Marx Engels Correspondence 1884

Friedrich Engels to Eduard Bernstein
In Zurich

Source: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975). Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

1 January 1884

... As to your former inquiry concerning the passage in the preface of the Manifesto [1] taken from Der Bürgerkrieg in Frankreich you will most likely agree with the reply given in the original (Der Bürgerkrieg..., p 19 et seq) [2] I am sending you a copy in case you do not have one there. It is simply a question of showing that the victorious proletariat must first refashion the old bureaucratic, administratively centralised state power before it can use it for its own purposes; whereas all bourgeois republicans since 1848 inveighed against this machinery so long as they were in the opposition, but once they were in the government they took it over without altering it and used it partly against the reaction but still more against the proletariat. That in The Civil War the instinctive tendencies of the Commune were put down to its credit as more or less deliberate plans was justified and even necessary under the circumstances. The Russians have very properly appended this passage from The Civil War to their translation of the Manifesto. If at that time the publication did not have to be finished in such a hurry we could also have done this and various other things too...


Notes provided by the Moscow Editor.

1. In the Preface to the German edition of 1872 to the Manifesto of the Communist Party Marx and Engels refer to the practical experience gained in the Paris Commune and quote the following passage from The Civil War in France by Marx, ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes’ .

2. See Karl Marx, The Civil War in France (Moscow, 1974), p 50.