Volume II of The German Ideology by Marx and Engels

IV: Karl Grün


Apart from the translation of a few passages from the Quatre mouvements [Charles Fourier, Théorie des quatre mouvements et des destinies générales] on the subject of love, there is nothing here that cannot be found in a more complete form in Stein. Herr Grün dismisses morality in a sentence which a hundred other writers had uttered long before Fourier:

“Morality is, according to Fourier, nothing but the systematic endeavour to repress the human passions” (p. 147).

That is how Christian morality has always defined itself. Herr Grün makes no attempt to examine Fourier’s criticism of present-day agriculture and industry and, as far as trade is concerned, he merely translates a few general remarks from the Introduction to a section of. the Quatre mouvements (“Origine de l'économie politique et de la controverse mercantile”, pp. 332, 334 of the Quatre mouvements). Then come a few extracts from the Quatre mouvements and one from the Traité de l'association, on the French Revolution, together with the tables on civilisation, which are already known from Stein. The critical side of Fourier, his most important contribution, is thus dismissed in the most hasty and superficial fashion in twenty-eight pages of literal translation; and in these, with very few exceptions, only the most general and abstract matters are discussed, the trivial and the important being thrown together in the most haphazard way.

Herr Grün now gives us an exposition of Fourier’s system. Churoa [August Ludwig Churoa, Kritische Dorstellung der Socialtheorie Fourier’s] whose work is quoted by Stein, long ago gave us a better and more complete version. Although Herr Grün considers it “vitally necessary” to offer a profound interpretation of Fourier’s series [139], he can think of nothing better than to quote literally from Fourier himself and then, as we shall see later, to coin a few fine phrases about numbers. He does not attempt to show how Fourier came to deal with series, and how he and his disciples constructed them; he reveals nothing whatever about the inner construction of the series. It is only possible to criticise such constructions (and this applies also to the Hegelian method) by demonstrating how they are made and thereby proving oneself master of them.

Lastly, Herr Grün neglects almost entirely a matter which Stein at any rate emphasises in some measure, the opposition of travail répugnant and travail attrayant.

The most important aspect of the whole exposition is Herr Grün’s criticism of Fourier. The reader may recollect what was said above concerning the sources of Grün’s criticism. He will now see from the few examples which follow that Herr Grün first of all accepts the postulates of true socialism and then sets about exaggerating and distorting them. It need hardly be mentioned that Fourier’s distinction between capital, talent and labour offers a magnificent opportunity for a display of pretentious cleverness; one can talk at length about the impracticability and the injustice of the distinction, about the introduction of wage-labour, etc., without criticising this distinction by reference to the real relationship of labour and capital. Proudhon has already said all this infinitely better than Herr Grün, but he failed to touch upon the real issue.

Herr Grün bases his criticism of Fourier’s psychology — as indeed all his criticism — on the “essence of man":

“For human essence is all in all” (p. 190).
"Fourier, too, appeals to this human essence and in his own way reveals to us its inner core” (!) “in his tabulation of the twelve passions; like all honest and reasonable people, he, too, desires to make man’s inner essence a reality, a practical reality. That which is within must also be without, and thus the distinction between the internal and the external must be altogether abolished. The history of mankind teems with socialists, if this is to be their distinguishing feature.... The important thing about everyone is what he understands by the essence of man” (p. 190).

Or rather the important thing for the true socialists is to foist upon everyone thoughts about human essence and to transform the different stages of socialism into different philosophies of human essence. This unhistorical abstraction induces Herr Grün to proclaim the abolition of all distinction between the internal and the external, which would even put a stop to the propagation of human essence. But in any case, why should the Germans brag so loudly of their knowledge of human essence, since their knowledge does not go beyond the three general attributes, intellect, emotion and will, which have been fairly universally recognised since the days of Aristotle and the Stoics. It is from the same standpoint that Herr Grün reproaches Fourier with having “cleft” man into twelve passions.

“I shall not discuss the completeness of this table, psychologically speaking; I consider it inadequate” — (whereupon the public can rest easy, “psychologically speaking”). — “Does this number give us any knowledge of what man really is? Not for a moment. Fourier might just as well have enumerated the five senses; the whole man is seen to be contained in these, if they be properly explained and their human content rightly interpreted” (as if this “human content” is not entirely dependent on the stage of development which production and human intercourse have reached). “ Indeed, it is in one sense alone that man is contained, in feeling; his feeling is different from that of the animal,” etc. (p. 205).

For the first time in his whole book, Herr Grün is obviously making an effort to say something about Fourier’s psychology from the standpoint of Feuerbach. He is obvious too that this “whole man”, contained” in a single attribute of a real individual and interpreted by the philosopher in terms of that attribute, is a complete chimera. Anyway, what sort of man is this, “man” who is not seen in his real historical activity and existence, but can be deduced from the lobe of his own ear [Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Naturphilosophie, Einleitung, § 246, Zusatz] or from some other feature which distinguishes him from the animals? Such a man “is contained” in himself, like his own pimple. Of course, the discovery that human feeling is human and not animal not only makes all psychological experiment superfluous but also constitutes a critique of all psychology.

