Marx and Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung November 1848

German Professional Baseness

Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 106;
Written: on November 29, 1848;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 156, November 30, 1848.

Cologne, November 29. The lackey nature of German professors finds its ideal surpassed in the learned gentlemen of Berlin and Halle. Such a servile frame of mind would shame a Russian serf. The pious Buddhist who credulously swallows the excrement of his Dalai Lama hears with astonishment about the Berlin and Halle Buddhists whose prostitution before royalty “by the grace of God” seems to him like a fable. He only believes in its reality when he is shown the addresses of the Berlin and Halle professors to the King of Prussia dated November 24 and 21 respectively, with the original signatures.

“Freedom of discussion was abolished, the lives of the deputies menaced, the dignity of the Assembly and the honour of the nation besmirched, and the most well-intentioned and just proposals for putting an end to this reign of terror were frustrated by the resistance of those whom it was to benefit.”

With these and other such brazen lies, and with the most servile assurances of inborn loyalty, 80 Berlin professors — including Hengstenberg, Schönlein, Ehrenberg, Böckh, the two Grimms etc. — have concocted an address to the King in which they bray in chorus their learned applause for the coercive measures of the Brandenburg Ministry.

The address of 19 Halle professors has a similar sound, but they go so far in their comicality as to speak incidentally of the “seriousness of their profession”.

The central feature in both addresses is an indescribable fury at the refusal to pay taxes. This is very easy to understand! No more taxes — and privileged erudition goes bankrupt. This money-greedy race of professors needs only the remotest threat to its purse for all science to be engulfed in fire and flames. Their monopoly is rooted in royalty “by the grace of God”. They write addresses to the King expressing their devotion, that is to say, they are devoted until death to their own monopoly. If the people achieves final victory, these gentlemen will quickly, in spite of all the “seriousness of their scientific profession”, manage to put themselves on the side of popular sovereignty, now so greatly condemned by them. The people, however, will cry out to them “too late” [122] and put a speedy end to the whole evil of privileged erudition.