The Workers' Advocate Supplement

Vol. 6 #6


July 15, 1990

[Front page: On Mandela's tour of the U.S. and the prospects for South Africa]


More on the Mandela visit:

Fight growing racism in the U.S........................................... 11
Is Detroit's Mayor Young a fighter vs. apartheid?................ 12
What Bush & De Klerk want from the ANC........................ 13

NY transit workers fight suspension..................................... 2
Workplace-related deaths in NY............................................ 2
MI postal: behind union hysteria vs. Marxism-Leninism..... 4


On slavery and the materialist way of studying societies..... 5
From the prisons.................................................................... 6

Communism lives................................................................. 6
Corrections............................................................................ 9

Marx and Engels on socialism.............................................. 14

On Mandela's tour of the U.S. and the prospects for South Africa

Revolution, yes! Apartheid, no!

While the U.S. ruling class courts the ANC delegation:

Anti-racist fighters in the U.S. want revolution in South Africa

New York transit:

Trackworkers press petition despite repression

Statement of suspended Bronx trackworkers

Workplace-related deaths in New York

In a Michigan branch of the NALC:

What's behind union officials' hysteria against the Marxist-Leninists?


From the prisons

The bourgeoisie says communism is dead, but the working class continues to grow


Use Mandela's visit to build the struggle:

Support the rebellion against apartheid! Fight growing racism in the U.S.!

What are the De Klerk/ANC negotiations about?

Is Detroit's Mayor Young a fighter against apartheid?

"New York Workers' Voice" on Mandela's visit

Marx and Engels on socialism

On Mandela's tour of the U.S. and the prospects for South Africa

Nelson Mandela's ten-day tour of the U.S. caused a major stir among progressive people, and especially the black people. The Marxist-Leninist Party used the occasion to discuss among the masses the path for the struggles in South Africa and the U.S., to support the revolutionary overthrow of apartheid, and to oppose the reformist illusions being spread by Mandela and other leaders of the African National Congress.

In New York, Boston, Detroit, and Oakland, the MLP prepared special leaflets for the major mass meetings for Mandela. The following articles are excerpted from the June 26 issue of Bay Area Workers' Voice, paper of the San Francisco Bay Area Branch of the MLP. 4,000 were distributed, along with 1,000 other pieces of MLP literature, at the rally for Mandela at the Oakland Coliseum on June 30. Excerpts from the leaflets distributed in New York, Boston and Detroit appear elsewhere in this issue of this Supplement.

[Back to Top]

Revolution, yes! Apartheid, no!

Nelson Mandela has been freed. The racist regime in South Africa has announced a series of reforms and promised others. Emergency rule has been lifted in three of four provinces, and anti-apartheid organizations have been unbanned.

Black people in South Africa have filled the streets from Capetown to Soweto celebrating the concessions made by the De Klerk government. There has been joy and excitement in the air. But the black masses know that freedom is yet to dawn. Political rights for blacks remain unattained. And the super-exploitation continues to weigh down on the workers and poor. Meanwhile a heavy military and police presence remains in the townships.

The reforms have not been granted by the regime to help the masses organize better. No, they've been granted to put a lid on the struggle.

Black masses challenge racist rule

In the 80's the black people mounted the most powerful challenge to racist rule in South Africa's history. They braved whips and bullets and jails. Workers took center stage with their strikes and demonstrations. Men and women and hundreds of children gave their lives in determined battle against extreme odds.

The racist rulers thought that repression would stop the struggle. They did everything they could to crush the people. But the spirit of the masses to fight for freedom could not be broken.

Today the struggle continues against the racist system. In March, revolts broke out in, the "homelands"--the poor, segregated areas which South Africa set up as oversized concentration camps for blacks in the name of independent countries. The country was hit by a series of strikes by the black workers. Tens of thousands of mine workers launched "rolling strikes," marches and sit-ins. Health workers and teachers truck against the atrocious conditions in hospitals and schools.


Racist rulers running scared

While the masses have not been able to win a decisive victory and overthrow their white capitalist exploiters, their undaunted struggle has convinced most of the South African white bourgeoisie that they must find a new why to rule. They fear that continuing in the old way will lead to revolution. As De Klerk said recently, "Everything we do is to avoid revolution."

The apartheid regime knows that a revolutionary upsurge could put an end to the system of white privilege. The businessmen know that a revolution in which the workers are a strong force would end up dispossessing the white capitalist bloodsuckers. Fear of such an outcome has led the apartheid rulers to search for a deal with Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC). The black elite, especially the ANC leaders and kindred politicians, will be allowed entry into a share of power, so long as the exploitation of black labor by the wealthy white capitalists can continue.

Zimbabwe solution: Economy in the hands of white capitalists

This would be a variant of the "Zimbabwe solution". There, the black leaders who led the movement against racist rule were eventually allowed to control the government. But the deal they made for this has allowed key sectors of the economy to remain in the hands of white owners. For ten years the Zimbabwe leaders have practiced this policy. They have kept the workers and peasants down, protected the profits of the big white farmers and capitalists and enriched themselves.

Something similar has taken place in many U.S. cities. After the black rebellions of the 60's, the U.S. capitalists began seriously grooming a black elite. The capitalists conceded mayorships in a number of cities: Detroit, Atlanta, Oakland, L.A., N.Y.C., Chicago. The big corporations owned by the white capitalists continue to run (or destroy) the economy while the Coleman Youngs, the Andrew Youngs, the Wilsons and Bradleys and their hangers-on have become rich. The black workers and unemployed remain crushed and impoverished. But now they are kept from rebelling by black leaders in City Hall and at the head of police departments. The struggle against racism in the U.S. remains a key issue.

The black workers and poor have not fought for half-way solutions

Certainly change is coming to South Africa. But the question is: will the black masses carry their struggle to a revolution that will completely sweep aside the racist system, the racist rulers, and lay the basis to end all the exploitation and misery of the black masses? Or will De Klerk's reforms and negotiations stop the struggle halfway?

The workers and poor of South Africa cannot trust their fate to deals at the top between the aspiring black elite and the white ruling class. We, the working people, must support the black masses and a revolutionary overthrow of the racist system.


[Back to Top]

While the U.S. ruling class courts the ANC delegation:

Anti-racist fighters in the U.S. want revolution in South Africa

Nelson Mandela is making a whirlwind ten-day tour of the U.S. Everywhere he goes he is receiving a big welcome. The media is talking up what it calls "Mandela mania".

On the one hand, ordinary working people and anti-apartheid activists are coming out in tens of thousands to express support for the heroic struggle of the black masses in South Africa.

On the other hand, there is the ugly spectacle of corporate big-wigs, politicians, rich celebrities and of the black elite embracing Nelson Mandela as a hero. They are plunking down thousand-dollar-bills to talk business with the ANC entourage over dinner.

The same capitalists who just yesterday (and even today) raked in billions of dollars in blood money from their South African subsidiaries are now praising Mandela. And the politicians--like President Bush who worked with Reagan to prop up the Botha regime, or Detroit Mayor Coleman Young whose police department built links with the South African security forces--these politicians are rolling out the red carpet.

Even the administration of the University of California at Berkeley wanted to host a reception for Mandela. This is the same administration which just a few years ago called in police forces from all over the Bay Area to brutally crush anti-apartheid demonstrations on campus. To this day it has billions of dollars invested in South Africa.

These are the forces looking for negotiations and deals. They want Nelson Mandela to use his credentials with the masses: his 27-year imprisonment, his lifelong fight against apartheid, to negotiate the deal. The capitalists, the Democratic and Republican politicians and the black elite in the U.S. all hope that Mandela and the ANC will prevent revolution. Above all they want "peace" so they can get their share from the exploitation of the black workers.

But it is not peace and harmony which is around the comer, but a new period of struggle. To fight for their demands, the workers and poor of South Africa urgently need their independent struggle.

South African workers have shown their militancy and strength. They have also shown that they will not passively sit by without expressing their own demands. Still, the workers' consciousness of having interests separate from the aspiring black elite is weak. They are not yet organized as an independent revolutionary trend. It is this weakness that must be tackled head on as the task of the day.

[Back to Top]

New York transit:

Trackworkers press petition despite repression

From the June 25 issue of New York Workers' Voice, paper of the MLP-Boston:

As we reported on June 10, trackworkers have been organizing against concessions. In particular, they have been circulating a petition. The demands include rolling back weekdays off, making provisional [new hires, without status for two years] permanent, and putting safety before productivity.

The petition has been making its way around the department--days and nights, in both capital and maintenance. Over 90% of the workers asked have signed the petition so far.

As expected, the petition has caught the attention of Jay St. [management] (and the Transit Workers Union bureaucrats, no doubt). Several workers active with the petition were quickly hit with trumped-up charges and put out of service. Undaunted, these workers responded with a public "Statement of Suspended Bronx Trackworkers." Their statement pointed the finger at the TA [Transit Authority] provocateurs and hit men then concluded: "Jay St. hopes to isolate us and scare everyone with these charges. But we have found great support and anger from our fellow trackworkers. Because our fight is not isolated. It reflects the sense of injustice running deep among trackworkers and all transit workers."

This statement was distributed outside Jay St. and is going up around Track. The workers' experience warns them against keeping such matters within the confines of the hearing room down on Jay St. and awaiting salvation from the union lawyers.

The Workers' Voice calls on all transit workers to spread the demands of the trackworkers. Stop the pick [bidding on job assignment] giveaways! Rally to the defense of militant workers under attack!


[Back to Top]

Statement of suspended Bronx trackworkers

June 18, 1990

From a leaflet circulated by the suspended trackworkers and their supporters. At the top of the leaflet are pictures of the four trackworkers: J.C. Rivera, R. Toussaint, D. Delaney, and J. Iglesias.

As trackworkers, we have been standing up for the safety of our fellow workers. We do this as rank-and-file transit workers, not as a ploy to seek the spoils of office. We do this in the face of management's bullying and intimidation. And we are currently helping to spread a fight to stop the pick givebacks which are. causing havoc in trackworkers' lives.

For this, we have been singled out for punishment.

On Sunday, June 17, AG.S. Tommy Callandrella was dispatched to the Bronx on the order of Jay St. track bosses Caiozzo and Gamache to take us out of service. No charges. No explanation.

We have since been handed a list of trumped-up charges following an incident three days earlier. On Thursday, June 14 at 4:00 p.m., as we were preparing to clear for the day, management staged a deliberate provocation and then attempted to set the police upon our gang (TC-2104) in our quarters at E. 180 St.

Flunkies of CS-1 Superintendent Wojcik came into our quarters and attempted to have trackworkers--who were in the midst of drawing up safety complaints--evicted from our quarters.

Workers were subjected to insults, provocations, and threats. Stepping into workers' faces, supervisor Ruggerio reached into his back pocket--as if for a weapon. Another, S. Azzato, threatened: "You want to see my gun?!"

The Jay St. bosses have given their sanction and are coordinating a coverup. It was the bosses who acted provocative and threatening, yet we were suspended. We were singled out for daring to speak out for safety, for the rank and file, and against more pick givebacks.

Jay St. hopes to isolate us and scare everyone with these charges. But we have found great support and anger from our fellow trackworkers. Because our fight is not isolated. It reflects the sense of injustice running deep among trackworkers and all transit workers.

We appeal to our fellow transit workers for support.

[Back to Top]

Workplace-related deaths in New York

The following articles are from the June 10 and June 17 issues of New York Workers' Voice, paper of the MLP-NY:

Transit 'safety procedures' kill two signal maintainers

The May 8 deaths of signal helper Daniel Walsh and signal maintainer Robert Nicholson were not just some unfortunate mishap.

Struck by an "F" train south of Kings Highway Station while working on a malfunctioning signal, these two highly experienced men would be alive today if the TA [Transit Authority] paid more than lip service to safety. A tripper (i.e., a portable stop). A flagman. That's all it would have taken to save these two lives.

