heilbroner karl marx

heilbroner karl marx - The Worldly Philosophers,...

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THE INEXORABLE SYSTEM OF KARL MARX 137 The ruling classes did tremble, and they saw the threat of communism everywhere. Nor were their fears ground- less. In the French foundries the workmen sang radical songs to the accompaniment of blows from their sledge- hammers, and the German romantic poet Heinrich Heine, who was touring the factories, reported that “really people in our gentle walk of life can have no idea of the demonic note which runs through these songs.” But despite the clarion words of the Manifesto, the demonic note was not a call for a revolution of communism; it was a cry born only of frustration and despair. For all of Europe was in the grip of reaction compared with which conditions in England were positively idyllic. The French government had been characterized by John Stuart Mill as “wholly without the spirit of improvement and . . . wrought almost exclusively through the meaner and more selfish impulses of mankind, ” and the French had no monopoly on such a dubious claim to fame. As for Germany, well, here it was, the fourth decade of the nineteenth century, and Prussia still had no parliament, no freedom of speech or right of assembly, no liberty of the press or trial by jury, and no tolerance for any idea that deviated by a hair’s breadth from the antiquated notion of the divine right of kings. Italy was a hodgepodge of anachronistic principali- ties. Russia under Nicholas I (despite the Tsar’s one-time visit to Robert Owen’s New Lanark) was characterized by the historian de Tocqueville as “the cornerstone of despo- tism in Europe.” Had the despair been channeled and directed, the de- monic note might have changed into a truly revolutionary one. But, as it was, the uprisings were spontaneous, undis- ciplined, and aimless; they won initial victories, and then, while they were wondering what next to do, the old order rocked invincibly back into place. The revolutionary fervor abated, and where it did not, it was mercilessly crushed. At the price of ten thousand casualties, the Paris mobs were subdued by the National Guard, and Louis Napoleon took over the nation and soon exchanged the Second Republic for the Second Empire. In Belgium the country decided that it had better ask the king to stay after all; he acknowl- . Vi The Inexorable System of Karl Marx The Manifesto opened with ominous words: “A spectre is haunting Europe -the spectre of Communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Gui- zot, French Radicals and German police spies.” The specter certainly existed: 1848 was a year of terror for the old order on the Continent. There was a revolution- ary fervor in the air and a rumble underfoot. For a moment -for a brief moment-it looked as if the old order might break down. In France the plodding regime of Louis Phi- lippe, the portly middle-class king, wrestled with a crisis and then collapsed; the king abdicated and fled to the se- curity of a Surrey villa, and the workingmen of Paris rose
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This note was uploaded on 10/23/2008 for the course ENGL 101 taught by Professor Gillespie during the Spring '08 term at Bucknell.

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heilbroner karl marx - The Worldly Philosophers,...

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