Karl Marx in Deutsche-Brüsseler-Zeitung

Remarks on the Article by M. Adolphe Bartels[207]

Source: MECW Volume 6, p. 402;
Written: about December 17, 1847;
First published: in French in Deutsche-Brüsseler-Zeitung, December 19, 1847;
Signed: Karl Marx.

M. Adolphe Bartels claims that public life is finished for him. Indeed, he has withdrawn into private life and does not mean to leave it; he limits himself, each time some public event occurs, to hurling protests and proclaiming loudly that he believes he is his own master, that the movement has been made without him, M. Bartels, and in spite of him, M. Bartels, and that he has the right to refuse it his supreme sanction. It will be agreed that this is just as much a way of participating in public fife as any other, and that by all these declarations, proclamations and protestations the public man hides behind the humble appearance of the private individual. This is the way in which the unappreciated and misunderstood genius reveals himself.

M. A. Bartels knows very well that the democrats of the different nations, in forming a body under the name of a democratic association, have had no other object but to exchange ideas and come to an understanding about the principles which will serve to bring about the union and fraternity of peoples. It goes without saying that, in a society which proposes such a goal for itself, it is the duty of all foreigners to state their opinions frankly, and it is truly ridiculous to call them schoolmasters every time they take the floor to fulfil this duty in the association to which they belong. If M. A. Bartels accuses foreigners of wanting to teach lessons it is because they refuse to take lessons from him.

M. A. Bartels will recall, no doubt, that in the provisional committee in which he took part he even proposed to make the Society of German Workers[208] the nucleus of the new society to be founded. I had to reject this proposal, in the name of the German workers. Might it perhaps be that M. A. Bartels meant to lay a trap for us, to contrive the means for a false denunciation?

M. Bartels is free to decry our doctrines as “filthy and barbarous”. He does not criticise, he does not prove, he condemns; and he gives proof of his orthodoxy by condemning in advance what he does not understand.

We are more tolerant than M. A. Bartels. We overlook his “blue devils” which are quite innocent devils.

M. A. Bartels being more theocratic than democratic, it is quite natural that he finds an accomplice in the journal de Bruxelles. This paper accuses us of wanting to “improve the human race” .[209] Let it calm down! Fortunately, we Germans are not unaware that since 1640 the Congregatio de propaganda fide [210] has had the monopoly in improving the human race. We are too modest and too few to want to compete with the reverend fathers in that humanitarian industry. Let them take the trouble to compare the report in the Deutsche-Brüsseler-Zeitung with that of The Northern Star, and they will be able to assure themselves that it is only by a mistake that The Northern Star makes me say “Chartists — you will be hailed as the saviours of the human race.” [211]

The Journal de Bruxelles is moved by a more charitable spirit when it reminds us of the example of Anacharsis Cloots mounting the scaffold for having wanted to be more patriotic than the patriots of 1793 and 1794. In this respect the reverend fathers are free from all reproach. They have never been more patriotic than the patriots. On the contrary, they have always and everywhere been accused of wanting to be more reactionary than the reactionaries and, what is still worse, of wanting to be more governmental than the national government. When we think of the said experiences which they have just undergone in Switzerland, we are all ready to recognise that the admonitions they address to us so that we should avoid the opposite extreme and similar dangers, are of a generosity worthy of the early Christians. We thank them for this