Marx-Engels Correspondence 1871

Marx to Ludwig Kugelmann
In Hanover


Written: April 17, 1871;
Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence;
Publisher: International Publishers (1968);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 1999;
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

[London] April 17, 1871

Dear Kugelmann

Your letter duly received. Just at present I have my hands full. Hence only a few words.

... How you can compare petty-bourgeois demonstrations à la 13 June[1], 1849, etc., with the present struggle in Paris is quite incomprehensible to me.

World history would indeed be very easy to make, if the struggle were taken up only on condition of infallibly favorable chances. It would, on the other hand, be a very mystical nature, if “accidents” played no part. These accidents themselves fall naturally into the general course of development and are compensated again by other accidents. But acceleration and delay are very dependent upon such “accidents,” which included the "accident" of the character of those who at first stand at the head of the movement.

The decisive, unfavorable “accident” this time is by no means to be found in the general conditions of French society, but in the presence of the Prussians in France and their position right before Paris. Of this the Parisians were well aware. But of this, the bourgeois canaille of Versailles were also well aware. Precisely for that reason they presented the Parisians with the alternative of taking up the fight of succumbing without a struggle. In the latter case, the demoralization of the working class against the capitalist class and its state has entered upon a new phase with the struggle in paris. Whatever the immediate results may be, a new point of departure of world-historic importance has been gained. ...




1. On 13 June 1849, the petty-bourgeois party of the Montagne organised a peaceful demonstration in Paris as a protest against the infringements of the French constitution by the president and the majority of the Legislative Assembly. The demonstration was easily dispersed by troops thus confirming the complete bankruptcy of the petty-bourgeois democrats in France – Progress Publishers.