Plekhanov 1899

A Critique of Our Critics: Part I: Mr P Struve in the Role of Critic of the Marxist Theory of Social Development

Source: Georgi Plekhanov, Selected Philosophical Works, Volume 2 (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1976), pp 474-595. Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

Moscow Editor’s Note: ‘These articles, “Mr Struve in the Role of a Critic of the Marxist Theory of Social Development,” were a reply to Struve’s article “Marx’s Theory of Social Development,” which was published in 1899 in the journal Archiv für soziale Gesetzgebung und Statistik (Archive of the Social Legislation and Statistics). They appeared in Zarya (Dawn), the theoretical organ of the Russian Marxists, which was brought out in Stuttgart. Planned as the first part of the work, they contained, in particular, criticism of Struve’s revision of Marxism in the sphere of political economy and sociology. The second part, which was never written, was intended to criticise Struve’s philosophical views. Pyotr Bernardovich Struve (1870-1944) – Russian bourgeois economist and publicist, from 1890s representative of “legal Marxism,” then one of the theorists and leaders of the Constitutional Democrat (Cadet) Party; after the October Revolution came out against Soviet power, White émigré.’

Article One


Nachdem eine Sache zur Klarheit gediehen ist, finden sich immer gewisse Gegner, die sogleich beflissen sind unter dem Scheine der Neuheit die Sache wieder zu verdunken und unklar zu machen. Ich bin dieser Art von Gegnern und Gegenreden häufig begegnet. – Cuno Fischer [1]

Ces messieurs font tous du Marxisme, mais de la sorte que vous avez connu en France, il y a dix ans, et dont Marx disait: tout ce que je sais, c'est que je ne suis pas marxiste, moi! Et probablement, il dirait de ces messieurs ce que Heine disait de ses imitateurs: ‘J'ai sémé des dragons et j'ai récolté des puces.’ – From Frederick Engels’ letter to Paul Lafargue, 27 October 1890 [2]

Mr P Struve has long been exercising himself in a ‘critique’ of Marx, but until recently his ‘critical’ exercises were not marked by any system: he confined himself, in the main, either to brief and prideful statements to the effect that he, Mr P Struve, was not infected with ‘orthodoxy’ and stood ‘under the sign of criticism’, or to laconic remarks on the theme that, in such and such a question, Marx’s ‘orthodox’ followers were in error whereas the truth emanated from the ‘critical’ Marxists. However, brief remarks and laconic statements explained practically nothing regarding the roots of the errors of the ‘orthodox’ Marxists or the proofs of the ‘critics’ being in the right. One could only engage in surmises on the matter, the most probable of which was that Marx and his ‘orthodox’ followers were in error because they had not been blessed with the grace of what is known as critical philosophy, one that so brightly illuminated the world-outlook of Mr P Struve and his ‘critical’ fellow-thinkers. Although this surmise may have been highly probable, the reader possessed insufficient data to verify it. We now have these essential data at our disposal, so we are now in a position, in our turn, to subject our ‘critic’ to criticism.

In the articles we propose to offer the reader, we would like to analyse the ‘critical essay’ published by Mr P Struve in Brauns Archiv [3] under the title of ‘Die Marxsche Theorie der sozialen Entwickelung’, [4] his review, published in the same book of the Archiv, of Eduard Bernstein’s well-known book Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus und die Aufgaben der Sozialdemokratie, and Kautsky’s no less well-known reply to Bernstein, ‘Bernstein und das Sozialdemokratische Programm’. This ‘critical essay’ and this no less ‘critical’ review are highly characteristic both of our author’s devices and his mode of thinking.

In his essay, Mr P Struve remarks, he dealt not so much with the materialist understanding of history in all its plenitude as with ‘its special application to the development from capitalism to socialism’. But while his ‘criticism’ is directed only against part of Marx’s theory of social development, it touches, at the same time, upon all that theory in general and even upon some of its philosophical promises. Thus, it provides ample material for our criticism of the critic. But first let us hear what Mr Struve has to say.

He asserts that the part of Marx’s theory he is subjecting to analysis has a triple foundation, namely: 1) the theory of the development of the productive forces in capitalist society or, in other words, ‘the theory of the socialisation and concentration of production, and the theory of industrial anarchy in capitalist society'; 2) the theory of the deterioration of the conditions of the lower classes of society, or ‘the theory of the impoverishment and the theory of the expropriation of the petty capitalists by the big ones’, and finally, 3) the theory of the revolutionary role of the proletariat, that is, ‘the theory of the socialist mission of the proletariat, which is formed by the development of capitalism and grows in the course of that development’.

In his explanation of the latter theory, Mr P Struve goes on to add:

The proletariat is subjected to impoverishment, but at the same time achieves a social and political maturity which makes it capable of overthrowing the capitalist system through an active class struggle, and replacing it with the socialist system.

But what does our critic think of this triple foundation of Marx’s theory?

While he does not take up the question of whether Marx gave a correct definition of the relative importance of each of these three trends, Mr P Struve recognises their actual existence in capitalist society of the first half of the nineteenth century; the theory of impoverishment is a simple statement of fact; the development of the productive forces was there for all to see; the proletariat’s revolutionary actions, ranging from spontaneous outbursts to the communist movement, were questions of the day. However, in our critic’s opinion, Marx was grossly in error in asserting that the trends he had named led to socialism. That assertion had no real foundation, and was simply a utopia. [5] The triumph of socialism was quite impossible as long as the impoverishment of the masses was an indisputable fact. The workers’ impoverishment was incompatible with a degree of maturity in that class that would render it capable of carrying through the socialist revolution. That was why the actual state of things in the 1840s left no room for a social optimism to which any utopia is alien: were capitalism really doomed to collapse, there would be nobody to erect the edifice of socialism on its ruins. If, nevertheless, all pessimism was quite alien to Marx, that was due to the very groundlessness of his socio-political world-outlook:

An imperative psychological urge to prove the historical necessity of an economic order based on collectivism [says Mr P Struve] forced the socialist Marx, in the 1840s, to deduce [deduzieren] socialism from more than insufficient premises. [6]

Marx subsequently substantially modified, in Mr P Struve’s opinion, his pessimistic view of the conditions of the working class in capitalist society but did not reject it completely and quite consciously. The glaring contradiction between the impoverishment of the working class, on the one hand, and society’s development towards socialism, on the other, remained beyond his purview: ‘This actual contradiction even acquired, in his eyes, a lawful appearance, presenting itself to him as a dialectical contradiction that was striving towards its resolution.’ [7] In view of this strange psychological aberration, there is nothing surprising in Mr P Struve’s seeing himself forced to turn his attention to the ‘doctrine of development through the growth of contradictions’ ('durch Steigerung der Widersprüche’), and subjecting that doctrine to close analysis.


Our critic has ‘taken’ two phenomena, A and B, which are mutually antagonistic, and argues as follows.

If a growth of contradictions actually takes place here, then the development of the two mutually contradictory elements will be expressed in the following formula: Formula I, which Mr P Struve calls a formula of contradiction:

2A 2B
3A 3B
4A 4B
5A 5B
6A 6B
... ...
nA nB

Each of these two phenomena, A and B, grows through the accumulation of homogeneous elements (Häufung des Gleichartigen); simultaneously with and thanks to that, the contradiction existing between them also grows, which is ultimately eliminated by the victory of the stronger phenomenon over the weaker: nA destroys nB.

But, Mr P Struve observes, we can imagine that, in social reality, there exist contradictions of quite another kind expressed by a quite different formula: Formula II, which we propose calling a formula of blunted contradiction:

2A 2B
3A 3B
4A 2B
5A B
6A 0B

In each of these instances [8] as expressed by the two formulas, there is a certain interaction between A and B. But whilst, in the first instance, the growth of A invariably leads to the growth of B as well, that is, to the sharpening of the contradiction between these two phenomena, in the second instance, the operation of the constantly growing A brings about an increase in the coefficient of B only at the outset, and then, exceeding a definite finite limit, it leads to its decrease, and consequently also to a slackening of that contradiction. Thus, the contradiction is resolved here through a ‘blunting’ (durch ‘Abstumpfung’). [9]

Mr P Struve considers ‘fabulous’ the idea that ‘at its decisive turns, social development takes place exclusively according to the first formula’. But who expressed that ‘dogma’, and when? With Mr P Struve, it follows that it is held by all ‘orthodox’ Marxists. That is quite wrong. We think that hardly any of Marx’s serious followers will agree to recognise Mr P Struve’s ‘first formula’ as correct. Without recognition of the correctness of either formula, it cannot, of course, be asserted that it is ('exclusively’) after that formula that the historical advance takes place. Mr P Struve has awarded this ‘fabulous dogma’ to his ‘orthodox opponents’ with excessive haste.

Later, in the last chapter but one of this article, we shall give a detailed analysis of Mr P Struve’s first formula, and show its erroneousness. And now we shall invite the reader to turn his attention to his second formula.

It is designed to express the interaction between A and B. However, that interaction presupposes both the action of A on B and, conversely, the action of B on A. Mr P Struve does not say what the latter consists in; he limits himself to determining the action of A on B. From the formula itself and the accompanying explanations, we have learned that, up to a certain limit, the growth of A also conditions the growth of B, and then, beyond that limit, it leads, on the contrary, to a decrease in B. But what does that mean? It means that the limit indicated is a point beyond which A’s impact on B turns into its direct opposite. Mr P Struve’s second formula can therefore serve as quite a good, so to say, algebraical example of that transition of quantitative changes into qualitative which is met at every step both in Nature and in social life but is nevertheless numbered by our ‘critics’ (from the camp of the ‘theorists of cognition’) among the ‘fabulous dogmas’ invented by Hegel and accepted on trust by Marx and his ‘orthodox’ followers.

After inviting the reader to remember this example, which will prove very useful to us later, we shall proceed.

Our critic remarks that consideration of the ‘formula of contradiction’ acquires particular interest when it is compared with the fundamental idea of the materialist explanation of history. That is true for many reasons and, incidentally, because, coming from Mr P Struve, that comparison shows us whether he has correctly understood the writer he is criticising.

Mr P Struve begins that comparison with an excerpt from the frequently quoted and probably universally known Preface to Marx’s Zur Kritik der politischen Oekonomie:

The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life... 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... [10] 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. [11]

After citing this excerpt, Mr P Struve sets about commenting it:

What is clearly expressed here [he says] is the idea of the constant adaptability [Angepasstsein] of legal and political institutions to the economy, as a normal form of their coexistence. [12] The non-correspondence of legal relations and economic relations is a contradiction which leads to law being adapted to the economy. Marx has presented as fundamental the contradiction between the productive forces and production relations (property relations). The adaptation of production relations to the productive forces forms the content of the social revolution. In all of this exposition by Marx, there is the unclarity that, on the one hand, the material productive forces and, on the other, relations of production, which are nothing but an abstract sum of concrete economic, or, in juridical terms, legal relations, are sui generis independent essences or ‘things’. It is only due to that unclarity that one can speak of the contradiction, or the adaptation, of the productive forces, taken as a whole [en bloc] to all legal relations taken as a whole too, and see the social revolution as a clash (immaterial whether lasting a single moment or a more or less lengthy period of time) between these two essences. It is clear that social development can be regarded as a lengthy process of various clashes and adaptations. Marx seems to have considered both modes of understanding social revolution correct, and to have failed to notice their incompatibility. As for the socialist revolution in particular, Marx saw it as a mighty clash between the economy and law, inevitably crowned by some decisive event or social upheaval, in the proper sense of the expression. Thus, in Marx’s theory of social development, everything revolves about the relations, or if you please the contradiction between the economy and law. Marx regarded the economy as cause, and law as effect. [13]

As we shall see, this comment is marked by an extraordinary wealth of theoretical content. [14] To begin with, we shall take note of the following two points. In Mr P Struve’s opinion Marx:

1. Considered fundamental the contradiction that inevitably arises in a progressing society between the productive forces on the one hand, and property relations on the other.

2. Saw the social revolution as a violent clash between the economy and law, in consequence of which everything revolves, in his theory, about the relations between law and the economy.

Is this opinion of Mr P Struve’s correct? In other words, has he properly understood and correctly set forth Marx’s theory? As for the first point, he is indubitably right: the contradiction between society’s productive forces and its property relations has always been focal in Marx’s theory of social development. To bear that out or rather, for the reader to get a better understanding of Marx’s idea, we shall quote, in addition to the passage Mr P Struve has cited, from the Preface to Zur Kritik der politischen Oekonomie, the following excerpt from the Manifesto of the Communist Party:

We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organisation of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder.

Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and political constitution adapted to it, and by the economic and political sway of the bourgeois class. [15]

As you will see, the matter is perfectly clear: social revolution, meaning the collapse of the feudal economic system and the triumph of the bourgeois system, was seen and described by Marx as a clash (or contradiction) between the productive forces which had grown in the womb of feudal society, and the property relations inherent in that society, or, which is the same, the feudal organisation of agriculture and industry. And if you wish to get a clearer idea of how Marx understood and described the social revolution, which he served with such utter dedication and which will lead to the replacement of the bourgeois economic system by the socialist, you might well read the following page:

Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeoisie and of its rule...

The productive forces at the disposal of [bourgeois – GP] society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered... The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. (Same place, pp 8-9) [16]

It is the elimination of bourgeois property relations that comprises the proletariat’s historic revolutionary mission.

The proletariat wages against the bourgeoisie an unending civil war which is more and more expanding in volume and content, ultimately turning into ‘open revolution, and... the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat’. [17]

We would refer anyone who wishes to follow up this fundamental idea in Marx’s theory of social development in his other writings to the Poverty of Philosophy and to pages 420-21 in Part 2 of Volume 3 of Capital. [18]

Thus, no doubt is possible: in Marx’s theory of social development, everything revolves about the contradiction between society’s productive forces and its property relations. But if this is quite true and beyond doubt, then it may be asked on what grounds Mr P Struve asserts (see point two above) that Marx saw the social revolution as a violent clash between the economy and law. Is this second clash identical in significance with the first? Has the contradiction between society’s productive forces and its property relations absolutely the same significance as the contradiction between the economy and law?

To reply to this question, which is of ‘fundamental’ importance to us, it should in the first place be established what kind of concept our critic associates with the words ‘the economy'; that, of course, cannot be done otherwise than on the basis of his ‘critical essay’, which we are analysing here.

In his analysis of Stammler’s [19] view in respect of the relation of law to the economy, Mr P Struve says, among other things, the following:

Unfortunately, the concept of the economy (the economic order, relations of production) is not fully defined by what we consider the ‘economic’ element in individual social phenomena. The economy is, for instance, a capitalist economic order... [20]

Several lines below, we come up against an aphorism that says that ‘law is already contained in the economy, and vice versa’ ('in der Wirthschaft ist das Recht und vice versa enthalten’). [21] Finally, we come across the following argument several lines later:

The circumstance that I have no bread... constitutes no legal relation between myself and my fellow-citizens... and let it not be objected to me that, under some other social system, some reasonable legal regulation would do away with the phenomenon of unemployment. That only shows that this economic phenomenon depends on the given economic, or, in other words, legal system taken in its totality [etc]. [22]

These explanations show that, with our critic, the words ‘the economy’ have the same meaning as the term the economic (for example, the capitalist) order or the term production relations. But we already know that production relations – or the economic order or structure – are called property relations in legal parlance. This was also pointed out both by Marx himself, whose theory is being discussed here, and by Mr P Struve, who is analysing that theory. [23] Very good. Let us take note of that, and ask ourselves: what does Marx’s theory of social development look like in the way his critic presents it? To that question only one answer is possible: in the way Mr Struve puts it, it follows that everything revolves around the contradiction between a particular society’s property relations, and its law. Expressed in other words, this means that, according to Marx, the gist of the contemporary so-called social question lies in the contradiction between property relations, say, in the bourgeois France of today, and her Civil Code. [24] Or, if you would put it otherwise, you might say the following: the contradiction between property relations in present-day bourgeois France, and her Civil Code comprises ‘das Fortleitende’, that is, that contradiction, which leads that country forward and brings it closer to the socialist revolution. This is perfectly logical and follows inescapably from Mr P Struve’s words; at the same time, it constitutes such an amazing, such an unintelligible, or, more briefly, such a ‘fabulousdogma that had Mr P Struve made his ‘critical essay’ in Marx’s lifetime, and had the author of Capital gone to the trouble of acquainting himself with the contents of this unbelievable essay, it would have remained for him only to spread his hands in perplexity, and explain, somewhat changing the words spoken by the main character in Nekrasov’s [25] poem Judgement:

The judge, of course, I cannot be
Of my own case; but you'll agree
It’s vexing when my critics quote
Against me things I never wrote.
A ploughman would be as surprised
If he had sown a field to rye
And not a single stalk came up
Of rye, of wheat or buckwheat, but
Gross barleycorn grew from the seeds,
All intermixed with noxious weeds.


Let the gentle reader not think that we are out to trip the critic over some chance slips. Not at all! The monstrous blunder we have noted is repeated on almost every page of the ‘essay’ and forms the logical hub about which almost all the content ‘revolves’ in the ‘criticism’ of revolutionary Marxism [26] that Mr P Struve has clutched out of thin air. Thus, several pages after the commentary we have quoted from, Mr P Struve categorically states the following: ‘A revolution that removes contradiction is in any case logically necessary for the Marxist theory of the constantly mounting contradiction between the economy and law.’ [27] These words show that Mr P Struve is not only ‘stubborn’ in his incomprehensible error, but besides makes it underlie all his ‘criticism’: he is out to question the necessity of revolution as removing the contradiction, by pointing out that there can be no essential contradiction between law and the economy (that is, property relations, the economic structure). No less ‘stubbornness’ in error is revealed in the following argument which our ‘critic’ considers irresistible and triumphant:

What, after Marx, is called relations of production is logically and historically already included in the legal regulation of property relations. For that reason alone, it is logically impossible, while remaining on the Marxist standpoint, to speak of the contradictory development of production relations and the legal system.

But who speaks of that except you, O severe critic! Marx is referring to the contradiction between the productive forces and property relations. You yourself ‘noted’ this really noteworthy ‘circumstance’, in the beginning of your comment – true, without ‘special force’. How could you have so suddenly forgotten it when you came to stand in need of ‘criticising’ Marx’s theory?

But what is far more important is that recognition of such development actually and absolutely precludes any realistically understood impact of economic phenomena on the legal system.

Whence have you taken economic phenomena, Mr P Struve? You are dealing with production relations, or, in other words, with the economy, and you very correctly say that the concept of the economy is not at all fully defined by what we call the economic element in social phenomena:

Just think: production relations [the ‘critic’ again, sans crier gare, returns to production relations, the idea of which, as he himself has remarked, is not at all defined by the concept of economic phenomena – GP], which are becoming more and more socialist, engender the class struggle; the class struggle gives rise to social reforms, which, it is alleged, enhance the capitalist nature of society. Thus, production relations, which are becoming more and more socialist, engender a legal system which is becoming more and more capitalist. Far from engendering any mutual adaptation between them, the economy’s impact on law ever more increases the contradiction existing between them. [28]

The part of this tirade that follows the words ‘Just think’ seems to have been written for the purpose of ‘noting with special force’ the illogicality of Marx’s ‘orthodox’ followers, who recognise the dialectical law of development. But here again, our critic imposes an ‘absolutely fabulous dogma’ on the ‘orthodox’ Marxists, and again his exposition converts into ‘barley intermixed with noxious weeds’ the highly valuable grain of Marx’s theory of social development. ‘Just think!’ When Marx and his ‘orthodox’ followers speak of the constantly growing contradiction between the productive forces in capitalist society and its production relations, they understand by the latter bourgeois property relations, as is most clearly shown by the excerpts given above from the Manifesto of the Communist Party and as Mr P Struve himself admits. That is why it could never have occurred either to Marx or to his ‘orthodox’ followers to arrive at the idea – as Mr P Struve imputes to them – that bourgeois society’s production relations are becoming ever more socialist. Anyone who said that would thereby be expressing the thought – worthy of some newest Bastiat alone – that the property relations inherent in capitalist society and so ardently defended by the bourgeoisie are approaching ever closer to the socialist ideal. [29]

Mr P Struve has called the book The Development of the Monist View of History the finest exposition of the historico-philosophical foundations of orthodox Marxism. He considers our Beiträge zur Geschichte des Materialismus fully in the spirit of that book. I would ask the reader to go to the trouble of going through these two books and deciding for himself whether they contain anything resembling what our strange ‘critic’ has ascribed to Marx’s ‘orthodox’ followers!

From all this follows the inevitable conclusion that a colossal and truly unbelievable failure to understand Marx has served Mr P Struve as a base of operations in his ‘critical’ campaign. How glorious a campaign! What profound ‘criticism'! How interesting a ‘critic'!

Mr P Struve’s literary career began in the autumn of 1894 with the appearance of his book Critical Remarks on the Question of Russia’s Economic Development, which produced quite a commotion. In this book, ponderously written and naive in parts but yet useful on the whole, there simultaneously appeared, ‘embracing like two sisters’ [30] and curiously intertwined, two theories: in the first place, the theory of Marx and the ‘orthodox’ Marxists, and, in the second place, the theory of Brentano [31] and his school. The eclectic mishmash in the book’s contents justified to a considerable extent both the reproaches that descended on the author from certain ‘orthodox’ Marxists, and the hopes placed on it by other no less ‘orthodox’ followers of Marx: the reproachers were irritated by the Brentanoism, while those who placed hopes on Mr P Struve expected that this bourgeois theory in his views would be gradually overcome by the element of Marxism present in them. The author of these lines belonged to the number of the hopeful. True, his expectations were not very great: he never considered Mr P Struve a man capable of enriching Marx’s theory with any substantial theoretical contribution, but he hoped that, in the first place, Mr P Struve’s Brentanoism would soon be overcome by his Marxism, and, secondly, that the author of Critical Remarks was capable of a correct understanding of the author of Capital. It now appears that we were mistaken on both scores: Marxism has already yielded place, in Mr P Struve’s views, to its old neighbour – Brentanoism; besides, our ‘critic’ has revealed a total lack of understanding of the most fundamental and the most important propositions of historical materialism. In this latter respect he has gone very far back indeed, which, of course, is to be accounted for by the influence of that self-same Brentanoism. In view of all this, it remains for us only openly to confess to our error and to say in justification what Euripides [32] used to say: ‘The Gods do much contrary to expectation; they do not do what we have expected, but, on the other hand, they find ways of doing the unexpected.’


As we have seen, it is impossible for us to be mistaken as to the meaning in which Mr P Struve uses the words the economy, as he himself has tried to give a rigorous definition of that meaning. Nevertheless, let us imagine that we have failed to understand him correctly and that our critic uses the word, not to indicate some economic order or other ('for example, the capitalist’), and not the production (property) relations peculiar to a given society, but that economic element in social phenomena the notion of which, as he himself has very correctly noted, is not completely defined by the concept of the economy. But where will that supposition lead us to? [33]

Once we accept that, we must naturally also accept another interpretation of Mr P Struve’s words, to the effect that everything in the Marxist theory revolves about the contradiction between the economy and law. We are now obliged to assume that he regards as underlying that theory the doctrine of the contradiction. (relation) between the economic phenomena that take place in a given society, and the laws inherent in that society. It is that contradiction that must now be recognised as the hub about which ‘everything revolves’ in Marxist theory.

Let us consider capitalist society and see in what degree and in which conditions the contradiction between the economic phenomena proceeding in it and its legal system can be a cause impelling its development forward.

Let us suppose that what is known as the permits system for the establishment of joint stock companies [34] exists in our capitalist society. It is common knowledge that such a system is marked by many disadvantages hampering the development of joint-stock companies and therefore of large-scale production, which now stands in such need of the association of capital belonging to individuals. That is why a contradiction will sooner or later arise in our society between an economic phenomenon – the growth of large-scale production that stands in need of the development of joint-stock companies – and law – inexpedient legislation, which regulates the establishment of such companies. That contradiction can be eliminated only in one way; the destruction of the permits system and its replacement by the so-called fait accompli system, which is far more convenient. Of course, the latter system, as one that is incomparably more expedient, will sooner or later become enacted. In that case, the accommodation of a legal norm to an economic phenomenon will, it may be said, take place of itself and, as the French have it, one has to be fou à lier [35] to start speaking of social revolution in circumstances in which the development of social life has brought forward only contradictions of this kind.

But what are contradictions of this kind marked by? They are marked by the fact of the economic phenomena that contradict bourgeois law in no way contradicting the economic foundation of that law, that is, the property relations of capitalist society.

The question that now arises is: did Marx himself or any of his ‘orthodox’ followers ever say that the social revolution is caused by contradictions of that kind? No, neither Marx nor his pupils ever said that. According to Marx (we have pointed that out many times, and are now obliged to repeat it), social revolutions are prepared and become inevitable as a result of the contradiction between society’s productive forces and those of its property relations on which the laws peculiar to that society are based. That contradiction is of a quite different (and infinitely more dangerous) kind; with the appearance of that contradiction, a revolutionary epoch sets in. To swaddle it in vague and therefore empty verbiage on the contradiction between economic phenomena and legal institutions, and on the adaptation of law to the economy means not throwing light on the question but muddling and obscuring it to the uttermost degree. In truth, what is needed here is Mr P Struve’s ‘kritischer Geist’, ‘taken in its entirety’, to create even a momentary impression that such muddling and obscuring of the question is equivalent to a further advance of the ‘realistic’ thinking that underlies Marxism as an historical theory. Far from being any forward movement, this is not even any movement of thought (as the late AS Khomyakov [36] used to say); it is simply some untidy and empty – and therefore quite useless and barren – theoretical fussing over nothingness. That kind of fuss can give the greatest pleasure to those of whom Cuno Fischer [37] has spoken in the words we have used in the epigraph, but to science such fuss is worse than nothing, for it marks a vast backward step, a negative phenomenon.

Marx himself has emphatically said that law, as inherent in a given society, develops on the basis of the latter’s economic structure (its property relations). [38] This can be borne out by a number of most indisputable examples. Who does not know today that the property relations of savage tribes of hunters are imbued with communism, and that an appropriate common law arises on the foundation of those communist relations? Who is unaware that, on the foundation of feudal property relations (the foundation of the ‘feudal organisation of agriculture and industry’), there arose an entire system of legal institutions which were nurtured by that system and disappeared together with it? Who has not heard that present-day bourgeois law – for example, the Civil Code we have mentioned above – evolved on the basis of bourgeois property relations? Mr P Struve himself, in his comment on Marx (see above; footnote 33) designates as a superstructure the legal and political relations that have arisen on the basis of a given economic structure or particular property relations. Besides, Mr P Struve has himself admitted that the fundamental contradiction pointed out by the Marxist theory of social development is one between society’s productive forces and its property relations. Why then does he immediately lose sight of this fundamental contradiction, for which he substitutes a secondary contradiction between the economic phenomena within a given economic structure, and the laws for which that structure, as Marx has put it, serves as a real foundation? How can he justify that kind of substitution?

Take crises, which the Manifesto of the Communist Party points to as a phenomenon that most vividly confirms the idea that the productive forces of bourgeois society have outgrown the property relations, or the economic structure, peculiar to it, and tell us, dear reader, whether that economic phenomenon contradicts law which has developed on the basis of bourgeois property relations, for instance the French legal code of 1804? What a naive and ridiculous question! Crises contradict bourgeois society’s civil law just as little as the rates of bills of exchange contradict its criminal law. It is not crises that contradict the Civil Code, but the productive forces that contradict the economic structure ('property relations’) that underlie that code. What is meant by the words: the productive forces of bourgeois society contradict its economic structure, its property relations? They mean that such relations hamper the use of those forces in their full volume and that, when those forces are given extensive play, they impair the proper course of the economy. It consequently follows that the more society’s productive forces are developed, the more dangerous their full play becomes to it. This is a contradiction that cannot be removed while bourgeois property relations continue to exist. [39] What is necessary for its elimination is a social revolution that will destroy bourgeois property relations and replace them with socialist property relations, which are of a totally different nature. Such is the meaning of Marx and Engels’ remark. The economic phenomenon they have cited as an example is indicative of narrow confines (the property relations) limiting the economic life of bourgeois society and underlying bourgeois law. Their ‘critic’ passes over in silence (or, more precisely, has completely forgotten, after a single mention) that very contradiction which they have considered the fundamental cause of social revolutions, and then naively remarks that Marx’s own theory, if correctly understood, leaves no room for the social revolution, but presupposes the ‘constant adaptability of law to the economy as a normal form of their coexistence’. This kind of criticism involuntarily leads one to recall the words of the Russian fabulist Krylov: You have failed to notice the elephant. [40]


It follows that, in whichever of the two possible meanings we understand Mr P Struve’s words on the contradiction between law and the economy, which, he asserts, is the theoretical hub of the Marxist theory of social development, we shall have to recognise that he has understood that theory quite erroneously, or else has set it forth quite wrongly. His error is so egregious, however, and so unexpected that we must again ask ourselves whether all this is the result of some misunderstanding. Or perhaps Mr P Struve has been misled by some expression used by Marx and Engels, which he has misunderstood or else has been incorrectly used by the founders of scientific socialism themselves.

Let us search for the answer together, dear reader. You will probably recall the passage in Engels’ celebrated pamphlet Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, which speaks of the fundamental contradiction in the present-day mode of production. Formerly, in the Middle Ages, the producer was at the same time the proprietor of the tools he used and, with rare exceptions, he appropriated for himself only the product of his own labour; at present, the capitalist, the proprietor of the implements of labour, continues to appropriate as his private property the products turned out at the factory by the joint social labour of his workers:

The means of production, and production itself, had become in essence socialised. But they were subjected to a form of appropriation which presupposes the private production of individuals, under which, therefore, everyone owns his own product and brings it to market.

Hence the contradiction between the mode of production and the form of appropriation:

The new mode of production is subjected to this form of appropriation, although it abolishes the conditions upon which the latter rests. [41]

This fundamental contradiction contains the germ of all the contradictions in present-day society.

At first glance, it may seem to a ‘critical’ mind which clutches at words without penetrating into the gist of the content they designate that the contradiction indicated here by Engels is between the economy and law, which Mr P Struve is dealing with. However, a minimum of effort is required to realise how erroneous such a view is.

In speaking of social production as being contradictory to individual appropriation, Engels is referring to the machine-shop of today, in which the workers’ labour is united in a single whole, with the output therefore being the product of social labour. However, the organisation of labour in such a shop is determined by the present state of technology; it characterises the state of the productive forces, not the economic structure of present-day (capitalist) society, which is marked mainly and primarily by its inherent property relations, that is, by the machine-shop in question belonging not to the workers united in it but to the capitalist, who exploits those workers. Thus, the contradiction between the social labour at the factory and the individual appropriation of that labour is the self-same contradiction we already know between the productive forces of capitalist society and its property relations. This has been very well explained by Engels himself:

But just as the older manufacture, in its time, and handicraft, becoming more developed under its influence, had come into collision with the feudal trammels of the guilds, so now modern industry, in its more complete development, comes into collision with the bounds within which the capitalistic mode of production holds it confined. The new productive forces have already outgrown the capitalistic mode of using them. [42]

It is clear that Engels is in no wise referring to the contradiction between ‘law’ and ‘the economy’. Beside the pamphlet Socialism: Utopian and Scientific we have quoted from, we do not know a single piece of writing by Marx and Engels that provides even a purely external and at least some verbal pretext for the Marxist theory of social development to be interpreted in the way Mr P Struve has done.

We say this with reference to ‘the contradiction between law and the economy’ ('for example, the capitalist economic structure’) our ‘critic’ has thrust on Marx. And how will it be, we shall ask, if the ‘contradiction’ imposed on Marx should be understood in another sense, that is, in the meaning of the contradiction between the economic phenomena (the notion of which is not completely defined by the ‘economy’) and that society’s legal institutions? Will it not emerge, in that case, that Mr P Struve is saying the same thing as Frederick Engels?

Here, too, it may seem so at first glance, but this time again the matter looks different on closer examination.

The organisation of labour in the workshop is undoubtedly an economic phenomenon. However, this economic phenomenon is contradictory, not to law, but to other economic phenomena, namely, those property relations in bourgeois society which comprise the ‘real foundation’ of bourgeois law. Identifying that real foundation with the ‘legal superstructure’ that rises above it means setting forth somebody else’s theory, not that of Karl Marx, who himself established the distinction between the superstructure (law) and the foundation (production relations). We are well aware that it would be far easier to ‘criticise’ Marx had he not established that distinction. [43] But what is to be done about that? After all, Marx was not in duty bound to twist the truth to suit the ‘critics'!

Whatever turn is given to the question, it has to be admitted that Mr P Struve has muddled up things frightfully, and that it is extremely difficult, or rather quite impossible, to find any verisimilar circumstances to extenuate in some measure the fault for that muddling, which falls squarely on him, and most probably on Stammler as well.

As is his wont, Mr P Struve ‘criticises’ that writer (he cannot get along without ‘criticism’); however, he is quite incapable of casting off his influence.

