Karl Kautsky

The Historic Accomplishment of Karl Marx

Alexander Gallus

A Note on the Translation

Kautsky infamously reneged on the principles for which he had fought for decades and as laid out in his 1908 The Historic Accomplishment of Karl Marx. He noted in a foreword to the 1933 third edition, originally used to translate this piece, that it was “published unchanged, with only a few timely allusions.”

The translator has seen fit to restore to the original edition or remove certain, in our opinion, untimely allusions in a very few passages, mostly pertaining to the accuracy of dates or subtle remarks about the Bolshevik revolution.

When translating this piece, the word “Geist,” among others, was one which frequently posed a dilemma: both the words “intellect” and “spirit” are common translations. Kautsky’s frequent use of the word “Geist” when speaking of Marx leaves room open for interpretation. We the editors have often opted for using the words “intellect” and “intellectual.”

What is clear, however, is that Marx was a person not only of great thought but also of great feeling. Instead of being uncomfortable with the often-adulatory treatment of Marx as an individual, we should recognize that Marx was an outstandingly dedicated and talented fighter worthy of celebration. His theoretical and practical work undoubtedly changed how billions of people thought and changed history. We should find comfort that our tireless work for the communist future of humanity shall be recognized by future generations as well. There is no labor greater than that which gives without a thought of personal remuneration and knows its eventual yield to be measured in values far greater than dollars and cents.


Last updated on 5 November 2020