Plekhanov 1898

The Initial Phases of the Theory of the Class Struggle

An Introduction to the Second Russian Edition of the Manifesto of the Communist Party

Source: Georgi Plekhanov, Selected Philosophical Works, Volume 2 (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1976), pp 427-73. Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

Moscow Editor’s Note: ‘In 1898 Plekhanov decided to write an introduction to a new Russian edition of Marx and Engels’ Manifesto of the Communist Party on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of its first publication. This proved a lengthy undertaking, which ultimately produced an independent article written with due regard for all instances of “criticism” of Marxism at the end of the nineteenth century. The second Russian edition of the Manifesto with Plekhanov’s introduction appeared in Geneva in 1900.’

* * *

Marx wrote to Ruge in September 1843 when he was about to launch publication of Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher:

Hitherto, the philosophers have had lying in their desks the answers to all riddles, and the dull exoteric world had only to open their mouths wide for the roasted grouse of absolute knowledge to pop into. But philosophy has now become secular... If the construction of the future and the final outcome for all time is no affair of ours, so much more is it certain what we must accomplish in the present: I am referring to a ruthless criticism of everything that exists — ruthless in the sense that criticism has no fear of its own results, and has as little fear of coming into conflict with the powers that be. [1]

Fully in keeping with this critical mood in one of the future authors of the Manifesto was the mood of the second author — Frederick Engels, as is evidenced by the latter’s interesting article ‘Die Lage Englands’, which was published in Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher and much of which set forth the views of Carlyle. [2]

Carlyle admitted that he had no Morison’s pills, no panacea, to cure ills of society. Referring to that admission Engels wrote:

In that, too, he is right. All social philosophy, as long as it still propounds a few principles as its final conclusion, as long as it continues to administer Morison’s pills, remains very imperfect; it is not the bare conclusions of which we are in such need, but rather study, the conclusions are nothing without the reasoning that has led up to them; this we have known since Hegel; and the conclusions are worse than useless if they are final in themselves, if they are not turned into premises for further deductions. But the conclusions must also assume a distinct form for a time, they must in the course of development evolve from vague imprecision into clear ideas... [3]

From the time these lines had been written, the social philosophy of Marx and Engels had also arrived at definite results in its development, these finding their first systematic expression in the Communist Manifesto and then being supplemented in other writings by them. These results were never marred by ‘vague imprecision’. On the contrary, even those who do not sympathise with them, and fear them, have been compelled to admit that Marx and Engels’ ‘studies’ led them to a series of clear and original thoughts. But if Engels was right in saying that what should be valued is not the results so much as the development leading up to them, and that, in general, results are only of temporary significance, it may well be asked whether the results set forth in the Manifesto are already outdated, and whether they have not been condemned by the further course of the development that once led up to them. A witty Frenchman once remarked that he would not like to think as Voltaire had done at a time the latter would be thinking otherwise. We should follow that Frenchman’s example. Were we to wish to think as Marx and Engels did, at a time the latter thought otherwise, we would thereby reveal a total incapacity to learn the living critical spirit of their doctrine; by defending the dead letter of the latter, we would stand removed from it much farther than the dogmatists Marx spoke of in the above-quoted letter to Arnold Ruge.

Marx and Engels had ruthless criticism for everything that existed, and had no fear of the results of that criticism. The followers of Marx and Engels, too, should have no fear of the results achieved by their teachers.

One would think that all this goes without saying, and that it is quite superfluous to speak on the matter, especially today when there are so many Marxists all over Europe — from St Petersburg to Naples, and from Samara to Dublin — standing ‘under the banner of criticism’. The trouble is that there are various ‘banners of criticism’. It was said long ago that not everyone who keeps on repeating ‘Lord, O Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. It now has to be said that not everyone who keeps on reiterating ‘Criticism, criticism!’ is capable of rising above dogmatism. People who ‘criticise’ Marx and Engels are now as numerous as the sands on the seashore. Criticism of Marxism has now become the vogue in certain circles of the intelligentsia in all countries. However, vogue and criticism do not go together very well; the more fashionable criticism of Marxism becomes, the more it loses all critical content. When they call obsolete the results arrived at by Marx and Engels, the critics cannot produce anything new in their stead; some of them confine themselves to empty and tedious reiteration of the word ‘criticism’, while others return to the standpoint of the bourgeois contemporaries and even predecessors of Marx and Engels. Such criticism, needless to say, is no salvation from dogmatism; that kind of movement can in no way be called progressive.

The paucity of the ‘critical’ thinking of those gentlemen who would criticise Marx reveals itself most tellingly in the sphere of philosophy. Here they contrapose to what they term the materialists’ dogmatism the threadbare dogma of the Kantians regarding the unknowability of the external world. It would not be in place here to discuss that dogma, which is why we shall merely observe that, in rejecting materialism, the critical gentry do not go to the trouble of getting a better knowledge of that theory, restricting themselves to that notion of it which is so assiduously cultivated, to the greater glory of religion, by the learned, semi-learned and quite unlearned philistines and priests of various countries, and which is based on the Christian contraposition of matter to spirit. [4]

What we have in the Manifesto of the Communist Party is exclusively the ‘social philosophy’ of Marx and Engels, and it is that subject that we shall deal with in our introduction. However, it is also a very broad subject, to examine which from all sides is impossible within the framework of an introduction. That is why we shall consider only the fundamental idea of the Manifesto, and shall examine the individual propositions contained therein in a booklet entitled A Critique of Our Critics, which we are now preparing for publication: [5]

The basic thought running through the Manifesto — that economic production and the structure of society of every historical epoch necessarily arising therefrom constitute the foundation for the political and intellectual history of that epoch; that consequently (ever since the dissolution of the primeval communal ownership of land) all history has been a history of class struggles...; that this struggle, however, has now reached a stage where the exploited and oppressed class... can no longer emancipate itself from the class which exploits and oppresses it..., without at the same time forever freeing the whole of society from exploitation, oppression and class struggles — this basic thought belongs solely and exclusively to Marx. [6]

That is what Engels says. Is he right? Not quite. In the first place, he is wrong in reducing to nil his own participation in evolving the fundamental idea in the Manifesto. In the second place, certain very important elements of that idea are to be met in far earlier socio-political literature.

In his excellent essay ‘In Memory of the Manifesto of the Communist Party’, Professor Antonio Labriola has very correctly observed that already the historians of antiquity, and in modern times Italian historians of the Renaissance, were well aware of the significance of the class struggle raging before their eyes within the close limits of the urban republics. No less correct is Labriola’s remark that the class struggle, which has assumed a far greater sweep in the modern state, was ever more evident during the first half of the nineteenth century. He is mistaken, however, in thinking that the historical significance of that struggle was most clearly realised at the end of that period, to wit, between the years 1830 and 1850. In fact an understanding of the class struggle as a most important mover of historical development had achieved, by the 1820s, a degree of clarity that was surpassed only in the writings of the Manifesto’s authors. Between the years 1830 and 1850, that understanding was partly dimmed by the impact of causes we shall mention below.

Already in his Lettres d'un habitant de Genève, which appeared in 1802, Saint-Simon spoke of the relations between the ‘propertied’ and the ‘non-propertied’ classes, attributing the course and outcome of the French Revolution to the struggle between those classes. The Lettres, however, contain only the germ of Saint-Simon’s views, which were expressed far more completely in his later writings, for example, in the Organisateur (the celebrated Parabole), in Lettres à Messieurs les Jurés, Du Système industriel, Catéchisme des industriels and Opinions littéraires, philosophiques et industrielles. Production is the purpose of the social union, which is why leaders of production have always headed social unions, and will always do so. Until the fifteenth century, temporal power was concentrated in the hands of the nobles... it could not be otherwise because the nobles of the time guided agriculture, farming then being the only industrial occupation of great importance. [7] However, there gradually arose, between the first crusade and the reign of Louis XI, a new social class that organised itself as a force independent of the nobility, namely, the manufacturers in the strict sense of the word — a class which gained in strength and development during the period between the reign of Louis XI and Louis XIV. Throughout that period, the industrial class did not cease from struggling against the nobles, from whom they won one economic position after another. Their need of strong support led them to enter into an alliance with the royal authority, an alliance that determined the further political development of France until the time when the monarchy, in the person of Louis XIV, betrayed its faithful ally and became a protector of the aristocracy. This was a mistake that cost the Bourbons dear but did not halt the development of the industrial class. The French Revolution and the ensuing events were the outcome of the struggle between the new industrial order and the old feudal system, whose adherents made a new attempt, during the Restoration, to regain their whilom influence and importance. However, their efforts were doomed to failure; that influence was gone for all time:

During fifteen centuries [says Saint-Simon], the feudal system has gradually become disorganised, and the industrial system gradually organised. Tactful behaviour on the part of the leading representatives of industry will be sufficient finally to establish the industrial system, and clear society of the rubble of the feudal edifice our ancestors once lived in. [8]

Saint-Simon’s historical views were absorbed in almost their entirety by his ‘adopted son’ Augustin Thierry, who was to make such an important contribution to French historical science. Augustin Thierry held the stand of the third estate, and was well aware of that. Here is what he wrote in Censeur Européen in 1818:

Who of us has not heard of a class of people who, in times when the barbarians were overrunning Europe, preserved the industrial arts and skills for humanity? Insulted and plundered daily by their victors and their masters, they lived in hardship, receiving for their labours only the consciousness of doing good and preserving civilisation for their children and the world. These savers of our arts were our fathers: we are the sons of those serfs, those tributaries, those bourgeois that the conquerors preyed upon without mercy; it is to them that we owe everything that we are... But we, the liberated slaves of yesterday, have so long preserved in our memories only the families and the actions of our masters; it was only thirty years ago that we bethought ourselves of our fathers having been the nation. We admired and studied everything except what they were and what they did. We are patriots and have committed to oblivion all those who, for fourteen centuries, tilled the soil of our Motherland, which was so often devastated by other hands. [9]

Returning to the same theme two years later, Thierry set out to prove that the French did not yet possess a genuine history of their people. A history of the citizens, a history of the subjects, had not yet been written, yet it was far more interesting, and evocative of far greater sympathy than the history of the grand and the sovereigns — ‘The only history told to us...’ The progress of the popular masses towards freedom and prosperity seems to us far more impressive than the campaigns of conquerors; the misfortunes of the people are more moving than those of dispossessed kings. If a pen worthy to describe it could be found, the French would learn that their cities could be proud of:

... other things than the sojourn of some great seigneur or the passage of some sovereign; and that it is not true that, for whole centuries, all their political life consisted in providing bowmen for the army, and paying tallage twice a year. [10]

Such eloquent tirades clearly show how the mounting consciousness of France’s third estate brought about a radical change in the views of French historians. To the scholarly plebeians of the times, the history of the third estate was more interesting than that of the Court or the aristocracy; that was why they felt the need to develop a history of that third estate. Since, for many centuries, that history was the history of the entire people, with the exception of the nobility and the clergy, there is nothing surprising that the life of the people in past centuries began to attract the main attention of historical science, which had previously dealt only with kings and aristocrats. Historical science of the Restoration period was affected by the self-same temper in the third estate, which had begun to influence literature and literary criticism already in the eighteenth century. We know the psychological motivations that had led up to the emergence of what is known as the domestic drama. ‘What does it matter to me, a peaceable subject of a monarchical state in the eighteenth century’, Beaumarchais wrote, ‘how some Peloponnesian tyrant met his end, or how a young princess was offered as a sacrifice in Aulis? There is nothing for me to see in all this, no moral for me.’ [11] What Beaumarchais and his fellow-thinkers wanted to see depicted with sympathy on the stage was the life and sufferings of contemporary third-estate society. They were offended and incensed by the classical tragedy’s predilection for high-born heroes. ‘To present people of the middle station as crushed and in affliction!’, Beaumarchais exclaimed with bitterness. ‘Fi donc! They should never be shown otherwise than as objects of derision! Ridiculous citizens and unfortunate kings — that is the entire existing and possible theatre, and I shall content myself with saying: c'est fait...’ [12]

Since the eighteenth-century bourgeoisie wanted to ‘have its own portrait’, its literary representatives tried to depict its features of the times through the characters in the domestic drama. [13] In just the same way, the bourgeoisie of the Restoration period, in defending their social and political gains from persistent encroachment by the adherents of the ancien régime, were eager to hear the story of their childhood and youthful years; their scholars set about presenting it with an instructive and interesting narrative of the harassment they had been subjected to, their efforts to win a better future for themselves, and their successes in the struggle against their oppressors. Thus there arose a new current in historical science, marking a major step forward in its development.

Previous historians, whose interest had been mainly focussed on kings and aristocrats, had seen the exploits of their high-born heroes as the principal driving force of historical development. This view was also taken up by the eighteenth-century Enlighteners, who, in keeping with their revolutionary sentiments, modified it into the doctrine that opinions govern the world. Though theoretically untenable, this theory had the advantage of attaching considerable significance to the impact of the intelligentsia’s revolutionary heroes on the multitude of the middle class, who were oppressed by the state and the upper estates. However, the bourgeoisie of the Restoration period, which had shortly before dealt a mortal blow at the ancien régime, no longer resembled a downtrodden multitude. Imbued with a consciousness of its strength and importance, its ideologists saw in it the mainspring of the historical advance. We are already aware of the enthusiasm with which Thierry spoke of its services to mankind and civilisation.

