Marx-Engels Correspondence 1877

Marx to Frierich Adolph Sorge
In Hoboken


Written: October 19, 1877;
Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence;
Publisher: International Publishers (1968);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe;
Translated: Donna Torr;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 1999;
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

London, 19 October 1877

A rotten spirit is making itself felt in our Party in Germany, not so much among the masses as among the leaders (upper class and “workers”).

The compromise with the Lassalleans has led to compromise with other half-way elements too; in Berlin (e.g., Most) with Dühring and his “admirers,” but also with a whole gang of half-mature students and super-wise doctors who want to give socialism a “higher ideal” orientation, that is to say, to replace its materialistic basis (which demands serious objective study from anyone who tries to use it) by modern mythology with its goddesses of Justice, Freedom, Equality and Fraternity. Dr. Hochberg, who publishes the Zukunft [Future] is a representative of this tendency and has “bought himself in” to the party – with the “noblest” intentions, I assume, but I do not give a damn for “intentions.” Anything more miserable than his programme of the “future” has seldom seen the light of day with more “modest” “presumption.”

The workers themselves when, like Mr. Most and Co. they give up work and become professional literary men, always set some theoretical mischief going and are always ready to attach themselves to muddleheads from the alleged “learned” caste. Utopian socialism especially, which for tens of years we have been clearing out of the German workers’ heads with so much toil and labour – their freedom from it making them theoretically, and therefore also practically, superior to the French and English – utopian socialism, playing with fancy pictures of the future structure of society, is now raging in a much more futile form, as compared not only with the great French and English utopians, but with – Weitling. Naturally utopianism, which before the time of materialistic-critical socialism concealed the germs of the latter within itself, coming now after the event can only be silly – silly, stale and basically reactionary.