Marx in Neue Rheinische Zeitung October 1848

Reply of Frederick William IV to the Delegation of the Civic Militia

Source: MECW Volume 7. p. 476;
Written: by Marx on October 18, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 121, October 20, 1848.

Cologne, October 18. Frederick William IV replied to Rimpler, the commander of the civic militia of Berlin, in response to the latter’s congratulations on the occasion of October 15 [Birthday of Frederick William IV]:

“I know that a heroic and brave people is also a loyal one. But do not forget that you obtained the weapons from me and that I demand that you stand up dutifully for the preservation of order, law and freedom.”

Constitutional kings are not responsible, on the understanding that they are not answerable, in the constitutional sense, of course. Their actions, their words, their countenances do not belong to them, they belong to the responsible Ministers.

Hansemann, for example, on the occasion of his exit, had the King say that he considered the execution of Stein’s Army Order[312] incompatible with constitutional monarchy. Pfuel carried it out, that is in the parliamentary sense. Hansemann was compromised, in the constitutional sense. The King had not contradicted himself, because he had not spoken, always in the constitutional sense.

Thus the above declaration of the King is nothing but a ministerial declaration and as such is subject to criticism.

If Pfuel claims that the King has created the civic militia on his own accord, then he claims that the King is the originator of the March revolution which is nonsense, even in the constitutional sense.

Apart from this.

After God had created the world and the kings by the grace of God, he relinquished the smaller industry to human beings. Even “weapons” and lieutenants’ uniforms are manufactured by profane methods and the profane method of manufacturing does not create from nothing as the heavenly industry does. It needs raw materials, the tools of labour and wages, all items which are summed up by the unpretentious term: production costs. These production costs are defrayed for the state by taxes and the taxes are raised by the work of the nation. Thus in an economic sense it remains an enigma how any king can give anything to a nation. First of all, the people have to produce weapons and give the weapons to the king, in order to obtain weapons from the king. In all cases, the king can only give what is given to him. That is the position in an economic sense. It so happens, however, that constitutional kings arise exactly at those moments when people find the clue to this economic secret. Therefore the initial causes for the overthrow of the kings by the grace of God have always been questions of taxation. It is the same in Prussia. Even the immaterial goods, the privileges, which the nations allowed the kings to grant to them, were not only bestowed by them upon the kings in the first place but in order to get them back the people always had to pay in cash — in blood and ringing coin. Trace, for example, English history since the eleventh century and you will be able to calculate pretty accurately how many crushed skulls and how many pound sterling every constitutional privilege cost. Herr Pfuel apparently wants to take us back to the good old times of the Davenant Economic Chart. [Ch. Davenant, An Essay upon the Probable Methods of making a People Gainers in the Ballance of Trade] In this chart concerning English production we read among other items:

Section 1. Productive workers.. kings, officers, lords, country clergymen etc.

Section 2. Unproductive workers. sailors, peasants, weavers, spinners etc.

According to this chart section 1 produces and section 2 receives. It is in this sense that Herr Pfuel says the king gives.

Pfuel’s declaration shows what one expects in Berlin from the hero of “Croatian order and freedom”. [Jellachich]

The most recent incidents in Berlin remind one of the conflicts in Vienna on August 23 between the civic militia and the people, conflicts which were also provoked by the camarilla. That August 23 was followed by October 5. [313]