Karl Marx Quotes

 

130 Karl Marx Quotes & 30 Frederick Engels Quotes

The only genuine source of Marx quotes on the internet, in which every quote is sourced by a link to the original context.


 

If we have chosen the position in life in which we can most of all work for mankind, no burdens can bow us down, because they are sacrifices for the benefit of all; then we shall experience no petty, limited, selfish joy, but our happiness will belong to millions, our deeds will live on quietly but perpetually at work, and over our ashes will be shed the hot tears of noble people.

Marx, Letter to His Father (1837)

 

History calls those men the greatest who have ennobled themselves by working for the common good; experience acclaims as happiest the man who has made the greatest number of people happy.

Marx, Letter to His Father (1837)

 

As Prometheus, having stolen fire from heaven, begins to build houses and to settle upon the earth, so philosophy, expanded to be the whole world, turns against the world of appearance. The same now with the philosophy of Hegel.

Marx, Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy, 1839)

 

Real talers have the same existence that the imagined gods have. Has a real taler any existence except in the imagination, if only in the general or rather common imagination of man? Bring paper money into a country where this use of paper is unknown, and everyone will laugh at your subjective imagination.

Marx, Doctoral Thesis, Appendix (1841)

 

Greek philosophy seems to have met with something with which a good tragedy is not supposed to meet, namely, a dull ending.

Marx, Doctoral Thesis, Chapter 1 (1841)

 

What is genuine is proved in the fire, what is false we shall not miss in our ranks. The opponents must grant us that youth has never before flocked to our colours in such numbers, ... in the end, one will be found among us who will prove that the sword of enthusiasm is just as good as the sword of genius.

Engels, Anti-Schelling (1841)

 

The representation of private interests ... abolishes all natural and spiritual distinctions by enthroning in their stead the immoral, irrational and soulless abstraction of a particular material object and a particular consciousness which is slavishly subordinated to this object.

Marx, On the Thefts of Wood, in Rheinische Zeitung (1842)

 

“atheism” ... reminds one of children, assuring everyone who is ready to listen to them that they are not afraid of the bogy man.

Marx, Letter to 30 November 1842

 

In the year 1842-43, as editor of the Rheinische Zeitung, I first found myself in the embarrassing position of having to discuss what is known as material interests. ... the debates on free trade and protective tariffs caused me in the first instance to turn my attention to economic questions. ... When the publishers of the Rheinische Zeitung conceived the illusion that by a more compliant policy on the part of the paper it might be possible to secure the abrogation of the death sentence passed upon it, I eagerly grasped the opportunity to withdraw from the public stage to my study.

Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (1859)

 

Political economy came into being as a natural result of the expansion of trade, and with its appearance elementary, unscientific huckstering was replaced by a developed system of licensed fraud, an entire science of enrichment.

Engels, Outlines of Political Economy (1844)

 

The bureaucracy is a circle from which no one can escape. Its hierarchy is a hierarchy of knowledge.

Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1843)

 

The bureaucrat has the world as a mere object of his action.

Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1843)

 

This is a kind of mutual reconciliation society... Actual extremes cannot be mediated with each other precisely because they are actual extremes. But neither are they in need of mediation, because they are opposed in essence.

Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1843)

 

All forms of the state have democracy for their truth, and for that reason are false to the extent that they are not democracy.

Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1843)

 

We develop new principles for the world out of the world’s own principles. We do not say to the world: Cease your struggles, they are foolish; we will give you the true slogan of struggle. We merely show the world what it is really fighting for, and consciousness is something that it has to acquire, even if it does not want to.

Marx, Letter from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher to Ruge (1843)

 

Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form.

Marx, Letter from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher to Ruge (1843)

 

But, if constructing the future and settling everything for all times are not our affair, it is all the more clear what we have to accomplish at present: I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.

Marx, Letter from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher (1843)

 

The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism of the weapon, material force must be overthrown by material force; but
theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.
Theory is capable of gripping the masses as soon as it demonstrates ad hominem, and it demonstrates ad hominem as soon as it becomes radical. To be radical is to grasp the root of the matter. But, for man, the root is man himself.

Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction (1843)

 

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.
It is the opium of the people.

Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction (1843)

 

The state is based on this contradiction. It is based on the contradiction between public and private life, between universal and particular interests. For this reason, the state must confine itself to formal, negative activities

Marx, Critical Notes on the Article ‘The King of Prussia and Social Reform. By a Prussian’ (1844)

 

When communist artisans associate with one another, theory, propaganda, etc., is their first end. But at the same time, as a result of this association, they acquire a new need — the need for society — and what appears as a means becomes an end. ... the brotherhood of man is no mere phrase with them, but a fact of life, and the nobility of man shines upon us from their work-hardened bodies.

Marx, Human Needs & the division of Labour (1844)

 

Do I obey economic laws if I extract money by offering my body for sale,... — Then the political economist replies to me: You do not transgress my laws; but see what Cousin Ethics and Cousin Religion have to say about it. My political economic ethics and religion have nothing to reproach you with, but — But whom am I now to believe, political economy or ethics? — The ethics of political economy is acquisition, work, thrift, sobriety — but political economy promises to satisfy my needs. ... It stems from the very nature of estrangement that each sphere applies to me a different and opposite yardstick — ethics one and political economy another; for each is a specific estrangement of man and focuses attention on a particular field of estranged essential activity, and each stands in an estranged relation to the other.

Marx, Human Needs & the division of Labour (1844)

 

The only intelligible language in which we converse with one another consists of our objects in their relation to each other. We would not understand a human language and it would remain without effect. By one side it would be recognised and felt as being a request, an entreaty, and therefore a humiliation

Marx, Comment on James Mill (1844)

 

Our mutual value is for us the value of our mutual objects.
Hence for us man himself is mutually of no value.