Once they had taken an interest in the history of their ‘fathers’, the bourgeoisie’s learned representatives could not but evolve a completely new view of the historical origins and development of social institutions:

It is highly singular [said Augustin Thierry] that the historians stubbornly refused to attribute any spontaneity or creativity to the masses of people. If an entire people migrates and makes itself a new home, that means, our annalists and poets assert, that some hero has taken it into his head to found a new empire to add lustre to his name; if a city is established, it is some prince that has given it life. The people, the citizens are always material for the thinking of a single individual. Do you really wish to learn who founded an institution and who conceived a social enterprise? Search among those who really needed it; it was to them that the first idea of it, the wish to act, and a considerable part of the execution belonged. Is fecit, cui prodest: this axiom is applicable in history just as in justice. [14]

In view of the sympathy with the ‘fathers’, who had had to wage an age-old struggle against the upper classes, this new point of view — that of social or class interest — was bound to lead to an appreciation of the major historical significance of the struggle of various social classes for their interests, that is, in brief — the class struggle. And indeed already at the outset of his literary career, Augustin Thierry spoke of the ‘struggle of classes and interests’ in England — ‘la lutte des classes d'hommes et des intérêts’ — as one of the main consequences of the Norman conquest. [15] He described the revolutionary movement in seventeenth-century England as a struggle of the third estate against the aristocracy:

Any man whose ancestors came over with the Conqueror [he said of the first English revolution], left his castle to join the royalist camp to take up a command in keeping with his rank. The inhabitants of cities... flocked to the opposite camp. One could say that the rallying calls of the two armies were: on one side, idleness and power, on the other, work and liberty. All idlers, whatever their origin, those whose only aim in life was the pursuit of enjoyment without any effort, enrolled in the royalist forces to defend interests that coincided with their own; whilst the families of the caste of the ancient conquerors who had now gone into industry united with the party of the Commons. [16]

What is particularly noteworthy is that Thierry saw the religious movement of the times merely as a reflection of ‘positive’ everyday interests:

It was for positive interests that the war was waged by both sides [he wrote]. All the rest was merely extraneous or a pretext. Most of those who took up the cause of the subjects were Presbyterians, that is, wanted no yoke, even in religion. Those who supported the opposite cause were episcopalians or papists: even in the field of religion they were out to exercise power and impose taxes. [17]

When we go over to Thierry’s contemporary Mignet, we see the self-same view of the significance of property interests and the role of the class struggle in the history of civilised countries. In Mignet’s words, ‘the most numerous and the strongest interests dictate laws, and achieve their aims’ ('dictent la loi et arrivent à leur but’). [18]

Hence one can readily understand the influence that, in his opinion, interests exerted on the development of society:

The dominant interests [he said] determine the social movement. That movement achieves its aim despite various obstacles; it halts on achieving that aim, and yields place to another movement which is imperceptible at the outset and makes itself known only when it becomes predominant. Such was the development of feudalism, which existed in human needs before becoming a fact — the first epoch; in the second epoch, it existed in fact, while ceasing from corresponding to needs, and it was this latter circumstance that put an end to its actual existence. No revolution as yet has been carried out in any other way. [19]

The appearance of urban communes changed all the internal relations of the societies of the time. In Italy, the communes achieved complete supremacy, this giving rise to democracy. In France they were forced to join forces with the royal authority, thereby laying the foundations of absolutism. Last, in England, where they joined forces with the feudalists against the king, there emerged a constitutional monarchy. [20]

Thus, the interrelations between the leading social elements of European society, that is, the aristocracy and the third estate, determined Europe’s historical development. The greater the growth of the third estate, the closer the advent of the final downfall of the old social order. In France, the period of that decline was also a time of revolution, which Mignet always regarded with the warmest sympathy. Better than all his other writings, his history of the French Revolution showed his awareness of the historical significance of the class struggle. He fully realised that the struggle of political parties during the Revolution was merely an expression of the contradiction between class interests:

The aristocratic classes [he said] had interests that were the opposite of those of the national party. That was why the nobility and the upper clergy, who sat on the Right, were in constant opposition to that party, except for several days of universal enthusiasm. [21]

The party of Du Port, Barnave and Lameth was ‘a kind of opposition within the middle class’. [22] The Constitution of 1791 was the creation of the middle class, which was stronger at the time than the rest. ‘It is common knowledge’, Mignet adds, ‘that a force which has won domination always gains control of institutions.’ [23] He attributed the counter-revolutionary uprisings in Calvados, Gevaudan and Vendée to those areas being ill-disposed towards the Revolution, ‘since there was no numerous and educated middle class there’. [24] He saw the Girondists as a party of transition from the middle class to the common people (la multitude), whilst in Danton, Robespierre, Camille Desmoulins, d'Églantine, Marat and others he saw genuine leaders of the new movement which had been launched with the aid of the lower social class and was directed against the middle class the Girondists belonged to by status and habits. [25] The tenth of August was ‘an uprising of the common people against the middle class and the constitutional throne, just as 14 July was an uprising of the middle class against the privileged classes and the absolute power of the crown. [26] In short, the entire history of the French revolution serves Mignet as an illustration of a proposition which can with good reason be called a formula of the progress made in civilised societies: ‘Changes infringe interests; interests create parties; parties enter into struggle.’ [27] Augustin Thierry had good reason to say that Mignet was endowed with the great talent of generalising facts and of historical induction.

Throughout his life, Mignet was a conscious, outspoken and consistent representative of the ‘middle class’, whose social and political supremacy was his ideal. He was utterly opposed to the ‘common people’ inasmuch as they presented a threat to that supremacy. ‘Les désordres de la Commune lui furent odieux’, said his biographer Edouard Petit. [28] But this friend of Thiers, the brutal pacifier of the Paris Commune, [29] regarded the revolutionary mode of action without that mixture of wretched fear and malignity that marks the big and petty bourgeois of our time. ‘It is only by force that one can win recognition of one’s rights’, he remarked in the very beginning of his history of the revolution, adding several pages later that ‘there exists no overlord but force.’ [30] Present-day historians do not find such aphorisms to their liking. This particular aspect of their taste is explained by old Guizot.

His views on the fundamental cause of social development in no way differ from those of Augustin Thierry and Mignet. He, too, sees social relations as underlying the political:

It is through the study of political institutions [he wrote in his Essais sur l'Histoire de France] that most writers, scholars, historians or publicists have sought to learn the state of society, and the degree or kind of its civilisation. It would have been wiser to have begun with society itself so as to know and understand its political institutions. Before becoming a cause, institutions are an effect; society produces them before becoming modified by them; instead of inquiring of systems or forms of government as to what the condition of the people has been, one should first and foremost examine the condition of the people in order to know what its government should or could be... Society, its composition, the way of life of individuals according to their social station, and the relations between various classes of individuals, in short, people’s conditions [l'état des personnes] such, assuredly, is the first question that attracts the attention of the historian who wishes to witness the life of peoples, and the publicist who wishes to learn how they are governed. [31]

According to Guizot, the ‘état’ of all peoples that appeared on the European historical scene following the downfall of the Western Roman Empire was closely linked causally with property relations, whose study should therefore precede that of people’s conditions: ‘To understand political institutions, one should know the diverse social conditions and the relations between them. To understand the diverse social conditions, one should know the nature of property relations.’ [32] It was from this point of view that Guizot regarded the history of France during the first two dynasties, a history he saw as one of the struggle between the various ‘strata’ of the population of the times.

The history of the English revolution was depicted by him as a struggle between the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy. He called ingenious but superficial the view that the English revolution was more political than social, while the French revolution strove to change the entire sum of society and government.[33] In fact, both revolutions had a common origin and a common purpose. In England, the revolutionary movement began under the impact of changes in social relations and the customs of the people. While the upper crust of the aristocracy had lost all influence over the people and had become corrupt, the ordinary gentry, the freeholders and the bourgeois, who were engaged exclusively in increasing their lands and their capital, grew ever wealthier and brought the people more and more under their influence. By degrees, without any fuss, and almost unawares, they concentrated in their hands almost all the social forces — the ‘true sources of power’. [34] In the measure that this fundamental change in social relations was accomplished, the middle class ('les communes’) began to chafe at the tyranny: ‘With the growth of wealth, greater security became a need. The rights so long exercised by the prince, without meeting with protest and obstacles, now seemed to have become abuses.’ [35] Such were the causes of the revolutionary struggle which met with numerous ups and downs, but ended in the complete victory of the middle class.

Guizot was able to trace the influence of the ‘social composition’, not only on society’s political structure but also on the intellectual trends in it. His ideas on the history of French literature, which he voiced as far back as the days of the First Empire, deserve detailed consideration, but lack of space restricts us to making mention here only of his ideas on the theatre, which, in his opinion, is a reflection of the development of social relations. In ancient Greece, where social affairs were run by the entire people, the theatre was a public entertainment reflecting the habits and tastes of all free citizens. On the contrary, in the modern societies, which are a complex blend of various classes engaged in labour and always locked in a constant struggle between themselves for supremacy, the theatre has become a form of entertainment for the upper classes. This has affected many of its virtues. After consolidating their position, the upper classes usually try to separate themselves from the rest of society, thereby losing the simple and natural habits inherent in the people, and become imbued with artificiality. That is why the sphere of artistic creativity becomes narrower and impoverished. As an example, Guizot speaks of the fate of the English theatre following the Restoration of 1660. In their contempt for the people, the English aristocracy began to ignore even Shakespeare, whom they called a boor. French tragedy was also a product of the upper classes, which is why its day passed together with the downfall of the ancien régime. The Revolution cleared the way for a ‘new system of drama’. [36]

Of course, individual propositions here do not necessarily have to be agreed with, but it must be admitted that his study of the causal links between phenomena followed the correct lines. It was in that direction that the most gifted critics and historians of French literature were to proceed, thus paving the way so well for a materialist explanation of the intellectual history of civilised mankind.

Guizot’s political activities revealed his class viewpoint even more tellingly. In his Mémoires, he himself said that the consolidation of the supremacy of the middle classes (des classes moyennes) was his invariable political aim. [37] He not only came out ardently and fearlessly in defence of their interests, but, as he himself put it, he wished to magnify their cause still more by taking them back to the past and revealing their interests and their vicissitudes in the entire course of French history. [38] This intention was superbly carried out in his political pamphlets, the most noteworthy of which is the one entitled Du Gouvernement de la France depuis la Restauration et du ministère actuel, which appeared in September 1820. In it, Guizot came out as a convinced defender of the French Revolution, which he called a war, just like wars between nations:

For over thirteen centuries France contained two peoples: conquerors and vanquished. For over thirteen centuries, the vanquished people fought to throw off the yoke of their conquerors. Our history is one of that struggle. In our times, a decisive battle has taken place. The battle is called revolution. [39]

The outcome of the revolution was never in doubt. An ancient and vanquished people became a people of conquerors. In their turn, they subdued France. According to Guizot, the well-known Charter merely acknowledged that fact and declared it a right. Representative government was a guarantee of that right. [40] The debates in the Chamber of Deputies might have seemed strange and hard to understand only to anybody who regarded them from the viewpoint of theory, without being able to link them up with the circumstances that had engendered them. In fact, the debates were conducted ‘between equality and privilege, between the middle class and the ancient aristocracy’. [41] The ancien régime and the new France are locked in a life and death struggle. To reconcile them is a chimerical idea. [42]

We already know that Guizot understood the causal link between social relations, on the one hand, and intellectual trends, on the other. Political polemics gave him an extra opportunity to voice his view on this score. ‘Ideas, doctrines and constitutions themselves’, he declared, are subordinate to circumstances and are adopted by peoples only when they serve as an instrument and guarantee of their pressing interests as generally realised. [43] The history of the English Constitution, in his opinion, shows particularly well ‘in what measure circumstances dominate over the pretended theories of the representative system’. [44] Today we see the edifice of the English Constitution and forget how it was built: ‘We are prone to attribute to human wisdom this progressive advance, which was the fruit of nothing but necessity.’ [45] The theorists of the revolution were mistaken ‘or were lying’ (italics are mine) in proclaiming the sovereignty of the people. In fact, it was not a question of the people’s sovereignty, but of the victory of a part of the people over another part. Since the numerical superiority was immensely in favour of the third estate, the sovereignty of the people arose as a doctrine. That doctrine was necessary at the time because force stands in need of a doctrine: to believe, and to make others think that they are right. [46]

The adherents of counter-revolution always understood very well that, to achieve their aim, they had first to seize power and use it in accordance with their interests. For their part, the middle class should know that they have to gain possession of power, not to demolish it. [47]

Representative government is instituted to concentrate and express those social needs and aspirations, and then place power into the hands of those who will be able to understand and meet those aspirations and needs. [48] It goes without saying that, in Guizot’s opinion, only representatives of the ‘middle class’ possess that ability, so that power, according to his theory, should belong to that class, and not to the population extérieure (as Guizot called the working masses) whose rights should be recognised and defended but who could bring about their own downfall and that of the state if allowed to assume power. [49]

When Marx and Engels wrote in the Manifesto that the executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie, [50] they were expressing the same view in respect of the representative government set up by the bourgeoisie; only they were now appraising that system of rule, not from the viewpoint of the ‘middle class’ but from that of the population extérieure, whose supremacy Guizot could not even think of without a feeling of apprehension.