This is not the place to expatiate on Stammler himself, but it should be mentioned, in passing, that he has led into temptation quite a number of ‘Marxists’ in our country, who were first perverted and ‘blunted’ by the so-called critical philosophy now so dear to the hearts of all those who are trying to ‘blunt’ our social contradictions.


We have already noted that if the essence of the so-called social question consisted in the non-correspondence of bourgeois law to bourgeois economy, the historical necessity of the social revolution could then be spoken of only by raving lunatics. Given that gratifying state of affairs, the theorists of law and intelligent people of practice from the world of the business bourgeoisie would have no difficulty in finding where, as the Germans have it, the shoe pinches, and the worthy bourgeois would have to do nothing more than grumble peevishly and frown threateningly for their parliamentary representatives immediately to give the shoe a new shape. But, it may well be asked, would natural development, in that case, follow Mr P Struve’s second formula, which we have called a formula of blunted contradiction?

Above we took, as an example, the legislation on joint-stock companies. We shall now return to that example, for the sake of convenience. Now tell me, dear reader, what kind of relationship will be established between social life, which calls for the multiplication of joint-stock companies, and the permits system, which hampers that multiplication? As we see it, there will be established between them a contradiction that will constantly grow until the permits system disappears, yielding place to the fait accompli system. Is that the case? It undoubtedly is. If that is so, then what we have here too is a phenomenon which bears out the truth of Hegel’s aphorism: a contradiction leads forward. In its turn, this new inference makes one realise the comic situation of those ‘critics’ who are given to censuring Hegel and speaking of a ‘blunting of contradictions’.

Mr P Struve may retort that a sharper contradiction between an outmoded legal norm and a new social need is no guarantee that the struggle between the defenders and the enemies of the old norm will grow sharper. That will be true, and we are willing to admit that, in insignificant cases such as the one examined above, the growth of the contradiction mentioned above may, in certain cases, be accompanied even by a slackening of the social struggle, that is, a blunting of the contradiction between the warring parties. True, it should also be noted that this is no more than a supposition, which has to be proved and which we are accepting only out of courtesy for Mr P Struve. But can that take place where it is a matter, not of petty things such as legislation on joint-stock companies but of major upheavals in the life of society, which affect the very foundation of law: the economic structure, and property relations? To that question unembellished historical reality answers in a categorical negative. We do not know very well in what way development took place in China over a very long and still incomplete period of its decline; however, we do know very well that, in progressing societies, the growth of the contradictions between the new social needs and the old social system is usually accompanied by an exacerbation of the struggle between the innovators and the conservatives. It is to such societies (those that are marching ‘forward’) that we can apply what has been said on the struggle for right by Ihering in his celebrated pamphlet:

Any right in the world is won in struggle; any important legal principle must be torn from those who have opposed it...

The interests of thousands of people and entire estates gradually merge with the existing law, so that it cannot be abolished without causing considerable detriment to them. To raise the question of the abolition of a given statute or institution means declaring war on all such interests. Therefore, any such attempt naturally gives rise, through the operation of the instinct of self-preservation, to strong opposition from the interests affected, and thereby to a struggle...

That struggle achieves the greatest intensity when interests take the shape of acquired rights...

All the great gains that are to be found in the history of law: the abolition of slavery and the serf-owning system, freedom of landownership and crafts, freedom of conscience and the like – all these have been won through in a fierce struggle often lasting centuries, and the road law has travelled during its development has often been marked by torrents of blood and everywhere strewn with the ruins of smashed legal institutions. [44]

If this kind of social development is called one achieved through the blunting of contradictions, then we are at a loss to say what should be called their aggravation.

In explanation and defence of his second formula, Mr P Struve cites two examples, both of which, however, possess a property that hardly suits him, namely, that they ‘contradict’ him most emphatically.

Example one:

Let us suppose, that, as a result of the development of industry, there arises a practico-economic [praktischwirtschaftliche] working-class movement. A harsher law is promulgated banning strikes and workers’ associations. Repressions mount, and, together with them, the opposition. But in its further development the working-class movement outgrows the repressions, whose weapon becomes blunt, and, in conclusion, the laws directed against the working-class movement are abolished. Here we have an instance of a contradiction that first increases and then weakens, so that one of the parties finally wins. [45]

When one of the parties ‘wins’, the contradiction, far from increasing, is done away with. That is self-evident. The whole question is whether the contradiction grows weaker or, on the contrary, increases during the period immediately before the victory of one of the conflicting parties. To this question, Mr P Struve himself replies in the negative: in his own example, ‘opposition or resistance’ grows until the repressions prove powerless, that is, until the workers win. True, in his example, the abolition of such a law is preceded by a period during which ‘the weapon of repressions becomes blunt’. But the existence of such a period is mere supposition. Will Mr P Struve say that such a supposition is in full keeping with historical reality? If he says that it is, then we shall reply that the history of laws directed against workers’ associations argues against his supposition. Indeed, was the repeal of the laws against associations in Britain, that classical country of compromise, preceded by their less severe application? Not at all. The situation was quite different on the eve of their abolition. According to Howell, dissatisfaction with such laws was constantly mounting, leading to new repressive measures, and when legislation directed against associations in the proper sense of the word proved too weak an obstacle to the mounting torrent of the working-class movement, the government tried to sharpen its weapon by appealing to other laws, such as the Sedition Acts. [46] For their part, the workers grew ever more embittered until their indignation and the attentats [47] coming from their midst obliged the government to abolish the hated law. [48]

We learn exactly the same from the Webbs and from Kulemann, who, incidentally, merely repeats, in this case, what the former have said. [49]

The second example cited by our ‘critic’ is no more conclusive than the first one is. This example is concerned with the well-known German ‘Anti-Socialist Law of 1878’. [50] Mr P Struve points out that, with the growth of the working-class movement, that law was applied in ever weaker degree, and was finally abolished. ‘What is that: a growth or rather a weakening of resistance?’, our ‘critic’ asks.

To that question we shall reply with another one: what kind of resistance (Widerstände) is he referring to? If he has in view the imperial government’s resistance to the aspirations of the Social-Democrats, on the one hand, and of the resistance of the Social-Democrats to the strivings of the imperial government, on the other, then the less severe application of the law, followed by its abolition, did not in any way mean any weakening of such ‘resistance’, as has been well realised both by the Social-Democrats and the imperial government. The less severe application of the Anti-Socialist Law meant merely that the government had realised its purposelessness, the latter being the result of the socialists having acquired conspiratorial skill and learnt to evade the police snares. Having lost its raison d'être, the law, far from weakening worker dissatisfaction, made it greater, irritating the worker masses with its unbearable police badgering. Seeing that the results were the reverse of what had been expected, the imperial government found the further strict application and even the existence of the law awkward and unprofitable, so it was abolished. If we have now called its history to mind, it is to show how laws that have lost their raison d'être are abolished but not how social contradictions are ‘blunted’.

Everything said and done, unembellished history provides poor testimony in favour of Mr P Struve’s second formula. But if, nevertheless, he does engage in ‘criticising’ those who recognise as correct Hegel’s observation regarding contradictions that lead forward, he must have some serious cause for that. What can that cause be?

To this question, he himself replies with a frankness that is most praiseworthy:

I have already emphasised [he says] the circumstance that while social development takes place following the formula of the growth of opposites, a ‘social upheaval’ must of necessity take the form of political revolution. However, that idea, which underlies the celebrated theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, collapses together with the dialectical course of development. [51]

So that’s how it is. We are told that the crux of the matter lies in political revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. We shall place that on record!

An unflagging psychological urge to undermine the theoretical foundation of the celebrated theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat and political revolution, as necessary for the social emancipation of that class, has led the critic P Struve, on the threshold of the twentieth century, to base his objections to ‘orthodox’ Marxism on more than insufficient premises.

Under the influence of this unflagging psychological urge, Mr P Struve has ascribed to the Marxist theory of social development a content that is quite unlike what it has in reality; this ‘basic’ error of his has naturally brought in its train a number of others of greater or lesser significance. His incorrect understanding of Marxist theory has found reflection, in the mind of our ‘critic’, in the form of the ‘obscurity’ of the theory itself. Thus, he has discerned, as we learn, an unclarity to the effect that, in that theory, the productive forces and production relations of society are a kind of essences or ‘things’. Our ‘critic’ thinks that it is only due to such obscurity that one can speak of the contradiction: between all productive forces taken together, and all production relations taken together too, and to imagine the social revolution as a clash between those forces and those relations. We have also learnt from Mr P Struve that Marx’s socio-political world-outlook was marked by another obscurity: on the one hand, he held that view on the development of society through mounting contradictions, which is now defended by his ‘orthodox’ followers; on the other hand, he was inclined to a view on the development of society about which Mr P Struve’s ‘social’ policy now ‘revolves’, and which is expressed in the formula of a blunted contradiction. At the same time, the author of Capital was not cognisant of the incompatibility of such views.

Let us analyse the first ‘obscurity’.

In the present-day machine-shop, that is, at the factory, the labour of the proletarians working there assumes the nature of social labour, while the factory itself belongs to an individual or to individuals. The organisation of labour at the factory contradicts the social relations of production, namely, the property relations in present-day society. But what is the factory itself? Inasmuch as it is a sum of advanced implements of labour, it is a component of what we call social productive forces. Inasmuch as the totality of advanced implements of labour calls for a certain organisation of that labour, that is, certain relations among the producers, the factory is a social relation of production. [52] If that relation begins to contradict the property relations in capitalist society, if the factory no longer gets along with capital, then that means that a certain part of the social relations of production no longer corresponds to another part, and that the sentence ‘the productive forces of society contradict its property relations’ should be understood in that evolutionary sense which precludes any idea of those forces and those relations as certain independent essences. That is why it becomes impossible, indeed, to speak of a contradiction between the productive forces and all relations of production ‘taken together’. But who else but our ‘critic’ speaks of that? In any case, neither Karl Marx nor Frederick Engels have done that. [53]

Note that Mr P Struve, who has been speaking all the time of the contradiction between law and the economy, has nevertheless suddenly recollected that, in the Marxist theory, that contradiction is not the main driving force of social development, and has gone on to speak of the contradiction between the productive forces and the social relations of production. Mieux vaut tard que jamais! [54] On the other hand, this return to the genuine theoretical focus of Marx’s theory would be really worthwhile only if Mr P Struve went to the trouble of understanding Marx’s words before setting about ‘criticising’ them. However, understanding them is something he has not considered necessary.

Mr P Struve has unconsciously gone over from one incorrect understanding of Marx’s theory to another just as wrong; moreover, he has failed to notice that these two wrong modes of understanding are ‘incompatible’. Yet sometimes stirring in his mind is a vague consciousness that something is somehow out of joint. Then, to soothe his own theoretical conscience and to prevent his readers from raising objections, he lays the blame at another’s door and accuses Marx of that very ‘obscurity’ and that very blending of incompatible ideas which are the main feature of his own ‘criticism’. That kind of critical device will not satisfy all readers but it seems to be quite satisfactory to Mr P Struve himself. At least, somebody is pleased.

Let us take note of another circumstance.

Mr P Struve has just rebuked Marx for all productive forces, taken together, entering, in his theory, into contradiction with all social relations of production taken together too. But what did we hear from him a few pages back? Here it is:

Just think... production relations, which are becoming more and more socialist, engender a legal system that is becoming more and more capitalist. Far from engendering any mutual adaptation between them, the economy’s impact on law ever more increases the contradiction existing between them.

That was how – as Mr P Struve himself then puts it – the course of social development should present itself to those Marxists who recognise the dialectical law of development. But Marx himself recognised that law. Consequently, he too should have had the same idea of the course of social development. However, this idea does not in any way resemble the one we have just considered: there (in the idea we have just examined) the productive forces ever more contradict the production relations, which evidently play the part of a conservative element; here that conservative element turns into a progressive one: the production relations become ever more socialist, and the contradiction exists, not between the backward production relations and the advanced productive forces, but between the advanced production relations and the backward legal system (which ever more ‘becomes capitalist’). And all this, it is claimed, is after Marx! What is all this ... muddled thinking? Mr P Struve harps on one and the same thing: he is not at fault; it all sprang from muddling by Karl Marx, who held two incompatible views! But we can now already understand the meaning of this pretext, for we already know that this muddling comes, not from Marx, but from his ‘critic’, and we shall have no difficulty in revealing where and in what the latter has muddled things.

Mr P Struve, who has rebuked Marx for his productive forces, taken together, contradicting all the social relations of production, again taken together, has at the same time sensed that his rebuke was not quite well founded, and that, with Marx, the development of the productive forces is also accompanied by a change in the mutual relation among producers in the process of production. However, he did not know which relations of production undergo change parallel with the development of the productive forces, and which lag behind that development, their backwardness creating the need for a radical social upheaval – the social revolution. In his ignorance, he made use of that self-same clumsy device which he had ascribed to Marx: he took, ‘all together’, all the social relations of production, and declared that Marx and the Marxists thought that such relations were becoming more and more socialist, while the legal system was becoming more and more imbued with the spirit of capitalism. Of course, Marx and the ‘orthodox’ Marxists never maintained anything of the kind. However, the ‘fundamental’ absurdity ascribed to them, which directly ‘contradicts’ another ‘fundamental’ absurdity ascribed to them elsewhere by the same ‘critic’, is highly characteristic of the chaotic ideas reigning in Mr P Struve’s head regarding Marx’s theory of social development!


The extent of that chaos is indeed boundless. We do not feel equal to depicting it in all its glory: that would call for the pen of a Derzhavin, [55] but, to round off our characterisation, we shall make mention of one of the ‘obscurities’.

According to Mr P Struve, the concept of the sum of the production relations in a given society is overlapped, in Marx’s theory, by the concept of the totality of the concrete legal relations. For the reader to form his own judgement, we shall give two or three examples.

Example One: the mutual relations among producers in the modern machine-shop represent, as we have seen, social relations of production. These mutual relations in the process of production, however, do not comprise any legal relations among them. It is between them and their employer that such relations exist. But that is another story.

Example Two: value, according to Marx, is a social relation of production. The concept of value, however, is not overlapped by the concept of legal relations among people who enter into exchange deals with one another.

Example Three: competition is a production relation inherent in bourgeois society. It gives rise to many legal relations, but its concept is not at all overlapped by that of such legal relations.

Example Four: capital... but enough! The reader himself can now see that Mr P Struve is no end of a muddler. For our part, we shall only add that, in this instance, our ‘critic’ was drawn into his strange error by Stammler, whose influence he could not escape.

Let us now return to the focal point in the stand taken by our ‘critic’ – his arguments on the various formulas of social development.

We said at the outset that no ‘orthodox’ Marxist would agree to acknowledge the correctness of his first formula. Then, in our criticism of Mr P Struve, we insisted that social development takes place through an aggravation of contradictions, not through their blunting. Some readers may have taken this as a recognition of the correctness of that very formula which we declared erroneous. That is why we find it necessary to explain matters, while reminding the reader that Marx himself was not given to ‘formulas’ and, in his Poverty of Philosophy, bitingly ridiculed Proudhon for the latter’s predilection for them.

The reader will remember the ‘formula of contradiction’ drawn up by Mr P Struve.

2A 2B
3A 3B
4A 4B
5A 5B
6A 6B
... ...
nA nB

Whence has that A appeared? Whence B? Is A a cause of the existence of B? Is B a cause of the existence of A? All this is wrapped in mystery. From Mr P Struve we learn only that interaction exists between A and B, but that formula does not even express interaction: it merely points out that B grows in direct proportion to the growth of A. Mr P Struve has limited himself to this statement in the supposition that a formula that expresses the relation between the growth of B and that of A depicts with sufficient completeness the view held by the ‘orthodox’ Marxists regarding the course of social development:

Each of the two phenomena A and B grows through the accumulation of homogeneous elements [he says]. At the same time and as an outcome, the contradiction existing between them also grows, which is ultimately removed by the triumph of the stronger phenomenon: nA destroys nB.

But if nA destroys nB, that final outcome of the ‘interaction’ between the two phenomena should also have found its expression in Mr P Struve’s first formula. Yet, it does not express that outcome; its concluding nA nB merely indicates that B grows in direct proportion to the growth of A, but not that the growth of A brings about the destruction of B. Consequently, Mr P Struve’s formula should first of all be corrected as follows:

2A 2B
A 3B
... ...
nA nB
n [or rather: (n + x)]A 0B

Let us proceed further and see whether this slightly corrected formula is in keeping with the course of social development where the latter takes place through an aggravation of contradictions.

As an example, let us consider the social revolution that took place in France at the end of the eighteenth century and is known in history by the name of the Great French Revolution.

This social revolution utterly destroyed the ‘ancien régime’ and ushered in the full and immediate supremacy of the bourgeoisie. However, it was prepared by a lengthy process of social evolution which lasted for many centuries. The struggle waged by the third estate against the spiritual and temporal aristocracy began as early as the thirteenth century and, in a wide variety of forms, did not flag until 1789. [56] The bourgeoisie which, in that year, engaged historical enemies in decisive battle, had been, as is so well pointed out in the Communist Manifesto, created by a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange. Each new step in its economic might was accompanied by certain political (that is, legal) gains. Anyone who thinks that the feudal regime remained unchanged throughout its existence is greatly in error. The victories scored by the advancing bourgeoisie were constantly modifying the feudal social structure, into which they were constantly bringing various more or less significant reforms. It might have been thought that these reforms should have ‘blunted’ the contradictions existing within feudal society, and thereby prepared the peaceful, gradual and almost imperceptible triumph of the new order. As is common knowledge, matters developed in another way. The reforms the bourgeoisie were able to achieve, far from ‘blunting’ the contradictions between its innovatory aspirations and the old social order, gave a fresh impetus to the growth of its forces, encouraged those aspirations still more and thereby aggravated these contradictions even more, gradually preparing the social storm with the onset of which it was no longer a matter of reform but of revolution, not of changes within the old order but of its complete elimination. [57] That was why the third estate’s hatred for the ancien régime was far stronger on the eve of the revolution than ever before. [58] As Tocqueville pointed out, the preceding demolition of part of the feudal institutions made the remaining part a hundred times more hateful. [59] This remark is apt in the measure in which it contains the truth that concessions made by the old to the new in no way ‘blunt’ the contradiction between the old and the new. But it is wrong, inasmuch as Tocqueville is out to say that the feudal yoke on the eve of the revolution in France was lighter than ever before. The abolition of part of the feudal institutions did not yet mean any easing of the feudal yoke: the rapid growth of the new social requirements could – and, as we see did – make the surviving part still more injurious to the social advance, and therefore even more oppressive and more hated than the entire feudal system had previously been. [60] Besides, even under the old order, there had been different kinds of institutions. Tocqueville himself admits that, with the passage of time, the privileges separating the nobility from the bourgeoisie in France, far from decreasing, had actually grown greater. [61] As he puts it, a man of the middle class had found it easier to become a nobleman in the reign of Louis XIV than under Louis XVI. He goes on to say that, in general, the more the French nobility turned into a caste, the more it ceased from being an aristocracy. [62] All this has been fully borne out by other historians. Thus, Doniol has pointed out that on the eve of the Revolution there was general complaint against the growth of feudal oppression. ‘Each locality complains of a considerable growth [of feudal oppression] and tries to back its complaint with facts.’ [63] Just as categorically, Alfred Rambaud has expressed the thought that the reforms extracted by the bourgeoisie from the aristocracy did not weaken the oppressiveness of the old order:

While the ancien régime tried to amend certain of its shortcomings [this researcher says], it seemed to have gone to pains to aggravate all its vices. It was a time [immediately preceding the Revolution] when the edicts of 1779, 1781 and 1788 excluded all members of the third estate (roturiers) from commissions on the army; when the Royal Court, which did not dare publish an edict on this question, made it a rule of conduct that in future ‘all ecclesiastical benefits, from the most modest priory to the richest abbeys, should be appanages of the nobility'; when the parliaments refused to admit into their midst any magistrate who could not prove two generations of gentility, and when the Bordeaux Parliament for two years refused to install Councillor Dupaty as its President. As the higher courts were in the hands of the nobles, the roturiers and the rural communities lost all the cases they had brought against the pretensions of the seigneurie; this led to a recrudescence of feudalism in the countryside. The Royal Government... favoured any persecution launched by the landowners and the land commissars against the peasants. In certain of their petitions of 1789, the roturiers expressed the wish that the half of the parliaments should be composed of non-nobles; they were to win the guarantees the Huguenots had tried to win during the reign of Henri IV. The all-pervading spirit of reaction made itself universally felt both in the decree of the Paris Parliament, which condemned Boncerf’s book on feudal privileges to be burnt (1776), and in the banning of the use of scythes in the harvesting of wheat, as well as in the decree of 1784 which demanded that all scarves made in the French kingdom should be the same in length as in width. Finally, the royal authority itself, which had stripped parliament of any right of control over legislation and finances and forcibly dissolved the Assemblies in 1788, was out to establish what had never before existed in France – a regime of unrestricted arbitrariness. It was becoming more despotic than the government of Louis XIV at a time when it had become evident to all that it was incapable of using its authority for the common weal. [64]

As opposed to the French scholars we have just quoted from, the Russian savant MM Kovalevsky has roundly condemned the use of the term feudalism as applied to the socio-economic structure of eighteenth-century France. ‘Nothing gives a falser idea of the economic and social order in France’, he says, ‘than calling them feudal. The term is applicable to them just as little, for instance, as to the Russian landed-estate system on the eve of 1861.’ [65] But it will suffice to read the chapter (the second in Volume One), from which we have taken the lines quoted here, to see the measure in which French agriculture and the French agricultural class suffered from the survival of a system which Mr Kovalevsky himself calls feudal. Besides, Mr M Kovalevsky, in full agreement with the French historians we have quoted, has noted that on the eve of the Revolution both the nobility and the royal authorities themselves did everything in their power to maintain the surviving feudal institutions and to fortify their practical significance. ‘The quarter century prior to the Revolution’, he writes, ‘presents to us a number of attempts to restore disused obligations and payments.’ [66] Again in full agreement with Tocqueville and Doniol, he says that the French government of the time artificially fostered the caste spirit and caste exclusiveness through its legislation. [67]

In a word, this book by a Russian researcher, like the writings of his precursors abroad, testifies to the times immediately preceding the French Revolution being marked, not by a blunting but, on the contrary, by a very sharp aggravation of the contradictions between the old order and the new social needs. But both Mr M Kovalevsky and the French historians have shown that this aggravation of contradictions was itself the complex outcome of a lengthy historical process during which the old order was evermore crumbling away, its defenders forfeiting one position after another. What follows from this indisputable historical truth is, first, that the victories gained by the innovators over the conservatives and leading to reforms do not preclude revolution but, on the contrary, bring it closer, evoking in the conservatives reactionary strivings natural in such cases, and, in the innovators, a thirst for ever new conquests. If we would depict, in a single formula, this historical process, in which revolution is a moment of evolution and is prepared by reforms, [68] we shall need something more complex than the ‘formula of contradictions’ proposed by Mr P Struve. We know of no formula that is capable of giving any satisfactory expression to this multilateral process. However, on the basis of everything we have said on the course of the struggle waged by the third estate against the ancien régime, we can speak of the need of essential amendments to Mr P Struve’s first formula.

If a lengthy historical development of elements in a new society is marked by the victories of the innovators and the defeats of the conservatives, then the formula we have referred to must certainly very definitely indicate this highly important circumstance. Yet, we have not found a hint of that there. On the contrary, it says that the growth of A is invariably accompanied by the directly proportional growth of B, right up to the moment at which nA destroys nB. To express the actual course of things, it must be changed, in the first place, as follows:

A nB
2A (n – 1) B
3A (n – x) B
... ...
nA B
mA ½B

Here the first row should express the constant development of new social needs, and the second the no less constant modifications in the old order, the concessions exacted from the conservatives by the innovators. But since these concessions do not, as we already know, preclude any aggravation of the contradictions between the old and the new, then to the two rows we already have there should be added a third one, which expresses the result of the interaction between constantly growing A and (in general, that is, despite the temporary successes of the reactionaries) the just as constantly decreasing B. By adding this third row we get:

A nB C
2A (n – 1) B 2C
3A (n – x) B 3C
... ...
nA B nC
mA ½B mC

However far this new formula is removed from the ideal, that is, from what should give complete expression to actual development through the aggravation of contradictions, it is, nevertheless, far closer to reality than Mr P Struve’s first formula. Its advantage lies in one-sidedness being alien to it, and that in it, as in real life, reforms do not preclude revolution. On the contrary, it shows that the possibility of revolution, far from being precluded, is created by reforms: what a near-sighted or prejudiced glance may take for a ‘blunting’ of contradictions is in actual fact a source of their aggravation.


In our opinion, we repeat, the actual course of the historical development of human societies cannot be expressed with due completeness by any single ‘formula’. It is, however, for that very reason that it may prove very useful to make another attempt to give schematic expression to that course.

We shall ask the reader to take note of the following excerpt, for the length of which we apologise most sincerely in advance:

It is slowly and only through arduous struggle that the ruling order develops, under which people live and work. After a lengthy struggle, frequent setbacks, erroneous attempts and insistent efforts to move forward, an order is ultimately set up which, on the basis of past experience, meets present needs, and under the protection of which the individual forces will develop with the greatest advantage for the weal of society. But as soon as so favourable a situation is established, there appear new needs, previously unprovided for. There appears a striving to modify the existent and gradually to alter it. To outweigh this striving there develops, on the other hand, a one-sided desire to preserve the old order of things in its entirety. The forms established with a view to the public good are obstinately clutched at, towards the end, by private and selfish interests. In the long run, the preservation of the old and unchanged forms is demanded only by false interests that do not understand the significance such forms once possessed. In conclusion, there often remains a single naked form, wholly unviable, next to which the new and fresh life finds expression in completely new forms, until the day comes when the old form is utterly destroyed, even in its external manifestations. [69]

Here we have before us something that also resembles a formula of social progress, the correctness of which will, we hope, not be denied even by the most indefatigable ‘critic'; definite social needs engender definite forms of everyday life that are necessary for society’s further advance. However, that advance, which has become possible thanks to the given forms of everyday life, gives rise to new social needs that are no longer in keeping with the old forms of everyday life created by the former needs. Thus, there arises a contradiction which grows more and more under the influence of the continuing social advance and ultimately leads to the old forms of everyday life once created by society’s burning needs losing all useful content. They are then abolished after a more or less lengthy struggle, and yield place to new ones.

This (objective) ‘formula of progress’ expresses, as the reader will see, the mutual relation (the ‘interaction’) between content and form. The content is the social needs, which have to be met; social institutions are the form. Content engenders form, thereby ensuring itself further development. The latter, however, renders its form unsatisfactory; a contradiction arises; contradiction leads to struggle, and struggle, to the destruction of the old form and its replacement by a new one, which, in its turn, ensures the further development of content, that makes the form unsatisfactory, and so on and so forth, until development comes to a standstill. This is that very law of which the late Nikolai Chernyshevsky spoke in the following eloquent words:

An eternal change of forms; an eternal denial of form as engendered by a certain content or striving; in consequence of the increase of that striving, a higher development of the same content! Whoever has understood this great, eternal and universal law, whoever has learnt to apply it to any phenomenon – O, how calmly will he greet opportunities that others will eschew! Repeating after the poet – Ich hab ‘meinSach auf Nichts gestellt / Und mir gehört die ganze Welt, [70] – he will not regret anything that has outlived its time, and will say: ‘Happen what may, our day will come.’ [71]

This great law of the denial of form as engendered by certain content in consequence of the further growth of that content is indeed a universal law, because subordinate to it is the development, not only of social but also of organic life. [72] It is indeed eternal in the sense that its operation will cease only when all development comes to an end. But this great, universal and eternal law is at the same time that ‘formula of contradictions’ which, probably better than all the others, expresses Marx’s view of the course of social development.

Here is what we read in Part 2 of Volume Three of Capital:

To the extent that the labour-process is solely a process between Man and Nature, its simple elements remain common to all social forms of development. But each specific historical form of this process further develops its material foundations and social forms. Whenever a certain stage of maturity has been reached, the specific historical form is discarded and makes way for a higher one. The moment of arrival of such a crisis is disclosed by the depth and breadth attained by the contradictions and antagonisms between the distribution relations, and thus the specific historical form of their corresponding production relations, on the one hand, and the productive forces... on the other hand. A conflict then ensues between the material development of production and its social form. [73]

Social man’s productive impact on Nature, and the growth of the productive forces involved in that impact – such is the content; society’s economic structure, its property relations provide the form, engendered by a given content (the particular degree in the ‘development of material production’) and rejected in consequence of the further development of that content. Once it has arisen, the contradiction between form and content is not ‘blunted’ but increases, thanks to the continuous growth of the content, which far outstrips the ability of the old form to change in keeping with the new needs. Thus a moment arrives sooner or later when the elimination of the old form and its replacement by a new one becomes necessary. Such is the meaning of the Marxist theory of social development.

Whoever has realised this perfectly clear and at the same time most profound meaning has also understood the revolutionary significance of Marxist dialectics in its application to social questions:

In its mystified form, dialectic became the fashion in Germany, because it seemed to transfigure and to glorify the existing state of things. In its rational form it is a scandal and abomination to bourgeoisdom and its doctrinaire professors, because it includes in its comprehension and affirmative recognition of the existing state of things, at the same time also, the recognition of the negation of that state, of its inevitable breaking up; because it regards every historically developed social form as in fluid movement, and therefore takes into account its transient nature not less than its momentary existence; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and is in its essence critical and revolutionary. [74]

Adopt the viewpoint of Marx’s dialectics, dear reader, and you will see how desperately feeble and how ridiculously clumsy are the efforts of those ‘critics’ who are trying so hard to bring into Marx’s coherent theory a certain ‘blunting’ element so dear to their hearts! Then you will not be embarrassed by the numerous and often amazing ‘obscurities’ these esteemed gentlemen attempt to introduce into the interpretation of Marx’s theory. And if you finally lose all patience, and words of irritation burst from your lips, then it will not at all be because the imaginary force of their puerile arguments has irritated you, but because you will find impermissible and scandalous the claim some of them make to considering and calling themselves Marxists. We fully understand that so ridiculous a claim merits the most severe condemnation, so we shall not at all be surprised if you exclaim in your impatience: ‘For heaven’s sake, Messieurs the critics! What kind of Marxists are you?! Marx has sown dragons, while you are only... you are only... well, in a word, you are organisms of quite a different calibre!’

In our next article we shall see how unsuccessfully Mr P Struve, basing himself on ‘critical’ philosophy, ‘criticises’ Marx’s concept of social revolution. In it we shall get acquainted with his argumentation, which is levelled against what Messieurs the critics call Marx’s theory of the impoverishment of the proletariat, and comes out in defence of the theory of the blunting of the contradictions existing in capitalist society, which has long been put forward by the bourgeois apologists.

Article Two

Mr P Struve is neither the first nor the last forerunner of the theory of the ‘blunting’ of contradictions between the interests of the proletariat and those of the bourgeoisie. This theory had many adherents prior to Mr Struve, and there will be still more after him, since it is spreading extremely rapidly in the educated stratum of the petty bourgeoisie, that is, that class whose very position has doomed it to vacillation between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. It deserves the closest consideration for the very reason that it is spreading so rapidly, trying to pass itself off as the most up-to-date and also ‘critical’ socialism, which has come to take the place of the allegedly outmoded socialism of Marx and his ‘dogmatic’ followers. Whoever wants to combat that theory should know both its theoretical genealogy and its present value. For that reason, the reader will feel no surprise if we leave our ‘critic’ for a while so as to get a closer knowledge of his precursors and his still extant and more or less distant kinsmen.


The price of labour power and surplus value are in inverse ratio to each other. The dearer labour power is sold, the lower the rate of surplus value, and vice versa. The interests of the seller of labour power are diametrically opposed to those of its buyer. Taken in its essence, this contradiction can be neither removed nor ‘blunted’ until the buying and selling of labour ends, that is, until the capitalist mode of production is eliminated. However, the terms under which the buying and selling of labour power are effected can change in one direction or another. If they change to the advantage of the sellers, the price of labour power rises and the working class receives, in the form of wages, a greater share of the value created by its labour than before. This, in its turn, leads to an improvement of its social position and a decrease in the distance between the exploited proletariat and the capitalists, who exploit it. If the terms on which labour power is sold change to the advantage of its buyers, then its price falls, and the working class gets a smaller part of the value created by its labour than before. This is inevitably followed by a deterioration in the proletariat’s social position and a greater distance between it and the bourgeoisie. In the first instance, we seem to have a right to speak of a blunting of the contradiction, if not between the workers and the employers, then at least between the interests of the worker, on the one hand, and the existence of the capitalist system, on the other. In fact, this will only seem to be a right; we have already seen, in our first article, that the improvement in the French bourgeoisie’s social condition, far from blunting the contradiction between its interests and those of the ancien régime, made it more and more acute. Nevertheless, those who are afraid of the proletariat’s revolutionary movement have always been prone to think that gradual improvement in the life of the working class is able to avert the danger and rid society of stormy convulsions. That is why people of this category try to assure themselves and others (and sometimes only others) that, with the development of capitalism, the proletariat’s condition improves, and with the passage of time it comes closer to the bourgeoisie than it stood at the beginning. It must be recognised that their conservative instinct prompts in them a consideration that is not quite erroneous: while a decrease in the distance between the exploiters and the exploited is by no means sufficient to prevent a revolutionary explosion, an increase in that distance already holds out to the esteemed conservatives no other prospect but the rapid spread of the ‘dogmata’ of revolutionary Social-Democracy among the workers.