Marx, Comment on James Mill (1844)

 

Political Economy regards the proletarian ... like a horse, he must receive enough to enable him to work. It does not consider him, during the time when he is not working, as a human being. It leaves this to criminal law, doctors, religion, statistical tables, politics, and the beadle.

Marx, Wages of Labour (1844)

 

Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution.

Marx, Private Property and Communism (1844)

 

The entire movement of history, as simply communism’s actual act of genesis — the birth act of its empirical existence — is, therefore, for its thinking consciousness the comprehended and known process of its becoming.

Marx, Private Property and Communism (1844)

 

But also when I am active scientifically, etc. – an activity which I can seldom perform in direct community with others – then my activity is social, because I perform it as a man. Not only is the material of my activity given to me as a social product (as is even the language in which the thinker is active): my own existence is social activity, and therefore that which I make of myself, I make of myself for society and with the consciousness of myself as a social being.

Private Property and Communism (1844)

 

Natural science will in time incorporate into itself the science of man, just as the science of man will incorporate into itself natural science: there will be one science.

Marx, Private Property and Communism (1844)

 

Natural science has invaded and transformed human life all the more practically through the medium of industry; and has prepared human emancipation, although its immediate effect had to be the furthering of the dehumanisation of man. Industry is the actual, historical relationship of nature, .... <The nature which develops in human history — the genesis of human society — is man’s real nature; hence nature as it develops through industry, even though in an estranged form, is true anthropological nature.>

Marx, Private Property and Communism (1844)

 

In general it is always empirical businessmen we are talking about when we refer to political economists, (who represent) their scientific creed and form of existence.

Marx, Human Requirements and Division of Labour (1844)

 

Under private property ... Each tries to establish over the other an alien power, so as thereby to find satisfaction of his own selfish need. The increase in the quantity of objects is therefore accompanied by an extension of the realm of the alien powers to which man is subjected, and every new product represents a new potentiality of mutual swindling and mutual plundering.

Marx, Human Requirements and Division of Labour (1844)

 

Man is directly a natural being. As a natural being and as a living natural being he is on the one hand endowed with natural powers, vital powers — he is an active natural being. These forces exist in him as tendencies and abilities — as instincts. On the other hand, as a natural, corporeal, sensuous objective being he is a suffering, conditioned and limited creature, like animals and plants. ... A being which does not have its nature outside itself is not a natural being, and plays no part in the system of nature. A being which has no object outside itself is not an objective being.

Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy in General (1844)

 

A few days in my old man’s factory have sufficed to bring me face to face with this beastliness, which I had rather overlooked. ..., it is impossible to carry on communist propaganda on a large scale and at the same time engage in huckstering and industry.

Engels, Letter to Marx. January 20 1845)

 

Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence.

Marx, German Ideology (1845)

 

The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity. These premises can thus be verified in a purely empirical way.

Marx, German Ideology (1845)

 

Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development; but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking.

Marx, German Ideology (1845)

 

We know only a single science, the science of history. One can look at history from two sides and divide it into the history of nature and the history of men. The two sides are, however, inseparable; the history of nature and the history of men are dependent on each other so long as men exist. The history of nature, called natural science, does not concern us here; but we will have to examine the history of men, since almost the whole ideology amounts either to a distorted conception of this history or to a complete abstraction from it. Ideology is itself only one of the aspects of this history.

Marx, German Ideology (1845)

 

In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.

Marx, German Ideology (1845)

 

The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.

Marx, German Ideology (1845)

 

For each new class which puts itself in the place of one ruling before it, is compelled, merely in order to carry through its aim, to represent its interest as the common interest of all the members of society, that is, expressed in ideal form: it has to give its ideas the form of universality, and represent them as the only rational, universally valid ones.

Marx, German Ideology (1845)

 

As far as Feuerbach is a materialist he does not deal with history, and as far as he considers history he is not a materialist.

Marx, German Ideology (1845)

 

Both for the production on a mass scale of this communist consciousness, and ... the alteration of men on a mass scale is, necessary, ... a revolution; this revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew.

Marx, German Ideology (1845)

 

The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals. Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organisation of these individuals and their consequent relation to the rest of nature....Men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organisation. By producing their means of subsistence men are indirectly producing their actual material life

Marx, German Ideology (1845)

 

The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question.

Marx, Theses On Feuerbach: Thesis 2 (1845)

 

The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society.

Marx, Theses On Feuerbach: Thesis 3 (1845)

 

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.

Marx, Theses On Feuerbach: Thesis 11 (1845)

 

One of the most difficult tasks confronting philosophers is to descend from the world of thought to the actual world. Language is the immediate actuality of thought. Just as philosophers have given thought an independent existence, so they were bound to make language into an independent realm.

Marx, German Ideology, Chapter 3 (1846)

 

History does nothing, it ‘possesses no immense wealth’, it ‘wages no battles’. It is man, real, living man who does all that, who possesses and fights; ‘history’ is not, as it were, a person apart, using man as a means to achieve its own aims; history is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his aims..

Marx, The Holy Family, Chapter 6 (1846)

 

The productive forces are the result of man’s practical energy, but that energy is in turn circumscribed by the conditions in which man is placed by the productive forces already acquired, by the form of society which exists before him, which he does not create, which is the product of the preceding generation.

Marx, 1846 Letter to Annenkov (1846)

 

The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill society with the industrial capitalist.

Marx, Poverty of Philosophy (1847)

 

Economists explain how production takes place in the above-mentioned relations, but what they do not explain is how these relations themselves are produced, that is, the historical movement which gave them birth. M. Proudhon, taking these relations for principles, categories, has merely to put into order these thoughts.

Marx, Poverty of Philosophy (1847)

 

Machines were, it may be said, the weapon employed by the capitalist to quell the revolt of specialized labor.

