Marx-Engels Correspondence 1851

Karl Marx to Friedrich Engels in Manchester, 13 September 1851

Source: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975). Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

In the Italian Committee too a split [1] has occurred. A considerable minority has withdrawn from it. Mazzini sorrowfully describes this event in the Voix du Peuple. [2] The main reasons are said to be: In the first place God. They don’t want God. Next, and this is more serious, they accuse Master Mazzini of working in the interests of Austria by preaching insurrection, that is, by precipitating it. Lastly they insist on a direct appeal to the material interests of the Italian peasants, this cannot be done without on the other hand attacking the material interests of the bourgeoisie and liberal nobility, who form the great Mazzinist phalanx. This last point is certainly important. If Mazzini or anyone else who heads the Italian agitation does not this time openly and immediately transform the peasants from métayers [3] into free landowners (the position of the Italian peasants is appalling; I have now swotted up the whole filthy story) the Austrian government will, in case of a revolution, take refuge in Galician methods. [4] It has already threatened in Lloyd [5] ‘a complete change in the forms of ownership’ and ‘destruction of the turbulent nobility’. If Mazzini’s eyes have still not been opened he is an ox. True, the interests of the agitation are here involved. Where is he to get his ten million francs from if he antagonises the bourgeoisie? How is it possible to retain the services of the nobility, when should the nobility be informed that it is first of all a question of its expropriation? These are difficulties for such a demagogue of the old school...


1. After the fall of the Roman republic in July 1849 many deputies of the Constituent Assembly emigrated to Britain, where they formed a provisional Italian National Committee, in which Mazzini and his followers were included. The Committee was empowered by those who had elected it to raise loans in the interest of Italy’s liberation and to deal with all questions relating to Italian citizens – Progress Publishers.

2. This is probably a slip of the pen, for it seems that Marx is referring to the Voix du Proscrit – Progress Publishers.

3. Tenant farmers – Progress Publishers.

4. Marx here has in mind the policy of the Austrian government designed to suppress the Polish national liberation movement by exploiting the class and national antagonisms between the Ukrainian peasantry in Galicia and the Polish nobility. During the revolutionary events of 1848 the Austrian government abolished statute-labour and a few other feudal services of the peasants in Galicia, in an effort to win the support of the Galician peasantry in the fight against the Polish national liberation movement. But the reform was quite inadequate since it left untouched the lands of the landowners and placed the terrific burden of redemption payments on the shoulders of the peasants, which it took them several decades to pay off – Progress Publishers.

5. That is, Journal des Österreichischen Lloyd, a semi-official daily newspaper published in Vienna – Progress Publishers.