However that may have been, Guizot was indubitably very well aware of the class character of the socio-political trends he represented and defended. When the supporters of the old order began to accuse him of fanning evil passions by his propaganda of the class struggle, he replied that he wanted only to summarise the history of France. It was full of the struggle between the estates, or rather created by it:

This was known and said many centuries before the Revolution; it was known and said in 1789; it was known and said three months ago. [51] Though I am now accused of having said so, I do not think anybody has forgotten it. Facts do not vanish at the sweet will or for the fleeting convenience of ministries and parties... What would the courageous bourgeois sent to the States-General to win or to defend their order’s rights say were they to rise from the dead only to learn that the nobility never waged war against the third estate, was never alarmed at the latter’s emergence or indignant at its growth, and was never constantly opposed to its progress in society and power? ... Effete descendants of a race that dominated a great country and made great kings tremble, you have disowned your ancestors and your history! Aware of your downfall, you protest against your past splendour!

In making reference to the class struggle, Guizot did not want to say anything new. The class struggle was not a theory or an hypothesis but a fact in all its simplicity. ‘I repeat’, he exclaimed, ‘that no credit reflects on those who have seen that, but it is almost ridiculous to contest it.’ Guizot felt some shame that he, a bourgeois, was obliged to give noblemen instruction in the history of France and to prove to them that they had grown ‘too humble in their recollections’. In reply to the accusation that he was fanning passions and sowing discord among citizens, he exclaimed: ‘What? You are commanding us to forget our history because its conclusions have not been in your favour!’

These excerpts [52] are sufficiently descriptive of Guizot’s militant temper at the time. To round off the picture, we shall also make mention of the epigraph to his Du gouvernement de la France, from which we have already quoted. It comes from Pascal’s Pensées and says: ‘It is pleasant to be on board a storm-driven ship when you are sure you will not perish!

So vividly is the bourgeoisie’s class consciousness expressed in all this that we stand in no need of any further excerpts. That is why we shall not speak here either of Armand Carrel’s Histoire de la contra-révolution en Angleterre (Paris, 1827) or of Alexis Tocqueville’s writings, which date later. We consider as firmly established the fact that, already during the Restoration, Saint-Simon and many learned representatives of the French bourgeoisie saw the class struggle as the mainspring of the historical development of modern peoples.

We have thought it useful to establish this fact since it seems to have remained beyond the ken of many critics of the Manifesto of the Communist Party. For instance, Emile Vandervelde categorically asserts that the concept of the class struggle is ‘the touchstone of democratic socialism, distinguishing it from all other past and present forms of bourgeois and utopian socialism’, and that this concept ‘was first developed, with all its consequences, in the Manifesto of the Communist Party’. [53] We must say that a more attentive attitude to his subject can be demanded from a man who has, so to say, written a booklet for the jubilee of the Manifesto.

In just the same manner, Herr Werner Sombart, who has criticised the Manifesto’s view on the great historic significance of the class struggle, has not said a single word about that view being no novelty in the political literature of the 1840s. [54] He attaches great importance to the ‘history of dogmas’ (Dogmengeschichte) in present-day socialism. A closer acquaintance with that history might well have been expected of him too. In an article entitled ‘Essai d'interprétation et de critique de quelques concepts du marxisme’ published in the February 1898 issue of Devenir Social, Benedetto Croce has most zealous ‘criticism’ of Marx and Engels’ theory of the class struggle. But this zealous critic too is evidently very far removed from the idea that the class struggle was taught already by theoreticians of the bourgeoisie.

We will also mention Thomas Kirkup who, in ‘criticising’ Marx’s theory from the most varied angles, with fairly detailed reference to the Manifesto, did not even ask himself whether the idea of the class struggle belonged exclusively to Marx. [55]

The critics of Marxism have almost invariably been on a wrong tack by failing to notice actual errors made by Marx and Engels while ascribing to them mistakes they never made.

But there are different kinds of errors. It is, of course, a good thing for the founders of a given theory to know all their precursors, and not to err in their judgements of them. However, no one would take exception to the errors Darwin might have made in speaking of the place held by his own theory in the history of evolutionary doctrines. However, if somebody set about criticising Darwinism, and especially if he would wish to write a history of transformism, he would be in duty bound to know Darwin’s forerunners, and it would be most strange were he, in dealing with the latter, to limit himself to simply repeating what Darwin himself said of them.

The same may be said of the critics of Marxism, and the historians of socialism. One cannot forgive their errors in the ‘history of dogma’, which were quite understandable and pardonable in Marx or Engels.

But let us leave the critics for a while, and return to the forerunners.

The French bourgeoisie ran into many a storm during the Restoration. However, heartened by their recent resounding victories over the aristocracy, they believed that no force could put an end to their domination, and looked into the future with confidence, finding that it was very pleasant to be on board a storm-driven ship when you are sure that it will not perish. They were not afraid at the time to speak of the class struggle and derisively refused to forget the history of their own class struggle to please the effete aristocracy. But alas! All is flux, nothing is stationary. A mere two or three decades later, the bourgeoisie were forced to see the class struggle from another angle. The working class — Guizot’s population extérieure — launched a struggle against their class domination, this radically changing the bourgeoisie’s temper: from a revolutionary class, they turned into a conservative one. The year 1848 provided them with a frightful lesson; how well they learnt the meaning of that lesson can be seen from its theoreticians beginning, from that time on, to preach ‘social peace’. Always keenly aware of the condition and the needs of the ‘middle class’, Guizot brought out, as far back as 1849, a booklet entitled De la Démocratie, which lauded social peace as leading to ‘liberty, security, prosperity, dignity’, and all other ‘moral and material benefits’. In 1849, Guizot still recalled that social war had ‘made’ the history of France, but he now saw that war, not as a prime mover of progress but as a kind of Pandora’s box, from which all kinds of calamities were swarming upon his country:

The struggle between the various classes of our society has filled our history [he repeated]. The revolution of 1789 was its most general and powerful outburst. Nobles and third estate, aristocracy and democracy, bourgeois and workingmen, property-owners and proletarians — all these have been so many forms, so many phases, of the social struggle that has so long plagued us... This is a curse, a shame that our times cannot accept. Internal peace, peace between the various classes of citizens, social peace! That is France’s supreme need, her cry for salvation! [56]

The predominance of the middle classes had been a marked feature of France’s history since 1789. Noting this, Guizot eulogised the bourgeoisie, but he clearly saw the frightful danger that threatened its rule:

And now a third combatant has entered the lists. The democratic element has split up. Against the middle classes there have been set the working classes; against the bourgeoisie — the people. And this new war is also to the death, because the new challenger is... exclusive as the others have never been able to be. [57]

The proletariat threatens to do away with the domination of the ‘middle classes'; the ‘middle classes’ are afraid of the proletariat, so their theoreticians are preaching peace. Firm peace, however, can be concluded only when the proletariat ceases from disputing the bourgeoisie’s right to existence. That was something that Guizot was very well aware of, so he set about proving that all the classes existing in France were ‘natural and deep elements of French society’, [58] and went on to assert that recognition of the justice of that idea by all the combatant parties would be a big step forward towards social peace. Indeed, by recognising the justice of the idea, the proletariat would be recognising the ‘naturalness’ of its thraldom, which was precisely what the alarmed ideologist of the bourgeoisie was after.

Guizot was not alone in preaching social peace or in changing his attitude towards the class struggle after the new ‘combatant’ had entered the lists. We have seen how Mignet looked upon the ‘disturbances’ of the Paris Commune. As for Augustin Thierry, his frame of mind after 1848 was displayed in the Preface to his Essai sur l'histoire du tiers-état, which came out in 1853. The history of the third estate was one of a social war waged by the middle class against the aristocracy. As we know, Augustin Thierry was one of the first to draw the attention of the reading public to the class character of that war, to deny it would have meant stripping the history of the third estate of all its significance. On the other hand, however, Thierry could not in 1853 speak of the class struggle without serious reservations, which he did make. He remarked that the class struggle dealt with in his book had nothing in common with the proletariat’s class struggle against the bourgeoisie. The struggle he described had been beneficial in its consequences, and conducted for whole centuries, while the proletariat’s struggle against the bourgeoisie had been born ‘only yesterday and destructive to all public security’. He considered the proletariat’s class interest narrow, and that of the third estate very broad, since the latter included the entire nation but the nobility and the clergy.

This kind of reasoning is highly characteristic in the psychological sense although, as we shall now see, the adherents of revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie would have little difficulty in refuting Augustin Thierry with his own arguments.

So profoundly were the French historians of the Restoration period convinced of the historical significance of the class struggle that they resumed their former language. As an instance, we shall again refer to Guizot.

In 1858, he brought out his Mémoires, the first volume of which dealt with the time when, with the ardour of youth, he came out for the class struggle of the middle class against the aristocracy. Regarding his booklet Du gouvernement de la France, which, as we already know, was an impassioned call for that struggle, Guizot acknowledged that, on re-reading it thirty-six years after its publication, he gained the following impression:

On considering things thoroughly and in themselves, both as historian and as philosopher, I find nothing in it to retract. I persist in thinking that the general ideas in it are correct, the great social facts well appraised, the politicians well understood and depicted with truth... But... I have demanded too much of men.

His scientific integrity gaining the upper hand over his fear of the new ‘combatant’, the aged theoretician of the bourgeoisie no longer looked upon the class struggle as France’s shame and calamity: he asserted that the social facts had been correctly appraised in Du gouvernement, that meaning that social war — the struggle of classes — had made the history of France. By making so frank a statement, Guizot revealed far more respect for scientific truth than do all present-day ‘scholars’, who eschew any mention of the class struggle with the same zeal as, following the counsel of the Apostle Paul, Christians should avoid all and any talk on the ‘abominations’ the Seventh Commandment forbids.

Thus there was a time when the bourgeoisie had an excellent understanding of the historical role of the class struggle. If they do not understand it today, or pretend not to, and if they now preach ‘social peace’, that is very well accounted for by the further history of bourgeois society and its fear of the new ‘combatant’. Since today’s theoreticians of the bourgeoisie willingly hold forth on the theme of ‘social peace’, and castigate the Social-Democrats for their preaching the class struggle, the latter can well reply in the way Guizot once retorted to the theoreticians of the aristocracy: ‘Effete descendants of a race that dominated a great country and made kings tremble, you have disowned your ancestors and your history!’ And, like Guizot, we have every right to express scoffing surprise at our enemies having grown too humble in their recollections, and to ask them ironically: ‘What? You are commanding us to forget our history because its conclusions have not been in your favour!’

And how should one understand those socialists who, behind a cover of a criticism of Marxism, would play down the significance of the class struggle and, like His Excellency Monsieur le ministre Millerand, declare that the workers should not be set against the bourgeoisie? Let us leave that to the reader’s judgement.

Socialism can stand on no other basis today than that of the class struggle. But that was not always so. Whilst it was in its infancy, its adherents were also prepared to deplore the class struggle as the shame and calamity of mankind, an attitude that seemed to be in contradiction with the above-mentioned views of Saint-Simon. It should not be forgotten, however, that it was the industrialists’ struggle against the feudal lords that Saint-Simon invariably spoke of, and not the proletariat’s struggle against the bourgeoisie. To Saint-Simon, the proletariat did not exist as a class capable of playing an independent role in history. In his Geneva Letters, he told the ‘non-propertied’ that, by taking over power during the revolution, they had been able to create nothing but famine. In his Du Système industriel, he tried to induce the bourgeoisie to accept his views, by frightening them with the working class, in whose midst the ideas of equality (’turkish equality’, as he put it) could, in his words, assume an extensive significance that was injurious to civilisation. [59] He saw the bourgeois entrepreneurs as the workers’ natural leaders. It was with good reason that the authors of the Manifesto said that the founders of utopian systems already saw ‘the class antagonisms, as well as the action of the decomposing elements, in the prevailing form of society. But the proletariat, as yet in its infancy, offers to them the spectacle of a class without any historical initiative or any independent political movement. [60] True to that view, the utopian socialists addressed themselves, not to the proletariat but to all contemporary society. Thus, in his lectures on industry delivered in the Paris Atheneum in 1831, Jacob-Emile Pereire categorically declared on behalf of the Saint-Simonists that, as ‘men of progress’, they wished to save all mankind, ‘not any particular nation or class’. [61] Similarly, the Fourierites regarded as one of the main virtues of their teacher’s doctrine its not being an expression of a struggle of ‘opposing interests... in society’. [62] Finally, we shall refer to Louis Blanc, who, in January 1845, wrote in the Introduction to his celebrated Organisation du travail:It is to you, the rich, that this book is addressed, because it is a question of the poor. For their cause is yours.’ [63]

Both theoretically and practically, these views of the utopian socialists were a big step backwards as against the above-mentioned views of the revolutionary bourgeoisie’s ideologists, and resulted from the undeveloped condition of capitalism at the time. Of course, they did not fail to exert an injurious influence on the workers’ class consciousness, whose development, however, they did not and could not halt. The growth of capitalism brought about both a numerical growth of the proletariat and its intellectual awakening. Already in October 1836, the Working Men’s Association, which existed in London, spoke in no uncertain terms, in its Charter, of the need for the working class to break with the parties of the ruling classes. [64] On the other hand, in France, most of the membership of the secret revolutionary societies were recruited from the midst of the working class. The kind of ideas that spread among the members of such societies will be seen from the following extract from a dialogue during the enrolment of new members in the Society of the Seasons, [65] a communist society:

Question: What are the aristocracy made up of today?