Marx, Poverty of Philosophy (1847)

 

The working class, in the course of its development, will substitute for the old civil society an association which will exclude classes and their antagonism, and there will be no more political power properly so-called, since political power is precisely the official expression of antagonism in civil society.

Marx, Poverty of Philosophy (1847)

 

But in the measure that history moves forward, and with it the struggle of the proletariat assumes clearer outlines, they no longer need to seek science in their minds; they have only to take note of what is happening before their eyes and to become its mouthpiece. So long as they look for science and merely make systems, so long as they are at the beginning of the struggle, they see in poverty nothing but poverty, without seeing in it the revolutionary, subversive side, which will overthrow the old society. From this moment, science, which is a product of the historical movement, has associated itself consciously with it, has ceased to be doctrinaire and has become revolutionary.

Marx, Poverty of Philosophy (1847)

 

The slave frees himself when, of all the relations of private property, he abolishes only the relation of slavery and thereby becomes a proletarian; the proletarian can free himself only by abolishing private property in general.

Engels, Principles of Communism (1847)

 

What is Communism? Communism is the doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat. What is the proletariat? The proletariat is that class in society which lives entirely from the sale of its labor and does not draw profit from any kind of capital; whose weal and woe, whose life and death, whose sole existence depends on the demand for labor....

Engels, Principles of Communism (1847)

 

A nation cannot become free and at the same time continue to oppress other nations. The liberation of Germany cannot therefore take place without the liberation of Poland from German oppression.

Engels, Speech on Poland (1847)

 

Under the freedom of trade the whole severity of the laws of political economy will be applied to the working classes. Is that to say that we are against Free Trade? No, we are for Free Trade, because by Free Trade all economical laws, with their most astounding contradictions, will act upon a larger scale, upon a greater extent of territory, upon the territory of the whole earth; and because from the uniting of all these contradictions into a single group, where they stand face to face, will result the struggle which will itself eventuate in the emancipation of the proletarians.

Engels, To Free Trade Congress at Brussels (1847)

 

And this life activity [the worker] sells to another person in order to secure the necessary means of life. ... He works that he may keep alive. He does not count the labor itself as a part of his life; it is rather a sacrifice of his life. It is a commodity that he has auctioned off to another.

Marx, Wage Labour and Capital (1847)

 

What is a Negro slave? A man of the black race. ... A Negro is a Negro. Only under certain conditions does he become a slave. A cotton-spinning machine is a machine for spinning cotton. Only under certain conditions does it become capital. Torn away from these conditions, it is as little capital as gold is itself money, or sugar is the price of sugar

Marx, Wage Labour and Capital (1847)

 

A house may be large or small; as long as the neighboring houses are likewise small, it satisfies all social requirement for a residence. But let there arise next to the little house a palace, and the little house shrinks to a hut. The little house now makes it clear that its inmate has no social position at all to maintain.

Marx, Wage Labour and Capital (1847)

 

What is free trade, what is free trade under the present condition of society? It is freedom of capital. When you have overthrown the few national barriers which still restrict the progress of capital, you will merely have given it complete freedom of action. ...

 

But, in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade.

Marx & Engels, On Free Trade (1848)

 

A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism.

Marx & Engels, Communist Manifesto (1848)

 

All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned ...

Marx & Engels, Communist Manifesto (1848)

 

In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past. In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.

Marx & Engels, Communist Manifesto (1848)

 

In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.

Marx & Engels, Communist Manifesto (1848)

 

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.
Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution.
The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
Working Men of All Countries, Unite!

Marx & Engels, Communist Manifesto (1848)

 

We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror. But the royal terrorists, the terrorists by the grace of God and the law, are in practice brutal, disdainful, and mean, in theory cowardly, secretive, and deceitful, and in both respects disreputable..

Marx, Editorial in Final edition of Neue Rheinische Zeitung (1849)

 

It will be the workers, with their courage, resolution and self-sacrifice, who will be chiefly responsible for achieving victory. The petty bourgeoisie will hesitate as long as possible and remain fearful, irresolute and inactive; but when victory is certain it will claim it for itself and will call upon the workers to behave in an orderly fashion, and it will exclude the proletariat from the fruits of victory. ... the rule of the bourgeois democrats, from the very first, will carry within it the seeds of its own destruction, and its subsequent displacement by the proletariat will be made considerably easier..

Marx, Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League (1850)

 

The revolution made progress, not by its immediate tragicomic achievements but by the creation of a powerful, united counter-revolution, an opponent in combat with whom the party of overthrow ripened into a really revolutionary party.

Marx, Class Struggle in France (1850)

 

Revolutions are the locomotives of history.

Class Struggle in France (1850)

 

The worst thing that can befall a leader of an extreme party is to be compelled to take over a government in an epoch when the movement is not yet ripe for the domination of the class which he represents and for the realisation of the measures which that domination would imply ...

Engels, The Peasant War in Germany (1850)

 

The democratic petty bourgeois, far from wanting to transform the whole society in the interests of the revolutionary proletarians, only aspire to make the existing society as tolerable for themselves as possible. ... The rule of capital is to be further counteracted, partly by a curtailment of the right of inheritance, and partly by the transference of as much employment as possible to the state. As far as the workers are concerned one thing, above all, is definite: they are to remain wage labourers as before. However, the democratic petty bourgeois want better wages and security for the workers; in short, they hope to bribe the workers ...

Marx & Engels, Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League (1850)

 

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)

 

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.
The tradition of all dead generations weighs like an nightmare on the brains of the living.

Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)

 

the great mass of the French nation is formed by the simple addition of homologous magnitudes, much as potatoes in a sack form a sack of potatoes.

Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)

 

But the revolution is thoroughgoing. It is still traveling through purgatory. It does its work methodically. ... And when it has accomplished this second half of its preliminary work, Europe will leap from its seat and exult: Well burrowed, old mole!

Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)

 

And now as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists, the economic anatomy of classes. What I did that was new was to prove:
(1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with the particular, historical phases in the development of production,
(2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat,
(3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.

Marx, Letter to Weydemeyer (1852)

 

History is the judge — its executioner, the proletarian.

Marx, Speech at Anniversary of The People’s Paper (1856)

 

The Afghans are a brave, hardy, and independent race; they follow pastoral or agricultural occupations only ... With them, war is an excitement and relief from the monotonous occupation of industrial pursuits.

Engels, On Afghanistan (1857)

 

The human being is in the most literal sense a political animal not merely a gregarious animal, but an animal which can individuate itself only in the midst of society. Production by an isolated individual outside society ... is as much of an absurdity as is the development of language without individuals living together and talking to each other.

Marx, The Grundrisse (1857)

 

It seems to be correct to begin with the real and the concrete, with the real precondition, thus to begin, in economics, with e.g. the population, which is the foundation and the subject of the entire social act of production. However, on closer examination this proves false. The population is an abstraction if I leave out, for example, the classes of which it is composed. ... if I were to begin with the population, this would be a chaotic conception of the whole, and I would then, by means of further determination, move analytically towards ever more simple concepts, from the imagined concrete towards ever thinner abstractions until I had arrived at the simplest determinations. From there the journey would have to be retraced until I had finally arrived at the population again, but this time not as the chaotic conception of a whole, but as a rich totality of many determinations and relations.

Marx, The Grundrisse (1857)

 

Human anatomy contains a key to the anatomy of the ape.
Marx, The Grundrisse (1857)

 

In all forms of society there is one specific kind of production which predominates over the rest, ... a general illumination which bathes all the other colours and modifies their particularity.

Marx, The Grundrisse (1857)

 

Relations of personal dependence are the first social forms in which human productive capacity develops only to a slight extent and at isolated points. Personal independence founded on objective dependence is the second great form, in which a system of general social metabolism, of universal relations, of all-round needs and universal capacities is formed for the first time. Free individuality, based on the universal development of individuals and on their subordination of their communal, social productivity as their social wealth, is the third stage.

Marx, The Grundrisse (1857)

 

Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand.

Marx, The Grundrisse (1857)

 

Capital and labour relate to each other here like money and commodity; the former is the general form of wealth, the other only the substance destined for immediate consumption. Capital’s ceaseless striving towards the general form of wealth drives labour beyond the limits of its natural paltriness, and thus creates the material elements for the development of the rich individuality which is as all-sided in its production as in its consumption, and whose labour also therefore appears no longer as labour, but as the full development of activity itself, in which natural necessity in its direct form has disappeared; because natural need has been replaced by historically produced need. This is why capital is productive; i.e. an essential relation for the development of the social productive forces. It ceases to exist as such only where the development of these productive forces themselves encounters its barrier in capital itself.

Marx, 1The Grundrisse (1857)

 

The pay of the common soldier is also reduced to a minimum — determined purely by the production costs necessary to procure him. But he exchanges the performance of his services not for capital, but for the revenue of the state.
In bourgeois society itself, all exchange of personal services for revenue — including labour for personal consumption, cooking, sewing etc., garden work etc., up to and including all of the unproductive classes, civil servants, physicians, lawyers, scholars etc. — belongs under this rubric, within this category. All menial servants etc. By means of their services — often coerced — all these workers, from the least to the highest, obtain for themselves a share of the surplus product, of the capitalist’s revenue.
But it does not occur to anyone to think that by means of the exchange of his revenue for such services, i.e. through private consumption, the capitalist posits himself as capitalist. Rather, he thereby spends the fruits of his capital. It does not change the nature of the relation that the proportions in which revenue is exchanged for this kind of living labour are themselves determined by the general laws of production.

Marx, The Grundrisse (1857)

 

For example, when the peasant takes a wandering tailor, of the kind that existed in times past, into his house, and gives him the material to make clothes with. ... The man who takes the cloth I supplied to him and makes me an article of clothing out of it gives me a use value. But instead of giving it directly in objective form, he gives it in the form of activity. I give him a completed use value; he completes another for me. The difference between previous, objectified labour and living, present labour here appears as a merely formal difference between the different tenses of labour, at one time in the perfect and at another in the present.

Marx, The Grundrisse (1857)

 

The separation of public works from the state, and their migration into the domain of the works undertaken by capital itself, indicates the degree to which the real community has constituted itself in the form of capital.

Marx, The Grundrisse (1857)

 

In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.

Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (1859)

 

The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.

Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (1859)

 

At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.

Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (1859)

 

In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.

Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (1859)

 

No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society. Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation.

Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (1859)

 

There is in every social formation a particular branch of production which determines the position and importance of all the others, and the relations obtaining in this branch accordingly determine the relations of all other branches as well. It is as though light of a particular hue were cast upon everything, tingeing all other colours and modifying their specific features.

Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (1859)

 

I have tried to dispel the misunderstanding arising out of the impression that by ‘party’ I meant a ‘League’ that expired eight years ago, or an editorial board that was disbanded twelve years ago. By party, I meant the party in the broad historical sense.

Marx, Letter to Freiligrath, 29 February 1860 (1860)

 

A philosopher produces ideas, a poet poems, a clergyman sermons, a professor compendia and so on. A criminal produces crimes. If we take a closer look at the connection between this latter branch of production and society as a whole, we shall rid ourselves of many prejudices. The criminal produces not only crimes but also criminal law, and with this also the professor who gives lectures on criminal law and in addition to this the inevitable compendium in which this same professor throws his lectures onto the general market as “commodities”.

