Marx-Engels Correspondence 1870

Marx To Paul Lafargue
In Paris

[London,] 18 April 1870

Source: MECW Volume 43. p. 485.

Dear Paul-Laurent[1],

I send enclosed credentials for Mr H. Verlet. Let him give to the new section he is about to establish no sectarian ‘name’, either Communistic or other. Il faut éviter les’étiquettes’ sectaires dans l’Association Internationale. [Sectarian ‘labels’ must be avoided in the International Association.] The general aspirations and tendencies of the working class emanate from the real conditions in which it finds itself placed. They are therefore common to the whole class although the movement reflects itself in their heads in the most diversified forms, more or less phantastical, more or less adequate. Those who interpret best the hidden sense of the class struggle going on before our eyes – the Communists are the last to commit the blunder of affecting or fostering sectarianism.

Mr Verlet would do well to put himself in communication with our friend Jules Johannard, 126 rue d’Aboukir.

One thing which ought to be done as quickly as possible, and which might be done by Paul-Laurent, is to publish in the Libre pensée a true and literal translation of the International Rules. The French current translation, emanating from our first Paris Committee, Tolain et Co., is full of intentional mistakes. They suppressed everything which they did riot like. If a true translation was made, it would be well to send it me before its publication.

In Germany people would much wonder at Verlet’s appreciation of Büchner. In our country he is only considered. and justly so, as a vulgarisateur.

You know how much I admire le ‘Roman de Conspiration’ [an article by Paul Lafargue]. I was, therefore, truly delighted to see it so well appreciated by Paul-Laurent.

I am now forced to say, a few words which Paul-Laurent will a little fret at, but I cannot help doing so.

Your father wrote me a letter to Hanover which I have not yet answered, because I did not know what to say.

I feel quite sure that Paul has discarded all notion of finishing [his degree], or occupying himself with, his medical studies. When at Paris I wrote to his father in a different sense, and 1 was warranted in doing so by Paul’s own promises. Thus I am placed in quite a false position towards M. Lafargue ainé. I cannot remain in that fix. I see no other prospect of getting out of it but by writing to him that I have as little influence with his beloved son as himself. If you see any other way of escape for me, any other means of my position, please communicate it to me.

In my opinion, which however I neither pretend nor hope to see accepted and acted upon, Paul-Laurent cum figlio ought to pay a visit to their parents at Bordeaux and try to coax them by the many means personal intercourse permits of.

Yours truly ...

1. Paul Laurent is a pen name for Paul Lafargue and Laura, Marx’s daughter.