But no! According to the TA, a buddy system of looking out for each other's back is enough. Don't even waste time on setting up cautions to warn and slow oncoming trains.

Under such conditions, it has been a credit to the wits and vigilance of maintainers that more have not been killed. But it was just a matter of time before the odds turned and fate called in its favors. A tight spot, a distraction, is all it would take.

The TA bosses know damn well that maintainers do intricate work and need hands-on help. Which is why the bosses send maintainers out with a helper instead of a flagman. That has been standard operating procedure. Doing two jobs, in practice. Everybody knows this. And with no cautions. No tripper.

Here, once again, our safety has been the expendable budget time. It is this policy that killed Walsh and Nicholson.

According to Sonny Hall's [union bureaucrat] top "safety" man, George McDonald: "Since two people lost their lives, it stands to reason the system failed and our rules need another look." So far, so good. But McDonald then turns around and blames--not the TA, but the maintainers themselves! He says, "It seems our tragedies are happening to people with all the experience who are taking too much for granted. Everybody was counting on each other and they all failed each other this time." (Newsday, May 10) McDonald goes on to call for retraining of transit workers in safety procedures every three years.

Wonderful! What system? What rules? Well you might ask! McDonald is referring to a buddy system. In other words, the Transit Workers' Union misleaders are admitting that nothing has been done to institute real measures to protect maintainers working under traffic. And McDonald. proposes regular retraining on how to survive without protection, without available fail-safe measures such as flagman and tripper.

This is but an apology for the TA's murderous policies. And it feeds right into the TA's attempt to blame these deaths on lack of alertness on the part of the victims of the train operator. It's an empty excuse for actual safety measures--all for the sake of cutting costs.

This is but an apology for the TA's murderous policies. And if feeds right into the TA's attempt to blame these deaths on lack of alertness on the part of the victims or the train operator. It's an empty excuse for actual safety measures--all for the sake of cutting costs.

We must not settle for such flimsy "protection." A buddy system is not enough. No work without proper flagging protection. This is what to demand, whether for emergency or routine work.

Moreover, safety decisions cannot be left as a management call The record speaks for itself. Workers should band together and refuse unsafe work.

Justice for Romeo Ward! Postal sick leave policy is murderous

A fellow FDR [postal station] carrier, Romeo Ward, passed away two weeks ago, after being sent to a hospital emergency room from work. He was well-liked and respected, and his death shocked and saddened his fellow workers. But many workers who are familiar with the circumstances, are angry as well.

Ward was not well when he came to work on Wednesday, June 6th. He became seriously ill not long after hitting in. Fellow workers advised him to go home, to go to the nurse, to a doctor, or to the hospital. But he was reluctant: management had been giving him a hard time over absenteeism. Still, he became so ill that the nurse had to be called, and he was taken from the work floor to the nurse's room in a wheel chair, trembling and sweating profusely.

An emergency situation clearly existed. But it was not treated as such. No ambulance was ever called, and it took till close to 10 am for management to dispatch Ward to a hospital. Worse, he was sent to the hospital alone. A fellow carrier was even refused permission to accompany him, on the grounds that there was mail on the carrier's route. Postal management didn't even bother to notify his family.

One cannot claim that Ward would definitely be alive today had management taken this Worker's health problems seriously. But management's attitude certainly didn't help.

And there is more. The circumstances leading up-to the incident also testify to the callous treatment meted out to postal workers by management.

Over the years, this carrier had saved up a considerable amount of sick leave. A conscientious worker, he was not one to miss work without serious reasons. But he had serious health problems including hypertension, and was reportedly in need of surgery on his leg as well.

Lately he had been out more than usual, and he had been under pressure from management for this. Recently, he missed about two weeks of work. Management refused his doctors' note on technical grounds, and he was AWOL'ed for the two weeks. Thus he received no pay for this time. On top of this, management issued him a letter of warning for this absence (for abusing sick leave?!) This was on Monday, June 4th. Even though he was a sick man, he was obviously under intense pressure not to miss work. In fact, on the 6th itself, Ward was only granted pay status from 10 am on "pending evidence".

The Postal Service's sick leave policy is murderous. They tell you to save sick leave, that it's "like having money in the bank", etc. But when you finally do fall ill, and try to use too much at once, management comes down, on you like a ton of bricks anyway. It may be obvious that you are sick, and yet the wrong wording on your doctor's note can mean loss of pay and even disciplinary action! And this is the policy throughout the Postal Service: it is enforced from the top on down.

Postal management has gone too far! All postal workers should denounce management for its cruel attitude towards employees suffering from illness. They should demand justice for their deceased fellow carrier and his family.

[Back to Top]

In a Michigan branch of the NALC:

What's behind union officials' hysteria against the Marxist-Leninists?

From the June 21 issue of Detroit Workers' Voice, paper of the MLP-Detroit:

Over the past few years, letter carriers at the Royal Oak Post Office have stood up to constant harassment and' particular attacks by a dictatorial management regime.

This past March, carriers, meeting on their own outside work, came up with the idea of a picket against management harassment, to be held outside the facility on April 16, income tax deadline day. The workers began to take this proposal to their fellow carriers, including at the associated offices in the MSG.

On April 5, the proposal for the picket was raised at the local NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers] union meeting. The activists wanted to have discussion of the idea, to see what other carriers thought of it and to make plans.

But a big wet blanket was thrown on the proposed picket by none other than branch president Norm Brenberger, one of the most militant-sounding postal union officials in metro Detroit. Mr. Brenberger did not oppose the picket in a straightforward way, explaining why he did not favor such an action. Instead he tried to simply squash the discussion by saying the union should consult with higher officialdom so the proposal should be put on the back burner. Case closed.

When a carrier persisted in trying to get the proposal discussed, Mr. Brenberger raised the biggest bogeyman of all. He claimed to have gotten word that Marxist-Leninists' were going to hold their own demonstration at the post office at the same time, and the union certainly couldn't touch that with a ten-foot pole. On this rather hysterical note he ended the meeting.

This red-baiting--creating hysteria about communists-- is one of the oldest tricks in the book of the union bureaucrats, whether they be the obviously sold-out kind, or the militant-sounding kind. It is used to create a mood of intimidation among the workers.

In fact, the Marxist-Leninists are a serious trend among the postal workers. The idea for the April 16 picket had come from the workers themselves. Detroit Workers' Voice/ MLP was in favor of it, would have participated in it, supported it, and helped build it wider among area postal workers. Why? Because we support rank-and-file action as the way to fight management, and we work hard to build the postal workers' movement. For example, in recent years the Marxist-Leninists have been active" in helping build the struggle to defend Majk Mitchell and other workers who were unjustly fired, in helping build resistance to overwork and speedup among workers such as the parcel keyers at the Bulk Mail Center, etc.

The Marxist-Leninists are in favor of open, democratic discussion among the workers about ideas of different trends. Proposals for what the workers should do need to be discussed in terms of how they build, or not build, the workers' strength, solidarity and struggle. But Mr. Brenberger prevented such a discussion at the union meeting by his red-baiting. There should hot just be some unthinking atmosphere, reinforced by a dictatorial, "undemocratic stand from the podium of cutting off discussion.

Mr. Brenberger no doubt fancies himself as a champion of democracy against 'totalitarianism.' But workers should judge for themselves--who's in favor of democracy among the postal workers and who's taking a tyrannical stand?

And why do union officials like Mr. Brenberger take such a rotten stand? Of course, there are political differences between the union bureaucrats and the Marxist-Leninists over whether the working class should merely accept the status quo within capitalist society or work for a new society without exploitation. But the union hacks' opposition to elementary democracy in union meetings isn't just over such things. The fact of the matter is that the union bureaucracy doesn't want rank-and-file action--it doesn't want the workers themselves to really participate in fighting back against management. For all his. militant-sounding talk, Mr. Brenberger wants to restrict the workers to just filing grievances. The Marxist-Leninists work for mass action by the workers themselves. Herein lies the crucial difference.

[Back to Top]


On slavery and the question of the materialist method of studying societies

[June 19, 1990]


Dear Supplement:

The Swedish comrades of Red Dawn raised the topic of slavery in the United States. They claimed that international competition on the cotton market, from Egypt for example, compelled slaveowners to mechanize (Supplement, May 1990, p. 13).

Mechanization did not happen, nor could it happen. A slaveowner could not let slaves operate machinery that requires care. They had, no incentive even to avoid running the blade of a plow into a rock. Plantation plows Were consequently heavier and less efficient than designs used by free farmers in the North. For the same reason, plantations used mules, not horses. Field machines were rare.

The slave system had an advantage. In the new United States, capitalists always complained about a scarcity of labor, because as soon as a worker could stake out a farm or small shop, he would leave his job. (Capital, Vol. I, last chapter)

However, the slave system had many disadvantages. Planters could only grow crops tended by gangs of slaves concentrated together under an overseer's constant watch and lash. Consequently, planters grew cotton and did not rotate vegetable crops that would restore the soil. They exhausted the fields and were forced to move on to new land. They, sold a cash crop and bought everything from outside. These limits explain why, as the quotation from Marx notes, commercial slavery presupposes a capitalist world outside it, unlike a feudal manor on which a variety of craftsmen made a self-sufficient little world. Marx's conclusion is based on the key point about an economic system: its method for exploiting the direct producers.

By the middle 1800s, when Northern industrial capitalists had become a more important economic force, when petty-bourgeois farmers could buy field machines, and when the labor shortage of colonial times was overcome, the slave system was doomed. Its form of exploitation prevented it from mechanizing.

However, planter politicians and justices dominated the federal government and used it against the North. They tried to maintain power by carving new slave states out of the Midwest, which would prop up planter weight in Congress. This was a reason for the U.S. land grab from Mexico in 1848, too. Finally, last-ditch political maneuvers could no longer make up for declining economic strength. The planters abandoned their position in the federal government and resorted to war.

History showed that commercial slavery could exist only in the early days of bourgeois society. The crucial economic relation in a society is the form in which the direct producers are exploited (or, in a socialist state, not exploited). This is the basis for relations of exchange which may exist between societies. Analysis of U.S. slavery confirms this general result of historical materialism.

A reader in Oakland, California

[Back to Top]

From the prisons

One prisoner, requesting literature, writes: "...I am kept in solitary confinement 23 1/2 hours a day, 7 days a week, so I read a lot of Afro-American literature such as pamphlets and books.... I have virtually no access to recreation or cultural activities, and generally live in the most primitive conditions. Prisoners like myself have spent months, and sometimes years in this type of situation. And I do go to school for the betterment of myself of self-activation and motivation which is the liberation of the mind, but all that I seek in the house of oppression is not all there 'cause they don't want us to see the light of our origin, name, language & culture,..."

Another prisoner writes: "I am a young black man in the pit of society's hell, sentenced to 15 to 30 years. Recently I earned 730 days in a segregated housing unit for rebelling against the police in Attica, along with 500 and more other companions, after a fellow prisoner James Charles was killed in A-block yard by the police in Attica.... I'm in desperate need to feed my mind stimulating literature for mental growth and development."

Abert Chui Clark, #79979, an inmate of Angola prison in Louisiana, wrote denouncing the murder of fellow prisoner Johnny Augustine by prison guards, which is being passed off as a suicide. He writes that: "It's been nearly a year now since a fellow prisoner (here at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana) was murdered by several prison guards. Although the State has long ended its perfunctory probe of the matter, the family and friends of the victim continue to work to demand that the state exhume the body, for the purpose of determining whether or not his body was as maimed as the funeral home director state it as. [The Louisiana Weekly of Sept 16, 1989 reported that Donald Doyle Jr., of Doyle's Funeral Home, said that "It's unusual. When you hang yourself, you break your neck. But his back was broken, too."] As you are aware, every little bit counts. With your assistance in reporting, on this cause, we might be able to focus the needed national publicity on the matter, necessary to force the state of Louisiana to foot the expense for exhuming the body."