Marx, Theories of Surplus Value (1861)

 

All economists share the error of examining surplus-value not as such, in its pure form, but in the particular forms of profit and rent.

Marx, Theories of Surplus Value (1863)

 

Only your small-minded German philistine who measures world history by the ell and by what he happens to think are ‘interesting news items’, could regard 20 years as more than a day where major developments of this kind are concerned, though these may be again succeeded by days into which 20 years are compressed.

Marx, Marx To Engels (9 April 1863)

 

I do not think I shall be able to deliver the manuscript of the first volume to Hamburg before October. ... I cannot go to Geneva. I consider that what I am doing through this work is far more important for the working class than anything I might be able to do personally at any Congress.

Marx, Letter to Kugelmann (1866)

 

The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as "an immense accumulation of commodities," its unit being a single commodity. Our investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter One (1867)

 

The different proportions in which different sorts of labour are reduced to unskilled labour as their standard, are established by a social process that goes on behind the backs of the producers, and, consequently, appear to be fixed by custom.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter One (1867)

 

Labour is ... not the only source of material wealth, ie of the use-values it produces. As William Petty says, labour is the father of material wealth, the earth is its mother.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter One (1867)

 

The secret of the expression of value, namely, that all kinds of labour are equal and equivalent, because, and so far as they are human labour in general, cannot be deciphered, until the notion of human equality has already acquired the fixity of a popular prejudice. This, however, is possible only in a society in which the great mass of the produce of labour takes the form of commodities, in which, consequently, the dominant relation between man and man, is that of owners of commodities.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter One (1867)

 

A commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing, and easily understood. Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter One (1867)

 

the existence of the things qua commodities, and the value-relation between the products of labour which stamps them as commodities, have absolutely no connection with their physical properties and with the material relations arising therefrom. There it is a definite social relation between men, that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things. ... This I call the Fetishism ... of commodities.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter One (1867)

 

Man’s reflections on the forms of social life, and consequently, also, his scientific analysis of those forms, take a course directly opposite to that of their actual historical development. He begins, post festum, with the results of the process of development ready to hand before him.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter One (1867)

 

The categories of bourgeois economy consist of such like forms. They are forms of thought expressing with social validity the conditions and relations of a definite, historically determined mode of production, viz., the production of commodities. The whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy that surrounds the products of labour as long as they take the form of commodities, vanishes therefore, so soon as we come to other forms of production.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter One (1867)

 

Political Economy has indeed analysed, however incompletely, value and its magnitude, and has discovered what lies beneath these forms. But it has never once asked the question why labour is represented by the value of its product and labour-time by the magnitude of that value. These formulae, which bear it stamped upon them in unmistakable letters that they belong to a state of society, in which the process of production has the mastery over man, instead of being controlled by him, such formulae appear to the bourgeois intellect to be as much a self-evident necessity imposed by Nature as productive labour itself.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter One (1867)

 

It is with man as with commodities. Since he comes into the world neither with a looking glass in his hand, nor as a Fichtean philosopher, to whom ‘I am I’ is sufficient, man first sees and recognises himself in other men. Peter only establishes his own identity as a man by first comparing himself with Paul as being of like kind. And thereby Paul, just as he stands in his Pauline personality, becomes to Peter the type of the genus homo.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter One (1867)

 

The price or money-form of commodities is, like their form of value generally, a form quite distinct from their palpable bodily form; it is, therefore, a purely ideal or mental form

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 3 (1867)

 

Modern society, which, soon after its birth, pulled Plutus by the hair of his head from the bowels of the earth, greets gold as its Holy Grail, as the glittering incarnation of the very principle of its own life.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 3 (1867)

 

While the miser is merely a capitalist gone mad, the capitalist is a rational miser.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 4 (1867)

 

Capital is money: Capital is commodities. ... Because it is value, it has acquired the occult quality of being able to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 4 (1867)

 

Labour is, in the first place, a process in which both man and Nature participate, and in which man of his own accord starts, regulates, and controls the material re-actions between himself and Nature. He opposes himself to Nature as one of her own forces, ....

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 7 (1867)

 

As capitalist, he is only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and surplus-value, to make its constant factor, the means of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus-labour. Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 10 (1867)

 

Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 10 (1867)

 

In every stockjobbing swindle every one knows that some time or other the crash must come, but every one hopes that it may fall on the head of his neighbour, after he himself has caught the shower of gold and placed it in safety. Après moi le déluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation. Hence Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the labourer, unless under compulsion from society. [Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 10 (1867)

 

machinery has greatly increased the number of well-to-do idlers.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 15 (1867)

 

Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth-the soil and the labourer.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 15 (1867)

 

a schoolmaster is a productive labourer when, in addition to belabouring the heads of his scholars, he works like a horse to enrich the school proprietor. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of in a sausage factory, does not alter the relation.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 16 (1867)

 

On the level plain, simple mounds look like hills; and the imbecile flatness of the present bourgeoisie is to be measured by the altitude of its great intellects..

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 16 (1867)

 

That which comes directly face to face with the possessor of money on the market, is in fact not labour, but the labourer. What the latter sells is his labour-power. As soon as his labour actually begins, it has already ceased to belong to him; it can therefore no longer be sold by him. Labour is the substance, and the immanent measure of value, but has itself no value. ... That in their appearance things often represent themselves in inverted form is pretty well known in every science except Political Economy

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 19 (1867)

 

A rise in the price of labour, as a consequence of accumulation of capital, only means, in fact, that the length and weight of the golden chain the wage-worker has already forged for himself, allow of a relaxation of the tension of it.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 25 (1867)

 

Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labor at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. Thus integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds.
The expropriators are expropriated.

Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 32 (1867)

 

here individuals are dealt with only in so far as they are the personifications of economic categories, embodiments of particular class-relations and class-interests. My standpoint, from which the evolution of the economic formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history, can less than any other make the individual responsible for relations whose creature he socially remains, however much he may subjectively raise himself above them.

