Marx-Engels Correspondence 1892

Engels To Laura Lafargue


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

September 11, 1892

Here we have had a very important event which will occupy all the Socialist parties of the Continent. As you will see from enclosed report, the Trades Unions Congress deliberately rejected the invitation to the Zurich Congress and resolved to call together “immediately” an Eight Hours Congress of its own — and an International one too! This requires action on our part, and if possible, concerted action of the whole Continent.

The English workmen are so deeply infected with the Parliamentary spirit of compromise that they cannot do a step in advance without at the same time taking 3/4 or 7/8 of a step backwards. Thus the sudden awakening of the Eight Hours enthusiasm (3 years ago considered an impossibility, you know, by the very people who now clamour loudest after it) has almost succeeded in giving a reactionary character to that cry. It is to be the universal panacea, the one thing to be thought of. In their exultation at having secured so soon such a large and unexpected majority, the mass of the 8 hours men now sacrifice everything that goes further, to the newly-converted “Old” Unionists. This massacre of the Socialist Innocents is submitted to all the easier as the “New” elements are divided, without general organisation, personally unknown to each other, and have not as yet had the time to develop men enjoying the confidence of all; as you know, this can only be obtained here in Britain by what Ruge... called the force of constant appearance, the effect of hawking your own person constantly for years before the public, teste Shipton, Cremer, Howell, etc.