Answer: The hereditary aristocracy were destroyed in July 1830; today the aristocracy are made up of the wealthy, who are just as rapacious an aristocracy as the former.

Question: Is it enough to overthrow the monarchy?

Answer: Aristocrats of any kind should be destroyed, as well as every kind of privilege, for otherwise nothing will come of this.

Question: Those who enjoy rights without performing obligations, like the aristocrats of today — do they form part of the people?

Answer: They should not form any part. To the social body, they are like a cancer in the human body. The prime condition for the restoration of the body’s health is extirpation of the cancer. The prime condition for the social body to return to a condition based on justice is the annihilation of the aristocracy [etc]. [66]

From our present-day point of view, the practical programmes of the communist conspirators of the times were even less satisfactory than their theoretical views. Nevertheless, their firm conviction that the emancipation of the working class (’the people’) was inconceivable without a struggle against the upper classes (’the aristocracy’) distinguished them in the positive sense from the utopian socialists. Of course, a struggle waged by a handful of conspirators in pursuit of the people’s interests can in no way be called a class struggle, but when the main contingent of such conspirators are drawn from the industrial workers, conspiracy becomes an embryo of the revolutionary struggle of the working class. The view of the ‘aristocracy’ held by the Society of the Seasons is indicative of the intimate genetic link between the ideas of the French communist revolutionaries of the time, and those of the eighteenth-century bourgeois revolutionaries and the liberal opposition of the Restoration.

We have already seen that the class interest of the proletariat seemed narrow to Augustin Thierry, and that of the third estate, broad, since that estate included the entire nation with the exception of the aristocracy. Like Augustin Thierry, the French communist revolutionaries proceeded from a consciousness of the need to combat the aristocracy in the interests of the rest of society. But they also pointed out, very correctly, that the hereditary aristocracy had yielded place to the moneyed, which was why the struggle for broad social interests should now be conducted, not against the nobility but against the bourgeoisie. Logic was evidently on their side and they were entitled to accuse their bourgeois opponents of inconsistency.

As the contradiction between the interests of the exploited and the exploiters revealed itself and developed, the consciousness of the need for the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie grew ever stronger. However, there were still very many utopian elements in that consciousness. The concept of the class struggle was far from achieving, in the communist and socialist literature of the 1840s, the degree of clarity to be seen in Guizot, for example. In this respect, bourgeois ideology was surpassed only in the Manifesto.

Marx and Engels’ view on the class struggle, the significance of politics in that struggle, and the dependence of the state power on the ruling classes is identical with the views of Guizot and his fellow-thinkers on the matter, the only difference being that they stood for the interests of the proletariat, while the others defended the interests of the bourgeoisie. [67] There are passages in the Manifesto that speak in the language of Guizot’s pamphlets, or, if you wish, some of Guizot’s pamphlets are couched, in part, in the language of the Manifesto. [68] With the latter’s authors, however, the concept of the class struggle is a component of a coherent historical theory, while the historical theory of Guizot, Thierry, Mignet and other contemporary ideologists of the bourgeoisie were still lacking in completeness. All this was, of course, indicative of the vast superiority of the ‘social philosophy’ of Marx and Engels.

We shall presently deal with that superiority, but before doing so, we must subject to criticism some ‘critical’ remarks of certain critics of Marxism.

Here is what Herr Werner Sombart says:

In beginning the Communist Manifesto with the words, ‘The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles’, Karl Marx expressed one of the greatest truths that have filled our century. But he did not express the whole truth, for it is not true that the entire history of society can be reduced solely to the struggle of classes. If, in general, we would bring world history into a single formula, we shall have to say, I think, that all the history of society revolves about two opposites, which I shall call social and national, using the word nationality in its broadest sense. In its development, mankind at first gathers into societies which initially wage a mutual struggle, but that is followed by an internal struggle among their members for superior positions... Thus we see, on the one hand, a striving towards wealth, strength and importance on the part of entire societies, and, on the other, a striving towards the same ends on the part of individual members. Such, as I see them, are the two opposites which have filled all history. [69]

Marx discovered only part of the truth. For his own part, that critical thinker, Herr Sombart, has complemented what Marx has said, and now we have the good fortune and pleasure of possessing the entire truth, free of all extremes and exaggerations. That is very pleasant, but, in the first place, the mutual struggle between individual members of society for superior positions is not yet a class struggle, as has been so well proved by the example of our contemporary entrepreneurs, who engage in a furious struggle among themselves to win customers, but harbour not the least thought of a class struggle with their own ilk. In the second place, what is meant by Herr Sombart’s ‘national struggle'? It is nothing but a struggle between individual states. The question arises: could the authors of the Manifesto have lost sight of the historical significance of that struggle? That would have been strange, the more so for the authors saying, in the self-same Manifesto, that the bourgeoisie of any particular country wages an incessant struggle against the bourgeoisie of other states (Manifesto, p 13). [70] What, then, is the matter? It is simply that Herr Werner Sombart has poorly understood the meaning of the Manifesto.

In what sense does Marx use the word society? It is in the very same sense it is used by Guizot when he speaks of the dependence of the political structure on the social. [71] With both of them, the word society is short for what they themselves have called civil society, as distinct from the state. When the authors of the Manifesto say that the bourgeoisie of any particular country wages an incessant struggle against the bourgeoisie of other countries, they are referring to the struggle between states, an international, or — in the terminology of Herr Werner Sombart — a national struggle. When they say that the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle, they mean the history of civil society, or, in other words, the internal history of states. [72] That history has, in their opinion, been one of a struggle of classes, and it is in that respect that their ‘critic’ agrees with them in essence. What follows, therefore, is that the amendment made by Herr Sombart is nothing more than the result of a misunderstanding.

Most frequently, Marx and Engels are ‘criticised’ as follows: first they are somewhat misunderstood or distorted, and then somewhat amended. That is how the merciful critics act; the merciless ones act more rudely: first they ascribe absurdities to them, and then proceed profoundly to remark that the time has come to put an end to the Marxist ‘dogma’.

Benedetto Croce also finds the very concept of the class struggle vague:

I shall be almost tempted to say that history is a struggle of classes: 1) when classes exist; 2) when they have antagonistic interests; 3) when they are aware of that antagonism. But that would lead us to the amusing parity that history is a class struggle only when it is... a struggle of classes! In reality, it has happened that classes have not had antagonistic interests, and very frequently they are not even aware of them, something that is very well known to socialists who strain themselves, through efforts sometimes fruitless (with the peasants, for example, they have not even reached that stage), to arouse this awareness among the present-day proletarians. [73]

These remarks may seem very apt at first glance, and are therefore worthy of attention.

The class struggle takes place only where and only when classes exist. That is, of course, quite true: it would be strange to speak of the class struggle in a society in which no classes exist. But in what kind of society are they absent? Only in the very primitive kind, in which there exists a kind of balance of interests. However, that balance is unstable: already at the very early stage of development, long before the full decomposition of the clan organisation, property inequality appears among the ‘savages’, to be followed, not only by an antagonism of interests but also by a consciousness of that antagonism. One of the most remarkable works of Eskimo poetry is the tale whose hero, the son of a poor widow, wreaks vengeance on his rich kinsmen for the humiliation they have caused him, this despite the keen sense of solidarity so highly developed among Eskimos as the result of their traditions of primitive communism.

It should also be remembered that primitive society saw the early inception of the division of labour between men and women, this in its turn giving rise to sexual antagonism, which found expression in food, customs, amusements, art and even language. Losing sight of the material and spiritual consequences of this antagonism between the sexes leads to a failure to understand many important aspects of primitive life. A consideration of more advanced societies will show very clearly both the existence of various classes in them and an incessant struggle that is reflected in the state structure, law, religion, poetry and all artistic creativity in general.

It is also true that the interests of various social classes are not always opposed to each other; however, a simple difference of interests is sufficient for class antagonism to arise. Where relations of hirers and hired have not yet been established between rich and poor, it is only that difference which is often to be seen, however, it engenders a fierce struggle between classes. There are times when property inequality is not even necessary for the inception of the class struggle, a difference between local interests being enough, as is shown by the early history of Athens, with its struggle between Diacrii, Paralii and Pedii. [74]

In stating that social classes are not invariably aware of the antagonism of interests, Signor Croce has expressed an idea that is only partly true. Let us cite from Russian history as some illustration: have there been a large number of open and large-scale peasant uprisings? In fact, there have been very few: the Razin and the Pugachev uprisings in Great Russia and the Cossack wars in Little Russia [75] filled some relatively brief periods separated from each other by more or less lengthy intervals. But what were those intervals marked by? ‘Social peace'? Not at all; even then, nothing was heard of social peace or of a truce at least. The ‘social war’ did not cease even during such intervals; it merely changed in character, from turning overt into covert. Society continued divided into two hostile camps: on one hand, the ‘masters’, and, on the other, the ‘muzhiks’. Each of these two camps very clearly saw the wall of inimical sentiments, views and actions dividing it from the other. The ‘masters’ vilified the ‘muzhiks’, and tried to keep a tight rein on them; for their part, the ‘muzhiks’ made mock of the ‘masters’ and resisted their rule with all the means at their disposal. Every year, even every month, the covert war in various parts of the country would flare up into open warfare, true, limited to some small area; the muzhiks would ‘rebel’, and the masters would ‘pacify’ them with the military force available. Our Narodniks were right in saying that the peasants’ struggle for land and liberty had pervaded all Russian history. But what else was that struggle for land and liberty but a class struggle against the landowners and the state controlled by the latter? The ‘muzhiks’ were well aware of the oppositeness of their interests to those of the landowners; if, nevertheless, the struggle they waged cannot be called a conscious class struggle, that is only because an awareness of antagonistic interests is insufficient for a conscious class struggle; what is also needed is an understanding of the ways of defeating those who are defending those opposite interests. It is common knowledge that the Russian peasantry were not distinguished by that knowledge, which was why the struggle they conducted was in considerable degree a ‘spontaneous’ struggle. Yet it did not cease from being a class struggle.

Signor Croce has confused a conscious struggle with a consciousness of an existing antagonism, which is why he thinks that no class struggle exists at all where there is no conscious class struggle. He fails to understand that a more or less bitter, overt or covert, conscious or unconscious class struggle is an invariable consequence of the division of society into classes.

Finally, it is also true that today’s socialists are doing everything in their power to develop the class consciousness of the workers. We cannot, however, understand how Signor Croce can cite this indisputable fact as an argument against the doctrine of the class struggle. Of the present-day socialists, one can say in the words of the Manifesto that they:

... are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only... In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole. [76]

From this it only follows that not all workers are marked by the same degree of class consciousness and not all of them understand the overall interests of the labour movement equally well.

The division of society into classes is caused by its economic development. However, the course of ideas lags behind the course of things; that is why people’s awareness of the relations existing between them in the social process of production lags behind the development of those relations. Besides, even within one and the same class, consciousness does not develop at one and the same rate: some of its members grasp the essence of a given order of things sooner than others do, this making it possible for the advanced elements ideologically to influence those that are backward, and for socialists to influence those proletarians that have not yet achieved a socialist world-outlook. [77] Signor Croce evidently wishes to say that class consciousness is non-existent wherever it has to be developed. In the first place, however, the development of that consciousness is not yet proof of its absence. In the second place, even were it now possible to meet workers who still believe in the harmony of their interests with those of the employers, it would be necessary to say of such workers that they have not yet cast off a world-outlook characteristic of the class struggle of another kind — the struggle between the third estate and the aristocracy. The third estate had not yet become aware of the economic antagonism lurking within its own midst. There is nothing surprising in views evolved in times of a class struggle of one kind surviving in part till our day, a period marked by a class struggle of another kind: after all, the development of consciousness lags behind the development of the economy.

Hence, wherever one’s glance falls in present-day society, one sees the influence of the class struggle. It also follows that it is no one else but Signor Croce himself who has advanced ‘amusing’ parity.

Though Signor Croce is an intelligent and capable man, his thinking is lacking in the dialectical element, a shortcoming that accounts for almost all the reverses that have attended his ‘critical’ efforts. [78]

But let us go further: we have already pointed out that the authors of the Manifesto possessed a most harmonious theory of history, while the historical views of the bourgeoisie’s ideologists have lacked the necessary coherence. We must now explain and prove that statement.