Marx, Preface to First German Edition of Capital (1867)

 

The country that is more developed industrially only shows, to the less developed, the image of its own future.

Marx, Preface to First German Edition of Capital (1867)

 

Is your wife also active in the German ladies' great emancipation campaign? I think that German women should begin by driving their husbands to self-emancipation.

Marx, Letter to Kugelmann (1868)

 

Everyone who knows anything of history also knows that great social revolutions are impossible without the feminine ferment. Social progress may be measured precisely by the social position of the fair sex (plain ones included).

Marx, Letter to Kugelmann (1868)

 

The English have at their disposal all necessary material preconditions for a social revolution. What they lack is the spirit of generalization and revolutionary passion. Only the General Council [of the International] can provide them with this, and thus accelerate a truly revolutionary movement here and, in consequence, everywhere.

Marx, Confidential Communication on Bakunin (1870)

 

But the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.

Marx, The Paris Commune (1871)

 

Instead of deciding once in three or six years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in Parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people, ....

Marx, The Paris Commune (1871)

In German: ‘Statt einmal in drei oder sechs Jahren zu entscheiden, welches Mitglied der herrschenden Klasse das Volk im Parlament ver- und zertreten soll ...

Engels’ German translation (1891)

 

It is generally the fate of completely new historical creations to be mistaken for the counterparts of older, and even defunct, forms of social life, to which they may bear a certain likeness.
Marx, The Paris Commune (1871)

 

A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means, if such there be at all; and if the victorious party does not want to have fought in vain, it must maintain this rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionists. Would the Paris Commune have lasted a single day if it had not made use of this authority of the armed people against the bourgeois? Should we not, on the contrary, reproach it for not having used it freely enough?

Engel

 

Of course the method of presentation must differ in form from that of inquiry. The latter has to appropriate the material in detail, to analyse its different forms of development, to trace out their inner connexion. Only after this work is done, can the actual movement be adequately described. If this is done successfully, if the life of the subject-matter is ideally reflected as in a mirror, then it may appear as if we had before us a mere a priori construction.

Marx, Afterword to the Second German Edition of Capital (1873)

 

My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. .... With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.

Marx, Afterword to the Second German Edition of Capital (1873)

 

Political Economy can remain a science only so long as the class-struggle is latent or manifests itself only in isolated and sporadic phenomena. ... In France and in England the bourgeoisie had conquered political power. Thenceforth, the class-struggle, practically as well as theoretically, took on more and more outspoken and threatening forms. It sounded the knell of scientific bourgeois economy. It was thenceforth no longer a question, whether this theorem or that was true, but whether it was useful to capital or harmful, expedient or inexpedient, politically dangerous or not. In place of disinterested inquirers, there were hired prize fighters; in place of genuine scientific research, the bad conscience and the evil intent of apologetic.

Marx, Afterword to the Second German Edition of Capital (1873)

 

Of course the method of presentation must differ in form from that of inquiry. The latter has to appropriate the material in detail, to analyse its different forms of development, to trace out their inner connexion. Only after this work is done, can the actual movement be adequately described. If this is done successfully, if the life of the subject-matter is ideally reflected as in a mirror, then it may appear as if we had before us a mere a priori construction.

Marx, Afterword to the Second German Edition of Capital (1873)

 

The bourgeoisie is just as necessary a precondition for the socialist revolution as is the proletariat itself.

Marx, On Social Relations in Russia (1874)

 

... defects are inevitable in the first phase of communist society as it is when it has just emerged after prolonged birth pangs from capitalist society. Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby.

Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program (1875)

 

In a higher phase of communist society, ... — only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!

Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program (1875)

 

It is altogether self-evident that, to be able to fight at all, the working class must organize itself at home as a class and that its own country is the immediate arena of its struggle — insofar as its class struggle is national, not in substance, but, as the Communist Manifesto says, ‘in form’.

Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program (1875)

 

Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program (1875)

 

Every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programmes.

Marx, Letter to Bracke (1875)

 

The whole Darwinian theory of the struggle for existence is simply the transference from society to animate nature of Hobbes’ theory of the war of every man against every man and the bourgeois economic theory of competition, along with the Malthusian theory of population. This feat having been accomplished – (as indicated under (1) I dispute its unqualified justification, especially where the Malthusian theory is concerned) – the same theories are next transferred back again from organic nature to history and their validity as eternal laws of human society declared to have been proved..

Marx, Enegls to Lavrov (1875)

 

Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere, destroyed the forests to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present forlorn state of those countries. When the Italians of the Alps used up the pine forests on the southern slopes, so carefully cherished on the northern slopes, they had no inkling that by doing so they were cutting at the roots of the dairy industry in their region; they had still less inkling that they were thereby depriving their mountain springs of water for the greater part of the year, and making it possible for them to pour still more furious torrents on the plains during the rainy seasons. Those who spread the potato in Europe were not aware that with these farinaceous tubers they were at the same time spreading scrofula. Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature – but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.

Engels, The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man (1876)

 

Labour is the source of all wealth, the political economists assert. And it really is the source — next to nature, which supplies it with the material that it converts into wealth. But it is even infinitely more than this. It is the prime basic condition for all human existence, and this to such an extent that, in a sense, we have to say that labour created man himself.

Engels, The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man (1876)

 

When we consider and reflect upon nature at large or the history of mankind or our own intellectual activity, at first we see the picture of an endless entanglement of relations and reactions in which nothing remains what, where and as it was, but everything moves, changes, comes into being and passes away. This primitive, naive but intrinsically correct conception of the world is that of ancient Greek philosophy, and was first clearly formulated by Heraclitus: everything is and is not, for everything is fluid, is constantly changing, constantly coming into being and passing away.