[Back to Top]

The bourgeoisie says communism is dead, but the working class continues to grow

From a speech given at the MLP May Day meeting in Oakland, California:

We face May Day this year in the midst of the greatest barrage against communism and the working class any of us have ever witnessed. This is a sort of culmination to the cold war propaganda we were raised on. A culmination which says that the West has won the cold war. Communism is dead, worthless, the working class experiment a failed one. Just this morning a commentator on National Public Radio said that "May Day has been shoved into the dustbin of history."

And yet May Day seems just as appropriate to us as ever, and maybe more so. International workers' day. So here we are pausing to note some things about the working class on the day it has set aside for itself to do just that.

Immense spread of the working class

Just last Sunday the Examiner/Chronicle reported on a strike at the Hyundai shipyard in South Korea. This is the largest shipyard in the world. Its waterfront runs for four miles. It took 10,000 police, some 600 of whom arrived by boat, to suppress a sit-down strike in the yard. Workers retaliated by throwing firebombs, steel bars, rocks and pieces of metal. They fired on the police with home-made cannons.

The government undertook this repressive action when other plants threatened to stage sympathy strikes. The governing party said, "The survival of the national economy was at stake."

All this, by the way, made page thirteen of the highly unreadable Sunday Examiner, so maybe you missed it.

But I think it points to a few things. The proletariat's position at the center of things makes it, as the ruling party spokesman put it, capable of threatening "the survival of the national economy."

This potential capability of the working class is rooted in its numbers, its concentration at vital points of the bourgeois system, and especially in its class position as exploited wage slaves with no interest in exploitation.

And the proletariat is everywhere. In far flung comers of the world. In Katmandu, for example, it is workers who are waging battle. The Workers' Advocate has an article on Katmandu where, just this April, the movement against the monarchy there picked up steam from the ranks of the urban working class. On April 2 a general strike brought Katmandu to a halt. And on April 4, electricity workers blacked out the main towns. Other actions followed.

This is relatively new and vastly important in the world. Capitalist development since the end of World War II expanded the ranks of the industrial working class the world over--including the revisionist countries, Latin America, and the Afro-Asian countries which won independence with the collapse of the old colonialism. And in all these places the working class has been learning how to build its struggle and organization.

In Asia, the working class has grown by leaps and bounds despite the harsh realities of low wages and labor repression.

We have seen the workers not only in South Korea stand up and say enough, but the first strikes took place in Taiwan in many decades, ditto in Thailand. Elsewhere in that region too, in the Philippines, India, and Bangladesh the workers waged a number of militant labor campaigns.

In Africa, the black workers of South Africa showed themselves to be the backbone of the great upsurge against apartheid. The rest of Africa also saw explosions by the working people. The capitalists speak of the 80's as a great decade of prosperity, but the African working people were hit worse than anyone else by the crisis of world capitalism. Against austerity and International Monetary Fund dictate, workers in diverse parts of Africa rebelled in the streets: in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Zambia, Morocco, and Nigeria.

Depression worsened by IMF austerity also repeatedly brought out the workers of Latin America and the Caribbean. The continent was shaken by massive strike waves and general strikes. Workers took part in the struggles against military dictatorship and death squad regimes--from Chile to El Salvador, Argentina to Venezuela.

The face of things has changed, it is no longer just peasants who are struggling in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. More and more the world is breaking down into the two great classes of the modern epoch--the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

Victory chants of the bourgeoisie

But there's something that feels particularly pertinent about restating these things this May Day.

Because we also notice that, with revisionism's collapse, the bourgeoisie is crowing about its victory in the cold war, and it is stepping up its propaganda campaign against socialism, Marxist-Leninist theory and, most particularly, the capacity of the working class to rule.

With the increase of the size of the proletariat, and its impact world-wide, this couldn't come at a better time for them.

For the moment the collapse of revisionism is giving the western capitalists a heyday for propaganda against the idea of the working class transforming society. As the fake "workers' states" in Eastern Europe collapse, we again hear the refrain that the working class is passe.

This is not a new cry. Ever since the mid-1800's when the workers first came out with their movement and mounted the stage of history, the paid mouthpieces of capital have regularly pronounced the death of the proletarian movement. Today they are pushing this line with a vengeance.

But, interestingly enough, in this past decade, the working class emerged as a. force in the shaking up of revisionist state capitalism. In 1980, it was the working class of Poland which stood up. Its struggle could not be snuffed out even by the repression of martial law.

In China, as Deng Xiaoping carried out his market reforms, working class unrest began to rise. Strikes broke out. And in the spring of '89 when the students demonstrated, the regime panicked precisely when the workers began to join the students.

In the Soviet Union, the miners' strike last summer marked the first big upheaval of the working class in decades. In state capitalist Russia, politics has been dominated either by revisionist bureaucrats who still falsely call themselves Communists--or by pro-Western dissident intellectuals. Workers have fought some heroic battles there, but by and large the Soviet working class has remained quiescent. No more.

And, of course, last fall it was when the working class came out to join the students, youth and intellectuals in the streets of Eastern Europe that the regimes began to topple. Surely, such was the case in Czechoslovakia and Romania.

And these are only some of the more obvious cases where workers walked onto the stage and changed things.

We shed no tears over the revisionist regimes

In the same way that the bourgeois mouthpieces lie about the working class not having the capacity to make powerful changes in the world, or to rule, so too they lie about the nature of the regimes that have just collapsed.

Despite all their rhetoric about being socialist, these regimes have shown themselves to be nothing but the tyranny of a small crust of wealthy bureaucrats over the working people. What is dying in Eastern Europe is not communism. Rather it is revisionist state capitalism, the perversion of Marxism-Leninism into a special type of capitalist tyranny.

The Marxist-Leninist Party sheds no tears over the fall of these regimes. Our Party is anti-revisionist. We have built our Party from the outset, not just on the basis of fighting U.S.-style capitalism but also by rejecting the phony communism--revisionism--of the contemporary Soviet Union and its allies.

Still, since anti-revisionist communism doesn't presently exist as a mass political current in these Eastern European countries and because the communist label has been paraded around by the revisionist traitors for so long, it is not hard to see how many workers there blame communism for the crimes of revisionism. And, for the moment, there certainly is a mood of euphoria over what's seen as the alternative--western-style politics and economics.

But the collapse is also exposing to workers all over the world the true state-capitalist nature of these societies, and this is helping to clear the way for an extension of the class struggle on a vast scale.

The MLP believes that the collapse of revisionism, despite the temporary strengthening of anti-communist propaganda, will help clear the way to a new revival of workers' communism worldwide. A communist movement built on the shoulders of the international working class which has grown immensely. A communism built on the promise of the technical marvels of humanity to fulfill the real needs of humanity. A communism built on the basis of hostility to all forms of capitalist tyranny--East or West. A communist movement lifted out from under the shadow of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry of the cold war.

Stagnation in the U.S.

But on this May Day we can't help but notice that things are dark in the U.S. The working class was hit during the 80's with major concessions drives and was set back. Actually this happened in all the traditional centers of capitalism, in the developed capitalist countries of Europe, North America, Japan, the workers' movement was set back.

But despite the weight of the massive trade union bureaucracies arrayed against them, workers in these lands have mounted some powerful strike actions. Such were the actions of the British coal miners, French rail workers, German metal workers, and U.S. miners and meatpackers.

The U.S. in the 80's began with a recession and the unity of the capitalist class--represented by both Democrats and Republicans--around a program to slash the standard of living of the masses.

The decade ended with the "teflon" society--a most arrogant. rule with no accountability to the masses. The bourgeoisie can raise taxes, cut social programs, ignore AIDS, invade any country it damn well pleases, rig any election--in any country. It can crumple up and throw in the trash any piece of paper the masses may rely on from labor contracts, court rulings from Roe vs. Wade to local initiatives like the Oakland nuclear-free initiative or Prop. 103.

The Chrysler bailout in 1979 which began the offensive of job elimination and concessions spread through every industry. Racial discrimination, union-busing (heralded by Patco), flag-waving against foreign workers, environmental disaster, homelessness, anti-women outrages are everyday news.

This united, bipartisan offensive of the capitalists has discouraged and disorganized the workers and set back their struggle. But elements have been growing, bubbling beneath the surface, for a wider struggle by the working class.

What we must do here is realize that the U.S. is not exempt form the class struggle, though it may seem to be for a time. We must look carefully to see the elements that are growing up within the belly of the beast, and that will make the turn toward building a powerful mass movement, and eventually overthrowing the rule of the rich.

I want to touch on just a few--the movement of working class women and the growing disgust with the trade union bureaucrats.

In this I realize I'm ignoring the boiling anger of the Afro-American community against its increasing impoverishment; and fascist repression coming in the name of the war on drugs; I am ignoring the homeless question; the questions of the immigrants, the decaying schools, cities, housing, and bourgeois culture, and the rise of Christian fundamentalists who are fighting to have us all adopt their "traditional values". I do this simply out of time considerations. When we reach the discussion section of this meeting, any and all of these questions can be brought up for consideration.

Increasing numbers of women workers

The number of women workers has grown through the 80's to some 55 million women in 1989, 45% of all working people. They have been the, backbone for strikes such as at the Watsonville cannery and in the hospitals. And they are in the center of new organizing drives among clerical, restaurant, clothing, food processing and other workers. Their growing numbers and militancy have pushed forward struggles for particular issues like equal pay, child care, and ' health care. And of course, on the abortion issue.

The capitalist offensive against women and, in particular, the crusade against abortion rights, has been met with a mass movement that has been able to sustain itself for over two years. Women are fighting mad about the drive to strip them of safe, legal abortions, and they are beginning to see that it is just part of the offensive to drive women back and whip up a fascist mass movement.

The growing proletarianization of women is providing a base of militancy to fight back. This is a key point that the opportunists and trotskyists involved in the women's movement disagree with. Oh, they'll talk once in a while about going to working women, or women of color, to deal with the pro-choice question. But what they really mean is to go to some Democratic Party-controlled community group, or even certain women's business associations. They do not mean to go to the factory gates, the depths of east or west Oakland. They say that takes too long. I fear that their drive is in actuality one to cozy up to the Democratic Party in order to push it to the left. There are old dreams, and they have never worked.

When the movement breaks through to appeal to working and oppressed women whose movement it really is, then it will catch fire and spread. It has been wonderful that this movement has sustained itself this far, it shows the breadth of its support. But it has to go broader in order to win.

Pro-capitalist trade union officialdom


Another element for change, boiling under the surface, is the growing disgust in the working class with the trade union bureaucrats. This stratum has so stubbornly opposed the workers fighting the bosses, that their name has become synonymous with sell-out. …

Why not a working class imprint on events?

Why haven't the workers been able to put their imprint on more of what they have the power to change? For example, in Eastern Europe, where they have been so instrumental in making the change?

Whether the working class can take advantage of the developing situation depends on it finding its own voice and getting organized. For the working class to have its potential brought out fully, it has to forge unity around a platform based on its own class interests and goals. For this, workers need their own organization, and especially a proletarian party.

And, at the end of the twentieth century, it is here that the international working class movement is the weakest. That is why, despite massive sacrifices in struggle, the workers have the fruits of their battles stolen by pro-capitalist forces. They can shake up Eastern Europe, but it is others who take the reigns of government. The same is repeated in many other places, where old tyrannies have been replaced by more subtle forms of capitalist domination.

The crying tasks facing the workers the world over is building then: independent political movements, free of liberal and reformist influences. With the orientation of class struggle, towards socialism and communism.

