Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung January 1849

Herr Müller. — Radetzky’s Chicanery Towards Tessin. — The Federal Council. — Lohbauer

Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 239;
Written: by Engels on January 8, 1849;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 194, January 13, 1849.

Berne, January 8. The Neapolitan Government, which is getting more and more worried about the non-arrival of Swiss recruits, has now sent one of its Swiss staff officers, Herr Tobias Müller, here to confer with the Federal Council about the change of the route of the recruits, as the stipulated port of embarkation, Genoa, is closed to them. This Herr Müller is eminently suitable for such a mission. Not only has he fought in Italy against freedom for many years; he had already in 1831 taken up arms in his home town (Freiburg) against the revolution. Radetzky, who knows his men, received him with distinction, embraced him in front of his General Staff, and praised him and the Swiss in Naples in general in glowing terms for their “loyalty to their King” (!) and their bravery in the service of their “King”. However, Herr Müller will very likely come up against difficulties: even the liberalism which prevails in the Federal Council is no friend to the enlistment agreements, [229] any more than are the liberal governments of Berne and Lucerne.

While Radetzky fraternises with the Swiss in Naples, his chicaneries against Tessin are beginning all over again. He has informed the Government there that Mazzini is still hiding in the canton and has even revealed to it his hiding-place. He further complains that weapons are continuing to be smuggled into Lombardy. The Government has decided to investigate the first point and, if Mazzini is really again in the canton, to expel him; as to the second point, the Government let it lie on the table, since it was not its business to serve the Austrians as frontier guard. Radetzky has incidentally threatened to enforce the closing of the frontier again if smuggling of arms does not cease.

The Federal Council is busy with the draft laws to be put before the next Federal Assembly. Among these are the Customs Law, organisation of postal services, proposals for military organisation, and so on. It must be admitted that while the highly esteemed Frankfurt Assembly in its extravagant helplessness and helpless extravagance has not up to now produced anything but its own misère, the Swiss federal authorities are quietly carrying through one bourgeois centralisation step after another. A number of centralising laws will be put before the Councils in March, will be debated and adopted in May and June, and will come into force in June. For such small, detailed reforms the present ruling liberal generation of Swiss politicians (one cannot say statesmen) have an incontestable talent. In a few years the centralisation of Switzerland will be completed as far as the Constitution allows, and then the Constitution itself will become a fetter on the further development of the country, and the one and indivisible republic will become a necessity. All this on the — impossible — supposition that the European storm which is building up will leave Switzerland as neutral as did the year 1848.

But really, what kind of a nation is this, which in a time of revolution like the present is striving for no more than the abolition of cantonal customs, cantonal posts and other cantonal institutions which for many many years past have been heavily oppressive! Which in the midst of the birth-pangs of a new historical epoch sees as its highest goal an improved edition of the historically outdated Federal Republic and the first beginnings, already necessitated by the Sonderbund war,[230] of bourgeois centralisation! What small beer in the ferment of the glorious European movement!

The Federal Council has moreover taken an extremely strange step. It has again appointed the well-known Herr Lohbauer of Berlin as Professor of Military Science. Herr Lohbauer, refugee of 1830, radical, later renegade, was, as is well known, summoned through the Eichhorn clique in the forties to Berlin, where he worked on the [Allgemeine Preussische] Staats-Zeitung, on the Janus and on other ultra-reactionary and pietist organs of the press. Herr Lohbauer is, if we are not much mistaken, the author of that lackey’s kick in the shape of an article in the Staats-Zeitung with which Herwegh was thrown out of the royal states after his letter to His Majesty. Herr Lohbauer was never a soldier, and yet he is to lecture here on military science.[231] Only Herr Ochsenbein, who appointed him, can know the meaning of that.

In most of the cantons the Great Councils are now in agreement, and fighting against the pettiest local interests. The Zurich Great Council has elected our friend Dr. Alcibiades Escher as Burgomaster (id est chief of the Executive). The Berne Great Council will meet on the 15th.