But what do we see in reality? In what direction do the conditions of the sale of labour power change with the consolidation and development of the capitalist system?

This is a question that vulgar political economy has long been engaged in: it has brought forward a phalanx of ‘scholars’ who are bending every effort to prove that the conditions of the sale of labour power are changing ever more to the advantage of the proletariat, which is getting an ever greater share of the national income. Henry Charles Carey, the well-known US economist, lucidly formulated this theory as far back as 1838. [75] It was borrowed from Carey by the notorious Bastiat, whose arguments we must study a little more closely.

In his Harmonies économiques, Bastiat assures us that, in its justice and goodness, Providence has prepared a better part for Labour than for Capital. [76] This pleasant thought is based on the following ‘unshakeable axiom’:

In proportion to the increase of capital, the absolute share of the total product falling to the capitalist is augmented, but his relative share is diminished; while, on the contrary, the share of labourer is increased both absolutely and relatively.

To make this ‘axiom’ clearer, Bastiat provides a table, which is quite identical with the one we meet in Carey’s Principles of Social Science:

 Total productShare of capitalShare of labour
First period1000500500
Second period20008001200
Third period300010501950
Fourth period400012002800

Such is the grand, admirable, consoling, necessary and inflexible law of capital [Bastiat exclaims rapturously]. To demonstrate that means, it would seem, completely discrediting these declamations... against the greed and the tyranny of the most powerful instrument of civilisation and egalisation that has emerged from the human faculties. [77]

The reader will see for himself that it would be most pleasing to prove so admirable and consoling a law but, to his regret, he will have to acknowledge that Bastiat’s proofs lack conviction. All his arguments consist in the indication that the percentage accompanying the industrial development of civilised countries is falling. Anyone with the most modest acquaintance with political economy understands that this proof is more than feeble. However, this ‘brilliant French economist’ lacks the time to dwell on proofs. He hastens to go over to the admirable and consoling conclusions that emerge from his admirable and consoling law:

Cease, capitalists and workers [he vociferates], to regard each other with an eye of defiance and envy! Close your ears to these absurd declamations, whose arrogance is matched only by their ignorance and which, under a promise of prospective philanthropy, begin by encouraging the present discord. Acknowledge that your interests are common and identical, that they converge towards the achievement of the common weal [etc, etc]. [78]

This sentimental tirade leaves no room for the least doubt as to why Bastiat has needed the necessary and inflexible law he has borrowed from Carey (without indicating the source): reference to that law would have the aim of reconciling the workers with the capitalists and undermining the influence of socialism.


Julian Kautz considers Bastiat one of the most outstanding minds engaged during recent years in a study of political economy. [79] One cannot agree with this appraisal. Bastiat undoubtedly possessed the ability of clear and perhaps even brilliant exposition, but his thoughts were always so superficial and his arguments so feeble that he cannot be considered a brilliant man of science. He was nothing more than a brilliant advocate of capitalist exploitation. It is his outstanding defence of that exploitation that has ensured him a strong, and lengthy influence on very many friends of ‘social peace’. It is in this sense – and only in this – that Julian Kautz is right in calling Bastiat’s work important and fruitful. [80] Bastiat’s influence on the economists of the more or less conservative trend has always been far stronger than is thought by many of those who are amazed by his admirable but hardly consoling superficiality, even if the latter is necessary in a way. Luigi Cossa has remarked that the influence of the healthy part of Bastiat’s ideas has found expression, not so much in the works of his pupils as in the overall trend of the majority of our contemporary French economists, as well as of a considerable part of their German and Italian counterparts. [81] By ‘healthy part’ Cossa understands ‘a rebuttal of the sophistry of the Protectionists and the Socialists’. We have already seen that, with Bastiat, all refutation of socialist ‘sophistries’ rests on a flimsy foundation. But that is not the crux of the matter. Cossa is right when he says that Bastiat’s overall trend continues to live on in the writings of very many economists in various countries. A particularly strong and deep impression was produced by his ‘admirable’ and ‘necessary’ law of the distribution of products between the workers and the capitalists. It is noteworthy that the ‘discovery’ of this law has been ascribed to Bastiat even in the homeland of Carey himself, from whom the French economist undoubtedly borrowed both the law and its exposition. For instance, the eminent American statistician Edward Atkinson has frankly stated that though he has had, in general, little time ‘for the reading of books or the consideration of theories of wages’, [82] he thinks that Bastiat was the first to found a correct theory of the relations between the interests of the workers and the employers:

Many years ago [he says], a single phrase in Bastiat’s Harmonies économiques became engraved upon my mind, and by its application I have been enabled to observe the phenomena of wages in the course of my business life with much clearer insight. It is this: ‘In proportion to the increase of capital, the absolute share of the total product falling to the capitalist is augmented, but his relative share is diminished; while, on the contrary, the share of labourer is increased both absolutely and relatively.’ [83]

Atkinson has borrowed this passage as an epigraph to his essay ‘What Makes the Rate of Wages’, and, inspired by Bastiat, he has, on the basis of certain data referring to the American iron and steel industry, drawn up a table which, as he puts it, can even be called ‘an indicator of progress from poverty of the workman and progress toward poverty of the capitalist’. [84] In this new wording, Bastiat’s admirable law sheds a considerable part of its consoling nature by arousing in the reader excessively gloomy misgivings regarding the future fate of the capitalists in capitalist society. However, the dispassionate scholars, with their ignorance of everything except the interests of pure science, and without being embarrassed by compassion for the poor capitalists, willingly quote from Atkinson’s book. Thus we meet with frequent references to it in the book by Professor Schultze-Gävernitz, Large-Scale Production, which, according to Mr P Struve, is ‘perhaps the most thorough monographical study of the social history of British industry’. [85] This ‘thorough study’ of the economics of the British cotton industry has led Schultze-Gävernitz to the conviction that although the increase in the overall national product gives to the share of labour and capital as absolutely greater quantities, the participation of capital therein diminishes relatively, while the participation of labour increases relatively. ‘Labour receives an ever greater share of the entire national product’, says Schultze-Gävernitz. ‘It is beginning more and more to get what is left after the payment of the shares of interest and profits.’ [86] This is the self-same consoling law of Carey – Bastiat, and it is strange that Mr P Struve has failed, or not wished, to note this in his preface – in general very poorly reasoned – to Schultze-Gävernitz’s book. It is also useless to add that the admirable and consoling law of distribution has led our grave German to the same gratifying conclusions that it once led the frivolous Frenchman to.

The social consequences of the process we have described has consisted in an equalising of opposites in property [Schultze-Gävernitz assures us], without making the wealthy richer or the indigent poorer, it leads to the reverse, as has been statistically proved in respect of Britain. [87]

Hence it is very simple to arrive at the inference on ‘social peace’, to which Herr Professor had already dedicated a separate two-volume work of research. [88]

Herr Schultze-Gävernitz considers it the more necessary to draw his readers’ attention to the consoling conclusions he has arrived at because, in his words, the fact of the growing distance between the rich and the poor in the sense attached to it by Marx and Engels is recognised even in circles which in general, come out as decisive opponents of Marxism. [89] But in this, he almost falls into exaggeration. As far as we know, circles hostile to Marxism are ever more becoming imbued with the consoling consciousness of the incontestability and the ‘necessity’ of the Carey – Bastiat law. Practically every self-respecting bourgeois scholar is more than glad if he has any opportunity – in any piece of ‘scientific’ research – to expatiate on the narrowing gap between rich and poor. The ‘blunting’ of the contradiction between the capitalists and the workers is now a theme very much in vogue in bourgeois economic literature.


According to Schultze-Gävernitz, the decrease in the distance between the rich and the poor in Britain was proved by that country’s ‘leading statistician’ Robert Giffen, in an address ‘The Increase of Moderate Incomes’, supposed to have been given at a meeting of the Royal Statistical Society in December 1887. Schultze-Gävernitz made reference to this address both in his Zum sozialen Frieden (Volume 2, p 490) and in his book on large-scale production (page 229 in the Russian translation). But he was mistaken in ascribing it to Giffen. In fact, the address was really given at the meeting mentioned by Schultze-Gävernitz, but it was delivered by Goschen. [90] This circumstance, of course, in no way impairs the value of the speech itself, but Goschen should not be deprived of the laurels he deserved, which should not be presented to Giffen even by mistake. Suum cuique! [91]

The speech on the increase in moderate incomes seemed convincing to many others besides Schultze-Gävernitz. After its delivery (6 December 1887), Collet, Governor of the Bank of England, expressed warm thanks to the speaker for his having shown the degree in which the hackneyed prattle on the constantly growing enrichment of the wealthy and impoverishment of the poor was contrary to the truth:

Nothing was more valuable in these days of visionary theories and excited propositions for the distribution of wealth [said the esteemed Governor] than to have it shown in a manner so perspicuous and indisputable, that the distribution which is so ardently called for, is in fact already in active although silent operation, through the regular action of economic laws... [92]

However, Mr Collet’s opinion may be considered insufficiently authoritative. Some sceptic may suppose that, like Edward Atkinson, the Governor of the Bank of England did not have enough time for a study of economic theory, a knowledge of which is, after all, necessary for a correct understanding of statistical data. That is why we shall also mention a well-known German economist, Gustav Schmoller, who, while regarding the writings of a ‘leading British statistician’ – viz, Giffen – with a dash of scepticism, yet finds that Goschen’s conclusions are based on an objective and convincing analysis of reality. [93] It would therefore be useful to take a closer look at what the British Chancellor of the Exchequer had to say.

Goschen was in full agreement with Collet in his view on the great social significance of the data he had adduced:

I do not know [he told his audience] whether the statistics I have brought before you will to any extent have caused the same impression in your minds that they have made on mine. To me it seems that, while some people are crying out for the artificial reconstruction of society, a sort of silent socialism is actually in progress. There is a silent movement towards the further distribution of wealth over a larger area, which from whatever point of view it is regarded seems to me to be a matter for national congratulation. No violent specifics have been applied to produce it. The steady working of economic laws, under a system of commercial and industrial freedom, is bringing about the result I have described... And the best of this automatic socialism is that it appears to operate even in a time of depression. Despite the complaint of absence of profit and of bad times generally; despite want of work and the irregularity in the employment even of those who have work, the great central body of society is strengthening its economic position. [94]

The reader will see that both Goschen and his audience were under the influence of the ‘cries for the artificial reconstruction of society’. Indeed, such outcries were very loud in Britain at the time Goschen delivered his speech, a time of industrial stagnation and unemployment, which led to disturbances among the workers. Meetings of unemployed were held in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester, Yarmouth and elsewhere, with incendiary speeches being made. There were some who thought then that Britain was on the eve of social revolution. Some people, says Sidney Webb, even specified the time of the forthcoming revolution: 1889, the hundredth anniversary of the Great French Revolution. [95] This foment in minds could be soothing neither to the ministers nor to the upper classes in general, so it should be admitted that Goschen was speaking at a time when the conditions hardly favoured ‘objective research’ into economic phenomena. It is also well known, however, that love of truth sometimes gains the upper hand over formidable external obstacles. Though Goschen probably found it very hard to preserve his moral calm and scientific impartiality, this does not yet mean that he had to get worked up and see Britain’s economic development through the prism of his class prejudices. Who knows? Perhaps the ‘automatic socialism’ discovered by him is indeed penetrating more and more into British social life? The question however is: on what actual foundation did the British minister’s confidence in the slow, silent but steady development of that socialism rest?

The actual foundation of that confidence was the following: the statistics told him that, in 1875, the number of (physical and juridical) persons registered under Schedule D [96] and in receipt of incomes of between £150 and £1000 reached 317,839, while in 1886 the number increased to 379,004, that is, went up by 19.26 per cent. During the same period, the number of persons with incomes of £1000 or more fell from 22,848 (1877) to 22,298 (1886), a fall of 2.4 per cent. A more detailed analysis of the statistics enabled Goschen to draw up the following table:

 18771886Per cent increase or decrease
Between £150 and £500285,754347,021+21.4
Between £500 and £100032,08532,033nil
Between £1000 and £500019,72619,250 – 2.5
Over £50003,1223,048 – 2.3

Hence Goschen concluded that:

... during ordinary times, and during times of depression, during times such as we have recently gone through and which certainly have not been times of great prosperity, there has yet been a most satisfactory and steady increase in the number of incomes below £1000.

But under Schedule D, British income tax statistics do not register all those who can be referred to the middle class. Quite a number of such persons also register under Schedule E, which includes, besides officials in the public service, also persons employed privately or with companies. The number of persons under this schedule rose from 78,224 to 115,964 during the decade under review. In Goschen’s opinion, this growth also testified to the strengthening of the economic position of ‘the great central body of society’, that is, the middle class.

These figures are no doubt interesting on the theoretical plane, but they do not in any way have the significance ascribed to them by Goschen.

In the first place, as already pointed out by Mr Isayev, the data for the decade 1877-86 showed a fall in the number of big incomes:

The sharp fall in the prices of all commodities; the lower profits of all enterprises to half of the average level, or less; the vast number of bankruptcies (up to 1877, an average of 8500 bankruptcies per year; between 1877 and 1884 – over 12,000) – all these led to a large number of wealthy persons with incomes of between £1000 and £2000 in the mid-1870s receiving hardly more than £500 to £1000, while those with incomes of over £500 descended to a lower group, that is, of those with incomes of between £150 and £500. [97]

How the industrial depression affected the growth of Britain’s national wealth is shown by the following figures: in the years between 1865 and 1875, Britain’s aggregate capital rose from £6113 million to £8548 million, that is, a 40 per cent increase; in the years between 1875 and 1885, it rose from £8500 million to £10,037 million, that is, increased only by 17.5 per cent. [98]

It will readily be understood that the slower rate of capital accumulation was caused by a fall in the level of profits during the industrial depression. This fall in the level of profits was alone sufficient to transfer income-tax payers from higher schedules to lower ones. But it is noteworthy that the lower level of profits was far from the same in various kinds of enterprises. It was felt with special force in industrial enterprises and was far weaker in those unrelated directly to industry. Thus, retailers had very few complaints to make. Low losses were also incurred by those who had invested their capital abroad, for instance in foreign loans and the like. One of the members of the Commission appointed to inquire into the depression of industry pointed out [99] that British capital investments abroad were one of the causes of a phenomenon that appeared strange at first glance, namely, that the total sum of taxable incomes had grown, despite the business depression. Since the growth of this overall sum was nevertheless accompanied by a fall in big incomes, it was to be surmised that capital of relatively smaller size had been invested in trading concerns both within the country and abroad. Such was the opinion of the minority on the Commission. The great increase in the number of low incomes and a fall in a number of large incomes under Schedule D probably took place in considerable measure because industry, to which large enterprises with big capital belong, did not produce incomes, while trade, especially retail trade, the greater part of which is conducted with small capital, yielded profits. [100]

In view of these considerations alone, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer’s ‘automatic socialism’ loses a considerable part of its ‘admirable’ and ‘consoling’ qualities. But it seems even more pitiful to us if we remember that another cause of the growth in the total of taxable incomes (Schedule D) was simply more thorough governmental assessment of private incomes. The majority of the Commission were in full agreement with the minority in indicating this cause, but while the majority did not ask themselves how it had affected the number of registered persons with ‘moderate’ incomes, the minority pointed out with good reason that it should have increased that number as a result of the income-taxing of many new taxpayers of modest means, who had previously had no difficulty in declining the honour. [101]

Thus, the actual foundation of the gratifying conclusions drawn by Goschen is quite groundless. Just as groundless, of course, is the gratifying conviction of those friends of ‘social peace’ who think that Goschen has proved the narrowing of the distance between poor and rich.

We would ask the reader also to note the following. Goschen had high praise for the concluding report, quoted by us, which studied the causes of the depression in industry, and voiced regret that the conclusions it had arrived at did not attract due attention from the reading public. [102] It might have been thought that he himself had made a thorough study of those conclusions and conveyed them to his audience in all their fullness and variety. In fact, however, the reverse was true. So trifling was his attitude to the report in question, that he found it possible unreservedly to make use of statistics concerning which the Commission minority had stated forthright that their significance was not what it had seemed at first sight and was ascribed to them by Goschen himself shortly after the publication of the Final Report. The ‘worthy’ speaker found it discreet to make no mention of this statement of the minority in his speech, so firm and inflexible was his ‘objectivity’.

Goschen wished to hearten his audience, who were under the strong impression of the workers’ disturbances; clutching at the first figures that had come to hand, he began to set forth to them, in a new version, the very theory that had previously been brought forward by Carey, Bastiat and similar apologists of capitalism. The delighted listeners thanked the speaker in most heartfelt fashion. Continental scholars like Schmoller and Schultze-Gävernitz were overjoyed too. These ‘objective’ men of science were not concerned with any critical verification of the arguments brought forward by the British Minister, for they, too, were delighted to hear that the admirable and consoling Bastiat law could be backed by new data. Since Goschen’s reasoning was met respectfully by Schmoller, Schultze-Gävernitz and other ‘scholars’, the ‘critics’ of Marxism had no other choice than to proclaim from the houses that social contradictions had been blunted as a result of the ‘growth of moderate incomes’. Our ‘critics’ do not at all engage in criticising bourgeois scholars; they specialise in ‘criticising’ Marx alone.


Goschen himself was aware that the data his report was based on in respect of the successes of ‘automatic socialism’ were lacking in proof, which was why he tried to back them with the aid of indirect considerations. We shall learn of one of the latter when we deal with the condition of the working class in Britain; we shall now consider some of the rest:

Year by year [says Goschen], it would seem, a larger number of persons are becoming shareholders in companies, and thus participating in the wealth which arises from the vast industrial and commercial activity of the country... [103]

Taken up by Schultze-Gävernitz and other adherents of ‘social peace’, this consideration, as is common knowledge, produced a profound impression on some socialists. Thus, Herr Bernstein came to the conclusion that ‘the form taken by the joint-stock company has considerably countered the trend towards the centralisation of capital through the centralisation of production’. He thinks that:

... if economists opposed to socialism have used this fact with the aim of embellishing the present social relations, it does not follow that socialists should conceal or deny the fact. It is more a question of admitting its actual significance and spread. [104]

To conceal the facts or to deny their existence when they have been proved is, of course, quite ridiculous and absolutely absurd. But facts are one thing and their social significance is something else. The social significance of the fact indicated by Herr Bernstein who follows in the footsteps of Goschen and Schultze-Gävernitz, can be understood in a variety of ways. Bourgeois scholars and Herr Bernstein, who is trailing behind them, have not noticed that the spread of joint-stock companies may be – and indeed is – a new factor in the centralising of property and the growth of the distance between the poor and the rich. We shall illustrate our thought with an example taken from the economic history of the same period that is dealt with in Goschen’s speech.

It is common knowledge that the increase in the number of joint-stock companies in Britain was greatly facilitated by the Limited Liability Acts. By the time the Commission appointed to study the causes of the depression in industry had begun its deliberations, the economic consequences of the new laws had made themselves felt with sufficient clarity. Let us see what the Commission had to say about them.

According to the majority of its members, limited liability led to a less cautious and more speculative management of enterprises than that to which the entrepreneur may have been inclined when he was fully liable for his operations. In consequence, limited liability in production led to a fall in profits under which the ordinary entrepreneur would have felt obliged to curtail its extent. Even the loss of capital caused by the failure of a considerable number of such companies did not exert the influence that might have been expected in the sense of a reduction in their operations, since the losses were spread over a larger number of persons and were therefore less felt. Moreover, on the wreckage of enterprises that had foundered there are constantly arising new ones which, after the purchase of the property of old ones for a song, are able to conduct production on the former scale. [105]

The minority members were in full agreement, in this case, with the majority. In their opinion, limited liability had led to the appearance of a special class of promoters who, taking advantage of the inexperience and defencelessness of owners of small sums of money, floated enterprises with the exclusive purpose of selling off their own shares at the first opportunity, without the least concern for the fate of the companies they had launched. [106]

We do not think that this kind of ‘automatic socialism’ was capable of considerably promoting the ‘blunting’ of social contradictions. Overproduction and speculation have always been and will remain powerful factors in ruining the economically weak and enriching a handful of slick businessmen skilled in fishing in muddy waters.

Goschen also spoke of the larger savings-bank deposits during the period under review, considering them a manifestation of the slow but sure triumph of the ‘silent socialism’ he holds so dear. [107] But had he carefully perused the report he insistently recommended to his audience’s attention, he would have had to agree that the fact he had adduced permitted another and far less ‘consoling’ interpretation. As so correctly remarked by A O'Connor, a member of the Commission, who registered a dissident opinion, the growth in the number of savings-bank deposits might have been caused by fewer opportunities (as a consequence of the depression in industry) to invest small sums in industrial enterprises. [108] In view of this more than probable explanation of the fact, one can readily understand that the increasing total of savings-bank deposits went hand in hand with a fall in the demand for industrial workers.

However ‘silent’ and ‘automatic’ this kind of socialism is, it always contains little that is consoling.

We can now leave Goschen for a while and address ourselves to another British expert, this time to the statistician Michael Mulhall.

In his Dictionary of Statistics, Mulhall cites the following figures regarding the growth in the number of incomes of £2000 or upwards. [109]

YearNumberPer million population

The number of persons enjoying incomes of over £5000 a year increased as follows:

YearNumberPer million population

Taking the relative numbers of each class to the whole population, we find:

Persons of Per million inhabitants Rate of increase %
Great wealth538866
Easy fortune29496313112

’this shows’, says Mulhall, ‘a greater diffusion of wealth, contrary to the common impression that “the rich are getting richer every day"...’ [110]

All this is very fine and most consoling. But when we meet with the self-same Mulhall elsewhere and under different circumstances, we learn things that are far less fine and far less comforting.

On the basis of certain calculations, he accepts that wealth in the United Kingdom is distributed as follows:

ClassNumber of personsMillions ££ per head
Rich 327,0009,12028,000

What are these figures indicative of? They show the following. ‘Nearly 80 per cent of the total wealth is held by 1.5 per cent of the adult population. The middle class stands for 11 per cent of population, and holds 18 per cent of wealth.’ [111] Mulhall has nothing to say of the working class, for the crumbs falling to its share are so miserably small! It follows that the ‘diffusion of wealth’ is not so great as Mulhall would assure us. A pity, a great pity, for we were on the verge of arriving at a very pleasant state of mind. But let us now see what else our statistician has to say. Let us ask him how that ‘diffusion of wealth’ operated in the past. [112]

According to his own calculation, [113] it appears that, if we take the number of fortunes of over £5000 in the year 1840 as one hundred, we find that in 1877 that number rose to 223, and in 1893 to 270. Yet if we take as one hundred the number of fortunes between £100 and £5000 in 1840, we find that the number increased only to 203 in 1877 and to 249 in 1893. That means that ‘fortunes over £5000 are multiplying much faster than those under £5000, which is the reverse of what is desirable and this congestion [in the upper classes – GP] seems to increase in intensity the higher we go’. [114] Some ‘diffusion'! Mulhall himself seems to be somewhat taken aback and therefore hastens to comfort us with the following table:

Possessing over £100100205251

While the population increased by 40 per cent in fifty years, the number of persons possessing over £100 went up by 151 per cent: ‘In other words, the class of society which may be considered above the reach of want has grown since 1840 three times faster than the general population.’ [115]

Below we shall analyse in detail the consoling nature of all this comfort; for the time being, we shall draw the reader’s attention to Mulhall’s following opinion regarding the condition of the working class in Britain:

The improved condition of the working classes is evident from the increased number of depositors in savings banks; it was less than four per cent of the population of the United Kingdom in 1850, and has now risen to 19 per cent. Nevertheless, the sufferings of the indigent class in our large towns are greater than ever before; the condition of this class has been aptly described as far worse than that of Hottentots. [116]

What a ludicrous descent from the elevated to the trivial.


We can now see that both Goschen’s ‘silent socialism’ and Mulhall’s ‘diffusion of wealth’ are something out of this world. Mulhall himself has had to admit that there is an ever greater congestion of wealth in the upper reaches of society. But if that is so, then, regarded from their economic aspect, social contradictions, far from becoming ‘blunted’, are increasing more and more. Mulhall tries to ‘blunt’ this conclusion by pointing out that the number of persons in Britain possessing fortunes in excess of £100 is growing far more rapidly than the population is. It would be timely to take a closer look at this sham consolation.

Let us imagine a society made up of three classes: the wealthy, the well-to-do, and the poor. Let us imagine, for the sake of simplicity, that the poor class live exclusively by the sale of their labour, the well-to-do engage in trade, while the wealthy consist of capitalist entrepreneurs and landowners; the poor class total one thousand, the well-to-do, one hundred, and the wealthy, ten persons. [117] In the distribution of social income, the share of each of these classes is a magnitude we shall denote as A. Consequently, society’s aggregate income equals 3A; on the average, a member of the wealthy class is ten times as rich as any member of the well-to-do class, any member of which, in his turn, is ten times as rich as one belonging to the poor class. Such is the relative condition of classes in a particular period, say 1875.

Twenty-five years have passed. The social income has doubled, so that the share of each social class is now 2A instead of the previous 1A. [118] We can now say that the economic prosperity of each class of society has doubled. However, the relationship between these classes has remained unchanged: just as before, the rich man is, on the average, ten times as wealthy as the well-to-do man, while the latter’s fortune averages ten times as much as the possessions of the poor man. Consequently, we have no right to speak either of a ‘diffusion of wealth’ in our society, or of ‘automatic socialism’ as changing the distribution of incomes in the sense of blunting the contradictions between the social classes. We shall proceed, keeping this conclusion in mind.

Let us suppose that income tax exists in our society, payable by all persons with incomes of £100 or more. Let us also suppose that the wealthy and the well-to-do classes do not contain a single person with an income below £100, while there is not a single person in the poor class whose income reaches that figure. Consequently, no person in the latter class paid income tax in 1875.

But how will matters stand 25 years hence, when the aggregate income of each class of society has doubled?

If we suppose, in the first place that, 25 years ago, there were 250 persons in the poor class, who annually received between £50 and £100, and, in the second place, the distribution of wealth within each class remained constant, we shall now have, in the poor class, 250 persons receiving between £ 100 and £200, and consequently liable to income tax. Thus the number of poor income-tax payers will increase though no ‘diffusion of wealthhas taken place since the rich man will be ten times as wealthy as the well-to-do person, and the latter will still be ten times as rich as the poor man.

However, in what degree will the number of poor income-tax payers increase?

That, of course, will depend on the distribution of wealth within the well-to-do class. Let us suppose that 25 years ago that class contained 25 persons with annual incomes of between £500 and £1000. In that case, these 25 persons will be receiving – after the doubling of the income of that class (with the distribution of that income remaining unchanged) – between £1000 and £2000. Assuming that persons in receipt of over £1000 can be called big payers, we shall see that the category of such payers will now be joined by 25 persons belonging to the middle class. Consequently, the total number of modest payers (in other words, the total number of ‘moderate incomes’) [119] will now be 325 (75 remaining from the former number – 100, and 250 new incomes formerly belonging to the working class), that is, it will now have increased by 225 per cent.

Let us continue our calculations. Twenty-five persons of the trading class, who receive between £1000 and £2000, will now figure in the lists of big payers, in the same category as persons in the upper class consisting of industrialists and landowners. These formerly numbered ten. By adding to them 25 persons from the middle class, we find that the number of big payers now totals 35 – an increase of 250 per cent.

The number of big payers has grown somewhat faster than that of the ‘moderates’, but it will easily be seen that, with some change in our hypothetical figures, we shall arrive at an opposite result.

Indeed, let us assume that we had only ten persons receiving from £500 to £1000 in 1875. Twenty-five years later, with the doubling of the income of the middle class, these ten persons will be receiving between £1000 and £2000 and will therefore join the big payers of income tax. Adding their number to that of the former big payers, who, as we remember, also totalled ten, we shall find that we now have twenty such payers in this category, which means that their number has grown only by 100 per cent. In view of the far more rapid growth in the number of ‘moderate’ payers, we are now in a position to vociferate about ‘automatic socialism’ and to evoke in uncritical ‘critics’ the idea that the Marxist ‘dogma’ is obsolete, and so on. In actual fact, however, there has been no ‘diffusion of wealth’ since each social class receives its former share of the national income.

We shall arrive at exactly the same ‘gratifying’ conclusion – in the Goschen sense – by assuming that the concentration of property in the class of industrialists and landowners has taken place more rapidly than in the trading class, which is quite possible – and even highly probable – without casting any aspersions on the Marxist ‘dogma’. [120]

Until now we have assumed that, with the growth of the national income, the share of each social class has remained unchanged. Let us now see how the uneven growth of the incomes of the various classes would be reflected in the lists of income-tax payers.

Let us suppose that the social income has quadrupled and is distributed as follows: the working class gets 2A; the middle class, 4A , and the upper class, 6A. When the income of the working class doubles, that class will include – just as in our former assumption – two hundred and fifty persons in receipt of incomes of £100 or more. These persons will now have to pay income tax, thus increasing the number of ‘moderate’ payers. Previously the middle class wholly belonged to this ‘moderate’ bracket, but now, when the income of the middle class has quadrupled, a considerable number of its members will go over into the bracket of big payers. How great will that number be? If we assume that the middle class formerly contained twenty-five persons getting between £250 and £500, now each of these twenty-five persons (given an unchanged distribution of middle-class quadrupled incomes among its members) will be getting between £1000 and £2000, that is, will cross the line separating the modest from the big payers of income tax. However, the same class also contained, according to our former assumption, twenty-five persons with incomes of between £500 and £1000. With the income of the middle class quadrupled, these persons will now be getting between £2000 and £4000 each, and will therefore be included with greater reason among the big payers. Consequently, only fifty members of the middle class (100 minus 25, minus 25) will remain within the bracket of ‘moderate’ payers. By adding the number of such persons to the number (250) of payers of modest means from the lower class we shall find that the total number of payers of modest means is now 300 (50 plus 250); it has gone up by 200 per cent.

If we go over to the schedule of big payers, we shall see that, to their former number of ten, we must now add another fifty (twenty-five persons with incomes of between £1000 and £2000, and another twenty-five whose incomes range from £2000 to £4000). The total number, consequently, will be sixty; it will have gone up by 500 per cent.

If we assume that concentration will reduce the number of modest payers to 250, and the number of big payers to fifty-five, it will follow that the aggregate of ‘moderate’ incomes has gone up by 150 per cent, and of big incomes, by 450 per cent.

All this reasoning of ours, however, has not taken into account the population growth. The population may grow 1) more rapidly than the social income; 2) just as rapidly, or 3) more slowly than the social income. We are concerned here only with the third instance, which is in keeping with capitalist reality. Let us consider that instance.

We shall assume that the number of members of our society has doubled in the space of fifty years, whereas the social income has quadrupled, and now equals 12A, with the working class getting 2A, the middle class, 4A, and the upper class, 6A. Since the doubled income of the working class is now distributed among a double number of persons, it follows that (with the distribution of incomes within that class unchanged) the prosperity of each individual worker will not increase, which means that no stratum of the working class will join the ranks of the payers of income tax.

Things will be different with the middle class: here the income has quadrupled while the number of persons has only doubled. Consequently, each person will be twice as wealthy as previously. The number of persons in receipt of incomes of between £1000 and £2000 will have now reached fifty. The latter will now belong to the schedule of big payers, the remaining 150 (200 minus 50) remaining in the schedule of modest incomes. The number of ‘moderateincomes will thus have increased by 50 per cent.

The upper class formerly contained ten payers, who were of course in the upper bracket. The doubling of the population has increased their number to twenty, to which should be added another fifty persons of the middle class, who have now joined the upper bracket. The total is now seventy (20 plus 50); it has gone up by 600 per cent.

Even if we suppose that the concentration of property has reduced the number of big payers to fifty-five, we are nevertheless confronted by the fact of a vast increase in the number of big payers: an increase of up to 450 per cent.

What is proved by all these examples, which have probably palled on the reader?

Among other things, these examples prove the following.

1. The growth in the number of payers of modest means – this as a result of the increase in the social income – does not of itself testify to the ‘diffusion of wealth’ or to the successes of ‘automatic socialism’, inasmuch as it is quite compatible with a vast growth of inequality in the distribution of social wealth.

