Marx-Engels Correspondence 1887

Engels to Sorge (Excerpt)

Source: Science and Society Volume II, Number 3, 1938;
Translated and Edited: by Leonard E. Mins.

London, September 16, 1887.

Dear Sorge:

... I am having a dreadful amount of commotion this summer: visits from all countries, which will keep on until the middle of October as I expect Bebel in about two weeks. I shall be able to look for and find Marx’s letter on George only when I begin putting things in order, that is, as soon as some new bookcases I have ordered to give me more room arrive. Then you'll get a translation at once. There’s no hurry — George must still compromise himself some more. His repudiation of the socialists is the greatest good fortune that could happen to us. Making him the standard-bearer last November was an unavoidable mistake for which we had to suffer. For the masses are only to be set in motion along the road that corresponds to each country and to the prevailing circumstances, which is usually a roundabout road. Everything else is of subordinate importance, if only the actual arousing takes place. But the mistakes unavoidably made in doing this are paid for every time. And in this case it was to be feared that making the founder of a sect the standard-bearer would burden the movement with the follies of the sect for years to come. By expelling the founders of the movement, establishing his sect as the special, orthodox, George sect, and proclaiming his narrow-mindedness as the borne of the whole movement, George saves the latter and ruins himself.

The movement itself will, of course, still go through many and disagreeable phases, disagreeable particularly for those who live in the country and have to suffer them. But I am firmly convinced that things are now going ahead over there, and perhaps more rapidly than with us, notwithstanding the fact that the Americans will learn almost exclusively in practice for the time being, and not so much from theory.

F. E.