Farsi    Arabic    English   

Peace or War[210]

Karl Marx

We print elsewhere the recent article of the Moniteur[a], oracularly disclaiming on the part of its master and inspirer, Louis Napoleon, any purpose of plunging Europe into war,—an article which would seem to have inflated the Exchanges, and half dispelled the apprehensions of the Old World. Yet whoever reads carefully that article will find in it little warrant for the hopes which it has excited. Beyond the single assertion that the Emperor's engagements to the King of Sardinia extend no further than assurances of defense against Austrian aggression—assurances which Victor Emmanuel cannot have needed, at all events, since his troops were dispatched to reenforce those of France and England before Sevastopol—we see nothing more in this manifesto than a fresh insult to the public understanding. It virtually asks the world to forget, in the interest of the French usurper, that it was he, and not the newspapers, that alarmed and convulsed Europe by a gratuitous and ostentatious menace, addressed to Austria through her Embassador[b], on the first day of the present year[211]—that his presses, his pamphleteers, his cousin[c], his armaments and purchases of materiel, have stimulated and diffused the war panic which his own premeditated language excited—and that this very article contains no line, no phrase, that savors of abatement of his pretensions or his intrigues in Italy or Moldo-Wallachia[212]. He may have concluded to recoil before the public opinion of Europe (Italy excepted, France not excepted); but he may also have concluded to simulate the language of peace and moderation to cover gigantic stock speculations or to lure those on whom he is about to spring into a false and fatal security. From first to last, his new manifesto does not even intimate that any lowering of the crest of Austria, any clearing of the sky of Diplomacy, has impelled and justified this change of tone rather than of attitude. And, as to the improbability that one about to launch his thunderbolts would parade such pacific professions, we must remember that this is the same Louis Napoleon who, on the very eve of his treacherous assassination of the French Republic, complained to a Republican of the cynicism which could suppose him capable of meditating such baseness. We hold, therefore, this Napoleonic manifesto "a conclusion by which nothing is concluded." It is only a white heap, which may turn out innocent meal or only mealy cat, but which of them time only can determine.

The comments of the London Times are even more significant in what they suggest by a constrained forbearance than. in what they openly affirm[d]. Louis Napoleon can never more be the demigod of the Bourse and the Bourgeois. He rules henceforth by the sword alone.

Written about March 8, 1859
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 5593 (as a leading article)
and in the New-York Semi-Weekly Tribune, No. 1443, March 25, 1859
Reproduced from the New-York Daily Tribune


[a] Le Moniteur universel, No. 64, March 5, 1859.—Ed.

[b] Alexander Hübner.—Ed.

[c] Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte.—Ed.

[d] The Times, No. 23247, March 7, 1859 (leading article).—Ed.

[210] This article and the next, "A Sigh from the Tuileries", were written by Marx as a single article but were published by the Tribune as two independent leading articles in two different issues. The first sentence bears signs of the editors' interference.

[211] At a reception of the diplomatic corps in the Tuileries on January 1, 1859, Napoleon III said to the Austrian Ambassador J. A. Hübner: "I regret that our relations with your Government are not as good as formerly." This statement led to a diplomatic conflict with Austria, war against which had long ago been decided on: in July 1858, in Plombières, a secret agreement had been reached between France and Piedmont, under which France was promised Savoy and Nice in exchange for participation in the forthcoming war against Austria.

[212] The French diplomats made use of the strivings of the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia to merge in a single state in order to strengthen France's influence in the Balkans. With the assistance of France and Russia Colonel Alexandru Cuza was elected hospodar (ruler) of Moldavia (in January 1859) and of Wallachia (in early February 1859). A united Rumanian state was set up in 1862.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 16 (pp.256-257), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
MarxEngles.public-archive.net #ME1120en.html