! I see it coming. I have often found myself in similar circumstances, and always things turned out for the best....