chapter  4
12 Pages

Marx and Engels and the Freedom of the Press

The rulers of communist societies habitually deny to their subjects the right to express their opinions freely. Newspapers, journals and books are censored as a matter of course and those who express views contrary to those held by the authorities soon find themselves in serious trouble. Solzhenitsyn could consider himself fortunate to be banished from Soviet Russia rather than to be packed off to a labour camp or to a mental hospital. Yet Marx and Engels were lifelong champions of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. They never tired of denouncing attempts by autocratic governments to suppress views with which they disagreed either by the imposition of a censorship or by hauling before the courts those who made speeches or wrote articles which were critical of the régime or of its officials. Marx was a professional journalist. He edited the Rheinische Zeitung (October 1842-March 1843) and the Neue Rheinische Zeitung (May 31, 1848-May 18, 1849) in Cologne and when he lived in exile in London he endeavoured, with no great success, to support himself and his family by writing regularly for the New York Daily Tribune and for Die Presse (Vienna). Engels, too, was a contributor to several newspapers. Among his more important articles were those on reform movements on the Continent in the Northern Star (September 1845-December 1849), on foreign affairs in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung (1848-9), on the Volunteer movement in the Volunteer Journal for Lancashire and Cheshire (September 1860-March 1862),1 on the Franco-Prussian war in the Pall Mall Gazette (July 29, 1870-March 16, 1871),2 and on trade union policy in the Labour Standard (May 7-August 6, 1881).3 And in his later years he was a regular contributor to various socialist journals published in Germany (Der Sozialdemokrat, 1881-90 and Vorwärts, 1892-4) and elsewhere.