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Persian Expedition in Afghanistan and
Russian Expedition in Central Asia.
The Fighting on The Danube and in Asia.
Wigan Colliers.[313]

Karl Marx

London, Friday, Nov. 4, 1853

Shafi Khan, the Persian Ambassador at the Court of St. James, has been suddenly recalled from England by the Shah. This recall coincides strangely with the operations of Persia in Afghanistan, where it was said to have taken Herat, and with the Russian expedition upon Khiva, the capital of the Khanate of Khiva[314]. The Persian expedition and the Russian one may be considered as two movements, the one from the west, the other from the north, centered on the Punjab, the northern outpost of the British dominions in the East. The Russian expedition is commanded by Gen. Perowski, the same whose Khiva expedition in 1839-40 proved abortive. The Russians having organized, of late years, a flotilla in the Aral Sea, are now able to ascend the river Amu-Darya.

A large Russian fleet is cruising in the Baltic, where it recently took an opportunity to inspect the fortifications of Slite, and the harbor of the Swedish Island of Gothland, of which Russia is covetous, in the manner she got possession of the Island of Aland, close to the coast of Sweden, and strongly fortified by Russia in 1836. From Gothland the Russian fleet proceeded to the Cattegat and the Sound, with a view to support the King of Denmark's[a] intended coup d'état in the very probable case of the Copenhagen Diet not quietly accepting the so-called Whole-State Constitution (Gesammt-Staats-Verfassung) octroyed by the magnanimous Czar. The state of affairs at Copenhagen is this: the Danish Government has succeeded in carrying the abolition of the Lex Regia[315], and introducing the new law of royal succession, by the support they received from the Peasant-leaguers[316]. This party, under the leadership of Col. Tscherning, aims principally at the transformation of the Feste Gut, a sort of feudal peasant-tenure, into free property; and the introduction of municipal laws favorable to the interests and the development of the peasantry. The properly called national and liberal party the party of the Eyderdanes, who formed the Casino Ministry[317] in 1848, forced the Constitution of 1849 upon the King, and carried the war against Schleswig-Holstein—consisting chiefly of professional gentlemen, had neglected, like the rest of the liberal party all over the Continent, to consult the interests of the mass of the people, formed in Denmark by the peasantry. Thus their influence on the people was lost, and the Government has succeeded in excluding them almost altogether from the present Folketing, where they can hardly be said to muster more than ten men. The Government, however, having got rid of the obnoxious opposition of the Eyderdanes by the aid of the Peasant-leaguers, threw off the mask, called Mr. Oersted, who was odious to both parties, to the Ministry; and so far from any longer cajoling the peasant party, a royal veto prevented the publication of the new Municipal law, originally introduced by the Government itself in order to catch the peasants. The Peasant-leaguers, duped and abused by the Government, have entered into a coalition with the Eyderdanes, and appointed Monrad, a clergyman and one of the leaders of the Eyderdanes, as Vice-President of the Committee sitting on the Constitutional question. This coalition has baffled all hope of overthrowing the Constitution in a constitutional way, and accordingly the whole plan having been formed by and for the Muscovites, a Russian fleet appears in the Danish waters at the very moment of the crisis.

All the journals of Vienna and Berlin confirm the intelligence of the passage of the Danube by strong divisions of the Turkish army. According to the Oesterreichische Correspondenz the Turks have been repulsed by the Russians in Lesser Wallachia. A telegraphic dispatch states that a serious engagement took place on the 21st ult. between the two armies in Asia. We must wait for more ample and authentic information to account for the circumstances which may have induced the Turkish Commander-in-Chief to cross the Danube at Widin, a maneuver which, at first view, must be regarded as a gross blunder. The Kölnische Zeitung announces that Prince Gorchakoff has seized upon all the treasure-chests (it is not said whether governmental or other) of Wallachia; and, according to another German paper, the same General has removed to the interior all deposits of corn on the Danube designed to be exported to foreign countries.

The news of advantages gained by Shamyl over Prince Woronzoff, are confirmed by the French papers of to-day. We read in the Agram Gazette, that an important letter has been received by Prince Danilo from Russia, and the Prince after having received it, gave orders to have all the corn which had been gathered in from the Montenegrin territory removed to Zabljak. Cartridges are being made and bullets cast. It is said that Russia has informed the Vladika that a collision between the Turks and Russians was imminent, and that the war had a patriotic and sacred character; and that the Montenegrins ought to watch their frontiers narrowly, in order that neighboring provinces should not furnish aid to the Porte.

