Karl Kautsky

The Social Revolution


Volume II
On the Day after the Social Revolution
(Part 2)

The Organization of the Productive Process

The application of the two above mentioned methods of the trust to production have not exhausted the resources of the proletarian regime in relation to the increase of production. The productive process considered as a continuous transaction, as a reproductive process demands an undisturbed continuation, not simply of production, but also of circulation. If production is to go on without interruption it is necessary not simply that there be laborers for the creation of products, but it is also necessary that there be no break in the securing of raw materials and essentials of production, the necessary tools and machines, and the means of sustenance for the laborers, and that no interruption occur and that the finished product find a sale.

A stoppage in circulation signifies an economic crisis. It stops in some cases because too much is produced of some wares. In this case the industrial plants from which these products came cannot further function in their full capacity because of the lack of sale for their products. They receive no money for their products and the result of this is they lack the means to buy raw materials, to pay wages and so forth.

But crises can also occur because too little of many of certain wares have been produced, as for instance was the case in the crisis of the English cotton industry at the time of the war of the Rebellion in the United States, which for some time greatly disturbed the production of cotton.

The crises are the worst scourges of the modern productive system. To abolish them is one of the most important tasks of a proletarian regime. This can be done only through the systematic regulation of production and circulation as well as of re-production.

It has already been admitted that the object of socialism is the organization of production. But a portion of this problem is already solved by capital in that it substitutes for a number of little independent industries the organization of production into one great industry in which thousands of laborers are employed. The trusts have already accomplished the organization of whole branches of industry.

What, however, only a proletarian regime can accomplish is the systematic regulation and circulation of products, the exchange between industry and industry, between producers and consumers, in which the idea of consumption is taken in its highest sense, so as to include not simply personal but productive consumption. The weaver for example consumes yarn in productive consumption while the piece of bread that he eats is included in personal consumption.

The proletarian can only accomplish this regulation of the circulation of products by the abolition of private property in industry, and it not only can do this but it must do it if the process of production is to proceed under its direction and its regime is to be permanent. It must fix the height of production of each individual social productive plant according to the basis calculated upon the existing productive power (laborers and means of production) and of the existing needs, and see to it that each productive plant has not only the necessary laborers but also the necessary means of production and that the necessary products are delivered to the consumers.

Is not this task however insoluble in the great modern States? It would presuppose that in Germany the State is to become the director of production of two million productive plants and to act as medium for the circulation of this product, which will come to it partially in the form of means of production and partially as means of consumption to be distributed to sixty million consumers, of which each one has a special and changing need. The task appears overwhelming if one does not proceed from the point of view of regulating the necessities of humanity from above according to a very simple pattern and assigning to each one, barrack fashion, his portion, which would mean the lowering of modern civilization to a much lower stage. Are we destined then to come to a barrack or prison-like State? Certainly the problem is not simple. It is the most difficult which will come to the proletarian regime and will furnish it with many hard nuts to crack. But its difficulties must not be exaggerated.

In the first place it must be remembered that we are not compelled to create out of nothing over night a complete organization of production and circulation. There is one existing at present of a certain character, or otherwise the existence of the present society would be impossible. The question is simply to transform this organization, which has hitherto been an unconscious one going on behind the shoulders of those engaged in it with friction, sorrow and woe, bankruptcies and crises, under the operation of the law of value, ever being readjusted, into a conscious system in which a previous calculation of all modifying factors will take the place of the retroactive corrections through the play of supply and demand. There is a proportionality between the different branches of labor to-day even though it is wholly incomplete and incompetent; it is necessary, not to introduce, but rather to make complete and permanent. As with money and with prices it is necessary to connect with that which is historically descended and not to build everything from the ground anew; but only to broaden out at some points or to restrict others and to formulate more clearly the loose relations.

This problem is considerably restricted by the fact already discussed that the concentration of production in the most perfect productive plants has already perceptibly decreased the number of industries. Of the 2,146,972 businesses which constituted the industry of the German Empire in 1895 there were only 17,941 great businesses having more than 50 laborers (and these contained three million laborers out of the total number of eight million industrial workers). To be sure I do not assert that only these great industries will be retained in activity. To attempt to give absolutely exact figures of a future condition would be absurd. All the numbers herewith printed have simply the purpose of illustrating the problems which arise and not of narrowly setting forth how things will be formulated in reality. The relation of two million industrial plants to 18,000 great industries shows that the number of industrial plants would be perceptibly decreased under a proletarian regime.

