Plekhanov on Engels’ Book
Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy

[Notes to Engels’ Book
Ludwig Feuerbach ...]

(Part 1)

(1) [1*] The author here has in mind a series of articles on Germany by Heine, which appeared originally in Revue des deux Mondes and were then published as a separate book (the foreword to its first edition was dated December 1834). The reader will find this splendid work of Heine [2*] in the complete collection of his works. Unfortunately the Russian translation has been horribly disfigured by the censor.

The modern Aristophanes did not adopt towards the philosophy of his time the Greek genius’ attitude towards the “sophists”. He not only understood the revolutionary significance of German philosophy, he warmly sympathise. with it because of its very revolutionary significance. However, in his book on Germany, Heine dwells far more on the revolutionary significance [which he greatly exaggerated] of Kant (his Criticism of Pure Reason) than of Hegel. By the forties he was more decisive in his pronouncements on Hegel. In a still extant excerpt from his first and only letter On Germany we find a humorous exchange of thoughts between the author and “the king of philosophy”. “Once when I was embarrassed over the saying: ‘All that exists is rational,’ he laughed in a peculiar way and observed: ‘It could also be worded: all that is rational must exist.’ He looked around in alarm but soon regained his self-possession, for only Heinrich Beer [3*] had heard what he said.” It does not matter in the case in question who Heinrich Beer was. All that needs to be noted here is that in Heine’s opinion Hegel himself understood the revolutionary significance of his philosophy but was afraid to bring it to light. Again, to what extent this opinion of Hegel is true is another question, which will be answered, by the way, in the present pamphlet. But there can be no doubt that Heine himself was by no means one of those limited and short-sighted people who were afraid of the conclusions following from Hegel’s philosophy. In the conversation quoted it was not without intent that Hegel’s famous proposition was changed: real was replaced by existing in general. Heine apparently wished to show that even in the vulgar form which the proposition was given by people who were little versed in the secrets of Hegel’s philosophy, it invariably retains its revolutionary meaning.

(2) [4*] We know that the question of how to understand Hegel’s teaching on the rationality of everything which is “real” played a great role in our philosophical circles in the late thirties and early forties. Thanks to it, V.G. Belinsky, the clearest brain among Russian writers, experienced, so to speak, a real tragedy. His articles on Menzel and the anniversary of Borodino [5*] are full of the sharpest attacks on those who permitted themselves to condemn “reality”, i.e., the social relations around them. Later he very much disliked to recall these articles, because he considered them as shameful error. In his passionate negation of the infamous Russian system he could not be restrained by any philosophical considerations on their alleged rationality. People who wrote after him in the same trend did not consider it necessary to return to Hegel and check the theoretical premises that the outstanding critic took as his starting-point at the time of his conservative infatuations. They thought that those premises contained nothing but error. Such is the view of “progressive” Russian writers at the present too. Is it correct?

In his My Life and Thoughts Herzen relates how he logically bypassed the theoretical stronghold which at a first (and, it must be noted, extremely superficial and incorrect) glance the teaching of the “rationality” of all that is “real” seems to represent. He decided that this teaching was merely a new formulation of the law of sufficient cause. But the law of sufficient cause does not at all lead to the justification of every given social system. If in the history of Russia there was sufficient cause for the appearance and growth of despotism, the emancipatory movement of the Decembrists also apparently had sufficient cause of its own. If in this case despotism was “rational”, the wish to do away with it once for all was obviously no less “rational”. Hence, Herzen decided Hegel’s teaching is rather a theoretical justification for every emancipation struggle. It is the real algebra of the revolution. [6*]

Herzen was perfectly right in the sense of his final conclusion. But he arrived at it by an erroneous way. Let us explain this by means of an example.

“The Roman Republic was real,” Engels says, developing Hegel’s thought, “but so was the Roman Empire, which superseded it.” The question is: why did the Empire supersede the Republic? The law of sufficient cause only guarantees that this fact could not have been without a cause. But it does not give the slightest indication as to where the cause or causes of the fact in question are to be sought. Perhaps the Republic was superseded by the Empire because Caesar had greater military talent than Pompey; perhaps because Cassius and Brutus made mistakes; perhaps because Octavius was very skilful and cunning, or perhaps for some other accidental reason. Hegel was not satisfied with such explanations. In his opinion accident is merely a wrapping hiding necessity. Of course, the concept of necessity itself can also be interpreted very superficially; one can say that the fall of the Roman Republic became necessary because and only because Caesar defeated Pompey. But with Hegel this concept had another, incomparably profounder meaning. When he qualified a particular social phenomenon as necessary, he meant that it had been prepared by all the preceding course of the development of the country in which it took place. It is there that we must seek the cause or causes. Consequently, the fall of the Roman Republic is not explained by Caesar’s talents or the mistakes made by Brutus or any other man or group of men, but by the fact that there had been changes in the home relationships of Rome, and that as a result of those changes the further existence of the Republic became impossible. What exactly were those changes? Hegel himself often gave unsatisfactory answers to such questions. But that is not the point. The important thing is that Hegel’s view of social phenomena is far more profound than that of people who know only one thing, namely that there is no action without cause. Neither is that all. Hegel brought out a far more profound and more important truth. He said that every particular aggregate of phenomena in the process of its development creates out of its very self the forces that lead to its negation, i.e., its disappearance; that consequently every particular social system, in the process of its historical development, creates out of its very self the social forces that destroy it and replace it by a new one. Hence the conclusion suggests itself – although it is not brought out by Hegel – that if I adopt a negative attitude to a particular social system, my negation is “rational” only if it coincides with the objective process of negation proceeding within that very system itself, i.e., if that system is losing its historical meaning and entering into contradiction with the social needs to which it owes its appearance.