The Wanderer of Vienna, of the 27th ult., says that a letter from St. Petersburg states, that the Emperor Nicholas has ordered the formation of an army of reserve, the headquarters of which are to be in Volhynia.

On last Tuesday a riot occurred at Blackburn on occasion of the election of councillors at St. Peter's Ward, and the soldiery was forced to interfere.

With regard to the Wigan riots, Mr. Cowell, the leader of the laborers at Preston, has declared in a public meeting that

"he very much regretted what had occurred in Wigan. He was sorry the people of Wigan had no more sense than to have recourse to a system of leveling. There was no sense in working people collecting together and destroying the property they had produced. The property itself never did them any injury—it was the men that held the property that were the tyrants. Let them respect property and life, and by proceeding in a peaceable, orderly and quiet manner, they might rely on the struggle terminating in their favor."[b]

Now I am far from defending the aimless acts of violence committed by the Wigan colliers, who have paid for them with the blood of seven men. But, on. the other hand, I understand that there is a great difficulty, especially for the inferior elements of the working classes, to which the colliers undoubtedly belong, in proceeding "peaceably, orderly and quietly," when they are driven to acts of frenzy by utter destitution and by the cool insolence of their masters. The riots are provoked by the latter in order to enable themselves to appeal to the armed force and to put down, as they have done in Wigan, all meetings of the workingmen by order of the magistrates. The riot which occurred in the town of Wigan, on Friday afternoon, was occasioned by the coal kings of the district meeting in large numbers at Whiteside's Royal Hotel, i order to deliberate on the demands of the colliers, and by their coming to the resolution to repudiate all compromise with the men. The attack on ,the saw-mills at Haigh, near Wigan, which occurred on Monday, was directed against the foreign colliers, brought over from Wales by Mr. Peace, the Agent for the-Earl of Balcarres, in order to replace the turnouts of the coal pits.

The colliers were certainly not right in preventing their fellow-laborers, by violence, from doing the work they had abandoned themselves. But when we see the masters pledging each other by heavy fines, with a view to enforce their lock-out, can we be astonished at the more rude and less hypocritical manner in which the men attempt to enforce their turn-out? Mr. Joseph Hume himself says, in a letter addressed to the operatives at Preston:

"I see on the list of advocates for arbitration to settle the disputes of nations, instead of having recourse to war, many master-manufacturers who are at this moment in strife against their men."[c]

The Manufacturers' Association at Preston have published a manifesto in order to justify the general lock-out[d]. Their sincerity may be inferred from the fact, that the masters' secret league, the programme of which I communicated to your readers about two months ago[e], is not mentioned in a single word, thus giving the hue of a necessity, which the masters were unable to escape, to the deliberate result of conspiracy. They reproach the workingmen with asking for 10 per cent. neither more or less. They do not tell the public that, when the masters took off 10 per cent. in 1847, they promised to restore it as soon as trade had revived, and that the men have been informed again and again of the revival o trade by the glowing descriptions of Messrs. Bright, Cobden & Co., by the declamations of the whole middle-class press, .and by the royal speech on the opening of Parliament. They do not tell us that bread is more than 40 per cent. dearer, coals 15 to 20 per cent., meat, candles, potatoes, and all other articles, largely entering in the consumption of the working classes, about 20 per cent. dearer than before, and that the manufacturers vanquished their antagonists under the banner of: Cheap bread and dear labor! They reproach the men with continuing to enforce an equalization of wages in the same town for the mills of the same description. Why, does not the whole doctrine of their masters, of Ricardo and Malthus, proceed from supposing such an equalization to exist throughout the whole country? The men, they say, are acting under the orders of a Committee. They are instigated by "strangers," "intruders," "traders in agitation." Just the same thing was contended on the part of the protectionists reproaching, at the time of the Corn Law League[318], the same manufacturers with being directed by Messrs. Bright and Cobden, "two professional traders in agitation," and with blindly acting under the orders of the Revolutionary Committee at Manchester, levying taxes, commanding an army of lecturers and missionaries, inundating the country with small and large prints and forming a state in the state. The most curious fact is that while the masters accuse the men of "acting under the orders of a Committee," they call themselves the "United Manufacturers' Association," publishing their very manifesto through a Committee and plotting with the "strangers" of Manchester, Bolton, Bury, etc. The "strangers" of whom the masters' manifesto speaks, are merely the men of the neighboring industrial localities.