The forces of workers' communism are taking on this task. The comrades of the KPRP in the Philippines, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua, communists in Bangladesh, and other forces you may be familiar with through the pages of Workers' Advocate, are fighting to sort out the tasks for making revolution in the world today. Right now these forces remain scattered, divided, and small in size. But they represent the future hope for the working Class rising to take the center stage of revolutionary change.

In the U.S. our Party has been beset with the harsh realities of the 80's. Yet it has continued to fight against the betrayal of the union bureaucrats, the belly-crawling of the reformists, and the liquidationist despair of the revisionists and trotskyists. And despite factory closures and the ebb in the movement, the party has been able to find new ways to maintain its ties with the masses and their independent strivings.

As we celebrate May Day, and assess the movement worldwide, some of the faces we see we have been sending greetings to for several May Days--the Palestinians, the South Africans who struggle against apartheid, the Nicaraguan. Some are new--the workers in Nepal, for example. Yes, we all have some distance to go before we can create a society fit for human habitation, but it is still the working class which has the potential to march together and create a new world.

[Back to Top]


In the article "Parental notification", on page 7 of the July 1 issue of the Workers' Advocate, it states in the second paragraph on column two that "And a large number of judges have been appointed by Reagan and Bush according to the 'litmus test' of opposing abortion."

But the Reagan and Bush administrations appoint federal judges, while presumably state and local judges; would deal with young women under the parental notification and consent bills. Of course, a large number of these judges are also Reaganite.

* * *

In the conclusion to "Our views on the Swedish article on the method for studying history" in the June 15


On page 24, col. 2, 2nd paragraph from the bottom;

"With their current theories,..." should be "But with their current theories".

On page 25, col. 2, four lines from the bottom, "philosophical objective" should be "philosophical objection".

On page 26, col. 2, paragraph four, "transition events" should be "transitional measures".

On page 26, col. 2, paragraph six, line two, "looked out from" should be "looked at from".

[Back to Top]

Use Mandela's visit to build the struggle:

Support the rebellion against apartheid! Fight growing racism in the U.S.!

The following articles are excerpted from the June 14 issue of Boston Worker, paper of the MLP-Boston. It also had the article "Apartheid: American style--Bush's war on drugs and crime is really a war on black people." 7,000 were distributed at the Mandela rally, and the MLP had a banner at an entrance.


Nelson Mandela, the long-imprisoned leader of the African National Congress will speak at a rally in Boston on Saturday, June 23 as part of a 13-nation tour. Hundreds of thousands of people will turn out to see and hear Mandela. People will come to show their support for the heroic struggle of the black workers and youth of South Africa against the brutal regime of apartheid slavery. They will also come out to express their hatred for the racism right here in the USA.

Mandela's release from prison is a victory of the struggle of the masses in South Africa and around the world. But the fight of the black people in South Africa for freedom is far from over as the politicians and media in America would like us to believe. Even as Mandela travels on his world tour, the racist regime in South Africa guns down protesting teenagers and strikers in the streets. If today American politicians and corporate leaders are wooing Nelson Mandela with $5,000-a-plate dinners and lavish praise, it is not because they have given up their support for apartheid slavery. It is because they want Mandela to help them control and stop the struggle of the black masses in South Africa, so that the corporations can get back to making big bucks off black labor. They want Mandela's help in stabilizing the apartheid system with a few power-sharing reforms.

But the workers and students in South Africa are not fighting for a few minor reforms. They are fighting to totally overthrow the apartheid regime, for full equality and for freedom from exploitation by a privileged minority. We must stand with our black brothers and sisters in South Africa. We must fight to force the US government and US corporations to cut all ties and all trade with South Africa.

For two decades, the same wealthy gentlemen, who are today pretending to be friends of blacks in South Africa, have been trying to drive black Americans back to the apartheid-like conditions that existed in America before the 1960's. They financed anti-busing campaigns, gutted laws against discrimination, cut back on jobs and housing, starved inner city schools, flooded the ghettoes with drugs and then used the. cry of "War on Drugs" to impose military occupation on black communities. Let us use Mandela's visit to rebuild the mass struggle against racism right here in the USA

Come out to the Mandela rally. Bring signs and banners denouncing the racist rulers of both South Africa and the USA Death to Apartheid! Death to Racism!

[Back to Top]

What are the De Klerk/ANC negotiations about?

Why did De Klerk, who has long directed the bloody suppression of the black majority in South Africa release Mandela and enter into negotiations with him?

The white capitalists in South Africa and their corporate partners in America and Europe have been badly shaken by the rebellion of the black masses. The economy in South Africa has gone into a tailspin. They know that if the revolutionary struggle continues sooner or later they will lose the paradise of profits and luxury they have enjoyed on the backs of the black workers, and so they want to make a deal with Mandela and the ANC to have them cool out the black masses.

In exchange they are willing to offer some minor reforms like lifting the State of Emergency and granting some power-sharing for the black elite., They are even willing to eventually turn over the reins of government to the ANC and the black elite provided that the economic and social privileges of the rich white minority are protected. In other words, they would like to put some black faces in high places so that they can continue to oppress and exploit the poor black majority.

Unfortunately, Mandela and the ANC leaders are willing to hold back the revolutionary struggle to negotiate some kind of power-sharing arrangement. That is the meaning of Mandela's repeated calls for discipline and restraint.

Of course the white regime and its imperialist backers like George Bush would like to give the least possible concessions to the masses. While Bush is trying to woo Mandela, he is also trying to strengthen De Klerk's white racist regime. Next month, Bush will receive De Klerk in the White House. He is trying to use the token reforms made by De Klerk and the negotiations with Mandela as an excuse to lift any economic sanctions against South Africa. In fact, Bush has already lifted restrictions on steel imports from South Africa. This violates US law and Congress has hardly raised a peep.

How much the black masses win in the current situation depends not on the negotiations between De Klerk and Mandela, but on how much the revolutionary struggle against-the apartheid rulers and their imperialist backers develops.

[Back to Top]

Is Detroit's Mayor Young a fighter against apartheid?

Below is one of the articles from the June 23 issue of Detroit Workers' Voice, paper of the MLP-Detroit. 7,000 were distributed June 28 when Mandela addressed a big rally at Tiger Stadium. Also in the paper were the lead article "Revolution, yes! Apartheid, no!" on the struggle in South Africa; "Workers, unite and fight this racism" against racist attacks in the Detroit area and on their relation to the racist plague throughout the country; and "In and around Detroit --working people in struggle."

Nelson Mandela is coming to Detroit and anti-apartheid sentiment is running at a fever pitch. All kinds of politicians and celebrities are jumping up to associate themselves with the fight against the South African racists. Mayor Coleman Young himself will be welcoming Mandela to the city. But is Young really a fighter against apartheid? Let's take a look at his record.

**Despite loud protests, Young hired Combustion Engineering (CE) to build the toxic waste burner in Detroit. Besides the fact that the incinerator will poison the people of Detroit, CE is a company with extensive ties to South Africa, operating three subsidiaries there and building power complexes directly for the white racist government.

**In 1984 Young tried to make a contract with John McGoff, a known agent of the apartheid regime, to set up his floating restaurant called the "Star of Detroit." Public outcry caused the deal to fall through.

**Buying and selling South 'African gold coins--Krugerrands--has been illegal since 1985. But the Detroit Free Press (March 6-9, 1990) reports that Young's private firm, Detroit" Technology and Investments, made 3 transactions, in Feb. 1988 involving the sale of 295 krugerrands as part of a $100,000 gold deal. Young's partner, Kenneth Weiner, bought the coins from foreign companies and then resold them at a big profit. Young denies any knowledge of the krugerrands. But then he also claims to have reported these business dealings to the IRS. How could he then now have known about the kruggerand deal?

**South African steel rails were used in building the Detroit People Mover and were only removed after an angry public reaction.

**In 1983, the Young administration sent a representative of the Detroit Police Department to South Africa to visit police installations there. Young's cop praised those racist police for "being better trained and disciplined than many in the U.S.

**When the movement for divestment came up, Detroit would have been an ideal place to target the auto monopolies who were entrenched in South Africa. Instead Mayor Young lobbied hard against requiring the auto companies to divest themselves of holdings in South Africa. He put the profits of Ford and GM ahead of the demands of the South African anti-apartheid fighters for sanctions against the racist regime.

Throughout the 1980's the anti-apartheid movement flared up in cities across the country. But instead of joining the militant marches or supporting the student sit-ins and shantytown, protests, Mayor Young carried on business as usual with South Africa. Why? Because Mayor Young's biggest backers are the very wealthy capitalists who have a big stake in South Africa. Meanwhile, in Detroit, his policies have chiefly benefited the auto monopolies and the downtown real estate speculators while little has trickled down to the working masses of Detroit. It is business interests which dominate Mayor Young's concern, not what is best for the black people of South Africa or Detroit.

So when Mayor Young stands before us with clenched fist, shouting "Amandla," remember his actions and not just his words. Whose side is Coleman Young on? The rich or the working people of Detroit and South Africa? You be the judge!

[Back to Top]

"New York Workers' Voice" on Mandela's visit

Excerpted from the June 20 issue of New York Workers' Voice, paper of the MLP-N.Y., which also reprinted the article "Justice for Yusuf Hawkins" from the June 1 issue of the Workers' Advocate.

Apartheid No! Revolution Yes!

Every U.S. presidential administration, including the current one, has both openly and secretly aided the racist South African regime against the bitter opposition of the anti-apartheid movement throughout the world. In fact, the CIA even played a key role in setting up Mandela for capture and imprisonment by the apartheid regime back in 1986.

Yet this week various U.S. politicians, up to President Bush himself, are rolling out the welcome mat for Nelson Mandela, a leader of the African National Congress. They are pretending to be great opponents of apartheid. Why this display of unbounded hypocrisy?

The mass struggle is forcing Bush and De Klerk's hands

The mid-and late-1980's witnessed a tremendous mass upheaval in South Africa. The black majority has stood up to the bullets and whips of the racist apartheid regime.

It was this mass struggle, combined with a tottering economy, which forced De Klerk, the South African President, to attempt a compromise with the ANC. It was also this mass struggle which is forcing Bush and Co. to smile on Mandela.

Bush and De Klerk remain diehard enemies of the South African masses. But apartheid's draconian measures alone have proven incapable of wiping out the black masses' resolve. And so they are shifting their tactics.

New tactics to avoid revolution

Today everyone, including Bush and De Klerk, realizes that South African society cannot continue as before. But what will replace this society? De Klerk and Bush have their answer. They would like to limit the changes to a handful of concessions. And they would like to use these concessions, and their new found "friendship" towards the ANC, to hold back the masses.

This trickery by the racist regime and its good friend Bush should be soundly denounced by all anti-apartheid activists. Unfortunately, this is not taking place everywhere. And to make matters worse, it is none other than Nelson Mandela who has described De Klerk as the door-opener to a "new South Africa," and who has praised George Bush's hypocritical about-face.

There is more to this than just misplaced diplomacy. Mandela is reflecting the policy of the ANC, which aims to negotiate a half-way solution with the regime.

The deal being discussed may put an end to many harsh and hated features of the apartheid regime. And a black elite may be given a portion of power and privilege. But the oppression of the black working people would remain in force. The workers and poor may be able to breathe a little easier With the loosening of repression and discrimination, but the miserable economic conditions in which the masses live won't be changed.

To fight for their own demands, the workers and poor of South Africa urgently need their independent movement. Only a revolution which thoroughly smashes the racist system can bring freedom to the long-suffering oppressed people of South Africa.