Augustin Thierry, Mignet, Guizot and other historians who held the viewpoint of the interests of the ‘middle class’ saw property relations as the main and deepest foundation of a country’s political structure and even of the views predominant in it. [79]

In this respect, their views differ but little from those of Marx and Engels, and when Marx later wrote that neither legal relations nor political forms could be comprehended whether by themselves or on the basis of a so-called general development of the human mind, but that on the contrary they originate in the material conditions of life, the totality of which Hegel called civil society, [80] he was merely repeating the conclusions that historical science had arrived at before him, under the influence of social development and the class struggle connected with it. The entire difference boiled down to Marx’s predecessors having failed to ascertain the origin of property relations and interests, while Marx gained a complete understanding of them.

With Guizot, Mignet and Thierry, as well as with all historians and publicists who shared their point of view, property relations in society were often attributed to conquests. They themselves, however, pointed out that conquests are effected for the sake of definite ‘positive interests’. But where do such interests come from? Their existence is clearly conditioned by the property relations both in the country of the conquerors and in the country that comes under their yoke. What we have is a vicious circle: property relations and interests are the outcome of conquests, while conquest is explained by property relations and interests. While historical theory was confined to this vicious circle, it could not but be marked by eclecticism and contradictions. In general, these contradictions are numerous in all historians belonging to the trend under examination.

The historians sometimes appealed to human nature. However, one of two things is possible: human nature must remain immutable throughout the historical process, or else undergo change. If it remains immutable, it is obvious that it cannot account for the changes taking place in history. If, on the other hand, it undergoes change, then references to it can explain nothing, since we must first of all establish the causes of the changes within it. That leads us into another vicious circle and another source of contradictions and eclecticism in historical science.

An excellent example of such eclecticism and contradictions is provided by Tocqueville’s celebrated book De la démocratie en Amérique, which Royer-Collard called a continuation of Montesquieu’s book On the Spirit of Laws. Tocqueville says that if we have a definite social structure, it may be regarded as the prime cause of most of the laws, customs and ideas ‘determining the behaviour of nations’. To understand the legislations and manners of a given people, one should begin with a study of the social system; [81] but where does a social system come from? In reply, Tocqueville refers to human nature. We already know that such references can explain nothing. This was something that was known to or at least suspected by Tocqueville himself, who wrote in his letter from America: ‘I see prospering here institutions that would inevitably turn France upside down... people are neither different nor better than in our country.’ [82]

The inevitable and inescapable conclusion to be drawn from these words is that human nature provides no key to an understanding of American institutions.

Elsewhere Tocqueville tried to ascribe the origins of social systems to the operation of laws. However, since, in his own words, a country’s legislation stems from its social system, we again come up against a contradiction. Tocqueville himself was more or less vaguely aware of that contradiction and tried to eliminate it, but all his efforts were in vain: his analysis proved powerless in this respect.

Marx’s historical theory solved this contradiction, thereby bringing clarity and consistency into an area that contained many important particulars, profound thoughts and true remarks, but lacked a fundamental principle capable of bringing all these important particulars, profound thoughts and true remarks together into a coherent whole.

In Marx’s theory a social system — men’s social relations — is explained by their economic relations:the anatomy of this civil society, however, has to be sought in political economy’. [83] But how are such relations created? If Marx had attempted to ascribe their origin to human views, sentiments or ‘nature’ in general, he would have fallen into the same contradictions that his precursors were involved in. However, Marx gave a quite different explanation.

To live, people must produce. To produce, they must pool their efforts in a certain way and establish with one another certain relations which Marx called production relations. The totality of these relations constitutes society’s economic structure, on whose basis all other (social) relations develop, as, incidentally, do all ‘people’s conditions’ [l'état des personnes] which played so important a part in the theories of French historians of the Restoration.

In any given period, the nature of production relations is determined not by ‘chance’ or by human ‘nature’ but by the natural conditions in which men have to struggle for their existence. It is on these conditions, and first and foremost on the geographical environment, that the state of the productive forces at men’s disposal depends. Definite production relations correspond to a definite state of the productive forces, and any particular social system corresponds to definite relations of production; the nature of that social system, which influences people’s mentality, conditions the intellectual, moral and all the so-called spiritual development of men and women.

However, the very process of production and the pooling of human efforts in that process, by increasing the sum of experience, lead to a further development of the productive forces, as a result of which there arises and gradually increases a discrepancy between those forces on the one hand, and the production relations on the other. Those relations previously fostered the further growth of the productive forces, but now they begin to hold it back. There then sets in a revolutionary epoch in social development, which sooner or later ends in the destruction of obsolete production and consequently property relations, and all ‘l'état des personnes’.

The struggle against outmoded production relations makes people develop a critical attitude, not only towards the old social order but also to those ideas, sentiments and, in general, the ‘mentality’ evolved on the basis of the old order. To the revolutionary movement in the area of social relations there corresponds a revolutionary movement in the sphere of spiritual life:

Does it require deep intuition [ask Marx and Engels in Chapter Two of the Manifesto] to comprehend that man’s ideas, views and conceptions, in one word, man’s consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life?

What else does the history of ideas prove, than that intellectual production changes its character in proportion as material production is changed? [84]

Such is the historical theory of Marx and Engels. It is a theory that pervades the entire Manifesto and comprises what can well be called its fundamental idea.

It is from the viewpoint of this fundamental idea that the authors of the Manifesto appraised their own times as well. If they considered it revolutionary, it was for the sole reason that they saw the discrepancy between the productive forces created by capitalism and the production relations inherent in capitalism:

Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange and of property [they wrote], a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeoisie and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put on its trial, each time more threateningly, the existence of the entire bourgeois society. (Manifesto, p 8) [85]

Since bourgeois production relations make the workers intolerably dependent on capital, there is nothing surprising in the emergence, among the workers, of a sense of dissatisfaction, which grows together with the growth of the contradiction we have spoken of, and develops into a revolutionary movement that is directed against the entire present social order. The bourgeoisie has ‘not only forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons — the modern working class — the proletarians’ (ibid, p 9). [86]

All this shows how incorrectly the historical theory of Marx and Engels is characterised by the generally accepted term economic materialism. If that denoted a theory that recognises property interest as the main driving force in historical progress, then the French historians of the Restoration period may well be called economic materialists. But these ‘economic materialists’ were, in fact, wholly devoid of materialism, for they remained idealists, inasmuch as they did not turn into eclectics. With them, the origin of property relations and interests did not get any kind of materialist explanation. If, on the other hand, Marx’s theory was imbued with materialism, it was not at all because it attributed an extraordinarily important historical role to property interests; it was because, by tying the development of those interests to the development of the productive relations caused by the growth of the productive forces, it provided for the first time a materialist explanation of the evolution of social thought, and completely eliminated the idealist explanation of that evolution as deriving from the properties of the human ‘spirit’ or human ‘nature’ in general. There is nothing surprising, therefore, in the semi-Marxists, who have rebelled against materialism, clutching at the expression ‘economic materialism’.

They realise that absolutely idealistic views may lie concealed behind that expression. [87]

Herr Eduard Bernstein, that former Marxist and Social-Democrat, finds that the historical theory of Marx and Engels is most clearly defined by a title proposed by Barth: the economic understanding of history. After all that has been said, it is superfluous to say that this opinion of the esteemed ‘critic’ is based exclusively on a complete failure to understand the true nature of the theory he makes so bold as to criticise. [88]

Since we have begun to deal with this ‘critic’, we shall remind the reader that, in his opinion, the historical theory of Marx and Engels has itself gone through a process of development, as a result of which there has emerged a certain limiting of the role of the economic ‘factor’ in history, in favour of other, non-economic ‘factors’. Herr Bernstein cites the following arguments to bolster this opinion of his. In 1859, Marx, writing in the Preface to his Zur Kritik der politischen Oekonomie, ‘recognised as the determining factor the given material productive forces [89] and production relations of man’, while later, in his polemic with Dühring, Engels, ‘even in Marx’s lifetime and in agreement with him’, gave another ‘explanation’ to historical materialism, namely:

It is indicated there that the ultimate [90] causes of all social changes and revolutions should be sought, not in people’s minds but in changes in the mode of production and exchange. Ultimate causes, however, do not preclude simultaneously operating causes of another kind — causes of the second, third and other degrees — and it is clear that the more considerable is the series of such changes, the greater the restrictive force of ultimate causes is limited both qualitatively and quantitatively. The fact of their influence remains, but the final shape of things does not depend on it alone. [91]

Herr Bernstein thinks that ‘in his later works Engels still more limited the determining force of production relations’. As proof, he cites two letters from Engels, published in Sozialistischer Akademiker of October 1895, one of them written in 1890, and the other in 1894. The contents of these letters are very well characterised by the two excerpts from them provided by Herr Bernstein.

The first of them reads as follows:

Thus there are innumerable intersecting forces, an infinite series of parallelograms of forces which give rise to one resultant — the historical event. This may again itself be viewed as the product of a power which works as a whole, unconsciously and without volition. For what each individual wills is obstructed by everyone else, and what emerges is something that no one willed. (Letter of 1890) [92]

In the second excerpt, we read the following:

Political, juridical, philosophical, religious, literary, artistic, etc, development is based on economic development. But all these react upon one another and also upon the economic basis. (Letter of 1895) [93]

Regarding these excerpts, Herr Bernstein makes the following remark: ‘The reader will agree that this sounds somewhat different from the passage from Marx quoted at the beginning.’ [94]

‘At the beginning’, he has cited a passage from the celebrated Preface to Zur Kritik, which says that the mode of production of material life conditions the process of social, political and intellectual life. Let us assume for a moment that this passage does indeed ‘sound’ different from the above-mentioned excerpt from Engels’ letter, and ascertain how the Manifesto, which was written eleven years prior to the appearance of Zur Kritik der politischen Oekonomie, does actually ‘sound’.

We have already drawn the reader’s attention to the fact of the development of the productive forces being recognised there as the most profound cause of social development. In this respect, the viewpoint of the Manifesto is identical with that in the Preface to Zur Kritik. But how does the matter stand with the ‘parallelograms of forces’ and with the interplay of various ‘factors’ of social development?

The Manifesto shows how the successes scored by the bourgeoisie in the economic area brought it into the political struggle and led to political gains which, in their turn, laid the foundations of its further achievements in the economic field. It declares that any class struggle is a political struggle [95] and tells the proletariat that its seizure of political power is an essential condition of its economic emancipation. In brief, what we read here about the political ‘factor’ is actually the same as was pointed out in Engels’ letter of 1895. Political development rests on the economic development but at the same time reacts to the economic basis.

What follows is that the view which to Herr Bernstein seems a fairly late result of the evolution of Marx and Engels’ historical theory was in fact expressed as far back as 1848, that is, at a time when, according to Herr Bernstein’s hypothesis, Marx and Engels should have been — if we may put it so here — ‘pure economists’.

This, however, follows as yet only in respect of the political ‘factor'; perhaps it is wrong in respect of other ‘factors'?

Let us see. The Manifesto says that intellectual activities change together with the material ones:

When the ancient world was in its last throes, the ancient religions were overcome by Christianity. When Christian ideas succumbed in the eighteenth century to rationalist ideas, feudal society fought its death battle with the then revolutionary bourgeoisie. [96]

These words in themselves contain a recognition of the interaction between society’s economic development, on the one hand, and its intellectual development, on the other. However, it is still a tacit recognition, which is why it may be questioned. But the concluding chapter of the Manifesto leaves absolutely no room for doubt on this score. In this chapter, which shows the Communists’ attitude to other working-class parties, the authors say that the Communists never cease, for a single instant, to instil in the workers the clearest possible consciousness of the hostile oppositeness of the bourgeoisie’s interests and those of the proletariat. Why do the Communists do so? Obviously, because they recognise the significance of ideas. Incidentally, the authors themselves hasten to explain their purpose. What the Communist Party wants, they write, is that:

... the German workers may straightway use, as so many weapons against the bourgeoisie, the social and political conditions that the bourgeoisie must necessarily introduce along with its supremacy, and in order that, after the fall of the reactionary classes in Germany, the fight against the bourgeoisie itself may immediately begin. [97]

This passage reveals absolutely the same view regarding the significance of the intellectual ‘factor’ that we have noted in respect of the political ‘factor'; intellectual development is based on the economic, but then, in its turn, influences the latter (through the medium of men’s socio-political activities). It follows, then, that the ideological ‘factor’ was recognised by Marx and Engels, not only during the polemic with Dühring but as far back as 1848 and even earlier, during the period of the publication of the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher. This, at least in respect of Marx, precludes any doubt regarding the following outstanding lines from his article on the Hegelian philosophy of law:

No class... can play this role without arousing a moment of enthusiasm in itself and in the masses, a moment in which it fraternises... with society in general... is perceived and acknowledged as its general representative; a moment in which its demands and rights are truly the rights and demands of society itself; a moment in which it is truly the social head and the social heart. [98]

As you see, the part played by consciousness in transforming society, in general, and even by enthusiasm in particular is recognised in the most categorical terms. The ‘factor’ of mentality reacts to social (and consequently to economic) relations. Marx then goes on to explain how the attitude of all society to the ‘emancipator class’ develops on the basis of the class struggle:

For one estate to be par excellence the estate of liberation, another estate must conversely be the obvious estate of oppression. The negative general significance of the French nobility and the French clergy determined the positive general significance of the immediately adjacent and opposed class of the bourgeoisie. [99]

The conclusion to be drawn is that from the very outset of their activities the founders of scientific socialism voiced absolutely the same view of the mutual relationship between various ‘factors’ of historical development as we meet in the excerpts made by Herr Bernstein from Engels’ letters of the 1890s. It could not have been otherwise: had Marx and Engels, from the very start of their political careers, not attached importance to the political and the ‘intellectual’ factors and precluded their impact on the economic development of society, their practical programme would have been quite different: they would not have said that the working class cannot cast off the economic yoke of the bourgeoisie without taking over the political power. In exactly the same way, they would not have spoken of the need to foster class consciousness in workers: why should that consciousness be developed if it plays no part in the social movement and if everything takes place in history irrespective of the consciousness, and exclusively through the force of economic necessity? And who does not know that the development of the workers’ class-consciousness was the immediate practical task of Marx and Engels from the very outset of their social activities? As a former ‘Marxist’, Herr Bernstein ought also to know that the intense intellectual work carried on in the early 1840s among the French and British workers served Marx as one of the main arguments against those writers who, like Bruno Bauer, ignored the ‘masses’ and pinned all their hopes on ‘critically minded personalities’. [100]

Let us try to construct another hypothesis: in the beginning of their activities, Marx and Engels regarded ‘factors’ in the same light as they were seen in by Engels in the 1890s. Midway through those activities, at about the time of the publication of Zur Kritik, Marx — alone, or together with Engels — changed this viewpoint for some reason, and fell into the extreme discovered by Herr Bernstein in the Preface to this book.