I am far, however, from supposing that the workmen will obtain the immediate end their strikes aim at. On the contrary, I have stated in a former letter, that at no distant period they will have to strike against a reduction instead of for an advance of wages[f]. Already reductions of wages are growing numerous, and producing their correspondent quota of strikes. The true result of this whole movement will be, as I stated on a previous occasion, that "the activity of the working classes will soon be carried over to the political field, when the new organization of trades, gained in the strikes, will prove of immense value to them." Ernest Jones and the other Chartist leaders, are again in the field; and at the great meeting at Manchester, on last Sunday, the following resolution was passed:

"That after witnessing the united exertions of the master class against the trades of this country, by opposing a fair day's wages for a fair day's work, this meeting is of opinion that the present struggle of labor cannot be carried to a successful issue, except by [...] subverting the monopolies of the master class, through the representation of the laboring classes in the Common's House of Parliament by the enactment of the People's Charter, when alone they will be enabled to make laws in their own interest, to repeal those that are injurious, and to obtain the command of means of work, high wages, cheap food, steady trade, and independent self-employment."[g]

Written on November 4, 1853
Reproduced from the New-York Daily Tribune
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 3928
and the New-York Semi-Weekly Tribune, No. 885, November 18, 1853;
reprinted in the New-York Weekly Tribune, No. 637, November 26;
published simultaneously in abridged form in German in Die Reform, No. 87, November 19, 1853
Signed: Karl Marx


[a] Frederick VII.—Ed.

[b] Quoted according to "The Operatives of Preston" in The People's Paper, No. 79, November 5, 1853.—Ed.

[c] "The Wages Movement.—Preston, Oct. 29", The Times, No. 21573, October 31, 1853.—Ed.

[d] The Times, No. 21576, November 3, 1853.—Ed.

[e] See this volume, p. 250.—Ed.

[f] See this volume, pp. 333-34.—Ed.

[g] The People's Paper, No. 79, November 5, 1853.—Ed.

[313] The part of the article published in Die Reform was entitled "Persien, Russland und Dänemark (Tribune-Korrespondenz von Karl Marx)".

The text of the first two sections was published under the title "Persia.—Denmark" in The Eastern Question.

[314] Persian ruling circles made several attempts to annex Herat, a trade-route junction. Afghanistan and Persia fought incessant wars for possession of the town. The capture of Herat by Persian troops in October 1856 was used by Britain to unleash war against Persia, as a result of which the Shah had to evacuate Herat. In 1863 Herat was annexed by the Afghan Emir.

In 1853 the Tsarist Government organised a military expedition to Kazakhstan up the Syr Darya. It was led by the Orenburg Governor-General V. A. Perovsky (his unsuccessful Khivan expedition of 1839-40 is mentioned below). The expedition was sent against the Kokand Khanate which had captured Kazakh lands (Marx's article mistakenly gives "Khiva"). This led to the setting up of the Syr Darya military line by the Russians, which served as a bridgehead for a subsequent offensive against the Kokand, Bukhara and Khiva khanates.

[315] A reference to amendments to the Danish Constitution of June 5, 1849 to give more powers to the Crown, drafted in 1853. The new Constitution was promulgated on October 2, 1855.

Lex Regia—the law of Danish succession promulgated on November 14, 1665 by King Frederick III of Denmark extended to women the right of succeeding to the throne. Under the London Protocol of May 8, 1852 (see Note 58 ↓) and the new law of succession of July 31, 1853 this right was abolished. Thus, Duke Christian of Glücksburg was proclaimed successor to King Frederick VII as the latter had no heir. The new law indirectly confirmed the right of members of the Russian imperial dynasty to succeed to the Danish throne.

[58] A reference to the London Protocol of May 8, 1852 on the integrity of the Danish monarchy, signed by the representatives of Austria, Denmark, England, France, Prussia, Russia and Sweden. It was based on the Protocol adopted by the above-mentioned countries (except Prussia) at the London Conference on August 2, 1850, which supported the indivisibility of the lands belonging to the Danish Crown, including the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein. The 1852 Protocol mentioned the Russian Emperor (as a descendant of Duke Charles Peter Ulrich of Holstein-Gottorp who reigned in Russia as Peter III) among the lawful claimants to the Danish throne who had waived their rights in favour of Duke Christian of Glücksburg who was proclaimed successor to King Frederick VII.

