Karl Marx, the third of nine children and only surviving son of Hirschel and Henrietta Marx, was born in Trier, Germany, on 5th May 1818. His father was a lawyer and to escape anti-Semitism decided to abandon his Jewish faith when Karl was a child. Although the majority of people living in Trier were Catholics, Marx decided to become a Protestant. He also changed his name from Hirschel to Heinrich. (1)
Marx attended Friedrich-Wilhelm Gymnasium in Trier. At the age of seventeen he wrote about his ambitions for the future and the morality of the type of work he intended to do: ‘If he is working only for himself, he can become a famous scholar, a sage, a distinguished writer, but never a complete, a truly great, man." (2)
Marx entered Bonn University to study law in 1835. His father warned him to look after his body as well as his mind: "In providing really vigorous and healthy nourishment for your mind, do not forget that in this miserable world it is always accompanied by the body, which determines the well-being of the whole machine. A sickly scholar is the most unfortunate being on earth. Therefore, do not study more than your health can bear." (3)
At university he spent much of his time socialising and running up large debts. His father was horrified when he discovered that Karl had been wounded in a duel. His father asked him: "Is duelling then so closely interwoven with philosophy? Do not let this inclination, and if not inclination, this craze, take root. You could in the end deprive yourself and your parents of the finest hopes that life offers." (4)
Heinrich Marx agreed to pay off his son's debts but insisted that he moved to the more sedate Berlin University. At this time he also began a relationship with Jenny von Westphalen. She was the daughter of Baron Ludwig von Westphalen, and as Francis Wheen pointed out: "It may seem surprising that a twenty-two-year-old princess of the Prussian ruling class... should have fallen for a bourgeois Jewish scallywag four years her junior, rather than some dashing grandee with a braided uniform and a private income; but Jenny was an intelligent, free-thinking girl who found Marx's intellectual swagger irresistible. After ditching her official fiance, a respectable young second lieutenant, she became engaged to Karl in the summer of 1836." (5)
Karl Marx & Hegel
The move to Berlin resulted in a change in Marx and for the next few years he worked hard at his studies, especially when he switched from law to philosophy. Marx came under the influence of one of his lecturers, Bruno Bauer, whose atheism and radical political opinions got him into trouble with the authorities. Bauer introduced Marx to the writings of G. W. F. Hegel, who had been the professor of philosophy at the university until his death in 1831.
Marx wrote a long letter to his father describing his conversion to Hegel's theories: "There are moments in one's life, which are like frontier posts marking the completion of a period but at the same time clearly indicating a new direction. At such a moment of transition we feel compelled to view the past and the present with the eagle eye of thought in order to become conscious of our real position. Indeed, world history itself likes to look back in this way and take stock." (6)
His father was upset by his decision to abandon his law degree. Marx rarely replied to his parents' letters. He did not return home during university holidays and showed no interest in his family. His father appeared to accept defeat when he wrote: "I can only propose, advise. You have outgrown me; in this matter you are in general superior to me, so I must leave it to you to decide as you will." (7)
Karl Marx was especially impressed by Hegel's theory that a thing or thought could not be separated from its opposite. For example, the slave could not exist without the master, and vice versa. Hegel argued that unity would eventually be achieved by the equalising of all opposites, by means of the dialectic (logical progression) of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. This was Hegel's theory of the evolving process of history.
Heinrich Marx, aged fifty-seven, died of tuberculosis on 10th May 1838. Marx now had to earn his own living and he decided to become a university lecturer. After completing his doctoral thesis at the University of Jena, Marx hoped that his mentor, Bruno Bauer, would help find him a teaching post. However, Bauer was dismissed as a result of his outspoken atheism and was unable to help. (8)
Marx gradually began to question the purpose of philosophy: "Since every true philosophy is the intellectual quintessence of his time, the time must come when philosophy not only internally by its content, but also externally through its form, comes into contact and interaction with the real world of its day." (9) Three years later he commented: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." (10)
While in Berlin he met Moses Hess, a radical who called himself a socialist. Marx began attending socialist meetings organised by Hess who wrote to his friend, Berthold Auerbach, about the new member of the group: "He is a phenomenon who made a tremendous impression on me in spite of the strong similarity of our fields. In short you can prepare yourself to meet the greatest - perhaps the only genuine - philosopher of the current generation. When he makes a public appearance, whether in writing or in the lecture hall, he will attract the attention of all Germany... Dr Marx (that is my idol's name) is still a very young man - about twenty-four at the most. He will give medieval religion and philosophy their coup de grâce (an action or event that serves as the culmination of a bad or deteriorating situation); he combines the deepest philosophical seriousness with the most biting wit. Imagine Rousseau, Voltaire, Holbach, Lessing, Heine and Hegel fused into one person - I say fused not juxtaposed - and you have Dr. Marx." (11)
As well as his intellect his new friends commented on his unusual appearance. Gustav von Mevissen later recalled: "Karl Marx... was a powerful man of twenty-four whose thick black hair sprang from his cheeks, arms, nose and ears. He was domineering, impetuous, passionate, full of boundless self-confidence." Pavel Annenkov added: "He was most remarkable in his appearance. He had a shock of deep black hair and hairy hands... He looked like a man with the right and power to command respect." Friedrich Lessner believed that his looks gave him leadership qualities: "His brow was high and finely shaped, his hair thick and pitch-black... Marx was a born leader of the people." (12)
At these socialist meetings Marx discovered that he was not a great orator. He had a slight lisp and his gruff Rhenish accent was difficult to understand. He therefore decided to try journalism. However, his radical political views meant that most editors were unwilling to publish his articles. He moved to Cologne where the city's liberal opposition movement was fairly strong and had its own newspaper, The Rhenish Gazette. It has been pointed out by Eric Hobsbawm that the newspaper was funded by "a group of wealthy Cologne men in business and the professions and representing the moderate but loyal liberalism of the (non-clerical) Rhineland bourgeoisie". (13)
After six months and a number of articles, he became the newspaper's editorial director. He developed an aggressive style of writing and clearly "delighted in his talent for inflicting verbal violence". Karl Heinzen claimed he would use "logic, dialectics, learning... to annihilate anyone who would not see eye to eye with him. Marx, he said, wanted "to break windowpanes with cannon". According to the socialist politician, Wilhelm Liebknecht, Marx had the "style is the dagger used for a well-aimed thrust at the heart". (14)
A rival newspaper, accused Marx of editing a communist newspaper. Marx responded by arguing that "communist ideas in their present form possess even theoretical reality, and therefore can still less desire their practical realisation, or even consider it possible, will subject these ideas to thoroughgoing criticism." He was however interested in the ideas of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who had recently published What is Property? (1840) and pointed out that the "sharp-witted work by Proudhon, cannot be criticised on the basis of superficial flashes of thought, but only after long and profound study." (15)
In a letter to his friend, Arnold Ruge, Marx admitted that the censor would not allow his socialist views to be published. Every edition of the newspaper had to be shown to Laurenz Dolleschall of the Cologne Police Department and any article he did not like could not appear in the newspaper. "Our newspaper has to be presented to the police to be sniffed at and if the police nose smells anything unChristian or UnPrussian, the newspaper is not allowed to appear." (16)
Even so, the provincial governor complained in November 1842 that the tone of the newspaper was "becoming more and more impudent". It was an article by Marx on accusing the authorities of ignoring "the wretched economic plight of Moselle wine-farmers who were unable to compete with the cheap, tariff-free wines being imported into Prussia from other German states." On 21st January 1843, the government banned the newspaper. (17)
Marx's friend, Arnold Ruge, offered him a position on a new journal based in Paris. Marx accepted but pointed out that "I am engaged to be married and I cannot, mist not and will not leave Germany without my intended wife.... She has fought the most violent battles, which almost undermined her health, partly against her pietistic aristocratic relatives... and partly against my own family, in which some priests and other enemies of mine have ensconced themselves... For years, therefore, my fiancée and I have been engaged in more unnecessary and exhausting conflicts than many who are three times our age." (18)
Marx married Jenny von Westphalen on 19th June, 1843. It was claimed that when she was dealing with "aristocratic mediocrities in gilded ballrooms she was witty, lively and supremely self-assured". However, in the early days of her relationship she admitted that: "I cannot say a word for nervousness, the blood stops flowing in my veins and my soul trembles". Over the next forty years she remained by his side helping him with his work and "since his handwriting was indecipherable to the untrained eye, he depended on her to transcribe" his writings. (19)
After a brief honeymoon Karl and Jenny Marx arrived in Paris, and became the joint-editor of the Deutsche-Französische Jahrbücher. He approached German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach to write an article for the new journal. Marx had been very impressed with his work which provided a critique of Christianity and advocated liberalism, atheism, and materialism. However, Feuerbach, who disagreed with Marx's political activism, refused.
