Marx in Neue Rheinische Zeitung November 1848

Confessions of a Noble Soul
[the title of the sixth book of Goethe’s novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre]

Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 30;
Written: by Marx on November 16, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 145, November 17, 1848.

Cologne, November 16. We predicted to the Right what would await them if the camarilla was victorious — a tip and kicks.

We were mistaken. The struggle has not yet been decided, but they are already being given kicks by their chiefs, without receiving any tip.

The Neue Preussische Zeitung, Dame of the Army Reserve Cross with God for King and Fatherland”, the official organ of those now in power, states in one of its recent issues that the deputies Zweiffel (Chief Public Prosecutor in Cologne) and Schlink (Counsellor of the Court of Appeal in Cologne) are — let the reader guess — “revolutionary stomachs” [Magen] (the Neue Preussische Zeitung writes “Mägen”). It speaks of these gentlemen’s “inexpressible emptiness of thought and absence of thought”. It finds even “Robespierre’s fantasies” far superior to the ideas of these “gentlemen of the central section”. Avis ā [take notice] Messieurs Zweiffel et Schlink!

In the same issue of this newspaper Pinto-Hansemann [44] is declared to be a “leader of the extreme Left”, and according to the same newspaper there is only one remedy for leaders of the extreme Left — summary justice — the rope. Avis a M. Pinto-Hansemann, ex-Minister of action and of the constabulary.[45]

For an official news sheet, the Neue Preussische Zeitung is too naively frank. It tells the various parties too explicitly what is locked in the files of the Santa Casa.[46]

In the Middle Ages, people used to open Virgil at random in order to prophesy. In the Prussian Brumaire of 1848, people open the Neue Preussische Zeitung to save themselves the trouble of prophesying.” We shall give some new examples. What has the camarilla in store for the Catholics?


No. 115 of the Neue Preussische Zeitung states:

It is equally untrue that the state” (namely the royal Prussian state, the state of the Army Reserve Cross in its pre-March period) “has assumed a narrow denominational character and has guided religious affairs from this one-sided standpoint Admittedly this reproach, if it were true, would be an expression of definite praise. But it is untrue; for it is well known that our Government has expressly abandoned the old and standpoint of an evangelical government.

It is well known that Frederick William III made religion a branch of military discipline and had dissenters[48] thrashed by the police. It is well known that Frederick William IV, as one of the twelve minor prophets, wanted through the agency of the Eichhorn-Bodelschwingh-Ladenberg Ministry to convert the people and men of science forcibly to the religion of Bunsen. It is well known that even under the Camphausen Ministry the Poles were just as much plundered, scorched and clubbed because they were Poles as because they were Catholics. The Pomeranians always made a point of thrusting their bayonets through images of the Virgin Mary in Poland and hanging Catholic priests.

The persecution of dissenting Protestants under Frederick William III and Frederick William IV is equally well known.

The former immured in fortresses the Protestant pastors who repudiated the ritual and dogmas that he himself had invented. He was a great inventor of soldiers’ uniforms and rituals. And the latter? The Eichhorn Ministry? It suffices to mention the name of the Eichhorn Ministry.

But all that was a mere nothing!

Our Government had expressly abandoned the old and good standpoint of an evangelical government.” Await therefore the restoration of Brandenburg-Manteuffel, you Catholics of the Rhine Province and Westphalia and Silesia! Previously you were punished with rods, you will be scourged with scorpions. [paraphrased words of Rehoboam, King of Judah. See 1 Kings 12:11] You will get to knowexpressly the old and good standpoint of an evangelical government"!

And as for the Jews, who since the emancipation of their sect have everywhere put themselves, at least in the person of their eminent representatives, at the head of the counter-revolution — what awaits them?

There has been no waiting for victory in order to throw them back into their ghetto.

In Bromberg the Government is renewing the old restrictions on freedom of movement and thus robbing the Jews of one of the first of Rights of Man of 17891 the right to move freely from one place to another.

That is “one” aspect of the government of voluble Frederick William IV under the auspices of Brandenburg-Manteuffel-Ladenberg.

In its issue of November 11 the Neue Preussische Zeitung threw out well-being as bait to the “liberal-constitutional party”. But it was already shaking its head doubtfully over the constitutionalists.

“For the time being at any rate, our constitutionalists are still exceedingly shy of admitting, when together in their clubs or in their public press, that they are reactionaries.”

However, it adds soothingly and pertinently:

Every single one” (of the liberal-constitutionalists) “has long ago ceased to conceal that at the present time there is no salvation except in legal reaction,”

that is to say, in making the law reactionary or reaction legal, elevating reaction to the level of law.