But the difficulties of the organization of production and circulation can be diminished in other directions as well as by a decrease in the number of plants. Production can be divided into two great fields; those in which the production is for consumption and those in which production is for production. The production of means of production, thanks to the extensive division of labor, has become to-day the most important portion of production and it continues to increase steadily. Scarcely a single article of consumption comes from the hand of a single producer, but all run through a number of productive processes so that those who finally fit it for our use are only the last in a long row of producers. The production of articles for consumption and for the means of production have a wholly different character. The production for further production belongs to the domain of gigantic industries such as the iron industry, mining, etc. These are all highly organized in owner’s agreements, cartels, etc. But even among the users of these means of production, operator’s agreements are already very extensive. In most cases in this held to-day the individual operator does not deal with individual operators, but union of operators with union of operators, industrial branch deals with industrial branch, and those places where the union of operators is least developed are just the regions in which there are relatively few producers and few consumers dealing with each other. For consumption is here not by an individual but by a whole industry. In the manufacture of spinning and weaving machines, for example, there were in 1895 1,152 businesses with 17,047 laborers. Of these, however, there were 774 industries which had only 1,474 laborers and were scarcely to be considered. Among the great industries there were only 73 with 10,755 laborers. Opposed to these were 200,000 textile industries (not simply spinners and weavers) whose numbers, as we have seen, may be reduced to a thousand or perhaps to a hundred. On the one side there remained after the completion of the concentration of production in the most perfect industries perhaps 50 manufacturers of machinery and on the other side 2,000 spinning and weaving establishments. Is it then so impossible that the former should agree with the latter in regard to the demand for machines, and that their production should be systematically regulated? With this relatively small number of purchasers and consumers it is easily conceivable that in the sphere of the production of the means of production to-day, production for the open market has already disappeared and production for orders, that is to say, regulated, thoughtful production and circulation has taken its place.

The production of articles for consumption has another character. To be sure we have here the gigantic industries (sugar factories and breweries), but as a general thing the little industry is still generally dominant. Here it is necessary to satisfy the individual needs of the market, and the small industry can do this better than the large. The number of productive plants is here large and would not ordinarily be capable of reduction as in the production of means of production. Here also production for the open market still rules. But because of the greater number of consumers this is much more difficult to supervise than is production for production. The number of operators’ agreements is fewer here. The organization of the production and circulation of all articles of consumption accordingly offers much greater difficulties than that of the means of production.

Here also we must again distinguish the two forms, namely: the production of necessary articles of consumption, and of luxuries. The demand for necessary articles of consumption ordinarily shows rather small fluctuations. It is quite definite. Day in and day out one needs the same amount of flour, bread, meat and vegetables. Year in and year out there is little change in the demand for boots and linen. On the other hand, the demand for means of consumption changes the more readily the more these take on the character of unnecessary luxuries, whose possession or use is agreeable but not indispensable. Here consumption is much more whimsical, but when we look closer we see that this really proceeds much less from the purchasing individual than from the industry itself. Changes in fashion, for example, springs not so much from the changes in taste of the public as from the necessity of the producer to render impossible of further use the old wares which have already been sold, in order to thereby appeal to consumers to purchase new wares. The new and modern goods must accordingly be very strikingly distinguished from the old. Next to the restlessness which lies in the very nature of the modern manner of production, this strife of the producer is the main cause of the rapid changes of fashion. It is this which first produces the new fashions and then makes them necessary to the public.

The variations in demand for articles of consumption, especially of luxuries, are influenced much more by the variations in the income of the consumers than by variations in taste. These last variations again, so far as they do not remain isolated but really have a wide extension through society, so as to perceptibly influence consumption, arise from the contrast between prosperity and crises, from the contrast between the strong demand for labor and the increase of enforced idleness. When, however, we investigate the source of these variations we find that they spring from the held of the production of the means of production. It is universally known and recognized that to-day it is the iron industry especially which gives rise to crises.

The alternation between prosperity and crises and therewith the great variations in the demand for articles of consumption also arises out of the sphere of the production of the means of production. In the other sphere, as we have already seen, the concentration of industry and the organization of production is already so far developed that it has made possible a really complete organization of production and circulation. Stability in the production of means of production carries with it stability in demand for means of consumption, and this can be easily established by the State without direct regulation of consumption.

Only one phase of the disturbances in circulation which spring from production is of importance to the proletarian regime, – only under-production, never over-production. To-day the latter is the principal cause of crises, for the greatest difficulty at present is the sale, or getting rid of the product. The purchase of goods, the procuring of the products that one needs, ordinarily causes very little complaint from those lucky ones who have the necessary small change in their pockets. Under proletarian regime this relation mould be reversed. There will be no need of anxiety regarding the disposal of the products when completed. Private individuals will not be purchasing for sale to other private individuals, but society will be purchasing for its own necessities. A crisis can then only arise when a sufficient amount of a number of products has not been produced to supply the need either for production or personal consumption. If accordingly there are here and there, or even anywhere, too much produced this will signify only a wasting of labor power and a loss for society, but will not hinder the progress of production and consumption. It will be the principal anxiety of the new regime to see to it that there is not insufficient production in any sphere. Accordingly it will, to be sure, also take care that no labor power is wasted in superfluous production, for every such waste signifies an abstraction from all the others and an unnecessary extension of the labor time.



The Remnants of Private Property in the Means of Production

We have seen that the proletarian regime would make short work of the smaller businesses where they represent the little, undeveloped plants, not only in industry but also in exchange.