The first issue of the journal appeared in February 1844, and included contributions from his old mentor, Bruno Bauer, the Russian anarchist, Michael Bakunin and the radical son of a wealthy German industrialist, Friedrich Engels. The following month the Prussian government issued an arrest warrant against its editors on the grounds of high treason. (20)
Marx continued to write and developed his ideas on the concept of alienation. In Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts he developed his ideas on the concept of alienation. Marx identified three kinds of alienation in capitalist society. First, the worker is alienated from what he produces. Second, the worker is alienated from himself; only when he is not working does he feel truly himself. Finally, in capitalist society people are alienated from each other; that is, in a competitive society people are set against other people. Marx believed the solution to this problem was communism as this would enable the fulfilment of "his potentialities as a human." (21)
During this period Marx took a detailed look at religious belief. "Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo." (22)
Marx than tackled the ideas of Feuerbach. James Richmond has pointed out that in Feuerbach's book, The Essence of Christianity (1841) he announced "his programme of doing what his philosophical mentors had shrunk from doing - to transform completely theology into anthropology, the love of God into the love of man, the service of God into the service of man. Man must be persuaded to turn his attention away from the other-worldly to the worldly, from some life which is allegedly to come to the present life, from heaven towards earth." (23)
He wrote to him saying that he had earned his lasting gratitude. "I am glad to have an opportunity of assuring you of the great respect and - if I may use the word - love which I feel for you... You have provided - I don't whether intentionally - a philosophical basis for socialism... The unity of man with man, which is based on the real differences between men, the concept of the human species brought down from the heaven of abstraction to the real earth, what is this but the concept of society." (24)
Feuerbach was not convinced by the arguments put forward by Marx. He replied that, in his opinion, "it would be rash to move from theory to practice until the theory itself had been honed to perfection". Marx, by contrast, believed the two were - or ought to be - inseparable and philosophers should concentrate on the "merciless criticism of all that exists".
In his article, Theses on Feuerbach (1845) Marx argued "The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society. The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice... Philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." (25)
Marx insisted that "the criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism". He pointed out the contradictions of the role that Martin Luther played in the Protestant Reformation: "He destroyed faith in authority, but only by restoring the authority of faith. He transformed the priests into laymen, but only by transforming the laymen into priests. He freed mankind from external religiously, but only by making religiously the inner man. He freed the body from the chains, but only by putting the heart in chains." (26)
Marx agreed with Tom Paine that Christianity is a mask invented beings for the purpose of carrying on struggles for power over others. Paine, like Marx, was also a man of action. It was Paine who had "prepared the intellectual ground... for a more secular system of government and society in which, at a minimum, the freedom to believe and worship according to individual and group conscience required a pluralistic civil society". (27)
Economics and Society
Karl Marx decided to study economics. He began by reading the works of Adam Smith, David Ricardo and James Mill. He scribbled a running commentary as he went on. The first manuscript begins with the simple declaration: "Wages are determined by the fierce struggle between capitalist and worker. The capitalist inevitably wins. The capitalist can live longer without the worker than the worker can without him."
The only defence the workers have against capitalism is competition, which enables wages to rise and prices to fall. Marx believed that there was a tendency for monopolies to be created and therefore undermining the power of the workers: "The big capitalists ruin the small ones and a section of the former capitalists sinks into the class of the workers which, because of this increase in numbers, suffers a further depression of wages and becomes ever more dependent on the handful of big capitalists. Because the number of capitalists has fallen, competition for workers hardly exists any longer, and because the number of workers has increased, the competition among them has become all the more considerable, unnatural and violent." (28)
Marx pointed out that Adam Smith had warned of the dangers of a system that allowed individuals to pursue individual self-interest at the detriment of the rest of society. He was very much against the establishment of monopolies. "A monopoly granted either to an individual or to a trading company has the same effect as a secret in trade or manufactures. The monopolists, by keeping the market constantly under-stocked, by never fully supplying the effectual demand, sell their commodities much above the natural price, and raise their emoluments, whether they consist in wages or profit, greatly above their natural rate." (29)
Marx argued that even in times of economic growth, conditions do not get better for the worker. The only consequence is "overwork and early death, reduction to a machine, enslavement to capital". He is in competition with the machines. "Since the worker has been reduced to a machine, the machine can confront him as a competitor. The accumulation of capital enables industry to turn out an ever greater quantity of products. This leads to overproduction and unemployment.
The system is organised in such a way to benefit the employer. An industrialist can store his products of his factory until they fetch a decent price, whereas the worker's only product, his labour, loses its value completely if it is not sold at every instant. Unlike other commodities, labour can be neither accumulated nor saved. The employer is more fortunate, since capital is "stored-up labour".
Karl Marx pointed out that classical economists treated private property as a primordial human condition. However, the Industrial Revolution had shown that nothing is fixed or immutable. In the 18th century we had begun to see power being transferred from feudal landlords to industrialists. Feudal landowners had been efficient who had not attempted to extract the maximum profit from their property.
Under capitalism the worker devotes his life to producing objects which he does not own or control. His labour thus becomes a separate, external being which "exists outside him, independently of him and alien to him, and begins to confront him as an autonomous power; the life which he has bestowed on the object confronts him as hostile and alien". (30)
As Francis Wheen points out: "For Marx, alienated labour was not an eternal and inescapable problem of human consciousness but the result of a particular form of economic and social organization. A mother, for instance, isn't automatically estranged from her baby the moment it emerges from the womb... But she would feel very alienated indeed if, every time she gave birth, the squealing infant was immediately seized from her by some latter-down Herold. This, more or less, was the daily lot of the workers, forever producing what they could not keep. No wonder they felt less than human." (31)
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
While living in Paris he become a close friend of Friedrich Engels. As a young man his father sent him to England to help manage his cotton-factory in Manchester. Engels was shocked by the poverty in the city and began writing an account that was published as Condition of the Working Class in England (1844). Engels shared Marx's views on capitalism and after their first meeting Engels wrote that there was virtually "complete agreement in all theoretical fields became evident and our joint work dates from that time." (32)
Marx and Engels decided to work together. It was a good partnership, whereas Marx was at his best when dealing with difficult abstract concepts, Engels had the ability to write for a mass audience. For Engels, Marx was "the greatest living thinker", the "Darwin of the law of human historical evolution, the pathbreaker for humanity's future, a genius to whom he, a mere man of talent and intelligence, was justified in devoting his mind and money - even at the cost of continuing in the hated family cotton business to provide him with an income." (33)
While working on their first article together, The Holy Family, the Prussian authorities put pressure on the French government to expel Karl Marx from the country. On 25th January 1845, Marx received an order deporting him from France. Marx and Engels decided to move to Belgium, a country that permitted greater freedom of expression than any other European state. Marx went to live in Brussels, where there was a sizable community of political exiles, including the man who converted him to socialism, Moses Hess.
Friedrich Engels helped to financially support Marx and his family. Engels gave Marx the royalties of his recently published book, Condition of the Working Class in England and arranged for other sympathizers to make donations. This enabled Marx the time to study and develop his economic and political theories. Marx spent his time trying to understand the workings of capitalist society, the factors governing the process of history and how the proletariat could help bring about a socialist revolution. (34)
In July 1845 Marx and Engels visited England. They spent most of the time consulting books in Manchester Library. Marx also visited London where he met the Chartist leaders, George Julian Harney and other political exiles from Europe. He praised Feargus O'Connor and wrote articles for the Northern Star and claimed it was "the only English paper worth reading for the continental democrats". (35)
Marx returned to Brussels and along with Engels finished their book, The German Ideology. It begins with one of Marx's attention-grabbing generalisations: "Hitherto men have always formed wrong ideas about themselves, about what they are and what they ought to be." He then went on to attack other German philosophers that he had previously praised. This included Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno Bauer and Max Stirner. (36)
Marx and Engels spent 300 pages attacking Stirner's book, The Ego and Its Own (1845). As Richard Parry has pointed out: "Stirner saw all morality as an ideological justification for the repression of individuals; he opposed those revolutionaries who wished to set up a new morality in place of the old, as this would still result in the triumph of the collectivity over the individual and lay the basis for another despotic State. He denied that there was any real existence in concepts such as 'Natural Law', 'Common Humanity', 'Reason', 'Justice' or 'The People'; more than being simply absurd platitudes (which he derisively labelled sacred concepts, they were some of the whole gamut of abstract ideas which unfortunately dominated the thinking of most individuals... Stirner perceived the repressive nature of ideologies, even so-called revolutionary ones; he believed that all these sacred concepts manufactured by the intellect actually resulted in practical despotism." (37)
Marx and Engels completely rejected Stirner's idea that "heroic egoism and self-indulgence would liberate individuals from their imaginary oppression". It has been argued that the book reveals what Marx had learned from his philosophical and political adventures. Having rejected God, Hegel and Feuerbach in quick succession, he and Engels were now ready to unveil their own scheme of practical theory of theoretical practice - otherwise known as historical materialism". (38)
"The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions of their life... These premises can thus be verified in a purely empirical way... The division of labour inside a nation leads at first to the separation of industrial and commercial from agricultural labour, and hence to the separation of town and country and to the conflict of their interests. Its further development leads to the separation of commercial from industrial labour... The social structure and the state are continually evolving out of the life-process of definite individuals... It is not consciousness that determines life, but life that determines consciousness." (39)
Max Stirner had suggested that the division of labour applied only to those tasks which any reasonably trained person could perform. He used the example of the Italian artist, Raphael, as someone whose talent was such that no one else could have produced. This was an unfortunate example as Raphael had teams of assistants and pupils to complete his frescoes. Marx also pointed out that he did not believe that everyone should or not produce the work of a Raphael, but only a communist society would enable an artist to reach their full potential. (40)
"Stirner imagines that Raphael produced his pictures independently of the division of labour that existed in Rome at the time. If he were to compare Raphael with Leonardo da Vinci and Titian, he would see how greatly Raphael's works of art depended on the flourishing of Rome at that time, which occurred under Florentine influence, while the works of Leonardo depended on the state of things in Florence, and the works of Titian, at a later period, depended on the totally different development of Venice. Raphael as much as any other artist was determined by the technical advances in art made before him, by the organisation of society and the division of labour... In a communist society there are no painters but only people who engage in painting among other activities." (41)
Communist Correspondence Committee
Karl Marx believed that trade unions had an important role in overthrowing capitalism. "The value of labour-power constitutes the conscious and explicit foundation of the trade unions, whose importance for the... working class can scarcely be overestimated. The trade unions aim at nothing less than to prevent the reduction of wages below the level that is traditionally maintained in the various branches of industry. That is to say, they wish to prevent the price of labour-power from falling below its value." (42)
However, as he pointed out, the authorities had always tried to keep trade unions under control. In 1799 and 1780 William Pitt, the Prime Minister, decided to take action against political agitation among industrial workers. Combination Laws was passed making it illegal for workers to join together to press their employers for shorter hours or higher wages. As a result trade unions were thus effectively made illegal.
