‘Marx-Engels Institute Invades New York in Its Hunt for Labor’s Treasure’ by J. Louis Engdahl from The Daily Worker. Vol. 4 No. 171. August 2, 1927.

David Riazanov (center) and the staff of the Marx-Engels Institute.
‘Marx-Engels Institute Invades New York in Its Hunt for Labor’s Treasure’ by J. Louis Engdahl from The Daily Worker. Vol. 4 No. 171. August 2, 1927.

THE Bolshevik Revolution in Russia has brought about a new kind of treasure hunt. It is being carried on by the Marx-Engels Institute at Moscow, U.S.S.R., and reaches into many parts of the world.

The hunt is for the literary treasures left behind by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

The writings of Marx Engels were not appraised at their real worth until the workers came to power in Russia and the Soviet Government, thru special decree, established the Marx- Engels Institute. Research workers, under Communist direction, were assigned the task of unearthing these treasures and bringing them, in some form or other, to Moscow.

The hunt reached to New York City because during the 10-year period, 1852-62, Marx was a frequent contributor to the New York Tribune, edited by Horace Greely. Marx was deeply interested in the Civil War period in the United States, his letter to Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president, being often quoted to show the attention that he paid to American developments. The casual reader would conclude that there would be little difficulty in getting a set of the files of the New York Tribune for this period and clipping the articles by Marx from its pages. But it isn’t so easy. In the first place, it was discovered that there is only one file of The Tribune for this period, and that is located in the New York library. An effort was made to purchase it. But this was one case where “Soviet Gold” was rejected.

The photographer, therefore, had to be resorted to, in order to make duplicates, or photostats, not of articles that could be easily found, but of whole pages, in duplicate size, because to reduce them would make the reading illegible.

There were other obstacles, however. The Tribune, with real American newspaper technique as one of its liabilities, did not always give Marx credit for his contributions. Sometimes the articles would be given a date line and run as a news story. At other times the tired editorial writer would take one of the articles sent in by Marx, change the introduction a little, work over the conclusions reached, and make a first, rate editorial out of it.

Those were days in American journalism when editorials were famous for their length. “So when the ship came in with its articles from Marx, who was at that time living in London, it was considered a big day, if not a holiday, for the editorial writer of The Tribune.

It is only by making a thoro study of the contents of The Tribune, page by page, with a keen knowledge of the many characteristics of the style of writing used by Marx, that the literary treasure hunter is rewarded with any degree of success. That hunt is not being carried to its final conclusion here in New York. The photostats of thousands of the editorial and news pages of The Tribune were taken in New York and then forwarded to the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow, where the hunt proceeds, conducted by experts in Marxism.

While in Moscow, I was shown thru the treasure chambers of the Marx-Engels institute, where these and thousands of other photostats are being kept, in specially prepared vaults and cabinets, more carefully watched and more highly treasured than the contents of the safety deposit sections of New York’s great financial institutions.

There are also, in the New York Library, 400 original letters of Marx, written to friends in this country and dealing with events of interest at that time. Photostats have been made of 200 of these letters and sent to Moscow.

It was with great pride that the custodian of these treasures showed me the photostat duplicates of the writings of Marx and Engels still held by the German Social-Democratic Party in Germany. When Engels died in 1895 this literary heritage was turned over to the German Social-Democracy with Eduard Bernstein and August Bebel as executors. It has already been shown how “Bernstein took advantage of this opportunity to falsify the writings of Engels.

The German socialists refused to surrender this material to the Marx-Engels Institute. But they allowed photostate to be taken. It will not be so easy, therefore, for the Socialist traitors to issue faked or bluepenciled articles by Marx and Engels in the future in support of their own treason.

There are about 150 members of the staff of the Marx-Engels Institute. These include 30 librarians, 50 technicians and 40 scientific workers. Two facts illustrate the thoroness with which the work proceeds. Here is to be found the marriage license of Karl Marx and Jenny von Westphalen. But here also are 45,000 titles on the Revolution of 1848 in Germany.

Attached to “The Institute” is Abraham Deborin, the philosophical writer, all of whose writings on philosophy are based on the materialistic conception of history, He is one of the editors of “Under the Banner of Marxism.” He is also one of the vice presidents of “The Institute.” The aim of the department of philosophy, headed by Deborin, is to give out the works of the German idealists, Haegel, Fichte, Schelling and Kant. The Kant section includes more than 700 titles; the Fichte section about 800 titles. Here are also sections devoted to the French materialists, Helvetius, Diderot and Holbach. The department of philosophy is also rich with literature pertaining to Descartes, Spinoza, Bacon, Hobbes, Locke and Leibniz.

There is extensive material concerning England, “the classic land of capitalism,” where Marx lived for a long time in London, and where his remains now lie buried. This material covers such subjects as the British labor movement in the 14th century, the struggle of Wat Tyler, the movements of the Lollards and the followers of Wycliff, the position of Jack Cade and others who protested against the exploitation of the workers. Every period in the British labor movement is covered with the same thoroness.

The American section is attached to the British division. It deals mostly with the Civil War period and the labor movement generally in this country. This section will grow with the development of the Communist movement in America. The last request made of me by the comrades at “The Institute” was that two copies of every bit of Communist literature produced in America be sent to the Marx-Engels Institute.

The Daily Worker began in 1924 and was published in New York City by the Communist Party US and its predecessor organizations. Among the most long-lasting and important left publications in US history, it had a circulation of 35,000 at its peak. The Daily Worker came from The Ohio Socialist, published by the Left Wing-dominated Socialist Party of Ohio in Cleveland from 1917 to November 1919, when it became became The Toiler, paper of the Communist Labor Party. In December 1921 the above-ground Workers Party of America merged the Toiler with the paper Workers Council to found The Worker, which became The Daily Worker beginning January 13, 1924.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/dailyworker/1927/1927-nat/v04-n171-NAT-aug-02-1927-DW-Q.pdf

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