Let us now try to apply this standpoint to the social questions which agitated Russian educated youth in the thirties. Russian “reality” – the serfdom, despotism, the all-powerfulness of the police, censorship and the like – appeared to them as infamous, unjust. Involuntarily they remembered with sympathy the recent Decembrists’ attempt to improve our social relationships. But they, at least the most gifted among them, were no longer satisfied with the abstract revolutionary negation of the eighteenth century, or the conceited and self-loving negation of the romantics. Thanks to Hegel they had already become far more exacting. They said to themselves: “Prove the rationality of your negation, justify it by the objective laws of social development or abandon it as a personal whim, a childish caprice.” But to justify the negation of Russian reality by the inner laws of its own development meant to solve a problem which was beyond even Hegel’s ability. Take for example Russian serfdom. To justify its negation meant to prove that it negated itself, i.e., that it no longer satisfied the social needs by virtue of which it had at one time come into being. But to what social needs did Russian serfdom owe its appearance? To the economic needs of a state which would have died of exhaustion without the serf peasant. Consequently, it was a matter of proving that in the nineteenth century serfdom had already become too poor a means for satisfying the economic needs of the state; that, far from satisfying them any longer, it was a direct obstacle to their satisfaction. All this was proved later in the most convincing way by the Crimean War. But, we repeat, Hegel himself would not have been capable of proving that theoretically. According to the direct meaning of his philosophy the conclusion was that the causes of any given society’s historical development have their roots in its internal development. This correctly indicated the most important task of social science. But Hegel himself contradicted, and could not but contradict, this profoundly correct view. An “absolute” idealist, he regarded the logical qualities of the “idea” as the principal cause of any development. Thus the qualities of the idea turned out to be the radical cause of historical movement. And every time a great historical question towered before him, Hegel referred first of all to these qualities. But to refer to them meant to leave the ground of history and voluntarily to deprive himself of any possibility of finding the actual causes of historical movement. As a man of tremendous and truly genial intelligence, Hegel himself felt that there was something wrong and that, properly speaking, his explanations explained nothing. Therefore, paying due tribute to the “idea” , he hastened down to the concrete ground of history to seek the real causes of social phenomena no longer in the qualities of ideas, but in the ideas themselves, in the very phenomena that he was investigating at the time. In so doing he often made surmises that were truly genial (noting the economic causes of historical movement). But these surmises of genius were all the same no more than surmises. Having no firm systematic basis, they played no serious role in the historical views of Hegel and the Hegelians. That is why, at the time they were pronounced, hardly any attention was paid to them.

The great task pointed out by Hegel to the social science of the nineteenth century remained unfulfilled; the real, internal causes of the historical movement of humanity remained undiscovered. And it goes without saying that it was not in Russia that the man capable of finding them could appear. Social relationships in Russia were too underdeveloped, social stagnation held too tight a hold on the country for these unknown causes to emerge on the surface of social phenomena in Russia. They were found by Marx and Engels in the West, under completely different social conditions. But this did not happen till some time later, and during the period of which we are speaking the Hegelian negators there, too, became involved in the contradictions of idealism. After all that we have said, it is easy to understand why the young Russian followers of Hegel began by completely reconciling themselves with Russian “reality”, which, to tell the truth, was so infamous that Hegel himself would never have recognised it as “reality”: unjustified theoretically, their negative attitude to it was deprived in their eyes of any reasonable right to existence. Renouncing it, they selflessly and disinterestedly sacrificed their social strivings to philosophical honesty. But on the other hand, reality itself saw to it that they were forced to retract their sacrifice. An hourly and daily eyesore to them by its infamy, it forced them to aspire to negation at any cost, i.e., even to negation not founded on any satisfactory theoretical basis. And, as we know, they yielded to the insistence of reality. Parting with the “philosophical blinders” of Hegel, Belinsky undertook vigorous attacks on the very system that he had but recently justified. This, of course, was very good on his part. But it must be admitted that, acting thus, the writer of genius was lowering the level of his theoretical demands and was admitting that he, and in his person all progressive Russian thought, was an insolvent debtor as far as theory was concerned. [7*] This did not prevent him from occasionally expressing extremely profound views on Russian social life. For example, in one of his letters at the end of the forties he said that only the bourgeoisie, i.e., only capitalism, would provide the ground for serious and successful negation of the monstrous Russian reality. [8*] But all the same, on the whole he adhered in his negation to Utopian views of social phenomena. Similar views were held by Chernyshevsky, the “subjective” writers of the late sixties and early seventies and the revolutionaries [of the same period and] of all trends. And it is remarkable that the farther the matter went and the more Hegel was forgotten, the less the Russian negators realised that their social views descended from a certain theoretical fall from grace. Our “subjective” writers made a scientific insolvency a dogma. They took pains to write and rewrite a certificate of theoretical indigence for Russian thought, imagining that they were making out for it a most flattering and precious document. But that could not go on for ever. The revolutionary failures of the seventies alone were enough to make the Russian social thought stop admiring its own insolvency. The theoretical task which Russian philosophical circles in the forties could not sol ve turned out to be easy after Marx “turned Hegel’s philosophy upside down”, i.e., placed it on a materialist basis. Marx discovered the inner causes of the historical movement of humanity. All that remained to be done was to view Russian social relationships from his standpoint. This was done by the Social-Democrats, who very often arrived independently one of another at the same views on Russian life. Russian social thought, as represented by the Social-Democrats, at last entered the general channel of scientific thought of the nineteenth century. The theoretical fall from grace of the old occidentalists was redeemed: a firm objective basi. for the negation of Russian reality was found in that reality itself. [See my article Zu Hegel’s sechszigstem Todestage in Neue Zeit, XI, 1891 and my speech V.G. Belinsky, Geneva 1898. [9*]]

(3) [10*] In 1827 the Hegelian Henning began to publish Jahrbücher für wissenschaftliche Kritik (Year-Books of Scientific Criticism) to spread and defend the views of his teacher. But Henning followed a conservative trend and his journal did not satisfy the Young Hegelians. In 1838 A. Ruge and T. Echtermeyer founded the Halle Year-Books of German Science and Art (Hallische Jahrbücher fur deutsche Wissenschaft und Kunst) which was renamed Deutsche Jahrbücher (German Year-Books) when the editorial office was transferred to Leipzig in 1841. From both the religious and political points of view, German Year-Books was of a radical trend. In 1843 it was prohibited in Saxony and then Ruge and Marx decided to publish it in Paris under the title German-French Year-Books (DeutschFranzosische Jahrbücher). Among its contributors were Frederick Engels and H. Heine. Unfortunately only one volume of German-French Year-Books appeared, combining both the first and the second issues. In it, among other things, were Marx’s remarkable articles Einleitung zur Kritik der Hegel’schen Rechtsphilosophie (Introduction to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law) – published in Russian in Geneva in 1888 and Zur Judenfrage (On the Jewish Question) and a no less remarkable article by Engels: Umrisse zu einer Kritik der Nationalokonomie (Sketch of a Criticism of National Economy, which was reprinted in Neue Zeit, No.8 of the ninth year of its publication). [11*]

The Rheinische Zeitung [12*] was founded in Cologne by Camphausen, Hansemann and their fellow-thinkers. Marx was its most active and talented contributor. In [mid-October] 1842 he became the editor. At that time he was not yet a socialist [13*] but his attacks on the government were already so vigorous that the paper lasted only a few months under his direction. [The issue of March 17, 1843, contained this short notice: “The undersigned declares that as a result of the present censorship conditions he has retired from the editorial board of Rheinische Zeitung. Dr. Marx.” (Italics in the original). On March 31 of the same year the paper was compelled to cease publication as a result of a government decree which had been published on January 25. The editorial board ceased publication a few days before the term, on March 28.] Marx, by the way, was almost glad of this prohibition. Previous literary activity had proved to him the insufficiency of his economic information and he wished to complete it; the penalty imposed on the Cologne Gazette [14*] gave him an opportunity of engrossing himself in his study. When Marx again took up literary and political activity he already had an extensive stock of knowledge which he had not had before, but, most important of all, he had a new view of economic science which constituted an epoch in its history.