The legislation remained in force until they were repealed in 1824. This was followed by an outbreak of strikes and as a result further legislation was passed. The 1825 Combination Act narrowly defined the rights of trade unions as meeting to bargain over wages and conditions. Anything outside these limits was liable to prosecution as criminal conspiracy in restraint of trade. Trade unionists were not allowed to "molest", "obstruct", or intimidate" others. This law worried trade unionists as everything depended on how judges interpreted vague words like obstruct and intimidate. (43)
Robert Owen, Britain's leading socialist, argued that the only way to defeat the government on this issue was the establishment of a single body of trade unionists in Britain. In October 1833 he wrote that "national arrangements shall be formed to include all the working classes in the great organisation". (44)
The first meeting of the Grand National Consolidated Trade Union (GNCTU) took place on 13th February, 1834. Within a few weeks the organisation had gained over 1,500,000 members. James Morrison, the editor of Pioneer, the official paper of the GNCTU, wrote: "our little snowballs have all been rolled together and formed into a mighty avalanche". (45)
Owen hoped it would be possible to use the GNCTU to peacefully supplant capitalism. A. L. Morton, the author of A People's History of England (1938) argues that once the GNCTU "had been formed, strikes broke out everywhere, making demands on its resources that it had no means of meeting and at the same time scaring the government into a belief that the revolution was at hand." The government decided to fight back and six farm labourers at Tolpuddle were charged with administering illegal oaths and sentenced to transportation. Over 100,000 people demonstrated against this verdict in London but it was unable to stop the men being sent to Australia. The decline of the GNCTU was as rapid as the growth and in August 1834 it was closed down. (46)
Similar things were taking place in other European countries and most of the important trade union leaders in Germany were living in exile. Marx attempted to solve this problem by in 1846 establishing the Communist Correspondence Committee in Brussels. He hoped that with this organisation he would unite the working-classes in Europe. At the first meeting it was decided that the aims of the organisation was "the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the domination of the proletariat, the abolition of the old bourgeois society based on class antagonisms, and the establishment of a new society without classes and without private property". It initially had the slogan "All Men Are Brothers" but this was later changed to "Working Men of All Countries, Unite!"
Pavel Annenkov attended one of these early meetings: "Marx was the type of man who is made up of energy, will and unshakeable conviction. He was most remarkable in his appearance. He had a shock of deep black hair and hairy hands and his coat was buttoned wrong; but he looked like a man with the right and power to demand respect, no matter how he appeared before you and no matter what he did.... He always spoke in imperative words that would brook no contradiction and were made all the sharper by the almost painful impression of the tone which ran through everything he said. This tone expressed the firm conviction of his mission to dominate men's minds and prescribe them their laws. Before me stood the embodiment of a democratic dictator." (47)
Friedrich Lessner, a tailor from Hamburg, met Karl Marx at this time: "Marx was a born leader of the people. His speech was brief, convincing and compelling in its logic. He never said a superfluous word; every sentence was a thought and every thought was a necessary link in the chain of his demonstration. Marx had nothing of the dreamer about him... I saw that Marx represented the manhood of socialist thought." (48)
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An early member of the Communist Correspondence Committee was a young German, Hermann Kriege, who had recently emigrated to edit a German-language newspaper in New York City. Marx disagreed with some of his editorials and insisted in being expelled from the organisation: "Hermann Kriege is not a communist. Kriege's childish pomposity in support of this line is compromising in the highest degree to the Communist Party, both in Europe and America, inasmuch as he is held to be the representative of German communism in New York. The fantastic emotionalism which Kriege is preaching in New York under the name of 'communism' must have an extremely damaging effect on the workers' morale if it is adopted by them." (49)
Wilhelm Weitling was also forced out and Moses Hess resigned before he was expelled. The original eighteen members had fallen to fifteen. Marx decided to ask Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to join the organisation. "So far as France is concerned, we all of us believe that we could find no better correspondent than yourself. As you know, the English and Germans have hitherto estimated you more highly than have your own compatriots... Let us have an early reply, and rest assured of the sincere friendship of yours most sincerely, Karl Marx." (50)
Proudhon was willing to join if Marx was genuine about his desire to listen to the views of all members. "Let us, if you wish, collaborate in trying to discover the laws of society. But for God's sake, after we have demolished all the dogmatisms a priori, let us not of all things attempt in our turn to instill another kind of dogma into the people... With all my heart I applaud your idea of bringing all opinions out into the open. Let us have decent and sincere polemics. Let us give the world an example of learned and farsighted tolerance. But simply because we are at the head of the movement, let us not make ourselves the leaders of a new intolerance... Let us never regard a question as exhausted, and even when we have used up our last argument, let us begin again, if, necessary, with eloquence and irony. Under these conditions I will gladly enter into your association. Otherwise - no!" (51)
Marx did not want Proudhon on these terms and he reacted by attacking him in a pamphlet: "Monsieur Proudhon the economist understands very well that men make cloth, linen or silk materials in definite relations of production. But what he has not understood is that these definite social relations are just as much produced by men as linen, flax, etc. Social relations are closely bound up with productive forces. In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production; and in changing their mode of production, in changing the way of earning their living, they change all their social relations. The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist." (52)
The Communist Party Manifesto
In June 1847 Friedrich Engels produced a document called the Principles of Communism. It included the statement on what it meant to be a communist: "To organise society in such a way that every member of it can develop and use all his capabilities and powers in complete freedom and without thereby infringing the basic conditions of this society". He then goes on to explain how communism was to be achieved: "By the elimination of private property and its replacement by community of property." (53)
Karl Marx used this document as a first draft of the pamphlet entitled The Communist Manifesto. Marx finished the 12,000 word pamphlet in six weeks. Unlike most of Marx's work, it was an accessible account of communist ideology. Written for a mass audience, the book summarised the forthcoming revolution and the nature of the communist society that would be established by the proletariat. It has been claimed that it is the most widely read political pamphlet in human history. (54)
The pamphlet begins with the assertion: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." Marx argued that if you are to understand human history you must not see it as the story of great individuals or the conflict between states. Instead, you must see it as the story of social classes and their struggles with each other. Marx explained that social classes had changed over time but in the 19th century the most important classes were the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. By the term bourgeoisie Marx meant the owners of the factories and the raw materials which are processed in them. The proletariat, on the other hand, own very little and are forced to sell their labour to the capitalists. (55)
Marx believed that these two classes are not merely different from each other, but also have different interests. He went on to argue that the conflict between these two classes would eventually lead to revolution and the triumph of the proletariat. With the disappearance of the bourgeoisie as a class, there would no longer be a class society. "Just as feudal society was burst asunder, bourgeois society will suffer the same fate." (56)
In November 1847 Marx made a visit to London. In a speech to a group of Chartists he argued: "The unification and brotherhood of nations is a phrase which is nowadays on the lips of all parties, particularly of the bourgeois free traders. A kind of brotherhood does indeed exist between the bourgeois classes of all nations. It is the brotherhood of the oppressors against the oppressed, of the exploiters against the exploited. Just as the bourgeois class of one country is united in brotherhood against the proletarians of that country, despite the competition and struggle of its members among themselves, so the bourgeoisie of all countries is united in brotherhood against the proletarians of all countries, despite their struggling and competing with each other on the world market."
Marx went on to say: "Of all countries it is England where the opposition between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is most highly developed. Thus the victory of the English proletariat over the English bourgeoisie is of decisive importance for the victory of all oppressed peoples over their oppressors. Poland, therefore, must be freed, not in Poland, but in England. You Chartists should not express pious wishes for the liberation of nations. Defeat your own enemies at home and then you may be proudly conscious of having defeated the old social order in its entirety." (57)
Marx's main friend amongst the Chartists was Ernest Jones who had been born in Berlin but the family had returned to London where he became a lawyer. Jones was a follower of Feargus O'Connor, the leader of the Physical Force movement. Unlike most Chartists he was a revolutionary socialist. Marx accepted Jones as "the best and most advanced that England had to offer". Jones supplied Marx "with a great deal of information about English conditions". (58)
As the result of his research Marx became convinced that the revolution would first take place in Britain. Society was divided into "two radically dissimilar nations, as unlike as difference of race could make them." Gathered together in towns and cities but separated from the bourgeoisie. "The workers begin to feel as a class, as a whole: they begin to perceive that, though feeble as individuals, they form a power united." Through the growth of working-class political movements, led by people such as Robert Owen and John Doherty, "all the workers employed in manufacture are won for one form or the other of resistance to capital and bourgeoisie; and all are united upon this point, that they, as working-men... from a separate class, with separate interests and principles." (59)
The Communist Manifesto was published in Germany in February, 1848. Later that month a police spy in Belgium reported that: "This noxious pamphlet must indisputably exert the most corrupting influence upon the uneducated public at whom it is directed. The alluring theory of the dividing-up of wealth is held out to factory workers and day labourers as an innate right, and a profound hatred of the rulers and the rest of the community is inculcated into them. There would be a gloomy outlook for the fatherland and for civilisation if such activities succeeded in undermining religion and respect for the laws and in any great measure infected the lower class of the people." (60)
They were especially concerned by the fact that Marx had just received 6,000 gold francs as his share of his father's legacy and they suspected he was going to use this money to "finance the revolutionary movement". Jenny Marx later admitted: "The German workers in Brussels decided to arm themselves. Daggers, revolvers, etc., were procured. Karl willingly provided money, for he had just come into an inheritance." The couple were arrested and expelled from Belgium. (61)
Karl and Jenny Marx and their three children went to France who had just experienced a successful revolution. Within weeks, and on a temporary French passport, he was back in Cologne with Engels, who raised most of the money to found the daily Neue Rheinische Zeitung: Organ der Democratie. According to Eric Hobsbawm it was "the most coherent voice of the democratic left". (62) Engels claimed that he was not the most effective editor: "He is no journalist and will never become one. He pores for a whole day over a leading article that would take someone else a couple of hours as though it concerned the handling of a deep philosophical problem." (63)
On 21st March, 1848, Marx published a handbill headed "Demands of the Communist Party in Germany". The seventeen-point programme included only four of the ten points from the CMM - progressive income-tax, free schooling, state ownership of all means of transport and the creation of a national bank. One measure that was dropped was "abolition of all right of inheritance". Whereas the Manifesto had demanded the nationalisation of all land this was amended to "princely and other feudal estates". Other demands included universal adult suffrage and payment of salaries to parliamentary representatives.
