Central European History

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Heute Deutschland! Marx as Provincial Politician

David Felix

Fully trained in the appropriate skills, Karl Marx, then in Brussels, went out to meet the revolutions sweeping Europe during 1848. He had already established himself as a genial thinker, inspiring or, if the circumstances required it, annihilating propagandist, and masterly leader. From London the Central Committee of the Communist League, recognizing Marx's quality and separated from the great events by the English Channel, entrusted him with the command of the organization. Up to then the bookman and journalist Marx had been simply and unofficially the league's chief ideologist. As leader Marx began badly. In his revolutionary optimism he lost himself in a fantasy of the great French Revolution repeating itself, tried to make a Belgian revolution in its image, and got himself arrested and expelled. In Paris at his next revolutionary station, however, he oriented himself immediately, and during the month he spent there acted with economic effectiveness. He made no mistakes in Paris. On the day of his arrival Marx spoke at a meeting of the revived Society of the Rights of Man, which he had joined: “I am a revolutionary. I want to march in the shadow of the great Robespierre.” This was sentimentality and diplomacy. He was not interested in France's revolution en soi. Enlisting a number of Germans he had found there, he proceeded to make use of it as a base for his revolution.

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