Marx-Engels Correspondence 1893

Engels To August Bebel


Source: Marx & Engels on the Irish Question, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1971, p. 355-56;
Transcribed: by Einde O'Callaghan.

January 24, 1893

What Aveling told me confirms the suspicion I already had, namely, that Keir Hardie secretly cherishes the wish to lead the new party in a dictatorial way, just as Parnell led the Irish, and that moreover he tends to sympathise with the Conservative Party rather than the Liberal opposition. He publicly declares that Parnell’s experiment, which compelled Gladstone to give in, ought to be repeated at the next election and where it is impossible to nominate a Labour candidate one should vote for the Conservatives, in order to show the Liberals the power of the party. Now this is a policy which under definite circumstances I myself recommended to the English; however, if at the very outset one does not announce it as a possible tactical move but proclaims it as tactics to be followed under any circumstances, then it smells strongly of Champion.


... I am very anxious to see the stenographic copy of Singer’s [1] speech on the stock exchange; it read very well indeed in the Vorwärts. But one point of this topic is easily overlooked by all our people: the stock exchange is an institution where the bourgeoisie exploit not the workers but one another. The surplus value which changes hands on the Exchange is surplus value already in existence, the product of past exploitation of labour. Only when that process is finished can the surplus value serve the ends of stock exchange swindling. The stock exchange interests us in the first place only indirectly just as its influence, its repercussion on the capitalist exploitation of the workers, is felt only indirectly, and in a roundabout way. To ask that the workers should take a direct interest and wax indignant over the way the landlords, manufacturers and petty bourgeois are fleeced on the stock exchange means demanding that the workers should take to arms in order to protect their direct exploiters so that they can remain in possession of the surplus value which they had filched from these self-same workers. No, thank you. But as the finest fruit of bourgeois society, as the hearth of extreme corruption, as the hothouse of the Panama [2] and other scandals — and therefore also as an excellent medium for the concentration of capitals, the disintegration and dissolution of the last remnants of naturally formed interconnections in bourgeois society and at the same time for the annihilation of all orthodox moral concepts and their perversion into their opposites, as an incomparable means of destruction and as a most powerful accelerator of the impending revolution — in this historical sense the stock exchange is also of direct interest to us...


Notes provided by the Moscow Editor.

1. Paul Singer (1844-1911) — prominent leader of German working-class movement, from 1887 member of Executive, from 1890 Chairman of Executive of Social-Democratic Party of Germany, waged active struggle against opportunism and revisionism.

2. The limited company formed in France in 1879 to build a canal across the Panama isthmus failed in 1888, ruining numerous small shareholders and causing many bankruptcies. The public was scandalised when, in the course of the ensuing legal proceedings, it became known that a large number of journalists, Members of Parliament and leading French politicians were involved in the underhand dealings and financial speculations and that many of them had accepted bribes.