[The most remarkable of Marx’s articles in this newspaper were recently published by Franz Mehring in Gesammelte Schriften von Karl Marx und Friedrich Engels, 1841 bis 1850, Vol.I, pp.208-321. For Russian readers these articles have still not lost their publicistic interest. It is superfluous to add that they are very important in the history of Marx’s own intellectual development. [15*]]

In June 1848, Marx, with the collaboration of Engels, Freiligrath and Wilhelm Wolff (to whose memory Capital is dedicated), founded, again in Cologne, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. In it Marx and his main collaborators wrote as already completely convinced socialists in the most modern sense of the word, i.e., in the sense it has in their own works. The Neue Rheinische Zeitung, as even its enemies admit, was the most remarkable literary event of its time. But more can and must be said about it: not one of the socialist newspapers either before or after it can be compared with it. It was prohibited in June 1849 for its open call to “insubordination to the government”, which was then rapidly recovering from the blows dealt it by the revolution. [16*]

(4) [17*] Thanks to the solicitude of the censors the views of Strauss and B. Bauer which Engels mentions are still little known to Russian readers. We therefore do not consider it superfluous to expound them here in brief.

The matter is as follows. If you are convinced that the Holy Scripture was dictated by God himself (the Holy Ghost), selecting as his secretary sometimes one, sometimes another holy man, you will not tolerate even the idea that it can contain any [mistakes or] incoherences. All that is related there has for you the significance of the most indisputable fact. In tempting Eve, the serpent pronounces a speech worthy of an insinuating Jesuit, full of experience of life. This is rather strange, but for God nothing is impossible: the apparent strangeness is only a new instance of his omnipotence. Balaam’s famous she-ass entered into conversation with her rider. This again is quite an extraordinary phenomenon, but for God, etc., etc., according to the same once and for ever established formula. Faith is not embarrassed by anything [even by absurdity: credo quia absurdum]. Faith is “the announcement of things we hope for, the revelation of things invisible, i.e., the certainty of what we can see and also what we cannot see, what we desire and anticipate as if it were already present”. For the religious man the omnipotence of God, the creator and lord of nature, is precisely what he “desires” above everything. All this would have been very good, very touching and even very lasting ii man, in his struggle against nature for his existence had not been obliged to taste of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”, i.e., gradually to study the laws of nature itself. Once he has tasted of the fruit of this dangerous “tree” he is no longer so easily influenced by fiction. If he continues by force of habit to believe in the omnipotence of God, his faith assumes a different character: God recedes into the background, behind the stage of the world, so to speak, and nature with its eternal, iron immutable laws, comes on to the proscenium. But miracles arc incompatible with conformity to law; conformity to law leaves no room for miracles; miracles preclude conformity to law. The question now is: How can people who have grown to the concept of immutable laws in nature regard the account of miracles in the Bible? They are bound to negate them. But negation can assume various forms according to the constitution and course of social life in which the particular intellectual trend takes place.

The French thinkers of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment simply laughed at the Bible stories, regarding them as a manifestation of ignorance and even of quackery. This sharply negative attitude to the Bible was prompted to the French by the struggle that the third estate in the country was then waging against the “privileged” in general and the clergy in particular. In Protestant Germany of the time the situation was different. First, since the Reformation the German clergy itself played quite a different role from that of the clergy in Catholic countries; secondly, the “third estate” in Germany was then far from the thought of struggling against the “old order”. This circumstance laid its impress upon the whole of the history of eighteenth-century German literature. Whereas in France the educated representatives of the third estate used every new conclusion [every new hypothesis] of science as a weapon to fight the ideas and conceptions which had grown out of the obsolete social relationships, in Germany it was not so much a question of eradicating old prejudices as of bringing them into agreement with recent discoveries. For the revolutionary-minded French thinkers of the Enlightenment, religion was the fruit of ignorance and deception: for the German supporters of the Enlightenment – even the most progressive among them [for example, Lessing] – it was the “education of the human race”. Accordingly the Bible was not in their eyes a book to be denied and ridiculed. They tried to “enlighten’. this book, to give its narrations new meaning and bring them into line with the “spirit of the time”. Then began the most arduous rending of the Bible. In the Old Testament God “speaks” on almost every page. But that does not mean that he spoke in reality. That is only one of those figurative expressions to which Orientals are so inclined. When we read that God said one thing or another, we must understand it in the sense that he impressed these or those ideas on one or the other of his loyal worshippers. The same with the tempting serpent and Balaam’s she-ass. These animals did not speak at all in reality. They only suggested certain thoughts to their so-to-speak interlocutors. On the Day of Pentecost, as is known, the Holy Ghost came down on the apostles in the form of tongues of fire. This again is a figurative expression. By it the author or authors of the Acts of the Apostles merely meant that the apostles felt at the time a vehement access of religious fervour. However, in the interpretation of other “enlightened” investigators the matter took place in a somewhat different manner. The tongues of fire which descended on the apostles represented a perfectly natural phenomenon, namely, electric sparks. In exactly the same way if Paul became blind on his way to Damascus, this is explained by the natural effect of lightning, and if the old man Ananias healed him by the contact of his hands, it is well known, that old men often have very cold hands, and cold calms inflammation. If Jesus raised many dead people to life, this is explained by the quite simple circumstance that he had to deal not with corpses but with living organisms in a swoon. His own death on the cross was only apparent death. In the interpretation of Doctor Paulus, who was well known in his time [1] Jesus himself was astonished (voll Verwunderung) at his unexpected return to life. Finally, there can be no question of his ascension into heaven, for the evangelists themselves are extremely vague on this point: they say that he was taken up into heaven (Mark); but does not that mean that his soul was taken up into heaven after his death? And then, on what grounds would it have occurred to the evangelists to relate things that neither a naturalist nor an astronomer, “able to calculate exactly how long it would take a cannon ball to reach ... Sirius”, could have believed?