Herr Grün finds it an easy matter to criticise Fourier’s treatment of love; he measures Fourier’s criticism of existing amorous relationships against the fantasies by which Fourier tried to get a mental image of free love. Herr Grün, the true German philistine, takes these fantasies seriously. Indeed, they are the only thing which he does take seriously. It is hard to see why, if he wanted to deal with this side of the system at all, Grün did not also enlarge upon Fourier’s remarks concerning education; they are by far the best of their kind and contain some masterly observations. Herr Grün, typical Young-German man of letters that he is, betrays, when he treats of love, how little he has learned from Fourier’s critique. In his opinion, it is of no consequence whether one proceeds from the abolition of marriage or from the abolition of private property; the one must necessarily follow upon the other. But to wish to proceed from any dissolution of marriage other than that which now exists in practice in bourgeois society, is to cherish a purely literary illusion. Fourier, as Grün might have discovered in his works, always proceeds from the transformation of production.

Herr Grün is surprised that Fourier, who always starts with inclination (it should read: attraction), should indulge in all kinds of “mathematical” experiments, for which reason he calls him the mathematical socialist”, page 203. Even if he did not take into account Fourier’s circumstances, he might well have examined a little more closely the nature of attraction. He would very soon have discovered that a natural relation of the kind cannot be accurately defined without the help of calculation. He regales us instead with a philippic against number, a philippic in which literary flourishes and Hegelian tradition are intermixed. It contains passages such as:

Fourier “calculates the molecular content of your most abnormal taste”.

Indeed, a miracle; and further:

“That civilisation, which is being so bitterly attacked, is based upon an unfeeling multiplication table.... Number is nothing definite.... What is the number one?... The number one is restless, it becomes two, three, four”

like the German country parson who is “restless” until he has a wife and nine children....

“Number stifles all that is essential and all that is real; can we halve reason or speak of a third of the truth?”

He might also have asked, can we speak of a green-coloured logarithm?...

“Number loses all sense in organic development”...

a statement of fundamental importance for physiology and organic chemistry (pp. 203, 204).

“He who makes number the measure of all things becomes, nay, is an egoist.”

By a piece of wilful exaggeration, he links to this sentence another, which he has taken over from Hess (see above):

“Fourier’s whole plan of organisation is based exclusively upon egoism.... Fourier is the very worst expression of civilised egoism” (pp. 206, 208).

He supplies immediate proof of this by relating that, in Fourier’s world order, the poorest member eats from forty dishes every day, that five meals are eaten daily, that people live to the age of 144 and so on. With a naive sense of humour Fourier opposes a Gargantuan view of man to the unassuming mediocrity of the men of the Restoration period; but Herr Grün only sees in this a chance of moralising in his philistine way upon the most innocent side of Fourier’s fancy, which he abstracts from the rest.

While reproaching Fourier for his interpretation of the French Revolution, Herr Grün gives us a glimpse of his own insight into the revolutionary age:

“If association had only been known of forty years earlier” (so he makes Fourier say), “the Revolution could have been avoided. But how” (asks Herr Grün) “did it come about that Turgot, the Minister, recognised the right to work and that, in spite of this, Louis XVI lost his head? After all, it would have been easier to discharge the national debt by means of the right to work than by means of hen’s eggs” (p. 211).

Herr Grün overlooks the trifling fact that the right to work, which Turgot speaks of, is none other than free competition and that this very free competition needed the Revolution in order to establish itself.

The substance of Herr Grün’s criticism of Fourier is that Fourier failed to subject “civilisation” to a “fundamental criticism”. And why did he fail? Here is the reason:

“The manifestations of civilisation have been criticised but not its basis; it has been abhorred and ridiculed as it exists, but its roots have not been examined. Neither politics nor religion have undergone a searching criticism and for that reason the essence of man has not yet been examined” (p. 209).

So Herr Grün declares that the real living conditions of men are manifestations, whereas religion and politics are the basis and the root of these manifestations. This threadbare statement shows that the true socialists put forward the ideological phrases of German philosophy as truths superior to the real expositions of the French socialists; it shows at the same time that they try to link the true object of their own investigations, human essence, to the results of French social criticism. If one assumes religion and politics to be the basis of material living conditions, then it is only natural that everything should amount in the last instance to an investigation of human essence, i.e., of man’s consciousness of himself. — One can see, incidentally, how little Herr Grün minds what he copies; in a later passage and in the Rheinische Jahrbücher as well, he appropriates, in his own manner, what the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher had to say about the relation of citoyen and bourgeois, which directly contradicts the statement he makes above.

We have reserved to the end the exposition of a statement concerning production and consumption which true socialism confided to Herr Grün. It is a striking example of how Herr Grün uses the postulates of true socialism as a standard by which to measure the achievements of the French and how, by tearing the former out of their complete vagueness, he reveals them to be utter nonsense.