2. The greater the concentration of property in the upper class of society, the more salient is the growth in the number of payers of modest means. In certain cases, the number of ‘moderate incomes’ will grow more rapidly than the number of big incomes, despite the simultaneous and very considerable growth of social inequality.

3. In present-day capitalist societies, the number of moderate incomes is increasing more rapidly than the overall size of the population. However, to infer therefrom that wealth has become diffused and social inequality has decreased would mean revealing a total and shameful lack of understanding of the matter. For a proper realisation of how the national income is distributed in present-day societies, one should first determine in what measure that income has grown in the period under consideration, and how its accretion has been divided among the separate classes. Those who speak of the diffusion of wealth and compare the growth of the population with the growing number of moderate incomes have contributed absolutely nothing to that determination. [121] Their arguments will therefore reveal nothing except their own feebleness.

If we glance from the point of view of these conclusions at the data provided by Mulhall in his Dictionary of Statistics, we shall readily understand how and why those data can exist cheek by jowl with data which obviously have a diametrically opposite significance.

Mulhall says that the number of persons in Britain with property in excess of £100 is growing far more rapidly than the population. That is very true, but Mulhall does not ask himself how rapidly Britain’s national income is growing. In fact, that income is growing far more rapidly than the number of persons in the bracket indicated by Mulhall, which is why the growth of that number goes hand in hand with the far more rapid increase of social inequality. That is borne out most explicitly by the data provided by the self-same Mulhall in his book Industries and the Wealth of Nations. True, the data he gives in his Dictionary of Statistics seem to show that ‘moderate’ incomes are growing far more rapidly in Britain than the big ones; however, we already know, in the first place, that even if that were the case, it would still be a far cry from the ‘diffusion of wealth'; in the second place, we know that the second half of the 1870s was marked by a deep industrial depression which temporarily led to a decline in big incomes, and consequently to a temporary fall in their number. We therefore understand how and why a comparison of figures referring to 1860 on the one hand, and to 1880 on the other, are indicative of the more rapid growth in the number of moderate incomes as against big ones. But if we compare the overall results of economic development over a longer period, we shall see that, despite temporary setbacks, the big incomes grew far more rapidly in number than did the moderate ones. Indeed, the Mulhall table we have cited shows that, in 1812, there were 3314 persons per 1,000,000 inhabitants in Britain with incomes in excess of £200; in 1880, they numbered 6313, that is, their total had not even doubled, whereas the number of persons with incomes of over £5000 rose from 34 in 1812 to 88 in 1880: it went up by 163.6 per cent.

These figures completely disprove Mulhall’s talk of the diffusion of social wealth, and fully bear him out when he says that ‘fortunes over £5000 are multiplying much faster than those under £5000’. [122]

Figures themselves never lie [said Goschen in the address we have referred to above], but everyone must admit that there is no sound and accurate material which can be so easily handled for the special purposes of the compiler as statistics can...

In this case, we are in full agreement with Goschen: indeed, figures do not lie...


In our example, we had recourse to hypothetical figures. We shall now address ourselves to reality.

We shall ask the reader to pay special attention to the following figures, which show the growth of income in various brackets in Britain between the years 1843 and 1879-80:

Incomes in £18431879-80
Between 500 and 5,00017,99042,927
Between 5,000 and 10,0004931,439
Between 10,000 and 50,000200785
50,000 or more868

The number of persons with incomes of between £500 and £5000 more than doubled; the number with incomes of between £5000 and £10,000 almost trebled; the number of rich men pocketing between £10,000 and £50,000 a year almost quadrupled; last, the number of millionaires with annual incomes of £50,000 or more increased eightfold. [123]

Thus there can be no doubt: inequality in the distribution of Britain’s national income went up considerably in the period mentioned above. Consequently, the ‘diffusion of wealth’ is nothing more than a ‘pious’ falsehood.

True, the number of persons with incomes of between £150 and £500 more than trebled during the same period. It follows that the number of payers in this bracket – the most modest of the lot – grew more rapidly than did the number of payers in the two immediately following schedules, and lagged behind only the fourth (£10,000 – £50,000) and the fifth (£50,000 or more) schedules. [124] Given some good will, one might say, in this connection, several words on the diffusion of wealth in the medium strata of payers. But we shall not be put out of countenance by such words, for now we are already well aware that the phenomenon we have indicated could have been caused by a multitude of causes with absolutely no relation to the ‘diffusion of wealth’. Besides, we have before us the fact of the far more rapid growth in the number of payers in the two upper brackets. Consequently, the increase in social inequality leaves absolutely no room for doubt. [125]

We see the same increase in other capitalist countries as well.

Between the years 1848 and 1885, fortunes of various magnitude in the Canton of Zurich increased as follows:

Size of Fortunes in Francs18481885Growth %
From 5,000 to 50,000 (approx)9,10017,00090
From 50,000 to 500,000 (approx)9302,650185
Over 500,000 (approx)30190530

In Basle, Glarus, Bremen, Hamburg, the Kingdom of Saxony and Prussia, one could see the same relation between figures expressing the growth of fortunes of various magnitude.

In the period between 1879 and 1890, the number of incomes in excess of 9600 marks rose by 100 per cent in the Kingdom of Saxony, while the number of incomes above 100,000 marks went up by 228 per cent. [126]

We also have an amazing table from Engel, referring to Prussia. Between the years 1845 and 1873, the number of payers in various schedules rose as follows. The number of payers rose: [127]

BracketThalersRise %
11,000 – 1,600110.2
21,600 – 3,200132.3
33,200 – 6,000153.9
46,000 – 12,000224.8
512,000 – 24,000370.6
624,000 – 52,000476.3
752,000 – 100,000468.4
8100,000 – 200,000433.3
9200,000 or more2000.0

On all sides you will see one and the same thing: the actual advance in all countries of the capitalist world follows the same direction as in our hypothetical society: the number of payers in the upper brackets grows everywhere at an incomparably more rapid rate than the number of payers of modest means. The results obtained through observation of reality coincide amazingly with those we obtained when we surmised that the increase in the social income does not improve the condition of the working class. In many cases, however, reality greatly outstrips our hypothetical example, in which the difference in the growth of the number of payers of various categories is far lower than in Prussia (according to Engel’s table) or at least in the Canton of Zurich. That is probably because our example did not sufficiently take into account the concentration of property in the less wealthy strata of society. It is quite possible that, in reality, such concentration greatly slows down the growth in the number of ‘moderate’ incomes.

In short, the nature of our example is in full keeping with the actual state of affairs in capitalist society. However, our example was based on the surmise that the distribution of social income among the various classes of society becomes ever more uneven. Obviously, that is what takes place in reality.

But if that is so, then all the rant on the blunting of social contradictions, the diffusion of wealth, the ‘impoverishment’ of the capitalists and the ‘enrichment’ of the working people is a bitter mockery of a class that so keenly feels the existence of social inequality. The doctrine of Carey – Bastiat and their offspring Goschen, Schultze-Gävernitz and their ilk, is nothing more than artful but unconvincing talk by advocates of a cause which, at least in principle, is a lost one.


Having seen the truth of the above, we can now turn our attention to Mr P Struve.

How does this most estimable ‘critic’ regard the Carey – Bastiat doctrine?

The article he has published in Braun’s Archiv contains passages which provide definite grounds at least to give a reply to the question of what he thinks of the latest variety of the doctrine, that is, that ‘diffusion of wealth’ which Goschen, Schultze-Gävernitz and Co have clutched out of thin air. Here is one of those passages.

As is common knowledge, Marx affirmed that, with the development of capitalism and the higher productivity of labour, the rate of surplus value, and consequently the degree of the exploitation of the workers’ labour by the capitalist, rises. Mr P Struve has the following to say on that thought:

But it is this proposition that is so hard to bring into accord with the facts. It was probably true, on the whole, in respect of the initial stage of the development of large-scale capitalism (the initial triumph of machine production). But it cannot be stated that a higher degree of exploitation was to be seen at the later stages and will continue into the indefinite future. The thing is that the rate of surplus value can rise only when, for some reason, wages fall or surplus value grows. However, lower wages cannot be called a characteristic feature of the most recent economic development in the capitalist countries. Besides lower wages, surplus value can be increased either by longer working hours or greater intensity of labour. However, we cannot speak of longer working hours in the capitalist countries... The reverse is rather to be seen. A greater intensity of labour indeed exists, but, in the first place, that increase is often linked, for physiological causes, with higher wages, and, in the second place, it often comes up against an impassable boundary. That is why the doctrine of a constant rise in the rate of surplus value or in the degree of the exploitation of labour in developing capitalist society seems groundless to me. One can, with considerable success, defend the reverse thesis, which does not in fact contradict the general character of recent economic development. [128]

That ‘reverse thesis’ is that very ‘thesis’ which has been brought forward by the present renovators of the Carey – Bastiat doctrine. We have already seen how totally bankrupt that thesis is. By showing the growing inequality in the distribution of national income, we have thereby proved that the share of that income going to the working class decreases. Having coped with the ‘originals’, we could very well dispense with the ‘copy’, and limit ourselves to simply establishing the more or less consoling and admirable circumstance that it is a very faithful replica which reveals a strong resemblance to the originals. But since we must, at least in part, follow in the steps of our ‘critic’, we must also examine his arguments. Besides, we have to admit that, till now, Marx’s idea of the greater degree of the capitalist’s exploitation of the worker has been confirmed by us only indirectly, and only through mention of the growing inequality in the distribution of social wealth. Let us now see whether any direct arguments in favour of that idea can be advanced.

As we have seen, that is impossible, in Mr P Struve’s opinion. He claims that Marx’s idea can be considered correct only in respect of the initial stage of the development of capitalism. That, however, is quite untrue.

Let us take the United States of America where, for very many reasons, the terms on which the proletariat sell their labour power are far more favourable to them than in any European country. How has the share of that country’s working class changed in respect of the value created by its labour?

In 1840, that share was 51 per cent, which fell to 45 per cent in 1890, consequently, the smaller share of the working class was accompanied by a rise in the degree of its exploitation by the capitalists.

These figures are taken from Carroll D Wright, who, despite all his conscientiousness, markedly prefers the roseate to the sombre. [129]

Carroll D Wright also speaks of the cause for the fall in the share of the working class. He sees it in the development of machine production, or, as Marx would have said, in the change in the organic composition of capital. [130]

What has our ‘critic’ to say on this matter? Does he think that the United States of America has not yet emerged from the initial stage of capitalism?

Mr P Struve cites from Carroll D Wright’s book, so he should have a knowledge of it. However, he seems to have failed to see what the American statistician has had to say about the lower share of the working class. Such near-sightedness is most awkward. [131]

Between the years 1861 and 1891, Britain’s national income rose from £832 million to £1600 million, while wages went up from £388 million to £693 million. That means that the rate of surplus value, which stood at 114.43 per cent in 1861, rose to 130.80 per cent in 1891. [132]

I would like to know what Mr P Struve thinks of the ‘stage’ reached by British capitalism during that period.

Or perhaps our ‘critic’ would like to repeat the arguments with the aid of which Mr Bowley tries to play down the impression created by the figures we have quoted, and convince the reader that the share of the British working class of the national product has nevertheless not declined. Let him try to do that. We shall have no difficulty in proving to him how feeble such arguments are. However, we shall now draw his attention to the following fact.

British statisticians also include under the heading of wages payments made to domestic servants, which actually come from surplus value. Domestic servants are very numerous in Britain. According to L Levi, they numbered 2,400,000 in 1884, while the total for agricultural workers did not exceed 900,000. In the same year, according to the same source, British domestic servants were paid a total of £86 million, while agricultural workers got no more than £67 million. If we assume that the aggregate wages paid to domestic servants in 1891 did not exceed the total for 1884, and if, after subtracting £86 million from the total wages received by the British working class in 1891, we add these millions to the overall sum of surplus value for the same year, then the rate of surplus value will rise even more. In general, the British working class hardly gets over one-third of the national income.

According to calculations made by Andreas Costa for 1899, France’s national income was distributed as follows: [133]

SectorMillion francs
Agricultural workers2000
Industrial workers3600
Salaried workers of various kinds1000
Domestic servants1400
Artisans, small farmers, retailers, carriers and forwarding agents, soldiers, sailors, gendarmes, petty officials, clergymen, monks and nuns, men and women teachers, etc4000
Capitalists: in agriculture3500 to 4500
Capitalists: in industry, trade and the hotel and catering business3500 to 4500
Capitalists: rentiers, state pensioners and members of the liberal professions2500 to 3000

By adding up these figures we get about 22,000 million francs, of which total not more than one-third went to workers, artisans and small farmers, just as was the case in Britain.

So high a degree of exploitation is possible only given highly-developed labour productivity. It was physically impossible 30 to 35 years ago when, according to expert calculations, France’s national income barely reached 15,000 million francs. That is why Mr P Struve is greatly in error when he links the greater exploitation of the working class to the initial stage of capitalism.


Our ‘critic’ has misinterpreted the wage rises in many countries and many branches of industry over the last fifty years. But anyone with the least knowledge of political economy knows that higher wages can go hand in hand with a lower price of labour power and consequently also with a greater degree of the workersexploitation. Wages are higher in Britain than on the Continent, while the price of labour power is higher on the Continent than it is in Britain. That is an old truth. [134] However, while reiterating that truth, the apologists for capitalism pass it over in modest silence when, on the basis of higher wages, they try to prove the so familiar ‘thesis’ that the capitalists are becoming ‘poorer’, and the workers ‘richer’. Marx very aptly remarked in Volume One of Capital:

Hence we may understand the decisive importance of the transformation of value and price of labour-power into the form of wages, or into the value and price of labour itself. This phenomenal form, which makes the actual relation invisible, and indeed, shows the direct opposite of that relation, forms the basis of all the juridical notions of both labourer and capitalist, of all the mystifications of the capitalistic mode of production, of all its illusions as to liberty, of all the apologetic shifts of the vulgar economists. [135]

What is remarkable is that, in his capacity of ‘critic’ of Marx, Mr P Struve has not only been most forgiving to the apologetic artifices of the vulgar political economists, but has himself resorted to them. The most outstanding manifestation of his new propensity is indubitably his remark that ‘surplus value as embodied in the surplus product is created, not only by living labour’ but is a function of all social capital. [136] This is the Ultima Thule [137] of bourgeois apologetics. However, most valuable pearls of this kind are also to be met in the articles which now hold our attention. It is to these that the reference belongs regarding the growth of wages as proof of a lower level of surplus value.

That the working day in many leading branches of industry is shorter today than it was several decades ago is true but hardly convincing. The shorter working hours were more than made up for by the greater intensity of labour. All this is again common knowledge. True, the greater intensity of labour may, with the passage of time, come up against insurmountable physiological limits but experience has shown that such a possibility has not yet become reality. [138]

Though the fact of higher wages cannot be denied, one might well ask how high they have risen, for example, in the advanced countries of the European continent? A quite unexpected reply to this question is often provided by reality.

According to Voit, the following amounts of nutritives are required to restore the worker’s strength.

Given moderate work118g56g500g
Given intense work145g100g450g

If the working man does not consume the above quantities, his organism is worn down and his labour power is undermined; what he experiences is a process of physiological impoverishment. Is the present-day European worker far from that impoverishment?

On the basis of data collected by Ducpétiaux, Professor Hector Denis of Brussels has found that, in 1853, the Belgian worker consumed, on the average, the following quantities of products.[139]


That means that, during that period, the Belgian proletarian was far from able to restore, with the aid of food, the energy spent in the process of production. It evidently follows hence that the price of labour power was then far lower than its value.

During the thirty-odd years that ensued, Belgian capitalism went through a brilliant ‘stage’ of its development but the Belgian worker’s strength was still being sapped by insufficient nutrition. In the 1880s, his organism received the following:


What tremendous progress! What an enviable fate for the working class! The worker was now getting the handsome quantity of twelve extra grams of albumins, to say nothing of additional fats and especially carbohydrates. After that, how can one fail to speak of the blunting of social contradictions? If the improvement in the Belgian workers’ condition continues apace in this fashion, then, in the forthcoming geological period, they may be getting almost as much as is required for the correct feeding of the organism.

If we take matters seriously, we have no right to speak with confidence of any improvement, even the most infinitesimal, in the Belgian worker’s nutrition. Here everything depends on the relation between his present daily expenditure of labour power and what it was in the 1850s. If that expenditure has grown, then his nutrition has become perhaps even less satisfactory, despite a certain addition of nutritives. Consequently, even the extra 12 grams of albumins cannot keep us from drawing pessimistic inferences regarding the social consequences of capitalist progress.

All that we know is that the Belgian worker is still economically unable to restore his labour power through nutrition. Here is what has been said on the matter by one who can hardly be suspected of the obstinate ‘dogmatism’ of the orthodox Marxists, namely, the Governor of Western Flanders:

It is known... that the minimum ration for the soldier is 1066 grams of bread, 285 grams of meat and 200 grams of vegetables. Now our workers, who toil from morning till night, need a still greater amount of food. However, what they consume does not even approach the soldier’s minimum. [140]

The Belgian proletarian’s labour power is still being sold below its value, while his wages have undoubtedly risen quite ‘considerably’ during the last half-century. We know that the lower the level of wages, the more impressive any rise in them seems. If the worker gets one penny a day, then a rise amounting to a farthing may be imposingly called an accretion of 20 per cent! However, it goes without saying that this ‘considerable’ rise in no way removes the social and physiological poverty of the working man.

Mr P Struve is most scornful of the iron law of wages, [141] of ‘blessed memory’. It is of course quite impossible to defend that law today; its bankruptcy was too clearly revealed by Marx. But one cannot but also agree that the law might seem golden to many a Belgian worker, even in the wording given it by Lassalle and Rodbertus.


The trolls proposed to Ibsen’s Peer Gynt that they would knock his left eye a little out of shape. ‘True, you'll have a slight squint after that’, their chieftain added soothingly, ‘but then everything that presents itself to your eye will seem beautiful and gratifying.’ Our critic has undergone a similar operation at the hands of the Brentano school, which cherishes the Carey – Bastiat tradition like the apple of their eye. We do not know exactly which eye of his has been knocked a little out of shape by that estimable school but, to say the least, it has been done in such a way that the capitalist order now seems to him, if not most beautiful and gratifying, then at least incomparably more attractive than it would were his vision unimpaired. One of the many possible proofs of this is provided by his arguments of the capitalist exploitation of women and children.

In a polemic with Bernstein, Kautsky expressed the idea that the growing number of working women and children testified to the impoverishment of the working class. This idea seems to have been most displeasing to Mr P Struve:

When I was reading Kautsky [he remarks caustically], it seemed to me that I was listening to a speech by the esteemed Decurtins at the Zurich Congress... If I shared Kautsky’s view on women’s labour, I would also accept the practical proposals on that labour advanced by the Catholic social-politicians. [142]

Excellent. But how does Mr P Struve himself look upon the matter? You will now learn.

He acknowledges that the use of women’s and children’s labour in Germany rose considerably during the years 1882-95, but goes on to say that such an increase was especially to be seen in the field of trade, and in general in such branches of the economy in which members of proprietors’ own families often work. Hence, he has drawn the comforting conclusion that Kautsky’s opinion on this kind of labour should be taken cum grano salis. [143] ‘The course of development in general is not as uniform, and its meaning not the same to such a degree’, he says, ‘as is shown in the scheme of the theory of impoverishment.’ [144] He continues with a most comforting reference to the United States of America, where the utilisation of women’s labour decreased relatively, and children’s labour also absolutely, in the period between 1840 and 1890.

It follows that capitalism is that very spear which heals the wounds it inflicts: in the ‘initial stage’, it was indeed somewhat playful, sparing neither grown-up men, women, nor children, in its striving to bring under its rule everything living and capable of producing surplus value. But that was only a passing fancy and error of youth. On reaching the age of maturity, capitalism grows milder and gradually slackens the tight reins; then the degree of its exploitation of the proletariat falls, and the women and children it has driven so hard are at last able to enjoy leisure at their own homes, in conditions which in their turn are improving, not only absolutely but also relatively, that is, in comparison with the home conditions of the capitalists. All this is so gratifying, admirable, comforting and inevitable that we are unable to understand why Mr P Struve has come out against the ‘monotony’. Of course, monotony produces a grievous impression when we come up against it in the ‘scheme of the theory of impoverishment’, but in the scheme of the enrichment of the workers and the impoverishment of the capitalist it is quite pleasant and even in no way fatiguing, to prove which we shall make reference to Mr P Struve himself: all his present economic arguments are very flat and monotonous, but one has to be a gloomy ‘epigone’ of Marx to fail to be moved by their ennobling influence.

The only trouble is that stark reality has so sharply contradicted these ennobling arguments. Let us consider, at least, the exploitation of women and children by capital. Mr P Struve has forgotten that the number of women engaged in industrial work the number of women wage-earners – went up by 82 per cent in Germany between the years 1883 and 1895, the corresponding increase of male workers being only 39 per cent. If we are not deceived by our one-sided ‘epigonism’, then such figures are indicative of both an absolute and a relative increase in the number of women exploited by capital. But what is it that drives women under the heavy yoke of capital? Of course, it is not the alleged ‘enrichment’ of the proletariat.

True, Carroll D Wright has said that the number of women engaged in factory work in the United States was relatively greater in 1850 than it was in 1890, but he himself goes on to remark that exact figures on women’s labour have existed only since 1870. [145] But what do we see, beginning with that year? We see a constant increase both absolute and relative in the extent of women’s labour. In his Eleventh Annual Report, the self-same Carroll D Wright cited figures from which it follows, in his own words, that ‘the proportion of females 10 years of age or over employed in all occupations in the United States rose... [italics ours – GP] from 14.68 per cent [of the overall figure of the female population – GP] in 1870, to 17.22 per cent in 1890, while the males decreased in proportion [italics again ours – GP] from 85.32 per cent in 1870 to 82.78 per cent in 1890, fully corroborating the facts obtained in the present investigation [that is, in the Eleventh Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labour – GP] that the females are to some extent entering into places at the expense of the males’. [146]

In 1870, women comprised 14.14 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing and mechanical industries; [147] in 1890 the percentage went up to 20.18: [148] ‘The fact is absolutely demonstrated, therefore, that the proportion of females... [working for wages – GP] is gradually increasing.’ [149]

Mr P Struve will come up against the same conclusion in the well-known book by Sartorius, Die nordamerikanischen Gewerkschaften unter dem Einfluss der fortschreitenden Productionstechnik (Berlin, 1886). On page 109, we find the following table showing the relative and absolute growth of female labour in a number of states in the country:

 Women workers in factoriesPopulation
New Jersey8,76227,099489,5551,131,116
New York51,612137,4553,097,3945,082,871
New Hampshire14,10329,356317,976346,991

These figures show whose words should be taken cum grano salis – Kautsky’s or Mr P Struve’s.

And what about child labour?

In the period between 1870 and 1880, the number of working children between 10 and 15 rose in the United States from 13.9 per cent of all children in this age bracket, to 16.82 per cent. On the contrary, the number fell to 10.34 per cent in the years between 1880 and 1890. This was the outcome of factory legislation, which restricted the use of child labour. The number of children employed in industry fell, in the main, in the New England states, where the operation of the law was particularly efficacious. Where it was less efficacious, child labour assumed even more extensive proportion than in the previous decade. [150]

The self-justifying dodges resorted to by the ‘critics’ of Marx are no more capable of concealing the truth from the careful researcher than are the apologetic exercises of the vulgar economists. Anyone with eyes to see will realise that the development of capitalism leads to those very results that Marx spoke of: not content with the exploitation of adult male workers, capital is striving more and more to subordinate women and children to itself. The growing subordination of women and children to it undoubtedly means a deterioration in the social position of the working class.

But Mr Struve will tell us that the growth in the number of children employed at factories was checked by factory legislation, at least in some states. [151]

It did, we shall reply, but that in no way denies or even modifies the overall meaning of the Marxist theory of social development. That factory legislation can protect some of the interests of the working class was admitted already in the Manifesto of the Communist Party. [152] However, the question is not whether factory legislation has or has not protected some of the workers’ interests; it is a question of what is the algebraical sum of those consequences of factory legislation that are advantageous to the proletariat and present a positive magnitude, and of the trend towards a worsening in the social condition of the working class, a trend inherent in capitalism and presenting a negative magnitude. According to Marx, that algebraical sum cannot be a positive magnitude, that is, the worker’s social condition grows worse despite the advantages he gets from factory legislation. It is this – and only this – that is still being insisted on by Marx’s ‘orthodox’ followers. His so-called critics say the reverse. They are out to prove that the notorious ‘social reform’ has already improved the worker’s social condition, and will improve it even more with the passage of time, so that in due course, probably in the next geological period, the capitalist mode of production will imperceptibly develop into the socialist. Who is right? Everything we have till now learnt, and all the facts and phenomena we have dealt with emphatically testify in favour of Marx and the ‘orthodox’: in economic terms the distance between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie has grown; the working class has become relatively poorer because its share of the national product has decreased relatively. However important factory legislation and other palliatives of ‘social reform’ are to the working class, they have far from outweighed tendencies of developing capitalism to disparage the working class. The proletariat has been in the position of a man swimming against a powerful current: were he to yield to the force of the current without offering it any resistance, he would be carried very far back; however, he offered resistance and has tried to make headway, which is why the current cannot carry him as far back as it might; nevertheless, the man is carried back because the current is far stronger than his efforts are. [153]


We have till now been dealing with the relative deterioration in the workers’ condition. However, we have not forgotten that certain ‘critics’, these including Mr P Struve, have attempted to prove that Marx wrote, not of a relative, but of an absolute deterioration of that condition. If one is to believe these gentlemen, all talk by the ‘orthodox’ regarding a relative deterioration presents nothing but the sophistries of unbridled wranglers, who feel they have lost their case in debate but are loth to admit it. But what are the facts of the case?

In a booklet entitled Wage Labour and Capital, which, it will be recalled, was based on lectures he delivered in the Brussels German Society in 1847, Marx showed that even in the instance – most favourable to the workers – when the rapid growth of capital, by increasing the demand for labour power, leads to higher wages, the condition of the workers becomes relatively worse:

The rapid growth of productive capital brings about an equally rapid growth of wealth, luxury, social wants, social enjoyments. Thus, although the enjoyments of the worker have risen, the social satisfaction that they give has fallen in comparison with the increased enjoyments of the capitalist, which are inaccessible to the worker, in comparison with the state of development of society in general. Our desires and pleasures spring from society; we measure them, therefore, by society and not by the objects which serve for their satisfaction. Because they are of a social nature, they are of a relative nature. [154]

What is this but the theory of the relative deterioration in the condition of the working class?


If the income of the worker increases with the rapid growth of capital, the social gulf that separates the worker from the capitalist increases at the same time, and the power of capital over labour, the dependence of labour on capital, likewise increases at the same time.

To say that the worker has an interest in the rapid growth of capital is only to say that the more rapidly the worker increases the wealth of others, the richer will be the crumbs that fall to him, the greater is the number of workers that can be employed and called into existence, the more can the mass of slaves dependent on capital be increased... If capital is growing rapidly, wages may rise; the profit of capital rises incomparably more rapidly. The material position of the worker has improved, but at the cost of his social position. The social gulf that divides him from the capitalist has widened. [155]

That Marx did not at all eschew the idea of the relative deterioration in the condition of the working class, as the ‘critics’ would assure us, is proved beyond doubt by these excerpts. They also go to show that Marx would not have ceased from speaking of the impoverishment of the working class even if an absolute improvement might have been observed in its condition. However, it is true that, in his analysis of the actual development of capitalist society as given in the booklet, Marx found that the growth of capital was far from always linked with an absolute improvement in the condition of the working class:

The more productive capital grows, the more the division of labour and the application of machinery expands [he says], the more competition among the workers grows and the more their wages contract. [156]

He went on to point out that the development of capitalism drove into the ranks of wage-earners ever new sections of the population, and ended the booklet with the following overall conclusion:

If capital grows rapidly, competition among the workers grows incomparably more rapidly, that is, the means of employment, the means of subsistence, of the working class decrease proportionately so much the more, and, nevertheless, the rapid growth of capital is the most favourable condition for wage labour. [157]

Marx evidently thought at the time that the relative decrease in the sources of earnings should inevitably lead to lower wages, which is why he held that the development of capitalism led to a fall in wages. This was a view he held in common with many socialists of the time. [158]

In the booklet we have mentioned, Marx’s economic views, however, did not yet appear in a finalised form. [159] In it, he did not yet distinguish between profit and surplus value, wages and the price of labour power. That is why we shall address ourselves to his main work – Capital.

In Volume One of Capital, Marx says that, as a result of higher labour productivity, the price of labour power may fall, despite the simultaneous increase in the means of subsistence at the disposal of the labourer. [160] Consequently, a distinction is here drawn between the relative and the absolute worsening in the labourer’s condition. Elsewhere in the same volume, Marx, in mentioning Gladstone’s opinion that the ‘intoxicating’ growth of Britain’s social wealth had made the poor less poor, noted the following:

If the working class has remained ‘poor’, only ‘less poor’ in proportion as it produces for the wealthy class ‘an intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power’, then it has remained relatively just as poor. If the extremes of poverty have not lessened, they have increased, because the extremes of wealth have. [161]

What is this but the theory of the relative impoverishment of the working class?

True, Marx also indicates in Capital the causes that tend to bring about a fall in wages. But, while establishing the highly important distinction between the pay received by the labourer, and the price of his labour power, he no longer affirms that a higher degree of the workers’ exploitation must inevitably lead to a fall in his wages. No, in the direct and clear meaning of his finalised theory, a fall in the price of labour power, and a relative worsening in the workers’ condition may be accompanied by a rise in his pay. [162] That is why one cannot but be surprised by the dexterity of those who are out to refute Marx by pointing out that wages went up in the second half of the nineteenth century. That dexterity deserves the greater praise for that remark – inasmuch as it is true – referring, in particular, to so-called skilled workers, whereas in Capital Marx cited examples mostly from the life of unskilled workers. [163]


Mr P Struve dislikes the passage in Capital, in which Marx says that the higher the productivity of labour, the more the workers are riveted to the means of the occupation, and the less satisfactory the conditions of their existence. The reader will remember the following celebrated passage:

The law, finally, that always equilibrates the relative surplus-population, or industrial reserve army, to the extent and energy of accumulation, this law rivets the labourer to capital more firmly than the wedges of Vulcan did Prometheus to the rock. It establishes an accumulation of misery, corresponding with accumulation of capital. Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole, that is, on the side of the class that produces its own product in the form of capital. [164]

Mr P Struve thinks that these lines are not in keeping with the actual state of affairs in society today, and that, were they in keeping with it, the ‘development towards socialism’ would be quite impossible.

Let us examine this opinion of our ‘critics’.

Is it true or untrue that the labourers’ conditions of existence become more and more insecure with the development of labour productivity?

People who have made a careful study of this question and, to the best of our knowledge, have not yet been suspected of ‘dogmatism’ say that it is true.

Indeed, let us recall the opinion of the British Commission that studied the depression in industry. The majority of the commission were of the opinion that the civilised nations can at present turn out far more manufactures than are needed on the world market. [165] The discrepancy between productive force and consumer capacity leads to depression in industry and to lower profits. We leave it to the reader to judge how the workers’ conditions of existence must be affected by such a state of affairs brought about by the highly developed state of society’s productive forces.

The minority came out still more decisively and definitely. In their opinion, a very big change had taken place in the preceding forty years (the report was published in 1886) in the life of civilised nations. Labour productivity there had reached such a high level of development that the main difficulty now lay, not in the expensiveness or the rarity of products, but in finding employment, in the absence of which the vast majority of the population were deprived of all means of subsistence. [166]

Again, let the reader judge for himself whether all this contradicts or confirms the above-quoted words of Marx.

The commission left no room for doubt as to the nature of the difficulty created by the development of labour productivity. As they put it, it consisted in the fewer sources of wages for the working class, that is, in the creation of relative over-population. That was exactly what Marx said.

Thus, with the development of capitalism, the terms of the sale of labour power have changed to the disadvantage of the sellers, which is sufficient explanation of the fall we have demonstrated in the share of the working class of the national income. But, in saying that, we in no way deny higher wages in certain branches of production, but merely remark that such a rise goes hand in hand with a fall in the price of labour power, and, besides, it is not as considerable as the apologists of capitalism would have us believe.

