Engels in New Yorker Volkszeitung 1888

Interview with T. Cuno


Source: Marx and Engels on the Trade Unions, Edited by Kenneth Lapides, and
Marx and Engels on Ireland, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1971;
Written: from interview with the New Yorker Volkszeitung, September 20, 1888;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

After travelling incognito around the USA, Engels gave this interview to T. Cuno for the New Yorker Volkzeitung on 19 September 1888. The published text was not discussed with Engels, but Engels apparently made no objection to its publication.

I am entirely pleased with the progress of socialism and the labor movement in England; however, this progress exists chiefly in the development of proletarian consciousness in the masses. The official labor organizations, Trade-Unions, which here and there are threatening to become reactionary, must lag behind like the Austrian Landsturm [Veterans’ Reserve].

Question: What about Ireland? Is there anything — apart from the national question — which might raise the hopes of socialists?

Engels: A purely socialist movement cannot be expected in Ireland for a considerable time. People there want first of all to become peasants owning a plot of land, and after they have achieved that mortgages will appear on the scene and they will be ruined once more. But this should not prevent us from seeking to help them to get rid of their landlords, that is, to pass from semi-feudal conditions to capitalist conditions.

Question: What is the attitude of the English workers towards the Irish movement?

Engels: The masses are for the Irish. The organisations, and the labour aristocracy in general, follow Gladstone and the liberal bourgeois and do not go further than these.