“Production and consumption can be separated temporally and spatially, in theory and in external reality, but in essence they are one. Is not the commonest occupation, e.g., the baking of bread, a productive activity, which is in its turn consumption for a hundred others? Is it not, indeed, consumption on the part of the baker himself, who consumes corn, water, milk, eggs, etc.? Is not the consumption of shoes and clothes production on the part of cobblers and tailors?... Do I not produce when I cat bread? I produce on an enormous scale. I produce mills, kneading-troughs, ovens and consequently ploughs, harrows, flails, mill-wheels, the labour of wood-workers and masons” (“and consequently”, carpenters, masons and peasants, “consequently”, their parents, “consequently”, their whole ancestry, “consequently”, Adam). “Do I not consume when I produce? On a huge scale, too.... If I read a book, I consume first of all the product of whole years of work; if I keep it or destroy it, I consume the material and the activity of the paper-mill, the printing-press and the bookbinder. But do I produce nothing? I produce perhaps a new book and thereby new paper, new type, new printer’s ink, new bookbinding tools; if I merely read it and a thousand others read it too, we produce by our consumption a new edition and all the materials necessary for its manufacture. The manufacturers of all these consume on their part a mass of raw material which must be produced and which can only be produced through the medium of consumption.... In a word, activity and enjoyment are one, only a perverse world has torn them asunder and has thrust between them the concept of value and price., by means of this concept it has torn man asunder and with man, society” (pp. 191, 192).

Production and consumption are, in reality, frequently opposed to one another. But in order to restore the unity of the two and resolve all contradictions, one need only interpret these contradictions correctly and comprehend the true nature of production and consumption. Thus this German ideological theory fits the existing world perfectly; the unity of production and consumption is proved by means of examples drawn from present-day society, it exists in itself. Herr Grün demonstrates first of all that there actually does exist a relationship between production and consumption. He argues that he cannot wear a coat or eat bread unless both are produced and that there exist in modern society people who produce coats, shoes and bread which other people consume. This idea is, in Herr Grün’s opinion, a new one. He clothes it in his classical, literary-ideological language. For example:

“It is believed that the enjoyment of coffee, sugar, etc., is mere consumption; but is this enjoyment not, in fact, production in the colonies?”

He might just as well have asked: Does not this enjoyment imply that Negro slaves enjoy the lash and that floggings are produced in the colonies? One can see that the outcome of such exuberance as this is simply an apology for existing conditions. Herr Grün’s second idea is that when he produces, he consumes, namely raw material, the costs of production in fact; this is the discovery that nothing can be created out of nothing, that he must have material. He would have found set out in any ‘ political economy, under the heading “productive consumption”, the complicated relations which this involves if one does not restrict oneself, like Herr Grün, to the trivial fact that shoes cannot be made without leather.

So far, Herr Grün has realised that it is necessary to produce in order to consume and that raw material is consumed in the productive process. His real difficulties begin when he wishes to prove that he produces when he consumes. Herr Grün now makes a completely ineffective attempt to enlighten himself in some small degree upon the most commonplace and general aspects of the connection between supply and demand. He does discover that his consumption, i.e., his demand, produces a fresh supply. But he forgets that his demand must be effective, that he must offer an equivalent for the product desired, if his demand is to cause fresh production. The economists too refer to the inseparability of consumption and production and to the absolute identity of supply and demand, especially when they wish to prove that overproduction never takes place; but they never perpetrate anything so clumsy, so trivial as Herr Grün. This is moreover the same sort of argument that the aristocracy, the clergy, the rentiers, etc., have always used to prove their own productivity. Herr Grün forgets, further, that the bread which is produced today by steam-mills, was produced earlier by wind-mills and water-mills and earlier still by hand-mills; he forgets that these different methods of production are quite independent of the actual eating of the bread and that we are faced, therefore, with an historical development of the productive process. Of course, producing as he does on “an enormous scale”, Herr Grün never thinks of this. He has no inkling of the fact that these different stages of production involve different relations of production to consumption, different contradictions of the two; it does not occur to him that to understand these contradictions one must examine the particular mode of production, together with the whole set of social conditions based upon it; and that only by actually changing the mode of production and the entire social system based upon it can these contradictions be solved. While the other examples given by Herr Grün prove that he surpasses even the most undistinguished economists in banality, his example of the book shows that these economists are far more “humane” than he is. They do not demand that as soon as he has consumed a book he should produce another! They are content that he should produce his own education by his consumption and so exert a favourable influence upon production in general. Herr Grün’s productive consumption is transformed into a real miracle, since he omits the connecting link, the cash payment; he makes it superfluous by simply ignoring it, but in fact it alone makes his demand effective. He reads, and by the mere fact of his reading, he enables the type-founders, the paper manufacturers and the printers to produce new type, new paper and new books. The mere fact of his consumption compensates them all for their costs of production. Incidentally, in the foregoing examination we have amply demonstrated the virtuosity with which Herr Grün produces new books from old by merely reading the latter, and with which he incurs the gratitude of the commercial world by his activities as a producer of new paper, new type, new printer’s ink and new bookbinding tools. Grün ends the first letter in his book with the words:

“I am on the point of plunging into industry.”

Herr Grün never once belies this motto of his in the whole of his book.

What did all his activity amount to? In order to prove the true socialist proposition of the unity of production and consumption, Herr Grün has recourse to the most commonplace economic statements concerning supply and demand; moreover, he adapts these to his purpose simply by omitting the necessary connecting links, thereby transforming them into pure fantasies. The essence of all this is, therefore, an ill-informed and fantastic transfiguration of existing conditions.