Marx fell out with Andreas Gottschalk, the leader of the Cologne Workers' Association and a representative of the Communist League in the German Constituent National Assembly. Gottschalk was a doctor who treated the poor and had a large following in the city. Whereas Marx's newspaper had a circulation of 5,000, the Cologne Workers' Association, had a membership of over 8,000 people. Marx condemned Gottschalk as a left-wing sectarian who had jeopardised the "united front" of bourgeoisie and proletariat by founding an exclusively working-class pressure group. When Gottschalk was arrested and charged with incitement to violence Marx refused to defend him: "We are reserving our judgement since we are all still lacking definite information about their arrest and the manner in which it was carried out... The workers will be sensible enough not to let themselves be provoked into creating a disturbance." (64)
Carl Schurz, a student, witnessed a meeting addressed by Karl Marx in August 1848. "He could not have been much more than thirty years old at that time, but he was already the recognised head of the advanced socialistic school... I have never seen a man whose bearing was so provoking and intolerable. To no opinion which differed from his own did he accord the honour of even condescending consideration. Everyone who contradicted him he treated with abject contempt; every argument that he did not like he answered either with biting scorn at the unfathomable ignorance that had prompted it, or with opprobrious aspersions upon the motives of him who had advanced it. I remember most distinctly the cutting disdain with which he pronounced the word 'bourgeoi''; and as a 'bourgeois' - that is, as a detestable example of the deepest mental and moral degeneracy - he denounced everyone who dared to oppose his opinion... It was very evident that not only had he not won any adherents, but had repelled many who otherwise might have become his followers." (65)
Marx warned that without a revolution in England the rebellion in Europe would end in failure: "The liberation of Europe is dependent on a successful uprising by the French working class. But every French social upheaval necessarily founders on the English bourgeoisie, on the industrial and commercial world-domination of Great Britain. England will only be overthrown by a world war, which is the only thing that could provide the Chartists, the organised party of the English workers, with the conditions for a successful rising against their gigantic oppressors." (66)
On 25th September, 1849, a state of martial law was declared in Cologne and the military commander immediately suspended publication of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung: Organ der Democratie. Marx now moved to Paris. He believed a socialist revolution was likely to take place in France at any time. However, within a month of arriving, the French police ordered him out of the capital. Only one country remained who would take him, and on 15th September he sailed for England. He wrote to Friedrich Engels: "I count on this absolutely. You cannot stay in Switzerland. In London we shall get down to business." (67)
The Communist Manifesto was translated into English by Helen Macfarlane, a feminist Chartist who knew both Marx and Engels. George Julian Harney, a socialist leader of the Chartist movement, arranged for it to be published in his newspaper, Red Republican, in June 1850, with an editorial comment that it was the most revolutionary document ever published. (68)
Karl Marx in London
The Prussian authorities applied pressure on the British government to expel Marx but the Prime Minister, John Russell, held liberal views on freedom of expression and refused. At that time the country had the reputation for allowing political outcasts to live in London. Census figures show that 300,000 newcomers settled in the capital between 1841 and 1851, including several hundred political refugees.
With only the money that Engels could raise, the Marx family lived in extreme poverty. In March 1850 they were ejected from their two-roomed flat in Chelsea for failing to pay the rent. Jenny Marx explained in a letter to a friend, Joseph Weydemeyer: "Suddenly in came our landlady... and demanded the £5 we still owed her and, since this was not ready to hand... two bailiffs entered the house and placed under distrait what little I possessed - beds, linen, clothes, everything, even my poor infant's cradle, and the best of the toys belonging to the girls, who burst into tears." (69)
They found cheaper accommodation at 28 Dean Street, Soho, where they stayed for six years. Their fifth child, Franziska, was born at their new flat but she only lived for a year. Eleanor Marx was born in 1855 but later that year, Edgar became Jenny Marx's third child to die. Marx spent most of the time in the Reading Room of the British Museum, where he read the back numbers of The Economist and other books and journals that would help him analyze capitalist society. (70)
In order to help supply Marx with an income, Friedrich Engels decided to work at the Manchester office for his father's textile firm, Ermen & Engels. Jenny Marx wrote to him soon after he left: "My husband and all the rest of us have missed you sorely and have often longed to see you... However, I am very glad that you have left and are well on the way to becoming a great cotton lord." (71)
The two kept in constant contact and over the next twenty years they wrote to each other on average once every two days. Engels sent postal orders or £1 or £5 notes, cut in half and sent in separate envelopes. In this way the Marx family was able to survive. It has been estimated that on average Marx received £150 a year from Engels and other supporters. A sum on which a lower-middle-class family could live in some comfort. "The problem of the Marxian finances had been particularly intractable for two reasons: the Marxes felt it essential to maintain the public expenditure of a successful professional household, especially after their move into a middle-class district, and they were spectacularly bad at budgeting." (72)
The poverty of the Marx's family was confirmed by a Prussian police agent who visited the Dean Street flat in 1852. In his report he pointed out that the family had sold most of their possessions and that they did not own one "solid piece of furniture" and "though he is idle for days on end, he will work day and night with tireless endurance when he has a great deal of work to do." (73)
Jenny Marx helped her husband with his work and later wrote that "the memory of the days I spent in his little study copying his scrawled articles is among the happiest of my life." The only relief from the misery of poverty was on a Sunday when they went for family picnics on Hampstead Heath. On 14th April, 1852, shortly after her first birthday, Franziska died: "Only a couple of lines to let you know that our little child died this morning at a quarter past one." (74)
In 1852, Charles Dana, the socialist managing editor of the New York Daily Tribune, offered Marx the opportunity to write for his newspaper. Over the next ten years the newspaper published 487 articles by Marx (125 of them had actually been written by Engels). With a circulation of more than 200,000, the newspaper provide Marx with a large readership. "Its outlook was broadly progressive: in internal affairs it pursued an anti-slavery, free trade policy, while in foreign affairs it attacked the principle of autocracy, and so found itself in opposition to virtually every government in Europe." (75)
Another radical in the USA, George Ripley, commissioned Marx to write for the New American Cyclopaedia. Marx admitted that Engels was doing most of his writing: "Engels really has too much work, but being a veritable walking encyclopedia, he's capable, drunk or sober, of working at any hour of the day or night, is a fast writer and devilish quick on the uptake." (76)
With the money from Marx's journalism and the £120 inherited from Jenny's mother, the family were able to move to 9 Grafton Terrace, Kentish Town. In 1856 Jenny Marx, who was now aged 42, gave birth to a still-born child. Her health took a further blow when she contacted smallpox. Although she survived this serious illness, it left her deaf and badly scarred. Marx's health was also bad and he wrote to Engels claiming that "such a lousy life is not worth living". After a bad bout of boils in 1863, Marx told Engels that the only consolation was that "it was a truly proletarian disease" and "I hope the bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles until their dying day." (77)
Marx published A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy in 1859. In the book Marx argued that the superstructure of law, politics, religion, art and philosophy was determined by economic forces. "It is not", he wrote, "the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness." This is what Friedrich Engels later called "false consciousness". (78)
Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Daily Tribune, a supporter of democratic nationalism, found himself in growing disagreement with Marx's articles. The circulation of the newspaper went into decline and Greeley decided to dismiss most of his European correspondents. Charles Dana pleaded to be allowed to retain Marx, but in vain and in 1862 he was dismissed. (75a)
By the 1860s the work for the New York Daily Tribune came to an end and Marx's money problems returned. Engels sent him £5 a month but this failed to stop him getting deeply into debt. Ferdinand Lassalle, a wealthy socialist from Berlin also began sending money to Marx and offered him work as an editor of a planned new radical newspaper in Germany. Marx, unwilling to return to his homeland and rejected the job. Lassalle continued to send Marx money until he was killed in a duel on 28th August 1864. (80)
International Workingmen's Association
Karl Marx received several letters urging him to establish an international socialist movement. He replied to one letter that "since 1852 I had not been associated with any association and was firmly convinced that my theoretical studies were of greater use to the working class than my meddling with associations which had now had their day on the Continent." In another letter he told Ferdinand Freiligrath that "whereas you are a poet, I am a critic and for me the experiences of 1849-1852 were quite enough." (81)
Marx's friend, George Julian Harney, was a great believer in internationalism. "People are beginning to understand that foreign as well as domestic questions do affect them... that the success of Republicanism in France would be the doom of Tyranny in every other land; and the triumph of England's democratic Charter would be the salvation of the millions throughout Europe." (82)
Britain experienced an economic boom in the late 1840s and early 1850s and there was a decline in the activity of working-class organizations such as the Chartists. This changed with the economic crisis that started in 1857. Over the next two years there were strikes for higher wages and shorter hours. In 1859 attempts were made to join forces with workers in France. (83)
The historian Eric Hobsbawm pointed out that the reasons for this new trend was "a curious amalgam of political and industrial action, of various kinds of radicalism from the democratic to the anarchist, of class struggles, class alliances and government or capitalist concessions... but above all it was international, not merely because, like the revival of liberalism, it occurred simultaneously in various countries, but because it was inseparable from the international solidarity of the working classes." (84)
