Brussels, 5 May 1846
My dear Proudhon,
I have frequently had it in mind to write to you since my departure from Paris, but circumstances beyond my control have hitherto prevented me from doing so. Please believe me when I say that my silence was attributable solely to a great deal of work, the troubles attendant upon a change of domicile, etc.
And now let us proceed in medias res [to the matter in hand] — jointly with two friends of mine, Frederick Engels and Philippe Gigot (both of whom are in Brussels), I have made arrangements with the German communists and socialists for a constant interchange of letters which will be devoted to discussing scientific questions, and to keeping an eye on popular writings, and the socialist propaganda that can be carried on in Germany by this means. The chief aim of our correspondence, however, will be to put the German socialists in touch with the French and English socialists; to keep foreigners constantly informed of the socialist movements that occur in Germany and to inform the Germans in Germany of the progress of socialism in France and England. In this way differences of opinion can be brought to light and an exchange of ideas and impartial criticism can take place. It will be a step made by the social movement in its literary manifestation to rid itself of the barriers of nationality. And when the moment for action comes, it will clearly be much to everyone’s advantage to be acquainted with the state of affairs abroad as well as at home.
Our correspondence will embrace not only the communists in Germany, but also the German socialists in Paris and London. Our relations with England have already been established. So far as France is concerned, we all of us believe that we could find no better correspondent than yourself. As you know, the English and Germans have hitherto estimated you more highly than have your own compatriots.
So it is, you see, simply a question of establishing a regular correspondence and ensuring that it has the means to keep abreast of the social movement in the different countries, and to acquire a rich and varied interest, such as could never be achieved by the work of one single person.
Should you be willing to accede to our proposal, the postage on letters sent to you as also on those that you send us will be defrayed here, collections made in Germany being intended to cover the cost of correspondence.
The address you will write to in this country is that of Mr Philippe Gigot, 8 rue de Bodenbrock. It is also he who will sign the letters from Brussels.
I need hardly add that the correspondence as a whole will call for the utmost secrecy on your part; our friends in Germany must act with the greatest circumspection if they are not to compromise themselves.
Let us have an early reply and rest assured of the sincere friendship of
Yours most sincerely