In his socialistic conclusion, he lisps, characteristically, the phrases he has learned from his German predecessors. Production and consumption are separated because a perverse world has torn them asunder. How did this perverse world set about it? It thrust a concept between the two. By so doing, it tore man asunder. Not content with this, it thereby tears society, i.e., itself, asunder, too. This tragedy took place in 1845.

The true socialists originally understood the unity of consumption and production to mean that activity shall itself involve enjoyment (for them, of course, a purely fanciful notion). According to Herr Grün’s further definition of that unity, “consumption and production, economically speaking, must coincide” (p. 196); there must be no surplus of products over and above the immediate needs of consumption, which means, of course, the end of any movement whatsoever. With an air of importance, he therefore reproaches Fourier with wishing to disturb this unity by over-production. Herr Grün forgets that over-production causes crises only through its influence on the exchange value of products and that not only with Fourier but also in Herr Grün’s perfect world exchange value has disappeared. All that one can say of this philistine rubbish is that it is worthy of true socialism.

With the utmost complacency, Herr Grün repeats again and again his commentary on the true socialist theory of production and consumption. For example, he tells us in the course of a discussion of Proudhon:

“Preach the social freedom of the consumers and you will have true equality of production” (p. 433).

Preaching this is an easy matter! All that has hitherto been wrong has been that

“consumers have been uneducated, uncultured, they do not all consume in a human way” (p. 432). “The view that consumption is the measure of production, instead of the contrary, is the death of every hitherto existing economic theory” (ibid.). “The real solidarity of mankind, indeed, bears out the truth of the proposition that the consumption of each presupposes the consumption of all” (ibid.).

Within the competitive system, the consumption of each presupposes more or less continuously the consumption of all, just as the production of each presupposes the production of all. It is merely a question of how, in what way, this is so. Herr Grün’s only answer to this is the moral postulate of human consumption, the recognition of the “essential nature of consumption” (p. 432). Since he knows nothing of the real relations of production and consumption, he has to take refuge in human essence, the last hiding-place of the true socialists. For the same reason, he insists on proceeding from consumption instead of from production. If you proceed from production, you necessarily concern yourself with the real conditions of production and with the productive activity of men. But if you proceed from consumption, you can set your mind at rest by merely declaring that consumption is not at present “human”, and by postulating “human consumption”, education for true consumption and so on. You can be content with such phrases, without bothering at all about the real living conditions and the activity of men.

It should be mentioned in conclusion that precisely those economists who took consumption as their starting-point happened to be reactionary and ignored the revolutionary element in competition and large-scale industry.

The “Limitations of Papa Cabet” and Herr Grün

Herr Grün concludes his digression on the school of Fourier and on Herr Reybaud with the following words:

“I wish to make the organisers of labour conscious of their essence, I wish to show them historically where they have sprung front ... these hybrids ... who cannot claim as their own even the least of their thoughts. And later, perhaps, I shall find space to make an example of Herr Reybaud, not only of Herr Reybaud, but also of Herr Jay. The former is, in reality, not so bad, he is merely stupid; but the latter is more than stupid, he is learned.
"And so”... (p. 260).

The gladiatorial posture into which Herr Grün throws himself, his threats against Reybaud, his contempt for learning, his resounding promises, these are all sure signs that something portentous is stirring within him. Fully “conscious of his essence” as we are, we infer from these symptoms that Herr Grün is on the point of carrying out a most tremendous plagiaristic coup. To anyone who has had experience of his tactics, his bragging loses all ingenuousness and turns out to be always a matter of sly calculation.

“And so":

A chapter follows headed:

“The Organisation of Labour!"
Where did this thought originated — In France. — But how?”

it is also labelled:

“Review of the Eighteenth Century.”

“Where did this” chapter of Herr Grün’s “originate? — In France. — But how?” The reader will find out without delay.

it should not be forgotten that Herr Grün wants to make the French organisers of labour [140] conscious of their essence by an historical exposition in the profound German style.

And so.

When Herr Grün realised that Cabet “had his limitations” and that his “mission had been completed long ago” (which he had known for a long time), it did not, “of course, mean an end of everything”. On the contrary, by arbitrarily selecting a few quotations from Cabet and stringing them together he laid upon Cabet the new mission: to provide the French “background” to Herr Grün’s German history of socialist development in the eighteenth century.

How does he set about his task? He reads “productively”.

The twelfth and thirteenth chapters of Cabet’s Voyage en Icarie contain a motley collection of the opinions of ancient and modern authorities in favour of communism. He does not claim that he is tracing an historical movement. The French bourgeois view communism as a suspicious character. Good, says Cabet, in that case, men of the utmost respectability from every age will testify to the good character of my client; and Cabet proceeds exactly like a lawyer. Even the most adverse evidence becomes in his hands favourable to his client. One cannot demand historical accuracy in a legal defence. If a famous man happens to let fall a word against money, or inequality, or wealth, or social evils, Cabet seizes upon it, begs him to repeat it, puts it forward as the man’s declaration of faith, has it printed, applauds it and cries with ironic good humour to his irritated bourgeois: “Hear what he has to say! Was he not a communist?"’ No one escapes him. Montesquieu, Sieyčs, Lamartine, even Guizot — communists all malgré eux. Voilŕ the communist all complete!