The efforts referred to above for the organization of circulation would also lead to the greatest possible abolition of the little middlemen by crushing them out, partially through co-operatives for consumption, partly through extension of municipal activity. Superintendence and organization of the productive processes will be much easier when it is not necessary to deal with countless operators, but rather with only a few organizations.

Besides the work of the middle-men the direct producers of articles of consumption for local necessity would fall to the cooperatives and municipalities – for example, bakeries, milk and vegetable production and erection of buildings.

But it is not to be expected that all small private industries will disappear in this manner. This will be specially true in agriculture. To be sure those agricultural plants which have already become capitalist industries would fall with the wage system and be transformed into national, municipal or co-operative businesses. Therewith a large number of the little competing farmers of to-day would cease to exist and go as laborers into the industrial or agricultural great industry, because they could there secure a respectable existence. But we may be sure that some farmers would always remain with their own family, or at the most with one assistant, or maid that will be reckoned as part of the family, and would continue their little industry. With the present conservative nature of our farmers it is highly probable that a number of them would continue to work in the present manner. The proletarian governmental power would have absolutely no inclination to take over such little businesses. As yet no socialist who is to be taken seriously has ever demanded that the farmers should be exappropriated, or that their goods should be confiscated. It is much more probable that each little farmer would be permitted to work on as he has previously done. The farmer has nothing to fear from a socialist regime.

Indeed it is highly probable that these agricultural industries would receive considerable strengthening through the new regime. It would bring an abolition of militarism, of burdens of taxation, bring self-government and nationalism of schools and road taxes, an abolition of poor relief and perhaps also a lowering of mortgage burdens, and many other advantages. We have also seen that the victorious proletariat has every reason to increase the amount of products, and among those products for which the demand would be increased, the most important are agricultural products. In spite of all the refutation of the theory of increasing misery there is still much hunger to satisfy, and this fact alone justifies us in the opinion that the raising of wages mould show itself above all in an increase of the demand for agricultural products. The proletarian regime would also have the greatest interest in increasing the production of the farmers and it would have powerful forces at its disposal for this purpose. Its own interests demand that the agricultural industry should be brought to a higher stage through the care of animals, machines and fertilizers, through improvement of the soil, etc. It mould in this manner assist in Increasing agricultural products, including those in the industries not yet socialized.

But here, as well as in every sphere, conditions would make it necessary to simplify the circulation process by substituting for a large number of private individuals trading their products with one another a few organizations united for economic purposes. The State would much prefer instead of selling breeding animals, machines and fertilizers to the individual farmers to deal with the farmers’ societies and co-operatives. These societies and co-operatives would find as the purchasers of their products no longer private middle-men, but either co-operatives, unions for consumption, municipalities or national industries (mills, sugar factories, breweries and such like). So here also the private industry would continually recede before the social, and the latter would finally transform the agricultural industry itself and permit the development of many such industries through the co-operative or municipal co-operative into one great social industry. The farmers will combine their possessions and operate them in common, especially when they see how the social operation of the expropriated great industry proves that with the same expenditure of labor perceptibly more can be produced, or that with the same number of products the laborers can be granted considerably more leisure than is possible in the small industry. If the small industry is still able to assert itself in agriculture this is due not a little to the fact that it can pump more labor out of its laborers than the great industry. It is undeniable that farmers work harder than the wage workers of the great land owners. The farmer has scarcely any free time, and even during the little free time that he has he must be continually studying how he can improve his business. There is nothing else in his life but his business, and that is also one of the reasons why he is so hard for us to gain.

But this holds true only for the older generation; the younger generation is conscious of other things. They feel a strong impulse towards enjoyments and pleasures, towards joy, and also towards a higher culture, and because they cannot satisfy these impulses in the country they stream into the cities and populate the level plains. When once the farmer sees, however, that he can remain in agriculture without being compelled to renounce leisure and culture he will no longer flee from agriculture, but will simply move from the little industry to the great and therewith the last fortress of private property will disappear.

But the victorious proletariat will not consider a violent hastening of this development, and this for the very good reason that it does not feel itself called upon to get its head cracked without any necessity. And this has been the result of every attempt to force the farmers to a new stage of production. However high may be my estimate of the belligerency and fearlessness of the proletariat, its struggle is not directed against the little people that are themselves exploited, but against the great exploiters.

Along with agriculture the small industry in business comes into consideration. This also need not completely disappear at once. To be sure the new regime, as we have already seen, would, whenever poorly organized industry came in competition with the more perfect, strive to concentrate production in the well directed great industries. This could be easily attained, however, without the application of force by the simple raising of wages. But there will always be branches of industry in which the machine cannot compete successfully with hand labor, or, cannot accomplish what the latter can accomplish. It is highly significant that an investigation of the factory statistics of the German empire did not yield a single form of production in which the small industry still exclusively rules, with one insignificant exception (four plants each with one laborer). A few figures that, so far as I know, have never yet been published are here given. In the following branches of industry the small business rules almost exclusively, more than 97 per cent of all industries, while the great business with more than fifty laborers does not exist at all:


Number of Factories with:

1 to 5

6 to 50

Number of

Makers of whetstones




Makers of violins




Preparation of anatomical material








Spinners (materials not given)




Weavers (materials not given)




Rubber toys




Barbers, hairdressers, wigmakers




Cleaners of clothes and bootblacks








Sculptors and painters




If we exclude painters, barbers, chimneysweeps, violin makers and, according to my opinion, also scavengers and bootblacks, this reduces the held of existing small businesses, in industries which are outside the field of competition of great industries, to practically nil.

