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The Turkish War.
Industrial Distress.[352]

Karl Marx

London, Friday, Dec, 2, 1853

No more fighting of any account has taken place in Turkey since my last letter, but Russian diplomacy, more dangerous than Russian generalship, is again at work, and the revival of the famous London Conferences of 1840 and 1841, which terminated with sanctioning the treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi, under a slightly altered form,, is more or less clearly announced through the medium of the ministerial papers on both sides of the Channel. The Times even hints at "vigorous measures of pacification," viz.: a sort of armed pacification directed against Turkey by her self-styled protectors. There is one great diplomatic fact not to be misunderstood, namely, the last Note sent by the English Cabinet to Constantinople, presented by the British Ambassador to the Porte, rejected by the Divan on the 14th Nov., and turning out to be but a second edition of 'Reshid Pasha's answer to Prince Menchikoff's ultimatum in the month of May last[353]. This is the manner in which the Palmerstons and Aberdeens give the Sultan[a] to understand that, however the face of things may have otherwise changed, the relative situations of Turkey and Russia have undergone no change whatever since the month of May last, Turkey having won nothing nor Russia lost anything in the eyes of Western diplomacy.

As Prince Alexander of Servia forbids the Turkish troops to cross his territory, asks for the return of the Russian Consul-General, and treats, in his declaration to the Sultan, Turkey and Russia as the two protecting powers' placed on the same footing with regard to the Principality, serious conflicts with Servia may be apprehended, which, fatal as they might have proved to Turkey at any other moment, are at present perhaps the only means of saving her from the claws of Western diplomacy. Every new incident adding to the present complication, driving bankrupt Austria out of her dangerous neutrality, augmenting the chances of an European war, and enforcing upon Turkey the alliance with the revolutionary party, must turn out favorable to her, at least in her conflict with Russia. The constitutional causes of her decay will, of course, continue to do their work, if not counteracted by thorough transformation of the Turkish rule in Europe.

From the war carried on in the Principalities between Russians and Turks, let us return for one moment to the war raging in the manufacturing districts of England between masters and men. You will remember the epoch when the masters fiercely opposed and denounced the short-time movement on the part of the men. Now the tables are turned, and, as I predicted at the time, the system of short time is enforced by the masters on the men[b]. The lock-out exhibits its true meaning as a financial measure on the part of the masters, as a sort of antidote to an industrial over-production unparalleled in the "history of prices[c]". Since Monday last the mills have resumed work, but only for four days per week, in the Rochdale district—Burnley, Bacup, Newchurch—at Bury in the Ashton district—Ashton, Stalybridge, Glossop, Hyde, Newton. Bolton will soon be obliged to follow. Manchester is deliberating the question not whether, but when, to give way. In two or three weeks short time will be general, save in some few favored branches of industry. This, of course, must be followed by a stop-page of the supplies to the Preston resistants. But even four days' work still overruns the demand. Just think that not three weeks ago the Preston masters had on hand a stock equal to twenty weeks' production, which proved almost unsalable. The industrial crisis has no longer to begin; it has fairly set in.

"The reduction of time," says The Times, "is accompanied by a reduction of wages to the standard [...] before the recent advances were obtained by the hands[d]". "A pauper cannot dictate conditions—he must take what is offered him," says The Economist, in a fit of sincerity.[e]

I have repeatedly stated that the turn-outs of the men, by beginning at too late an epoch, when the opportunities afforded by unprecedented prosperity were already vanishing away, could not prove successful in an economical point of view, or as far as their immediate end was concerned. But they have done their work. They have revolutionized the industrial proletariat, and, stirred up by dear food and cheap labor, the political consequences will show themselves in due time. Already the idea of a Parliament of Labor which, in fact, means nothing but a general reassembling of the workingmen under the banners of Chartism, evokes the fears of the middle-class press.

"Mr. Ernest Jones [...]," says The Economist, "the editor of The People's Paper, is described as the successor of Mr. Feargus O'Connor, as Mr. O'Connor was the successor of Mr. Hunt.... From following Hunt and O'Connor, the workingmen got nothing but hard knocks and great losses; nevertheless, they place equal confidence in the successor of these great kings, and now look to be saved by Jones."[f]

From the following quotations you will see that the English class papers, if stimulated by party motives, as is the case with The Morning Herald, or if inspired, as The Morning Post, by a cynical but keen observer like Palmerston, know how to judge the present state of affairs, and how to deal with the vulgarism of Prosperity-Robinson[g]:

"To hear them now, you would suppose that the authority of 'millowners was nothing less than divine, and that the safety of the empire depended on their being allowed to exercise powers little short of those of the French Emperor[h] .... Some 60,000 of the workingmen of Lancashire are at this moment living on fare which barely suffices to keep soul and body together, without so much as a thought of a plunder or violence, although in towns which manufacturing economy has left wholly unguarded by police. Right or wrong these men have stood by their opinions and their leaders manfully, and it would not be easy to find another instance of a movement at once so peacefully and so effectually carried out."