A group of trade unionists that became known collectively as the "junta" urged the establishment of an international organisation. This included Robert Applegarth, William Allan, George Odger and Johann Eccarius. "The aim of the Junta was to satisfy the new demands which were being voiced by the workers as an outcome of the economic crisis and the strike movement. They hoped to broaden the narrow outlook of British trade unionism, and to induce the unions to participate in the political struggle". (85)
On September 28, 1864, an international meeting for the reception of the French delegates took place in St. Martin’s Hall in London. The meeting was organised by George Howell and attended by a wide array of European radicals, including Wilhelm Liebknecht, August Bebel, Ferdinand Lassalle, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Louis Auguste Blanqui. The historian Edward Spencer Beesly was in the chair and he advocated "a union of the workers of the world for the realisation of justice on earth". (86)
In his speech to the 2,000 people in the audience, Beesly "pilloried the violent proceedings of the governments and referred to their flagrant breaches of international law. As an internationalist he showed the same energy in denouncing the crimes of all the governments, Russian, French, and British, alike. He summoned the workers to the struggle against the prejudices of patriotism, and advocated a union of the toilers of all lands for the realisation of justice on earth." (87)
The new organisation was called the International Workingmen's Association (IWMA). Karl Marx attended the meeting and he was asked to become a member of the General Council that consisted of two Germans, two Italians, three Frenchmen and twenty-seven Englishmen (eleven of them from the building trade). Marx was proposed as President but as he later explained: "I declared that under no circumstances could I accept such a thing, and proposed Odger in my turn, who was then in fact re-elected, although some people voted for me despite my declaration." (88)
The General Council met for the first time on 5th October. George Odger was elected as President and William Cremer as Secretary. After "a very long and animated discussion" the Council could not agree on a programme. Johann Eccarius privately told Marx: "You absolutely must impress the stamp of your terse yet pregnant style upon the first-born child of the European workmen's organisation". (89)
Karl Marx agreed to outline the purpose of the organization. The General Rules of the International Workingmen's Association was published in October 1864. Marx's introduction pointed out what they hoped to achieve: "That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves, that the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule... That the emancipation of labor is neither a local nor a national, but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries." (90)
Friedrich Engels also joined the General Council but refused to to accept the office of treasurer: "Citizen Engels objected that none but working men ought to be appointed to have anything to do with the finances". Marx was asked to draw up the fundamental documents of the new organisation. He admitted that "It was very difficult to manage things in such a way that our views could secure expression in a form acceptable to the Labour movement in its present mood. A few weeks hence these British Labour leaders will he hobnobbing with Bright and Cobden at meetings to demand an extension of the franchise. It will take time before the reawakened movement will allow us to speak with the old boldness." (91)
Despite all his problems Marx continued to work on Das Kapital. On 2nd April 1867, Marx wrote to Engels pointing out that "I had resolved not to write to you until I could announce completion of the book, which is now the case". He added that "without you I would never have been able to bring the work to a conclusion, and I can assure you it always weighed like a nightmare on my conscience that you were allowing your fine energies to be squandered and to rust in commerce." (92)
The first volume of the book was published in September 1867. A detailed analysis of capitalism, the book dealt with important concepts such as surplus value (the notion that a worker receives only the exchange-value, not the use-value, of his labour); division of labour (where workers become a "mere appendage of the machine") and the industrial reserve army (the theory that capitalism creates unemployment as a means of keeping the workers in check). "The result was an original amalgam of economic theory, history, sociology and propaganda". (93)
Marx also deals with the issue of revolution. Marx argued that the laws of capitalism will bring about its destruction. Capitalist competition will lead to a diminishing number of monopoly capitalists, while at the same time, the misery and oppression of the proletariat would increase. Marx claimed that as a class, the proletariat will gradually become "disciplined, united and organised by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production" and eventually will overthrow the system that is the cause of their suffering.
Paul Samuelson, one of the leading economists of the 20th century, has declared that Marx's theories can safely be ignored because the impoverishment of the workers "simply never took place". However, Francis Wheen argues that this view is based on a misreading of Marx's "General Law of Capitalist Accumulation" where he makes clear that he is "referring not to the pauperisation of the entire proletariat but to the 'lowest sediment' of society - the unemployed, the ragged, the sick, the old, the widows and orphans". The main point that Marx was making was that labour always "lags further and further behind capital, however many microwave ovens the workers can afford." (94)
Leszek Kolakowski, the Polish philosopher, supports Wheen when he tackles this issue in Main Currents of Marxism: Its Rise, Growth and Dissolution (1978): "It must be borne in mind that material pauperisation was not a necessary premiss either of Marx's analysis of the caused by wage labour, or of his prediction of the inescapable ruin of capitalism." (95)
Marx now began work on the second volume of Das Kapital. By 1871 his sixteen year old daughter, Eleanor Marx, was helping him with his work. Taught at home by her father, Eleanor already had a detailed understanding of the capitalist system and was to play an important role in the future of the British labour movement. On one occasion Marx told his children that "Jenny (his eldest daughter) is most like me, but Tussy (Eleanor) is me." (96)
Karl Max first met Mikhail Bakunin in Paris in 1844. Although four years older than Marx, he acknowledged the young man's superior understanding of economics. He admitted that "I knew nothing at that time of political economy" but unlike other socialists at the time he was unwilling to accept Marx as the intellectual leader of the left. This upset Marx and in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung he published an article claiming that Bakunin was a secret agent working for the Russian government. (97)
The historian E. H. Carr, has argued that the different personalities of the two men made the relationship difficult. According to Carr, the Russian was a "man of generous, uncontrollable impulses" whereas Marx was a "man whose feelings were so perfectly subdued to his intellect that superficial observers disbelieved in their existence... the man of magnetic personal attraction, and the man who repelled and intimidated by his coldness." (98)
Isaiah Berlin has suggested that: "Bakunin differed from Marx as poetry differs from prose... Their main bond was a common hatred of every form of reformism; but this hatred sprang from dissimilar roots. Gradualism to Marx was always a disguised attempt on the part of the ruling class to deflect their enemies' energy into ineffective and harmless channels... Bakunin detested reform because he held that all frontiers limiting personal liberty were intrinsically evil, and all destructive violence, when aimed against authority, was good in itself, inasmuch as it was a fundamental form of creative self-expression." (99)
Marx regularly wrote to Engels about how much he disliked his rival. "Bakunin has become a monster, a huge mass of flesh and fat, and is barely capable of walking any more... To crown it all, he is sexually perverse and jealous of the seventeen-year-old Polish girl who married him in Siberia because of his martyrdom. He is presently in Sweden, where he is hatching revolution with the Finns." (100)
Bakunin was aware of the growth of the International Workingmen's Association and after forming the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy, he proposed a merger between the two organisations on equal terms, where he would effectively become co-president of the IWMA. This idea was rejected but in 1868 it was agreed to allow the Alliance of Socialist Democracy to become an ordinary affiliate organisation. (101)
The IWA gave its support to strikes taking place in Europe. The financial help given by British trade unions to the striking Paris bronze workers led to their victory. The IWMA was also involved in helping Geneva builders and Basle silk-weavers. Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel were gradually building up support for the organisation in Germany. David McLellan points out that the IWA was "steadily gaining in size, success and prestige". (102)
Marx pointed out that: "The International was founded in order to replace the socialist and semi-socialist sects with a genuine organisation of the working class for its struggle... Socialist sectarianism and a real working-class movement are in inverse ratio to each other. Sects have a right to exist only so long as the working class is not mature enough to have an independent movement of its own: as soon as that moment arrives sectarianism becomes reactionary... The history of the International is a ceaseless battle of the General Council against dilettantist experiments and sects." (103)
Karl Marx had come into conflict with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and his supporters who he accused of "dreaming of utopia but had a dislike of trade unions. Marx told Engels: "I will personally make hay out of the asses of Proudhonists at the next Congress. I have managed the whole thing diplomatically and did not want to come out personally until my book was published and our society had struck roots." (104)
His main rival in the IWMA was Mikhail Bakunin who he thought was trying to take control of the organisation. "Towards the end of 1868 the International within the International, and to place himself at his head. For M. Bakunin, his doctrine (an absurd patchwork composed of bits and pieces of views taken from Proudhon, Saint-Simon, etc.) was, and still is, something of secondary importance, serving him only as a means of acquiring personal influence and power. But if Bakunin, as a theorist, is nothing, Bakunin, the intriguer, has attained to the highest peak of his profession." (105)
The Paris Commune