[Back to Top]

Marx and Engels on socialism

General definitions, and descriptions of socialism.......... 15
Miscellaneous................................................................. 15
The material base of socialism....................................... 21
Prospects of world-wide revolution................................ 29
Socialism is based on the proletariat.............................. 30
Socialism is made through revolution............................ 31
Revolution and the transition to socialism..................... 34

The seizure of political power and the state................... 36
Miscellaneous................................................................. 36
The overthrow of the bourgeois state............................. 37

Several comrades have prepared a collection of extracts from the work of Marx and Engels on the subject of socialism. It is being carried in this issue and the next issue of the Supplement to encourage the study of the Marxist views on socialism.

The views of Marx and Engels are important because they put forward a materialist view of socialism. They are not based on inventing an idea of a better society, but on investigating the course of evolution of society. They are based on materialist analysis of what has caused the evolution of society in the past, and where it will go in the future.

This goes against utopian views. It also goes against the idea of socialism as some vague ideal, some collection of nice things, that allegedly has little relevance to the hard realities of life. And it strikes at philistine views which simply imagine socialism as the present society, but glorified and without its blemishes.

A study of Marxist writings also brings up the points made at the Third Congress of the MLP in Fall 1988 about distinguishing what might be called "weak socialism", or a society still in the process of transition from capitalism towards socialism, from a society that is socialist in the full, Marxist sense of the term. (See the speech "On the party-wide study of the Marxist-Leninist study of socialism" in the January 15, 1989 issue of the Supplement)

This distinction between full socialism and "weak socialism" undercuts the wrong views, that have become a sort of modern-day orthodoxy, that portray the transitional steps towards socialism, steps which utilize state capitalist features, as already socialism. Worse yet, such views have also been used to portray the unadulterated state capitalism of revisionist society as socialism.

The idea is that simply state planning, nationalization of industry, and some sort of collectivization in agriculture is complete socialism. In this concept, it doesn't matter whether a privileged bureaucracy exists, what the actual role of the working masses with respect to directing the state-controlled economy is, and what the overall relation of this economy to the working masses is. Nor does it matter whether commodity exchange continues, and whether a mixed economy still exists with respect to small production.

Such views were promoted for decades by Soviet revisionism. And it is also reflected in trotskyism. For example, those present-day trends loyal to orthodox trotskyism have called for decades for a "political" revolution in the USSR, as opposed to one which is also economic and social, because they can not distinguish what revisionist state capitalism is. Instead they paint various of its economic features in some sort of socialist colors.

The writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin provide a different view of socialism and communism.

* * *

The extracts from Marx and Engels' works included in this collection include material from the early writings of Marx and Engels as well as their later works. The views of Marx and Engels on various questions developed over their lifetimes, based on the development of historical materialism and additional experience. Some views changed. And a number of times their fervent hopes for imminent revolutionary events were frustrated. Yet, throughout it all, Marx and Engels were (along with Lenin) rare examples of people who are able to maintain a consistent scientific viewpoint throughout their entire lives. This gives added value to the study of their works, which are indispensable for an understanding of the materialist and dialectical standpoint towards society.

This collection was prepared through reading works of Marx and Engels and by also examining existing collections of statements by Marx and Engels. The comrades involved thought that this work of preparing all relevant extracts still wasn't complete. More work could be done on classifying the extracts into categories and preparing additional categories. Nor, for that matter, is there a commentary tracing the evolution of Marx and Engels' views. But publishing this collection in its present form will hopefully provide valuable reference material and encourage further work on the subject.

* * *

There are some comments and added subheads interspersed with the extracts, Those in angular brackets <> are by the Supplement, while those in square brackets n are from the translators or editors of Marx's and Engels' works from which these extracts are taken.

General definitions and descriptions of socialism


Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 1845-46

Finally, from the conception of history we have sketched we obtain these further conclusions: (1) In the development of productive forces there comes a stage when productive forces and means of intercourse are brought into being which, under the existing relations, only cause mischief, and are no longer productive but destructive forces (machinery and money); and connected with this a class is called forth which has to bear all the burdens of society without enjoying its advantages, which is ousted from society and forced into the sharpest contradiction to all other classes; a class which forms the majority of all members of society, and from which emanates the consciousness of the necessity of a fundamental revolution, the communist consciousness, which may, of course, arise among the other classes too through the contemplation of the situation of this class. (2) The conditions under which definite productive forces can be applied are the conditions of the rule of a definite class of society, whose social power, deriving from its property, has its practical-idealistic expression in each case in the form of the state and, therefore, every revolutionary struggle is directed against a class which till then has been in power. (3) In all previous revolutions the mode of activity always remained unchanged and it was only a question of a different distribution of this activity, a new distribution of labor to other persons, whilst the communist revolution is directed against the hitherto existing mode of activity, does away with <division of> labor, and abolishes the rule of all classes with the classes themselves, because it is carried through by the class which no longer counts as a class in society, which is not recognized as a class, and is in itself the expression of the dissolution of all classes, nationalities, etc., within present society; and 4) Both for the production on a mass scale of this communist consciousness, and for the success of the cause itself, the alteration of men on a mass scale is necessary, an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, a revolution; the revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew.

(Ch. I "Feuerbach. Opposition of the Materialistic and Idealistic Outlook" Section 2(c) "Natural and Civilized Instruments of Production and Forms of Property")

Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 1845-46

[18] Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence.

(Ibid., Section 1 "Ideology in General, German Ideology in Particular", the end of subsection (a) "History")

Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, winter, 1846-7

The economists want the workers to remain in society as it is constituted and as it has been signed and sealed by them in their manuals.

The socialists want the workers to leave the old society alone, the better to be able to enter the new society which they have prepared for them with so much foresight.

In spite of both of them, in spite of manuals and utopias, combination has not ceased for an instant to go forward and grow with the development and growth of modern industry. It has now reached such a stage, that the degree to which combination has developed in any country clearly marks the rank it occupies in the hierarchy of the world market. England, whose industry has attained the highest degree of development, has the biggest and best organized combinations.

In England they have not stopped at partial combinations which have no other objective than passing strike, and which disappear with it. Permanent combinations have been formed, trades unions, which serve as bulwarks for the workers in their struggles with the employers. And at the present time all these local trades unions find a rallying point in the National Association of United Trades, the central committee of which is in London, and which already numbers 80,000 members. The organization of these strikes, combinations, and trades unions went on simultaneously with the political struggles of the workers, who now constitute a large political party, under the name of Chartists.

The first attempts of workers to associate among themselves always take place in the form of combinations.

Large-scale industry concentrates in one place a crowd of people unknown to one another. Competition divides their interests. But the maintenance of wages, this common interest which they have against their boss, unites them in a common thought of resistance--combination. Thus combination always has a double aim, that of stopping competition among the workers, so that they can carry on general competition with the capitalist. If the first aim of resistance was merely the maintenance of wages, combinations, at first isolated, constitute themselves into groups as the capitalists in their turn unite for the purpose of repression, and in face of always united capital, the maintenance of the association becomes more necessary to them than that of wages. This is so true that English economists are amazed to see the workers sacrifice a good part of their wages in favor of associations, which, in the eyes of these economists, are established solely in favor of wages. In this struggle--a veritable civil war--all the elements necessary for a coming battle unite and develop. Once it has reached this point, association takes on a political character.

Economic conditions had first transformed the mass of the people of the country into workers. The domination of capital has created for this mass a common situation, common interests. This mass is thus already a class as against capital, but not yet for itself. In the struggle, of which we have pointed out only a few phases, this mass becomes united, and constitutes itself as a class for itself. The interests it defends become class interests. But the struggle of class against class is a political struggle.

In the bourgeoisie we have two phases to distinguish: that which it constituted itself as a class under the regime of feudalism and absolute monarchy, and that in which, already constituted as a class, it overthrew feudalism and monarchy to make society into a bourgeois society. The first of these phases was the longer and necessitated the greater efforts. This too began by partial combinations against the feudal lords.

Much research has been carried out to trace the different historical phases that the bourgeoisie has passed through, from the commune up to its constitution as a class.

But when it is a question of making a precise study of strikes, combinations and other forms in which the proletarians carry out before our eyes their organization as a class, some are seized with real fear and others display a transcendental disdain.

An oppressed class is the vital condition for every society founded on the antagonism of classes. The emancipation of the oppressed class thus implies necessarily the creation of a new society. For the oppressed class to be able to emancipate itself it is necessary that the productive powers already acquired and the existing social relations should no longer be capable of existing side by side. Of all the instruments of production, the greatest productive power is the revolutionary class itself. The organization of revolutionary elements as a class supposes the existence of all the productive forces which could be engendered in the bosom of the old society.

Does this mean that after the fall of the old society there will be a new class domination culminating in a new political power? No.

The condition for the emancipation of the working class is the abolition of all classes, just as the condition for the emancipation of the third estate, of the bourgeois order, was the abolition of all estates* and all orders.

The working class, in the course of its development, will substitute for the old civil society an association which will exclude classes and their antagonism, and there will be no more political power properly so-called, since political power is precisely the official expression of antagonism in civil society.

Meanwhile the antagonism between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is a struggle of class against class, a struggle which carried to its highest expression is a total revolution. Indeed, is it at air surprising that a society founded on the opposition of classes should culminate in brutal contradiction, the shock of body against body, as its final denouement?

Do not say that social movement excludes political movement. There is never a political movement which is not at the same time social.

It is only in an order of things in which there are no more classes and class antagonisms that social evolutions will cease to be political revolutions. Till then, on the eve of every general reshuffling of society, the last word of social science will always be:

"Le combat ou la mort; la lutte sanguinaire oule neant. Cest ainsi que la question est invinciblement posee." <Combat or death; bloody struggle or extinction. It is thus that the question is inexorably posed.>

George Sand <in the introduction to the historical novel Jean Ziska>

*<Note by Engels to the German edition of 1885> Estates here in the historical sense of the estates of feudalism, estates with definite and limited privileges. The revolution of the bourgeoisie abolished the estates and their privileges. Bourgeois society knows only classes. It was, therefore, absolutely in contradiction with history to describe the proletariat as the "fourth estate."

(From the concluding passage of. the book, ending Ch. II, Section 5)

Engels, Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith, 1847

Question 2: What is the aim of the Communists?

Answer: To organize society in such a way that every member of it can develop and use all his capabilities and powers in complete freedom and without thereby infringing the basic conditions of this society.

Question 3: How do you wish to achieve this aim?

Answer: By the elimination of private property and its replacement by community of property.

Question 4: On what do you base your community of property?

Answer: Firstly, on the mass of productive forces and means of subsistence resulting from the development of industry, agriculture, trade and colonization, and on the possibility inherent in machinery, chemical and other resources of their infinite extension.

Secondly, on the fact that on the consciousness or feeling of every individual there exists certain irrefutable basic principles which, being the result of the whole of historical development, require no proof.

Question 5: What are such principles?

Answer: For example, every individual strives to be happy. The happiness of the individual is inseparable from the happiness of all, etc.

Question 6: How do you wish to prepare the way for your community of property?

Answer: By enlightening and uniting the proletariat.

Engels, Principles of Communism, 1847

Question 13: What conclusions can be drawn from these regularly recurring trade crises?

Answer: Firstly, that although in the initial stages of its development large-scale industry itself created free competition, it has now nevertheless outgrown free competition; that competition and in general the carrying on of industrial production by individuals have become a fetter upon large-scale industry so long as it is conducted on its present basis, can only survive though a general confusion repeating itself every seven years which each time threatens all civilization, not merely plunging the proletarians into misery but also ruining a great number of bourgeois; therefore that either large-scale industry itself must be given up, which is utterly impossible, or that it absolutely necessitates a completely new organization of society, in which industrial production is no longer directed by individual factory owners, competing one against the other, but by the whole of society according to a fixed plan and according to the needs of all.

