Marx-Engels Correspondence 1870
Source: MECW, Volume 43, p. 529.
First published: abridged in Die Neue Zeit, Stuttgart, 1901-1902 and in full in Pisma Marksa k Kugelmanu (Letters of Marx to Kugelmann), Moscow-Leningrad, 1928.
Dear King Wenceslaus,
I returned here this week after a stay of one month in Manchester, and found your letter waiting.
In fact I can give you no reply as to the date of my departure, and not even to the question — which you have not asked — namely, whether I shall travel at all.
Last year I anticipated that, after the Easter Fair, I would have a second edition of my book [Capital], and consequently the takings from the first edition. You will see, however, from the enclosed letter from Meissner, which arrived today, that all this is still a long way off. (Be so kind as to send me the letter back.)
Messieurs the German professors have recently found themselves obliged to take note of me now and then, even if in a very silly way; for example, A. Wagner in a pamphlet on landed property, and Held (Bonn) in a pamphlet about the rural loan banks in the Rhine Province.
Mr Lange (On the workers’ question, etc., 2nd edition) pays me great compliments, but with the object of increasing his own importance. Mr Lange, you see, has made a great discovery. All history may be subsumed in one single great natural law. This natural law is the phrase (— the Darwinian expression becomes, in this application, just a phrase —) ‘struggle for life’, and the content of this phrase is the Malthusian law of population, or rather over-population. Thus, instead of analysing this ‘struggle for life’ as it manifests itself historically in various specific forms of society, all that need be done is to transpose every given struggle into the phrase ‘struggle for life’, and then this phrase into the Malthusian ‘population fantasy’. It must be admitted that this is a very rewarding method — for stilted, mock-scientific, highfaluting ignorance and intellectual laziness.
And what this Lange has to say about the Hegelian method and my application of the same is simply childish. First, he understands rien [nothing] about Hegel’s method and, therefore, second, still less about my critical manner of applying it. In one respect he reminds me of Moses Mendelssohn. That prototype of a windbag once wrote to Lessing asking how he could possibly take ‘that dead dog Spinoza’ au sérieux! In the same way, Mr Lange expresses surprise that Engels, I, etc., take au sérieux the dead dog Hegel, after Büchner, Lange, Dr Dühring, Fechner, etc., had long agreed that they — poor dear — had long since buried him. Lange is naïve enough to say that I ‘move with rare freedom’ in empirical matter. He has not the slightest idea that this ‘free movement in matter’ is nothing but a paraphrase for the method of dealing with matter — that is, the dialectical method.
My best thanks to Madame la comtesse for her kind lines. This really does one good at a time ‘when more and more of the better ones are disappearing’. But, sérieusement parlant, I am always pleased when a few lines from your dear wife remind me of the happy times I spent in your circle.
Regarding Meissner’s pressure for the second volume, I was not only held up by illness throughout the winter. I found it necessary to mug up on my Russian, because, in dealing with the land question, it has become essential to study Russian landowning relationships from primary sources. In addition, in connection with the Irish land question, the English Government has published a series of Blue Books (soon concluding) about the land relations in all countries. Finally — entre nous — I would like the second edition of Vol. I first. It would simply be disturbing if this came in the middle of the ultimate finalisation of Vol. II.
Best compliments on Jenny’s part and my own to all the members of the Kugelmann family.