Marx and Engels Arrive in Dover

A prelude to Revolution.

‘On November 27 [1847], Marx, Engels, Georg Weerth and Victor Tedesco met in Belgium’s North Sea port city of Ostend and caught a steamship for Dover the next day’.
Love and Capital, Mary Gabriel – p111

Engels was in Paris in November 1847 and wrote to Marx in Brussels:

‘Saturday evening, then, in Ostend, Hotel de la Couronne, just opposite the railway station beside the harbour, and Sunday morning across the water….If, contrary to expectations, there is no packet-boat to Dover on Sundays, write and tell me by return’.
(Collected Works 38, p 146)

This was to be an important journey, because they wanted to discuss their intervention at the congress of the Communist League which they were both attending. It met for ten days from the 29 November to the 8 December in a room above the Red Lion pub in Soho, London.

At the end of the congress a revised aim was produced:

‘The overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the rule of the proletariat, the abolition of the old bourgeois society which rests on the antagonism of classes, and the foundation of a new society without classes and without private property’. As Gabriel says, this was pure Marx.

And it was agreed that Marx and Engels would write a brief introduction to the Communist League.

They returned to Brussels where New Year’s Eve was celebrated at the Cafe au Cygne at an event organized by Jenny Marx and other communist members and supporters.

At the end of February 1848, The Communist Manifesto was published.

Days later, Revolutions exploded across Europe.

Little now remains of Dover Town Station. It was new when Marx and Engels arrived. It had only opened three years earlier in 1844. The cobbled walkway was the original entrance. Below is the original station, and the platform today.

The area is now a lorry park.

These three lorries are from left left to right, Plock, Poland, Ljublijana, Slovenia and Gdansk, Poland.

These lorries, starting in the top left and moving clockwise are from Radzyń Podlaski, Poland. And then the Hatay region of Turkey (which has a border with Syria). Refugees from Syria in Turkey must drive with special number plates. The next lorry is from Wrocław, Poland and then Zagreb, Croatia and then (possibly Brest) Belarus and Spain (neither country use city specific codes). There was nothing planned about this, they were more or less the first lorries seen.

According to the website of the shipping company CMA CGM this container was recently in New York City.

The refrigerated cargo ship Albemarle Island arrived in Dover Western Docks on the 9th May from Gatun Anchorage, Panama Canal with earlier calling points at Paita, Peru and Guayaquil, Ecuador.

While standing on the platform of Dover Town station, waiting for the train to London, Marx and Engels would have had a good view of the sea. They always wrote for the future and today they would have seen the Artemis, container ship sailing from Antwerp to Norfolk, USA.

The sea haze and rain cannot hide that everything they said in the Communist Manifesto about the development of capitalism and the endless revolutions in the means of production not only happened, but continue at an accelerating pace.

And they would have recognised this too. The portakabins and the green tents are where refugees who have just crossed the channel are ‘processed’. Their security is much more precarious than that of commodities. That too Marx and Engels described; how commodities, capital and money take precedence over people in a world of private property and capitalist production.

%d bloggers like this: