This essay argues that the young Marx’s defence of press freedom in the repressive
Germany of his day is more important than the tradition of Orthodox Marxism
has generally allowed, and is best considered as a crucial constitutive feature of
the massively influential career as critical thinker and political activist to come.
Furthermore, it is in and through Marx’s reconfiguring of the idea of the public in
these early writings that his work may make a significant contribution to today’s most
pressing debates around the practice and elusive ideal of democracy, and notably
those in South Africa involving the so called Freedom of Information bill.