But even this hypothesis will not stand up to any criticism, because the Preface just mentioned contains that very view of ‘factors’ which, in Herr Bernstein’s opinion, arose only in consequence of the evolution of Marx’s historical theory. The reader will have no difficulty in agreeing with us if he goes to the trouble of scrutinising the quotation that our profoundly thinking ‘critic’ makes reference to: ‘The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life’, which means that social, political and intellectual ‘factors’ grow on economic soil.


At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or... with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. [101]

Property relations pertain to the realm of law. At a definite time, certain property relations promote the development of the productive forces. That means that the legal forms that have evolved on a definite economic basis in their turn react to the development of the economy. Then — and, incidentally, as a result of that reaction — there comes a time when the given legal forms begin to hamper the development of the productive forces. That again means that these forms are reacting — though this time in the opposite sense — to the development of the socio-economic relations. As a consequence of the contradiction between the productive forces and property relations, an epoch of social revolution sets in. What is achieved by that revolution? What kind of purpose does it pursue? The elimination of the old production relations and the establishment of new relations, and new legal institutions. What is the aim of that elimination and that establishment? It is the further development of the productive forces. That means again and again that, in their turn, the legal forms that have arisen on a given economic foundation affect the latter. Is this not exactly what was said in the Manifesto, was repeated in almost all of Marx’s other writings, and was referred to in Engels’ letters quoted by Herr Bernstein?

And the ‘factor’ of mentality? Perhaps, the Preface does not say about it what is set forth in Marx and Engels’ other writings. Very little is said about it in the Preface, but what is said there in no way contradicts what Engels’ letters have to say on that score. The development of the productive forces places people in certain relations of production and leads to the appearance of certain legal forms. To those legal forms there correspond certain legal notions in people. With the further development of the productive forces and in the measure in which their condition ceases from being in keeping with the old legal forms, those whose interests are infringed by that discrepancy begin to feel doubt as to the fitness and justice of the old legal institutions. New notions of law and justice appear in keeping with the newly-achieved social stage of the development of the productive forces. Towards these new notions of law and justice are directed the practical activities of the fighters against the old order, this leading to the creation of new legal institutions which give a fresh impetus to the development of the productive forces, and so on and so forth. That is what is said in the Preface, and we would ask the unprejudiced reader whether this contradicts by one jot what Engels said in his letters.

Of course, there is no contradiction there, but the Preface is couched in more abstract language and deals with quite another matter. In it, Marx wished to emphasise that social relations could not be comprehended whether by themselves or on the basis of a so-called general development of the human mind. [102] To that end, he brought to the fore the economic foundation of the development of those relations. For his part, Engels, in his letters, addressed himself to one who, like many of our compatriots, thought that the theory of ‘economic materialism’ has no room for the operation of political, legal and spiritual ‘factors’ and therefore, while making passing mention of the economic foundations of all these ‘factors’, he laid special stress on the circumstance that the latter, which had developed on the economic foundation, affected that foundation. That is all. Were Herr Bernstein capable of seeing just a little beyond the wording of the theory he is analysing, and of penetrating into its contents, he would find it much easier to understand that the historical views set forth in the Preface to Zur Kritik leave exactly the same amount of room for the operation of ‘causes of the second, third, etc, degrees’ as the doctrine contained in Anti-Dühring, while Engels’ argument, contained in his letter of 1890, to the effect that historical events can be regarded as a product of an unconsciously operating force, is the very same that Marx says in the Preface regarding the operation of the fundamental cause of social development, irrespective of human consciousness and will. Here we have complete identity, yet Herr Bernstein has far-fetchedly understood Engels’ words as something that changes the meaning of the Preface and complements it. Some ‘criticism'!

Elsewhere in his booklet, our ‘critic’ speaks of Marx having allegedly made an excessive appraisal of the ‘creative ability of revolutionary force to effect socialist transformation in present-day society’. But a revolutionary force is also a political one. What follows is that Marx was guilty of an exaggerated appraisal of the creative capacity of the political force. But the self-same Marx, at the same time and according to that self-same ‘critic’, was guilty of attaching no significance at all to any other ‘factors’ except the economic. What is one to make of that?

Herr Bernstein criticises, not only the historical theory of Marx and Engels, but also their doctrine of the class struggle. In his words, the class struggle no longer confronts the proletariat with the practical tasks indicated by the authors of the Manifesto. The proletariat’s struggle against the bourgeoisie of the most developed countries in the civilised world cannot at present lead to the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is why talk about the latter becomes simple phrase-mongering. But let Herr Bernstein speak for himself:

Is there, for instance, any sense in repeating the phrase of the proletarian dictatorship at a time when, in all kinds of institutions, representatives of Social-Democracy are in practice taking up the stand of parliamentary struggle, proportional representation and popular legislation, which are contradictory to dictatorship? It is at present so much outlived that it cannot be brought into accord with reality otherwise than deleting its true meaning from the word ‘dictatorship’ and giving it some milder meaning. [103]

In the second half of the 1880s, there appeared in our country a special brand of ‘socialist’ whose main and, it may be said, agonising concern consisted in refraining from frightening the liberals. The spectre of the frightened liberals so greatly intimidated that brand of socialists that it brought confusion into all their theoretical and practical arguments. Herr Bernstein reminds one very much of such ‘socialists’. His main concern consists in not frightening the democratic bourgeoisie. If he rejects materialism and recommends a return to Kant, it is solely because Kantianism leaves room for religious superstition, and Herr Bernstein is unwilling to shock the religious superstitions of today’s bourgeois. If Herr Bernstein has rebelled against the materialist doctrine of necessity, it is solely because, as applied to social phenomena, that doctrine leaves no room for the proletariat’s hopes of good will from the bourgeoisie, and consequently of the convergence of these two classes. Finally, if Herr Bernstein dislikes the ‘phrase’ of the proletarian dictatorship, that again is solely because it is offensive to the hearing of even the most ‘democratic’ bourgeoisie. However, to those who have no fear of the spectre of the frightened bourgeoisie, the question of the proletarian dictatorship is seen in a light quite different from that our critic sees it in.

As even Mignet was aware in his time, the dictatorship of a class means the supremacy of that class, which permits it to dispose of society’s organised force to defend its own interests and directly or indirectly to suppress all those social movements which infringe those interests. [104] In that sense, it may be said, for instance, that the French bourgeoisie achieved its dictatorship as far back as the times of the first Constituent Assembly, and, with certain intervals, has continued enjoying that dictatorship down to our days when even Monsieur Millerand, styled a socialist minister by Monsieur Jaurès, is unable to prevent the shooting down of workers who have dared to disobey the capitalists. In this situation, it is the primary task of the French proletariat to eliminate the ‘conditions for the possibility’ of that bourgeois dictatorship. Among the most important of these conditions is the insufficient class consciousness of producers, most of whom are still under the influence of the exploiters. Therefore, one of the most important practical tasks of the party consists in educating the uneducated, prodding the backward, and helping to develop the underdeveloped. Parliamentary or any other legal political activities by representatives of Social-Democracy promote the accomplishment of this important task and therefore deserve every respect and approval. Their good feature is that they eliminate the spiritual ‘conditions for the possibility’ of bourgeois dictatorship, and create the spiritual ‘conditions for the possibility’ of the future proletarian dictatorship. They do not contradict the proletarian dictatorship, but prepare for it. To describe as a phrase any call upon the workers to prepare for the dictatorship of their class is something to be expected only of one who has lost all idea of the ‘ultimate aim’ (Endziel) and thinks only of the ‘movement’ (Bewegung)... towards bourgeois socialism.

But, in Herr Bernstein’s words, class dictatorship pertains to a lower culture, and:

... one should recognise as a backward step, as political atavism, any thought that claims that the transition from capitalist to socialist society should inevitably take place in the form of the development of an epoch unfamiliar or imperfectly familiar with present-day methods of propaganda and the passage of laws, and, besides, has lacked the appropriate bodies. [105]

As we have pointed out, the dictatorship of any class means its supremacy, which permits it to dispose of the organised force of society to defend its interests and suppress all social movements that directly or indirectly threaten those interests. It may be asked whether a striving to such supremacy on the part of any class in present-day society can be called political atavism? No, it cannot. Classes exist in that society, and where classes exist, a class struggle is inevitable. Wherever a class struggle takes place, it is necessary and natural for each of the struggling classes to strive for complete victory over its enemy and its complete subjugation. The bourgeoisie and its ideologists may — in the name of ‘morality’ and ‘justice’ — condemn that striving whenever the proletariat reveals it with perceptible force. We know that, already in January 1849, Guizot described the class struggle as France’s shame and calamity. But we also know that such condemnation of the class struggle and the striving of the working class towards conquest was impressed on the bourgeoisie only by its instinct of self-preservation, and that it saw the class dictatorship in quite a different light while it was waging its century-old struggle against the aristocracy, and was firmly convinced that no storm could sink its vessel. The working class cannot and should not be impressed by the alleged morality and justice the bourgeois call for in times of decline. [106] Mignet said that recognition of one’s rights can be won only by force and that till now there exists no overlord but force. This was most true during the times of the third estate’s struggle against the aristocracy, and it remains most true in our times of the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. Were we to assure the workers that, in bourgeois society, force no longer has the importance it enjoyed under the ‘ancien régime’, we would be telling a patent and flagrant untruth, which, like any untruth, would only increase and lengthen the ‘birth pangs’.

True, force and violence are not one and the same thing. In international political relations, the importance of any state is determined by its strength, but it does not follow therefrom that recognition of the right of the strongest in each particular instance presupposes violence. It is the same in the relations between classes. The importance of any given class is always determined by its strength, but it is far from always that violence is necessary for its significance to be recognised. The role of violence is sometimes greater and sometimes less, according to the political structure of a particular country. Herr Bernstein thinks that, in the democratic countries of today, the working class has no need of violence for the achievement of its aims. This is an excessively optimistic view implanted in our ‘critic’ by his constant concern to avoid frightening the bourgeois democrats. Present-day France has a democratic constitution, yet no one familiar with that country’s internal life can guarantee that its proletariat will not be compelled to use naked force to resist violence on the part of the bourgeoisie. Moreover, anyone familiar with the French constitution will say that the very logic of that country’s electoral law can easily lead to an insurrection by the proletariat. [107] Or else let us take the United States of America, which is also a democratic country. But in that democratic country, the emancipation of the Negroes could be achieved only at the cost of an internecine struggle, and no one can guarantee that the American proletariat will not have to clear the way for its economic emancipation by violence. In Herr Bernstein’s opinion, ‘any practical Social-Democratic activities consist in establishing circumstances and conditions that will make possible and necessary the transition from today’s social system to a higher one, without any convulsions’. [108] There is some truth in these words. Social-Democracy is indeed interested in the transition to a higher social order taking place without any convulsions. But does that mean that it should give up the idea of the proletarian dictatorship? Not at all! When they took over Peking, the allied European-US-Japanese troops were most interested in the occupation of the Chinese capital being carried out without any bloodshed, yet they did not for a moment give up the idea of capturing it. No goal changes because of people trying to achieve it with the least effort, but when people are firmly resolved to achieve a given end, the choice of the means depends not on themselves but on circumstances. And it is precisely because the Social-Democrats cannot foresee all the circumstances in which the working class will have to win its supremacy, [109] they cannot, in principle, reject the violent mode of action. They should remember the old and tested maxim: if you want peace, prepare for war.