Secondly, that large-scale industry and the unlimited expansion of production which it makes possible can bring into being a social order in which so much of all the necessities of life will be produced that every member of society will thereby be enabled to develop and exercise all his powers abilities in perfect freedom. Thus, precisely that quality of large-scale industry which in present society produces all misery and all trade crises is the very quality which under a different social organization will destroy that same misery and these disastrous fluctuations

Thus it is most clearly proved:

1. that from now on all these ills are to be attributed only to the social order which no longer corresponds to the existing conditions;

2. that the means are available to abolish these ills completely through a new social order.

Question 14: What kind of new social order will this have to be?

Answer: Above all, it will have to take the running of industry and all branches of production in general out of the hands of separate individuals competing with each other and instead will have to ensure that all these branches of production are run by society as a whole, i.e., for the social good, according to a social plan and with the participation of all members of society. It will therefore do away with competition and replace it by association. Since the running of industry by individuals had private ownership as its necessary consequence and since competition is nothing but the manner in which industry is run by individual private owners, private ownership cannot be separated from the individual running of industry and competition. Hence, private ownership will also have to be abolished, and in its stead there will be common use of all the instruments of production and the distribution of all products by common agreement, or the so-called community of property. The abolition of private ownership is indeed the most succinct and characteristic summary of the transformation of the entire social system necessarily following from the development of industry, and it is therefore rightly put forward by the Communists as their main demand.

Marx and Engels, The Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848

The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all the other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat onto a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.

The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered by this or that would-be universal reformer.

They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes. The abolition of existing property relations is not at all a distinctive feature of Communism.

All property relations in the past have continually been subject to historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions.

The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal property in favor of bourgeois property.

The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few.

In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.

We communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man's own labor, which property, is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence.

Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of the petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily.

Or do you mean modern bourgeois private property?

But does wage-labor create any property for the laborer? Not a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage-labor, and which cannot increase except upon condition of begetting a new supply of wage-labor for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage-labor. Let us examine both sides of this antagonism.

To be a capitalist is to have hot only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion.

Capital is, therefore, not a personal, it is a social power.

When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the property of all members of society, personal property, is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses its class character.

Let us now take wage-labor.

The average price of wage-labor is the minimum wage, i.e., that quantum of the means of subsistence, which is absolutely requisite to keep the laborer in bare existence as a laborer. What, therefore, the wage-laborer appropriates by means of his labor, merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labor, an appropriation that is made for the maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no surplus wherewith to command the labor of others. All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which, the laborer lives merely to increase capital, and is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of the ruling class requires it.

In bourgeois society, living labor is but a means to increase accumulated labor. In Communist society, accumulated labor is but a means to widen, to enrich, to promote the existence of the laborer.

In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past. In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.

And the abolition of this state of things is called by the bourgeois abolition of individuality and freedom! And rightly so. The abolition of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly aimed at.

By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production, free trade, free selling and buying.

But if selling and buying disappears, free selling and buying disappears also. This talk about free selling and buying, and all the other "brave words" of our bourgeoisie about freedom in general, have a meaning, if any, only in contrast with restricted selling and buying, with the fettered traders of the Middle Ages, but have no meaning when opposed to the Communistic abolition of buying and selling, of the bourgeois conditions of production, and of the bourgeois itself.

You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.

In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend!

From the moment when labor can no longer be converted onto capital, money, or rent, into a social power capable of being monopolized, i.e., from the moment when individual property can no longer be transformed into bourgeois property, into capital, from that moment, you say, individuality vanishes.

You must, therefore, confess that by "individual" you mean no other person than the bourgeois, than the middle-class owner of property. This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way, and made impossible.

Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labor of others by means of such appropriation.

It has been objected that upon the abolition of private property all work will cease, and universal laziness will overtake us.

According to this, bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone to the dogs through sheer idleness; for those of its members who work, acquire nothing, and those who acquire anything, do not work. The whole of this objection is but another expression of the tautology; that there can no longer be any wage-labor when there is no-longer any capital.

All objections urged against the Communistic mode of producing and appropriating material products, have, in the same way, been urged against the Communistic modes of producing and appropriating intellectual products. Just as, to the bourgeois, the disappearance of class property is the disappearance of production itself, so the disappearance of class culture is to him identical with the disappearance of all culture.

That culture, the loss of which he laments, is, for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as a machine.

But don't wrangle with is so long as,you apply, to our intended abolition of bourgeois property, the standard of your bourgeois notions of freedom, culture, law, etc. Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will, whose essential character and direction are determined by the economical conditions of existence of your class.

The selfish misconception that induces that induces you to transform into eternal laws of nature and of reason, the social forms springing from your present mode of production and form of property--historical relations that rise and disappear in the progress of production--this misconception you share with every ruling class that has preceded you. What you see clearly in the case of ancient property, what you admit in the case of feudal property, you are of course forbidden to admit in the case of your own bourgeois form of property.

(In Section II, "Proletarians and Communists")

Marx and Engels, The Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848

The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.

(Ibid., towards the end of Section II.)

Marx, The Class Struggles in France, Jan.-Nov. 1, 1850

Little by little we have seen peasants, petty bourgeois, the middle classes in general, stepping alongside the proletariat, driven into open antagonism to the official republic and treated by it as antagonists. Revolt against bourgeois dictatorship, need of a change of society, adherence to democratic and republican institutions as organs of their movement, grouping round the proletariat as the decisive revolutionary power-- these are the common characteristics of the so-called party of social democracy, the party of the Red Republic. This party of Anarchy, as its opponents christened it, is no less a coalition of different interests than the party of Order. From the smallest reform of the old social disorder to the overthrow of the old social order, from the bourgeois liberalism to revolutionary terrorism-- as far apart as this, lie the extremes that form the starting point and the finishing point of the party of "Anarchy." Abolition of all protective tariffs--Socialism! For it strikes at the monopoly of the industrial faction of the party of Order. Regulation of the state budget--Socialism! For it strikes at the monopoly of the financial faction of the party of Order. Free entry, for foreign meat and corn-Socialism! For it strikes at the monopoly of the third section of the party of Order, large landed property. The demands of the free-trade party, that is, of the most advanced English bourgeois party, appear in France as so many socialist demands. Voltairianism--Socialism! For it strikes at the fourth faction of the party of Order, the Catholic. Freedom of the press, right of association, universal public education--Socialism, Socialism! They strike at the general monopoly of the party of Order.

So swiftly had the march of the revolution ripened conditions that the friends of reform of all shades, the most moderate claims of the middle classes, were compelled to group themselves round the banner of the most extreme of the party of revolution, round the red flag.

Yet, manifold as the Socialism of the different large sections of the party of Anarchy was, according to the economic conditions and the total revolutionary requirements of their class or fraction of a class arising out of these, in one point it is in harmony: in proclaiming itself the means of emancipating the proletariat and the emancipation of the latter as its object. Deliberate deception on the part of some; self-deception on the part of the others, who give out the world transformed according to their own needs as the best world for all, as the realization of all revolutionary claims and the elimination of all revolutionary collisions.

Behind the general socialist phrases of the "party of Anarchy," which sound rather alike, there is concealed the Socialism of the "National," of the "Presse" and the "Siecle," which more or less consistently wants to overthrow the rule of the finance aristocracy and to free industry and trade from their hitherto existing fetters. This is the Socialism of industry, of trade and of agriculture, whose bosses on the party of Order deny these interests, insofar as they no longer coincide with their private monopolies. Socialism proper, petty-bourgeois Socialism, Socialism par excellence, is distinct from this bourgeois Socialism, to which, as to every variety of Socialism, a section of the workers and petty bourgeois naturally rallies. Capital hounds this class chiefly as its creditor, so it demands credit institutions, capital crushes it by competition, so it demands associations supported by the state; capital overwhelms it by concentration, so it demands progressive taxes, limitations on inheritance, taking over of large construction projects by the state, and other measures that forcibly stem the growth of capital. Since it dreams of the peaceful achievement of its Socialism--allowing, perhaps, for a second February Revolution lasting a brief day or so--the coming historical process naturally appears to it as an application of systems, which the thinkers of society, whether in companies or as individual inventors, devise or have devised. Thus they become the eclectics or adepts of the existing socialist systems, of doctrinaire Socialism, which was the theoretical expression of the proletariat only as long as it had not yet developed further into a free historical movement of its own.

Thus, while utopian, doctrinaire Socialism, which subordinates the whole movement to one of its elements, which puts the celebrations of the individual pedant in place of common, social production and, above all, wishes away the necessities of the revolutionary class struggles by petty tricks or great sentimental rhetoric--while this doctrinaire Socialism, which basically only idealizes present-day society, makes a shadowless picture of it and seeks to oppose its ideal to its reality, while this Socialism is ceded by the proletariat to the petty bourgeoisie, while the internal struggle between the different socialist leaders reveals each so-called system to be the pretentious adherence to one transitional position on the path to social upheaval as opposed to another--the proletariat increasingly organizes itself around revolutionary socialism, around Communism, for which the bourgeoisie itself has invented the name of Blanqui. This Socialism is the declaration of the permanency of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations.

(Three-quarters of the way through Section III "Consequences of June 13, 1849")

Engels, Letter to P.V. Lavrov, Nov. 12-17, 1875

<In this letter Engels deals with "social Darwinism", although without using this term. The social Darwinists applied Darwinism directly to social questions. They justified class oppression as simply the "survival of the fittest" so that the misery of the masses was supposed to be simply a result of their own inadequacy. >

Of the Darwinian doctrine I accept the theory of evolution, but Darwin's method of proof (struggle for life, natural selection) I consider only a first, provisional, imperfect expression of a newly discovered fact.


4) The essential difference between human and animal society consists in the fact that animals at most collect while men produce. This sole but cardinal difference alone makes it impossible simply to transfer laws of animal societies to human societies.


...But if, as has now happened, production in its capitalist form produces a far greater quantity of means of subsistence and development than capitalist society can consume because it keeps the great mass of real producers artificially away from these means of subsistence and development; if this society is forced by its own law of life constantly to increase this output which is already too big for it and therefore periodically, every ten years, reaches the point where it destroys not only a mass of products but even productive forces--what sense is there left in all this talk of "struggle for existence"? The struggle for existence can then consist only in this: that the producing class takes over the management of production and distribution from the class that was hitherto entrusted with it but has now become incompetent to handle it, and there you have the socialist revolution.

Apropos. Even the mere contemplation of previous history as a series of class struggles suffices to make clear the utter shallowness of the conception of this history as a feeble variety of the "struggle for existence."

The material base of socialism

Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 1845-46


[5. Development of the productive forces as a material premise of communism]

[18] This "estrangement," ["Entfremdung" (to use a term which will be comprehensible to the philosophers) can, of course, only be abolished given two practical premises. In order to become an "unendurable" power, i.e., a power against which men make a revolution, it must necessarily have rendered the great mass of humanity "propertyless," and moreover in contradiction to an existing world of wealth and culture; both these premises presuppose a great increase in productive power, a high degree of its development. And, on the other hand, this development of productive forces (which at the same time implies the actual empirical existence of men in their world-historical, instead of local, being) is an absolutely necessary practical premise, because without it privation, want is merely made general, and with want the struggle for necessities would begin again, and all the old filthy business would necessarily be restored; and, furthermore, because only with this universal development of productive forces is a universal intercourse between men established, which on the one side produces in all nations simultaneously the phenomenon of the "propertyless" mass (universal competition), making each nation dependent on the revolutions of the others, and finally puts world-historical, empirically universal individuals in place of local ones. Without this, (1) communism could only exist as a local phenomenon; (2) the forces of intercourse themselves could not have developed as universal hence unendurable powers: they would have remained home-bred "conditions" surrounded by superstition; and (3) each extension of intercourse would abolish local communism. Empirically, communism is only possible as the act of the dominant peoples "all at once" and simultaneously, which presupposes the universal development of productive forces and the world intercourse bound up with them.