Nevertheless it may be granted that the small industry will have a definite position in the future in many branches of industry that produce directly for human consumption, for the machines manufacture essentially only products in bulk, while many purchasers desire that their personal taste shall be considered. It is easily possible that even under a proletarian regime the number of small businesses may increase as the well being of the masses increases. The demand for products of hand labor as a result of this may become active. Artistic hand work may accordingly receive a new impulse. However, we need not expect the realization of the picture of the future that William Morris has painted for us in his beautiful Utopia, in which the machine plays no role whatever. The machine will remain the ruler of the productive process. It will never give up this position again to hand labor. This, however, does not exclude the possibility that hand work in many artistic branches will again flourish and that it will even conquer many new fields. Meanwhile it to-day too often maintains its existence only as the product of extreme misery. As a house industry hand work in a socialist society call only exist as an expensive luxury which may in a universal well being find an extensive distribution. The foundation of the productive process will still remain the machine-driven great industry. The problematical small industries will at the most be maintained as islands in the ocean of the great social businesses.

These little industries, again, can take on the most various forms in regard to the ownership of their means of production and the disposal of their products. They may be dependent upon a great national or municipal industry, from which they receive their raw material and tools and to which they dispose of their products. They can produce for private customers, or for the open market, etc. as to-day, so then, a laborer can occupy himself in the most diverse occupations one after another. A seamstress, for example, can occupy herself for a time in a national factory and at another time make dresses for private customers at home, then again can sew for another customer in her own house, and finally she may, with a few comrades, unite in a co-operative for the manufacture of clothing for sale.

In this, as in every other relation, the greatest diversity and possibility of change will rule. Nothing is more false than to represent the socialist society as a simple, rigid mechanism whose wheels when once set in motion run on continuously in the same manner.

The most manifold forms of property in the means of production – national, municipal, cooperatives of consumption and production, and private can exist beside each other in a socialist society – the most diverse forms of industrial organization, bureaucratic, trades union, cooperative and individual; the most diverse forms of remuneration of labor, fixed wages, time wages, piece wages, participation in the economics in raw material, machinery, etc., participation in the results of intensive labor the most diverse forms of circulation of products, like contract by purchase from the warehouses of the State, from municipalities, from co-operatives of production, from producers themselves, etc., etc. The same manifold character of economic mechanism that exists to-day is possible in a socialistic society. Only the hunting and the hunted, the struggling and resisting, the annihilated and being annihilated of the present competitive struggle are excluded and therewith the contrast between exploiter and exploited.



Intellectual Production

So much for the most important economic problems that arise from the political victory of the proletariat and the means to their solution. It would be very alluring in this connection to follow these conditions further, to investigate the problems which housing and international commerce, the relations of city and country, etc., carry with them, all of which will be deeply touched by the domination of the proletariat and cannot continue in their present manner. But I must turn from the discussion of these themes at this point because I have said elsewhere the most essential things that I have to say upon them (the position of a socialist community in relation to colonies and world’s commerce I have discussed in my preface to Atlanticus, A View of the Future State, p.XIX, and The Future of the Individual Home, in my Agrarfrage, p.447, etc.). I wish to discuss only one point in this connection about which much indefiniteness exists – the future of intellectual production.

We have here hitherto only investigated the problem of material production which is most fundamental. But upon this basis there arises a production of artistic works, scientific investigation and literary activities of various forms. The continuation of this production is no less necessary for modern civilization than the undisturbed continuance of the production of bread and meat, coal and iron. A proletarian revolution, however renders its continuance in the former manner impossible. What has it to substitute therefor? That no reasonable man to-day fears that the victorious proletariat will cause a return to the old condition of barbarism or that it will fling art and science and superfluous rubbish into the lumber room but that on the contrary it is just among those broad popular sections of the proletariat that the most interest and the highest regard for art and science is to be found, I have already shown in my essay concerning Reform and Revolution. But my whole inquiry is not so much in the nature of an investigation into what the victorious proletariat might do as to what by virtue of the power of logic and facts it can and must do.

There will be no lack of the necessary material objects for art and science. We have already seen that it is one of the strong points of the proletarian regime that through the abolition of private property in the means of production the possibility will be created of wiping out in the quickest possible manner the ruins of the outgrown means and methods of production which to-day prevent the unfolding of the modern productive powers and which beneath the present dominion of private property can only be slowly and incompletely swept out of the road by competition. The wealth of society must thereby at once attain a level far above that inherited from capitalist society.