This provided an opportunity for the Russian Tsar to claim the Danish Crown in the event of the Glücksburg dynasty dying out.

[316] A reference to a party which was founded in Denmark in 1846. It demanded the transfer of lands which peasants used as feudal tenants into their private ownership, and also the abolition of feudal obligations and the introduction of universal suffrage and other reforms in the interests of the wealthy peasants.

[317] A reference to the Danish Government formed on March 22, 1848 as a result of the revolutionary upsurge in the country which found expression in mass demonstrations in the Copenhagen theatre Casino. As well as conservatives, the new government included representatives of the liberal party of Eidermen (or Eider Danes) (see Note 197↓). The Government took a chauvinist stand on the national liberation movement in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein and fought against the unification of these German regions with Germany. On the war for Schleswig-Holstein in 1848-50 see Note 86↓.

[197] Eidermen or Eider Danes—the Danish liberal party of the middle of the nineteenth century whose members supported the union of Schleswig (up to the River Eider) with Denmark. The party favoured the separation of Denmark and Holstein, where the population consisted mainly of Germans; it shared the Danish bourgeoisie's fear of the competition of Holstein's industry. Therefore the Eider Danes opposed any Danish succession law which applied to all parts of the Kingdom of Denmark.

[86] Marx is referring to a series of articles published in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in 1848-49 in connection with the Danish-German war over Schleswig and Holstein.

By a decision of the Vienna Congress (1815), the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein remained in the possession of the Danish monarchy (the personal union of Schleswig, Holstein and Denmark had existed since 1499), even though the majority of the population in Holstein and in Southern Schleswig were Germans. Under the impact of the March 1848 revolution in Prussia, the national movement among the German population of the duchies grew, and became radical and democratic, forming part of the struggle for the unification of Germany. Volunteers from all over the country rushed to the aid of the local population when it took up arms against Danish rule. Prussia and other states of the German Confederation also sent federal troops to the duchies. However, the Prussian ruling circles, which had declared war against Denmark, fearing a popular upsurge and an intensification of the revolution, sought an agreement with the Danish monarchy at the expense of the common interests of the German states. An armistice between Prussia and Denmark was concluded on August 26, 1848, at Malmö. On March 2, 1849, Prussia resumed hostilities, but under pressure from England and Russia, who supported Denmark, was forced to conclude a peace treaty (July 2, 1850), temporarily relinquishing its claims to Schleswig and Holstein and abandoning them to continue fighting alone. The Schleswig-Holstein troops were defeated and ceased to offer resistance.

The position of the proletarian wing of German democracy on the Schleswig-Holstein issue was set forth in a number of articles by Engels published in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, in particular "The War Comedy", "The Armistice with Denmark", "The Armistice 'Negotiations' ", "The Danish Armistice", "The Danish-Prussian Armistice", "European War Inevitable", and "From the Theatre of War.—The German Navy" (see present edition, Vol. 7, pp. 42-44, 266-69, 270, 411-15 and 421-25; Vol. 8, pp. 456-57; Vol. 9, pp. 259-60). Marx refers to several publications on this question in his Notebook XXII for 1853.

[318] The Anti-Corn Law League was founded in 1838 by the Manchester factory owners Richard Cobden and John Bright. The League demanded unrestricted free trade and fought for abolition of the Corn Laws, which placed high tariffs on imported agricultural produce. In this way, the League sought to weaken the economic and political position of the landed aristocracy, as well as to cut workers' wages.

The struggle between the industrial bourgeoisie and the landed aristocracy over the Corn Laws culminated in their repeal in 1846 (see Note 259 ↓) . [259] In 1815 a law was passed prohibiting grain imports when grain prices in England fell below 80 shillings per quarter. In 1822 the law was modified slightly and in 1828 a sliding scale was introduced—a system of raising or lowering tariffs in proportion to the fall or rise of grain prices on the home market. The Corn Laws were introduced by Tory cabinets in the interests of the big landowners. The industrial bourgeoisie who opposed the Corn Laws under the slogan of free trade secured their repeal in 1846.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 12 (pp.444-449), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1979
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