Giffen asserted that the wage level rose by 100 or even more per cent [167] in some branches of British industry between the years 1833 and 1883. This is a staggering exaggeration, which has long been pointed out in various quarters. Any comparison between the figures for 1833 and the 1880s will reveal very little, for the simple reason that in 1833, that is, prior to the reform of the Poor Laws, [168] many workers with families were on parish relief, which no doubt led to an artificial lowering of the wage level. [169] Besides, even this scientifically impermissible comparison does not always confirm the roseate conclusion drawn by the ‘prime British statistician’. Thus, for instance, an able seaman’s pay reached 60 shillings a month in 1833; in the 1880s, it stood at the same level. In 1833 London compositors were earning an average of 36 shillings a weak; in the 1880s, their wages were no higher. [170] That, however, was not the main thing; the main thing was that this wage rise in Britain was accompanied by a series of phenomena that considerably detracted from its favourable consequences for the workers. Throughout the period under review, urban development made great forward strides, as a result of which the worker’s essential expenditures grew considerably, rents became higher [171] and the workers were obliged to travel to work by train or tram, while previously they had been able to walk to their places of employment, etc. Besides, adventitious loss of working hours became more frequent than before. Mr Gay, a secretary of the foundry-men’s union, calculated from the records at his disposal that members were losing up to 20 per cent of their working time through no fault of their own. [172] This figure is indicative of the size of the reserve army of workers, whose existence our ‘critic’ is prone to deny. [173] Hobson thinks that ‘the general condition of employment in England is one of greater irregularity and that the waste of time and energy is larger than it was half a century ago or during the eighteenth century. [174] This of course has escaped the attention of ‘scholars’ who prattle about ‘automatic socialism’ in capitalist society.

How frivolous the most ‘estimable’ representatives of the bourgeoisie become when they begin to speak about the ‘enrichment’ of the workers is to be seen from the example of the self-same Goschen. To back his argument in favour of the ‘automatic socialism’ he has invented, Goschen refers to the fact that, in the period between 1875 and 1886, the number of houses producing less than £10 of rent grew far more slowly than the number of houses with rents of between £10 and £20. He attributed this to a considerable part of the working class having grown more prosperous and therefore presenting demands for more expensive housing. However, he himself has foreseen that objectors will point to the higher rents, a fact of common knowledge.

To this unavoidable objection he makes reply in advance: ‘At least, the working men... can afford to pay them.’ [175] – that is, higher rents. There is no out-arguing such ‘objective’ researchers!

The ‘well-intentioned’ economists are no less aware than we are that higher wages do not of themselves equate to an improvement in the workers’ conditions. However, they often pass the fact over in silence, probably in the interests of the ‘social peace’. In other and less delicate cases, they speak out frankly. As an example, we can refer to the renowned Levasseur, who, in his book La Population de la France, points out very reasonably:

When they leave their villages, workers allow themselves to be tempted by the prospect of higher pay; they lose sight of the unemployment, the high prices of dwellings and food, and the temptation to spend more; many of them have changed their condition without improving their lot. [176]

Elsewhere in the same book, the esteemed scholar, who has confessed, incidentally, to a weakness for ‘Bastiat’s philosophical views on social harmony’, [177] loses sight of these reasonable considerations and, on the basis of a rise in wage levels, speaks of the all-round improvement in the workers’ conditions of life. [178]

If the reader does not wish to follow the example of such ‘objective’ scholars but will always take account of all aspects of the workers’ conditions of life, he will agree with us that, even in Great Britain, the improvement in the material condition of the proletariat has been quite insignificant. The usual reference is to the decline in pauperism in that country as outstanding proof of ‘progress of the working classes’. But Marx in his time remarked that ‘the official statistics become more and more misleading as to the actual extent of pauperism in proportion as, with the accumulation of capital, the class struggle, and, therefore, the class-consciousness of the working-men, develop’. [179] To this it should be added that the fall in the number of poor people on public relief was also brought about by a series of laws which more and more hampered home aid to all poor people in general, and especially to adult workers with at least some earnings. As a result of such laws, which were administered with remorseless callousness, the number of poor people in receipt of such aid fell in England and Wales from 955,146 (5.5 per cent of the population) in 1849 to 600,505 (1.95 per cent of the population) in 1897. During the same period, however, the number of workhouse inmates rose from 133,513 to 214,382. True, the share of the poor of that category in respect of the entire population remained practically unchanged: 0.77 in the first case, and 0.70 in the second. [180] But it is this very constancy in the relative number of workhouse inmates that should prompt the thought that the bruited decrease in British pauperism is a fiction that can deceive only those who would be deceived, and have eyes but not to see with. Miss Edith Simcox is quite right in saying that the statistics of British pauperism are far from a true measure of poverty in that country:

More than 10 per cent of those who die in a year [she says] die in workhouses or [charity-maintained – GP] hospitals, and this mortality represent a population of two and a half millions; so that nearly three and a half million of the population are either actual paupers, or in such poverty as to have been driven across the borders of pauperism by illness. [181]


This is a very gloomy picture but even so gloomy a picture cannot fully convey the sombre nature of reality. From other sources we learn that pauper mortality is much higher than Miss E Simcox thought. One-sixth of the population of London, the world’s richest city, die at workhouses or hospitals attached to them. But that is not all. There are grounds to believe that between 20 and 25 per cent of the British population die in conditions so close to beggary that funeral expenses have to be borne by the parish. [182] About 20 per cent of all those who reach the age of sixty-five in England and Wales have to apply for public charity, according to figures provided by Charles Booth, the well-known researcher. [183] Since there are, of course, classes in the English population in which few aged people fall into poverty, if they ever do, it follows that the working class accounts for an even higher relative number of the aged poor. Between 40 and 45 per cent of all proletarians fall into extreme poverty in their old age in London and the Home Counties. [184]

This is terrible in the literal sense of the word! And with the existence of such horrible things, apologists for the bourgeoisie speak of the diffusion of wealth, the blunting of social contradictions, and the like. Truly, it may be said that their cynicism reaches the sublime! One cannot but be amazed at the ‘critics’ of Marxism being unable to be critical of such cynicism and yielding, ever more to the influence of the apologists!

Anyone familiar with the condition of the English working class will not be surprised to learn that the percentage of suicides in England is particularly high among elderly people of 55 or over. [185] After a lifetime of back-breaking toil reflecting a labour intensity only the Anglo-Saxon worker is capable of, aged proletarians voluntarily leave this earthly paradise for the celestial. And the more educated the English worker becomes, the more frequently he resorts to suicide as the best means of escaping from poverty. In counties up to 27 per cent of whose inhabitants cannot even sign their names, the number of suicides reaches 57.5 per million; in counties where between 17 and 25 per cent of the population cannot sign their names, the number of suicides rises to 69.2 per million inhabitants. Finally, the highest number of suicides, 80.3 per million inhabitants, refers to areas where the percentage of illiteracy does not exceed 17. [186] The reason is obvious: the more educated a man is, the harder he finds it to put up with the humiliation inflicted by poverty, and in general with the hardships of life. Or perhaps another explanation is more in place here? Perhaps it may be supposed that the number of persons who cannot sign their names declines – as we have seen in Russia – together with the growth of industrial development, so that the mounting number of suicides is thus the beneficent outcome of the growth in ‘socialwealth? In both cases, we arrive at a conclusion that is quite unflattering to capitalist society and to all those gentlemen who raise their voices in a chorus of comfort about the blunting of social contradictions.

Despite the ruthless ferocity with which the British bourgeoisie practise their ‘charity’, the number of the poor people on relief in rich London is outpacing the population growth. [187] How, after such things, can Marx and Engels be accused of exaggeration when they say in the Communist Manifesto: ‘The modern labourer... becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth.’ [188]

If such is the state of affairs in Great Britain, which, as a result of her long years of supremacy on the world market, has yet been able at least somewhat to improve the condition of some sections of its proletariat, what must the position be in other lands which do not enjoy the advantages of industrial monopoly? Some idea of that can be provided by the fact, quoted above, that the Belgian worker is obliged to sell his labour below its value. We shall cite several facts characterising the condition of the French proletarian.

In the period between 1833 and 1843, the price of white bread in France was 34.5 centimes a kilogram. In 1894, a kilogram of bread cost between 37.5 and 40 centimes in Paris. [189] In 1831-40, the wholesale price of a kilogram of beef was 1 franc 5 centimes, and that of a kilogram of pork 78 centimes; in 1894, the price of beef was 1 franc 64 centimes a kilogram, with pork costing 1 franc 54 centimes. [190] In 1854, the price of a thousand eggs was 52 francs; today they cost 82 francs. [191] In 1849 a hectolitre of potatoes (low-grade) cost between 3.5 and 4.5 francs; today’s price is between 7 and 12.5 francs. A kilogram of butter cost between 1 franc 28 centimes and 1 franc 90 centimes in 1849; today’s price bracket is between 2 francs 5 centimes and 4 francs 26 centimes. Finally, the price of beans doubled between 1849 and 1892. [192]

Again according to Pelloutier, the price of foodstuffs has risen in France by between 22 and 23 per cent during the last 30 years, while average wages have not increased by more than 17 per cent. [193] If you add to this the soaring rents in the big cities, you cannot but arrive at the conclusion that the French proletarian’s material condition has deteriorated not only relatively but absolutely during the three decades. The conclusion is fully corroborated by the statistics, which show that the French worker gets less nourishment than he did 50 years ago. [194]

The absolute deterioration in the French proletariat’s economic condition naturally brings greater pauperism in its train: ‘The modern labourer... becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth.’ In the five years between 1886 and 1891, the population of the French capital increased by 4.01 per cent; during the same period, the number of paupers in this ville lumière [195] rose by 23.1 per cent. The five-year period was no exceptional one: the following table shows that the growth of pauperism has long assumed shocking proportions in Paris: [196]

YearsExpenditures on Paris PaupersPopulation


Do not think that all this refers to Paris alone. The situation is much the same all over France. In 1873, there were 6715 ‘charity bureaux’ in France, rendering relief to 806,000 poor people; in 1860, 11,351 bureaux supported 1,115,900 persons; in 1888, such bureaux numbered 15,138, the number of the poor maintained by them standing at 1,647,000. [197] In 28 years (1860-88), the number of paupers went up by 42 per cent, with the population increase being only 5.4 per cent. ‘The modern labourer... becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth...


Bourgeois economists, who raise their heads in pride at the sight of decrease in the official number of paupers in Britain, modestly lower their eyes in the face of the statistics on French pauperism, and very conveniently recall, at the same time, that the figures of official pauperism, taken by themselves, do not prove anything. We, too, think that, taken separately, these figures cannot serve as an infallible indicator of the proletariat’s economic condition. We therefore consider it necessary to verify the testimony of such figures with the aid of statistics of another kind.

In the half-century between 1838 and 1888, crime increased in France as follows. [198]

Number of ConvictionsPercentage increase
Crimes of violence51
Offences against property69
Offences against public morals240
Vagrancy and begging430

The amazing increase in the number of convictions for begging and vagrancy emphatically confirms the official testimony of the statistics on pauperism in France, regarding which we may have harboured some doubt. Consequently, we have to acknowledge the truth of the statistics.

Let the objection not be raised that France is a country on the decline; she is still one of the wealthiest countries in Europe. It is not only in France that a rapid growth of pauperism is to be seen. Here is a table which shows the growth in the number of people on relief in Brussels and its important adjacent urban communities, between the years 1875 and 1895. [199]

 One person on relief per

With the exception of Laeken, we can see an extremely rapid growth of pauperism in all the communities. In Anderlecht, there was one person on charity per 35 inhabitants in 1875; in 1894, there was one person on relief per eight inhabitants. Brussels had gone still further; a quarter of the population were reduced to beggary. In the provinces – in Bruges, Ypres, Enghien, Nivelles and Tournai, things were no better, but even worse in places: in some of these towns there was one pauper on relief per two or three inhabitants. [200] Thus we see that in Belgium too the ‘labourer... becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth’.

The author we have taken these figures from hastens to make a reservation already made several times in this article: the number of the poor on relief does not show the actual extent of poverty. [201] That is, of course, something nobody will dispute, but it is indubitable that the extraordinary rapid growth of this number does not show any improvement in the condition of the working class: what worker will appeal for alms unless poverty has overcome his sense of human dignity and pride of class?

In Germany, where the extent of official pauperism is far lower than in Belgium, we meet with the following interesting phenomenon: in towns with under 20,000 inhabitants, the percentage of paupers on relief is 4.75; in cities of between 55,000 and 100,000 it rises to 6.39; finally, where the population is over 100,000, it already stands at 6.51 of the total population. [202]

Here again we see that poverty develops more rapidly than population, if not more rapidly than wealth. What has Mr P Struve to say to this?

Perhaps he will say that the number of poor people on charity in Germany has fallen considerably in recent years. That will be true. But why has the number fallen? Simply because there has been a change in the system of administering relief. It is a long way from that change to an improvement in the condition of the workers.

We shall also ask our ‘critic’ to note that crime is growing, not only in France but also in all the capitalist countries which have been studied in this respect. [203] In 1882, there were 1043 convictions per 100,000 inhabitants of Germany over 12 years old and not serving in the armed forces; in 1895, the number was already 1251. [204] What brought about this growth of crime? The French socialists (for example, Louis Blanc in his Organisation du travail) have long linked it with the growing difficulties in the struggle for existence, and in particular with the impoverishment of the working class. Experience has fully confirmed this indication. Professor Liszt, whom we have just quoted, says that the dependence of crime on the economic condition is common knowledge and is questioned by none. [205] He goes on to remark that by the economic condition one should understand, first and foremost, the general condition of the working class – ‘die Gesammtlage der arbeitenden Klassen’ – that is, in all respects, not only in the ‘financial’. We already know that higher wages – something that bourgeois economists keep harping on – do not yet bring about an overall improvement in the proletarian’s conditions of life. Crime, which is growing far more rapidly than population, is a reminder of this indisputable truth. Indeed, note that juvenile delinquency is growing far more rapidly than adult crime. Between 1826 and 1880, the overall figure for criminal offences committed by adults in France trebled, while the number of cases of juvenile delinquency quadrupled. [206] Juvenile delinquency grew even more rapidly after 1880. At present, according to Fouillé, over half of all those arrested in Paris on various charges, are juveniles.

Parallel with juvenile delinquency, there has been a growth in juvenile prostitution and suicides, which were previously extremely rare. This is to be seen not only ‘In Paris, in its busy boulevards, Where vice and dissipation seethe’, but all over France, and beyond her borders too. In pious Germany the number of young criminals rose almost by 50 per cent [207] between 1882 and 1895. In respect of prostitution, that pious country was not marking time either: between 1875 and 1890, the population of Berlin increased by three to four per cent annually, with the number of prostitutes going up by six to seven per cent. [208]

Is it necessary to expatiate on the causes of the growth of crime and vice among juveniles? To understand those causes, it is sufficient to recall, for instance, that in France sixty per cent of juvenile ‘delinquents’ are made up of beggars and vagrants, while twenty-five per cent are hauled into bourgeois courts for theft. [209] In consequence of the lack of care, which is itself connected with the more extensive use of women’s hired labour, children acquire habits of vagrancy, and are then forced to beg and steal so as not to starve. The growth of crime in general, and of juvenile delinquency in particular, testifies irrefutably to the worsening social position of the proletarian.

We shall remark, in passing, that recognition of this indisputable fact does not obligate Social-Democrats to support the Christian Socialists’ demand for a ban on women’s employment at factories. The Social-Democrats hold that such a ban, far from improving the workers’ social condition, would make it worse by giving a new and very powerful impulse to the grossest and cruellest forms of the exploitation of women by capital. The appearance and consolidation of such forms of exploitation have as yet never helped improve the condition of the toiling masses. That is why the Social-Democrats are utterly opposed to the reactionary proposal emanating from the Christian Socialists. This is most logical, and if mockery is in place here, it should be addressed to Mr P Struve, who has made so bold as to wax ironical over the alleged inconsistency of Kautsky, who has seen, in the development of women’s employment in industry, proof of the impoverishment of the working class, but at the same time has no approval for the practical proposals advanced by a Decurtins.


In speaking of crime, one should remember that its rapid growth goes hand in hand with the soaring number of recidivists. [210] ‘Our punishments’, F Liszt has remarked in this connection, ‘exert neither a bettering nor an intimidating influence; in general, they do not prevent crime, that is, do not hold anybody back; rather they enhance an inclination towards crime.’ [211]

That is true, but it is no less true that recidivists comprise a milieu that is morally quite distinct from so-called fortuitous delinquency. It is unfortunately a milieu where, if not ignorance, then at least coarsening and degradation of morals hold almost full sway. And not only coarsening and degradation of morals. Many of its members undoubtedly bear the stamp of degeneration, and it is to them that the words of Maudsley apply with particular force: ‘There exists a class of criminals marked by defective physical and mental organisation... the proportion is considerable of those that are feeble-minded or epileptics who go mad or are descended from families where madness has existed.’ [212] We shall refer anyone who wants proof of these words to a highly interesting book by Dr E Laurent entitled Les habitués des prisons de Paris, which came out last year in Paris, with a no less interesting preface by Lacassagne. [213] Laurent is just as far removed from the ridiculous exaggerations of the Lambroso school [214] as Lacassagne is. Anyone who goes through his book carefully will gain an unshakeable conviction that, when it punishes recidivists, society often penalises degenerates, who are a passive and pathological product of the socio-historical process. If the number of such people is growing, together with the number of beggars, tramps, prostitutes, pimps and other representatives of the lumpen-proletariat, then is it not clear that we still have the right to say, together with Marx: ‘Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole...’ [215] This is a fact that the present-day Brentanoists and the ‘critics’ of Marx will not be able to talk away (wegschwatzen) any more than Bastiat and his immediate followers were able to. In view of this unquestionable fact, we are greatly surprised by those people who consider as an extreme exaggeration the thought expressed by Marx and Engels that the workers’ social condition in the Middle Ages was better than it is in capitalist society today. This thought may be unpalatable to those who would blunt the contradictions inherent in society today. The truth of the statement is, however, recognised not only by the ‘epigones’ of Marx. [216]

At this point, Mr P Struve stops us to remind us of an argument of his which he considers irresistible: if the accumulation of wealth at one pole goes hand in hand with the accumulation of poverty, physical degeneration and moral debasement at the other, then how can the socialist revolution take place? Is a degenerate working class capable of effecting the greatest of all revolutions known in history? [217]

To this we shall reply that Marx and Engels never counted on degenerate elements of the proletariat as a revolutionary force. This is categorically stated both in the Manifesto of the Communist Party and the Preface to Engels’ Der deutsche Bauernkrieg. [218] However, the development of capitalism brings in its wake, not only a relative (and in places, also an absolute) deterioration of the proletariat’s condition, it not only creates ‘passive products of social decay’, but also gives food for thought to those proletarians who do not constitute part of those passive products; out of such proletarians it forms the ever-growing army of social revolution. Pointing to the growth of pauperism, etc, Marx also spoke of ‘the indignation of the working class, which is constantly growing and constantly training, is united and organised by the very mechanism of the capitalist process of production’ (our italics). Consider France or Germany: despite the rapid growth of crime, prostitution and other signs of the spiritual degradation of some elements of the toiling masses, the working class, taken as a whole, is becoming ever more class-conscious and ever more imbued with the socialist spirit. The worsening of the proletariat’s social condition is in no way tantamount to the creation of conditions that hamper the development of its class consciousness. Of course, only anarchists à la Bakunin could imagine that poverty in itself is the finest of all possible socialist agitators. But taken by itself, prosperity is far from always an ‘inspirer’ of the revolutionary spirit. Everything depends on circumstances of time and place.

The ‘critics’, who consider a worsening in the social position of the working class incompatible with the development of class consciousness, simply do not understand the materialist explanation of history, to which, however, they are fond of making reference. This non-understanding also affects their reasoning on the economic conditions necessary for the political victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie. The political strength of any given class, say these gentlemen, is determined by its economic and social force. That is why an increase in the proletariat’s political strength must presuppose an increase in its economic strength and, conversely, a weakening of the latter of necessity leads to a lessening of the political significance of the proletariat. That is the opinion, in Germany, of David, Woltmann, Kampffmeyer and many other adherents of the ‘new methods’. [219] It is doubtful whether Mr P Struve adheres to this view in all its plenitude, for it is a kind of conservative variety of Bakuninism; [220] neither is he in agreement with Kautsky, who, in his reply to Bernstein, spoke of its theoretical bankruptcy. Necessary for the victory of the proletariat, in Mr P Struve’s opinion, is an ‘organisational force’, which can be acquired only by degrees, on the basis of the economic organisation and economic institutions. [221] The truth is closely intertwined with error in this opinion. That an organisational force is necessary to the proletariat, just as it has been necessary for any other social class striving for new production relations, is indisputable: it has never been questioned by ‘orthodox’ Marxists. But why does Mr P Struve think that such force can be acquired only on the basis of ‘economic organisation’, that is – if we have correctly understood him – on the basis of cooperative societies and similar ‘economic institutions'? If the proletariat’s organisational force could develop only in the measure in which its ‘economic institutions’ do, that force would never develop to a degree necessary and sufficient for victory over the bourgeoisie because, in capitalist society, such workers’ institutions will always be infinitesimal in comparison with the ‘institutions’ controlled by the bourgeoisie.

Further, our ‘critic’ is also right in saying that the organisational force of the proletariat – like any other force – can be acquired only by degrees. But why should this correct idea preclude the notion of social revolution? After all, the French bourgeoisie also acquired its organisational force by degrees, yet it was able to carry through its social revolution.

Incidentally the consideration that the gradual acquisition of organisational force is inevitable is only one of the smaller cannon placed by Mr P Struve next to some very big-calibre siege guns in the theoretical battery that holds under fire, in his article, the concept of social revolution, which is so repugnant to him. According to our original plan, we were to have attacked that battery in the article now lying before the reader, but then we saw ourselves constrained to analyse in detail the theory of the blunting of social contradictions from the economic point of view. That is why we have had to put off to our next article our attack against the battery erected against the concept of social revolution. In that article we shall finally settle accounts with our ‘critic’, and we shall see with greater clarity the kind of ‘Marxism’ he is now preaching.

Article Three


Mr P Struve is known to be given to dilating on ‘epistemology’. True he has not to date found it necessary (or possible) to set forth his ‘epistemological’ views with any degree of coherence and consistency. It is even doubtful whether he has any coherent views of that kind, which does not prevent him from making reference to ‘epistemology’ in all suitable and, which is far worse, all unsuitable cases. In view of that, one cannot be surprised at ‘epistemological’ considerations comprising his main weapon in the struggle against ‘social revolution’.

To show us how groundless that ‘theoretical pseudo-notion’ is, our ‘critic’ explains how ‘evolutionism’ should be understood by anyone who does not wish to sin against the theory of knowledge. Here is what we have learnt from him on this score.

The principle of evolution, while saying nothing on why changes take place, does tell us most definitely how they take place. It acquaints us with their form, and form can be defined by a single word: continuity (die Stetigkeit). It is only uninterrupted change that we can understand. That is why the old proposition natura non facit saltus (Nature does not make leaps) should be supplemented with another proposition intellectus non patitur saltus (the intellect does not tolerate leaps). After crossing a certain limit, quantitative changes turn into qualitative, says Hegel. This formula is often referred to by orthodox Marxists, who naively imagine that it gives a real explanation of the course of social revolution. In fact, however, it does not explain phenomena but merely describes them with the aid of logical categories, [222] emphasising the continuous nature of change. That is why references to it lack all conviction. We must inevitably arrive at the conclusion that the notion of social revolution does not stand up to criticism and has to be bracketed together with the notion of freedom of will (in the sense of action without cause), the substantiality of the soul, and so on; since the times of Kant, we have known that these notions are very important in the practical sense, but are wholly groundless from the angle of theory.

That is the line of argument followed by Mr P Struve, who is most industrious in bolstering his arguments with quotations from the writings of Schuppe, Kant, Sigwart, Ziehen and even... Mr F Kistyakovsky. [223] Though Heine was right when he said that quotations embellish writers, we more and more arrive at the conviction, as we follow the reasoning of our ‘critic’, that far from all writers who ‘adorn’ themselves with quotations are marked by clarity and consistency of thought.

If the notion of social revolution does not stand up to criticism, then the question arises: what about those social revolutions which have already taken place in history? Should they be considered as never having taken place, or should it be admitted that they were not revolutions in the meaning attached to the word by orthodox Marxists? But even if we said that, for instance, the French Revolution never took place in fact, that would hardly be believed by anyone. And were we to assert that that great revolution in no way resembled the one that orthodox Marxists speak of, those obstinate people would at once interrupt us, indicating that we were distorting the facts. In the opinion of orthodox Marxists, the French Revolution was a social revolution in the full sense of the word. True it was a revolution of the bourgeoisie, and – in the opinion of orthodox Marxists – it is now the turn of the proletarian revolution. But that does not change matters. If the notion of social revolution is groundless because Nature makes no leaps and the intellect does not tolerate them, then such firm arguments should apply in equal measure both to the revolution of the bourgeoisie and that of the proletariat. And if the bourgeois revolution took place long ago, although leaps are ‘impossible’ and changes are ‘continuous’, then we have every reason to think that the proletarian revolution will also take place in due time if only, of course, it does not come up against obstacles more serious than those indicated by Mr P Struve in his ‘epistemological’ arguments.

But let us take a closer look at those arguments.

The Hegelian ‘formula’ does not explain phenomena but only describes them. That is so, but that is not the question. It is whether the description given by the ‘formula’ is right or wrong. If it is right, then the ‘formula’ is obviously correct; if the ‘formula’ is correct, then it is no less obvious that Hegel was right; if it is obvious that Hegel was right, then it is just as obvious that the continuous nature of changes – which, as Mr P Struve himself acknowledges, is indicated by Hegel’s ‘formula’ – does not preclude the possibility of those very ‘leaps’ which, it is asserted, Nature does not make and the intellect does not tolerate.


It should be noted that, in general, ‘leaps’ make mock of our ‘critic’, and irresistibly penetrate even into the area of his own line of reasoning. That is best of all brought out by an excerpt he has made from Sigwart.

Sigwart says that if something changes before our eyes, for example, if blue paper turns red, or a piece of wax placed in a stove melts, then we are dealing with a continuous process that gives us no reason to suppose that a given substance is replaced by another one. On the contrary, the continuity of changes taking place here convinces us that the thing has remained the same even when there has been a change in all its immediately perceptible properties, such as temperature, colour, external appearance and so on.

These arguments of Sigwart’s are quoted by our ‘critic’ as revealing the groundlessness of the notion of social revolution. Actually, far from destroying that notion, they support it. They reply – inasmuch as they do reply – to the question: in what conditions and why a given object continues to remain that very object for us despite the changes it has undergone. However they contain not the slightest proof of the idea that rapid and radical changes we are entitled to call leaps are impossible in the objects about us. The reverse is true: one of the examples given by Sigwart reminds us most convincingly that such changes are quite possible, fully natural and not at all amazing. When a piece of wax placed in a stove melts, an entire revolution takes place in its state: it was hard, but has become liquid. And although this fundamental change, of course, presupposes a more or less ‘continuous’ process or a more or less ‘gradual’ heating of the wax, [224] that change itself takes place, not ‘gradually’ but suddenly as soon as the temperature necessary for melting is reached. What undoubtedly does take place here is a most indubitable saltus, yet Mr P Struve has undertaken to prove to us that Nature makes no leaps and that the intellect does not tolerate them. How can that be? Or perhaps he has in view only his own intellect, which indeed does not tolerate leaps for the simple reason that he, as they say, ‘cannot toleratethe dictatorship of the proletariat.

If, after going to the trouble of gaining a correct understanding of Sigwart’s arguments, we will wish to apply them to human societies, we shall have to say, for instance, the following: we are convinced that, in the early nineteenth century, France remained France (’that verycountry) although, at the end of the eighteenth century, there took place in it a social upheaval known by the name of the Great Revolution; we are sure of that, in the first place, because all the changes in that country during and after the revolution took place continuously in a definite territory ('in a given place’); secondly, because in many respects (for instance in respect of race and language), the population of that country was the same in the nineteenth century as it was before the revolution; in the third place, because... but there is no need for us to enumerate all these ‘becauses'; we have only to show that the question of why and when a given thing (or country) continues to remain for us ‘the very same’ is one thing, while the question of whether the rapid and radical changes called revolutions (or similar to them) are possible and thinkable in the organisation of human societies (or in the properties of things) is something else. Even if the authors quoted by Mr P Struve gave us a most exhaustive reply to the first of these questions, that gratifying circumstance would nevertheless give us no right, or even any semblance of right, to decide the second question in a negative sense.

Mr P Struve may perhaps object that, however matters may stand with the Sigwart quotation and with several of his other quotations, the excerpt from Kant is a reply to the second question. Let us read through that passage, which we shall quote in full:

Any change... is possible only because of the continuous operation of causality... There is no distinction of the real in a phenomena just as no distinction in the magnitude of times even of the smallest; thus a new state of reality arises from the first, where it did not exist, through all the infinite degrees, all the distinctions between which from one another are always less than the distinction between O and A. [225]

It may seem to follow hence that ‘leaps’ are impossible and there again arises before us the vexing question of what we are to do with the ‘leaps’ that have already taken place in history. However, after some reflection we discover that this awesome quotation is not as intimidating as our ‘critic’ imagines.

Kant is speaking of states that differ from one another only in magnitude. [226] What is meant by a series of consecutive states that differ from one another only in magnitude? It is a series of quantitative changes. Kant says that the series is continuous in the sense that leaps in it are unthinkable. Let us assume that that is true; but what has that to do with the question of whether leaps are possible when quantitative changes develop into qualitative ones? Nothing at all: the question is in no way solved by our learning from Kant that leaps are impossible in a continuous process of changes in quantity. We noted above that, according to the self-same Mr P Struve, Hegel’s ‘formula’ also speaks of the continuous nature of changes. We can now add that it recognises changes as continuous in the measure that they remain quantitative, but it declares that leaps are inevitable when quantity develops into quality. If Mr P Struve wished to disprove Hegel – and, together with him, the orthodox Marxists – he should have aimed his critical blows at this very spot. He should have shown that quantity does not develop into quality, or – if it does develop – that there is no leap in this case, nor can there be one. In fact, Mr P Struve has limited himself to quoting from the Critique of Pure Reason a passage that says that leaps are impossible in cases of changes of quantity. What strange logic! What an amazing ‘critic'!

Kant goes on to say that a given magnitude of reality arises by passing through the ever lesser degrees lying between finite moments of change. But what kind of emergence, and emergence of what, is he referring to? To this question he replies in categorical terms: what arises is not Substance, whose quantity always remains invariable in Nature, but only a new state of Substance. [227] Very good. Let us remember that, and ask ourselves: is the emergence of a new state (of Substance) the only thinkable kind of emergence? Cannot a new relation (between the parts of Substance) arise? It not only can arise, but it is constantly arising. Not only is it constantly arising, but it should constantly arise in consequence of those very changes in the state of Substance that Kant is in fact referring to, that is, in consequence of its motion. It is this emergence of new relations that is the area in which quantity develops into quality, and ‘continuous change’ leads to ‘leaps’.


When oxygen unites with hydrogen, does the newly-formed molecule of water go through ‘all the innumerable degrees’ separating it from a molecule of hydrogen (or oxygen)? We do not think so, for the simple reason that one cannot even imagine intermediate ‘degrees’ between water and its component elements. That kind of continuity is unthinkable; ‘the intellect cannot tolerateit.

Let us take another example. Let us suppose that a country has passed a law limiting the working day to nine hours, but the workers find that their labour still lasts too long and demand that the working day be reduced to eight hours. Their demand is finally met by the legislators and from such and such a date, say 1 January of the following year, the eight-hour working day becomes law. The question is whether one can speak here of any ‘innumerable stages’ between the new law and the old one? Of course, not: there have been no such stages; the legislators moved the limit of the working day by one hour, and immediately. This was a saltus, though, of course, of less awesome proportions than a social revolution, and if we, ‘without tolerating leaps’, begin to speak of ‘continuity’, we shall soon have to admit that none existed here, which is why the intellect ‘does not tolerate’ it here. It follows that even in ‘social reform’ one cannot do without leaps.

And here is another example, somewhat more ‘revolutionary’: on 24 February 1848, the Republic was proclaimed, in the Paris Hôtel de Ville. Let Mr P Struve tell us what the ‘innumerable degrees’ between the July monarchy and the Second Republic did and could consist in. Could it have been in the revolutionary movement of the insurgent people of Paris who, gradually and by overcoming the resistance of the troops, thereby gradually decreased the chances of the preservation of the monarchy? However, it would be very strange to refer to this victorious uprising of the people as proof that leaps are impossible. By resorting to such references, Mr P Struve would be proving the reverse of what he is out to prove.

Kant himself has remarked that change is undergone only by those objects that ‘remain’, that is, continue to exist. Inception – like disappearance – is not at all a change in what arises or disappears. [228] But if that is so – and indeed it is so – then it is obvious that change in general, and consequently, gradual and continuous change, explains neither emergence nor disappearance. And if we can explain neither the emergence nor the disappearance of objects, we do not understand them in general, and there can be no talk of a scientific attitude towards them on our part.

