Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels 1846

Address of the German Democratic Communists of Brussels To Mr. Feargus O'Connor [46]

Source: MECW Volume 6, p. 59;
Written: 17 July 1846;
First published: in The Northern Star No. 454, July 25, 1846

Sir. — We embrace the occasion of your splendid success at the Nottingham election to congratulate you, and through you the English Chartists, on this signal victory. We consider the defeat of a Free-Trade minister at the show of hands by an enormous Chartist majority, and at the very time, too, when Free-Trade principles are triumphant in the Legislature,[47] we consider this, Sir, as a sign that the working classes of England are very well aware of the position they have to take after the triumph of Free Trade. We conclude from this fact that they know very well that now, when the middle classes have carried their chief measure, when they have only to replace the present weak go-between cabinet by an energetical, really middle-class ministry, in order to be the acknowledged ruling class of your country, that now the great struggle of capital and labour, of bourgeois and proletarian must come to a decision. The ground is now cleared by the retreat of the landed aristocracy from the contest; middle class and working class are the only classes betwixt whom there can be a possible struggle. The contending parties have their respective battle-cries forced upon them by their interests and mutual position: — the middle class — “extension of commerce by any means whatsoever, and a ministry of Lancashire cotton-lords to carry this out”; — the working class — “a democratic reconstruction of the Constitution upon the basis of the People’s Charter” [48] by which the working class will become the ruling class of England. We rejoice to see the English working men fully aware of this altered state of parties; of the new period Chartist agitation has entered into with the final defeat of the third party, the aristocracy; of the prominent position which Chartism henceforth will and must occupy, in spite of the “conspiracy of silence” of the middle-class press; and finally, of the new task, which by these new circumstances has devolved upon them. That they are quite aware of this task is proved by their intention to go to the poll at the next general election.

We have to congratulate you, Sir, in particular, upon your brilliant speech at the Nottingham election, and the striking delineation given in it of the contrast between working-class democracy and middle-class liberalism.

We congratulate you besides on the unanimous vote of confidence in you, spontaneously passed by the whole Chartist body on the occasion of Thomas Cooper, the would-be respectable’s calumnies.[49] The Chartist party cannot but profit by the exclusion of such disguised bourgeois, who, while they show off with the name of Chartist for popularity’s sake, strive to insinuate themselves into the favour of the middle classes by personal battery o their literary representatives (such as the Countess of Blessington, Charles Dickens, D. Jerrold, and other “friends” of Cooper’s), and by propounding such base and infamous old women’s doctrines as that of “non-resistance”.

Lastly, Sir, we have to thank you and your coadjutors for the noble and enlightened manner in which The Northern Star is conducted. We hesitate not a moment in declaring that the Star is the only English newspaper (save, perhaps, the People’s Journal, which we know from the Star only), which knows the real state of parties in England; which is really and essentially democratic; which is free from national and religious prejudice; which sympathises with the democrats and working men (now-a-days the two are almost the same), all over the world; which in all these points speaks the mind of the English working class, and therefore is the only English paper really worth reading for the continental democrats. We hereby declare that we shall do everything in our power to extend the circulation of The Northern Star on the continent, and to have extracts from it translated in as many continental papers as possible.

We beg to express these sentiments, Sir, as the acknowledged representatives of many of the German Communists in Germany, for all their relations with foreign democrats.

For the German Democratic Communists of Brussels.

The Committee,
Ph. Gigot

Brussels, July 17th, 1846