Herr Grün, in a productive mood, reads the quotations collected by Cabet, representing the eighteenth century; he never doubts for a moment the essential rightness of it all; he improvises for the benefit of the reader a mystical connection between the writers whose names happen to be mentioned by Cabet on one page, pours over the whole his Young-German literary slops and then gives it the title which we saw above.

And so.

Herr Grün:


Herr Grün introduces his review with the following words:

“The social idea did not fall from heaven, it is organic, i.e., it arose by a process of gradual development. I cannot write here its complete history, I cannot commence with the Indians and the Chinese and proceed to Persia, Egypt and Judaea. I cannot question the Greeks and Romans about their social consciousness, I cannot take the evidence of Christianity, Neo-Platonism and patristic philosophy,[141] I cannot listen to what the Middle Ages and the Arabs have to say, nor can I examine the Reformation and philosophy during the period of its awakening and so on up to the eighteenth century” (p. 261).

Cabet introduces his quotations with the following words:

“You claim, foes of common ownership, that there is but a scanty weight of opinion in its favour. Well then, before your very eyes, I am going to take the evidence of history and of every philosopher. Listen! I shall not linger to tell you of those peoples of the past who practised community of goods! Nor shall I linger over the Hebrews ... nor the Egyptian priesthood, nor Minos ... Lycurgus and Pythagoras.... I shall make no mention of Confucius, nor of Zoroaster, who proclaimed, the one in China, the other in Persia ... this principle.”

After the passages given above, Cabet investigates Greek and Roman history, takes the evidence of Christianity, of Neo-Platonism, of the Fathers of the Church, of the Middle Ages, of the Reformation and of philosophy during the period of its awakening. Cf. Cabet, pp. 471-82. Herr Grün leaves others “more patient than himself” to copy these eleven pages, “provided the dust of erudition has left them the necessary humanism to do so” (that is, to copy them). (Grün, p. 261.) Only the social consciousness of the Arabs belongs to Herr Grün. We await longingly the disclosures about it which he has to offer the world. “I must restrict myself to the eighteenth century.” Let us follow Herr Grün into the eighteenth century, remarking only that Grün underlines almost the very same words as Cabet.

Herr Grün:


“Locke, the founder of sensationism, observes: He whose possessions exceed his needs, oversteps the bounds of reason and of original justice and steals that which belongs to others. Every surplus is usurpation, and the sight of the needy must awaken remorse in the soul of the wealthy. Corrupt men, you who roll in luxury and pleasures, tremble lest one day the wretch who lacks the necessities of life shall truly come to know the rights of man. Fraud, faithlessness and avarice have produced that inequality of possessions which is the great misfortune of the human race by piling up all sorts of sufferings, on the one hand, beside riches, on the other, beside destitution. The philosopher must, therefore, regard the use of money as one of the most pernicious inventions of human industry” (p. 266).

“But here we have Locke, who exclaims in his admirable Civil Government: ‘He who possesses in excess of his needs, oversteps the bounds of reason and of original justice and appropriates the property of others. All excess is usurpation, and the sight of the needy ought to awaken remorse in the soul of the wealthy. Perverse men, you who roll in riches and pleasures, tremble lest one day the wretch. who lacks the necessities of life truly apprehend the rights of man.’ Heat. him exclaim again: ‘Fraud, bad faith, avarice have produced that inequality of means, which, by piling on the one hand wealth and vice and on the other poverty and suffering, constitutes the great misfortune of the human race.... The philosopher must, therefore, regard the use of money as one of the most fatal inventions of human industry.” (p. 485).

Herr Grün concludes from these quotations of Cabet’s that Locke is “an opponent of the monetary system” (p. 264), “a most outspoken opponent of money and of all property which exceeds the limits of need” (p. 266). Locke was, unfortunately, one of the first scientific champions of the monetary system, a most uncompromising advocate of the flogging of vagabonds and paupers, one of the doyens of modern political economy.

Herr Grün:


“Already Bossuet, the Bishop of Meaux, says in his Politics Derived from Holy Scripture: ‘Without governments’ ('without politics’ — an absurd interpolation on the part of Herr Grün) ‘the earth with all its goods would be the common property of men, just as much as air and light; no man, according to the original law of nature, has a particular right to anything. All things belong to all men; it is from civil government that property results.’ A priest in the seventeenth century has the honesty to say such things as these; to express such views as these! And the German Puffendorf, whom one” (i.e., Herr Grün) “knows only through one of Schiller’s epigrams,’ was of the following opinion: ‘The present inequality of means is an injustice which involves all other inequalities by reason of the insolence of the rich and the cowardice of the poor"’ (p. 270). Herr Grün adds: “We shall not digress; let us remain in France.”