The continuity Kant speaks of is that very continuity that Leibnitz elevated to the law which he named Loi de continuité. But that very Leibnitz recognised that, when dealing with ‘choses composées’, we discover that a small change sometimes brings about very great action, that is, in other words, causes a break in gradualness, a leap. Such leaps are impossible, in Leibnitz’s words, only in ‘simple things’ ('à l'égard des principes ou des choses simples’), because that would contradict the Divine Wisdom. [229] Leaving aside the matter of Divine Wisdom, we shall note that all the examples cited by us above have been taken from the field of ‘des choses composées’, which means that Leibnitz himself would not have set about objecting to them from the viewpoint of the ‘law of continuity’. But are we saying that he would not have set about objecting? It seems to us that, had he foreseen the kind of use that his ‘law’ would be put to by certain would-be philosophers of a certain future period, he would have added, in respect of them, some kind of caustic reservation, if only he would not have been afraid to give offence to those always numerous conservative gentlemen whose ‘intellect’ had for so long eschewed ‘leaps’, especially where it comes to the ‘chose composée’ called socio-political relations.

We shall note, in passing, that, in ‘choses simples’ too, the question of leaps is not solved quite as simply as it seemed to Leibnitz and Kant. Let us take, for instance, the reasoning made already familiar to us by the author of Critique of Pure Reason.

He says that a new magnitude of reality (A – B) arises through all the lesser degrees contained between A and B. Let us assume that this is so, and take two immediately consecutive degrees of those lying between the points indicated. The question is: how does that magnitude of reality arise which is equal to the difference between these two degrees? Here only two things can be supposed: 1) that it arises immediately or 2) that it arises gradually. If it arises gradually, that means that it itself goes through many intermediate degrees. But that is contrary to the condition of our task, since we have taken two degrees that are immediately consecutive. Consequently, there remains only the second supposition, according to which the difference between the two degrees we have taken arises at once. That arising at once is one of those leaps which are alleged to be impossible. That means that it is not leaps that the intellect does not tolerate, but continuity.

To the thesis that leaps do not exist, but only continuity, can be contraposed with full justice the antithesis in the meaning of which change always takes place in reality by leaps; however, a series of small and rapidly successive leaps merges for us into one ‘continuous’ process.

A correct theory of knowledge should of course reconcile this thesis and antithesis in a single synthesis. We cannot examine here how they can be reconciled in the area of ‘choses simples’, for that would be taking us too far. [230] At this point, it is sufficient for us to know and remember that, in the ‘choses composées’ we so often have to deal with in the study of Nature and history, leaps presuppose continuous change, while continuous change inevitably leads to leaps. These are two necessary aspects of one and the same process. Eliminate one of them mentally, and the entire process will become impossible and unthinkable. [231]


‘All is flux, nothing is stationary’, said the ‘obscure’ philosopher of Ephesus. [232] All is flux, everything changes, the adherents of the dialectical method have always repeated. But if everything is flux and everything changes, and if phenomena are constantly passing into each other, it is not always easy to designate the borderlines separating one phenomenon from another.

For everyday purposes [says Engels], we know and can say, for example, whether an animal is alive or not. But, upon closer inquiry, we find that this is, in many cases, a very complex question, as the jurists know very well. They have cudgelled their brains in vain to discover a rational limit beyond which the killing of the child in its mother’s womb is murder. It is just as impossible to determine absolutely the moment of death, for physiology proves that death is not an instantaneous, momentary phenomenon, but a very protracted process.

In like manner, every organic being is every moment the same and not the same; every moment it assimilates matter supplied from without, and gets rid of other matter; every moment some cells of its body die and others build themselves anew; in a longer or shorter time the matter of its body is completely renewed, and is replaced by other molecules of matter, so that every organic being is always itself, and yet something other than itself. [233]

Mr P Struve, who is familiar of course with these considerations, is out to ascribe to orthodox Marxists something they have never thought or wished to say. He rebukes them for their expecting to find a gulf where in fact there can be only a level and almost imperceptible crossing. He has described as lacking any reasonable foundation in theory their talk of the social revolution, one that would mean a sharp – and, in fact, impossible – line of demarcation between two social systems, the capitalist and the socialist.

Such arguments can disconcert only that Marxist who has not yet evolved a coherent world-outlook. The Marxist who has given careful thought to the basic propositions of his theory knows that, in fact, development does not take place exactly as the ‘critics’ would like it to. If I see that heating turns ice into water, and water into steam, then I will have to make a considerable effort to fail to notice the leaps prepared here by gradual change. Of course, it is not everywhere that such leaps take place. But even where they do not take place, or where what we see as a leap consists, in fact, of a series of gradual but imperceptible transitions – even in such cases we often have every possibility of distinguishing between phenomena with a degree of precision sufficient for the definite purpose we are pursuing. Thus, though death is a process that takes place more or less slowly and is not a sudden act, we are able, in the vast majority of cases, to distinguish between the living and the dead, so that if Ivan beheads Semyon with a stroke of an axe, we can say, without fear of falling into error, that the severance of Semyon’s head from his body is an act that has deprived him of life. It is the same in the field of socio-political phenomena. Social evolution in no way precludes social revolutions, which are moments in the former. A new society burgeons ‘within the womb of the old one’, but when the time of ‘delivery’ arrives, the slow course of development breaks off and the ‘old order’ ceases to contain the new one within its ‘womb’, for the simple reason that it disappears together with the latter. That is what we call social revolution. If Mr P Struve wants to get a graphic idea of the social revolution, we would again refer him to the great social upheaval in France that put an end to the existence of that ancien régime within which the third estate had so long developed. Mr Struve holds that the capitalist order is not fated to die such a rapid and violent death. We will let him think exactly as he wishes, but would ask him to produce, in defence of that opinion, something more convincing than his clumsy and feeble considerations regarding ‘continuity’.

While these arguments of our ‘critic’ do not hold water on the plane of logic, they present interest in the psychological aspect. It is from this angle that a comparison with certain arguments used by Herr Bernstein will present interest.

In his Ludwig Feuerbach, Engels said that the world is a totality of processes in which things and their images in the mind, that is, notions, undergo constant change. Herr E Bernstein has found it necessary to subject this proposition of Engels’ to ‘criticism’, declaring that ‘in principle’ (prinzipielle) he ‘of course’ recognises the proposition as correct (sicherlich, richtig), but feels doubt as to the measure that the underlying idea is correct (welche Tragweite dürfen wir dem ihm zu Grunde liegenden Gedanken beilegen) and how the words constant change should be understood. To explain what has seemed doubtful to him, Herr Bernstein has cited the following example: according to the physiologists, the components of the human organism undergo constant change: during a period that does not exceed ten years a complete replacement of the entire substance takes place in that organism. It may therefore be said that, at any given minute, any person is not exactly what he was a minute before, and after the expiration of a certain period of time he has undergone complete material change. Despite all this, however, he remains the same person as before. True, he ages and undergoes change. He develops, but that development is determined by the properties of his organism, and though it could be slowed down or speeded up, it cannot lead to a particular man turning into a creature of another kind. It is on this basis that Herr E Bernstein has thought that Engels’ proposition cited above should be modified as follows: the world is a totality of ready-made things and processes. We see in it processes, for the completion of which less than a single second is necessary, but also such processes for which centuries or even millennia are essential and which, from the practical point of view, can be termed eternal. It is sometimes not only possible but even necessary to abstract ourselves from certain specific features in things, for the sake of certain aims of research or exposition. However, the dialectical formulas, Herr E Bernstein thinks, prompt such abstraction even when it is quite impermissible, or permissible only within certain limits. Therein lurks the danger of dialectical formulas.

We would not like to deal here with the question of the measure in which the amendment made by Herr Bernstein amends Engels. Neither shall we expatiate here on the amazing and purely schoolgirl naïveté of Herr Bernstein’s ‘critical’ remarks. The main distinctive feature in him as a ‘critic’ of the philosophical and sociological foundations of Marxism consists in general in a non-understanding of the object he is criticising. [234] But we are not in the least concerned with that here; we only want to find out the meaning of the rebuke addressed by Herr Bernstein to dialecticians in general, and Marxists in particular. In brief, they are rebuked for giving insufficient consideration to the specific features of things. In noting that, let us recall what Mr P Struve rebukes the orthodox Marxists for.

With him, these people focus too much attention on the specific features of the opposite concepts of capitalism and socialism, and betray dialectics by losing sight of the gradual and continuous development of the forms of social life. [235]

Thus we have before us two diametrically opposite reproofs: according to Herr Bernstein, it is development that prevents the orthodox Marxists from seeing ready-made things; according to Mr Struve, they do not see development because of their sharply delineated concepts. According to Herr Bernstein, they are too loyal to dialectics; according to Mr Struve they are insufficiently loyal to it.

Both these reproofs emanate from one and the same source – an incorrect idea of dialectics.

For some reason, Herr Bernstein thinks that dialectics ignores what Hegel called the rights of the mind, that is, does not show concern for a precise definition of notions. For some reason, Mr P Struve imagines that taking the ‘rights of the mind’ into account means betraying dialectics.

In actual fact, however, it is a distinctive feature of people capable of dialectical thinking that they are free of both these shortcomings: they know that the development of any ‘thing’ leads to its negation and its transition into another ‘thing’. But they also know very well that this process of transition of one thing into another can be understood by us only when we learn to distinguish between them, and do not allow our notions of them to merge into one indifferent whole: in fact, it is a question of the emergence of various things, not of constant change in one and the same thing. To express the matter in Hegel’s words, it can be said that only he remains loyal to the dialectical method who is able to give both reason and mind their due. He who forgets the rights of ‘reason’ becomes a metaphysician, he who loses sight of the rights of ‘the mind’ falls into scepticism. [236]

Anyone who imagines that the adherents of the dialectical method disregard the rights of the ‘mind’ have just as poor an understanding of the actual nature of that method as one who sees in a considerate attitude to those rights a betrayal of dialectics. The first instance is that of Herr Bernstein; the second, that of Mr P Struve.

Incidentally, what is this all to Messieurs Struve and Bernstein? It would be most mistaken to imagine that what is called criticism of Marxism is out to meet some serious theoretical need. In essence the ‘critics’ care very little for theory. What they want is to overcome, or at least to weaken, a certain practical trend – the revolutionary trend of the class-conscious proletariat. To them, ‘criticism’ serves as a weapon in the ‘spiritual struggle’ against that trend; their arguments present value to them only inasmuch as they help to present in an unfavourable light a concept that is so obnoxious to them – that of the social revolution. This practical aim justifies all and any theoretical means, and if one ‘critic’ advances against the orthodox Marxists an accusation that is wholly incompatible with an accusation simultaneously advanced against them by another ‘critic’, there is no contradiction here, but only variety in unity. Both ‘critics’ are in full accord between themselves that Carthage, that is, the concept of social revolution, should be destroyed. It is this that makes them fellow-thinkers and creates the mutual sympathy between them. As for the pretext to be chosen for this destruction of Carthage, that is something each of them decides in his own manner, nothing embarrassed by the pretext chosen by him personally stripping of any meaning the pretext chosen by his ally. It is with good reason that the ‘critics’ rebel against what is ‘stereotype'!

As we have seen, the theory of evolution which Mr Struve defends has, on the plane of theory, the basic shortcoming that it leaves room only for change in things that have already arisen, but not for the inception of new ones. But this is a shortcoming to which a blind eye is willingly turned both by Mr P Struve himself and the entire learned and semi-learned, big and petty bourgeoisie, who are out to overcome, with the aid of the ‘spiritual weapon’, the socio-revolutionary strivings of the proletariat. The conservative class instinct, which always makes mock of the ideologists of the upper classes, is now making mock of the bourgeois ‘epistemologists’. It makes them take pride in their numerous and glaring theoretical errors, flaunt them in the way a peacock spreads its magnificent tail, and look down on those who have avoided such mistakes.


The reader will probably tell us that there can be no talk of Messieurs P Struve and E Bernstein harbouring the conservative instinct because, whatever their attitude to social revolution, they are firm supporters of social reform. The trouble is that a firm defence of social reform today exists cheek by jowl with the conservative instinct of the bourgeoisie.

Here, for instance, is what Herr Werner Sombart has to say about this:

A thought that, during the second half of the present century, has engaged the finest minds, that is, the possibility, within the near future, of social production without the capitalist entrepreneur – that thought lives today only in the representatives of a dying generation of social visionaries. We now know that the entrepreneur can become superfluous only through a slow organic process... There is room for intensive and extensive work by capitalism for entire centuries to come... And we take pleasure in welcoming the prospects, for many years to come, of seeing at the head of our economic progress people who today too are guiding social life: masterly entrepreneurs, imperial merchants and directors of big joint-stock companies, and further, almost just as important – the leaders of our state, urban and cooperative businesses. [237]

The prospect of seeing masterly entrepreneurs, the directors of big joint-stock companies, imperial merchants and their like in the van of economic progress is wholly inseparable from the prospect of seeing that estimable fraternity ‘at the headof the exploiters of wage labour. A man who ‘takes pleasure in welcoming’ one prospect will be just as gratified to greet the other. Such a man indubitably adheres to the standpoint of the bourgeoisie, whose interests he holds dear. Its instinct of self-preservation speaks through him, yet he is an ardent defender of ‘socialism’.

But that does not at all mean [he assures us] that socialist ideals should capitulate to the colossal sphere of activities of present-day capitalism: rather the reverse; it is along the capitalist road that they get the possibility of realisation. This is true in two cases: if we consider as the socialist ideal the planned management of production and the unbridled forces of market circulation with the aid of an alliance of cartels; also when we bring into the foreground the defence of the interests of labour against those of property. The latter ideal is achieved through the slow transformation of the dominant economic order; to this refer factory legislation, the state insurance of workers and, in general, all reforms in legislation and administration which replace the initial private compact on the hiring of workers with a relationship based on public law. [238]

What is meant by ‘the interests of property’, that is, the interests of capitalist property, that of those merchants, shareholders and entrepreneurs to whom Herr Werner Sombart has with such pleasure foretold so lengthy a predominance? They mean the interests of the exploitation of wage labour. To defend the interests of wage labour against those of property means lowering the level of worker exploitation by the capitalists. The question arises: has that level fallen as a result of the reforms in the relation between labour and capital which has been dinned into our ears by the adherents of the theory of the gradual ‘voiding’ of capitalism? No, that has not been the case till now! On the contrary, we know very well that, despite all these reforms, the relative share of the working class in the social income has fallen in all the advanced capitalist countries. But that means a higher level of the exploitation of the working class and a growth in its dependence on the capitalists. Consequently, the above-mentioned reforms have not brought about any tangible changes in the capitalist relations of production and do not at all restrict the essential rights of capitalist ownership. And if the entire ‘socialism’ possible today boils down to such reforms, then it is in no way surprising that the ‘socialist ideals’ are best of all achieved on a capitalist foundation. The advanced industrial bourgeoisie of the capitalist countries realised long ago that the achievement of such ‘ideals’, far from harming them, brings them considerable benefit. That is why, after coming out so resolutely in the past against state intervention in the attitude of labour to capital and against worker trade unions, they are now themselves ready to call for such intervention and help such unions to appear. They have realised that, as one of the bourgeois Pindars of trade unionism has put it, ‘in the big machine-shop, the retail buying of labour is nonsense and absurdity’. [239] That is why the bourgeoisie’s publicists and scholars have come out as convinced propagandists of a ‘socialism’ of that kind. [240]

As a scholarly bourgeois, who knows a good thing when he sees one, Herr Werner Sombart waxes highly eloquent when he speaks of socialism... on a capitalist basis. But note, dear reader, that this kind of socialism is the self-same and well-publicised ‘social reform’ so insistently recommended and so skilfully depicted by Messieurs E Bernstein, P Struve e tutti frutti. [241] We shall not say that Herr W Sombart’s ‘socialist ideals’ fully coincide with the plans our of ‘critics’ of social reform. They may even differ in some things, but we can confidently say that Herr W Sombart’s ‘socialism’ is distinct from Mr P Struve’s ‘social reform’ no more than two varieties of one and the same species are. This is a variation on one and the same theme. That is why Mr P Struve lauds Herr W Sombart to the skies, while the latter places such great hopes on Mr P Struve’s ‘neo-Marxism’. [242] Birds of a feather flock together: these two birds are guided by one and the same class instinct.

In his well-known book, Mr Berdyaev has given excellent expression to that concept of the gradual reform of capitalist society which is peculiar to ‘critics’ à la P Struve. ‘The corrections made by capitalist development itself’, he says, ‘will darn the holes of existing society until the entire social fabric all becomes entirely new.’ [243] It would be difficult to put things more neatly. The trouble is that giving neat expression to an idea does not yet mean eliminating the elements of error in it. The appearance of a new ‘social fabric’ as a consequence of a thorough darning of the old one is the only instance, recognised by the ‘critics’, of a transition of quantity into quality. But this case is a dubious one. If I darn stockings, they will remain stockings and will not turn into gloves, even in the extreme case of the entire fabric undergoing a hundred per cent renovation. It is the same with darning the holes in capitalist society. The capitalist mode of production became established thanks to the elimination of the feudal-guild system, and not as a result of any darning of the latter. It is wholly incomprehensible how and why darning the capitalist ‘fabric’ can and should (even through the slowest of changes) lead to the elimination of capitalist production relations and their replacement by socialist ones. The figurative expression employed by Mr Berdyaev can only serve to bring out in higher relief the untenability of the kind of theory of evolution defended by the ‘critics’. We have already seen that this theory is capable of explaining only a change in already existing ‘things’, not the emergence of new ones. We can now clearly see that it can serve as theoretical guidance only to those whose ‘socialist idealsdo not go farther than ‘continuousdarning of the holes in capitalist society. To those who would create a new social system, that theory is absolutely pointless. It is a theory of bourgeois social reform brought out in opposition to the theory of the socialist revolution of the proletariat.

Continuously’ to darn the old, and just as ‘continuously’ to think that the darned old stuff ‘continuously’ turns into something quite new, means ‘continuously’ believing in a miracle that frankly and ‘continuously’ sets all the laws of human thinking at naught. And this faith, which, on the plane of theory, is nothing but an unnatural vice, is now ascribed to what is called the utopianism of the orthodox Marxists! What ‘critics'!

In actual fact, it is the theorists of ‘darning’, not the orthodox Marxists, that are the utopians. However, the utopianism of such theorists is a special and new brand of utopianism, one that has never existed in the history of social theories. A faith in the thaumaturgical force of ‘darning’ coexists peacefully in the minds of the ‘critics’ with a thorough and ineradicable ‘sobriety’ which so reasonably contents itself with the joyful consciousness that – as Gleb Uspensky [244] said in one of his works – postage stamps will become cheaper by a whole kopek in some future period of history. But that is not all. That utopia is just as unthinkable without that sobriety, as ‘bottom’ is unthinkable without ‘top’, and a positive pole without a negative one. The philistine and sober ‘minds’ of the theorists of darning ‘do not tolerate’ any other ‘leaps’ except cheaper postage stamps in all the distant future. And they unreservedly obey the voice of their ‘intellect’ in everything pertaining to practical activities. They have, in practice, ushered in the epoch of that conscious opportunism which is the more self-satisfied, the more fully and conveniently its demands fit into the scheme of ‘darning’. But the more proudly aware they become of their sobriety, the more unshakeable is their conviction that they are permitted to indulge in pipe dreams. They have complacently permitted themselves to believe that patches superimposed on other patches will produce a new ‘social fabric’ and that cheaper postage stamps will mark the onset of a golden age. However, the faith of the ‘critics’ in no way resembles the vulgar and blind faith of ordinary mortals: it is thoroughly imbued with disbelief, since the ‘critics’ believe in what they themselves have declared to be theoretically untenable. It is a faith of which only the Kantians are capable, people who first show themselves and others that not a single of the arguments advanced to prove the existence of God stands up to criticism, and then acquire a sudden ‘faith’ in God. The psychology of such ‘believers’ is somewhat reminiscent of the psychology of Gogol’s Podkolesin, a man who is well aware, in his heart of hearts, that he has not the least wish to marry and that he will never take himself a wife. His distaste for the bonds of matrimony will yield to no Kochkarevs. That, however, does not prevent him from saying: ‘When you begin to think, when you are at leisure, you realise that it is time to marry after all. Why not? You go on living and then you begin seeing things in such a gloomy light... Indeed, you begin to feel a twinge of conscience...’ [245] The only difference is that Podkolesin lacks that ‘critical’ education that marks the reformers of the new school. Under the influence of his own words, Podkolesin becomes marriage-minded at least at times and briefly, whereas the ‘critics’ in no wise go beyond ‘darning’, for they are never abandoned by the thought that the renovation of the social fabric is a utopia. If the ‘critics’ are not making mock of readers who are not blessed with ‘critical’ grace and if they really believe in what, in their words, precludes belief, then what we have before us is a highly interesting case of ‘dual consciousness’.

Any socialist [Mr P Struve writes] proceeds from socialism as a politico-moral ideal; to him, socialism is a regulative idea with whose aid he subjects individual events and actions to politico-moral appraisal and measurement. It is no different with a whole class which, organised in a party, operates... as a single politico-moral subject. In the ideal, the Social-Democratic movement should subject itself to an ultimate aim, for otherwise it will disintegrate. Faith in an ultimate aim is the religion of Social-Democracy; that religion is no ‘private matter’ but a most important social interest of a party. [246]

And this is said with the theoretical consciousness that the ‘ultimate aim’ is a utopia! No, say what you will, such ‘religion’ is impossible without a ‘dual consciousness’. But we Social-Democrats are in our right minds; we suffer from no ‘dual consciousness’, and we have not the slightest need of Mr P Struve’s ‘religion’. We are very grateful to him for his ‘regulative idea’, but we stand in no need of it either. We speak of our ultimate aim, not because it is a piece of edifying deception, but because we are firmly convinced of the inevitability of its achievement. To us, a patently unachievable ideal is not an ideal but simply an immoral trifle. It is the reality of the future that is our ideal, that of revolutionary Social-Democracy. That it will come about is guaranteed to us by the entire course of present-day social development; that is why our confidence in its future advent is as little related in our eyes to religion as is the confidence of the ‘critics’ – one that we share with them – that the sun which has ‘set’ today will not fail to ‘rise’ tomorrow. That is the question of more or less infallible knowledge, not one of more or less firm religious belief.


But why is our ‘critic’ so firmly convinced that our ‘ultimate aim’ can be only an object of ‘faith’ to us? Why does he permit us to speak of it only in view of our ‘divine right’ to a sizeable chunk of utopia? It is because, when we speak of it, we abandon the ground of realism.

But what is realism? It is a Marxism revised, corrected, purified and supplemented by Mr P Struve:

The realistic view set forth in this article is also based on the ideas of Marx and especially on the fundamental proposition of historical materialism regarding the constantly proceeding adaptation of law to the economy, as well as the unrealistic view that operates with the theoretical pseudo-concept of the ‘social revolution’. Marx against Marx. [247]

In the first of our articles dealing with a critique of our ‘critics’, we showed how deplorably feeble is Mr P Struve’s understanding of the ‘fundamental proposition’ of historical materialism regarding the causal dependence between law and the economy. Anyone who has attentively read that article is aware that the ‘realistic view’ of our ‘critic’ is based on a ‘fundamental’ misunderstanding. Anyone aware of that will understand what is to be expected from such a ‘realistic’ criticism of our ‘ultimate aim’. But it will do no harm to subject that criticism as well to detailed and careful criticism.

Mr P Struve is mistaken in calling Marx’s doctrine of the relation between the economy and law the fundamental proposition of historical materialism. In actual fact, it is only one of the fundamental propositions of that theory. Side by side with it should be placed Marx’s doctrine of the relation between the economy and people’s views and sentiments and the aims people set themselves in their historical advance.

Why do some of those aims appear utopian to us? In general, what does the criterion of ‘reality’ consist in? Let us hear what Mr P Struve has to say:

Movement is an historical Prius [he says]. Socialism always possesses reality in the measure in which it is contained in a movement engendered by the present-day economic order – no more and no less. [248]

Socialism is contained in a movement engendered by the present-day economic order. It is ‘real’ only inasmuch as it is contained in the latter. Well and good. But how is socialism contained in that movement? That can be understood in either of two ways: 1) socialism is contained in it in the measure in which it forms part of the views and sentiments of participants in the movement; 2) it is contained in it in the measure in which the participants in the movement succeed, at a given time, in altering the reality about them in accordance with their views and their sentiments. If we accept the first interpretation, we shall arrive at the conclusion that socialism is ‘real’ inasmuch as it is aspired towards by participants in a movement engendered by the present-day historical order, that is, in the measure in which it is their ‘ultimate aim’. This is a perfectly logical conclusion; only it deprives our ‘critics’ of any semblance of the right to call a utopia the ultimate aim of present-day Social-Democracy: an aspiration to that aim undoubtedly colours the views and sentiments of a vast part of those who have now joined the ‘movement engendered’, etc.

What is the conclusion the second interpretation leads us up to? It is that socialism is real in the measure that it can be implemented at the present time, that is, at a time when you and I, dear reader, engage in an argument over its reality – ‘neither more nor less’. Anything that cannot be carried out in that period proves a utopia. Well and good. In that case, however, we shall have to refer to the realm of utopia, not only the ultimate aim of present-day Social-Democracy but also all those of its aims which cannot be effected by its current forces. Thus the area of utopia is vastly extended, while the area of ‘realistic’ activities, on the contrary, is greatly narrowed. Moreover, with us any social figure becomes a utopian if he sets himself any other aim than that of being nonchalant about any other aims at all. Any other aim must assuredly be designated for the future; any other aim presupposes, of necessity, dissatisfaction with the present, so that the fact of any given individual setting himself that aim clearly shows that he is not satisfied with what is taking place at the present time due to the existent alignment of social forces; any other aim implies a desire to change that alignment in one direction or another; any other aim thus leaves the boundaries of ‘reality’. This, too, is a fully logical conclusion, but it is not the one arrived at by Mr P Struve or his ‘critically minded’ fellow-thinkers. Though they adhere to the view regarding the ‘basic’ condition of the ‘reality’ of socialism, from which that conclusion must inescapably follow, the reasoning has not been carried through to the end; they have stopped half-way and recognise as ‘real’ the kind of ‘socialism’ which, though dissatisfied with the existing order of things, lacks the courage to go further than the ‘darning of holes’ in its ‘reformative’ aspirations. Here all tasks for whose accomplishment the elimination of capitalist relations of production is necessary must prove utopian.

Now that we have learnt what the criterion of ‘reality’ we are searching after consists in, we are confronted by another and even more ‘accursed’ question: whether that criterion can be brought into accord with the genuine – not the ‘critic'-distorted – theory of Marx regarding the aims of mankind’s historical advance.

To that question we are compelled to answer in the negative. Mr P Struve has presented to us, in a somewhat modified aspect, that pseudo-realist confusion of notions which was most vividly expressed in the Credo [249] of sad memory, and which boils down to a repetition in various keys (but always with a claim to scholarship) of the thought that our ultimate aim ceases from being a utopia only when – and, more precisely, only if – the entire working class, in the process of its independent development and without any participation of the revolutionarybacillus’, arrives at the conviction that its interests call for the immediate achievement of that aim.

This mishmash of notions, which has misled so many [250] in our country, could be taken for a malicious parody of the celebrated Preface to Zur Kritik der politischen Oekonomie, if those who indulge in it did not maintain an air of the most unruffled and unfeigned gravity.


Their error stems from the following passage in that Preface:

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. [251]

Thus mankind always takes up only such tasks as it can solve. Consequently, if it has not yet set itself some particular task – say that of the complete elimination of the capitalist relations of production – that means that such a task cannot yet be accomplished. Consequently, only one who has abandoned the ground of reality and sets out for the realm of utopia can aspire to accomplish tasks that are beyond the capacity of our times.

That is the way many ‘critics’ reason, and, once fortified in that view, they have no great difficulty in distinguishing between the ‘realistic’ element and the ‘utopian’ in the programme of Social-Democracy. As is common knowledge, it is the working class that today represents mankind’s progressive aspirations towards transforming the economic relations. What, then, are the practical tasks whose accomplishment it is now engaged in? They are: a shorter working day; better hygienic conditions in the workshop; the organisation of trade unions, cooperative societies, and so on and so forth. The elimination of capitalist relations of production has not yet been included by the proletariat in the number of the practical questions of the day. It is this that shows that the material conditions required for the accomplishment of that task have not yet matured.

True, there is, in the proletariat, a stratum that is working for the socialisation of the means of production and the distribution of products, and has given that aim top priority in its programme. That stratum consists of Social-Democrats, who hope to win leadership of the entire proletariat. That hope may come true at some time, but until that comes about, the socialisation of the means of production and of the distribution of products will remain a utopian element in the Social-Democratic programme. Only those tasks are realistic for whose accomplishment the means already exist.

Its metaphysical nature is the main feature of this chain of syllogisms. Those who have thought it up reason after the manner of all metaphysicians: ‘Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.’ With them, the material conditions for the accomplishment of any particular social task either do or do not exist. Marx’s words that such conditions may be in the process of formation, produce not the least impression on them, or at least in no way help them to determine where ‘real’ socialism ends and where ‘utopian’ socialism begins.

The formation of the material conditions for the accomplishment of a particular social task cannot be discerned simultaneously by all that ‘mankind’ which will have to accomplish that task in due course. That ‘mankind’ consists of strata and individuals, these being marked by a dissimilar degree of development (the strata) or even unequal natural gifts (the individuals). What has been understood by some as an historical necessity is often not even suspected by others. Any group of people following one and the same road will almost always contain those who are far-sighted and see objects at a considerable distance, and those who are near-sighted and make out those objects only when they are close at hand. But does that mean that the far-sighted should be referred to as ‘utopians’, while only the near-sighted can be considered ‘realists'? It would seem that it does not mean so. It would seem rather that the far-sighted distinguish the direction better than the rest, so that their judgement of it is closer to reality than that of the near-sighted. Some may be found who may wish to reproach the far-sighted for their raising the question ahead of time regarding the objects that the entire company will have to pass by later. However, in the first place, speaking too early of an actual object does not yet mean leaving the ground of reality; besides, how is one to judge whether or not it is time to raise any particular subject? Imagine to yourself that the earlier the far-sighted begin to speak, say, about a house that stands on the road and where the travellers may expect to get the rest they need, the sooner they will approach that house, because the prospect will make them increase their pace. In that case, it cannot be too soon for the far-sighted to speak up, if only the travellers hold their time at all dear.

Indeed, the role of the far-sighted would in that case greatly resemble the part played by the Social-Democrats in the overall advance of the working class:

The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only. 1: In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2: In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.

The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement...

The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement. [252]

What Marx and Engels have said here about the Communists of the 1840s is fully applicable to the revolutionary Social-Democrats of today.

They are fighting for the attainment of the immediate aims of the working class, but they are also taking care of the future of the movement. Taking care of the future of the movement means fighting for its ‘ultimate aim’, fighting now – today, tomorrow, and on the next day, and at any minute. If the future of the movement has been correctly understood – and it is correctly understood by those who have been able to understand the course of present-day economic development – then defending the ultimate aim does not contain a jot of utopianism. To speak of utopianism in that case means giving words a completely arbitrary meaning. Here, the ‘ultimate aim’ is just as ‘real’ as is present-day economic development.

Revolutionary Social-Democracy presents in practice the most resolute and always forward-looking part of the proletariat in all civilised lands. They refer to the rest of the proletariat almost in the same way as the far-sighted people in our example refer to the near-sighted. [253] They already see what other proletarians do not yet see, and, in explaining to the latter the road to be followed in the future, they achieve a comprehension of their movement and accelerate it. Where, for goodness sake, can one discern a ‘utopia’ here? In what way is this not ‘real'?

The fact that the revolutionary Social-Democrats are able to explain to the proletariat the future of its own movement, its ‘ultimate aim’, proves that the material conditions necessary for the achievement of that aim are already in the process of formation and that the process can be discerned by those with keener sight. That is how the matter stands from the viewpoint of Marx’s historical theory. Yet our ‘critics’ have understood that theory in such an absurd way that they see as utopian any attempt made by the keen-sighted to take a closer look at the process, and determine its final result. Goodness gracious, how such gentlemen have failed to see the obvious! [254]


But perhaps the ‘critics’ à la Struve have as yet failed to realise exactly where they have made a ‘bloomer'? Let us deal a little longer with these sagacious ‘realists’. We shall follow the elementary but sometimes quite essential pedagogical device that was so often and so successfully used by the great Russian educator NG Chernyshevsky. It consists in reducing words to letters and syllables: em-a: ma; em-a: ma mama, and so on.

