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Marx-Engels Correspondence 1891

Engels to Schluter (Excerpt)

Source: Science and Society Volume II, Number 3, 1938;
Translated and Edited: by Leonard E. Mins.

London, January 29, 1891.

Dear Schluter:

... Unfortunately I cannot accept Serge’s invitation. I am rooted with so many fibres here in Europe and have so infinitely much to do that a retreat to America can be considered only in the most extremely desperate situation. Moreover, my household is fully in order again ever since Louise Kautsky is with me.

Many thanks for the calendar.

The articles in the Cyclopedia are partly by Marx and partly by me, viz., entirely or almost entirely on military subjects: biographies of military leaders, the articles on Artillery, Cavalry, Fortifications, etc. Purely commercial work, nothing else; they can safely remain buried.

I see clearly enough that things are going downhill with the S.L.P. from its fraternization with the Nationalists, compared to whom the Fabians here — likewise bourgeois — are radicals. I should have thought that the Sozialist would scarcely be able to beget extra boredom by cohabitating with the Nationalist. Serge sends me the Nationalist, but despite all my efforts I cannot find anyone who is willing to read it.

Nor do I understand the quarrel with Gompers. His Federation is, as far as I know, an association of trade-unions and nothing but trade-unions. Hence they have the formal right to reject anyone coming as the representative of a labor organization that is not a trade-union, or to reject delegates of an association to which such organizations are admitted. I cannot judge from here, of course, whether it was propagandistically advisable to expose oneself to such a rejection. But it was beyond question that it had to come, and I, for one, cannot blame Gompers for it.

But when I think of next year’s international congress in Brussels, I. should think it would have been well to keep on good terms with Gompers, who has more workers behind him, at any rate, than the S.L.P., and to ensure as big a delegation from America as possible there, including his people. They would see many things there that will disconcert them in their narrowminded trade-union standpoint — and besides, where do you want to find a recruiting ground if not in the trade unions?

Many thanks for the silver material. If you could find something for me containing material on the present silver production of the U. S., I should be grateful. The European double-standard currency jackasses are sheer dupes of the American silver producers and are quite ready to pull the latter’s chestnuts out of the fire for them. See my footnote on the precious metals in the fourth edition of Capital.

Please give me fuller details of Marx’s speech on free trade you refer to. I recall merely that when debate grew slack in the Brussels German Workers Society, Marx and I agreed to stage a sham debate in which he defended free trade and I protective tariffs, and I still see the astounded faces of the people when they saw the two of us suddenly attacking each other. It is possible that this speech was printed in the Deutsche Brusseler Zeitung. I can’t recall any other one.

You will probably be unable to come to Germany for the first year or two. Tauscher has been released, it is true, but only because there was no evidence against him. It was disclosed, on the other hand, that the provisions of the statute of limitations have been regularly interrupted for the rest of you.

Cordial regards to your wife and yourself from Louise Kautsky and

F. Engels