“Listen to Baron von Puffendorf, a professor of natural law in Germany and a Councillor of State in Stockholm arid Berlin, a man who in his law of nature and nations refutes the doctrine of Hobbes and Grotius concerning absolute monarchy, who proclaims natural equality, fraternity, and primitive community of goods, and who recognises property to be a human institution, the result of a distribution of goods, by common consent, to the end that all, and particularly the workers, may be assured of permanent possession, undivided or divided, and that, in consequence, the existing inequality of possessions is an injustice which only involves the other inequalities in consequence of the insolence of the rich and the cowardice of the poor.

“And does not Bossuet, the Bishop of Meaux, the preceptor of the French Dauphin, the famous Bossuet, recognise also in his Politique tirée de l'Ecriture sainte — written for the Dauphin — that, were it not for governments, the earth and all goods would be as common to men as air and light; according to the primary law of nature, no one has a particular right to anything — , all things belong to all men and it is from civil government that property springs.” (p. 486).

The substance of Herr Grün’s “digression” from France is that Cabet quotes a German. Grün even spells the German name in the incorrect French fashion. Apart from his occasional mistranslations and omissions, he surprises us by his improvements. Cabet speaks first of Puffendorf and then of Bossuet; Herr Grün speaks first of Bossuet and then of Puffendorf. Cabet speaks of Bossuet as a famous man; Herr Grün calls him a “priest”. Cabet quotes Puffendorf with all his titles; Herr Grün makes the frank admission that one knows him only from one of Schiller’s epigrams. Now he knows him also from one of Cabet’s quotations, and it is apparent that the Frenchman, with all his limitations, has made a closer study than Herr Gran not only of his own countrymen, but of the Germans as well.

Cabet says: “I must make haste to deal with the great philosophers of the eighteenth century; I shall begin with Montesquieu” (p. 487). In order to reach Montesquieu, Herr Grün begins with a sketch of the “legislative genius of the eighteenth century” (p. 282). Compare their various quotations from Montesquieu, Mably, Rousseau, Turgot. It suffices here to compare Cabet and Herr Grün on Rousseau and Turgot. Cabet proceeds from Montesquieu to Rousseau. Herr Grün constructs this transition:

“Rousseau was the radical and Montesquieu the constitutional politician.”

Herr Grün quotes from Rousseau:


“The greatest evil has already been done when one has to defend the poor and restrain the rich, etc.”. ...... (ends with the words) “hence it follows that the social state is only advantageous to men if they all of them have something and none has too much.” According to Herr Grün, Rousseau becomes “confused and quite vague when he has to answer the question: what transformation does the previous form of property undergo when primitive man enters into society? What does he answer? He answers: Nature has made all goods common” ... (ends with the words) “if a distribution takes place the share of each becomes his property” (pp. 284, 285).

“Listen now to Rousseau, the author of the immortal Social Contract — listen: ‘Men are equal by right. Nature has made all goods common... it distribution takes place the share of each becomes his property. In all cases the sole proprietor of all goods is society.’ Listen again: ... ‘hence it follows that the social state is only advantageous to men inasmuch as they all have something and none has too much’. “Listen, listen again to Rousseau in his Political Economy [Économie ou OEconomie (Morale et Politique)]:The greatest evil has already been done when one has to defend the poor and restrain the rich.” etc., etc. (pp. 489, 490).

Herr Grün makes two brilliant innovations:, firstly, he merges the quotations from the Contrat social and the Économie politique and, secondly, he begins where Cabet ends. Cabet names the titles of the writings of Rousseau from which he quotes, Herr Grün suppresses them. The explanation of these tactics is, perhaps, that Cabet is speaking of Rousseau’s Économie politique, which Herr Grün does not know, even from an epigram of Schiller. Although Herr Grün is conversant with all the secrets of the Encyclopedia (cf. p. 263), it was a secret for him that Rousseau’s Économie politique is none other than the article in the Encyclopédie on political economy.

Let us pass on to Turgot. Herr Grün is not content here with merely copying the quotations; he actually transcribes the sketch that Cabet gives of Turgot.

Herr Grün:


“One of the noblest and most futile attempts to establish a new order on the foundations of the old, everywhere on the point of collapse, was made by Turgot. It was in vain. The aristocracy brought about an artificial famine, instigated revolts, intrigued and spread calumnies against him until the debonair Louis dismissed his Minister. — The aristocracy would not listen, therefore, it had to suffer. Human development always avenges fearfully those good angels who utter the last urgent warning before a catastrophe. The French people blessed Turgot, Voltaire wished to kiss his hand before he died, the King had called him his friend.... Turgot, the Baron, the Minister, one of the last feudal lords, pondered the idea that a domestic press ought to be invented so as to make freedom of the press completely secure” (pp. 289, 290).

“Yet while the King declared that he and his Minister (Turgot) were the only friends the people had at court, while the people heaped blessings upon him, while the philosophers overwhelmed him with admiration, while Voltaire wished to kiss before he died the hand which had signed so many improvements for the people, the aristocracy conspired against him, even organised a vast famine, and stirred up insurrections in order to destroy him; by its intrigues and calumnies it succeeded in turning the Paris salons against the reformer and in destroying Louis XVI himself by forcing him to dismiss the virtuous Minister who would have saved him.” “Let us return to Turgot, a Baron, a Minister of Louis XVI during the first year of his reign, one who desired to reform abuses, who carried through a mass of reforms, who wished to establish a new language; a man who actually tried to invent a domestic press in order to ensure the freedom of the press.” (p. 495).

