Karl Kautsky 1911

Letter to “Lutte des Classes”

Source: Lutte des Classes, August 15, 1911;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor.

Mollbrucken in Corinthia (Austria), August 5, 1911

Dear Comrades:

I just received your letter, which followed me to this lost corner of the Alps where I'm resting a bit, and which thus arrived too late for me to send you the article you asked for.

I'm really sorry about this, for I would very much have liked to bear witness in this way to the immense importance the task your two newspapers — La Lutte des Classes and Volharding — has undertaken has in my eyes. If they manage to fulfill this they will give to the Belgian proletariat the only quality they still lack in order to accomplish the most extraordinary things in the area of class struggle. Flemish tenacity, Walloon spirit, intrepidity, a spirit of sacrifice and the favorable dispositions of its intelligence make the Belgian proletariat an ideal combatant in the class struggle, as long as it attains clarity in theoretical concepts. The mass of Belgian proletarians remains extremely backwards in this last area. It even seems to me that thanks to the miserable system of public instruction the dominant classes maintain them in a state of ignorance such that they often even lack the need for theoretical clarity, and that they feel a physical hunger without feeling at the same time an intellectual hunger.

Wherever this is the case our primary and most sacred obligation is to awaken this hunger, to create this need. Without this, no real and durable progress on the part of the proletariat is possible. Its most dangerous enemy is intellectual self-satisfaction.

I only hope that your two papers will succeed in awakening in the largest measure this thirst for socialist knowledge, and may they quench it in an even larger measure!

I warmly wish you the greatest of success, and I shake your hand.

Your devoted servant,
Karl Kautsky