It would be superfluous to prove that this kind of criticism of the Gospels is quite inconsistent and that it testifies to its representatives’ complete lack of a true critical attitude to the question. [It could be good and useful as a first step. But the first step, already made by Spinoza, had to be followed by the second, and the German thinkers of the Enlightenment did not take that second step.] The whole merit of Strauss (1808-74) consisted in putting a stop to fruitless attempts to “make the improbable probable and to make historically conceivable things which did not happen in history”. Strauss regarded the Gospel narratives not as accounts (more or less accurate, more or less distorted) of actual events, but only myths unconsciously formed in Christian communities and expressing the idea of the Messiah at the time of its origin. Similarly, the speeches of Jesus, particularly the loftiest among them, quoted in the so-called Gospel of John, were in Strauss’ view of later creation. In his latest arrangement of The Life of Jesus he thus expounds the view he then held of the origin of the Gospel myths:

“In my earlier works I suggested the idea of the myth as the key to the Gospel stories of miracles and other reports which are contrary to the view of history. In vain, I said, have attempts been made to present stories like the star which appeared to the Wise Men, the transfiguration, the miraculous feeding of crowds and the like as natural processes; but since it is also impossible to believe that such unnatural things really happened, narrations of this kind are to be considered as fictions. Answering the question how people came, in the time in which these Gospels originated, to imagine such things about Jesus, I referred first of all to the expectation of the Messiah at that time. When once, I said, first a few people, and then many, had come to see Jesus as the Messiah, they thought that everything must have happened to him which was expected from the Messiah in the prophecies and parables of the Old Testament and their current explanations. No matter how common knowledge it was that Jesus was a Nazarene, since the Messiah was the son of David, he had to be born in Bethlehem, for Micheas had prophesied it so. No matter how strictly Jesus condemned his compatriots’ passion for wonders, the first saviour of the people, Moses, had worked miracles, and therefore the last saviour, the Messiah, and that was Jesus, was also bound to work miracles. Isaiah had prophesied that in that time, i.e., the time of the Messiah, the blind would see, the deaf would hear, the lame would leap like a hart and the tongue of the dumb man would be loosened; thus it was known in detail what miracles Jesus had to work, since he was the Messiah. In this way it came about that in the first Christian communities stories could, and even had to be imagined about Jesus, without the consciousness that they were fictions.... In such a conception the composition of myths by the early Christians is placed on the same level as we find elsewhere in the origin of religions. The progress of science in the field of mythology is precisely that it has understood that a myth in its original form is not an intentional and conscious invention of one single person but the product of the community consciousness of a people or a religious circle, first indeed uttered by a single person, but then believed precisely because that single person thus becomes the mouthpiece of the general conviction; the myth is not a wrapping in which a clever man covers an idea which has occurred to him for the use and edification of the ignorant crowd; but only with the story, and even in the form of the story which he tells, does he become conscious of the idea which he himself was unable to understand in its pure form....

“But the more the evangelical myths take, at least partly, a new and independent character, all the more difficult is it to imagine that their authors did not realise that they were passing off what they themselves had imagined for actual events. The one who first reported the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem could honestly believe it, since the prophet Micheas had foretold that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, and Jesus was the Messiah, and must accordingly have been born in Bethlehem. The one, on the other hand, who first reported that at the death of Jesus the veil of the temple was rent asunder (Matthew, 27, 51) must, it seems, have known that he was relating something that he had not seen, that he had never heard of, but had imagined himself. Precisely in this case a figurative expression like the one in the Epistle to the Hebrews (10, 19), where it is said that the death of Jesus opened for us the way through the veil of the temple to the Holy of Holies, could easily be understood by listeners in the literal sense, and thus the story could arise without any conscious invention. In exactly the same way the story of the calling of the four apostles to be fishers of men could be conveyed in the form that the fishing to which Jesus called them would be far more productive than their previous poorly paying occupation, and from this, continuing to pass from one person to another, the story of the miraculous catch of fish (Luke, 5) could easily have arisen of itself. The data out of which the story of the resurrection of Christ took shape also seem at a first glance to be either true events or an undeniable and conscious lie. But here too, if we examine the matter carefully we shall see that it is not so. In an argument with a Christian a Jew could have said: ‘No wonder the tomb was empty, when you had stolen the body out of it.’ ‘We stole it?’ the Christian could have retorted. ‘How could we when you were guarding the grave so closely?’ He could have said that because he supposed it was so; but the next narrator, using the same words, could have conveyed far greater certainty: ‘the grave was guarded.’ Then it would have been said that it was sealed, since one is reminded of the seal by Daniel, whose lion’s den serves as a symbol for the tomb of Jesus.... Or the Jew could have said: ‘Perhaps he appeared to you, but as an incorporeal vision from the other world.’ ‘How so, an incorporeal vision!’ the Christian would have objected. ‘Why, he still had the wounds from the nails (that was quite obvious for the Christian), he showed them.’ In the next narration the touching of the wounds could also have been added; such narrations could have arisen with complete honesty although they were quite contrary to historical truth.” [2]

There is no doubt that Strauss’ view was a huge step forward compared with the above-mentioned views of his predecessors. But it is not difficult to see that it also had certain shortcomings. “The change which historical facts undergo in passing through oral tradition, the growth of myths pointed out by Strauss, in a word, the popular Christian legend explains only the features common to all the Gospels or versions of them which are noted for their accidental and unintentional character and therefore betray no precise tendency and are not peculiar to any one of these expositions. But when, on the contrary, we see certain characteristic features constantly produced in one of the Gospels, whereas they are absent from the rest of evangelical tradition, we can no longer explain them by motives common to the whole of the Christian legend; we must recognise in them the influence of opinions and interests peculiar to the author of the book or to the group of Christians whose mouthpiece he is. And when this special character is manifest not only in certain isolated points of the work, but the whole work seems conceived so as to bring them out, when it leaves its mark on the arrangement of the material, the chronology, the accessory details of the narration and the style itself; when the work contains long discourses or conversations usually not preserved in legend – all circumstances which strike one in the fourth Gospel and also, although to a lesser degree, in the third – we can be certain that we are in presence not of a simple editing of religious legends but of the deliberate work of the writer.” [3] Consequently, Strauss’ mythological theory is far from explaining all that needs explanation. Subsequently Strauss himself was convinced of this. In his latest arrangement of The Life of Jesus he gave a far larger place to “the deliberate work of the writers”. But at the time referred to by Engels, i.e., in the forties, he had not yet noticed the weak side of his view which was so vigorously attacked by Bruno Bauer.