The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War took place on 16th July 1870. It was an attempt by Napoleon III to preserve the Second French Empire against the threat posed by German states of the North German Confederation led by the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The International Workingmen's Association had declared at its conference the previous year that if war broke out a general strike should take place. However, Marx had privately argued that this would end in failure as the "working-class... is not yet sufficiently organised to throw any decisive weight on to the scales". (106)
The Paris section of the IWMA immediately denounced the war. However, in Germany opinion was divided but the majority of socialists considered the war to be a defensive one and in the Reichstag only Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel refused to vote for war credits and spoke vigorously against the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine. For this they were charged with treason and imprisoned. (107)
Marx believed that a German victory would help his long-term desire for a socialist revolution. He pointed out to Engels that German workers were better organised and better disciplined than French workers who were greatly influenced by the ideas of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: "The French need a drubbing. If the Prussians are victorious then the centralisation of the State power will give help to the centralisation of the working class... The superiority of the Germans over the French in the world arena would mean at the same time the superiority of our theory over Proudhon's and so on." (108)
A few days later Karl Marx issued a statement on behalf of the IWMA. "Whatever turn the impending horrid war may take, the alliance of the working classes of all countries will ultimately kill war. The very fact that while official France and Germany are rushing into a fratricidal feud, the workmen of France and Germany send each other messages of peace and goodwill; this great fact, unparalleled in the history of the past, opens the vista of a brighter future. It proves that in contrast to old society, with its economical miseries and its political delirium, a new society is springing up, whose International rule will be Peace, because its natural ruler will be everywhere the same - Labour! The Pioneer of that new society is the International Working Men's Association." (109)
Peace activists, John Stuart Mill and John Morley, congratulated Marx on his statement and arranged for 30,000 copies of his speech to be printed and distributed. Marx thought the war would provide the opportunity for revolution. He told Engels: "I have been totally unable to sleep for four nights now, on account of the rheumatism and I spend this time in fantasies about Paris, etc." He hoped for a German victory: "I wish this because the definite defeat of Bonaparte is likely to provoke Revolution in France, while the definite defeat of Germany would only protract the present state of things for twenty-years." (110)
In a letter to the American organiser of the IWMA, Friedrich Sorge, Marx made some predictions about the future that included the First World War and the Russian Revolution: "What the Prussian jackasses don't see is that the present war leads just as necessarily to war between Germany and Russia as the war of 1866 led to war between Prussia and France. That is the best result that I expect of it for Germany. Prussianism as such has never existed and cannot exist other than in alliance and in subservience to Russia. And this War No. 2 will act as the mid-wife of the inevitable revolution in Russia." (111)
The war went badly for Napoleon III and he was heavily defeated at the Battle of Sedan. On 4th September, 1870, a republic was proclaimed in Paris. Adolphe Thiers, a former prime minister and an opponent of the war, was elected chief executive of the new French government. (112)
Thiers, now aged 74, appointed a provisional government of conservative views and then travelled to London and attempted to negotiate an alliance with Britain. William Gladstone refused and when he arrived back in Paris on 31st October 1870, he was accused of treason. Felix Pyat, a radical socialist organized demonstrations against Thiers, whom he accused of threatening to sell France to the Germans. (113)
Karl Marx, who had been slow to attack Bismark because of his "pure German patriotism to which both he and Engels were always conspicuously prone" and the International Workingmen's Association issued a statement "protesting against the annexation, denouncing the dynastic ambitions of the Prussian King, and calling upon the French workers to unite with all defenders of democracy against the common Prussian foe." (114)
Marx later pointed out that it was "An absurdity and an anachronism to make military considerations the principle by which the boundaries of nations are to be fixed? If this rule were to prevail, Austria would still be entitled to Venetia and the line of the Minicio, and France to the line of the Rhine, in order to protect Paris, which lies certainly more open to an attack from the northeast than Berlin does from the southwest. If limits are to be fixed by military interests, there will be no end to claims, because every military line is necessarily faulty, and may be improved by annexing some more outlying territory; and, moreover, they can never be fixed finally and fairly, because they always must be imposed by the conqueror upon the conquered, and consequently carry within them the seed of fresh wars." (115)
In March 1871, the government made an attempt to disarm the Paris National Guard, a volunteer citizen force which showed signs of radical sympathies. It refused to give up its arms, declared its autonomy, deposed the officials of the provisional government, and elected a revolutionary committee of the people as the true government of France. Adolphe Thiers now fled to Versailles. Governments all over Europe were concerned by what was happening in Europe. The Times reported complained against "this dangerous sentiment of the Democracy, this conspiracy against civilisation in its so-called capital". (116)
The new government called itself the Paris Commune and attempted to run the city. Isaiah Berlin argues the committee was a mixture of different political opinions but did include the followers of Mikhail Bakunin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Louis Auguste Blanqui. The Communards had difficulty keeping control of the national guard and 28th March, on the day of the election, General Jacques Leon Clément-Thomas and General Claude Lecomte were murdered. Doctor Guyon, who examined the bodies shortly afterwards, found forty balls in the body of Clément-Thomas and nine balls in the back of Lecomte.
Adolphe Thiers now based in Versailles urged Parisians to abstain from voting. When the voting was finished, 233,000 Parisians had voted, out of 485,000 registered voters. In upper-class neighborhoods many refused to take part in the election with over 70 per cent refusing to vote. But in the working-class neighborhoods, turnout was high. Of the ninety-two Communards elected by popular suffrage, seventeen were members of the IWMA. It was agreed that Marx should draft an "Address to the People of Paris" but he was suffering from bronchitis and liver trouble and was unable to carry out the work. (117)
The Communards had difficulty keeping control of the national guard and on the day of the election, General Jacques Leon Clément-Thomas and General Claude Lecomte , two men blamed for being severe disciplinarians, were murdered. Doctor Guyon, who examined the bodies shortly afterwards, found forty balls in the body of Clément-Thomas and nine balls in the back of Lecomte. (118)
At the first meeting of the Commune, the members adopted several proposals, including an honorary presidency for Louis Auguste Blanqui; the abolition of the death penalty; the abolition of military conscription; a proposal to send delegates to other cities to help launch communes there. It was also stated that no military force other than the National Guard, made up of male citizens, could be formed or introduced into the capital. School children in the city were provided with free clothing and food. David McLellan suggests that the actual measures passed by the commune were reformist rather than revolutionary, with no attack on private property: employers were forbidden on the penalty of fines to reduce wages... and all abandoned businesses were transferred to co-operative associations." (119)
Karl Marx believed the actions of the Communards were revolutionary: "Having once got rid of the standing army and the police – the physical force elements of the old government – the Commune was anxious to break the spiritual force of repression... by the disestablishment and disendowment of all churches as proprietary bodies. The priests were sent back to the recesses of private life, there to feed upon the alms of the faithful in imitation of their predecessors, the apostles. The whole of the educational institutions were opened to the people gratuitously, and at the same time cleared of all interference of church and state. Thus, not only was education made accessible to all, but science itself freed from the fetters which class prejudice and governmental force had imposed upon it." (120)
Although only males were allowed to vote in the elections, several women were involved in the Paris Commune. Nathalie Lemel and Élisabeth Dmitrieff, created the Women's Union for the Defense of Paris and Care of the Wounded. The group demanded gender and wage equality, the right of divorce for women, the right to secular education, and professional education for girls. Anne Jaclard and Victoire Léodile Béra founded the newspaper Paris Commune and Louise Michel, established a female battalion of the National Guard. (121)
The Committee was given extensive powers to hunt down and imprison enemies of the Commune. Led by Raoul Rigault, it began to make several arrests, usually on suspicion of treason. Those arrested included Georges Darboy, the Archbishop of Paris, General Edmond-Charles de Martimprey and Abbé Gaspard Deguerry. Rigault attempted to exchange these prisoners for Louis Auguste Blanqui who had been captured by government forces. Despite lengthy negotiations, Adolphe Thiers refused to release him.
On 22nd May 1871, Marshal Patrice de MacMahon and his government troops entered the city. The Committee of Public Safety issued a decree: "To arms! That Paris be bristling with barricades, and that, behind these improvised ramparts, it will hurl again its cry of war, its cry of pride, its cry of defiance, but its cry of victory; because Paris, with its barricades, is undefeatable ...That revolutionary Paris, that Paris of great days, does its duty; the Commune and the Committee of Public Safety will do theirs!" (122)
It is estimated that about fifteen to twenty thousand persons, including many women and children, responded to the call of arms. The forces of the Commune were outnumbered five-to-one by Marshal MacMahon's forces. They made their way to Montmartre, where the uprising had begun. The garrison of one barricade, was defended in part by a battalion of about thirty women, including Louise Michel. The soldiers captured 42 guardsmen and several women, took them to the same house on Rue Rosier where generals Clement-Thomas and Lecomte had been executed, and shot them.
