[Marxism] Engels query

Mark Lause markalause at gmail.com
Wed Oct 3 08:32:46 MDT 2012

Engels surely remembered his earlier bout over this with the
troublesome Americans . . . . .

How the Manifesto came to the US is an interesting story, one that
would have cost Engels some sleep . . .

In that section of the Manifesto on the relations of Communists with
other tendencies in the working class movement, Marx and Engels
described the Communist League in kinship with--but more consistently
applying the principles of--the Chartists in Britain, the Blanquists
in France, and the "Agrarian Reformers" or the "Agrarian National
Reformers" in the U.S.  That last group refered to George Henry Evans
and his militant workingclass land reformers.  That was, of course,
the 1840s.

By the time of the First International, Marx and Engels found such
sweeping notions of a broad working class movement troublesome.  In
terms of the Americans, the very people they had seen as kindred
spirits had joined the International.  Evans and his comrades had gone
into coalition work with the abolitionists--particularly those in and
around what called itself the Radical Abolitionist Party.
By the 1850s, these constituted part of the Free Democratic Party,
which partiicpated directly in the International Association--the
forerunner of the "First" International started a few years later.
Although the German socialists participated fully in this process, the
French and Italian groups had been as important, as reflected in the
leadership of Hugh Forbes, the emigre Garibaldian (and military
adivsor of John Brown) and, later, Gustave Cluseret (future war leader
of the Paris Commune).  Still, by the late 1850s, many of the French
who had left after 1848-49 returned home under an amnesty and resumed
struggle brough many of the Italians back in 1860.  In short order,
workingclass radicals remaining in the US faced more immediate issues
as well.

After the Civil War, though, the "usual suspects"--John Commerford,
J.K. Ingalls, Lewis Masquerier, Stephen Pearl Andrews, Ira B. Davis,
William West, etc.--began rebuilding the radical internationalist
socialist circles they had established before the war.  The Germans
had already begun organizing sections of the International
Workingmen's Association, but the French and the Americans had each
built more of them in short order.  More immediately, the veteran
American radicals became Section 9, while a few of them--Andrews,
Davis, West, etc.-- recruited Victoria Woodhull, Colonel James H.
Blood, Tennessee Clafflin and others coming at socialism from the
direction of the women's movement--to a Section 12.  The Germans under
Friederich A. Sorge clung to their nominal leadership of the movement
until the numbers were clearly going to overwhelm them, after whicch
they promulgated what amounted to an ethnic split in the IWA in

Marx and Engels had their hands full with other issues in Europe, and
the need to have the IWA in America under the control of people they
knew seemed to trump other considerations.  They rather clearly began
to use their influence on behalf of Sorge.

It was in this context that _Woodhull and Clafflin's Weekly_ (the
unoficial paper of Section 12) published an English translation of the
Manifesto.  It used the Chartist translation (form the _Red
Reoublican_ perhaps)--the one in which fearful hobgoblins, rather than
spectres, were stomping about Europe.  In other words, they were
confronting the Marx and Engels of 1872 with the position of the Marx
and Engels of 1848.

Understandable, then, that the Engels of twenty years later would have
remembered the burn.  ;-)

Mark L.

More information about the Marxism mailing list