Karl Kautsky

The Historic Accomplishment of Karl Marx


On behalf of the Bremen Education Committee, I gave a lecture on Karl Marx in Bremen on the 17th of December last year. Comrades from Bremen who heard the lecture asked me to publish it in print, because it was suitable for correcting widespread misconceptions about what Marx had achieved and what Marxism means. I hereby comply with this request, but I do not limit myself to a mere rendition of the lecture. I have extended it several times for print, namely in its first part. What I am giving here is not a eulogy for Karl Marx. It would not suit the sensibility of the man whose motto was: follow your own path and let people talk. It would as well be tasteless at a time when his personal significance is recognized by the whole world. Rather, the point here is to make it easier to understand what Marx brought to the world. This is unfortunately not as well known as it is necessary in a period in which Marx is the subject of much debate, for and against. Some may discover while reading these pages that these thoughts, which have become a matter of course today, were developed through laborious work. But they will also find that ideas which are praised today as surprising new discoveries, through which “outdated” Marxism is supposed to be overcome or educated, basically represent nothing more than the revival of views and ways of thinking which were rampant before Marx, and which were worn down and overcome precisely by Marx, but which appear again and again before new generations for whom the past of our movement is foreign. Therefore, the present work is not only intended to be a study of party history, but also a contribution to decisions on current issues.


Friedenau, February 1908
K. Kautsky


Last updated on 5 November 2020