Large numbers of the National Guard changed into civilian clothes and fled the city. It is estimated that this left only about 12,000 Communards to defend the barricades. As soon as they were captured they were executed. Raoul Rigaut responded by killing his prisoners, including the Archbishop of Paris and three priests. Soon afterwards Rigaut was captured and executed and the rebellion came to an end soon afterwards on 28th May. As Isaiah Berlin pointed out: "The retribution which the victorious army exacted took the form of mass executions; the white terror, as is common in such cases, far outdid in acts of bestial cruelty the worst excesses of the regime whose misdeeds it had come to end." (123)
According to Marx this is what always happens when the masses attempt to take control of society: "The civilization and justice of bourgeois order comes out in its lurid light whenever the slaves and drudges of that order rise against their masters. Then this civilization and justice stand forth as undisguised savagery and lawless revenge. Each new crisis in the class struggle between the appropriator and the producer brings out this fact more glaringly... The self-sacrificing heroism with which the population of Paris – men, women, and children – fought for eight days after the entrance of the Versaillese, reflects as much the grandeur of their cause, as the infernal deeds of the soldiery reflect the innate spirit of that civilization, indeed, the great problem of which is how to get rid of the heaps of corpses it made after the battle was over!" (124)
In his best-selling pamphlet, The Civil War in France (1871), Karl Marx admitted that the International Workingmen's Association was heavily involved in the Paris Commune. Jules Favre, the recently reinstated foreign minister in France, asked all European governments to outlaw the IWMA. A French newspaper identified Marx as the "supreme chief" of the conspirators, alleging that he had "organised" the uprising from London. It claimed that the IWMA had seven million members. (125)
Other European governments also urged the punishment of IWMA members. Spain agreed to extradite those involved in the Paris Commune. Giuseppe Mazzini, the leader of the Italian nationalist movement, joined in the calls for the arrest of Marx, who he described as "a man of domineering disposition; jealous of the influence of others; governed by no earnest, philosophical, or religious belief; having, I fear more elements of anger than of love in his nature". (126)
British newspapers also complained about the dangers posed by Karl Marx. The Times warned of the possibility of Marx having an influence on the working-class. It feared that solid English trade unionists who wanted nothing more than "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work" might be corrupted by "strange theories" imported from abroad. (127) Marx wrote to Ludwig Kugelmann that "I have the honour to be this moment the most abused and threatened man in London." (128)
The German ambassador urged Granville Leveson-Gower, the British Foreign Secretary, to treat Marx as a common criminal because of his outrageous "menaces to life and property". After consulting with William Gladstone, the Prime Minister, he replied that "extreme socialist opinions are not believed to have gained any hold upon the working men of this country" and "no practical steps with regard to foreign countries are known to have been taken by the English branch of the Association." (129)
The publication of The Civil War in France (1871) upset several British trade union leaders and George Odger resigned from the General Council of International Workingmen's Association. It has been argued that the passing of the 1867 Reform Act had made the working class less radical. After the Paris Commune, the only areas where the IWMA made progress was in the the strongholds of anarchism: Spain and Italy. (130)
Conflict with the Anarchists
In March 1869 Mikhail Bakunin met Sergi Nechayev. Soon afterwards Bakunin wrote to James Guillaume that: "I have here with me one of those young fanatics who know no doubts, who fear nothing, and who realize that many of them will perish at the hands of the government but who nevertheless have decided that they will not relent until the people rise. They are magnificent, these young fanatics, believers without God, heroes without rhetoric." (131)
Later that year Bakunin and Nechayev co-wrote Catechism of a Revolutionist. It included the famous passage: "The Revolutionist is a doomed man. He has no private interests, no affairs, sentiments, ties, property nor even a name of his own. His entire being is devoured by one purpose, one thought, one passion - the revolution. Heart and soul, not merely by word but by deed, he has severed every link with the social order and with the entire civilized world; with the laws, good manners, conventions, and morality of that world. He is its merciless enemy and continues to inhabit it with only one purpose - to destroy it." (132)
Nechayev set up a secret terrorist organization, People's Retribution, and claimed he was an agent of the IWMA. Karl Marx was appalled by this and at a special conference held in September 1871, held at a pub off Tottenham Court Road. Marx dominated the proceedings and a motion was passed that pointed out that Nechayev "has fraudulently used the name of the International Working Men's Association in order to make dupes and victims in Russia". (133)
Bakunin continued to work closely with Nechayev and Marx was appalled when he discovered that a publisher who had decided to publish a Russian edition of Das Kapital had received death threats from the young Russian. Bakunin had been paid an advance of 300 roubles to translate the book into Russian. He began the task but then decided against finishing the project. When the publisher asked for his money back Nechayev wrote to him suggesting that if he did not withdraw his demands he would have to be killed. (134)
Marx attempted to infuse English workers with "internationalism and the revolutionary spirit". He was unsuccessful in this task and criticised the trade unions being an "aristocratic minority" and not involving "lower-paid workers, to whom, together with the Irish, Marx increasingly looked for support." However, the followers of Victoria Woodhull in America, and the IWA sections in France, Spain and Italy, complained about Marx was dominating the organization. The opposition issued a circular denouncing "authoritarianism and hierarchy" in the IWMA. There was now a split between the "anti-authoritarians" and the groups that adhered to the General Council. (135)
Marx attended the IWMA National Congress at the Hague, in September, 1872. According to newspaper reports, local people were warned "not to go into the streets with articles of value upon them" as the "International is coming and will steal them". Vast crowds followed the delegates from the railway station to the hotel, "the figure of Karl Marx attracting special attention". Marx dominating the proceedings "his black broadcloth suit contrasted with his white hair and beard and he would screw a monocle into his eye when he wanted to scrutinise his audience." (136)
At the congress a report was presented that showed Mikhail Bakunin had tried to establish a secret society within the IWMA and was also guilty of fraud. It also revealed details of the letter sent by Sergi Nechayev to Marx's publisher in Russia. The delegates voted twenty-seven votes to seven, that Bakunin should be expelled from the association. (137)
Marx had decided to retire from the IWMA and concentrate on the second volume of Das Kapital. Marx decided that the General Council of the IWMA should be moved to America. Engels proposed at the congress that the organisation should be transferred to New York City. The vote was very close with twenty-six for, twenty-three against and 9 abstentions. (138)
The rival anarchists held a rival congress immediately following the IWMA congress. In 1873 they had another congress that was attended by anarchists from England, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. The General Council in New York attempted to organise a congress in Geneva in 1873, but it was poor attended after Marx instructed his followers not to attend. Marx wrote in 1874 that "in England the International is for the time being as good as dead". (139) However, it was not until 1876 that the IWMA was officially dissolved. (140)
This failure depressed Marx and after this date his energy began to diminish. He continued to work on the second volume of Das Kapital but progress was slow, especially after Eleanor Marx left home to become a schoolteacher in Brighton.
Eleanor returned to the family home in 1881 to nurse her parents who were both very ill. Marx, who had a swollen liver, survived, but Jenny Marx died on 2nd December, 1881. Karl Marx was also devastated by the death of his eldest daughter in January 1883 from cancer of the bladder. Karl Marx died two months later on the 14th March, 1883.
(1) Moses Hess, letter to Berthold Auerbach (July, 1841)
He (Karl Marx) is a phenomenon who made a tremendous impression on me in spite of the strong similarity of our fields. In short you can prepare yourself to meet the greatest - perhaps the only genuine - philosopher of the current generation. When he makes a public appearance, whether in writing or in the lecture hall, he will attract the attention of all Germany... Dr Marx (that is my idol's name) is still a very young man - about twenty-four at the most. He will give medieval religion and philosophy their coup de grâce (an action or event that serves as the culmination of a bad or deteriorating situation); he combines the deepest philosophical seriousness with the most biting wit. Imagine Rousseau, Voltaire, Holbach, Lessing, Heine and Hegel fused into one person - I say fused not juxtaposed - and you have Dr. Marx.
(2) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology (1846)
He is a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; whereas in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic...
Stirner imagines that Raphael produced his pictures independently of the division of labour that existed in Rome at the time. If he were to compare Raphael with Leonardo da Vinci and Titian, he would see how greatly Raphael's works of art depended on the flourishing of Rome at that time, which occurred under Florentine influence, while the works of Leonardo depended on the state of things in Florence, and the works of Titian, at a later period, depended on the totally different development of Venice. Raphael as much as any other artist was determined by the technical advances in art made before him, by the organisation of society and the division of labour... In a communist society there are no painters but only people who engage in painting among other activities.
(3) Pavel Annenkov, A Wonderful Ten Years (1850)
Marx was the type of man who is made up of energy, will and unshakeable conviction. He was most remarkable in his appearance. He had a shock of deep black hair and hairy hands and his coat was buttoned wrong; but he looked like a man with the right and power to demand respect, no matter how he appeared before you and no matter what he did.... He always spoke in imperative words that would brook no contradiction and were made all the sharper by the almost painful impression of the tone which ran through everything he said. This tone expressed the firm conviction of his mission to dominate men's minds and prescribe them their laws. Before me stood the embodiment of a democratic dictator.
(4) Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, letter to Karl Marx (May, 1846)
Let us, if you wish, collaborate in trying to discover the laws of society. But for God's sake, after we have demolished all the dogmatisms a priori, let us not of all things attempt in our turn to instill another kind of dogma into the people... With all my heart I applaud your idea of bringing all opinions out into the open. Let us have decent and sincere polemics. Let us give the world an example of learned and farsighted tolerance. But simply because we are at the head of the movement, let us not make ourselves the leaders of a new intolerance... Let us never regard a question as exhausted, and even when we have used up our last argument, let us begin again, if, necessary, with eloquence and irony. Under these conditions I will gladly enter into your association. Otherwise - no!
(5) Report of a police agent spying on Karl Marx (27th May, 1848)
This noxious pamphlet must indisputably exert the most corrupting influence upon the uneducated public at whom it is directed. The alluring theory of the dividing-up of wealth is held out to factory workers and day labourers as an innate right, and a profound hatred of the rulers and the rest of the community is inculcated into them. There would be a gloomy outlook for the fatherland and for civilisation if such activities succeeded in undermining religion and respect for the laws and in any great measure infected the lower class of the people.
(6) Karl Marx, speech in London (29th November, 1847)
The unification and brotherhood of nations is a phrase which is nowadays on the lips of all parties, particularly of the bourgeois free traders. A kind of brotherhood does indeed exist between the bourgeois classes of all nations. It is the brotherhood of the oppressors against the oppressed, of the exploiters against the exploited. Just as the bourgeois class of one country is united in brotherhood against the proletarians of that country, despite the competition and struggle of its members among themselves, so the bourgeoisie of all countries is united in brotherhood against the proletarians of all countries, despite their struggling and competing with each other on the world market. In order for peoples to become really united their interests must be common. For their interests to be common the existing property relations must be abolished, since the exploitation of one nation by another is caused by the existing property relations.
