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Dispatches for the New York Tribune: Selected Journalism of Karl Marx (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 1 Mar 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (1 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141441925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141441924
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 495,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

KARL MARX was born at Trier in 1818. In Paris in 1844 Marx met Friedrich Engels, with whom he prepared the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848) as a statement of the Communist League's policy. In 1849 he arrived in England as a refugee and lived in London until his death in 1883. Besides the two posthumous volumes of Capital compiled by Engels, Karl Marx's other writings include The German Ideology, The Poverty of Philosophy, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, The Civil War in France, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy and Theories of Surplus-value.

Jim Ledbetter is a a senior editor at TIME Europe; he covered the California recall race for Channel 4 television in Britain. He is the author, most recently, of Starving to Death on $200 Million (Public Affairs, 2003).

Francis Wheen is an author and journalist who was named Columnist of the Year for his contributions to the Guardian. He is the author of several books, including a highly acclaimed biography of Karl Marx which has been translated into twenty languages.


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First Sentence
With the possible exception of human slavery, no topic raised Marx's ire as profoundly as the opium trade with China. Read the first page
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on 27 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
These articles, on a huge range of subjects, were written and published between 1852 and 1861. The Tribune's circulation at the time was 200,000, the world's largest.

There are nine articles on China, covering the British state's Opium Wars and its atrocities there. The British state produced opium in India, forced it on China by unprovoked attacks, and then turned round and accused the Chinese of attacking Britain, with "the flimsy pretence that English life and property are endangered by the aggressive acts of the Chinese."

Marx also produced nine articles on wars, revolutions and counter-revolutions in Europe, particularly Greece, Italy, Prussia and Spain.

Nine articles examined events in India, mainly the 1857 revolt in India and changes in imperial finances. Marx wrote that capitalist progress "will neither emancipate nor materially mend the social condition of the mass of the people, depending not only on the development of the productive powers, but on their appropriation by the people." He showed how vicious imperial rule was, citing Lord Dalhousie, India's governor general from 1848 to 1856, "torture in one shape or other is practised by the lower subordinates in every British province."

In eight articles, Marx analysed the struggles in the USA, the British government's role in the slave trade, the mill owners' and The Times' support for the slaveholding South in the American civil war. The mill workers, by contrast, supported the North and abolition, at great cost to themselves. Marx showed how the slave trade was integral to capitalism.

He also produced 14 articles on British politics and society, several elections, `a venal and reckless press', starvation and the Highland clearances, and 11 on poverty, riches and inequality, against global free trade and its promises of peace and prosperity, the financial panic of 1857 with its failing dodgy banks, and the condition of the working class.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Craddock Edwards from Bristol VINE VOICE on 13 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Selection of Marx's writings for the New York Tribune, payment for which helped keep the wolf and many creditors away from the door whilst he was working on putting together Capital. Rumour has it that many of his contributions were ghost written fully or partly for him by Engels.
Most of the articles I find fascinating for their insight into world conditions and affairs, especially wars, that Marx had never visited to report on first hand. The man was sat in London most of the time but he had good contacts. Logically written with a 'Marxist' slant the articles are long enough to give the reader an overall picture but not long enough to be boring.
Those, like me, who have struggled and mentally beaten themselves up battling through (especially the early chapters) of Capital a couple of times will find this light relief. A book that I would read a few articles, put it down and pick it up a few days later to read a few more, whilst having a couple of other books on the go.
Not expensive and really is good history.
Modern comparisons would be (to my mind) the journalistic works of William Rust & John Pilger.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Rowland Nelken on 22 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
In the 1850s the USA was still regarded by European radicals as 'The Land of the Free'. The left had yet to learn that America's concept of freedom was to be a world away from theirs. In these articles Marx is able to appeal to his American readers by reminding them of the iniquities of the Old World they had left behind; a world where inherited privilege and the clergy still held sway.

Only occasionally does Marx's tiresome, and now thoroughly discredited, historicism intrude. We get instead, a picture of the way that 19th century technology, with its railroads, steamships and the telegraph was making the world smaller. New global ties were breaking down the old bonds of feudalism and family.

Marx was not an on the spot reporter; he was based in London. His reflections on the disgrace that was the Chinese Opium War, the tragedy of the Highland Clearances and the misery that brought about industrial unrest in Lancashire are filled with passion and anger as well as sober, if contorted, reflection.

One piece on China shows how vastly that vast land has changed in the ensuing 150 years. The brutal, and futile, attempts of the British to open up Chinese markets to Lancashire's textiles are shown to be not only barbaric, but ridiculous. The Chinese clothed themselves quite adequately, Marx averred, by virtue of their home looms and spinning wheels, so had no need to import any cotton.

That the world has changed vastly, and not remotely in the manner that Marx so confidently predicted, takes nothing away from the lively style of the writing, and the insights these articles provide into a vanished age.
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By Robert Carey on 4 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback
excellent
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating collection 27 Feb. 2008
By William Podmore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
These articles, on a huge range of subjects, were written and published between 1852 and 1861. The Tribune's circulation at the time was 200,000, the world's largest.

There are nine articles on China, covering the British state's Opium Wars and its atrocities there. The British state produced opium in India, forced it on China by unprovoked attacks, and then turned round and accused the Chinese of attacking Britain, with "the flimsy pretence that English life and property are endangered by the aggressive acts of the Chinese."

Marx also produced nine articles on wars, revolutions and counter-revolutions in Europe, particularly Greece, Italy, Prussia and Spain.

