Marx-Engels Correspondence 1870

Marx to Edward Beesly
In London


Written: October 19, 1870;
Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence, International Publishers (1968);
Additional text from Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence, Progress Publishers (1975);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 1999.

London, October 19, 1870

My Dear Sir

Deák [2] is against the workmen. He is, in fact, a Hungarian edition of an English Whig.

... As to Lyons, I have received letters not fit for publication. At first everything went well. Under the pressure of the "International" section, the Republic was proclaimed before Paris had taken that step. A revolutionary government was at once established--La Commune--composed partly of workmen belonging to the "International," partly of Radical middle class Republicans. The octrois [internal customs dues] were at once abolished, and rightly so. The Bonapartist and Clerical intriguers were intimidated. Energetic means were taken to arm the whole people. The middle class began if not really to sympathise with, at least to quietly undergo, the new order of things. The action of Lyons was at once felt at Marseilles and Toulouse, where the "International" sections are strong.

But the asses, Bakunin and Cluseret, arrived at Lyons and spoiled everything. Belonging both to the "International," they had, unfortunately, influence enough to mislead our friends. The Hotel de Ville was seized for a short time--a most foolish decree on the abolition de l'etat [abolition of the state] and similar nonsense were issued. You understand that the very fact of a Russian--represented by the middle class papers as an agent of Bismarck--pretending to impose himself as the leader of a Comite de Salut de la France [Committee for the Safety of France] was quite sufficient to turn the balance of public opinion. As to Cluseret, he behaved both as a fool and a coward. These two men have left Lyons after their failure.

At Rouen, as in most industrial towns of France, the sections of the International, following the example of Lyons, have enforced the official admission into the "committees of defence" of the working-class element.

Still, I must tell you that according to all information I receive from France, the middle class on the whole prefers Prussian conquest to the victory of a Republic with Socialist tendencies. ...

Yours truly
Karl Marx


1. Edward Spencer Beesly (1831-1915) – English historian and political figure, bourgeois radical, positivist, professor at London University, known for his defence of First International and Paris Commune in the English press in 1870-71 – Progress Publishers.

2. Ferenc Deák (1803-1876) – Hungarian statesman, representative of liberal circles of Hungarian aristocracy, advocated compromise with Austrian monarchy – Progress Publishers.

Perhaps also add Progress f/ns on Lyons and ‘committees of defence’, mentioned in extract already on MIA:

a. The rising in Lyons began on 4 September 1870, after the news of the defeat at Sedan. Bakunin, who had arrived in Lyons on 15 September, tried to seize the leadership of the movement and to carry into effect his anarchist programme. The attempt of the Anarchists to stage a coup on 28 September completely failed.

b. Committees of defence were set up in many French cities at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War, their main task was the organisation of the food supply for the army.