1930s >> 1936 >> no-381-may-1936

The Partnership of Marx and Engels

In our March issue, in the review of the life of Frederick Engels, reference was made to the articles appearing under Marx’s name or attributed to him, which were realty written for him by his friend, Engels. In the interests of accuracy it is desirable that Engels’ share in the great life partnership should be properly estimated, and it is evident that Gustav Mayer, Riazanov and others, have all erred in greater or less degree.
There is, of course, no question of belittling Marx’s great work for the Socialist movement, but only of placing on record that Engels’ help entitles him to greater credit than has been allowed by many who have written on the subject in the past. We are indebted to Moses Baritz for the information below, based on a full examination of the correspondence that passed between Marx and Engels. This shows that the articles published in the New York Tribune and republished under the title Revolution and Counter-Revolution were all written by Engels at Marx’s request. Some of these, and later articles, were sent off by Marx — quite unaltered.
Engels wrote articles for the New York Tribune in this fashion from 1851 to 1862, and none of them appeared in Engels’ name. The last article (on the Civil War in America) was asked for by Marx in a letter written on March 3rd, 1862. Marx says: “The Tribune will print it as a letter from a Foreign Officer.” It is evident, therefore, that Riazanov is wrong in suggesting that Marx wrote his own articles from 1852 onwards. It is true that Marx wrote to Engels on January 29th, 1853, saying that he had for the first time on the previous day risked writing an article in English for Dana of the New York Tribune, but of some 50 requests for articles that have been traced the majority are after that date. Eleanor Marx was quite wrong in attributing the Revolution and Counter-Revolution articles to her father, and it is strange that she should have given currency to this error. According to a statement made by Engels to Danielson (in a letter as yet unpublished in the original form) she was engaged on typing copies of her father’s original letters addressed to various correspondents throughout the world, and can hardly have missed his numerous requests to Engels.
Adoratski, director of the Marx-Engels Institute of Moscow, states in a footnote to “Karl Marx: Ausgewahlte Schriften,” that Engels wrote the Revolution and Counter-Revolution articles between September, 1851, and September, 1852. While the error here is not great, another publication for which the Institute is responsible, “Karl Marx; “Chronik Seines Lebens” contains many errors and should be revised. Scores of articles attributed to Marx in the N.Y. Tribune, Neue Oder Zeitung and Die Presse, Vienna, should be attributed to Engels.

Riazanov appears to have blundered when he asserts concerning the articles republished as “The Eastern Question,” that Engels was responsible for the military articles and Marx for the ones on diplomatic and economic questions. Eleanor Marx-Aveling and Edward Aveling, in their preface, say the same. The correspondence indicates that Engels did more than that. Marx writes, for example, in a letter dated March 10th, 1853, saying to Engels : “Above all, this question is military and geographical and, therefore, not in my department. You must once again write this. The Turkish question is ‘Spanish’ to me. I cannot give you any standpoint (on this subject).” Marx went on to ask Engels to write on the encroachments of Russia in Turkey, the treachery of Austria, the ambition of France, the interests of England, and the commercial and military importance of the conflict.

Engels replied on March 12th, promising the article in a couple of days. Marx wrote on March 22nd acknowledging the article: “Your article on Turkey. Splendid. It has been sent.” Moses Baritz points out, in conclusion, that this very article on Turkey is the first one which Eleanor Marx says was written by her father!
Editorial Committee.

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