But material objects alone are not sufficient to secure this elevation. Wealth alone does not give rise to a great ideal life. The question is whether the conditions of production of material goods in socialist society are consistent with the necessary conditions of a highly developed intellectual production. This is strongly denied by our opponents.

Let us nest examine some forms of existing intellectual production. It takes on three forms: production through organs of society for direct satisfaction of social needs; then, the production of goods in individual industries, and finally the production of goods under capitalist industry.

To the first form of intellectual production belongs the whole system of education from kindergartens to universities. If we disregard the insignificant private schools, this is to-day almost wholly in the hands of society and is conducted by the State not for the purpose of making profits or on account of gain. This holds above all of the modern national and municipal schools, but also of those which are mainly ruins descended from the Middle Ages, but which still exist under clerical organization and community support, and which are especially prominent in the land of Anglo-Saxon culture.

This social educational system is of the highest significance for the intellectual life, especially for the scientific, and this is not simply through its influence upon the growing youth. It controls ever more and more scientific investigation in that its teachers, especially in the high schools, have more and more a monopoly of scientific apparatus without which scientific investigation is to-day almost impossible. This is especially true in the field of the natural sciences whose technique has become so highly developed that, aside from a few million sires, the State alone is able to supply the means demanded for the establishment and maintenance of the necessary scientific apparatus. But in many branches of social science, ethnology and archaeology and others, the scientific apparatus of investigation has become ever more comprehensive and expensive. Because of this, science becomes ever more and more an unremunerative occupation, by which a man cannot live and to which only those people can devote themselves who are paid by the State unless they have been very fortunate in the choice of their parents – or of their wives. Attainment of the necessary preliminary knowledge for productive scientific activity demands again a great and ever increasing amount of money. So it is that science is more and more monopolized by the governmental powers and the possessing classes.

At the very least a proletarian regime can abolish the conditions which hamper scientific activity at present. It must formulate its educational system, as was previously pointed out, so that each genius will have within his reach all the knowledge that the social educational system has at its disposal. It will increase enormously the demand for educated people, and therewith also for the power of scientific investigation. Finally it will operate through the abolition of class antagonisms to make the investigators in the sphere of social science, where employed by the State, internally and externally free. So long as there are class antagonisms there will be very different standpoints from which society will be observed. There is no greater hypocrisy or self-deception than the talk about an existing science which is above class antagonisms. Science exists only in the heads of investigators and these are the products of society and cannot get out of it or reach above it. Even in a socialist society science will be dependent upon social conditions but these will then at least be uniform and not antagonistic.

Even worse than the internal dependence upon social conditions, from which no investigator can free himself, is the external dependence of many of those from governmental or other dominating institutions, for example, clerical. These compel the intellectual workers to direct their views according to those of the governing classes and will not permit them to investigate freely and independently, and it compels them to seek in a scientific manner for arguments that will justify the existing order and repel the aspiring classes. So the class dominion operates directly to demoralize science. The intellectual workers will have every reason to breathe freer when the proletarian regime sweeps away the direct and indirect dominion of the class of capitalists and land owners. The intellectual life so far as it is connected with education has nothing to fear and everything to hope from the victory of the proletariat.

How is it, then, with the production of intellectual commodities? In this connection we will first study individual production. Here painting and sculpture come most prominently into consideration, together with a portion of literary writing.

A proletarian regime will no more make this form of commodity production impossible, than it will abolish the little private industry in material production. Just as little as the needle and thimble, will brush and palette, or ink and pen belong to those means of production which must under all conditions be socialized. But one thing is well possible and that is that with the cessation of capitalist exploitation the number of purchasers that heretofore constituted the market for the commodities produced by the little artistic industry will be reduced. This will certainly not be without influence on the articles of artistic production. It will not abolish such production but only alter its character. The easel painting and statuettes which can most easily change their places and possessors, that can be placed wherever we wish, are the special form of commodity production in art. They include those forms of artistic work that can easiest take the form of commodities, which, like jewelry, can be accumulated and stored either for the purpose of re-selling at a profit or to hoard as treasures. It is possible that their production for the purposes of sale will find many obstacles in a socialist society. But in place of these, other forms of artistic production will appear.

A proletarian regime will immensely increase the number of public buildings. It will endeavor to make attractive every place occupied by the people, whether for labor, for consultation, or for pleasure. Instead of accumulating statuettes and pictures that will be thrown into a great impersonal market from whence they finally and a place utterly unknown to the artist and are used for wholly unthought of purposes, the artist will work together with the architect as was the case in the Golden Age of art in Athens under Pericles and in the Italian Renaissance. One art will support and raise the other and artistic labor will have a definite social aim so that its products, its surroundings and its public will not be dependent on chance.

On the other side the necessity to produce artistic works for sale as commodities will cease. Above all there will no longer be need to offer individual labor for profit or as wage labor, or for the production of commodities.