 

But this conception, correctly as it expresses the general character of the picture of appearances as a whole, does not suffice to explain the details of which this picture is made up, and so long as we do not understand these, we have not a clear idea of the whole picture. In order to understand these details we must detach them from their natural or historical connection and examine each one separately, its nature, special causes, effects, etc.

Engels, Anti-Dühring (1877)

 

Only sound common sense, respectable fellow that he is, in the homely realm of his own four walls, has very wonderful adventures directly he ventures out into the wide world of research.

Engels, Anti-Dühring (1877)

 

Nature is the proof of dialectics, and it must be said for modern science that it has furnished this proof with very rich materials increasing daily.

Engels, Anti-Dühring (1877)

 

all past history was the history of class struggles; that these warring classes of society are always the products of the modes of production and of exchange.

Engels, Anti-Dühring (1877)

 

the principles are not the starting-point of the investigation, but its final result; they are not applied to nature and human history, but abstracted from them, it is not nature and the realm of man which conform to these principles, but the principles are only valid in so far as they are in conformity with nature and history. That is the only materialist conception of the matter.

Engels, Anti-Dühring (1877)

 

Freedom does not consist in any dreamt-of independence from natural laws, but in the knowledge of these laws, and in the possibility this gives of systematically making them work towards definite ends.

Engels, Anti-Dühring (1877)

 

The idea that political acts, grand performances of state, are decisive in history is as old as written history itself, and is the main reason why so little material has been preserved for us in regard to the really progressive evolution of the peoples which has taken place quietly, in the background, behind these noisy scenes on the stage.

Engels, The Theory of Force (1877)

 

Neither of us cares a straw for popularity. Let me cite one proof of this: such was my aversion to the personality cult that at the time of the International, when plagued by numerous moves – originating from various countries – to accord me public honour, I never allowed one of these to enter the domain of publicity, nor did I ever reply to them, save with an occasional snub. When Engels and I first joined the secret communist society, we did so only on condition that anything conducive to a superstitious belief in authority be eliminated from the Rules.

Marx, Letter to Blos (1877)

 

It is becoming equally imperative to bring the individual spheres of knowledge into the correct connection with one another. In doing so, however, natural science enters the field of theory and here the methods of empiricism will not work, here only theoretical thinking can be of assistance. But theoretical thinking is an innate quality only as regards natural capacity. This natural capacity must be developed, improved, and for its improvement there is as yet no other means than the study of previous philosophy.

Engels, On Dialectics (1878)

 

Dialectics constitutes the most important form of thinking for present-day natural science, for it alone offers the analogue for, and thereby the method of explaining, the evolutionary processes occurring in nature, inter-connections in general, and transitions from one field of investigation to another.

Engels, On Dialectics (1878)

 

The Greeks were not yet advanced enough to dissect, analyse nature — nature is still viewed as a whole, in general. The universal connection of natural phenomena is not proved in regard to particular; to the Greeks it is the result of direct contemplation. Herein lies the inadequacy of Greek philosophy, ... But herein also lies its superiority over all its subsequent metaphysical opponents. If in regard to the Greeks metaphysics was right in particulars, in regard to metaphysics the Greeks were right in general.

Engels, On Dialectics (1878)

 

For nearly 40 years we have raised to prominence the idea of the class struggle as the immediate driving force of history, and particularly the class struggle between bourgeois and the proletariat as the great lever of the modern social revolution; ... At the founding of the International, we expressly formulated the battle cry: The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself.

Marx and Engels, Strategy and Tactics of the Class Struggle (1879)

 

Nature is the proof of dialectics, and it must be said for modern science that it has furnished this proof with very rich materials increasingly daily, and thus has shown that, in the last resort, Nature works dialectically and not metaphysically; that she does not move in the eternal oneness of a perpetually recurring circle, but goes through a real historical evolution.

Engels, Socialism: Utopian & Scientific (1880)

 

The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the production of the means to support human life and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or orders is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of view, the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men’s brains, not in men’s better insights into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange.

Engels, Socialism: Utopian & Scientific (1880)

 

To save the Russian commune, a Russian revolution is needed.

Marx, Letter To Vera Zasulich (1881)

 

The history of the decline of primitive communities (it would be a mistake to place them all on the same level; as in geological formations, these historical forms contain a whole series of primary, secondary, tertiary types, etc.) has still to be written. All we have seen so far are some rather meagre outlines. But in any event the research has advanced far enough to establish that: (1) the vitality of primitive communities was incomparably greater than that of Semitic, Greek, Roman, etc. societies, and, a fortiori, that of modern capitalist societies; (2) the causes of their decline stem from economic facts which prevented them from passing a certain stage of development

Engels, Letter To Vera Zasulich (1881)

 

Not only can we manage very well without the interference of the capitalist class in the great industries of the country, but that their interference is becoming more and more a nuisance.

Engels, Social Classes - Necessary and Superfluous (1881)

 

What is known as ‘Marxism’ in France is, indeed, an altogether peculiar product — so much so that Marx once said to Lafargue: ‘Ce qu’il y a de certain c’est que moi, je ne suis pas Marxiste.’ [If anything is certain, it is that I myself am not a Marxist]

Engels, Letter to Eduard Bernstein (1882)

 

Just as Darwin discovered the law of development or organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.
Engels, Speech at the Graveside of Karl Marx (1883)

 

It is precisely the alteration of nature by men, not solely nature as such, which is the most essential and immediate basis of human thought.
Engels, Dialectics of Nature (1883)

 

It is, therefore, from the history of nature and human society that the laws of dialectics are abstracted. For they are nothing but the most general laws of these two aspects of historical development, as well as of thought itself.
And indeed they can be reduced in the main to three:
  The law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa;
  The law of the interpenetration of opposites;
  The law of the negation of the negation.
Engels, Dialectics of Nature (1883)

 

Every individual capital forms, however, but an individualised fraction, a fraction endowed with individual life, as it were, of the aggregate social capital, just as every individual capitalist is but an individual element of the capitalist class.