In its issue of November 15 the Neue Preussische Zeitung already makes short work of the “constitutionalists” who want reaction elevated to the level of law, but are opposed to the Brandenburg-Manteuffel Ministry because it wants counter-revolution sans phrase. [without mincing words]

The ordinary constitutionalists,” it says, “ must be left to their fate.

Captured together! Hanged together!

For the information of the ordinary constitutionalists!

And wherein lies the extraordinary constitutionalism of Frederick William IV under the auspices of Brandenburg-Manteuffel-Ladenberg?

The official government organ, the Dame of the Army Reserve Cross with God for King and Fatherland, betrays the secrets of extraordinary constitutionalism.

The “simplest, most straightforward and least dangerous remedy”, of course, is “to remove the Assembly to another place”, from a capital to a guardroom, from Berlin to Brandenburg.

However, this removal is, as the Neue Preussische Zeitung reveals, only an “attempt”.

The attempt must be made,” it says, “to see whether the Assembly by removal to another place regains internal freedom along with the re-achievement of external freedom of movement.”

In Brandenburg the Assembly will be externally free. It will no longer be under the influence of the blouses [i.e., workers] it will only still be under the influence of the sabres of moustached cavalrymen.

But what about internal freedom?

Will the Assembly in Brandenburg free itself from the prejudices and reprehensible revolutionary sentiments of the nineteenth century? Will its soul be free enough to proclaim once more as official articles of faith feudal hunting rights, all the musty lumber of former feudal burdens, social estate distinctions, censorship, tax inequalities, aristocracy, absolute monarchy and the death penalty, for which Frederick William IV is so enthusiastic, the plundering and squandering of national labour by

“the pale canaille who are looked upon
as faith, love and hope"
[Heinrich Heine, Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen]

by starved country Junkers,. guard lieutenants and personifications of good conduct records? Will the National Assembly even in Brandenburg be internally free enough to proclaim once more all these items of the old wretchedness to be official articles of faith?

It is known that the counter-revolutionary party put forward the constitutional watchword: “Completion of the work on the Constitution!

The organ of the Brandenburg-Manteuffel-Ladenberg Ministry scorns to wear this mask any longer.

“The state of affairs,” the official organ admits, “has reached a point at which even the long desired completion of the work on the Constitution can no longer help us. For who can any longer conceal from himself that a legal document which has been dictated to the people’s representatives, paragraph by paragraph, under threat of the wheel and the gallows, and which has been wrung from the Crown by these same representatives, will be considered binding only as long as the most direct compulsion is capable of maintaining it in force.

Therefore, to abolish once again, paragraph by paragraph, the meagre rights of the people achieved through the National Assembly in Berlin — such is the task of the National Assembly in Brandenburg!

If it does not completely restore the old lumber, paragraph by paragraph, that just proves that while it is true that it has regained “external freedom of movement” in Brandenburg, it has not regained internal freedom as claimed by Potsdam.[49]

And how should the Government act against the spiritual obduracy, against the internal lack of freedom of the Assembly that has migrated to Brandenburg?

Dissolution ought to follow,” exclaims the Neue Preussische Zeitung.

But the idea occurs to it that perhaps the people is internally still less free than the Assembly.

“It would be possible,” it says, shrugging its shoulders, “for doubt to arise whether new primary elections might not produce a still more pitiful result than the first.

In its primary elections the people is said to have external freedom of movement. But what about internal freedom?

That is the question!

The statutes of the Assembly resulting from new primary elections could exceed the old ones in their iniquity.

What is to be done then against the “old” statutes?

The Dame of the Army Reserve Cross strikes an attitude.

The fist gave birth to them” (the old statutes of the Assembly after March 19), “the fist will overthrow themand that in the name of God and right.”

The fist will restore the “good old government”.

The fist is the ultimate argument of the Crown, the fist will be the ultimate argument of the people.

Above all, let the people ward off the mendicant hungry fists which take out of their pockets civil lists — and cannon. The boastful fists will become emaciated as soon as they are no longer fed. Above all, let the people refuse to pay taxes and later it will be able to count on which side is the greater number of fists.

All the so-called March achievements will be considered binding only as long as the most direct compulsion is capable of maintaining them in force. The fist gave birth to them, the fist will overthrow them.

That is what the Neue Preussische Zeitung says, and what the Neue Preussische Zeitung says, Potsdam has said. Therefore, let there be no more illusion! The people must put an end to the halfway measures of March, or the Crown will put an end to them.