Bauer (1809-82) reproached Strauss with a tendency to the mystic and the supernatural because in his myth theory “the chief factor is the general, the tribe, the religious community, tradition”, and no room is left for the mediating activity of self-consciousness. “Strauss’ mistake,” he says, “consists not in indicating a certain general force (i.e., the force of tradition), but in making that force work exclusively in a general form, directly out of its generality. This is a religious view, faith in miracles, the reproduction of religious ideas from the standpoint of criticism, religious vulgarity and ingratitude towards self-consciousness” ... The opposition between the views of Strauss, on the one hand, and Bauer, on the other, is an “opposition of the tribe and self-consciousness, the substance and the subject”. [4] In other words, Strauss points out the unconscious appearance of the Gospel narrations, while Bauer says that in the historical process of their formation they went through the consciousness of people who deliberately composed them for some religious purpose. This is perfectly noticeable in the so-called Gospel of John [5] who created a quite special Jesus absolutely unlike the one of the other Gospels. But the other evangelists, too, were by no means innocent of such composing. The so-called Luke recarves and pieces together again as he likes the Gospel written by the so-called Mark; the so-called Matthew, who wrote after them, treats Luke and Mark without any ceremony, trying to conciliate them with each other and to adapt their narrations to the religious views and strivings of his time. But still he does not succeed in this by no means easy task. He gets muddled up in the most absurd contradictions. Here is one out of many examples. Matthew says that after being baptised Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. The question is: why did the Spirit, i.e., God, need to tempt Jesus by the intermediary of the devil? “For ... he could have known that the one whom he had just called his beloved son” (at the baptism – G.P.) “was inaccessible to temptation”. [6] But the fact is that Matthew simply got muddled up in his narration. He did not wish “simply to copy what he read in the writings of his predecessors, but to explain it and give it internal cohesion”. [7] He read in Luke and Mark that the Spirit led Jesus into the desert, where in fact he was tempted by the devil. So he made up his mind that the Spirit led Jesus into the desert for the purpose of tempting him with the help of the devil. And that is what he wrote in his Gospel, not noticing what a ridiculous situation his omniscient god was getting into by finding it necessary to tempt his own son. And here is a more vivid example. Isaiah “prophesies” about the “voice crying in the wilderness” (“prepare ye the ways of the Lord”). In order that “the words of the prophet” should be fulfilled, Mark and Matthew make John the Baptist preach “in the desert”. Matthew even names the desert – the Desert of Judea. Then, evidently repeating the words of Mark and Luke, he reports that many people who repented came to John and that he baptised them in the Jordan. But it is sufficient to glance at the map of Palestine to see that it was absolutely physically impossible for John to baptise the penitents in the Jordan if he was preaching in the Desert of Judea, which is far from the river. [8] [Such errors must be considered as personal blunders on the part of the narrator.]

By picking out of the various evangelists features from the life of Jesus which for some reason struck them, the faithful, or even simply sentimental, compose for their spiritual use a more or less attractive figure of the “redeemer” according to their concepts, tastes and inclinations. Strauss’ criticism already made this fabrication of a mosaic of Christ very difficult, but Bauer, by his criticism of the Gospels [9], threatened to make it absolutely impossible: he did not recognise Jesus as historical at all. It is therefore easy to understand the horror with which he inspired pious and “respectable” people. He was deprived of the right to teach in the theological faculty of Bonn University (where he was an assistant professor) , and was severely censured in a number of booklets, articles and faculty reports. But Germany in the forties of the nineteenth century was no longer the Germany of the eighteenth. The revolutionary storm of 1848 was approaching; the agitation among the progressive sections of the German people was growing, as the saying goes, not daily but hourly; the literary representatives of these sections were by no means embarrassed by the conclusions from their criticism being opposed to established ideas; on the contrary, they were becoming more and more permeated with the tendency to negation. B. Bauer answered the attacks of his “respectable” opponents very sharply, sparing neither religion in general nor the “Christian state”. His brother Edgar showed still greater vigour and for his Der Streit der Kritik mit Kirche und Staat (Criticism’s Dispute with Church and State), published in Berne in 1844, he was imprisoned in a fortress. It goes without saying that such a method of arguing used by the defenders of the system could not be considered very praiseworthy, but it must also be conceded that in this work Edgar Bauer went so far that his views could even now horrify very many of the “progressive” representatives of Russian literature. He recognised neither God, private property nor state. He went so far that one could go no farther in the direction of negation. But no, we are mistaken: one more step could and should have been made – the most decisive step in that direction: the question could and should have been posed: How strong was the weapon of criticism? How well-grounded was it in its negation? Or, in other words, to what extent did it free itself from the prejudices it was attacking? This question was set by people who went farther than the Bauer brothers, by Marx and Engels in their book Die heilige Familie (The Holy Family). [19*] It turned out that “critical criticism” based itself entirely on the very same idealism that it was fighting so furiously. That was its main shortcoming. As long as B. Bauer basing himself on the right of “self-consciousness” analysed the Gospel stories, he could strike many heavy blows at prejudices which time had rendered sacred; but when he and his brother went over to criticism of the “state” and to the appraisal of such great events as those in France at the end of the last and the beginning of the present century, he arrived at conclusions some of which were absolutely erroneous and others altogether inconsistent and unconvincing. Nor could it be otherwise. To say that a particular social form is opposed to my “self-consciousness” is not equivalent to defining its historical significance. But without appraising its significance one cannot understand it correctly or fight it with any serious hope of success. Marx and Engels did precisely what was suggested by the whole course of the development of philosophical thought in the nineteenth century: once having broken with idealism, one had to break also with autocratic “self-consciousness”, one had to find and point out the causes by which it in turn is determined. Here is not the place to discuss whether Marx and Engels were successful in the task they undertook; let the reader judge by their works. We shall only note that the abstract radicalism of the Bauer brothers recalls in many respects our Russian “subjective method in sociology”; the same unceasing references to “criticism” and to the “critical spirit” (called “critical thought” in our country); the same inability to penetrate by thought into the critical process which goes on within social relationships themselves and which determines the “self-consciousness” of people. It would be very interesting and extremely instructive to write a special essay drawing a parallel between the arguments advanced by Edgar Bauer (Der Streit der Kritik, viertes Kapitel) against Hegel, on the one side, and the objections made by Nikolai Mikhailovsky to Spencer, on the other. [20*] Such a parallel would show how little is new in the notorious subjective method. It would also show how all the originality of the Russian subjective sociologists comes to unconscious repetition of the mistakes of others which have long ago been pointed out and corrected by thinkers in Western Europe.

(5) [21*] Having neither the necessity nor the possibility here to go into details on the life of Feuerbach, we shall confine ourselves to a few lines from the History of Modern Philosophy by Überweg-Heinze [22*] (p.394 of the Russian translation).

“Born in 1804 ... the son of the famous criminalist Anselm Feuerbach, he studied theology and ... became a Hegelian. From 1824 he lived in Berlin, where he attended lectures by Hegel and devoted himself entirely to philosophy. In 1828 he became a lecturer in Erlangen and lived from 1836 in the village of Bruckberg, between Ansbach and Bayreuth, and from 1869 in Rechenberg near Nuremberg in difficult conditions and died in 1872.”