[19] Moreover, the mass of workers who are nothing but workers--labor-power on a mass scale cut off from capital or from even a limited satisfaction, [of their needs] and, hence, as a result of competition their utterly precarious position, the no longer merely temporary loss of work as a secure source of life--presupposes the world market.

The proletariat can thus only exist world-historically, just as communism, its activity, can only have a "world-historical" existence. World-historical existence of individuals, i.e., existence of individuals which is directly linked up with world history.

(Section 1 "Ideology in General, German Ideology in Particular", the latter part of subsection (a) "History")

Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 1845-46

[4. Most extensive division of labor. Large-scale industry]

The concentration of trade and manufacture in one country, England, developing irresistibly in the seventeenth century, gradually created for this country a relative world market, and thus a demand for the manufactured products of this country which could no longer be met by the industrial productive hitherto existing forces. This demand, outgrowing the productive, forces, was the motive power Which, by producing large-scale industry--the application of elemental forces to industrial ends, machinery and the most extensive division of labor--called into existence the third period of private property since the Middle Ages. There already existed in England the other preconditions of this new phase: freedom of competition inside the nation, the development of theoretical mechanics, etc. (Indeed, mechanics, perfected by Newton, was altogether the most popular science in France and England in the eighteenth century). (Free competition inside the nation itself had everywhere to be won by a revolution--1640 and 1688 in England, 1789 in France.)

Competition soon compelled every country that wished to retain its historical role to protect its manufactures by renewed customs regulations (the old duties were no logger any good against large-scale industry) and soon after to introduce large-scale industry under protective duties. In spite of these protective measures, large-scale industry universalized competition (it is practical free trade; the protective duty is only a palliative, a measure of defence within free trade), established means of communication and the modern world market, subordinated trade to itself, transformed all capital into industrial capital, and thus produced the rapid circulation (development of the financial system) and the centralization of capital. By universal competition it forced all individuals to strain their energy to the utmost. It destroyed as far as possible ideology, religion, morality, etc., and, where it could not do this, made them into a palpable lie. It produced world history for the first time, insofar as it made all civilized nations and every individual member of them dependent for the satisfaction of their wants on the whole world, thus destroying the former natural exclusiveness of separate nations. It made natural science subservient to capital and took from the division of labor the last semblance of its natural character. It altogether destroyed the natural character, as far as this is possible with regard to labor, and resolved all natural relations into money relations. In the place of naturally grown towns it created the modern, large industrial cities which have sprung up overnight. It destroyed the crafts and all earlier stages of industry wherever it gained mastery. It completed the victory of the, town over the country. Its basis is the automatic system. It produced a mass of productive forces, for which private property became just as much a fetter as the guild had been for manufacture and the small, rural workshop for the developing handicrafts. These productive forces receive under the system of private property a one-sided development only, and for the majority they become destructive forces; moreover, a great many of these forces can find no application at all within the system of private property. Generally speaking, large-scale industry created everywhere the same relations between the classes of society, and thus destroyed the peculiar features of the various nationalities.

And finally, while the bourgeoisie of each nation still retained separate national interest, large-scale industry created a class which in all nations has the same interest and for which nationality is already dead; a class which is really rid of all the old world and at the same time stands pitted against it. For the worker it makes not only his relation to the capitalist, but labor itself, unbearable.

It is evident that large-scale industry does not reach the same level of development in all districts of a country.

This does not, however, retard the class movement of the proletariat, because the proletarians created by large-scale industry assume leadership of this movement and carry the whole mass along with them, and because the workers excluded from large-scale industry are placed by it in a still worse situation than the workers in large-scale industry itself. The countries in which large-scale industry is developed act in a similar manner upon the more or less non-industrial countries, insofar as the latter are swept by world intercourse into the universal competitive struggle.


These different forms of production are just so many forms of the organization of labor, and hence of property. In each period a unification of the existing productive forces takes place, insofar as this has been rendered necessary by needs.

(The latter part of Section 2(a) Intercourse and productive power)

[5. The contradiction between the productive forces and the form of intercourse as the basis of social revolution]

The contradiction between the productive forces and the form of intercourse, which, as we saw, has occurred several times in past history, without, however, endangering its basis, necessarily on each occasion burst out in a revolution, taking on at the same time various subsidiary forms, such as all-embracing collisions, collisions of various classes, contradictions of consciousness, battle of ideas, political struggle, etc. From a narrow point of view one may isolate one of these subsidiary forms and consider it as the basis of these revolutions; and this is all the more easy as the individuals who started the revolutions had illusions about their own activity according to their degree of culture and the stage of historical development.

* * *

Thus all collisions in history have their origin, according to our view, in the contradiction between the productive forces and the form of intercourse. Incidentally, to lead to collisions in a country, this contradiction need hot necessarily have reached its extreme limit in that particular country. The competition with industrially more advanced countries, brought about by the expansion of international intercourse, is sufficient to produce a similar contradiction in countries with a less advanced industry (e.g., the latent proletariat in Germany brought into more prominence by the competition of English industry.)

[6. Competition of individuals and the formation of classes. Contradiction between individuals and their, conditions of life. The illusory community of individuals in bourgeois society and the real union of individuals under communism. Subordination of the social conditions of life to the power of the united individuals.]

The building of houses. With savages each family has as a matter of course its own cave or hut like the separate family tent of the nomads. This separate domestic economy is made only the more necessary by the further development of private property. With the agricultural peoples a communal domestic economy is just as impossible as a communal cultivation of the soil. A great advance was the building of towns. In all previous periods, however, the abolition of individual economy, which is inseparable from the abolition of private property, was impossible for the simple reason that the material conditions required were not present. The setting up of a communal domestic economy presupposes the development of machinery, the use of natural forces and of many other productive forces --e.g., of water-supplies, gas lighting, steam heating, etc., the supersession of town and country. Without these conditions a communal economy would not-in itself form a new productive force; it would lack material basis and rest on a purely theoretical foundation, in other words, it would be a mere freak and would amount to nothing more than a monastic economy. What was possible can be seen in the towns brought into existence by concentration and in the construction of communal buildings for various definite purposes (prisons, barracks, etc.). That the supersession of individual economy is inseparable from the supersession of the family is self-evident.

Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 1845-46

Thus two facts are here revealed. First the productive forces appear as a world for themselves, quite independent of and divorced from the individuals, alongside the individuals; the reason for this is that the individuals, whose forces they are, exist split up and in opposition to one another, whilst, on the other hand, these forces are only real forces in the intercourse and association of these individuals. Thus, on the one hand, we have a totality of productive forces, which have, as it were, taken on a material form and are for the individuals themselves no longer the forces of the individuals but of private property, and hence of the individuals only insofar as they are owners of private property. Never, in any earlier period, have the productive forces taken on a form so indifferent to the intercourse of individuals as individuals, because their intercourse itself was still a restricted one. On the other hand, standing against these productive forces, we have the majority of the individuals from whom these forces have been wrested away, and who, fobbed thus of all real life-content, have become abstract individuals, who are, however, by this very fact put into a position to enter into relation with one another as individuals.

Labor, the only connection which still links them with the productive forces and with their own existence, has lost all semblance of self-activity and only sustains their life by stunting it. While in the earlier periods self-activity and the production of material life were separated since they devolved on different persons, and while, on account of the narrowness of the individuals themselves, the production of material life was considered a subordinate mode of self-activity, they now diverge to such an extent that material life appears as the end, and what produces this material life, labor (which is now the only possible but, as we see, negative form of self-activity), as the means.

[10. The necessity, preconditions and consequences of the abolition of private property.]

Thus things have now come to such a pass that the individuals must appropriate the existing totality of productive forces, not only to achieve self-activity, but, also, merely to safeguard their very existence.

This appropriation is first determined by the object to be appropriated, the productive forces, which have been developed to a totality and which only exist within a universal intercourse. Even from this aspect alone, therefore, this appropriation must have a universal character corresponding to the productive forces and the intercourse. The appropriation of these forces is itself nothing more than the development of the individual capacities corresponding to the material instruments of production. The appropriation of a totality of instruments of production is, for this very reason, the development of a totality of capacities in the individual themselves.

This appropriation is further determined by the persons appropriating. Only the proletarians of the present day, who are completely shut off from all self-activity, are in a position to achieve a complete and no longer restricted self-activity, which consists in the appropriation of a totality of productive forces and in the development of a totality of capacities entailed by this. All earlier revolutionary appropriations were restricted; individuals, whose self-activity was restricted by a crude instrument of production and a limited intercourse, appropriated this crude instrument of production, and hence merely achieved a new state of limitations. Their instrument of production became their property, but they themselves remained subordinate to the division of labor and their own instrument of production. In all appropriations up to now, a mass of individuals remained subservient to a single instrument of production; but the appropriation by the proletarians a mass of instruments of production must be made subject to each individual, and property to all. modern universal intercourse cannot be controlled by individuals, unless it is controlled by all.

This appropriation is further determined by the manner in which it must be effected. It can only be effected. through a union, which by the character of the proletariat itself can again only be a universal one, and through a revolution, in which, on the one^hand, the power of the earlier mode of production and intercourse and social organization is overthrown, and on the other hand, there develops the universal character and the energy of the proletariat, which are required to accomplish the appropriation, and the proletariat moreover rids itself of everything that still clings to it from its previous position in society.

Only at this stage does self-activity coincide with material life, which corresponds to the development of individuals into complete individuals and the casting-off of all natural limitations. The transformation of labor into self-activity corresponds to the transformation of the previously limited intercourse into the intercourse of individuals as such. With the appropriation of the total productive forces by the united individuals, private property comes to an end. Whilst previously in history a particular condition always appeared as accidental, now the isolation of individuals and each person's particular way of gaining his livelihood have themselves become accidental.

The individuals, who are no longer subject to the division of labor, have been conceived by the philosophers as an ideal, under the name "man" so that at every historical stage "man" was substituted for the individuals existing hitherto and shown as the motive force of history. The whole process was thus conceived as a process of the self-estrangement of "man," and this was essentially due to the fact that the average individual of the later stage was always foisted on to the earlier stage, and the consciousness of a later age on to the individuals of an earlier. Through this inversion; which from the first disregards the actual conditions, it was possible to transform the whole of history into an evolutionary process of consciousness.

Engels, Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith, 1847

Question 13: Then you do not believe that community of property has been possible at any time?

Answer: No. Communism has only arisen since machinery and other inventions made it possible to hold out the prospect of an all-sided development, a happy existence, for all members of society. Communism is the theory of a liberation which was not possible for the slaves, the serfs, or the handicraftsmen, but only for the proletarians and hence it belongs of necessity to the 19th century and was not possible in any earlier period.

Engels, Principles of Communism, 1847

Question 15: The abolition of private property was therefore not possible earlier?

Answer: No. Every change in the social order, every revolution on property relations, has been the necessary result of the creation of new productive forces which would no longer conform to the old property relations. Private property itself arose in this way. For private property has not always existed, but when towards the end of the Middle Ages a new mode of production appeared in the form of manufacture which could not be subordinated to the then existing feudal and guild property, manufacture, having outgrown the old property relations, created a new form of ownership--private ownership. For manufacture and the first stage of development of large-scale industry, no other form of ownership was possible than private ownership and no other order of society than that founded upon private ownership. So long as it is not possible to produce so much that not only is there enough for all, but also a surplus for the increase of social capital and for the further development of the productive forces, so long must there always be a ruling class disposing of the productive forces of society, and a poor, oppressed class. How these classes are composed will depend upon the stage of development of production. In the Middle Ages, which were dependent upon agriculture, we find the lord and the serf; the towns of the later Middle Ages show us the master guildsman and the journeyman and day laborer; the seventeenth century has the manufacturer and the manufactory worker; the nineteenth century the big factory owner and the proletarian. It is obvious that hitherto the productive forces had not yet been so far developed that enough could be produced for all or to make private property a fetter, a barrier, to these productive forces. Now, however, when the development of large-scale industry has, firstly, created capital and productive forces on a scale hitherto unheard of and the means are available to increase these productive forces in a short time to an infinite extent; when, secondly, these productive forces are concentrated in the hands of a few bourgeois whilst the great mass of the people are more and more becoming proletarians, and their condition more wretched and unendurable in the same measure in which the riches of the bourgeois increase; when, thirdly, these powerful productive forces that can easily he increased have so enormously outgrown private property and the bourgeois That at every moment they provoke the most violent disturbances in the social order--only now has the abolition of private property become not only possible but even absolutely necessary.