Marx, Capital Volume II (1885)

 

It was Marx who had first discovered the great law of motion of history, the law according to which all historical struggles, whether they proceed in the political, religious, philosophical or some other ideological domain, are in fact only the more or less clear expression of struggles of social classes, and that the existence and thereby the collisions, too, between these classes are in turn conditioned by the degree of development of their economic position, by the mode of their production and of their exchange determined by it. This law, which has the same significance for history as the law of the transformation of energy has for natural science.

Engels, Preface to The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1885)

 

The economic facts, which have so far played no role or only a contemptible one in the writing of history, are, at least in the modern world, a decisive historical force; that they form the basis of the origination of the present-day class antagonisms; that these class antagonisms, in the countries where they have become fully developed, thanks to large-scale industry, hence especially in England, are in their turn the basis of the formation of political parties and of party struggles, and thus of all political history. Marx had not only arrived at the same view, but had already, in the Deutsche-Französische Jahrbücher (1844), generalized it to the effect that, speaking generally, it is not the state which conditions and regulates the civil society at all, but civil society which conditions and regulates the state, and, consequently, that policy and its history are to be explained from the economic relations and their development, and not vice versa.

Engels, On the History of the Communist League (1885)

 

Communism now no longer meant the concoction, by means of the imagination, of an ideal society as perfect as possible, but insight into the nature, the conditions and the consequent general aims of the struggle waged by the proletariat.

Engels, On the History of the Communist League (1885)

 

The doctrine of Hegel, taken as a whole, left plenty of room for giving shelter to the most diverse practical party views. And in the theoretical Germany of that time, two things above all were practical: religion and politics. Whoever placed the chief emphasis on the Hegelian system could be fairly conservative in both spheres; whoever regarded the dialectical method as the main thing could belong to the most extreme opposition, both in politics and religion.

Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach & the End of Classical German Philosophy (1886)

 

The great basic question of all philosophy, especially of more recent philosophy, is that concerning the relation of thinking and being. ...
The answers which the philosophers gave to this question split them into two great camps. Those who asserted the primacy of spirit to nature and, therefore, in the last instance, assumed world creation in some form or other — and among the philosophers, Hegel, for example, this creation often becomes still more intricate and impossible than in Christianity — comprised the camp of idealism. The others, who regarded nature as primary, belong to the various schools of materialism.

Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach & the End of Classical German Philosophy (1886)

 

That which is willed happens but rarely; in the majority of instances the numerous desired ends cross and conflict with one another, or these ends themselves are from the outset incapable of realisation, or the means of attaining them are insufficient. thus the conflicts of innumerable individual wills and individual actions in the domain of history produce a state of affairs entirely analogous to that prevailing in the realm of unconscious nature.

Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach & the End of Classical German Philosophy (1886)

 

The only war left for Prussia-Germany to wage will be a world war, a world war, moreover of an extent the violence hitherto unimagined. Eight to ten million soldiers will be at each other’s throats and in the process they will strip Europe barer than a swarm of locusts. The depredations of the Years’ War compressed into three to four years and extended over the entire continent; famine, disease, the universal lapse into barbarism.

Engels, Introduction to Borkheim (1887)

 

According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. Other than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted. Hence if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, senseless phrase.
[Engels, Letter to J Bloch (1890)

 

To my mind, the so-called ‘socialist society’ is not anything immutable. Like all other social formations, it should be conceived in a state of constant flux and change. It’s crucial difference from the present order consists naturally in production organized on the basis of common ownership by the nation of all means of production. To begin this reorganization tomorrow, but performing it gradually, seems to me quite feasible. That our workers are capable of it is borne out by their many producer and consumer cooperatives which, whenever they’re not deliberately ruined by the police, are equally well and far more honestly run than the bourgeois stock companies.

Engels, Letter to Otto Von Boenigk (1890)

 

The day when we are in the majority, what the French army did instinctively in not firing on the people will be repeated in our country quite consciously. Yes, whatever the frightened bourgeois say, we are able to calculate the moment when we shall have the majority of the people behind us; our ideas are making headway everywhere, as much among teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc. as among the workers. If we had to start wielding power tomorrow, we should need engineers, chemists, agronomists. Well, it is my conviction that we would have a good many of them behind us already. In five or ten years we shall have more of them than we need.

Engels, Interview with Le Figaro (1893)

 

All science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided.

Marx, published by Engels Capital, Volume III (1894)

 

Just as the savage must wrestle with Nature to satisfy his wants, to maintain and reproduce life, so must civilised man, and he must do so in all social formations and under all possible modes of production. With his development this realm of physical necessity expands as a result of his wants; but, at the same time, the forces of production which satisfy these wants also increase. Freedom in this field can only consist in socialised man, the associated producers, rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of Nature; and achieving this with the least expenditure of energy and under conditions most favourable to, and worthy of, their human nature. But it nonetheless still remains a realm of necessity. Beyond it begins that development of human energy which is an end in itself, the true realm of freedom, which, however, can blossom forth only with this realm of necessity as its basis. The shortening of the working-day is its basic prerequisite.

Marx, published by Engels Capital, Volume III (1894)

 

What we understand by the economic conditions which we regard as the determining basis of the history of society are the methods by which human beings in a given society produce their means of subsistence and exchange the products among themselves (in so far as division of labour exists). Thus the entire technique of production and transport is here included. According to our conception, this technique also determines the method of exchange and, further, the division of products, ...

Engels, Letter to Starkenburg (1894)


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