The contents of his Essence of Christianity can also be set forth in a few words. [23*]

“Religion,” Feuerbach says, “is unconscious self-consciousness of man.” In religion man deifies himself, his own “essence”. The essence of God is the essence of man, or to express it better, the essence of man purified, freed from the limitation of the individual person. “The perfection of God,” says Leibniz in his Theodicée, “is the perfection of our souls, but he possesses it in all its fulness ... in us there is a certain might, a certain knowledge, a certain goodness, all these attributes are fully inherent in God.” This is quite true and only means that “all attributes of God are attributes of man.” But the religious man is not conscious of deifying his own essence. He objectifies it, i.e., “contemplates and honours it as another being, separate from him and existing independently”. Religion is the splitting of man in two, his separating from himself. From this follows a double conclusion.

First, Hegel absolutely distorted truth when he said “what man knows about God is God’s knowledge of Himself,” or, in other words, “God knows himself in man.” In actual fact it is just the other way round: man knows himself in God and “what man knows of God, is man’s knowledge of himself.” The attributes of God change according to what man thinks and feels. “Whatever is the value of man, that, and no more, is the value of his God ... religion is the solemn revelation of the hidden treasures of man, the open confession of his love secrets.” Every step forward in religion is a step forward in man’s knowledge of himself. Christ, the incarnation of God, is “god personally known to man ... the happy certainty that God exists and exists in the very form in which it is necessary and desirable that he should exist.... That is why the last desire of religion is fulfilled only in Christ, the secret of religious feeling revealed (revealed of course in the figurative language characteristic of religion); what in God was essence becomes a manifestation in Christ ... in this sense the Christian religion can be called absolute religion.” The oriental religions, for example Hinduism, also speak of the incarnations of God. But in them these incarnations take place too often and “for that very reason they lose all their meaning.” In them the God incarnate does not become a person, i.e., a man, for without a person there is no man.

Secondly, since in religion man is dealing with himself, as with a separate being outside and opposed to himself; as religion is only the unconscious self-consciousness of man, it inevitably leads to a number of contradictions. When the believer says God is love, he says in essence only that love is superior to anything in the world. But in his religious consciousness love is degraded to the level of an attribute of a separate being, God, who has significance even independently of love. For the religious man belief in God becomes the indispensable condition for a loving, cordial attitude to his neighbour. He hates the atheist in the name of that very love which he professes and deifies. Thus the belief in God distorts the mutual relations between people, by distorting man’s attitude to his own essence. It becomes a source of fanaticism and of all the horrors which go with it. It damns in the name of salvation, it becomes violent in the name of beatitude. God is an illusion. But this illusion is extremely harmful, it binds reason, it kills man’s natural inclination to truth and goodness ... That is why reason which has grown to self-consciousness must destroy it. And it is not difficult for reason to do this. It needs only to turn inside out all the relationships created by religion. What in religion is a means (e.g., virtue, which serves as a means of acquiring eternal happiness) must become an end; what in religion is a subordinate, secondary thing, a condition (e.g., love of one’s neighbour – the condition for God’s favour towards us) must become the principal thing, the cause.Justice, truth, and good contain their sacred foundation in themselves, in their quality. For man there is no being superior to man.

[In 1902 the editorial board of the Mouvement socialiste undertook a wide enquête on the attitude of the socialist parties in different countries to clericalism. [24*] This question now has obvious practical importance. But in order to solve it correctly we must first of all make clear to ourselves another mainly theoretical question: the attitude of scientific socialism to religion. This last question is hardly analysed at all in the international socialist literature of our time. And this is a great deficiency, which is explained precisely by the “practicalness” of the majority of present-day socialists. They say: religion is a personal matter. That is true, but only in a definite, limited sense. It goes without saying that the socialist party in each individual country would act very improvidently if it refused to accept in its ranks a man who recognises its programme and is ready to work for its fulfilment but at the same time still entertains certain religious prejudices. Yet it would be still more improvident of any party to renounce the theory underlying its programme. And the theory – modern scientific socialism – rejects religion as the product of an erroneous view of nature and society and condemns it as an obstacle to the all-round development of the proletarians. We have not the right to close the doors of our organisation to a man who is infected with religious belief; but we are obliged to do all that depends on us in order to destroy that faith in him or at least to prevent – with spiritual weapons, of course – our religious-minded comrade from spreading his prejudices among the workers. A consistent socialist outlook is in absolute disagreement with religion. It is therefore not surprising that the founders of scientific socialism had a sharply negative attitude towards it. Engels wrote: “We wish to remove from our path all that appears to us under the banner of the superhuman and the supernatural.... That is why we declare war once and for all on religion and religious conceptions.” [25*] Marx called religion the opium with which the higher classes try to put to sleep the consciousness of the people and said that to abolish religion, as the imaginary happiness of the people, is to demand their real happiness. And Marx again said: “The criticism of religion disillusions man in order that he may think and act and arrange his life like a sober man, free from any inebriation, so that he may gravitate round himself, i.e., round his genuine sun.” [26*]

This is so true that in our country all those former “Marxists” who, because of their bourgeois strivings, neither wish nor can wish that the proletariat should become completely sober, have now returned to the fold of religious belief. [27*]]

(6) [28*] Engels uses the word “belles-lettres” and “literary” in a sense in which it is not now used in Russia. Hence there can arise a misunderstanding: “How does it come,” the reader may ask, “that ‘true’ socialism has degenerated into unattractive belles-lettres? Probably its followers wrote poor tendentious novels and tales?” But the point is that the Germans class among belles-lettres (the so-called schönen Wissenschaften) not only poetry (Dichtkunst) but also oratory (Redekunst). That is why the degeneration of true socialism into belles-lettres means its degeneration into unattractive rhetorics, as a Russian writer would put it. We will recall that in Belinsky the word “ belles-lettres” did not have the same meaning as we give it now.

