Editor's Note: Professor Flew has obtained Professor Popper's consent to reprint a passage from a letter he received from him. Professor Popper gave his consent on the condition that we reprint along with it his note on The Red Prussian from Addendum II of Vol.2 of The Open Society.
In a note first added to the Fifth Edition of The Open Society (Vol. II, P. 396) Popper wrote: "Some years after I wrote this book, Leopold Schwartzschild's book on Marx, The Red Prussian (translated by Margaret Wing: London 1948) became known to me. There is no doubt in my mind that Schwartzschild looks at Marx with unsympathetic and even hostile eyes, and that he often paints him in the darkest possible colours. But, even though the book may be not always fair, it contains documentary evidence, especially from the Marx-Engels correspondence, which shows that Marx was less of a humanitarian and less of a lover of freedom, than he is made to appear in this book. Schwartzschild describes him as a man who saw in `the proletariat' mainly an instrument for his own personal ambition. Though this may put the matter more harshly than the evidence warrants, it must be admitted that the evidence itself is shattering". But at that time (1965) Popper added nothing about Marx as a supposedly sincere seeker after scientific truth. Now, in a letter to me, he has done so.
This is the story. Although I only became aware of Popper's 1965 Note much later - Until then my own copies of The Open Society had been of the First Edition, awarded as a College Prize in 1947 - I immediately began to search for a copy of the Schwartzschild volume, which had already been out of print for twenty or more years. Once I had had the chance of reading it I resolved that it absolutely must be got back into print. Now at last it is (ISBN 0948859-00-8 from Pickwick Books, PO Box 925, London W21FA).
Unfortunately this New Edition does not include the updating Appendix, which was intended to cover some more recent revelations: both about the begetting and shabby disposal of an illegitimate son by the `au pair' Lenchen Demuth; and about the Marx finances. This can now be found, along with other materials more academic, in Leslie Page Karl Marx and the Critical Examination of his Works (London: Freedom Association, 1987). But the New Edition does contain an Introduction in which I argue, with explicit reference to Popper, and on what I take to be Popperian lines, that the systematic and lifelong failure of Marx to attend to intellectually formidable and truth-concerned criticism, both of his supposedly scientific conjectures and of his proposals for wholesale Utopian social engineering, revealed a basic and pervasive bad faith: both that is, a lack of a sincere concern about truth; and a lack of any genuine concern as to whether the policies commended would actually achieve the emancipatory and welfare results which were their pretended justification.
I recently received a characteristically far too generous letter from Sir Karl, provoked by the Introduction aforesaid. The passage which readers of the Newsletter will wish to see runs as follows:-
I was personally shattered by Schwartzschild's book, and it was only my view of Marx's moral stature which was shattered. The reason that my view of Marx's stature as a scientist was not shattered is very simple. I had not a very high opinion to start with, but I had given him all the benefit of the doubt; and my opinion had slowly deteriorated, bothwhile writing the book and after having written it; so slowly that I never clearly noticed it. When I read Schwartzschild there was nothing left to be shattered.
So it was only when I now read your Introduction that I saw that I ought to have referred to my changed view of Marx's scientific sincerity. I therefore accept your criticism fully.
Sir Karl goes on to say that, if opportunity arises, he intends to add another note to The Open Society "briefly referring to this new edition with your excellent Introduction, and to my full acceptance of its criticism".