We may perhaps be told that, towards the end of his life, Engels himself strongly advised the socialist parties of all countries to avoid violent action and to remain on the platform of peaceful struggle through lawful means. [110] To that we shall reply as follows: Engels gave that advice on the basis of three considerations: 1) that the socialist revolution presupposes a high level of development of the workers’ class-consciousness, for which time is required; [111] 2) that the German conservatives are bending every effort to impel the German Social-Democrats to organise an insurrection, hoping to rout them and thereby cut short their continual successes; [112] and 3) that the present-day equipment of the army makes any attempts at street uprisings hopeless. [113]

The first two of these considerations stand in need of no ‘amendments’ or commentary. They are set forth with such clarity and justice that they can evoke objections neither from those who are really able to criticise the doctrine of Marx and Engels, nor even from those who can lay only spurious claims to criticism. But these two considerations condemn, not violent action in general, but only such that is premature, which is why they have nothing in common with the arguments advanced by adherents of ‘peaceful development’ quand même.

As for the third consideration, careful analysis of its meaning shows it to be different from what it may appear at first sight.

In developing this consideration Engels said that, until 1848, street fighting often led to the insurgents’ victory, but that stemmed from the operation of quite different causes. In Paris in July 1830 and February 1848, and in most instances of street fighting in Spain, the outcome was decided by the National Guard, who discouraged the regular forces by their indecision or even went over to the side of the insurgents. Wherever it came out decisively and immediately against the insurrectionists, the uprisings proved abortive. That, for instance, was the case in Paris in June 1848. At any rate, the insurgents proved victorious only where and only when they were able to shake the morale of the troops. Even during the classical period of street fighting, the significance of barricades was more moral than material. By hampering the advance of the troops, they gave the insurgents time to affect the latter’s morale. However, when the troops’ morale did not succumb to insurgent influence, the military proved victorious.

If that is so, and even if, during the classical period of street fighting, the outcome of an uprising was entirely determined by the morale of the troops, then the question under consideration boils down to the following: could insurgents today exert on troops an influence favourable to them? To that question Engels replies with an emphatic ‘No’. He says that today, insurgents could not count, as they did in 1848, on the sympathy of all strata of the population, and though more people with military training could go over to their side today, they would find it far more difficult to get suitable weapons. Adding to all this the consideration that, since 1848, new blocks have been built in the big cities that are not suited for the construction of barricades, Engels goes on to ask:

Does the reader now understand why the powers that be positively want to get us to go where the guns shoot and the sabres slash? Why do they accuse us today of cowardice, because we do not betake ourselves without more ado into the street, where we are certain of defeat in advance? Why do they so earnestly implore us to play for once the part of cannon-fodder? The gentlemen pour their prayers and their challenges for nothing, for absolutely nothing. We are not so stupid. [114]

All this is couched in firm language and seems to leave no doubt about Engels’ view. But note that all these arguments refer to the current position in German Social-Democracy, which would indeed be acting most hastily by yielding to the treacherous provocations of the ruling classes. An argument which might seem to be of a general nature here receives a particular meaning; the reader begins to think that Engels was referring only to the current position in German Social-Democracy. That impression is supported considerably by Engels’ following words: ‘But whatever may happen in other countries, the German Social-Democracy occupies a special position and therewith, at least in the immediate future, has a special task.’ [115] Further it is explained why the German party should at present find it disadvantageous to resort to violent action. That naturally leads to the assumption that the idea of the specific features of the current position in the German party gave a specific colouring to all of Engels’ argument on the open struggle of the working class against its exploiters. This assumption yields place to confidence when we read the passage at the end of the Introduction, where Engels says that, in view of the constant successes scored by the Social-Democrats, the German government may abolish the constitution and return to absolute rule. He is hinting here that such an attempt will lead to a popular uprising, against which the reactionary forces will be smashed. It follows therefore that, in Engels’ opinion, not every popular insurrection is hopeless today. This inescapable conclusion is still more fortified by the concluding lines of the Introduction, which carry the readers’ thought 1600 years back to the time when Christianity was engaged in a struggle against paganism. The pagan world cruelly persecuted the Christians as subversive elements. For a long time, they could conduct their activities only secretly, but little by little their doctrine spread to such an extent that they had supporters even among the troops: ‘Entire legions adopted Christianity.’ (Italics ours) When their duties required their attendance at pagan ceremonies, such soldiers, imbued with the spirit of the new religion, decorated their helmets with crosses. The usual disciplinary measures proved powerless against their audacity. Emperor Diocletian launched a resolute struggle against them by issuing ‘anti-socialist’ — sorry, ‘anti-Christian laws’. Assemblages of subversive element were declared contrary to law; the premises they were held in were locked up, the wearing of crosses was banned, and so on and so forth. The year 303 was marked by savage persecution of Christians, but such measures proved the last of their kind. ‘And it was so effective that, seventeen years later, the army consisted overwhelmingly of Christians...’, and Constantine declared Christianity the established religion. [116]

If these lines are in the least meaningful — and of course, they do not lack meaning — it is in the sense that the socialists will be triumphant when revolutionary ideas penetrate into the army and when the ‘legions’ of today are imbued with the socialist spirit; until that time comes, the socialist party should avoid open clashes with the troops. The reader will see that this is in no way the conclusion usually drawn from this argument of Engels’.

But can socialist ideas penetrate into an army? That is not only possible but even inevitable. The present-day organisation of the military establishment calls for universal conscription, which brings into the armed forces ideas that are widespread among the people. The wider the spread of socialist ideas in the masses, the greater the insurgents’ chances of success: we already know from Engels that the outcome of street fighting is always determined by the morale of the troops. [117]

There can be no doubt that the ‘legions’ will not come under our influence so soon. But what has been put off is not yet lost, as the French have it. Sooner or later, socialist ideas will penetrate into the armed forces and then we shall see what will remain of reactionaries’ bellicosity and whether they will cease from challenging us to come into the streets...

If we compare this argument of Engels’, which we have just discussed, with the celebrated concluding lines of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, [118] we shall see that, towards the end of his life, Engels greatly changed his opinion regarding the role of open insurrections in the proletariat’s struggle for emancipation. While, at the time of the publication of the Manifesto, Marx and he considered an open insurrection an essential condition of the triumph of the working class, Engels admitted, towards the end of his life, that in definite circumstances, the legal road may also lead to victory; he began to regard insurrection as a mode of action which, in the present-day state of the armed forces, promises the socialists not victory but a resounding defeat, and will continue to do so until the army itself is not imbued with the socialist spirit.

This new view of Engels’ is, of course, deserving of every attention and respect; it in no way contradicts what we have said above of the possible significance of violent action in the revolutionary struggle of the working class. It merely explains the conditions required for the success of such action. [119]

To this it should be added that the dictatorship of a particular class is one thing, while violent action taken by that class in its striving for dictatorship is something else. During the Restoration, Guizot and his fellow-thinkers were highly energetic and purposeful in their striving to establish the dictatorship of the ‘middle class’, but none of them gave thought to violent action in general and to street fighting in particular. Guizot would probably have sharply condemned any plan of such an insurrection, which did not, however, prevent him from being a revolutionary because he did not for a minute cease from inculcating upon the minds of the ‘middle class’ a sense of the hostile oppositeness of their interests to those of the aristocracy, and to drive home the idea that any thought of reconciliation with that class was a harmful chimera. Marx and Engels, in the Manifesto of the Communist Party, were exactly the same kind of revolutionaries (only adhering to the viewpoint of another class); they remained the same kind of revolutionaries to the last breath. In this respect, their views did not change a jot, this despite the assertions of those ‘critics’ who consist entirely, as Marx put it, of ‘on the one hand’ and ‘on the other hand’, and who would very much like to emancipate the proletariat without giving offence to the bourgeoisie, and of whom one might say, in the words of Nietzsche: ‘Selig sind diese Schläfrigen, denn sie sollen bald einnicken.’ [120]

That is all we have wanted to say about the fundamental idea in the Manifesto and the conclusions to be drawn from it. Its individual propositions will, as we have said, be examined by us in our booklet A Critique of Our Critics. There we shall see whether Marx and Engels were right, and, if so, in what measure, when they said that bourgeois society’s productive forces have outgrown its inherent production relations, and that such a contradiction between the productive forces on the one hand, and production relations on the other is the underlying social foundation of the revolutionary movement of today’s working class.


Notes are by Plekhanov, except those by the Moscow editors of this edition of the work, which are noted ‘Editor’, or the MIA, which are suitably noted.

1. See Marx’s correspondence with Arnold Ruge in Book 4 of Sozial-Demokrat, pp 26-27. [Plekhanov 1910, Werke, Volume 1, pp 343-46 — Editor.]

2. Engels’ work is an analysis of Carlyle’s Past and Present (see Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Volume 3 (Moscow, 1975), pp 444-68) — Editor.

3. Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, pp 167-68. [Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Volume 3 (Moscow, 1975), p 457 — Editor. James Morison’s Vegetable Universal Pills were a quack cure-all medicine that was popular in Victorian times, especially with the poor, who could not afford to pay doctors’ fees. The pills led to several deaths, as documented in the Lancet, and made their inventor very wealthy — MIA.]

4. The main scientific source from which these gentlemen draw the information about materialism is Lange’s well-known history of materialism. Lange, however, was never able to regard materialism through the eyes of a sober and impartial researcher. His book did very much, not for a criticism of materialism, but for the spread and fortifying among the public of an erroneous view of its historical development and its significance to social science today. [The reference is to a book by a German neo-Kantian philosopher Friedrich Albert Lange, Geschichte des Materialismus und Kritik seiner Bedeutung in der Gegenwart — Editor.]

5. See Georgi Plekhanov, Selected Philosophical Works, Volume 2 (Moscow, 1976), pp 474-595 — MIA.

6. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 101 — Editor.

7. Opinions littéraires, philosophiques et industrielles (Paris, 1825), pp 144-45. Cf Catéchisme des industriels in Oeuvres de Saint-Simon (published by Olinde Rodrigues, Paris, 1832), p 18.

8. Oeuvres, p 59.

9. Quoted by Thierry himself in his Dix ans d'études historiques (Paris, 1837), preface, p viii.

10. See the first letter on the history of France, reprinted in Dix ans d'études historiques, p 325.

11. ‘Essai sur le genre dramatique sérieux’, Oeuvres complètes (Paris, 1828), Volume 1, p 11.

12. ‘Lettre sur la critique du Barbier de Séville’, Oeuvres complètes, Volume 1, p 258.

13. Cf Brunetière, Les Epoques du théâtre français (Paris, 1896), p 287.

14. Dix ans d’études historiques, p 348. ['Done by the one who profits from it.’ — MIA]

15. In the article ‘Vue des révolutions d'Angleterre’, Dix ans d'études historiques, p 16.

16. Ibid, p 52.

17. Ibid, pp 52-53.

18. De la féodalité, des institutions de Saint Louis et de l'influence de la législation de ce prince (Paris, 1822), p 47.

19. Ibid, pp 77-78.

20. Ibid, p 83.

21. Histoire de la Révolution française, Volume 1 (Paris, 1827), p 105.

22. Ibid, p 111.

23. Ibid, p 210.

24. Ibid, p 227.

25. Ibid, p 276.

26. Ibid, p 290. [The storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 marked the beginning of the French Revolution; 10 August 1792 was the day of the popular insurrection in Paris which resulted in the abolition of monarchy — Editor.]

27. Ibid, p 213.

28. Edouard Petit, François Mignet (Paris, 1889), p 286. [’the disorder of the Commune was odious to him.’ — MIA]

29. The reference is to the Paris Commune of 1871 — the first dictatorship of the proletariat in history; it lasted 72 days, from 18 March to 28 May 1871 — Editor.

30. Histoire de la Révolution française, Volume 1, pp 3, 13. These expressions remind one of Marx’s well-known utterance: ‘Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one.’ [Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1974), p 703 — Editor.]

31. Essais sur l’Histoire de France (tenth edition, the first edition was published in 1821), pp 73-74.

32. Ibid, pp 75-76.

33. Preface, Histoire de la révolution d'Angleterre, Volume 1 (Paris, 1841), p xxi (the preface is dated April 1826).

34. Ibid, pp 9-10.

35. Ibid, pp 11-12. Cf also Discours sur l'histoire de la révolution d'Angleterre.

36. See also his highly interesting ‘Étude sur Shakespeare’, in Volume 1 of the French translation of Shakespeare’s Works (Paris, 1821).

37. Mémoires, Volume 1 (Paris, 1858), p 8.

38. Ibid, pp 296-97.

39. Du Gouvernement de la France depuis la Restauration et du ministère actuel, pp 1-2.

40. Ibid, p 5

41. Ibid, p 22.

42. Ibid, p 108.

43. Ibid, p 91.

44. Ibid, p 127.

45. Ibid, p 290.

46. Ibid, p 138.

47. Ibid, p 237.

48. Ibid, p 283.

49. Ibid, p 326, note.

50. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), pp 110-11 — Editor.