[On German, or “true”, socialism, cf. Fr. Mehring, Geschichte der deutschen Sozialdemokratie, 1. Theil, S.199-203 [29*] (first edition).] This trend is characterised in greater detail by Mehring in his explanatory notes to the works of Marx and Engels published by him (Aus dem literarischen Nachlass, etc., Vol.II, pp.349-74). Professor Adler’s book Geschichte der ersten sozialpolitischen Bewegungen in Deutschland is interesting in this respect mainly by the excerpts it contains from the works of “true” socialists, especially M. Hess and K. Grün. A scientific characteristic of the latter is contained in Marx’s article: Karl Grün: Die soziale Bewegung in Frankreich und Belgien oder die Geschichtsschreibung des wahren Sozialismus. [30*] which appeared originally in Westphälischen Dampfboot [31*], August-October 1847, and was then reprinted in Neue Zeit, Nos.1-6, 1899-1900. Last but not least, mention must be made of a few extraordinarily substantial and correct although very rigorous pages of the Manifesto of the Communist Party on true socialism (Chap.III, pp.29-33 of my translation, 1900 edition). Mr. Struve’s articles in Neue Zeit (Nos.27 and 28 of 1895-96 and 34 and 35 of 1896-97) have now lost nearly all their interest. The first sets forth the content of two articles by Marx one of which has now been published in full by Mehring (the article on Hermann Kriege Aus dem literarischen Nachlass, II. B., S.415-45) and the other (on Karl Grün) reprinted in the above-mentioned issues of Neue Zeit; the second article of Mr. P. Struve, Studien und Bemerkungen zur Entwickelungsgeschichte des wissenschaftlichen Sozialismus is devoted to the “history of the idea of the class struggle.” According to him Lorenz von Stein appears as the first to have proclaimed this idea, at least in German literature. Mr. Struve thinks Marx borrowed it from Stein. This is an unfounded and completely improbable guess. In order to corroborate it, Mr. Struve should have proved that at the time of publication of L. von Stein’s book on French socialism Marx still had no knowledge of the works of the French historians of the period of the Restoration, who already firmly adhered to the idea of the class struggle. Mr. Struve did not prove and will never be able to prove that. (For the reader interested in this question I allow myself to refer to my foreword to the Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1900 edition.) Mr. Struve’s article is interesting only from one point of view: it shows us how high Mr. Struve was in 1896-97, in spite of all the defects of his thinking and all the gaps in his education, in comparison with the level to which he sank in his Osvobozhdeniye. [32*] That man “developed out of the ape” is a very gratifying thing, but there is nothing sadder than the opposite metamorphosis – from man to “ape”.

The “true” German socialists erred in theory by having no idea of economics generally and of the class struggle in particular; in practice their gravest fault was their negative attitude to “politics”. Karl Grün’s attacks on the liberal movement of the German bourgeoisie at the time would be now readily subscribed to by any of our defenders. Marx was extremely severe in his condemnation of this enormous error; this was one of the many services he rendered. But in condemning the “true” socialists one must remember that the question of socialism’s attitude to politics was incorrectly solved by the Utopian socialists in all countries. Russia is no exception to the general rule; our Narodniks and Narodovoltsi also coped very badly with this problem. More than that, even now rather strange views are spread among the Russian Social-Democrats as far as the political tasks of the working class are concerned. It suffices to recall the talk about the seizure of power by the Social-Democrats during the now impending bourgeois revolution. The supporters of such a seizure forget that the dictatorship of the working class will be possible and opportune only where it is a case of a socialist revolution. These supporters (who rally round the paper Proletary [33*]) are returning to the political standpoint of the late Narodnaya Volya trend. The founders of scientific socialism had a different view of the seizure of power.

“The worst thing that can befall a leader of an extreme party,” says Engels in his book Der deutsche Bauernkrieg, “is to be compelled to take over a government in an epoch when the movement is not yet ripe for the domination of the class which he represents, and for the realisation of the measures which that domination implies. What he can do depends not upon his will but upon the degree of contradiction between the various classes, and upon the level of development of the material means of existence, of the conditions of production and commerce upon which class contradictions always repose. What he ought to do, what his party demands of him, again depends not upon him or the stage of development of the class struggle and its conditions. He is bound to the doctrines and demands hitherto propounded which, again, do not proceed from the class relations of the moment [10], or from the more or less accidental [11] level of production and commerce, but from his more or less penetrating insight into the general result of the social and political movement. Thus, he necessarily finds himself in an insolvable dilemma. What he can do contradicts all his previous actions, principles and immediate interests of his party, and what he ought to do cannot be done. In a word, he is compelled to represent not his party or his class, but the class for whose domination the movement is then ripe. In the interests of the movement he is compelled to advance the interests of an alien class, and to feed his own class with phrases and promises, and with the asseveration that the interests of that alien class are their own interests. Whoever is put into this awkward position is irrevocably lost” [34*] (quoted by me in Our Differences, pp.288-89).

It would be useful for Lenin and the Nietzscheans and Machists surrounding him to give this some thought. But there are grounds to fear that these “supermen” have lost the ability to think. [35*]]

Author’s Footnotes

1. In 1800-04 he published Evangeliencommentar and in 1828 Das Leben Jesu, which we refer to hereafter in our quotations from Paulus.

2. Das Leben Jesu, fur das deutsche Volk bearbeitet von David Friedrich Strauss, dritte Auflage, Leipzig 1874, S.150-55.

3. Ed. Zeller, Christian Bauer et l’école de Tubingue, traduit par Ch. Ritter, Paris 1883, p.98.

4. Die gute Sache der Freiheit, Zürich und Wintertur 1842, S.117-18. [18*]

5. It is now acknowledged that the apostle John was not its author.

6. Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte der Synoptiker, zweite Auflage Leipzig 1846, I. Band, S.213.

7. Ibid., p.214.

8. Ibid., p.143.

9. First edition, Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte der Synoptiker I und II Band, Leipzig 1841. Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte der Synoptiker und des Iohannes, III und letzter Band, Braunschweig 1842.

10. [Italics by Plekhanov]

11. [Italics by Plekhanov]


1*. Plekhanov’s note follows Engels’ words: “... this man was indeed none other than Heinrich Heine.” (Cf. K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol.II, Moscow 1958, p.361. All further references to Engels’ Ludwig Feuerbach will be according to that same edition.)

2*. Heine’s splendid work, On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany.

3*. Heinrich Heine, Sämtliche Werke, herausgegeben von Ernst Elster, B.6, Leipzig und Wien, S.535.

4*. Note 2 concerns pages 360–66 of Engels’ work. It follows the words: “The Prussians of that day had the government that they deserved.” (p.361.)

5*. Essays: The Anniversary of Borodino by V. Zhukovsky, and Menzel, Critic of Goethe. Cf. V.G. Belinsky, Collected Works, Russ. ed., Vol.III, 1953, pp.240-50, 385-419.

6*. The essay Young Moscow in the fourth section of the Memoirs of A.I. Herzen, My Life and Thoughts. (Cf. A.I. Herzen, Selected Philosophical Works, Vol.II, 1948, Gospolitizdat Publishing House, pp.183-85.)

7*. Belinsky’s Letter to V.P. Botkin, March 1, 1841. (Cf. V.G. Belinsky. Selected Letters, in 2 volumes, Vol.2, Goslitizdat Publishing House, 1955, pp.141-42.) Plekhanov is doubtless mistaken when he speaks of a lowering of the level of Belinsky’s “theoretical demands” from the beginning of the forties, i.e., after his refusal to be “reconciled with reality”.

8*. Belinsky’s Letter to P.V. Annenkov, February 15 (27), 1848, Ibid., p.389.

9*. See the article For the Sixtieth Anniversary of Hegel’s Death.

V.G. Belinsky (Speech made in spring 1898 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Belinsky’s death at Russian meetings in Geneva, Zurich and Bern).

10*. Note 3 follows Engels’ words: “... used the meagre cloak of philosophy only to deceive the censorship.” (p.343).