Economic relations determine people’s views and their actions. However, people do not always realise the nature of their own economic relations, and their views do not always develop as rapidly as does the development of their economic relations. It more often happens that views lag behind the economy more or less considerably. It is only with the passage of time and only gradually that the new economic relations undermine the old views and give rise to new ones. A cause always appears sooner than its effect does. Due to this indisputable circumstance, persons or groups of persons who are gifted with vision are able to play an active part in mankind’s advance. Having realised the significance of existing economic relations, they explain it to those less keen of vision, thereby influencing the latter’s views, and through those views also their actions, which in their turn promote the further development of a given economic order. [255] However, all is flux, nothing is stationary. To understand what undergoes change means realising what it will come to at the last stage of its development. Otherwise there can be no complete understanding, as has been known since the times of Aristotle. A striving to determine the final stage, the ultimate outcome, of a given process of development is not only quite lawful but obligatory upon all those who wish to achieve an understanding of it. That is why people who wish to understand the economic relations in contemporary civilised societies should use all the forces of their minds to learn whither the development of those relations is proceeding and how the process of their development will end. If such people are confident that it will end in the elimination of the capitalist relations of production and their replacement by the socialist, and if their sympathies or their class position give them reason to rejoice at that outcome, then they will point it out to others and will induce them to use all means to help bring about that outcome, which will become the ultimate aim of all their efforts and the foundation of all their programme. And if they are not in error on that score, and if the ‘course of things’ is indeed directed towards their ultimate aim, then they can well say that they stand on the firm ground of reality, and that it is not they who are utopians but those who consider their ultimate aim a utopia.

The ultimate aim of the revolutionary Social-Democracy of our times is nothing but a conscious expression of an unconscious trend inherent in the development of society today. Present-day socialism, under whose banner the revolutionary Social-Democrats are marching, has the right to be called scientific for the sole reason that it has at last accomplished that supremely important theoretical task which Schelling [256] in his time set social science in his System des transcendentalen Idealismus, a work so rich in content, namely, the task of explaining how the conscious ('free’) historical activities of people, far from precluding what is called historical necessity, presupposes it as an essential condition. The utopian socialists proceeded from some abstract principle or another, and based themselves on it. The adherents of scientific socialism proceed from a consciousness of historical necessity, and base themselves on it. Both have an ‘ultimate aim’, but the ‘ultimate aim’ of the utopians referred to reality in quite a different way than does the ‘ultimate aim’ of the adherents of scientific socialism. That is why the two are separated by a gulf, and why the adherents of scientific socialism find it so hard to make their peace with the utopian elements which are still often to be met in the programmes of socialists of a ‘broader’ mode of thought. They do not tolerate utopias, so they have been dubbed sectarians and dogmatists, or given other flattering names.

The existing economic order has to be understood if one would exert an influence on the historical advance. To understand the existing economic order means realising the process of its development up to and including its final outcome. Once that outcome has been ascertained, that outcome inevitably becomes our ‘ultimate aim’ at our very first attempt at a positive participation in the historical advance. Drive the ‘ultimate aim’ out of the door, and it will break in through the windows, if only you do not shutter them up so as to keep out any attempt to understand a given process of social development and any temptation to act in accordance with the understanding you have achieved.

For the ‘ultimate aim’ to become, for the socialist, a more or less pious utopia which I am firmly convinced is impossible of achievement, it is necessary that I should first convince myself that the development of the present economic order will not, and cannot in its essence, have any final outcome. Once that outcome has been found impossible, then the striving to arrange all of one’s activities so as to bring it closer must thereby be recognised as theoretically groundless. The impossibility of a final outcome strips the ‘ultimate aim’ of any foundation in reality. But what is meant by such a recognition of the impossibility of a final outcome? It is the conviction that the process of capitalism’s development will continue constantly, that is, in other words, that capitalism will exist always or at least for such an interminably long time that it is not worth while even to give thought to its abolition. This, as you will see, is the familiar conviction of Herr W Sombart, who has brought us the great and joyous news that socialism does not exclude capitalism, that is, that even the development of socialism will not put an end to the capitalist mode of production. This is also the conviction of Mr P Struve and other ‘critics’. [257] If such a conviction has arisen in a socialist’s mind, nothing indeed remains for him but to lay aside his party’s ‘ultimate aim’ as a pious utopia and recognise the darning of holes as the only social activity standing on the ground of reality. That, however, can mean only that, to the socialist, the ‘final aim’ becomes a utopia only when he ceases to be a socialist.


Mr P Struve himself senses that a conviction of the practically boundless strength and ‘adaptability’ of the capitalist mode of production is an essential preliminary condition of that attitude to the ‘ultimate aim’ which he has recommended as the only one worthy of any thinking man. It is to inculcate that conviction in us that he has set about ‘criticising’ the concept of social revolution with the aid of profound ‘epistemological’ considerations designed to show us the complete groundlessness of that ‘pseudo-concept’, and so well summed up in the celebrated question asked by Kozma Prutkov: [258]Where is the beginning of that end with which the beginning ends?’ To prepare us to accept that conviction, he has set about assuring us that social contradictions are gradually becoming ‘blunted’ and that, if we look at things without the prejudices imparted to us by orthodox Marxism, we shall see that the surplus value, embodied in the surplus product, is a function of all social capital. [259] Given so ‘realistic a view’ the concept of the worker’s exploitation by the capitalist is enveloped in such a thick fog of ‘criticism’ that we completely cease to understand for what reason and to whom – except the ‘utopians’, the ‘epigones’, the ‘dogmatists’ and the like – the elimination of the capitalist relations of production is necessary, in which case the question of the socialists’ ‘ultimate aim’ is automatically decided: at best, we shall treat that aim slightingly as a piece of elevating deception. Mr P Struve’s ‘criticismis full of errors and misunderstandings but it has the undoubted merit of remaining from beginning to end true to its own ‘ultimate aim’.

Those who adhere to Mr P Struve’s ‘realistic view’ – and their name is legion in our country – are constantly speaking of ‘criticism’, without which they cannot take a single step, for the demon of ‘criticism’ tempts them day and night. But what seems very strange at the first fleeting glance is that the criticism our ‘critics’ indulge in makes them highly susceptible to an absolutely uncritical perception of the theories of the most recent representatives of bourgeois economics, right down to some Böhm-Bawerk, [260] that Bastiat of our times. And the more assiduously the weapon of ‘criticism’ is wielded, the stronger and more complete becomes the identity of ideas between our ‘critics’ on the one hand, and the professional defenders of the bourgeoisie, on the other. The demon of ‘criticism’ which has tempted the ‘critics’ proves the ‘hobgoblinof today’s bourgeoisie.

This is strange only at a first and brief glance. On closer examination, the entire matter proves very simple and comprehensible.

The historical mission of our ‘critics’ consists in a ‘revision’ of Marx so as to empty his theory of all its socio-revolutionary content. Marx, whose name is so popular among the revolutionary proletariat of all civilised lands; Marx who called upon the working class forcibly to overthrow the present social order; Marx who, as Liebknecht so splendidly put it, was a revolutionary both by sentiment and logicthat Marx is heartily disliked by our educated petty bourgeoisie, whose ideologists the ‘critics’ are. That bourgeoisie is repelled by his extreme conclusions; it is frightened by his revolutionary ardour. However, as things are today, it is hard to get along quite without Marx: his critical weapon is essential in the struggle against conservatives of all reactionary hues and utopians of the most varying Populist shades. That is why its revolutionary nature has to be weeded out of Marxist theory; to Marx the revolutionary must be contraposed Marx the reformer, Marx the ‘realist’. What we have is ‘Marx against Marx'! And so the ‘critics’ swing into action. From Marx’s theory are ejected, one by one, all propositions that can serve the proletariat as a spiritual weapon in its revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie. Dialectics, materialism, and the theory of social contradictions as stimulating social progress; the theory of value in general and the theory of surplus value in particular, social revolution, and the dictatorship of the proletariat – all these essential components of Marxist scientific socialism, without which it loses all its essential content – are proclaimed secondary details that do not correspond to the present day of science, tendentious, utopian, and therefore to be amputated in the interests of the unfettered development of that thinker’s fundamental propositions. ‘Marx against Marx'! The work of ‘criticism’ proceeds ‘continuously’. There gradually emerges from the crucible of such ‘criticism’ a Marx who, after proving to us in masterly fashion the historical necessity of the rise of the capitalist mode of production, reveals great scepticism in everything that refers to the replacement of capitalism by socialism. The ‘critics’ have contrived to turn Marx the revolutionary into a Marx who is almost a conservative; all this seems to be done with the aid of his propositions. It may well be said that a similar transformation was experienced only by Aristotle, whom the medieval Scholastics turned from a pagan philosopher into something resembling a Father of the Christian Church...

In its mystified form [says Marx], dialectic became the fashion in Germany, because it seemed to transfigure and to glorify the existing state of things. In its rational form it is a scandal and abomination to bourgeoisdom and its doctrinaire professors, because it includes in its comprehension and affirmative recognition of the existing state of things, at the same time also, the recognition of the negation of that state, of its inevitable breaking up; because it regards every historically developed social form as in fluid movement, and therefore takes into account its transient nature not less than its momentary existence; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and is in its essence critical and revolutionary. [261]

To the end of his days, the real Marx remained true to this spirit of dialectics. It is this circumstance that is so displeasing to the ‘critics’, who have ‘revised’ Marx’s theory from the angle of ‘realism’. Their ‘revision’ has resulted in a theory which, while giving a ‘positive explanationof capitalism, at the same time refuses to explain its ‘inevitable break-up’, and to analyse it in its ‘transient aspect’. From this angle, Marx, as ‘revisedby our ‘critics’, analyses only the old pre-capitalist modes of production and the political forms that developed on their foundation. Thus, our ‘neo-Marxism’ is the most reliable weapon of the Russian bourgeoisie in their struggle for spiritual supremacy in our country. [262]

Mr P Struve stands for ‘social reform’. That notorious reform, as we already know, does not go further than the darning of the bourgeois social ‘fabric’. As presented in Mr P Struve’s theory, this reform, far from threatening the rule of the bourgeoisie, promises it support, and helps consolidate ‘social peace’. If our big bourgeoisie are still opposed to this ‘reform’, that does not prevent our ‘neo-Marxism’ from being the best and most advanced expression of the overall specifically political interests of the bourgeois class as a whole. The theorists of our petty bourgeoisie see farther and have a better judgement than the men of business who stand at the head of the big bourgeoisie. It is therefore clear that it is the theorists of our petty bourgeoisie to whom will belong the leading role in the emancipatory movement of our ‘middleclass. We shall not be in the least surprised if some of our ‘critics’ will, in this sense, go a very long way and, for instance, will assume leadership of our liberals.

A fair number of years ago, we voiced in our journal Sotsial-Demokrat [263] the thought that the Narodist theory had completely outlived its time and that our bourgeois intelligentsia, after parting with Narodism, stood in need of a Europeanised version of their views. [264] Today that Europeanisation has, in the main, taken place, but in a form we did not expect. When we spoke of its necessity, we did not think it would take place under the banner of even a ‘revised’ Marxism. Live and learn, as the saying goes.

Now that we know, not only Mr P Struve’s errors but also their raison d'être; now that we have understood him, not only from the angle of his muddled concepts but also of his historical mission – we can part with him and wish him all prosperity. Awaiting us is another task. We have seen, in particular, the groundlessness of this ‘criticism’ of Marx’s theory of social development, as invented by Mr P Struve. In particular, we have seen the failure of his attempt to show the impossibility of ‘leaps’ in the area of thought and of life. We must now show how the founders of scientific socialism understood those ‘leaps’ which are called social revolutions, and how they saw the future social revolution of the proletariat. We shall do that in our next article, which will be the beginning of the second part of our Critique of Our Critics.


Notes are by Plekhanov, except those by the Moscow editors of this edition of the work, which are noted ‘Editor’, or the MIA, which are suitably noted.

1. ‘As soon as some question becomes clear, opponents arise who, on the pretext of novelty, try to confuse and muddle the issue. I have often met such opponents and opposing opinions.’ – Editor.

2. ‘All these gentlemen go in for Marxism, but of the kind you were familiar with in France ten years ago and of which Marx said: “All I know is that I'm no Marxist!” And of these gentlemen he would probably have said what Heine said of his imitators: “I sowed dragons and reaped fleas."’ The correct date is 27 August 1890 (Frederick Engels, Paul and Laura Lafargue, Correspondence, Volume 2 (Moscow, 1960), p 386) – Editor.

3. Archiv für soziale Gesetzgebung und Statistik (Archive of the Social Legislation and Statistics) – a journal founded in 1888 by the German Social-Democrat G Braun – Editor. [Referred to hereon as Brauns Archiv – MIA.]

4. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1.

5. Italics are ours.

6. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 62, italics are ours.

7. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, pp 663-64.

8. Mr P Struve’s original reads, not ‘0B’ but ‘kein B’. As the reader will understand, that is one and the same thing.

9. The inverted commas belong to Mr P Struve himself.

10. Here Mr P Struve explains parenthetically that the superstructure is made up of legal and political institutions, to which definite forms of social consciousness correspond.

11. Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Moscow, 1970), pp 20-21 – Editor.

12. Mr P Struve’s italics.

13. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, pp 666-67.

14. Of course, there are different kinds of wealth. Mr P Struve’s wealth consists in his errors; one should not envy that kind of wealth. [Note to second edition – Editor.]

15. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 113 – Editor.

16. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), pp 113-14 – Editor.

17. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), pp 118-19 – Editor.

18. We are referring to the German original because the Russian translation is so unsatisfactory. The passage we are referring to is on page 733 of the Russian edition of Volume 3. [Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 3 (Moscow, 1974), pp 248-50 – Editor.]

19. The reference is to Stammler’s book, Wirtschaft und Recht nach der materialistischen Geschichts-Auffassung. Eine sozial-philosophische Untersuchung (Economy and Law from the Point of View of the Materialist Understanding of History: Social-philosophical Research, Leipzig, 1896), in which the author criticised Marxism from the neo-Kantian stand. Rudolph Stammler (1856-1939) – German jurist and neo-Kantian philosopher – Editor.

20. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 668, italics are ours.

21. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 669, italics are ours.

22. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, pp 669-70, italics are ours.

23. For greater precision, let us put it this way: according to Marx, a certain part of the production relations forms what the jurist would call property relations. Below we shall see why this term cannot be applied to the sum of the production relations.

24. Civil Code – Code Civil – the French legal code – the Napoleonic Code – was promulgated in 1804. It established the abolition of feudal relations and legalised the rule of bourgeoisie. It was based on the principles of equality of all citizens before the law and the unrestricted domination of private ownership – Editor.

25. Nikolai Alexeyevich Nekrasov (1821-1878) – Russian poet, revolutionary democrat – Editor.

26. We shall explain later in what sense we use the epithet revolutionary here.

27. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 673.

28. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, pp 676-77.

29. It would be useful to contrapose to this indigestible mishmash Marx’s own words: ‘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. (Zur Kritik, etc, Vorwort, italics are ours) [Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Moscow, 1970), p 21 – Editor.]

30. From Mikhail Lermontov’s poem Mtsyri – Editor.

31. Lujo Brentano (1844-1931) – German bourgeois vulgar economist, one of the chief representatives of Katheder socialism – Editor.

32. Euripides (c480-406 BC) – Greek tragic poet and dramatist – Editor.

33. We have made that supposition on the basis of the following words of Mr P Struve: ‘Jedenfalls aber ist für die Marxsche Theorie die Annahme einer Steigerung der Wiedersprüche zwischen den ökonomischen Phenomenen und Rechtsnormen charakteristisch!’ ['In any case, Marxist theory is marked by the assumption of the mounting contradiction between economic phenomena and legal works.'] (Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 671) Consequently, the focus of the Marxist theory here is the contradiction between ‘legal norms’, and ‘economic phenomena’, the notion of which is not fully defined by the notion of the economy.

34. The permits system of establishing joint-stock companies provided for any new joint-stock company obtaining permission from the appropriate state bodies. This system hindered the establishment of joint-stock companies. In the 1860s and 1870s, it was replaced by the so-called fait-accompli system: a newly-established company had only to apply to the appropriate ministry for registration – Editor.

35. Fou à lier – barking mad – MIA.

36. Alexei Stepanovich Khomyakov (1804-1860) – Russian public figure and writer, Slavophile – Editor.

37. Cuno Fischer (1824-1907) – German neo-Kantian philosopher, historian of philosophy – Editor.

38. ‘The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure...’ (Zur Kritik, etc, Vorwort, italics are ours) [Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Moscow, 1970), p 20 – Editor.]

39. A reservation is in place here! Of late, many ‘critics’ (including Mr Tugan-Baranovsky) have pointed out that crises have shed the acute form they formerly had, and that consequently they no longer play that part in the development of social life which Marx with good reason ascribed to them. To that we shall reply as follows: whatever the current form of the phenomenon indicated by Marx, its essence has remained unchanged. The phenomenon is caused by the contradiction between society’s productive forces and its property relations. What the British call ‘trade depressions’ [these two words are in English in the original – Editor] bear very little resemblance in form to crises in the proper sense of the word, but they have quite the same significance in essence. To realise that, one has only to read, for instance, the conclusions arrived at by the British Royal Commission set up to study the causes of the depression in trade and industry. ‘During the past forty years’, we read in a note drawn up by several dissenting members of the Commission, ‘a great change has been wrought in the circumstances of all civilised communities by the application of mechanical and scientific aids to the production and transport of commodities, the world over... The great difficulty consists no longer, as of old, in the scarcity and dearness of the necessaries and conveniences of life, but in the struggle for an adequate share of that employment which affords to the great bulk of the population their only means of obtaining a title to a sufficiency of those necessaries and conveniences, however plentiful and cheap they may be... The growing difficulty (the struggle for an adequate share of employment in presence of the abundance and cheapness of commodities) finds its expression in the system of tariffs, export bounties and other commercial restrictions, adopted and maintained by all civilised nations except our own.’ (Final Report of the Royal Commission etc, p lv; cf also p lxiv) [This passage is cited by Plekhanov in English – Editor.] The productive forces of civilised societies have reached such a degree of development that those who have no other commodity to sell except their labour power are finding it very hard to find themselves occupations, that is, to sell that labour power and thereby acquire the wherewithal to buy the cheap products now prepared in abundance. Hardship is born of plenty; poverty, of wealth. This is the very same contradiction pointed out by Marx and Engels with reference to crises. The only difference is that, in the opinion of the authors of the Report we have quoted from above, this contradiction has arisen during the past forty years, while the authors of the Manifesto think that it appeared earlier. Do not think that the majority of the Royal Commission deny the existence of that contradiction. No, the majority have expressed the same view as the minority, only their wording is different: ‘The world’s capacity of production’, they say, ‘will naturally be in excess of its ordinary requirements.’ (Ibid, p xvii) [This sentence is in English in the original – Editor.] This is quite equivalent to the idea that trade depressions [these two words are in English in the original – Editor] are caused, like crises, by the absence of correspondence between the consuming capacity of the market and the present-day productive forces. But that market capacity is restricted by the property relations of present-day society. Thus we again come up against the fundamental contradiction in that society – the contradiction between its property relations, on the one hand, and its productive forces, on the other. [Mikhail Ivanovich Tugan-Baranovsky (1865-1919) – Russian bourgeois economist, in the 1890s prominent representative of ‘legal Marxism’, later member of bourgeois Constitutional-Democratic (Cadet) Party, active counter-revolutionary – Editor.]

40. From Ivan Krylov’s fable The Inquisitive One. Ivan Andreyevich Krylov (1769-1844) – Russian fabulist – Editor.

41. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Works, Volume 3 (Moscow, 1973), p 137 – Editor.

42. Razvitiye nauchnogo sotsializma (Geneva, 1892), p 26. [Plekhanov is quoting from the Russian translation of Engels’ book; Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Works, Volume 3 (Moscow, 1973), p 134 – Editor.]

43. With Mr P Struve, the realisation of that convenience is naively expressed in the following words: ‘Die von mir vorgetragene Ansicht schliesst sowohl den Marxschen als auch den Stammlerschen Begriff der “sozialen Revolution” aus. Die Anpassung des Rechtes an die Sozialwirthschaft hört keinen Augenblick auf und die Entwicklung der jeweiligen Gesellschaftsordnung ist es eben, welche diesen Rahmen umform und ausweitet.’ [’the view I have set forth precludes both Marx’s and Stammler’s notions of the “social revolution.” The adaptation of law to the social economy does not cease for an instant and it is the development of a given social structure that transforms and extends that framework.'] (Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 672). How right you are, O ‘critic'! It would have been far better if your ‘Ansicht’ coincided with Marx’s; it would have been better still and smoother if your Ansicht, which does not coincide with Marx’s, were in keeping with historical reality. Alas, far from being in keeping with it, it ‘contradicts’ it.

44. Der Kampf um’s Recht (thirteenth edition), pp 6-8. [Rudolph von Ihering (1818-1892) – German bourgeois jurist – Editor.]

45. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 675.

46. In 1798 the British government, fearful of the revolutionary events in France, had the so-called Sedition Acts passed, according to which any attack against the government or laws, whether oral or in print, was severely punishable. The Acts were repealed in 1800. In 1799-1800 Parliament passed the Combination Acts which banned workers’ unions. The growing working-class movement led to the repeal of these laws in 1824 – Editor.

47. Attentats – politically motivated attempts on someone’s life – Editor.

48. Georges Howell, Le passé et l'avenir des Trade-Unions (translated by Ch Le Cour Grandmaison, Paris, 1892), pp 40, 45. [Plekhanov is referring to the French translation of George Howell’s Trade Unionism New and Old. George Howell (1833-1910) – British trade unionist, member of General Council of First International, subsequently renegade – Editor.]

49. Beatrice and Sidney Webb: ‘The common law and ancient statutes were ruthlessly used to supplement in Combination Acts, often by strained constructions. The Scotch judges in particular... applied the criminal procedure of Scotland to cases of simple combination... The whole system of repression which had characterised the statesmanship of the Regency culminated at this period in a tyranny not exceeded by any of the monarchs: of the “Holy Alliance.”’ (History of Trade Unionism (London, 1894), pp 84-85) Kulemann:Erschwert wurde die Lage für die Arbeiter noch durch die nach dem Frieden von 1815 in Verbindung mit dem niedrigen Stande der Preise einsetzende ausserordentliche Herabdrücking der Löhne. Es ist deshalb begreiflich, dass sich überall Geheimbunde bildeten und Verschworungen stattfanden, die mit blutigen Verfolgungen endeten.’ [’the conditions of the worker after the peace of 1815 became even harder in consequence of the unparalleled fall in wages in connection with the overall drop in prices. That makes one understand the causes of universal formation of secret societies and the conspiracies, which evoked harsh repressions.'] (Die Gewerksschaftsbewegung (Jena, 1900), Book 3-3) Indeed, what ‘blunting’ of contradictions! [The Regency (1811-20) – the period during which the Prince of Wales, the future George IV, was regent for George III, his father. The Holy Alliance – a reactionary union of three emperors (Russia, Austria and Prussia) concluded in 1815 in Paris after Napoleon’s defeat. Its aim was the mutual support of the European monarchs in preserving the European state borders established after the Napoleonic wars, and in countering the revolutionary movement. Beatrice Webb (1858-1943) and Sidney Webb (1859-1947) – English public figures, founders of Fabian Society. Wilhelm Kulemann (1851-1926) – magistrate and briefly Reichstag deputy representing the National Liberal Party, author of book Die Gewerksschaftsbewegung (The Trade Union Movement) – Editor/MIA.

50. The Anti-Socialist Law was passed in 1878 in Germany to ban the social-democratic organisations in the country, the workers’ press and the dissemination of socialist literature. The law was repealed in 1890 under the impact of the working-class movement – Editor.

51. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 674.

52. ‘Machinery is no more an economic category than the bullock that drags the plough. Machinery is merely a productive force. The modern workshop, which is based on the application of machinery, is a social production relation, an economic category.’ (The Poverty of Philosophy, p 107) [Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Volume 6 (Moscow, 1976, p 183 – Editor.]

53. At this point, however, the reader’s attention should be drawn to the following feature of the terminology used by the writers just named. When they are speaking of the main contradiction that impels social development forward, they use the words relations of production in the narrower sense of property relations. An instance is the excerpt we gave in a previous remark and taken from the Preface to Zur Kritik. It states that the new relations of production do not take the place of the old ones before the material conditions for their existence are evolved. By the material conditions for the existence of the new relations of production (property relations) are meant, in this context, also those immediate relations between producers in the process of production (that is, the organisation of labour at the factory or textile mill) which, in the broader sense, should also be called relations of production. It is this circumstance that might very well have misled the superficial ‘critic’.

54. Better late than never – MIA.

55. Gavriil Romanovich Derzhavin (1743-1816) – Russian poet – Editor.

56. ‘Elle [la Révolution] a pris, il est vrai, le monde à l'improviste et cependant elle n'était que le complément du plus long travail, la terminaison soudaine et violente d'une oeuvre que avait passé sous les yeux de dix générations d'hommes.’ ['It [the Revolution], it is true, took the world by surprise, though it was only the completion of a very long labour, the sudden and violent termination of a work that had been taking place before the eyes of ten generations.'] (A de Tocqueville, l'Ancien régime et la Révolution (second edition, Paris, 1856), p 55) [Alexis Tocqueville (1805-1859) – French publicist, reactionary politician, historian of bourgeois liberal trend – Editor.]

57. ‘D'époque en époque la législation a été amenée ainsi à toucher aux attributs seigneuriaux. Cela s'est vu partout, et partout il a sonné une heure où il ne s'est pas agi d'y porter la réforme uniquement, de les déplacer ou de les restreindre, mais de les faire disparaître sans retour.’ ['From one epoch to another legislation had come to encroach on the privileges of the nobility. This was to be seen everywhere, and everywhere the hour had struck when it was not solely a matter of reforms, of replacing or restricting them, but of destroying them for all and good.'] (Henri Doniol, La Révolution française et la Féodalité (second edition, Paris, 1876), p 6) [Jean Henri Antoine Doniol (1818-1906) – French bourgeois historian, member of French academy – Editor.]

58. ‘C'est pourquoi ce siècle avait tant de répulsion vis-à-vis de la féodalité et des droits seigneuriaux.’ [’that is why this century has had such a repulsion against feudalism and seignorial rights.'] (Doniol, La Révolution française et la Féodalité, p 6)

59. Doniol, La Révolution française et la Féodalité, p 72

60. This is all the truer because there was a time when the feudal system did not hold back the advance of society, but, on the contrary, promoted it. Fustel de Coulanges was right in pointing out, with reference to the feudal castles: ‘Dix siècles plus tard les hommes n'avaient que haine pour ces forteresses seigneuriales. Au moment où elles s'élevèrent, ils ne sentirent qu'amour et reconnaissance. Elles n'étaient pas faites contre eux, mais pour eux.’ [’ten centuries later the people had nothing but hatred for these feudal fortresses. When they were being built the people felt only love and gratitude towards them: they had been built not against but for them.'] (Histoire des institutions politiques de l'ancienne France, Volume 4, pp 682-83) The same can be said of the entire organisation of agriculture and industry.

61. Histoire des institutions politiques de l'ancienne France, Volume 4, pp 143, 154-56.

62. Histoire des institutions politiques de l'ancienne France, Volume 4, pp 156-57.

63. Doniol, La Révolution française et la Féodalité, p 44; compare also with page 42: ‘Que plus est, tout cela est signalé pour avoir pris récemment une intensité nouvelle.’ ['Moreover, all this is significant because it has recently taken on a new intensity.']

64. Alfred Rambaud, Histoire de la civilisation française, Volume 2 (sixth edition), pp 599-600. Rambaud is in full agreement with the opinion of Chérest he has quoted from, who says: ‘Our political institutions had the strange fortune of not improving after Henri IV; instead of advancing with the passage of time and the progress in ideas and morals, they moved backwards despite the morals, ideas and the times... The government of the ancien régime had become [on the eve of 1789] more imperfect and more hostile to the aspirations of the educated class than it had been in the Middle Ages.’ [Alfred Nicolas Rambaud (1842-1905) – French historian of liberal trend – Editor.]

65. Proiskhozhdeniye Sovremennoi Demokratii [The Origin of Modern Democracy], Volume 1, p 59. [Serfdom in tsarist Russia was abolished only in 1861. Maxim Maximovich Kovalevsky (1851-1916) – Russian scientist, jurist, historian, sociologist and politician with liberal bourgeois leanings – Editor.]

66. Proiskhozhdeniye Sovremennoi Demokratii, Volume 1, pp 124-25.

67. Proiskhozhdeniye Sovremennoi Demokratii, Volume 1, p 49.

68. Mr P Struve says: ‘Somit blieb es unserer Zeit vorbehalten, hinter den sozialen Reformen Fallstricke des Opportunismus zu wittern.’ [’thus it has fallen to our times to suspect social reforms as snares laid by the opportunists.'] (Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 679). The reference is to the ‘orthodox’ Marxists. From what we have said in the text, the reader will see that, in respect of us at least, his reproach is wholly groundless, yet he considers us among the most orthodox of the orthodox.

69. Adolf Held, Entwicklung der Grossindustrie. [Plekhanov is quoting from the Russian translation of Held’s book, p 19 – Editor.]

70. I stake on ‘no’ and the world belongs to me – Editor.

71. From Goethe’s poem Vanitas! Vanitatum Vanitas! – Editor.

72. ‘Denn das ganze Leben ist eine kontinuelle Kette von Bewegungserscheinungen der organischen Materie, welche immer mit entsprechenden Formveränderungen verknüpft ist.’ ['For all life is an unbroken chain of evolution of organic matter, always linked with corresponding changes of form.'] (Häckel, Generalle Morphologie der Organismen, Chapter 17) This law manifests itself with amazing clarity and explicitness in the embryology of animals that develop through metamorphosis, for example, certain insects (Diptera, Lepidoptera, etc). As is common knowledge, metamorphosis can be incomplete or complete. In the latter case, a larva turns into a pupa, and is then encased in a special husk that protects it from any unfavourable impact from the outer world. When the series of transformations within the pupa’s organism ends, the protective husk becomes superfluous; it hampers the further vital functions of the organism, contradicts them, and therefore bursts open when the contradiction reaches the appropriate degree of intensity. Consequently, what we have here is a revolutionary explosion, a break in gradualness. In general, Nature is a great revolutionary, and shows little concern over the ‘blunting of contradictions’.

73. Das Kapital, Volume 3, Part 2, pp 420-21. [Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 3 (Moscow, 1974), pp 883-84 – Editor.]

74. Das Kapital, Vorwort zur zweiten Auflage, p xix. [Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1974), p 29 – Editor.] In view of these explanations by Marx, one must consider strange but at the same time highly characteristic of critics à la P Struve, the circumstance that these gentlemen have declared Marxist dialectics the weakest link in Marx’s theory: ‘In der Entwicklungslehre welche unstreitig das Charakteristikum und die Glanzleistung des Marxschen Sozialismus bildet’, says Mr Struve, ‘liegt auch seine verwundbare Stelle, und sie liegt eben in der angeblich unüberwindlichen “Dialektik"...’ ['In the theory of development, which is indisputably the most characteristic and brilliant aspect of Marx’s socialism, also lies its vulnerable point, and that lies mainly in its allegedly invincible “dialectics"...'] (Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 686) The actual reason for this statement is clearly shown by the words immediately following this passage from the self-same Mr Struve: ‘Man wierd die vielen Wieldersprüche nicht los, wenn man nicht ganz entschieden den gedanken der “sozialen Revolution” als theoretischen Begrift fallen lässt.’ [’these innumerable contradictions can be got rid of only if one entirely rejects “social revolution” as a theoretical concept.'] Goethe’s Faust says to Mephistopheles: ‘Das Pentagramma macht dir Pein!’ [’the Pentagram is tormenting you!'] It can be said of our ‘critical’ mind that what macht Pein to him is the concept of the social revolution (otherwise the ‘Zusammenbruchstheorie’) in connection with the concept of a political revolution which signifies the dictatorship of the proletariat.

75. The Russian reader can get acquainted with Carey’s reasoning from his book Principles of Social Science, which came out in a Russian translation by Prince Shakhovskoy in 1869. The table on page 506 of this book refers to the question that now interests us. [Henry Charles Carey (1793-1879) – American vulgar economist, author of reactionary theory of harmony of class interests in capitalist society – Editor.]

76. Bastiat, Harmonies économiques (second edition), p 206. [Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) – French vulgar economist – Editor.]

77. Bastiat, Harmonies économiques, pp 206-07.

78. Bastiat, Harmonies économiques, p 209.

79. Die geschichtliche Entwicklung der Nationalökonomie und ihrer Literatur, Part 2 (Wien, 1860), p 578. [Julian Kautz (1829-1909) – Hungarian economist – Editor.]

80. Die geschichtliche Entwicklung der Nationalökonomie und ihrer Literatur, Part 2, p 578.

81. Histoires des doctrines économiques (Paris, 1899), p 336. [Luigi Cossa (1831-1896) – prominent Italian professor of political economy – Editor.]

82. The text in the inverted commas is in English in the original – Editor.

83. The Distribution of Products or the Mechanism and the Metaphysics of Exchange (fifth edition), pp 23-24. [Edward Atkinson (1827-1905) – US economist and statistician – Editor.]

84. The Distribution of Products or the Mechanism and the Metaphysics of Exchange, p 335. [The text in the inverted commas is in English in the original – Editor.]