I have already pointed out that a proletarian regime would endeavor, as is perfectly evident from the standpoint of the wage-worker, to shorten the labor time and raise the wages. I have also shown to how high a degree this can be done, particularly in the line of highly developed capitalist production, simply through the concentration of industry in the most perfect centers of production and through the most perfect utilization of these most perfect industries. It is by no means fantastic to conclude that a doubling of the wages and a reduction of labor time to half of the present one is possible at once, and technical science is already sufficiently advanced to expect rapid progress in this field. The further one goes in this direction the more the possibility increases for those who are engaged in material production to give themselves up also to intellectual activity and especially to those forms that bring no material gain, but rather find their reward in themselves and which are the highest forms of intellectual activity. The greater increased leisure may in part, indeed in overwhelming part, lead to pure intellectual enjoyment. With the talented the creative genius will be free and the union of material with artistic literary and scientific production will be made possible.

This union, however, will not be simply possible. It will be an economic necessity. We have seen that a proletarian regime must aim to make culture a universal good. If we should seek to extend culture in the present sense of the word it would end in making the growing generation useless for material production and hence would undermine the foundations of society. To-day the social division of labor is developed in such a manner that material and intellectual labor are well-nigh mutually exclusive. Material production exists under such conditions that only the few who have been favored by nature or by special conditions are able to engage in the higher intellectual labor. On the other side intellectual labor as it is carried on to-day makes those who follow it incapable of and disinclined toward physical labor. To give culture to all mankind under such conditions would simply make all material production impossible because then no one would be found who could or would carry it on. If we are to make the higher intellectual culture a common good without endangering the existence of society, then not simply pedagogical but economic necessity demands that this be done in such a manner that the growing generation will be made familiar in schools not simply with intellectual but also with physical labor and the habit of uniting intellectual and material production will be firmly rooted.

The proletarian regime must proceed from two directions to secure the union of material and intellectual production and to free the latter in the mass of the population from its present material fetters. On the one side this must be done through the continuous shortening of the labor time of the so-called hand laborers. This will come as a result of the increasing productivity of labor whereby more time will be continuously granted for intellectual labor to those engaged in material production. On the other side this will be accomplished by an increase of the physical labor of the cultured, an unavoidable result of the continual increase in numbers of the latter.

It is, however, plain that with this union, physical labor for gain and for the necessary labor in the interest of society, and intellectual labor for the free exercise of personality would be freed from every social compulsion. For intellectual labor is much more incompatible with such compulsion than physical. This liberation of intellectual labor by the proletariat is not the pious wish of the Utopian but the economically necessary consequence of its victory.

Finally we must observe the third form of intellectual production – that which is capitalistically exploited. Since the first of these three forms of intellectual production includes mainly science and the second the fine arts, so what we have to say now applies to the utilization of all spheres of intellectual activity, but particularly, however, to the heroes of the pen and the stage, to whom now stand opposed as capitalist directors of industry, the publishers, periodical owners and theater directors.

Capitalist exploitation in such a form is impossible of continuance under a proletarian regime. It rests, however, upon the fact that to get even a questionable intellectual production to the public requires an expensive technical apparatus and extensive co-operative powers. The individual cannot here act for himself. Does that, however, not mean that here again the alternative to capitalist industry is national industry? If this is so, must not the centering of so great and important a part of the intellectual life in the State threaten in the highest degree that intellectual life with uniformity and stagnation? It is true that the governmental power will cease to be a class organ, but will it not still be the organ of a majority? Can the intellectual life be made dependent upon the decisions of the majority? Would not every new truth, every new conception and discovery be comprehended and thought out by the insignificant minority? Does not this new order threaten to bring at once the best and keenest of the intellectual thinkers in the various spheres into continuous conflict with the proletarian regime? And even if this creates increased freedom for the artistic and scientific development would not this be more than offset by the fetters that it will lay upon the intellectual activity when this can only be pursued by social means? Here is certainly an important but not an insoluble problem.

We must first notice that as for all production so also for the social necessities of intellectual production the State will from the beginning not be the only leading and means granting organ which will come into consideration, but there will also be municipalities. Through these alone all uniformity and every domination of the intellectual life by central power is excluded. As another substitute for the capitalist industry in individual production, still other organizations must be considered; those of free unions which will serve art and science and the public life and advance production in these spheres in the most diverse ways, or undertake them directly as even today we have countless unions which bring out plays, publish newspapers, purchase artistic works, publish writings, fit out scientific expeditions, etc. The shorter the hours of labor in material production and the higher the wages the more will these free unions be favored. They must increase in numbers, in enthusiasm and in the intelligence of their members as well as in the resources which the intellectuals can contribute to support the common cause. I expect that these free unions will play an even more important role in the intellectual life. It is their destiny to enter into the place now occupied by capital and individual production and to organize and to lead the social nature.

Here also the proletarian regime leads not to greater bondage but to greater freedom.

Freedom of education and of scientific investigation from the fetters of capitalist dominion; freedom of the individual from the oppression of exclusive, exhaustive physical labor; displacement of the capitalist industry in the intellectual production of society by the free unions, – along this road proceeds the tendency of the proletarian regime in the sphere of intellectual production.