Cabet calls Turgot a Baron and a Minister, Herr Grün copies this much from him, but by way of improving on Cabet, he changes the youngest son of the prévôt of the Paris merchants into “one of the oldest of the feudal lords”. Cabet is wrong in attributing the famine and the uprising of 1775[142] to the machinations of the aristocracy. Up to the present, no one has discovered who was behind the outcry about the famine and the movement connected with it. But in any case the parliaments and popular prejudice had far more to do with it than the aristocracy. It is quite in order for Herr Grün to copy this error of “poor limited Papa” Cabet. He believes in him as in a gospel. On Cabet’s authority Herr Grün numbers Turgot among the communists, Turgot, one of the leaders of the physiocratic school, the most resolute champion of free competition, the defender of usury, the mentor of Adam Smith. Turgot was a great man, since his actions were in accordance with the time in which he lived and not with the illusions of Herr Grün, the origin of which we have shown already.

Let us now pass to the men of the French Revolution. Cabet greatly embarrasses his bourgeois opponent by numbering Sieyčs among the forerunners of communism, by reason of the fact that he recognised equality of rights, and considered that only the state sanctions property (Cabet, pp. 499-502). Herr Grün, who “is fated to find the French mind inadequate and superficial every time that he comes into close contact with it”, cheerfully copies this, and imagines that an old party leader like Cabet is destined to preserve the “humanism” of Herr Grün from “the dust of erudition”. Cabet continues: “Ecoutez le fameux Mirabeau!” (p. 504). Herr Grün says: “Listen to Mirabeau!” (p. 292) and quotes some of the passages stressed by Cabet, in which Mirabeau advocates the equal division of bequeathed property among brothers and sisters. Herr Grün exclaims: “Communism for the family!” (p. 292). On this principle, Herr Grün could go through the whole range of bourgeois institutions, finding in all of them traces’ of communism, so that taken as a whole they could be said to represent perfect communism. He could christen the Code Napoléon a Code de la communauté! And he could discover communist colonies in the brothels, barracks and prisons.

Let us conclude these tiresome quotations with Condorcet. A comparison of the two books will show the reader very clearly that Herr Grün now omits passages, now merges them, now quotes titles, now suppresses them, leaves out the chronological dates but meticulously follows Cabet’s order, even when Cabet does not proceed strictly in accordance with chronology, and he achieves in the end nothing more than an abridgement of Cabet, poorly and timidly disguised.

Herr Grün:


Condorcet is a radical Girondist. He recognises the injustice of the distribution of property, he absolves the poor from blame ... if the people are somewhat dishonest on principle, the cause lies in the institutions themselves.

“Listen to Condorcet, who maintained in his reply to the Berlin Academy” ... “'It is therefore entirely because the institutions are evil that the people are so frequently a little dishonest on principle.'

“In his journal, Social Education he even tolerates large-scale capitalists
"Condorcet moved that the Legislative Assembly should divide the 100 millions owned by the three princes who emigrated into 100,000 parts he organises education and the establishment of public assistance” (cf. the original text).

“Listen to what he has to say in his journal L'instruction sociale ... he even tolerates large-scale capitalists.” etc
"Listen to one of the Girondist leaders, the philosopher Condorcet, from the tribune of the Legislative Assembly, on the 6th July, 1792: ‘Decree that the possessions of the three French princes (Louis XVIII, Charles X and the Prince of Condé) be immediately put up for sale ... they amount to almost 100 millions, and you will replace three princes by 100 thousand citizens ... organise education and institutions for public assistance.'

“In his report on public education to the Legislative Assembly, Condorcet says: ‘The object of education and the duty of the political authorities ... is to offer every member of the human race the means of satisfying his needs, etc."’ (Herr Grim changes the report of the Committee on Condorcet’s plan into a report by Condorcet himself.) (Grün, pp. 293, 294.)

“But listen to the Committee of Public Education, presenting to the Legislative Assembly on the 20th April, 1792 its report on the plan of education drawn up by Condorcet: ‘Public education should offer to every individual the means of providing for his needs ... such ought to be the first aim of national education and from this point of view it is a duty which justice demands of the political authorities.'”, etc. (pp. 502, 503, 505, 509).

By this shameless copying from Cabet, Herr Grün, using the historical method, endeavours to make the French organisers of labour conscious of their essence; he proceeds moreover according to the principle: Divide et impera. He unhesitatingly interpolates among his quotations his definitive verdict on persons whose acquaintance he made a moment ago by reading a passage about them; then he inserts a few phrases about the French Revolution and divides the whole into two halves by the use of a few quotations from Morelly. Just at the right moment for Herr Grün Morelly was en vogue in Paris, through the efforts of Villegardelle; and the most important passages from Morelly’s work had been translated in the Paris Vorwärts! long before Herr Grün came upon the scene. We shall adduce only one or two glaring examples of Herr Grün’s slipshod method of translation.


