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Karl Marx

The following programme of General Klapka, which we have received from a reliable source, is to be handed to Kossuth on his arrival in London. It shows how greatly Kossuth's authority has been shaken among his more important supporters. It reads as follows:


As I am retiring from the arena of all political activity for a while, and perhaps for a long time, and do not wish that my principles and views should be incorrectly interpreted, I herewith declare to my friends:

1) No dictatorship, neither in the Fatherland nor outside it, so long as the decision of the nation has not been given on this matter.

2) In deference to the majority of my compatriots and in accordance with my own conviction, I recognise our honoured fellow-citizen Ludwig Kossuth as the head of the Hungarian Refugee Association, but at the same time I declare that I regard the clinging to the position and title of Governor as wholly incompatible with the basic principle of our revolutionary activity and very harmful to our cause.

3) With regard to our activity abroad.

a) For the conduct of affairs, besides the appointed head, several mem¬bers elected by all the émigrés should together with him constitute the Central Committee.

b) The distribution of financial support obtained by exploiting Hungarian popularity must be guided not by personal conditions, but solely by the circumstances of the case, whether one is a loyal son of the Fatherland, what service one has rendered to the Fatherland, and whether in general one has any claim to support. Accordingly, the money intended by the Central Committee for private support must be administered in a non-partisan and public manner by committees which are elected by the respective refugee organisations themselves.

With regard to our activity at home.

As soon as Hungary is in a position to embark on a life and death struggle against its tyrants, those who will then stand at the head of the public cause should have the duty to convene in the shortest possible term a Constituent National Assembly on the basis of universal suffrage as the sole revolutionary power, and the Government must be merely a creation of this Assembly.

4) Since it cannot be our task to interfere in the activity of the future representatives of the nation and already now draft a Constitution for our Fatherland, we can merely indicate those principles through which we expect the future prosperity of the Fatherland, its revival, power and welfare, and the guarantee of an indissoluble union of all the nationalities; these principles, however, if we wish to take into account the spirit and past of our nation, are liberty, equality and fraternity applied equally to both individuals and nationalities.

Those are my personal principles. But since providence, without taking into account our petty reasoning, often exerts its decisive influence on the fate of nations precisely where it is least expected, and since in my view the question of the future constitution of Hungary is at present only of secondary importance, whereas the throwing off of the Austrian yoke, which threatens our national existence with complete destruction, is a primary and vital question, I therefore declare that both my sword and my influence shall serve any foreign power whose aim is the overthrow of the Austrian dynasty as well as the restoration of the independence and political existence of Hungary.

April 1852
Georg Klapka

From the above programme one can very accurately judge Klapka's character. He firmly adheres to a position between two stools; he would like to appear independent and energetic, but is not strong enough for that. Natural instinct is stronger than his will. He wants Kossuth and also does not want him. With one hand he caresses him, with the other hand he slaps him in the face, but in order to soften the blows he puts on silk gloves. Klapka forgets that a box on the ears whether delivered with or without gloves always remains a box on the ears and that a vain, irritable, ambitious man like Kossuth is as little likely to forget a small insult as a big one. Vacillating, irresolute people like Klapka always have the misfortune of doing everything by halves. By this programme Klapka demonstrates his political immaturity, and the concluding sentence bears the stamp of clumsiness and of imprudence. Klapka forgets that an untimely word often suffices to betray entire plans. We hope that General Klapka will never be in a situation in which he has to regret the clumsiness of Klapka the diplomat.

Written in the first half of May 1852
First published in: Marx and Engels, Works, Second Russian Edition, Vol. 44, Moscow 1977
Printed according to the manuscript, which is in Jenny Marx's handwriting
Published in English for the first time


[154] These are Marx's introductory and concluding remarks on the "Political Programme" of General Klapka, who took part in the 1848-49 revolution in Hungary. Marx may have received this document from Bertalan Szemere, Gustav Zerffi or some other Hungarian émigré among his acquaintances. His interest in it, judging by his letter to Engels of May 6, 1852, was aroused by the preparations for armed actions in Hungary and Italy against Austrian rule being made by the followers of Kossuth and Mazzini. Klapka was to be one of the military leaders. In conditions of the temporary triumph of reaction everywhere, Marx regarded these actions as adventurism which could only play into the hands of the counter-revolutionaries. He saw as particularly dangerous the tendency of certain Hungarian and Italian leaders to seek support for their liberation struggle from Louis Bonaparte and his entourage, who - were coquetting with the national movements in an attempt to raise the prestige of the Bonapartist regime and further its foreign policy aims. Later, Marx wrote special articles for the New-York Daily Tribune warning of the danger of this tendency (see "Movements of Mazzini and Kossuth.—League with Louis Napoleon.—Palmerston", "Kossuth, Mazzini, and Louis Napoleon" and other articles in this volume). Klapka's "Programme" apparently attracted Marx's attention also because of the author's criticism, though timid and half-hearted, of Kossuth's activity and because of his attempt—in opposition to Kossuth—to propose a more democratic course, that of recognising the rights of national minorities from the outset. As can be seen from Marx's letter to Cluss, dated May 10, 1852, he intended to publish his remarks on the "Programme" as an article in the New-York Daily Tribune. In this volume, they are published according to the copy made by Mrs. Marx.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 11 (pp.224-225), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1979
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