For a little over a decade after the ignominious collapse of the Revolution of 1848, Karl Marx worked as a professional journalist. Writing from London for newspapers in America and, eventually, on the Continent, he continued while living in exile the analysis of the crisis of revolution that he first began in direct engagement with revolutionary events, most notably in The Class Struggles in France of 1850 and The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte of 1852. In what became a vast body of material, through this journalistic work Marx elaborated the critical concept of "bonapartism" first abumbrated in the latter book. Continuing his effort to learn the lesson of 1848, Marx concentrated on the crisis of modern society and the new mass democratic state that emerged, in the absence of the dictatorship of the proletariat, to meet that crisis.
Together with Marx and Engels on Imperialism, this is the first book to select and bring together Marx’s journalism around a conceptual theme, rather than a mere topic. Whatever the subject — the emergence of a new capitalist politics or the new unionism in Britain, post-1848 Chartism, the East India Company, European nationalisms, or the Taiping Rebellion in China — Marx and Engels' journalism is shown to constellate around “bonapartism,” a concept that Marx critically appropriated from liberals distressed at the post-1848 order.
Spencer A Leonard teaches history at the University of Virginia.
Introduction: Beyond Dispute? Editing Marx after Marxism
List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1: The Second Opium War and the Indian Revolt of 1857–58
The Anglo-Chinese Conflict January 23, 1857
English Atrocities in China April 10, 1857
Persia—China (Engels) June 5, 1857
The Revolt in the Indian Army July 15, 1857
The Indian Question August 14, 1857
The Indian Revolt September 16, 1857
Investigation of Tortures in India September 17, 1857
British Incomes in India September 21, 1857
British Atrocities in India April 5, 1858
Details of the Attack on Lucknow (Engels) May 25, 1858
The Annexation of Oude May 28, 1858
British Army in India (Engels) June 26, 1858
The Indian Bill July 24, 1858
History of the Opium Trade September 1858
Chapter 2: The Regime of Louis Bonaparte and the Post-1848 European Order
The France of Bonaparte the Little April 5, 1856
The French Crédit Mobilier June–July 1856
The Monetary Crisis in Europe October 15, 1856
State of Europe—Financial State of France July 27, 1857
The Attempt Upon the Life of Bonaparte February 22, 1858
The Rule of the Pretorians March 12, 1858
The British Government and the Slave Trade July 2, 1858
Project for the Regulation of the Price of Bread in France December 15, 1858
Affairs in Prussia February 1, 1859
The War Prospect in France March 31, 1859
A Historic Parallel March 31, 1859
Chapter 3: Palmerston’s Reelection as the Political Consolidation of Imperialism
The Defeat of the Palmerston Ministry and the Election of 1857 March–April 1857
The Defeat of Cobden, Bright, and Gibson April 17, 1857
The English Bank Act of 1844 August 23, 1858
On Ernest Jones July 16, 1859
The Invasion Panic in England December 9, 1859
English Politics February 14, 1860
A Slander Trial December 24, 1861
Chapter 4: The American Civil War
The American Question in England October 11, 1861
The London Times and Lord Palmerston October 21, 1861
The London Times on the Orleans Princes in America November 7, 1861
The Civil War in the United States November 7, 1861
A London Workers’ MeetingFebruary 2, 1862
A Treaty Against the Slave Trade May 22, 1862
Criticism of American Affairs August 9, 1862
Comments on the North American Events October 12, 1862
Appendix 1: English Newspapers Quoted by Marx and Engels
Appendix 2: Newspapers for which Marx and Engels Wrote, 1851–62
Appendix 3: Chronology: Socialism, Marxism, and Imperialism, 1815–1899
About the Editor
In the second volume of his series, Marx and Engels on Imperialism: Selected Journalism, 1856-62, Leonard collects Marx’s and Engels’ articles on the Second Opium War and the 1857-58 Indian Revolt, on the Second French Empire and the post-1848 European Order, on Lord Palmerston and British Imperialism, and on the American Civil War. A detailed reconstruction of the editorial history of the journalistic articles by Marx and Engels is contained in the introduction to the volume.