“Self-interest perverts the heart and embitters our dearest ties, transforming them into heavy chains, which in our society married couples detest and at the same time detest themselves.

Herr Grün:

“Self-interest renders the heart unnatural and embitters the dearest ties, transforming them into heavy chains, which our married people detest and they detest themselves into the bargain” (p. 274).

Utter nonsense.


“Our soul contracts such a terrific thirst that it chokes in quenching it “'

Herr Grün:

“Our soul ... contracts ... so furious a thirst that it suffocates itself in order to quench it” (ibid.).

Again utter nonsense.


“Those who claim to control our morals and dictate our laws.”

Herr Grün:

“Those who pretend to control our morals and dictate our laws”, etc. (p. 275).

All three mistakes occur in a single passage of Morelly which takes up fourteen lines in Herr Grün’s book. In his exposition of Morelly there are also numerous plagiarisms from Villegardelle.

Herr Grün is able to sum up all his knowledge of the eighteenth century and of the Revolution in the following lines:

“Sensualism, deism and theism together stormed the old world. The old world crumbled. When a new world came to be built, deism was victorious in the Constituent Assembly, theism in the Convention, while pure sensualism was beheaded or silenced” (p. 263).

Here we have the philosophic habit of dismissing history with a few categories proper to ecclesiastical history; Herr Grün reduces it to its basest form, to a mere literary phrase, which serves only to adorn his plagiarisms. Avis aux philosophes!’ [a warning to the philosophers!]

We skip Herr Grün’s remarks about communism. His historical notes are copied from Cabet’s brochures, and the Voyage en Icarie is viewed from the standpoint adopted by true socialism (cf. Bürgerbuch and Rheinische Jahrbücher [Karl Grün, “Feuerbach und die Socialisten” and “Politik und Sozialismus"]). Herr Grün shows his knowledge of French, and at the same time of English, conditions by calling Cabet the “communist O'Connell of France” (p. 382), and then says:

“He would be ready to have me hanged if he had the power and knew what I think and write about him. These agitators are dangerous for men such as us, because their intelligence is limited” (p. 382).


Herr Stein revealed his intellectual poverty in no uncertain way by treating Proudhon en bagatelle” (cf. Einundzwanzig Bogen, p. 84 [Moses Hess, “Socialismus und Communismus"]). “One needs something more than Hegel’s old twaddle to follow this logic incarnate” (p. 411).

A few examples may show that Herr Grün remains true to his nature in this section too.

He translates (on pages 437-44) several excerpts from the economic arguments adduced by Proudhon to prove that property is intolerable and finally exclaims:

“To this critique of property, which is the complete liquidation of property, we need add nothing. We have no desire to write a new critique, abolishing in its turn equality of production and the isolation of equal workers. I have already in an earlier passage indicated what is necessary. The rest” (that is, what Herr Grün has not indicated) “we shall see when society is rebuilt, when true property relations are established” (p. 444).

In this way Herr Grün tries to avoid a close investigation of Proudhon’s economic arguments and, at the same time, to rise superior to them. Proudhon’s whole set of proofs is wrong; however, Herr Grün will realise that, as soon as someone else has proved it.

The comments on Proudhon made in Die heilige Familie — in particular those stressing that Proudhon criticises political economy from the standpoint of political economy, and law from the legal standpoint — are copied by Herr Grün. But he has understood so little of the problem that he omits the essential point, [namely] that Proudhon vindicates the illusions cherished by jurists and economists [as against] their practice; with regard to the foregoing statement he produces a set of nonsensical [phrases].

The most important thing in Proudhon’s book De la création de l'ordre dans l'humanité is his dialectique sérielle, the attempt to establish a method of thought in which the process of thinking is substituted for independent thoughts. Proudhon is looking, from the French standpoint, for a dialectic method such as Hegel has indeed given us. A relationship with Hegel therefore exists here really and does not need to be constructed by means of some imaginative analogy. It would have been an easy matter to offer a criticism of Proudhon’s dialectics if the criticism of Hegel’s had been mastered. But this was hardly to be expected of the true socialists, since the philosopher Feuerbach himself, to whom they lay claim, did not manage to produce one. Herr Grün makes a highly diverting attempt to shirk his task. At the very moment when he should have brought his heavy German artillery into play, he decamps with an indecent gesture. First of all he fills several pages with translations, and then explains to Proudhon, with boisterous literary capiatio benevolentiae, [attempt to win good will] that his dialectique sérielle is merely an excuse for showing off his learning. He does indeed try to console Proudhon by addressing him as follows:

“Ah, my dear friend, make no mistake about being a man of learning” (or “tutor”). “We have had to forget everything that our school-masters and our university hacks” (with the exception of Stein, Reybaud and Cabet) “have tried to impart to us with such infinite labour and to our mutual disgust” (p. [457]).

As a proof that now Herr Grün no longer absorbs knowledge with such infinite labour”, although perhaps with just as much “disgust”, we may note that he begins his socialist studies and letters in Paris on November 6th [and] by the following January 20th has “inevitably” [not] only concluded his studies but has also finished the [exposition of] his

“really complete impression of the entire process”.