85. Gerhart von Schultze-Gävernitz, Der Grossbetrieb (translated into Russian by LB Krasin, edited and prefaced by PB Struve, St Petersburg, 1897), Preface, p 1. [Gerhart von Schultze-Gävernitz (1864-1943) – German bourgeois economist; tried to substantiate possibility of social peace in capitalist society – Editor.]

86. Schultze-Gävernitz, Der Grossbetrieb, p 229.

87. Schultze-Gävernitz, Der Grossbetrieb, p 229.

88. Gerhart von Schultze-Gävernitz, Zum sozialen Frieden. Eine Darstellung der sozial-politischen Erziehung des englischen Volks im neunzehnten Jahrhundert (Leipzig, 1890).

89. Schultze-Gävernitz, Zum sozialen Frieden, Volume 2, p 493.

90. See The Increase of Moderate Incomes, being the Inaugural Address of the President of the Royal Statistical Society, the Right Honourable GI Goschen, in Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, December 1887. [Sir Robert Giffen (1837-1910) – British bourgeois economist and statistician; George Joachim Goschen (1831-1907) – British liberal, member of parliament, in 1880s Chancellor of the Exchequer – Editor.]

91. To each his own – MIA.

92. Proceedings on 6 December 1887, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, December 1887, p 613. [Mark Wilks Collet (1816-1905) – British banker, Governor of the Bank of England during 1887-89 – Editor/MIA.]

93. Was verstehen wir unter dem Mittelstande? Hat er im 19 Jahrhundert zu-oder abgenommen? (Gottingen, 1897), p 27. Mention of Goschen’s speech is also made by Robert Meier in his Handwörterbuch der Staatswissenschaften, Volume 2 (second edition), p 366. [Gustav Friedrich Schmoller (1838-1917) – representative of German historical school in political economy – Editor.]

94. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, December 1887, p 604.

95. Socialism: True and False, Fabian Tract, no 51, p 3. [The Fabian Society – a reformist organisation founded in Britain in 1884, its mainly intellectualist membership including Sydney and Beatrice Webb – Editor.]

96. Under this heading were registered incomes obtained from industrial and commercial business, from capitals invested in foreign and colonial undertakings, and from the liberal professions. Non-periodic cash revenues were also registered under this heading.

97. AA Isayev, Nachalo Politicheskoi Ekonomii [Foundations of Political Economy], fourth edition, p 619. [Andrei Alexeyevich Isayev (1851-1924) – Russian bourgeois economist and statistician – Editor.]

98. R Giffen, ‘Accumulation of Capital in the United Kingdom’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, March 1890, p 151.

99. See Final Report of the Royal Commission Appointed to Inquire into the Depression of Trade and Industry, the opinion of the minority on the Commission, p xlii.

100. Final Report of the Royal Commission, p xlix. The comparatively good state of trade was the result of a tremendous fall in factory prices.

101. Final Report of the Royal Commission, p l.

102. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, December 1887, p 591.

103. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, December 1887, p 597.

104. E Bernstein, Istoricheskii Materializm [Historical Materialism], p 84 (translated into Russian by Kantzel).

105. Final Report of the Royal Commission, p xviii.

106. Final Report of the Royal Commission, p lvii.

107. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, December 1887, p 602.

108. Final Report of the Royal Commission, p lxxii.

109. The figures referring to the years before 1860 are for Great Britain; after 1860 – for the United Kingdom.

110. Dictionary, p 321. [Michael Mulhall (1836-1900) – English economist and statistician – Editor.]

111. Michael G Mulhall, Industries and Wealth of Nations (London, 1896), p 100.

112. The preceding conclusions are based on data referring to five years ending December 1893.

113. Below we shall see that this calculation is a feeble expression of the actual course of development.

114. Mulhall, Industries and Wealth of Nations, pp 100-01.

115. Mulhall, Industries and Wealth of Nations, p 101.

116. Mulhall, Industries and Wealth of Nations, pp 101-02.

117. A person is the head of a household and recipient of a definite income.

118. To simplify our calculation, we shall first assume that the population has not grown during that period.

119. The words in inverted commas are in, English in the original – Editor.

120. ‘The retail trade is today passing through an industrial revolution similar to that which manufacture experienced in the early years of this century and the small Keeper is the analogue of the handloom weaver’, says HW Macrosty in his interesting book, The Growth of Monopoly in English Industry (Fabian Tract, no 88, p 3). [This passage is in English in the original – Editor.] Today, when the petty tradesman is passing through an ‘industrial revolution’, concentration will proceed apace in that retail trade, as is borne out by Macrosty’s booklet. But until the retail trade was affected by the ‘industrial revolution’, concentration could not but have taken place in it far more slowly than in industry. This circumstance, too, must have influenced the growth of ‘moderate’ incomes. [Henry William Macrosty (1865-1941) – British economist, worked for the Board of Trade as a statistician dealing with trade and industry, Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society – Editor/MIA.]

121. See, for instance, E Bernshtein, Istorichesky Materializm, p 87 et seq. Last year, Luigi Negri brought out a work specially devoted to the question of concentration in capitalist society (La centralizzazione capitalistica, Torino, 1900). In it, all the causes slowing down concentration are carefully enumerated. It is strange, however, that he makes no mention of causes that camouflage it. However, such causes do exist, the chief of them being the rapid amassment of wealth in the upper strata of society.

122. Mulhall, Industries and Wealth of Nations, pp 100-01.

123. See Supplement A to a highly interesting note by Miss E Simcox, ‘Loss or Gain of the Working Classes During the Nineteenth Century’, published in the Proceedings of the Industrial Remuneration Conference (London), pp 96-97.

124. In 1843, the number of payers in the lowest bracket was 87,946; in 1879-80 it reached 274,943.

125. The figures we have quoted refute Goschen to such a degree that we will not tire the reader by engaging in a detailed analysis of the significance of the fact brought forward by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, namely, that the number of incomes under Schedule E increased sharply between 1875 and 1886. We shall only say that the growth of capitalism of necessity presupposes a growth in the number of employees both of private persons and joint-stock companies. But it is this that leads to the increase in social inequality; it is this that leads to big incomes growing, on the whole, far more rapidly than ‘moderate’ ones.

126. See Wirtschaftliche Grundbegriffe by Neumann in Schönberg’s Handbuch der Politischen Oekonomie, Volume 1 (fourth edition), p 186, Appendix. ‘In general’, says Böhmerth, ‘the Saxon statistics give reason to admit that although middle-class incomes of between 2100 (2200) and 9500 (9600) marks grow considerably in the absolute sense, their percentage of the overall incomes falls quite considerably. Thus, we seem to have here the same course of development that might be established for medium-size production on the basis of imperial statistics.’ (Die Vertheilung des Einkommens in Preussen und Sachsen (Dresden, 1898), p 12)

127. Handwörterbuch der Staatswissenschaften, Volume 2 (second edition), p 36. [Ernst Engel (1821-1896) – German statistician, from 1860 till 1882 director of Prussian Bureau of Statistics in Berlin – Editor.]

128. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 694.

129. See his Industrial Evolution of the United States (New York, 1895), p 192. Atkinson’s having arrived at different conclusions in his calculations is simply due to his having taken the fall in the rate of profits for a lesser norm of surplus value. The example he has cited shows very well how a knowledge of economic theory is essential to the statistician. [Carroll Davidson Wright (1840-1909) – US economist and statistician, Commissioner of Labor from 1885 to 1905, and sat on commissions investigating several major strikes – Editor/MIA.]

130. Wright, Industrial Evolution of the United States, p 192.

131. A modification of a quotation from Alexander Griboyedov’s play Wit Works Woe – Editor.

132. Arthur Lyon Bowley, ‘Changes in Average Wages in the United Kingdom Between 1860 and 1891’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, June 1895. [Arthur Lyon Bowley (1869-1957) – British statistician and economist, author of many works on British economic statistics – Editor/MIA.]

133. See V Turquan, ‘Evolution de la fortune privée en France’, Revue d'Economie politique, February 1900. [Andreas Costa (1851-1910) – Italian politician, socialist reformer – Editor.]

134. ‘But I maintain, unhesitatingly, that daily wages are no criterion of the actual cost of executing works...’ (Thomas Brassey, Work and Wages (London, 1873), p 66)

135. Capital, Volume 1 (St Petersburg, 1872), p 468 [Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1974), pp 505-06 – Editor.]

136. In an article entitled ‘The Fundamental Antinomy of the Theory of Labour Value’, Zhizn (Life), February 1900. The article was courteously but ruthlessly analysed by Karelin, in an article ‘Notes’ published in the October and November issues of Nauchnoye Obozreniye (Science Review).

137. Ultima Thule – Ancient geographers’ concept of the most northern region of the habitable world; in this context, the most extreme idea held by bourgeois thinkers in respect of this topic – MIA.

138. Labour in the United States is far more intensive than in Europe. French working men who went to the Chicago World Exhibition were amazed by the intensity of the American workers’ labour (see Rapports de la délégation ouvrière à l'exposition de Chicago, Paris, 1894). But even in America, the natural limit to intensification has not yet been reached, though the intensity of labour is growing very rapidly. On this, see Emile Levasseur, L'Ouvrier américain, Volume 1 (Paris), p 97 et seq. Neither has that limit been exceeded in Australia:Je n'ai trouvé en Australie personne qui fût contra la journée de huit à neuf heures; chacun donnait pour expliquer cette opinion la même raison: que l'intensité du travail est plus grande avec la journée courte.’ ['I have not found anyone in Australia opposed to an eight- or nine-hour day; the explanation generally given was the same: shorter hours mean greater intensity of labour.'] (Albert Metin, Le socialisme sans doctrines, Australie et Nouvelle Zélande (Paris, 1901), p 132) There the greater intensity of labour is a source of unemployment for the weaker workers, who cannot keep pace with the stronger (ibid, p 146). True, a minimum wage had also to be established there so as to bring about such a state of affairs.

139. Hector Denis, La Dépression économique et sociale (Brussels, 1895), p 145. [Hector Denis (1842-1913) – Belgian economist and socialist politician, pioneer in field of labour statistics – Editor/MIA.]

140. Cited from Hector Denis, La Dépression économique et sociale, p 144. The reference is to the 1880s.

141. The iron laws of wages – a dogma of the bourgeois political economy, thus designated by Lassalle. Basing themselves on the proposition that wages have ‘natural’ limits in the growth of population, bourgeois economists maintained that it is Nature, not social conditions, that causes poverty and unemployment in the working classes. For criticism of this law see Marx’s works The Gotha Programme and Capital. Karl Johann Rodbertus-Jagetzow (1805-1875) – German vulgar economist, preached ‘state socialism’ – Editor.

142. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, pp 732-33. [The reference is to the speech by Decurtins, a representative of the Swiss Catholic Party, delivered by him at the 1897 Zurich International Congress on the regulation of the workers’ question [sic, some words seem to be missing here – MIA]. Decurtins proposed that the congress should demand the banning of female labour at factories, the aim being the protection of the family. His proposal was rejected as reactionary – Editor.]

143. Cum grano salis – with a pinch of salt, that is, not to be taken too seriously – MIA.

144. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 734.

145. Wright, Industrial Evolution of the United States, p 204

146. Eleventh Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor (Washington, 1897), p 21.

147. These last four words are in English in the original – Editor.

148. Eleventh Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor, p 22.

149. Eleventh Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor, p 22.

150. Levasseur, L'Ouvrier américain, Volume 1, p 198.

151. See his remark on the possible influence of ‘social reform’ on female labour, Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 733.

152. ‘It compels legislative recognition of particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie itself. Thus the ten-hours’ bill in England was carried.’ (Manifesto of the Communist Party, p 117, Chapter 1, ‘Bourgeoisie and Proletarians’) [Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 117 – Editor.]

153. On the basis of a careful study of figures referring to the city of York, Rowntree has arrived at the following conclusions: 1) ten per cent of the population of the city get under 21s 8d per week and therefore live in conditions of what he calls ‘primary poverty'; 2) 17.93 per cent of the population live in conditions of ‘secondary poverty’, that is, though having earnings of over 21s 8d a week, they incur various extra – productive or non-productive – expenditures (Poverty: A Study of Town Life, second edition, p 298). In Rowntree’s opinion, between 25 and 30 per cent of the aggregate urban population live in poverty (ibid, p 30). There’s ‘automatic socialism’ for you! Such poverty, Rowntree goes on to say, has been prevalent, despite the growth of the national wealth, even during ‘unprecedented prosperity’ (ibid, p 304). Indeed, Goschen was right: ‘Figures do not lie.’ [Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree (1871-1954) – English industrialist and philanthropist – Editor.]

154. Wage Labour and Capital (Geneva, 1894), pp 33-34. [Plekhanov is quoting from the Russian translation published in Geneva; Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 163 – Editor.]

155. Wage Labour and Capital, p 39. [Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 163 – Editor.]

156. Wage Labour and Capital, p 47, italicised in the original. [Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 173 – Editor.

157. Wage Labour and Capital, p 48. [Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 174 – Editor.

158. Cf, for example, Louis Blanc, Organisation de travail (fifth edition), p 40.

159. Cf Engels’ remark in the Introduction to the booklet Wage Labour and Capital.

160. Capital, Volume 1, p 454 [Russian edition; Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1974), pp 489-90 – Editor.]

161. Capital, Volume 1, p 562. [Russian edition; Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1974), p 610 – Editor.]

162. Capital, Volume 1, p 556. [Russian edition; Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1974), p 604 – Editor.] Cf the quotations made by Mr P Struve in his ‘Randglossen’ in Neue Zeit, Year 9, p 571.

163. Thus, in discussing British workers’ housing and food he made the following reservation: ‘The limits of this book compel us to concern ourselves chiefly with the worst paid part of the industrial proletariat, and with the agricultural labourers, who together form the majority of the working class.’ (Capital, Volume 1, p 563) [Russian edition; Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1974), p 611 – Editor.]

164. Capital, Volume 1, p 556. [Russian edition; Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1974), p 604 – Editor.]

165. See p xvii in the Final Report of the Commission, which we have so often quoted from.

166. Final Report of the Commission, p liv.

167. ‘The Progress of the Working Classes in the Last Half-Century’, a speech delivered to the Royal Statistical Society and published in Essays in Finance (second series, London, 1886); cf his ‘Further Notes on the Progress of the Working Classes’, etc, in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, March 1886. The ‘Notes’ were also published in Essays in Finance.

168. Under the Poor Law passed in Britain in 1834, vagrants and street beggars were sent to workhouses, which were actually barracks and prisons for the poor – Editor.

169. Cf the relevant remark by Benjamin Jones in ‘Discussion on Mr Giffen’s Paper’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, March 1886, p 96. It is self-evident that the greater the artificial reduction in the level of wages prior to the law of 1834, the more immense the impression from the seemingly improved material condition of the worker after the promulgation of the law, when wages became the sole means of subsistence for the toiling masses.

170. The remark by the self-same Benjamin Jones, ‘Discussion on Mr Giffen’s Paper’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, March 1886, p 96. Numerous highly forceful objections to Giffen were also made at the Industrial Remuneration Conference, at which Lloyd Jones revealed the poetical licence practised by certain other British statisticians. See the Industrial Remuneration Conference Report, p 35.

171. According to Chadwick, rents doubled in London (Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, March 1886, the ‘Discussion on Mr Giffen’s Paper’, p 97). Miss Edith Simcox finds that higher rents swallow up to three-fifths of the increase in workers’ wages due to higher pay levels (Industrial Remuneration Conference Report, p 92). [Edith Jemima Simcox (1844-1901) – British trade union activist and writer, one of the first female delegates to the TUC conference – MIA.]

172. Industrial Remuneration Conference Report, p 30.

173. Of course, this proneness is not inherent in him alone. Here is the consolatory remark Levasseur has to make: ‘En temps ordinaire, on peut dire vaguement qu'il se trouve sans ouvrage moins du dixième des ouvriers de l'industrie et probablement moins du vingtième des salariés (femmes et enfants compris).’ ['One might say that in ordinary times under one-tenth of all industrial workers are unemployed, and probably under one-twentieth of all hired workers in general (including women and children).'] (L'Ouvrier américain, Volume 1, p 584) That is not so little, Mr Professor! ‘Moins du dixième’ is a tremendous and irreplaceable loss brought about by the contradiction in society’s property relations and the state of its productive forces.

174. Plekhanov is quoting from the Russian book entitled Problems of Poverty and Unemployment (St Petersburg, 1900), p 239 in which John A Hobson’s works Problems of Poverty and The Problem of the Unemployed, translated into Russian, were included – Editor.

175. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, December 1888, p 602.

176. Emile Levasseur, La Population française, Volume 2, p 413. Cf also Henri Joly, La France criminelle (Paris, 1889), p 350. [Pierre Emile Levasseur (1828-1911) – French bourgeois economist and historian; Henri Joly (1839-1925) – French philosopher and psychologist – Editor.]

177. Levasseur, L'Ouvrier américain, Volume 1, p 593.

178. Levasseur, La Population française, Volume 3, p 86 et sec. Cf also Levasseur, L'Ouvrier américain, Volume 2, p 215 et sec.

179. Capital, Volume 1, pp 563-64. [Russian Edition; Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1974), p 612 – Editor.]

180. PF Aschrott, Das englische Armenwesen (Leipzig, 1886), p 422. Cf his Die Entwicklung des Armenwesens in England seit dem Jahre 1885 (Leipzig, 1886), p 64.

181. Industrial Remuneration Conference Report, p 89.

182. Fifth and Final Report of the Royal Commission of Labour, Part 1 (London, 1894), Report by W Abraham, M Austin, I Mawdsley and T Mann, p 128.

183. Pauperism (1892), p 54; The Aged Poor in England and Wales (London, 1894), p 38.

184. Charles Booth, p 39. But, again, that is not all. There are rural areas in which every aged worker dies in penury. [Charles Booth (1840-1916) – English public figure known for his study of life of the London poor – Editor.]

185. Cf Ogle, ‘On Suicides in England and Wales’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, March 1886.

186. Ogle, ‘On Suicides in England and Wales’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, March 1886, p 112.

187. Hobson, Problems of Poverty and Unemployment, p 21.

188. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Volume 6, p 495 – Editor.

189. Fernand Pelloutier, La vie ouvrière en France (Paris, 1900), p 183. [Fernand Pelloutier (1867-1901) – prominent figure in French trade union movement – Editor.]

190. Pelloutier, La vie ouvrière en France, p 186.

191. Pelloutier, La vie ouvrière en France, p 189.

192. Pelloutier, La vie ouvrière en France, p 191.

193. Pelloutier, La vie ouvrière en France, p 194.

194. Pelloutier, La vie ouvrière en France, pp 187, 190, 194.

195. La ville lumière – the City of Light, a nickname for Paris, because of its reputation for enlightened thinking and early use of street lighting; Plekhanov is being sarcastic here – MIA.

196. Pelloutier, La vie ouvrière en France, p 289.

197. Leroy-Beaulieu, Traité théorique et pratique d'économie politique, Volume 4 (Paris, 1896), p 468.

198. H Joly, La France criminelle, p 20. Another source gives the growth in the number of convictions for begging and vagrancy as follows: 16 per 100,000 inhabitants of France in 1838; in 1887, the number of convictions stood at 85 (see the interesting Report ‘Criminalité et vagabondage’, presented by Cavalieri to the Geneva Congress of Criminalists and published in its Compte Rendu).

199. See Louis Bertrand, L'organisation de la bienfaisance publique (Brussels, 1900), p 16.

200. Bertrand, L'organisation de la bienfaisance publique, p 17.

201. Bertrand, L'organisation de la bienfaisance publique, p 16.

202. Leroy-Beaulieu, Traité théorique et pratique d'économie politique, Volume 4, p 471.

203. See Enrico Ferri, La Sociologie criminelle (Paris, 1883), p 163 et seq.

204. Dr Franz von Liszt, Das Verbrechen als sozial-pathologische Erscheinung (Dresden, 1899), pp 12-14. [Franz von Liszt (1851-1919) – German criminologist – Editor.]

205. Liszt, Das Verbrechen als sozial-pathologische Erscheinung, p 19.

206. Alfred Fouillé, ‘Les Jeunes criminels’, Revues des deux mondes, January 1897, p 418.

207. Liszt, Das Verbrechen als sozial-pathologische Erscheinung, p 17.

208. Paul Hirsch, Verbrechen und Prostitution (Berlin, 1897), p 7. Cf an interesting book by d'Hausonville, Salaires et misères des femmes (Paris, 1900), which shows the close link between poverty and prostitution.

209. Ferdinand Dreyfus, Misères sociales (Paris, 1901), p 8.

210. An exception to the general rule is presented only by several Swiss cantons, where both the overall figure and the percentage of recidivists are falling. However, such cantons cannot be taken into account because of their exclusive position, for which, for example, see John Cuénod, La criminalité à Genève au dix-neuvième siècle (Geneva, 1891), pp 116-17. Cf Zuercher, ‘Die Selbstmorde im Kanton Zürich in Vergleichung mit der Zahl der Verbrechen’, in Zeitschrift für schweizerische Statistik for 1898, Part 6. Zuercher is out to prove that the fall in crime is accompanied by a rise in the number of suicides.

211. Liszt, Das Verbrechen als sozial-pathologische Erscheinung, p 16.

212. Le crime et la Folie (Paris, 1880), p 30. [Henry Maudsley (1835-1918) – English psychiatrist – Editor.]

213. Written in 1901.

214. The Lombroso School was named after the Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909), who considered that criminal behaviour was inherited biologically and represented a throwback to primitive humans and even apes – MIA.

215. Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1974), p 604 – Editor.

216. ‘La condition de l'ouvrier était donc alors [in the Middle Ages] très supportable, et j'ajouterai, avec les enseignements que la critique moderne nous fournit, qu'elle devait être supérieure à celle de nos ouvriers... Ce serf prétendu... avait une situation que sollicitent comme très enviable les ouvriers de notre temps.’ [’the worker’s condition in those days [in the Middle Ages] was quite tolerable, and I would add, on the basis of data provided by modern practice, that it must have been better than our workers’ condition is. That so-called slaves... lived in conditions that today’s workers would call enviable.'] (P Hubert-Valleroux, Les Corporations d'arts et métiers (Paris, 1885), pp 44-45) Cf also Alfred Franklin, La Vie privée d'autrefois. Arts, moeurs, usages des Parisiens du XIIe au XVIIIe siècle. Comment on devenait patron (Paris, 1889), p 65: ‘La vérité qui se dégage d'une étude approfondie et impartiale du régime des corporations, c'est que la condition de l'ouvrier au treizième et au quatorzième siècle était supérieure à la condition actuelle.’ [’the truth revealed by a profound and impartial study of the corporation system is that the worker’s condition was better in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries than it is today.']

217. This argument, like the vast majority of all the others, has been borrowed by our ‘critic’ from Marx’s bourgeois opponents. Cf, for example, Kirkup’s History of Socialism, p 160. (We are quoting from the second edition, but the argument we are referring to is also to be found in the first edition.)

218. It is noteworthy that Bakunin accused Marx and Engels for their not wishing to place any hopes on an ‘impoverished proletariat’. See The State and Anarchy, p 8.

219. Cf Kampffmeyer, Wohin steuert der Ökonomische und staatliche Entwicklung? (Berlin, 1901), pp 32, 33, 35 and elsewhere. [Eduard David (1863-1930) – economist, a right-wing leader of German Social Democratic Party, revisionist, social-chauvinist; Paul Kampffmeyer (1864-1945) – German reformist and revisionist, SPD archivist, pioneer of the Deutschen Gartenstadt-Gesellschaft (Garden City Society), prolific author; Ludwig Woltmann (1871-1907) – German sociologist, revisionist, neo-Kantian, subsequently social-Darwinist whose ideas of German racial superiority influenced the Nazis – Editor/MIA.]

220. For a characteristic of Bakunin’s view in respect of politics and the economy, see my booklet Anarchismus und Socialismus (Berlin, 1894). [Available on the MIA at < >.]

221. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 735.

222. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 679.

223. Wilhelm Schuppe (1836-1913) – German philosopher, subjective idealist, head of reactionary immanent school; Christoph von Sigwart (1830-1904) – German idealist logician, neo-Kantian; Theodor Ziehen (1862-1950) – professor of philosophy in Halle, physiologist and psychiatrist, known for his attacks against materialism; Alexander Fyodorovich Kistyakovsky (1833-1885) – well-known Russian professor of law – Editor

224. The reader will understand that continuity of heating is not a must. If, after raising the temperature of the wax to a degrees I stop heating it and let it cool to a ÷ 2, and then begin heating it again until it melts, the result will be the same as when the heating is continuous; only it will take more time and more calories.

225. Critique of Pure Reason (translated by NM Sokolov, St Petersburg), p 184. [Plekhanov is quoting from the Russian book – Editor.] Mr P Struve quotes from the second German edition published by Dr Karl Kehrbach, where the above-quoted lines may be found on pp 194-95.

226.If state B differs from state A only in magnitude, then...’, etc (Critique of Pure Reason, p 183 of the Russian translation by Sokolov – italics are ours).

227. Critique of Pure Reason, pp 182, 183 of the same translation (italics are again ours).

228. ‘Veränderung ist eine Art zu existieren, welche auf eine andere Art zu existieren eben desselben Gegenstandes erfolgt. Daher ist alles, was sich verändert, bleibend und nur sein Zustand wechselt.’ ['Change is a kind of existence which follows another kind of existence of the same object; therefore, everything that changes, continues to exist and only its condition changes.'] (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, herausgegeben von Kehrbach, second edition, p 179)

229. Since we do not have the works of Leibnitz on hand, we shall refer at least to Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie by Ueberweg, Part 3 (Berlin, 1880), p 130. [Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (1646-1716) – prominent German mathematician and idealist philosopher – Editor.]

230. We shall note, however, that we would have to consider here, in the first place, the dialectical nature of motion.

231. Hegel long ago showed the groundlessness of current arguments on the theme that Nature makes no leaps. ‘Es hat sich aber gezeigt [he says] dass die Veränderungen des Seins überhaupt nicht nur das Uebergehen einer Grösse in ein andere Grösse, sondern Uebergang vom Qualitativen in das Quantitative und umgekehrt sind: ein Anderswerden, das ein Abbrechen des Allmähligen und ein Qualitative-Anderes gegen das vorhergehende Dasein ist.’ ['But we have shown that, in general, changes of the Being are not only the transition of one magnitude into another, but also the transition of the Quantitative into the Qualitative, and vice versa...'] ('Wissenschaft der Logik’, Hegels Werke, Volume 3, second edition, p 434) Mr P Struve imagines that the quotations so ill-advisedly culled by him from various authors, refute this idea of Hegel’s. In fact, however, they do not contain even a hint at its refutation. For a more detailed exposition of Hegel’s theory of leaps, see our booklet A New Defender of the Autocracy, or the Woe of Mr Tikhomirov. [See Georgi Plekhanov, Selected Philosophical Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1974), pp 363-97; available on the MIA at < > – MIA.]

232. The obscure philosopher of Ephesus – Heraclitus of Ephesus, a major philosopher of antiquity and founder of dialectics, was called ‘obscure’ because his statements were hard to understand – Editor.

233. The Development of Scientific Socialism (translated by V Zasulich, second edition, Geneva, 1893), p 18. [Plekhanov is quoting from the Russian translation by Vera Zasulich, published in Geneva; Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Works, Volume 3 (Moscow, 1973), pp 128-29 – Editor.]

234. For his exploits in the field of ‘criticism’, see our article ‘Cant Against Kant or Herr Bernstein’s Will and Testament’ in No 2-3 of Zarya. [See Georgi Plekhanov, Selected Philosophical Works, Volume 2 (Moscow, 1976), pp 353-78; available on the MIA at < >.

235. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 688.

236. On this, see Hegel’s ‘Big’ Encyclopaedia, § 81 and the Supplement to it. Cf also Die Phenomenologie des Geistes (Bamberg and Würzburg, 1807), pp 134ff. Hegel has aptly remarked that ‘das Etwas ist die erste Negation der Negation’ (Werke, Volume 3, p 114).

237. W Sombart, Without Fail! From the Theory and History of the Trade Union Movement, translated from the German and published in the supplement to the Russian translation of the book by W Kulemann, The Trade Union Movement (St Petersburg, 1901), pp 95-96. [Werner Sombart (1863-1941) – German vulgar bourgeois economist, ideologue of German imperialism, depicted capitalism as harmonious system of economy – Editor.]

238. Sombart, Without Fail! From the Theory and History of the Trade Movement, p 96, italics by Sombart.

239. Paul Bureau, Le Contrat de travail, le rôle des syndicats professionnels (Paris, 1902), p 257. [Pindar (522-443BC) – Greek lyric poet noted for his florid style – MIA.]

240. Incidentally, it should be noted that, in Britain, the attitude of bourgeois public opinion to trade unions has begun of late to undergo a sharp change. Now practically every issue of Justice contains some fresh news on the course of the ‘war’ on the trade unions. The British bourgeoisie seem to be returning to the idea that the trade unions are hampering their competitiveness with other countries on the world market. If this ‘war on the trade unions’ does not cease soon, the British bourgeoisie’s ‘socialism’ will recede into oblivion, after showing that even with all its innocuousness it can live side by side with capitalism only up to a certain limit. [Justice – weekly organ of the British Social-Democratic Federation, published from 1884 till 1925 – Editor.]

241. E tutti frutti – literally ‘and all the fruits'; here meaning disparagingly saying ‘and all the rest of them’ – MIA.

242. See the third edition of his Sozialismus und soziale Bewegung im XIX Jahrhundert (Jena, 1900), pp 126-27.

243. Subjectivism and Individualism, p 260. [Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev (1874-1948) – Russian reactionary idealist philosopher and mystic, opponent of Marxism. In 1922 he was deported abroad – Editor.]

244. Gleb Ivanovich Uspensky (1843-1902) – Russian writer; brilliantly depicted suppression and lack of rights of urban poor and peasants – Editor.

245. From Nikolai Gogol’s comedy The Marriage – Editor.

246. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, pp 698-99.

247. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 690.

248. Brauns Archiv, Volume 14, Book 5/6, Part 1, p 698.

249. Credo – the title of the manifesto which expounded the main propositions of Russian opportunism – Economism, an opportunist trend in the Russian Social-Democratic Movement at the turn of the century; adherents of Bernsteinism. Economists limited the tasks of the working class to economic struggle for higher wages, better working conditions, etc, asserting that political struggle is the liberal bourgeoisie’s affair – Editor.

250. See our Vademecum for the editorial board of Rabocheye Dyelo [The Workers Cause] (Geneva, 1900). [Vademecum for the Editorial Board of ‘Rabocheye Dyelo’ – a collection of materials published by the Emancipation of Labour group with an introduction by G Plekhanov (Geneva, 1900); it was directed against opportunism in the RSDLP and especially against the Economists and their journal Rabocheye Dyelo – Editor.]

251. Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Moscow, 1970), p 21 – Editor.

252. Manifesto of the Communist Party (Geneva, 1900), pp 16-17, 37. [Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 120 – Editor.]

253. With the difference that while the far-sighted see nearby objects worse than the near-sighted do, revolutionary Social-Democrats usually understand even the immediate interests of the workers better than those who do not recognise the ‘ultimate aim’.

254. A modification of a quotation from Ivan Krylov’s fable The Inquisitive One – Editor.

255. In reality, the historical process of the understanding and change in people’s views is not limited to an understanding and change in economic views alone. We have simplified the matter to make its depiction more graphic.

256. Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling (1775-1854) – German philosopher, objective idealist – Editor.

257. ‘The only thing that permits us to confirm the data of science’, Mr S Bulgakov assures us, ‘is that current economic development is leading to the gradual dying out of the most harsh and gross forms of the exploitation of man by man.’ (Capitalism and Agriculture, Volume 2, p 456) [Sergei Nikolayevich Bulgakov (1871-1944) – Russian bourgeois economist, idealist philosopher, in 1900s came out with revision of Marx’s theory on agrarian question, subsequently became a priest – Editor.]

258. Kozma Prutkov – the satirical literary pseudonym used by a group of Russian poets in the 1860s – Editor.

259. This latter thought was expressed by him in an article ‘The Fundamental Antinomy of the Theory of Labour Value’, Zhizn (Life), February 1900.

260. Eugen Böhm-Bawerk (1851-1914) – bourgeois economist of Austrian school of political economy – Editor.]

261. See Preface to the second German edition of Volume 1 of Capital, p xix. [Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1974), p 29 – Editor.]

262. The psychology of Marx’s West European ‘critics’ differs from that of his Russian ‘critics’ only in the measure of the Western bourgeoisie’s seniority to our bourgeoisie. However, there is no essential difference here, neither can there be one. It is the same tune, though somewhat in another key.

263. Sotsial-Demokrat – a literary and political collection published abroad in 1890-92 by the Emancipation of Labour group; it played an important part in disseminating Marxism in Russia – Editor.

264. See our review of the booklet Sotsial-Demokrat (Geneva, 1890).