Letters: Letters from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher by Karl Marx

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Writings of Karl Marx 1843

Letters from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher

Source: Marx Engels Collected Works, Volume 3, pp. 133-145.
Written: March, May and September 1843;
First Published: in Deutsch-Fransösiche Jahrbücher, 1844.

These letters written by Marx form part of his correspondence with Ruge at the time of their preparations for publishing the journal Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, they were published in the journal in the section “From the Correspondence of 1843,” where letters by Ruge, Bakunin and Feuerbach were also printed. In these letters Marx in fact formulated his revolutionary views on the programme of the journal which went further than the tasks of disseminating abstract philosophical ideas and bourgeois-democratic political views, set by its other editor, Ruge.

Marx’s letters to Ruge from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher were first published in English in the book Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, New York, 1967.

Despite considerable organisational and material difficulties (the journal was edited in Paris and printed in Zurich) the editorial board managed to put out the first double issue (No. 1-2) of the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher at the end of February 1844. The main trend of the journal was determined by Marx’s letters and articles (“On the Jewish. Question,” “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law. Introduction”) and Engels’ articles (“Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy,” “The Condition of England. Past and Present by Thomas Carlyle”), which were published in it and were imbued with revolutionary-communist spirit. However, the publication of the journal was discontinued.

By its sharp political presentation of material the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher attracted the attention of the progressive sections of society in Germany, France and other countries but at the same time evoked indignation of the conservative press. On March 10, 1844, the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung wrote: “The criticism to which the new Paris journal resorts knows no mercy, in its polemics it disregards all aesthetic standards, and its satirical tone, though it does not stab like a dagger, punches like a huge fist.” The Prussian Government considered the political line of the journal extremely “dangerous,” banned its import to Germany and issued warrants for the arrest of Marx, Ruge, Heine and the other contributors in the event of their coming to Prussia. About two-thirds out of the total of three thousand copies fell into the hands of the police.

Marx to Ruge, March 1843

Marx to Ruge, May 1843

Marx to Ruge, September 1843