From 1851 to 1862, Karl Marx, exiled in London, earned his living as a journalist. As European leader writer for the New York Tribune, Marx fearlessly analyzed and exposed the forces he saw as obstacles to republican democracy and working-class emancipation. These forces were personified by Bonapartists, Pan-Slavists, British Imperialists, and the American slavocrats. Marx also wrote for leading outlets in Europe and for the late Chartist presses in England. An underlying theme in Spencer Leonard’s selections from these writings is the failure of the bourgeois class in fulfilling its own democratic ideals following the overcoming of feudalism. In modernity the emerging state forms were (as they still are) the political expressions of capital and its crisis. Marx’s journalism and his return to studying political economy in 1857 both prepared him for the founding the First International and publishing of Capital.
Marx and Engels first encountered each other in a newspaper office. Shortly afterwards they teamed up as political activists in a close and productive partnership, writing many hundreds of articles. This major collection demonstrates how their critique of aggressive commercialism developed as a practical mode of analysis for a mass audience. Previous collections have suppressed this by following the nation-state geographies that divide and rule, but do not reveal. What this volume shows today’s readers is that for Marx and Engels decolonization was a not a theory but a global movement, and that in the imperialist press of Europe and the United States the two radical journalists operated as subversives. Their critique of political economy shows how global capitalism disguises its brutality with imperial puffery.
This second volume of Marx’s journalism dates from the late 1850s. Rather than organised around themes of “Marx On …,” the selection here follows how Marx and Engels worked out in detail the unfolding of the failure of the Revolution of 1848, and the failure of their attempts to reconstitute Chartism in Britain. Bourgeois democracy proved to be contradictory; “in order to save its purse, [the bourgeoisie] must forfeit the crown. The sword that is to safeguard it must at the same time be hung over its own head as a sword of Damocles,” as further expansion of bourgeois society came increasingly to depend on what it once aspired to supersede: slavery, despotism, and war. Leonard’s ample introductions and expansive footnotes allow the reader to follow the real subject matter of Marx’s journalism, the struggle for socialism in the age of democracy, material hitherto sadly neglected by Marxism.
“This brilliant collection of Marx’s articles for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune sheds important new light on his work as a professional journalist writing for an American audience. The articles, of which Marx was very proud, prove without a doubt that one of his main preoccupations during the 1850s was “imperialism,” or what he also called “Bonapartism.” In Leonard’s thought-provoking introductions, he invites us to ponder whether it is not this older, more political, conception of Marx which should be recovered today. A fascinating read.”
In the most comprehensive collection to date of Marx’s Tribune writings and other journalism, published here in a carefully annotated edition, we can see his global reach in a new way, with writings that range from India and China to British politics, French Bonapartism, and the Civil War in the United States. A real eye opener, even for those already familiar with Marx’s best-known writings.
Marx and Engels’ journalism may have been extensively studied, but these two volumes of their journalistic writings 1851-62 newly introduced and edited by Spencer Leonard are utterly refreshing. Leonard’s introductions to each volume and each chapter superbly elaborate the backgrounds, contexts, theses, and significances of the texts carefully collected. In particular, his reading of bonapartism and imperialism, conceptually interchangeable and central for Marx and Engels (who were profoundly preoccupied by the failed 1848 revolution), is original and compelling and posesses pressing contemporary relevance. Critically engaging the relevant European and global political developments at the time, as well as a wider literature germane to an adequate understanding of the body of works concerned, Leonard argues for the latter’s coherence with the Marxian critique of political economy. All this, moreover, is splendidly substantiated by historical, sociological, and biographical details as much as astute theoretical erudition. In lucid, graceful, and often moving prose, Leonard guides his reader to appreciate these journalistic writings for being rooted in their authors’ revolutionary politics — this in defiance of all the brutalities and despair they endured while in exile in Britain. By combining faithful editing and brilliant interpretation, these volumes make an extraordinary contribution to the shared undertaking of rejuvenating the vital political and intellectual legacy of the founders of international communism.
“These volumes are something of a revelation. They provide the background information about how Marx and Engels regarded the politics and economics of the world in the 1850s. This contemporary journalism sheds a fresh light on the sources and context of their better known later writings. Essential reading”.
Spencer Leonard's erudite, thoughtful, and meticulous editing lends a special and contemporary significance to these two volumes of journalistic writings by Marx and Engels. When planetary-scale environmental disasters make our times seem disorienting and fragmented, it is instructive and inspiring to see two of the greatest revolutionary minds in human history striving - as engaged philosophers of the contemporary - to make sense of their everyday worlds through moments of defeat and disappointment. Readers will be in Leonard's debt for this lasting achievement.