(Morning Herald)

"Our economists boasted of the overwhelming blessings which would flow, past all our dreams, as the result of free trade; yet there we are with the winter before us, and the pestilence only waiting the return of spring, and just when our poor are most in need of more than usual food and clothing to raise their physical system up to the point most capable of resisting disease—just at this time, they are actually crushed by the unprecedented high prices of all the necessaries of life. Not a sign is visible of the milk and honey that were to enrich the land; while all that was predicated of the perpetuity of cheapness and plenty seems in a fair way of being classed among the other thousand popular delusions by which society has been gulled.... English society is a filthy, pestilent, immoral, ignorant, cruel, blundering, discontented, and uncommonly hard up community."

Such is the language of The Morning Post[i], the drawing-room print, and the official organ of my Lord Palmerston.

Written on December 2, 1853
Reproduced from the New-York Daily Tribune
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 3952
and the New-York Semi-Weekly Tribune, No. 893, December 16, 1853
Signed: Karl Marx


[a] Abdul Mejid.—Ed.

[b] See this volume, pp. 410-14.—Ed.

[c] An allusion to Th. Tooke's works: A History of Prices, and of the State of the Circulation, from 1793 to 1837, Vol. I-II, A History of Prices, and of the State of the Circulation, in 1838 and 1839 and A History of Prices, and of the State of the Circulation, from 1839 to 1847 inclusive.—Ed.

[d] "Short Time Movement by the Employers", The Times, No. 21599, November 30, 1853.—Ed.

[e] "The Turn-outs and the Poor Law", The Economist, No. 535, November 26, 1853.—Ed.

[f] "The Labour Parliament", The Economist, No. 535, November 26, 1853.—Ed.

[g] A nickname of the Chancellor of Exchequer F. J. Robinson, who predicted prosperity on the eve of the crisis in 1825.—Ed.

[h] Napoleon III.—Ed.

[i] The Morning Post, November 17, 1853.—Ed.

[352] The beginning of the article was published under the title "Diplomacy Again" in The Eastern Question.

[353] See Notes 114↓ and 119↓.

[114] A reference to the draft convention between Russia and Turkey which Menshikov laid as an ultimatum before the Porte after the settlement of the question of the Holy Places on May 4, 1853 (see Note 90 ↓). The draft provided not only for freedom of religion for Orthodox believers in the Turkish Empire but also for the Russian Tsar's protectorate over them and was rejected by the Sultan (see this volume, pp. 105-06 and 109-11).

[119] A reference to Chancellor Nesselrode's letter to the Turkish Foreign Minister Reshid Pasha of May 31, 1853. The letter was written in the form of ultimatum. It laid the responsibility for Menshikov's unsuccessful mission on the Turkish Government and called for acceptance of Russian demands to guarantee the privileges of the Orthodox Christian subjects of the Sultan, which actually meant the establishment of the Tsar's protectorate over them. Nesselrode threatened to resort to military action, i.e., the occupation of Moldavia and Wallachia, if the ultimatum was rejected. Turkey, supported by Britain and France, rejected the demands of the Tsarist Government in Reshid Pasha's letter of June 16, 1853.

[90] The long-standing dispute between the Greek Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church over rights to the Christian Holy Places in Palestine was resumed in 1850 on Louis Bonaparte's initiative. It soon developed into a serious diplomatic conflict between Russia, which upheld the privileges of the Greek Orthodox clergy, and France, which supported the Roman Catholics. Both sides made use of this conflict in their struggle for hegemony in the Middle East. The vacillating Turkish Government at first yielded to the French demand but on May 4, 1853, during Menshikov's visit to Turkey, it agreed to guarantee special rights and privileges to the Greek Orthodox Church (a special order to this effect was issued by the Sultan a month later). At the same time the Sultan, supported by the British and French ambassadors, rejected Nicholas I's demand that he should be recognised as the protector of the Orthodox population in the Ottoman Empire.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 12 (pp.523-526), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1979
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