And it is only in the interests of the working class to abolish existing property relations; only they have the means to achieve it. The victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie represents at the same time the victory over national and industrial conflicts, which at present create hostility between the different peoples. Therefore, the victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie also signifies the emancipation of all downtrodden nations.
The old Poland is certainly lost, and we should be the last to wish for its restoration. But not only is the old Poland lost. The old Germany, the old France, the old England, the old social order in general is lost. The loss of the old social order, however, is not a loss for those who have nothing to lose in the old society, and at the same time this is the case for the large majority of people in all countries. They have, in fact, everything to gain from the destruction of the old society, for it is a precondition for the formation of a new society no longer based on class antagonisms.
Of all countries it is England where the opposition between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is most highly developed. Thus the victory of the English proletariat over the English bourgeoisie is of decisive importance for the victory of all oppressed peoples over their oppressors. Poland, therefore, must be freed, not in Poland, but in England. You Chartists should not express pious wishes for the liberation of nations. Defeat your own enemies at home and then you may be proudly conscious of having defeated the old social order in its entirety.
(7) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1848)
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guildmaster and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.
Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, unite!
(8) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1848)
You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition of whose existence is the nonexistence of any property for the immense majority of society.
In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.
From the moment when labour can no longer be converted into capital, money, or rent, into a social power capable of being monopolized, i.e., from the moment when individual property can no longer be transformed into bourgeois property, into capital, from that moment, you say, individuality vanishes.
You must, therefore, confess that by "individual" you mean no other person than the bourgeois, than the middle-class owner of property. This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way, and made impossible.
Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power.
(9) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1848)
All objections urged against the communistic mode of producing and appropriating material products have, in the same way, been urged against the communistic mode of producing and appropriating intellectual products. Just as, to the bourgeois, the disappearance of class property is the disappearance of production itself, so the disappearance of class culture is to him identical with the disappearance of all culture.
That culture whose loss he laments is, for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as a machine.
But don't wrangle with us so long as you apply, to our intended abolition of bourgeois property, the standard of your bourgeois notions of freedom, culture, law, etc. Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will whose essential character and direction are determined by the economic conditions of existence of your class.
The selfish misconception that induces you to transform into eternal laws of nature and of reason the social forms springing from your present mode of production and form of property - historical relations that rise and disappear in the progress of production - this misconception you share with every ruling class that has preceded you. What you see clearly in the case of ancient property, what you admit in the case of feudal property, you are of course forbidden to admit in the case of your own bourgeois form of property.
Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man's ideas, views and conceptions, in one word, man's consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life?
What else does the history of ideas prove, than that intellectual production changes its character in proportion as material production is changed? The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.
(10) Carl Schurz, Reminiscences of Carl Schurz (1909)
He could not have been much more than thirty years old at that time, but he was already the recognised head of the advanced socialistic school... I have never seen a man whose bearing was so provoking and intolerable. To no opinion which differed from his own did he accord the honour of even condescending consideration. Everyone who contradicted him he treated with abject contempt; every argument that he did not like he answered either with biting scorn at the unfathomable ignorance that had prompted it, or with opprobrious aspersions upon the motives of him who had advanced it. I remember most distinctly the cutting disdain with which he pronounced the word `bourgeois'; and as a `bourgeois' - that is, as a detestable example of the deepest mental and moral degeneracy - he denounced everyone who dared to oppose his opinion... It was very evident that not only had he not won any adherents, but had repelled many who otherwise might have become his followers.
(11) Karl Marx, Neue Rheinische Zeitung: Organ der Democratie (January, 1849)
The liberation of Europe is dependent on a successful uprising by the French working class. But every French social upheaval necessarily founders on the English bourgeoisie, on the industrial and commercial world-domination of Great Britain.
England will only be overthrown by a world war, which is the only thing that could provide the Chartists, the organised party of the English workers, with the conditions for a successful rising against their gigantic oppressors.
(12) In a letter written in March 1850, Jenny Marx described being evicted from their home in London.
The landlady demanded £5 that we still owed her. As we did not have the money at the time two bailiffs came and sequestrated all my few possessions - linen, beds, clothes - everything, even my poor child's cradle and the best toys of my daughters, who stood there weeping bitterly.
(13) Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)
Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.
(14) Karl Marx, New York Daily Tribune (4th September, 1852)
In order to comprehend the character of bribery, corruption and intimidation, such as they have been practised in the late election, it is necessary to call attention to a fact which operated in a parallel direction.
If you refer to the general elections since 1831, you will find that, in the same measure as the pressure of the voteless majority of the country upon the privileged body of electors was increasing; as the demand was heard louder from the middle classes for an extension of the circle of constituencies; and from the working class to extinguish every trace of a similar privileged circle - that in the same measure the number of electors who actually voted grew less and less, and the constituencies thus more and more contracted themselves. Never was this fact more striking than in the late election.
Let us take, for instance, London. In the City the constituency numbers 26,728; only 10,000 voted. The Tower Hamlets number 23,534 registered electors; only 12,000 voted. In Finsbury, of 20,025, not one half voted. In Liverpool, the scene of one of the most animated contests, of 17,433 registered electors, only 13,000 came to the polls.
These examples will suffice. What do they prove? The apathy of the privileged constituencies. And this apathy, what does it prove? That they have outlived themselves - that they have lost every interest in their own political existence. This is in no wise apathy against politics in general, but against a species of politics, the result of which, for the most part, can only consist in helping the Tories to oust the Whigs, or the Whigs to conquer the Tories. The constituencies feel instinctively that the decision lies no longer with Parliament, or with the making of Parliament. Who repealed the Corn Laws? Assuredly not the voters who had elected a Protectionist Parliament, still less the Protectionist Parliament itself, but only and exclusively the pressure from without. In this pressure from without, by other means of influencing Parliament than by voting, a great portion even of electors now believe. They consider the hitherto lawful mode of voting as an antiquated formality, but from the moment Parliament should make front against the pressure from without, and dictate laws to the nation in the sense of its narrow constituencies, they would join the general assault against the whole antiquated system of machinery.
The bribery and intimidation practised by the Tories were, then, merely violent experiments for bringing back to life dying electoral bodies which have become incapable of production, and which can no longer create decisive electoral results and really national Parliaments. And the result? The old Parliament was dissolved, because at the end of its career it had dissolved into sections which brought each other to a complete standstill. The new Parliament begins where the old one ended; it is paralytic from the hour of its birth.
(15) Karl Marx, New York Daily Tribune (1st August 1854)
The present splendid brotherhood of fiction-writers in England, whose graphic and eloquent pages have issued to the world more political and social truths than have been uttered by all the professional politicians, publicists and moralists put together, have described every section of the middle class from the “highly genteel” annuitant and fundholder who looks upon all sorts of business as vulgar, to the little shopkeeper and lawyer’s clerk. And how have Dickens and Thackeray, Miss Brontë and Mrs. Gaskell painted them? As full of presumption, affectation, petty tyranny and ignorance; and the civilised world have confirmed their verdict with the damning epigram that it has fixed to this class that “they are servile to those above, and tyrannical to those beneath them.”
(16) In January 1883, Eleanor Marx had the task of informing her father that his eldest daughter had died of cancer.
I have lived many a sad hour, but none so bad as that. I felt that I was bringing my father his death sentence. I racked my brain to find how I could break the news to him. But I did not need to, my face gave me away. My father said at once "our Jennychen is dead".
(17) Prussian police agent report on Karl Marx in 1852.
In the whole apartment there is not one clean and solid piece of furniture. Everything is broken. There is a chair with only three legs. In private life he is an extremely disorderly cynical human being, and a bad host. He leads a real gypsy existence. Washing, grooming and changing his linen are things he does rarely. He has no fixed times for going to sleep and waking up. He often stays up all night, and then lies down fully clothed on the sofa at midday and sleeps till evening.
(18) Frederick Lessner, first met Karl Marx at a meeting of the Communist League in December 1847.
Marx greatly impressed as all. He was of medium height, broad-shouldered, powerful in build, and vigorous in his movements. His forehead was high and finely shaped, his hair thick and pitch-black, his gaze piercing. Marx was a born leader of the people. His speech was brief, convincing and compelling in its logic. He never said a superfluous word; every sentence contained an idea and every idea was an essential link in the chain of his argument.
(19) Karl Marx, Das Kapital (1867)
The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated
(20) Karl Marx, The Eastern Question (1885)
The redeeming feature of war is that it puts a nation to the test. As exposure to the atmosphere reduces all mummies to instant dissolution, so war passes supreme judgment upon social systems that have outlived their vitality.
(21) Karl Marx, letter to Friedrich Sorge (1st September, 1870)
What the Prussian jackasses don't see is that the present war leads just as necessarily to war between Germany and Russia as the war of 1866 led to war between Prussia and France. That is the best result that I expect of it for Germany. Prussianism as such has never existed and cannot exist other than in alliance and in subservience to Russia. And this War No. 2 will act as the mid-wife of the inevitable revolution in Russia.
Child Labour Simulation (Teacher Notes)
Richard Arkwright and the Factory System (Answer Commentary)
Robert Owen and New Lanark (Answer Commentary)
James Watt and Steam Power (Answer Commentary)
The Domestic System (Answer Commentary)
The Luddites (Answer Commentary)