We see that the problems in the field of production are of a contradictory nature. The capitalist system of production has created the task of formulating the social process of production in a simple and systematic manner. This task consists in placing the individual in a fixed order to whose rules he must conform. On the other side this same manner of production has more than ever brought the individual to a self-consciousness, placed him on his own feet and freed him from society. More than ever mankind demands to-day the possibility of developing a personality and its relation to other men in order to determine in the freest manner the more sensitive and individual of these relations, especially the marriage relation, but also their relation as artists and thinkers to the external world.

Regulation of social chaos and liberation of the individual – these are the two historical tasks that capitalism has placed before society. They appear to be contradictory, but they are simultaneously soluble because each of them belongs to a different sphere of social life. Undoubtedly whoever should seek to rule both spheres in the same manner would find himself involved in insoluble contradictions. It is on this point that anarchism is wrecked. Anarchism arises out of the reaction of the little bourgeois against the repressive and oppressive capitalism. The little handworker who was accustomed to direct his labor according to his own pleasure rebels against the discipline and the monotony of the factory. His ideal remains the free labor of the individual and when this is no longer possible he seeks to replace it by common working together in free unions wholly independent of each other.

The “new middle class,” the intellectuals, is, as we have already seen many times, in its social position only a refined and more sensitive expression of the earlier little bourgeois. Its manner of working develops in them the same need for free labor, the same repugnance to discipline and uniformity. So it is that their social ideal becomes the same as that of the small bourgeois, that is the anarchist. But that which is a progressive ideal in their sphere of production shows itself to be reactionary in the field of material production where it corresponds to the conditions of production of the now extinct hand work.

In the present stage of production there are only two possible forms of material production so far as production in quantities is concerned, aside from a few remnants which are mainly curiosities: on the one side communistic with social property in the means of production, and the systematic direction of production from a central point, or the capitalistic. The anarchistic system of production can, under the best conditions, be only a transitory episode. Material production through free unions without central production leads to chaos unless the commodities produced exchange on the basis of the law of value determined by free competition. We have seen above what the consequence is for individual industry under free competition. It determines the correct proportionality of individual means of production to one another and prevents any one from swamping society with buttons or leaving it without bread. Production of commodities under the present conditions of social production must continuously take on some form of capitalist production, as countless productive co-operatives have shown. To strive for an anarchist ideal in material production is at best a Sisyphus task.

It is wholly different with intellectual production. This is built upon material production, on the surplus of products and labor powers which proceed from material production. It is possible only when material life is secured. If the latter falls into confusion then our whole existence is threatened. Consequently it is absolutely unimportant for society in what relations the existing surplus of products and labor powers are applied to the individual fields of free intellectual creation. The exception to this is the educational system which has its special laws, and has not yet been turned over to free competition in any society, but has been socially regulated. Society would fall into bad condition if all the world should set to work at the manufacture of one kind of commodities such, for example, as buttons, and thereby direct too much labor power to this, so that not enough was left for the production of others, such for example, as bread. On the other hand the relation between lyric poems and tragedies, works on Assyriology and botany which are to be produced is no essential one; it has neither maximum nor minimum point. If to-day there should be twice as many dramas as yesterday, and at the same time one-half as many lyrics, or if to-day twenty works on Assryiology should appear and only ten Botanical, while yesterday the relations were reversed, still the existence of society would not be touched in the slightest thereby. These facts and their economic expression in that the law of value, in spite of all psychological theories of value, only holds good for material production and not for intellectual. In this held a central direction of production is not only unnecessary, but absolutely foolish. Here free production can rule without the necessity of production of commodities of value or of capitalist production.

Communism in material production, anarchism in the intellectual. This is the type of the socialist productive system which will arise from the dominion of the proletariat or, in other words, out of the social revolution by the logic of economic facts whatever may be the wishes, ideas and theories of the proletariat.



The Preliminary Psychical Conditions to the Dominion of the Proletariat

It will have occurred to very many readers that in this investigation I have spoken only of economic conditions. I have not investigated what are to be the ethical foundations of the new society, whether they shall rest upon Kantian or Spencerian, upon the categorical imperative, or whether the greatest good to the greatest number shall be the principal motive. I have not investigated which of the above theories shall constitute the juridical foundation, whether the right to the complete product of labor, or the right to existence, or some other one of the fundamental economic rights which the judicial socialists have discovered. No doubt laws and ethics will play a part in the social revolution, but the determining factor will always be the demands of economics.

But beside law and ethics psychology also comes into consideration. Will not problems arise therefrom for the proletarian regime and those of great significance? Does not the socialist society presuppose extraordinary people, actual angels in unselfishness, joy in labor, and intelligence? Will not the social revolution with the present race full of egoism and brutality be the signal for a raging battle for spoils or lead to a universal idleness? All transformations of economic foundations amount to nothing so long as mankind is not ennobled.

