Marx-Engels Correspondence 1890

Engels to Laura Lafargue


Source: Marx and Engels on the Trade Unions, Edited by Kenneth Lapides;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

May 10, 1890

I also send you The People’s Press with report of Sunday last. It was tremendous. England at last is stirring, and no mistake. And it was a great victory for us specially, for Tussy and Aveling who with the help of the Gas Workers (by far the best Union out amongst the new ones) have done it all. In their naivete they had called in the Trades Council without ensuring to themselves the possession of the Park first.

The Trades Council allying itself with Hyndman and Co., stole a march on them, and applied for platforms for Sunday at the office of Works and got them, thus hoping to shut us out and being able to command; they attempted at once to bully us down, but Edward went to the Office of Works and got us 7 platforms — had the Liberals been in, we should never have got them. That brought the other side down at once, and they became as amiable as you please. They have seen they have to do with different people from what they expected. I can assure you I looked a couple of inches taller when I got down from that old lumbering waggon that served as a platform — after having heard again, for the first time since 40 years, the unmistakeable voice of the English Proletariat. That voice has been heard by the bourgeois too, the whole press of London and the provinces bears witness to that.

Paul spoke very well — a slight indication of the universal strike dream in it, which nonsense Guesde has retained from his anarchist days — (whenever we are in a position to try the universal strike, we shall be able to get what we want for the mere asking for it, without the roundabout way of the universal strike). But he spoke very well, and in remarkably grammatical English too, far more so than in his conversation. He was received best of all, and got a more enthusiastic cheer at the end than any one else. And his presence was very opportune as we had on our platform two or three philistine speakers qui faisaient dormir debout leurs auditeurs so that Paul had to waken them up again.

The progress made in England these last 10-15 months is immense. Last May the 8 hours working day would not have brought as many thousands into Hyde Park as we had hundreds of thousands. And the best of it is that the struggle preceding the demonstration has brought to life a representative body which will serve as the nucleus for the movement, regardless of sect; the Central Committee consisting of delegates of the Gas Workers and numerous other Unions — mostly small, unskilled Unions and therefore despised by the haughty Trades Council of the aristocracy of labour — and of the Radical clubs worked for the last two years by Tussy. Edward is chairman of this Committee. This Committee will continue to act and invite all other trade, political and Socialist societies to send delegates, and gradually expand into a central body not only for the 8 hours Bill but for all other demands — say, to begin with, the rest of the Paris resolutions and so on. The Committee is strong enough numerically not to be swamped by any fresh accessions, and thus the sects will soon be put before the dilemma either to merge in it and in the general movement or to die out. It is the East End which now commands the movement and these fresh elements, unspoiled by the “Great Liberal Party,” show an intelligence such as — well, I cannot say better than such as we find in the equally unspoiled German workman. They will not have any but Socialist leaders.