Not loyal to the king…

by Chris Bertram on November 29, 2004

Documents concerning Karl Marx’s life, including a shareholders’ certificate and the police advice on his application for naturalization, “are to go on display”: at the British National Archives in Kew. According to the Metropolitan Police he was a

bq. notorious German agitator, the head of the International Society and an advocate of communistic principles. This man has not been loyal to the King.



andrew 11.29.04 at 2:27 pm

Perhaps it’s already been discussed here (?), but what do folks make of Francis Wheen’s 1999 biography of Marx? Eagleton ate that shit up, and I must confess, so did I. Front to back in a matter of days. Hadn’t expected such a page-turner (which I normally hate).


rob 11.29.04 at 2:45 pm

I liked Wheen’s biography, although I have no idea how accurate it is, since I am by no means an expert on Marx. I forget the name of his new book, but it’s supposed to be rather good as well.


rob 11.29.04 at 2:48 pm

‘How mumbo-jumbo conquered the world’


dave heasman 11.29.04 at 4:20 pm

This seems odd. If the wikipedia is correct, then

Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818 – March 14, 1883)

unless he came to England before 1839, which King were the Metropolitan Police thinking of? King Victoria?


Motoko 11.29.04 at 4:25 pm

The quote is from 1874…


david 11.29.04 at 4:34 pm

The new Wheen book is sub-mediocre, but that won’t keep me from someday remembering to check the Marx book out of the library.


Matt McGrattan 11.29.04 at 4:37 pm

Does seem odd.

I’d have expected, if they were using some kind of gender-neutral form, that it’d read:

“has not been loyal to the Crown”


ajay 11.29.04 at 5:23 pm

The King of Prussia? Seems a little odd to bring that up in what was, after all, a comment on his suitability for British citizenship – would fervent Prussian loyalty make him a better potential British subject? – but maybe the reasoning was “he’s already been disloyal to one monarch, how do we know he’ll be loyal to another?”

I think all this goes to prove is that the immigration and asylum business in 1870s Britain was no more logically-driven than it is in 2000s Britain.


Tom Runnacles 11.29.04 at 6:53 pm

I’d like to echo andrew here: I too raced through Wheen’s Marx book but often wondered, precisely because it was so entertaining, whether he was terribly reliable.

Judging from his journalism FW is definitely a very funny and clever guy, but it’d be handy if an echt Marx scholar could give some indication about the man’s accuracy as a biographer.


rea 11.30.04 at 12:52 am

“The King of Prussia? Seems a little odd to bring that up”

Particularly as, by 1874, the King of Prussia was more usually known as the Emperor of Germany . . .


Another Damned Medievalist 11.30.04 at 10:36 pm

More importantly, I’ve heard ol’ Karl was a Gooner …


Ken MacLeod 12.01.04 at 4:59 pm

I’m no Marx scholar, but I’ve read a few biographies, and Wheen’s biography seems sound on the facts and defensible on the interpretations. It quotes the sentence queried above as: ‘He has not been loyal to his own King and Country.’ (p 356 of the 1999 hardback edition.)

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