The treatment and the text are not new. They were sung a hundred years ago as the song arose of the crushed oppressed classes. The gentle landlords of the Holy Alliance would gladly have given their beloved children all possible freedom, but these children must first attain the necessary ripeness.

I do not intend to deny that every system of production demands certain definite technical and also psychological preliminary conditions in order to enable it to be realized. What shall be the necessary forms of these psychological conditions of a given manner of production depends upon the character of the economic tasks which it sets forth.

No one will claim that in my investigation I have presupposed mankind of an angelic character. The problem that we have to solve presupposes intelligence, discipline and talent for organization. These are the psychological foundations of a socialist society. Those are just the ones that the capitalist society has created. It is the historical task of capital to discipline and organize the laborers, and to widen their intellectual horizon beyond the boundaries of the workshop and the church door.

For socialism to rise on the basis of hand work or agricultural industry is impossible, not simply on economic grounds because of the low productivity of industry, but also for psychological reasons. I have already shown how small bourgeois psychology inclines towards anarchy and opposes the discipline of the social industry. It is one of the greatest difficulties that capital meets in the beginnings of capitalist production, in that it must take its first laborers directly from hand work or from agriculture. It had to fight with this in the eighteenth century in England and to-day in the Southern States of America which renders very difficult the rapid advance of the great industry not-withstanding the nearness to raw materials greatly favors such industry.

Not discipline alone but also the talent for organization is difficult of development in little bourgeois and agricultural positions. There are no great bodies of men to be united in systematic co-operation. On this economic stage it is only the soldiers who offer the opportunity to organize in great bodies. The great generals are also great organizers. Capitalist production transplants the task of organization of great masses of the community to industry. The capitalists constitute naturally the head people, the field generals of those who are under them and become prominent factors in organization. Correspondingly the organizing talent in its appointees is very highly valued and rewarded by capital. Under these conditions the organizing talent grows rapidly. It can be applied equally well to the uses of a proletarian regime that will also need numerous directors of factories and organizers of trusts.

Capital also demands intelligent labor power, so we see that the competitive struggle above all enforces the betterment of the industrial school. On the other side the development of industry and the existence of newspapers contributes to extend the intellectual horizon of the laborer.

But not alone the pressure of capital in the exploitation of great bodies of labor, but the struggle of the proletarian against this exploitation develops the psychological conditions for socialist production; it develops discipline in every way, as we have already seen, of a wholly different character and from that given capital, and this struggle develops also a talent for organization, for it is only through the unanimous co-operation of the great body of mankind that the proletariat can assert itself against capital and the capitalist state. Organization is the most important weapon of the proletariat and nearly all its great leaders are also great organizers. To the money of capital, and the weapon of the military States, the proletariat has nothing to oppose save its economic indispensability and its organization. That its intelligence grows with these and through these needs no proof.

The social revolution requires high intelligence, strict discipline and complete organization of this great mass and these must exist simultaneously with and be indispensable to economic life if it is to attain strength to overcome so extremely powerful an opponent. We may expect that it will only succeed when these peculiarities are developed in the highest degree and also that the victory of the proletariat and therewith the social revolution will not come before not only the economic but also the psychological conditions to a socialist society are present in a high degree. This does not mean that mankind should be angels nor that we shall need to wait so very long for its psychological ripeness.

While the modern proletariat has need of no great change in order to make it ripe for socialist society, nevertheless we may expect that this society will greatly alter the character of mankind. That which is demanded as a preliminary condition to a socialist society, and which the capitalist society makes impossible, and which would be therefore the most impossible preliminary condition, that is, the creation of a higher type of mankind than the modern one, that will be the natural result of socialism. It will bring security, rest and leisure to mankind; it will raise their minds above the commonplace because they will no longer need to continuously think of where the bread for the morrow is to come from. It will make personalities independent of other personalities, so that the feeling of slavery as well as of human adoration will disappear. It will at the same time create a balance between country and city, make the treasures of the cultured rich attainable to all mankind and give back to them the nature which arises from the strength and joy of living.

Simultaneously with the abolition of the physiological roots of pessimism it will do away with the social ones also, together with the misery and degradation of the one who makes a virtue of necessity, and the satiety of the other who in idle luxury has drained the cup of enjoyment even to the dregs.

Socialism will abolish poverty and satiety and unnaturalness, make mankind joyful, appreciative of beauty, capable of happiness, and thereby it will bring freedom in scientific and artistic creation for all.

May we not expect that under such conditions a new type of mankind will arise which will be far superior to the highest type which culture has hitherto created? An over-man (Uebermensch), if you will, not as an exception but as a rule, an over-man compared with his predecessors, but not as opposed to his comrades, a noble man who seeks his satisfaction not by being great among crippled dwarfs, but great among the great, happy among the happy – who does not draw his feeling of strength from the fact that he raises himself upon the bodies of the down-trodden, but because a union with his fellow-workers gives him courage to dare the attainment of the highest tasks.

So we may expect that a realm of strength and of beauty will arise that will be worthy the ideal of our best and noblest thinkers.


Last updated on 28.1.2004