Nine articles examined events in India, mainly the 1857 revolt in India and changes in imperial finances. Marx wrote that capitalist progress "will neither emancipate nor materially mend the social condition of the mass of the people, depending not only on the development of the productive powers, but on their appropriation by the people." He showed how vicious imperial rule was, citing Lord Dalhousie, India's governor general from 1848 to 1856, "torture in one shape or other is practised by the lower subordinates in every British province."

In eight articles, Marx analysed the struggles in the USA, the British government's role in the slave trade, the mill owners' and The Times' support for the slaveholding South in the American civil war. The mill workers, by contrast, supported the North and abolition, at great cost to themselves. Marx showed how the slave trade was integral to capitalism.

He also produced 14 articles on British politics and society, several elections, `a venal and reckless press', starvation and the Highland clearances, and 11 on poverty, riches and inequality, against global free trade and its promises of peace and prosperity, the financial panic of 1857 with its failing dodgy banks, and the condition of the working class.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Informative and Acerbic 24 Jun. 2014
By Cassian Ardent - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Marx always wrote as a revolutionary and as a socialist, but not necessarily as a philosopher. This volume collects some of the more accessible journalism that he wrote for the New York Tribune from 1852-61. It is divided into sections that deal with British Imperialism in China and India, the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1848, British and French Politics and Economy, and the American Civil War. As a general rule he had two purposes in each of these articles. The first was to explain a facet of the European political scene to an American audience, and the second was to heap scorn and ridicule on the powers that be.

There are at least three things that stand our about almost every one of these pieces. The first is the sheer vituperation involved. Marx heartily hated most of the people he was writing about, and he wanted his readers to hate them too. No doubt many of them deserved it. Politicians and financiers have always been rich targets for black comedy, but once the laughter has died away we are left with a fairly bleak picture of the world. It seems there are only two types of people on Marx's horizon - the rich, powerful, foolish and corrupt on the one hand, and the suffering, innocent, oppressed, and powerless on the other. It's not an especially attractive view of the world, either from an intellectual standpoint (things can't be that simple) or from a practical one (if the rich and powerful are all fools, why are they rich and powerful?)

Another thing that stands out about these pieces is the author's erudition. It's clear that Marx was an immensely-learned commentator, and well-able to perceive the essential issues involved in complex political questions. Marx's articles on the causes of the American Civil War are particularly illustrative. They can be read in an hour or two, and explain the issues involved far more succinctly and accurately than many text books. The economic interpretation of history is an immensely powerful tool for interpreting complex events, and, at least to me, seems more or less self-evident. While Marx's particular system of class struggle, revolution, and economics has been shown to have been at best inadequate, and at worst total nonsense, it shouldn't require any particular strain of the intellect to understand that the prospect of making or losing money is a powerful motivation to virtually all political actors. Probably a more powerful motivation than religion, morality, freedom, "civilization," or any of the other fine phrases that have been used to cloak self-interest throughout the centuries. That's not to say that these concepts are completely meaningless - but the world would be a very different place if the great and powerful believed in them with half the conviction they show in asserting their financial interest. As a practical matter, justice and idealism usually only enter into official calculations when they can be combined with some financial or security interest. The lust of politicians for power at any cost, and through any means, has been an open secret since Machiavelli, but it remained for Marx to point out that the industrial revolution had brought financial interests to the forefront for the first time. The insight is as valid today as it was in the 1850's.

The last thing that stands out about these pieces is the tone of moral indignation in which they are written. Marx amply and vividly illustrates the barbarism of European imperialism in Asia, the callous indifference of "civilized" Europeans to the massive scale of misery and want which surrounded them, the desperation of the poor, the cruel brutality of the police, and the hypocrisy and stupidity of the great and powerful. Disreali, Palmerston, and Napoleon III came in for particular and repeated abuse. Indeed, Marx was against pretty much all the governments of his day. The only one he had a kind word for was the Federal government of the United States, but that had more to do with its struggle against "the slavocracy" than any love of bourgeois republics as such. Rather, he saw the northern industrial economy as "historically progressive" in so much as it represented an advance as against the southern agrarian economy, and toward the inevitable future status of all industrial economies - i.e. communism.

At least for me, the value of these pieces was the opportunity to listen to an eloquent exponent of 19th century radicalism as he explained his point of view on then-current events. It helped me to understand how he saw the world, and what kind of assumptions he made about it. When reading a book like this, it's hard to keep from one's mind the knowledge of how his own political philosophy turned out. It's important to remember, though - at least if one wants to give the author a fair hearing - that in the 1850's the Soviet Union hadn't happened yet. Marx couldn't have known the future, any more than you or I can. Certainly he couldn't have known that it would be used to perpetrate crimes far worse than those which he was writing about.

What he was focused on wasn't the theoretical iniquities of the future, but rather the real and tangible crimes of his present. Perhaps he erred, as radicals often do, in focusing so much on removing the old regime that they fail to make adequate preparations for the new. As a general rule revolutions make things worse, rather than better - but again, at the time he wrote, that hadn't become clear yet. The great progress of his own time - that toward democracy and industrialization - had come about as a direct cause of revolution (i.e. the French Revolution.) It wasn't unreasonable to expect that the trend would continue into the future.

In any case, the reader doesn't have to subscribe to Marx's weird eschatological notions of class struggle and the stateless society in order to appreciate these pieces. They capture an authentic voice from the past, and a very influential one at that. For people who really want to understand modern history, it's worth the trouble of giving him a fair hearing.
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