Rare Marx manuscript, written five days after the “Commune” seizes power, warning against “fake news” attacks

Marx, Karl, philosopher and economist (1818-1883). "An die Redaction des 'Volksstaat'". Autograph manuscript signed.

London, 23 March 1871.

Large 8vo. 2 pp. on bifolium. On scritta stationery with printed letterhead of the "General Council of the International Working Men's Association, 256, High Holborn, London, W.C.". In German.

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A political article written in connection with the formation of the Paris Commune, an event which had exhilarated Marx and terrified governments throughout Europe. Composed for publication in the "Volksstaat", the official newspaper of the Social Democratic Workers’ Party, Marx warns against the spread of false news designed to sow confusion among Communists.

“Once again, the Gallic cock had crowed. The rulers of Europe affected deafness at first, perhaps hoping that the squawks would fade if no one took notice. When this failed, their panic was delightful to behold” (Wheen, p. 325). International papers, seizing on an item published in the reactionary "Paris-Journal", reported that even Karl Marx "was so horrified by the uprising that he had sent a stern message of rebuke to French members of the International" (ibid.) and that the French International had voted to “expel the Germans from the International Working Men’s Association". Marx clarifies that "the letter, as I have already explained in The Times, is a brazen fake from beginning to end". The purpose of this calumny, he advises readers of the "Volksstaat", "is immediately obvious […] It is quite natural that the important dignitaries and the ruling classes of the old society who can only maintain their own power and the exploitation of the productive masses of the people by national conflicts and antagonisms, recognise their common adversary in the International Working Men’s Association. All and any means are good to destroy it".

Marx signs in full as "Karl Marx, Secretary of the General Council of the International Working Men's Association for Germany". The article was published in the "Volksstaat" on 29 March 1871 and also in other newspapers of the "International", as well as in the paper "Die Zukunft".

Complete manuscripts by Karl Marx are of the utmost rarity in the trade.

References

Published under the original title in MEW 17, pp. 298-300, as "An die Redaktionen des 'Volksstaats' und der 'Zukunft'" in MEGA I.22, pp. 5-8 (English ed., pp. 288-290).