Letters of Marx and Engels 1847

Marx To Werner von Veltheim
In Ostrau near Halle

Source: MECW Volume 38, p. 131;
Written: 29 September 1847;
First published: in the Neues Deutschland, 5 May 1976.

Zalt-Bommel, 29 September 1847

Dear Veltheim,

It will surprise you to receive a letter from me, whom you will by now have all but forgotten.

I will explain to you briefly the reason why I am writing.

You know the present state of affairs in Germany respecting the press. The censorship makes virtually every rational undertaking impossible. On the other hand, such a confusion of views prevails that German literature, after having laboriously achieved a certain unity, is threatened with disintegrating again into a host of local literatures — those of Berlin, Saxony, the Rhineland, Baden, etc.[166] Within these fragmented literatures, moreover, we find in turn a welter of the most heterogeneous religious, political and social views.

Friends in Germany have drawn my attention to the fact that precisely now, in this state of anarchy, the needs of the day would be exactly met by a comprehensive and regular review which, while maintaining a critical attitude towards all these parties and views, would not derive its criticism from preconceived principles, but would rather portray the correlation between Germany’s political, religious and social parties and aspirations, and also their literature, on the one hand, and German economic conditions, on the other — a review in which, therefore, political economy would play a leading role. That a periodical would be out of the question in Germany itself was a point upon which all were agreed.

It was therefore decided in Brussels to bring out, subsequent to an issue of shares, a periodical of this kind, the editorial side of which would be under my supervision. It was also decided to establish our own type-setting and printing shop out of the proceeds of the shares in order to reduce the costs of production.

Since subscriptions for these shares are being collected all over Germany — at 25 talers a share — I should like to ask you whether you and your acquaintances might wish to associate yourselves with this enterprise.

To me it seems beyond dispute that clarity of consciousness can be introduced into the now highly fragmented German movement, as into the modern movement generally, only by elucidating in the first place the relations of production and examining and appraising the other spheres of social existence in connection with them.

An exact statement of income and expenditure would be rendered annually. The number of shares amounts to two hundred. [167]

When you reply kindly do so to the following address: A Mr Charles Marx, Bruxelles, Fbg Namur, Rue d'Orléans 42.

I am only here in Holland for a few days on a family matter and am staying with my uncle.

Yours faithfully
Karl Marx

Have you heard anything of Edgar?