51. Written in 1820.

52. Cited from the ‘Avant-propos’ to the third edition of the booklet Du gouvernement de la France.

53. The Golden Wedding of International Socialism (translated from the French, London, 1899), p 5. The Russian translation of the booklet was brought out by the Free Russian Press Fund and provided with a short introduction by the publishers, in which ‘the evolution of healthy socialist thinking’ in Europe was contrasted with ‘the dogmas of German socialism’. The esteemed adherents of ‘healthy socialist thinking’ have failed to discern either the above or any other errors of Vandervelde, and have even made additions to them from their own stock. Thus they have called Vandervelde ‘a Marxist as well as one of the most scholarly and talented representatives of parliamentary socialism’. The latter is true! Vandervelde is indeed one of the most scholarly and talented representatives of socialism (parliamentary or any other brand) in Belgium, but he has never been a Marxist, as his Russian publishers could easily see for themselves from an acquaintance with his other writings.

54. See Sozialismus und soziale Bewegung im 19 Jahrhundert, pp 1-2.

55. See Thomas Kirkup, A History of Socialism (London, 1900), Chapters 7, 8 and 9.

56. De la Démocratie en France (Paris, 1849), p 35.

57. Ibid, p 107.

58. Ibid, p 105.

59. Du Système industriel (Paris, 1821), pp 205-07.

60. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 134 — Editor.

61. Leçons sur l'industrie (Paris, 1832), p 39.

62. Victor Considérant, Destinée sociale, Volume 2 (third edition), p 8 et seq.

63. After this, judge of the scholarship and profundity of Professor Kareyev, who has remarked in an article on The Development of the Monist View of History: ‘The author is guilty of an unpardonable error in disregarding the socialist historian Louis Blanc, who came out much earlier than Marx and in whose views we see, on the one hand, a further development of the views of Augustin Thierry and Guizot on the class struggle in history and, on the other, a further development of the ideas of Saint-Simon.’ (Studies Old and New on Economic Materialism (St Petersburg, 1896), p 211) In their time, Augustin Thierry and Guizot preached the bourgeoisie’s class struggle against the nobles. In their opinion, the entire history of France showed that the third estate could win no voluntary concessions from the aristocracy. Louis Blanc insisted that the cause of the wealthy was also that of the poor, addressing his project for the organisation of labour to the bourgeoisie, not to the proletariat. Mr Kareyev calls this a further development of the views of Thierry and Guizot regarding the class struggle in history. This testifies only to the immaturity of his own views on the class struggle and the history of socialism.

64. Dr John L Tildsley, Die Entstehung und die oekonomischen Grundsätze des Chartismus (Jena, 1898), pp 2-4.

65. The Society of the Seasons (Société des Saisons) — a secret socialist republican organisation, led by Blanqui and Barbès, which was active in Paris in 1837-39 — Editor.

66. De la Hodde, Histoire des sociétés secrètes et du parti républicain (Paris, 1850), p 224.

67. In his estimation of the views of Guizot and his followers on the question of the class struggle Plekhanov is uncritical in bringing together their views and those of Marx and Engels. He does not show the qualitative distinctions between them or the new principles brought by Marxism into the theory of the class struggle — Editor.

68. As an illustration, I shall remind the reader of a passage quoted above from Guizot’s De la Démocratie, which was written in 1849: ‘The struggle between the various classes of our society has filled our history... Nobles and third estate, aristocracy and democracy, bourgeois and workingmen... — all these have been so many forms, so many phases of the social struggle...’ This is almost literally what is said in the beginning of the Manifesto’s opening chapter.

69. Sozialismus und soziale Bewegung im 19 Jahrhundert, pp 1-2.

70. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 117 — Editor.

71. See above. [Guizot, Du Gouvernement de la France depuis la Restauration et du ministère actuel, pp 91, 127 — MIA.]

72. Cf the introduction to Zur Kritik, which shows so well the significance that Marx attached to the word society. Cf also Die heilige Familie, p 189. [Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Moscow, 1970), p 20 — Editor.]

73. ‘Critique de quelques concepts du marxisme’, Devenir Social, February 1898, pp 121-22.

74. See E Curtius, Griechische Geschichte (Berlin, 1857), pp 254-55. Hegel’s Philosophie der Geschichte (herausgegeben von E Gans), p 261: ‘Der Unterschied der Stände beruht auf der Verschiedenheit der Localität.’ [Diacrii — land-poor peasants of Northern and North-East Attica; Paralii — maritime dwellers, traders, artisans, sailors; Pedii — dwellers of the plains, big landowners in Ancient Greece (sixth century BC) — Editor.]

75. Little Russia — the name of the Ukraine used in official documents in tsarist Russia — Editor.

76. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 120 — Editor.

77. That this impact is on the whole being achieved with a considerable degree of success is shown by the universal growth of socialist parties.

78. We shall note, incidentally, that to identify the ‘peasants’ with the ‘proletarians of recent times’ is most strange in a man with quite a good acquaintance with the literature on the subject.

79. If this Introduction falls into the hands of the learned Professor Kareyev, he will certainly exclaim with reference to us as he has done in respect of another author [that is, Beltov (Plekhanov’s pseudonym), which was the subject of Kareyev’s article — Editor]: ‘And this is being said of Guizot, who recognised so important a role for individual development! It is being said of Augustin Thierry with his theory of races, which has played so important a role in explaining events.’ (Studies Old and New, p 209) The learned professor’s exclamations, however, stem from his ignorance of the matter. Guizot did, indeed, ascribe considerable importance to individual development, but with him that development figures as a desirable consequence of social development, not as one of its main causes. As for Thierry, his historical theory attaches considerable importance, not to ‘races’ but to the conquest of one race by another. What is the aim pursued by conquests? To this question Thierry would have unhesitatingly replied: for the sake of positive (property) interests. That, at least, is the reply given in his celebrated book Histoire de la conquête de l'Angleterre par les Normands. Let us recall the following passage. Just before the Battle of Hastings, one of the Angles said: ‘We must fight because this is not a matter of a new ruler to be accepted and taken... this is a matter of quite a different kind... The Norman has given our lands to his captains, his knights and all his men... If the Duke becomes our king, he himself will be obliged to let them have our property, our wives and our daughters.’ For his part, William the Conqueror said to his soldiers: ‘Think of fighting well and put them all to death, for if we vanquish, we shall all be rich. What I shall gain, you will gain too; if I conquer, you will conquer too; if I take the land, you will have it.’ (See page 300 in Volume 1 of the Paris edition of 1825.) Mr Kareyev’s objections to ‘economic materialism’ are so full of misunderstandings and so empty of content that they remind one of Proudhon’s words: ‘Il faut qu'un professeur parle, parle, parle non pas pour dire quelque chose, mais pour ne pas rester muet.’ ['A professor should speak, speak and yet again speak, not in order to say something but just to avoid being silent.’ — MIA.]

80. ‘Preface’, Zur Kritik der politischen Oekonomie. [Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Moscow, 1970), p 20 — Editor.]

81. See De la démocratie en Amérique, Volume 1 (Paris, 1836), p 74.

82. Nouvelle correspondance de Alexis Tocqueville (Paris, 1866); a letter to his father, dated 3 June 1830.

83. Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Moscow, 1970), p 20 — Editor.

84. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 113 — Editor.

85. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 125 — Editor.

86. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 114 — Editor.

87. Here is an excellent example: Saint-Simon’s historical view had an idealistic foundation, yet he, as we have already seen, was an economic materialist no less than Mignet, Guizot or Augustin Thierry.

88. Herr Bernstein asserts that ‘the doctrine of the class struggle rests on the foundation of the materialist understanding of history’ (Usloviya Vozmozhnosti Sotsializma [Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus] (London, 1900), p 17). The reader now knows that the doctrine of the class struggle is possible not only on the foundation of the materialist understanding of history. But what does that matter to Herr Bernstein? He does not do any studying; he merely ‘criticises’.

89. The Russian translator of Herr Eduard Bernstein has used the term ‘production forces’ instead of ‘productive forces’ (Usloviya Vozmozhnosti Sotsializma, p 6). That is utterly meaningless.

90. Instead of ‘final’ causes the Russian translator has said ‘ultimate causes’, which is completely out of place in Marx’s theory.

91. Usloviya Vozmozhnosti Sotsializma, p 9.

92. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 3 (Moscow, 1973), p 488 — Editor.

93. F Engels to W Borgius, 25 January 1894, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence (Moscow, 1975), pp 441-42 — Editor.

94. Usloviya Vozmozhnosti Sotsializma, p 9.

95. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 116 — Editor.

96. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 125 — Editor.

97. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 137 — Editor.

98. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Volume 3 (Moscow, 1975), p 184 — Editor.

99. Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, p 82. [Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Volume 3 (Moscow, 1975), p 185 — Editor.]

100. Die heilige Familie, p 125.

101. Usloviya Vozmozhnosti Sotsializma, p 9. We have cited this passage with the necessary corrections in the horrible Russian translation. [Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Moscow, 1970), p 21 — Editor.]

102. Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Moscow, 1970), p 20 — Editor.

103. Usloviya Vozmozhnosti Sotsializma, p 158.

104. We would ask the reader to recall the Mignet proposition cited above: ‘It is common knowledge that a force which has won domination always gains control of institutions.’ When a class ‘gains control of the institutions’, its dictatorship sets in.

105. Usloviya Vozmozhnosti Sotsializma, p 159.

106. That is the more so because the proletarian dictatorship will put an end to the existence of classes and consequently to their struggle, with all the inevitable sufferings it brings about. But that is something the bourgeoisie will not and cannot understand because of its social position. It worked for dictatorship and found it a necessary and quite permissible means of achieving its aims during its struggle against the aristocracy. However, it began to condemn that means and find it superfluous as soon as the question arose of the dictatorship of the working class. This reminds us of the savage who distinguishes between good and evil as follows: ‘When I take something away from others, that is good, but when something is taken away from me, that is bad.’ Much good will is needed to find convincing, as Herr Bernstein does, the arguments of the bourgeoisie, with its fear of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

107. Cf Jean Jaurès, ‘Le Socialisme français’, Cosmopolis, January 1889, pp 119-21.

108. Usloviya Vozmozhnosti Sotsializma, p 158.

109. We have already said why the proletariat needs that supremacy.

110. See his Introduction (dated March 1895) to Marx’s The Class Struggles in France 1848 to 1850.

111. ‘Die Zeit der Ueberrumpelungen, der von kleinen bewussten Minoritäten an der Spitze bewusstloser Massen durchgeführten Revolutionen, ist vorbei. Wo es sich um eine vollständige Umgestaltung der gesellschaftlichen Organisation handelt, da müssen die Massen selbst dabei sein, selbst schon begriffen haben, worum es sich handelt, für was sie eintreten sollen... Damit aber die Massen verstehen, was zu thun ist, dazu bedarf es langer, ausdauernder Arbeit [etc].’ (Foreword, Die Klassenkämpfe in Frankreich, p 16) [’the time of surprise attacks, of revolutions carried through by small conscious minorities at the head of unconscious masses, is past. Where it is a question of a complete transformation of the social organisation, the masses themselves must also be in it, must themselves already have grasped what is at stake, what they are going in for, body and soul... But in order that the masses may understand what is to be done, long, persistent work is required [etc].’ (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), pp 199-200) — Editor.]

112. Ibid, p 17. [Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 199 — Editor.]

113. Ibid, pp 14-15. [Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), pp 196-99 — Editor.]

114. Ibid, p 15. [Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 199 — Editor.]

115. Ibid, p 17. [Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 201 — Editor.]

116. Ibid, p 19. [Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 204 — Editor.]

117. We consider it necessary to note that barricades are a particular instance of the open struggle.

118. ‘the Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.’ (Communist Manifesto, p 19) [Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 137 — Editor.]

119. In the article ‘Der Sozialismus in Deutschland’ (Neue Zeit, Year 10, Book 1, p 583), written in the year 1892, Engels, speaking of the rapid penetration of socialist ideas into the army, exclaimed: ‘How many times have the bourgeois called upon us to renounce for all time the use of revolutionary means and to remain within the limits of legality... Unfortunately we are not in a position in this case to please the bourgeois... [Italics ours — GP] This does not prevent us from understanding that it is not us that legality is killing at present but somebody else. It is working so well for us that it would be very foolish of us to infringe it.’ [Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1973), p 201 — Editor.] This is the same thought that we found in the Introduction; only in the latter, it was purposely given a vague wording, this on the insistence of friends who, for practical considerations, considered any clarity in it inconvenient (on this see Kautsky’s article ‘Bernstein and Dialektik’, Neue Zeit, Year 17, Book 2, p 47). By following his practical friends’ advice in this matter, Engels provided grounds for an erroneous theoretical interpretation of his view, an interpretation which has led to a mass of practical awkwardness far greater than all the inconveniences that might follow a clear and unambiguous exposition of his idea. This is a lesson to theorists too prone to make concessions; they should remember that where it is a question of the wording of theoretical views, men of practice are always highly unpractical.

120. ‘Happy are the drowsy for they will soon be fast asleep.’ — Editor.