11*. The only issue of Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, a double one, appeared in February 1844. The works of Marx referred to by Plekhanov are: On the Jewish Question, Introduction to the Criticism of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law; of Engels: Sketch of a Criticism of National Economy.

Besides, Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher carried Engels’ review of Thomas Carlyle’s book Past and Present entitled The Position of England.

12*. Rheinische Zeitung für Politik, Handel und Gewerbe (Rhenish Gazette for Politics, Trade and Industry) appeared daily in Cologne from January 1, 1842, till March 31, 1843. Founded by radical representatives of the Rhenish bourgeoisie in opposition to the Prussian Government and with the support of certain Left Hegelians, it became revolutionary democratic under Marx’s editorship. (Cf. V.I. Lenin, Karl Marx, Marx-Engels-Mrxism, Moscow 1953, p.16.)

13*. In his article Karl Marx Lenin points out that the period of his work with the Rhenish Gazette was marked by Marx’s transition from idealism to materialism and from revolutionary democratism to communism.

14*. Here the Rhenish Gazette is also meant. The name Cologne Gazette may be misleading, for in Cologne there appeared at the same time the reactionary Cologne Gazette (Kölnische Zeitung) under the editorship of Hermes, a secret agent of the Prussian Government.

15*. Articles by Marx in the Rhenish Gazette. (K. Marx and F. Engels, Gesamtausgabe, Erste Abt., Bd.I, Erster Halbband, Frankfurt 1927, S.179-397.)

16*. The New Rhenish Gazette (Neue Rheinische Zeitung) was published from June 1, 1848 to May 19, 1849. In his article Marx and the Neue Rheinische Zeitung Engels wrote in 1884 that Marx’s editorship “made the New Rhenish Gazette the most famous German newspaper of the years of revolution”. “No German newspaper, before or since, has ever had the same power and influence or been able to electrify the proletarian masses as effectively as the Neue Rheinische Zeitung.” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol.2, Moscow 1958, pp.332, 336-37.)

Lenin called the New Rhenish Gazette “the finest and unsurpassed organ of the revolutionary proletariat”. (V.I. Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. Edition, Vol. 21, p.64.)

17*. Note 4 follows Engels’ words: “‘substance’ or ‘self-consciousness’”, p.367.)

18*. The full title of Bauer’s book was: The Good Cause of Freedom and My Own Cause (Die gute Sache der Freiheit und meine eigene Angelegenheit).

19*. The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism. Against Bruno Bauer and Co., Moscow 1956.

20*. Mikhailovsky came out against Spencer’s theory on progress in a number of works: What is Progress?, What is Happiness?, Notes by a Profane. (N.K. Mikhailovsky, Collected Works, Vols.I, III, St. Petersburg 1906, 1909.) These works illustrated the disagreement between two trends in bourgeois positivist sociology.

21*. Note 5 comes after Engels’ words: “are only the fantastic reflection of our own essence”. (p.367-68.)

22*. Plekhanov here refers to Y. Kolubovsky’s bibliographical appendix to Überweg-Heinze’s History of Modern Philosophy, St. Petersburg 1890. In the third section of the appendix Philosophy with the Russians the following short lines are devoted to the philosophy of the sixties:

“The stormy sixties were marked by the appearance of materialism. Chernyshevsky, Antonovich and Pisarev were the supporters of this teaching, whose force lay not so much in their thoroughness as in the significance they then had. Yurkevich had no difficulty in coping with this trend as far as its philosophical principles were concerned, but on the other hand it was more difficult for him to counteract the influence of these writers.” (p.529)

23*. in his exposition Plekhanov uses mainly Chapter Two, The General Essence of Religion.

24*. The inquiry undertaken by the socialist journal Mouvement socialiste which appeared in Paris from January 1899 under the editorship of Lagardel was called forth by the bitter struggle which the French Republican Government waged against the Catholic Church at the beginning of the century and which ended in the separation of the Church from the State in 1905.

Answers received from the socialists in different countries were published in four issues of the journal in 1902 – Nos.107-110, November 1 and 15, December 1 and 15.

25*. F. Engels, The Position of England.

26*. K. Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, Introduction.

27*. Plekhanov meant Berdyayev, Bulgakov and other “Legal Marxists” who, at the end of the nineties, “criticised” Marx from Kantian positions and later, after the 1905 Revolution, went over to the God-seekers and religious mysticism.

28*. Note 6 comes after Engels’ words: “typified by Herr Karl Grün”. (p.368.)

29*. F. Mehring, Geschichte der deutschen Sozialdemokratie.

30*. The critical analysis of Karl Grün’s book takes up a chapter of The German Ideology.

31*. Das Westphälische Dampfboot (Westphalian Steamboat) – a monthly paper issued by the “true socialist” D. Lüning in Bielefeld and later in Paderborn from January 1845 to March 1848.

32*. Osvobozhdeniye (Liberation) – a journal published under the editorship of P.B. Struve in Stuttgart and Paris, 1902–1905. Since 1904 it was an organ of the liberal bourgeois League of Liberation, which in 1905 formed the nucleus of the Cadet Party.

The counter-revolutionary and anti-proletarian character of this paper was exposed in a resolution suggested by Plekhanov and Lenin and adopted by the Second Congress of the RSDLP in 1903.

33*. Proletary – the central organ of the RSDLP, was published in Geneva from May 14 (27) to November 12 (25), 1905. Lenin was its editor. It was the successor of Lenin’s Iskra (The Spark) and the Bolshevik Vperyod (Forward), and became the ideological and organisational centre of Bolshevism during the period of the First Russian Revolution. The paper exposed the Menshevik tactics of compromising with the bourgeoisie. In the additions he made to the notes on Engels’ Ludwig Feuerbach in 1905 Plekhanov, as a Menshevik, tried to discredit the theory of the hegemony of the proletariat in the bourgeois revolution followed by Proletary, representing it as a return to the ideas of the Narodnaya Volya party.

34*. F. Engels, The Peasant War in Germany, pp.138-39.

These same propositions of Engels are analysed in Lenin’s article Social-Democracy and the Provisional Revolutionary Government (V.I. Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. Edition, Vol.8, pp.251-53) in which Lenin shows the “difference between the point of view of revolutionary Social-Democracy and that of khvostism [tail-ism]” (p.253).

35*. To benefit Menshevism and harm the Bolshevism by factional activity, Plekhanov ascribed Blanquism to Lenin in 1905. He opposed the decisions of the Third Congress of the RSDLP on the necessity for establishing a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants, limiting the tasks of the First Russian Revolution to the establishment of a bourgeois-democratic parliamentary republic. Lenin, on the other hand, regarded the creation and the work of the Provisional revolutionary government as the most important condition for the passing of the bourgeois-democratic revolution into the socialist revolution.

Last updated on 17.10.2006