Marx, The Future Results of the British Rule in India, July 22, 1853

The bourgeois period of history has to create the material basis of the new world--on the one hand the universal intercourse founded upon the mutual dependency of mankind, and the means of that intercourse; on the other hand the development of the productive powers of man and the transformation of material production into a scientific domination of natural agencies. Bourgeois industry and commerce create these material conditions of a new world in the same way as geological revolutions have created the surface of the earth. When a great social revolution shall have mastered the results of the,bourgeois epoch, the market of the world and the modern powers of production, and subjected them to the common control of the most advanced peoples, then only will human progress cease to resemble that hideous pagan idol, who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain.

Marx, Letter to the Labor Parliament, March 9, 1854

It is the working millions of Great Britain who first have laid down the real basis of a new society--modern industry, which transformed the destructive agencies of nature info the productive power of man. The English working classes, with invincible energies, by the sweat of their brows and brains, have called into life the material means of ennobling labor itself, and of multiplying its fruits to such a degree as to make general abundance possible.

By creating the inexhaustible productive powers of modern industry they have fulfilled the first condition of the emancipation of labor. They have now to realize its other condition. They have to free those wealth-producing powers from the infamous shackles of monopoly and subject them to the joint control of the producers, who, till now, allowed the very products of their hands to turn against them and be transformed into as many instruments of their own subjugation.

Marx, Speech at the Anniversary of the "People's Paper", April 14, 1856

There is one great fact, characteristic of this our nineteenth century, a fact which no party dares deny. On the one hand, there have started into life industrial and scientific forces, which no epoch of tile former human history had ever suspected. On the other hand, there exist symptoms of decay far surpassing the horrors recorded of the latter times of the Roman empire. In our days everything seems pregnant with its contrary. Machinery, gifted with the wonderful power of shortening and fructifying human labor, we behold starving and overworking it. The new-fangled sources of wealth, by some strange weird spell, are turned into sources of want. The victories of art seem bought by the loss of character. At the same pace that mankind masters nature, man seems to become enslaved to other men or to his own infamy. Even the pure light of science seems unable to shine but on the dark background of ignorance. All our invention and progress seem to result in endowing material forces with intellectual life, and in stultifying human life into a material force. This antagonism between modern industry and science on the one hand, modern misery and dissolution on the other hand; this antagonism between the productive powers and the social relations of our epoch is a fact, palpable, overwhelming, and not to be controverted.... We know that to work well the new-fangled forces of society, they only want to be mastered by new-fangled men--and such are the working men. They are as much the invention of modern time as machinery itself.... The English working men are the first born sons of modern industry. They will then, certainly, not be the last in aiding the social revolution produced by that industry, a revolution, which means the emancipation of their own class all over the world, which is as universal as capital-rule and wages-slavery.

Marx, Preface to "A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy", January 1859

My investigation led to the result that legal relations as well as forms of state are to be grasped neither from themselves nor from the so-called general development of the human mind, but rather have their roots in the material conditions of life, the sum total of which Hegel, following the example of the Englishmen and Frenchmen of the eighteenth century, combines under the name of "civil society," that, however, the anatomy of civil society is to be sought in political economy. The investigation of the latter, which I began in Paris, I continued in Brussels, whither I had emigrated in consequence of an expulsion order of M. Guizot. The general result at which I arrived and which, once won, served as a guiding thread for my studies, can be briefly formulated as follows: In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, or--what is but a legal expression for the same thing--with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution. With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. In considering such transformations a distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision, of natural, science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic--in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as our opinion of an individual is not based on what he thinks of himself, so can we not judge of such a period of transformation by its own consciousness; on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained rather from the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict between the social productive forces and the relations of production. No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely, it will always be found that the task itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation.

Engels, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Jan.-first half of March, 1880

< The capitalist state will take over some production >

In the trusts, freedom of competition changes into its very opposite--into monopoly; and the production without any definite plan of capitalistic society capitulates to the production upon a definite plan of the invading socialistic society. Certainly this is so far still to the benefit and advantage of the capitalists. But in this case the exploitation is so palpable that it must break down. No nation will put up with production conducted by trusts, with so barefaced an exploitation of the community by a small band of dividend-mongers.

In any case, with trusts or without, the official representative of capitalist society--the state--will ultimately have to undertake the direction of production.* This necessity for conversion into state property is felt first in the great institutions for intercourse and communication--the post office, the telegraphs, the railways.

*<Note by Engels> I say 'have to.' For only when the means of production and distribution have actually outgrown the form of management by joint-stock companies, and when, therefore, the taking them over by the state has become economically inevitable, and then--even if it is the state of today that effects this--is there an economic advance, the attainment of another step preliminary to the staking over of all productive forces by society itself. But of late, since Bismarck went in for state-ownership of industrial establishments, a kind of spurious socialism has arisen, degenerating, now and again, into something of flunkeyism, that without more ado declares all state ownership, even of the Bismarckian sort, to be socialistic. Certainly, if the taking over by the state of the tobacco industry is socialistic, then Napoleon and Mettemich must be numbered among the founders of socialism. If the Belgian state, for quite ordinary political and financial reasons, itself constructed its chief railway lines; if Bismarck, not under any economic compulsion, took over for the state the chief Prussian lines, simply to be the better able to have them in hand in case of war, to bring up the railway employees as voting cattle for the government, and especially to create for himself a new source of income independent of parliamentary votes --this was, in no sense, a socialistic measure, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously. Otherwise, the Royal Maritime company, the Royal porcelain manufacture, and even the regimental tailor of the army would also be socialistic institutions, or even, as was seriously proposed by a sly dog in Frederick William III's reign, the taking over by the state of the brothels.

<The bourgeoisie becomes superfluous>

If the crises demonstrate the incapacity of the bourgeoisie for managing any longer modern productive forces, the transformation of the great establishments for production and distribution into joint-stock companies, trusts and state property shows how unnecessary the bourgeoisie are for that purpose. All the social functions of the capitalist are now performed by salaried employees. The capitalist has no further social function than that of pocketing dividends, tearing off coupons, and gambling on the Stock Exchange, where the different capitalists despoil one another of their capital. At first the capitalist mode of production forces out the workers. Now it forces out the capitalists, and reduces them, just as it reduced the workers, to the ranks of the surplus population, although, not immediately into those of the industrial reserve army.

<Bourgeois state ownership does not eliminate capitalism, but brings it to a head>

But the transformation, either into joint-stock companies and trusts, or into state ownership, does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces. In the joint-stock companies and trusts this is obvious. And the modern state, again, is only the organization that bourgeois, society takes on in order to support the general external conditions of the capitalist mode of production against the encroachments as well of the workers as of individual capitalists. The modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine, the state of the capitalists, the ideal personification of the total national capital. The more it proceeds to the taking over of the productive forces, the more does it actually become the national capitalist, the more citizens does it exploit. The workers remain wage-workers--proletarians. The capitalist relation is not done away with. It is rather brought to a head. But, brought to a head, it topples over. State ownership of the productive forces is not the solution of the conflict, but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements of that solution.

This solution can only consist in the practical recognition of the social nature of the modern forces of production, and therefore in the harmonizing of the modes of production, appropriation, and exchange with the socialized character of the means of production. And this can only come about by society openly and directly taking possession of the productive forces which have outgrown all control except that of society as a whole. The social character of the means of production and of the products today reacts against the producers, periodically disrupts all production and exchange, acts only like a law of nature working blindly, forcibly, destructively. But with the taking over by society of the productive forces, the social character of the means of production and of the products will be utilized by the producers with a perfect understanding of its nature, and instead of being a source of disturbance and periodical collapse, will become the most powerful lever of production itself.

Prospects of world-wide revolution

Engels, Letter to K. Kautsky, Sept. 12, 1882

Once Europe is reorganized, and North America, that will furnish such colossal power and such an example that the semi-civilized countries will of themselves follow in their wake; economic needs, if anything, will see to that. But as to what social and political phases these countries will then have to pass through before they likewise arrive at socialist organization, I think we today can advance rather idle hypotheses.

Engels, Afterword to the Work "On Social Relations in Russia", January 1894

In effect, nowhere has agrarian communism, come down from the tribal system, ever evolved anything out of itself except its own disintegration. By 1861, the Russian village community was itself a relatively weakened form of this kind of communism; …


However, it is not only possible but inescapable that once the proletariat wins out and the means of production pass into common ownership among the West-European nations, the countries which have just managed to make a start on capitalist production, and where tribal institutions or relics of them are still intact, will be able to use these relics of communal ownership and the corresponding popular customs as a powerful means of considerably shortening their advance to socialist society and largely sparing themselves the sufferings and the struggles through which we in Western Europe have to make our way. But an inevitable condition of this is the example and active support of the hitherto capitalist West. Only when the capitalist economy has been overcome at home and in the countries of its prime, only when the retarded countries have seen from their example "how it's done", how the productive forces of modern industry are made to work as social property for society as a whole--only then will the retarded countries be able to start on this abbreviated process of development. But then their success will be assured. And this applies not only to Russia but to all countries at the pre-capitalist stage of development. However, this will be relatively easiest done in Russia, where a part of the native population has already assimilated the intellectual fruits of capitalist development, which will make it possible, in a period of revolution, to carry out her social transformation almost simultaneously with that of the West.

Marx and I said as much on January 21, 1882, in the Preface to the Russian Edition of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, in a translation by Plekhanov. We wrote:

"But in Russia we find, face to face with the rapidly developing capitalist swindle and bourgeois landed property, just beginning to develop, more than half the land owned in common by the peasants. Now the question is: can the Russian obshchina, though greatly undermined, yet a form of the primeval common ownership of land, pass directly to the higher form of communist common ownership? Or, on the contrary, must it first pass through the same process of dissolution as constitutes the historical evolution of the West?

"The only answer to that possible today is this: If the Russian Revolution becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for a communist development."


I do not undertake to say whether this community is still sufficiently intact to become, when the occasion arises, and in combination with a revolution in Western Europe, the starting point for communist development, as Marx and I had still hoped in 1882. This much, however, is certain: if anything of this community is to be salvaged, the first requirement is the overthrow of the tsarist despotism, a revolution in Russia. The Russian revolution will not only wrest the greater part of the nation, the peasants, from their isolation in the villages, constituting their mir, their universe; it will not only lead the peasants out into the large arena, where they will come to know the outside world and with it their own selves, their own conditions, and the means of escape from; their present misery--the Russian revolution will also give a fresh impulse to the labor movement in the West, creating for it new and better conditions for struggle and thereby advancing the victory of the modern industrial proletariat, a victory without which present-day Russia, whether on the basis of the community or of capitalism, cannot achieve socialist transformation of society.

(From the last third of the afterword, and from the concluding passage.)

Engels, Principles of Communism, 1847

Question 19: Will it be possible for this revolution to take place in one country alone?

Answer. No. Large-scale industry, already by creating the world market, has so linked up all the peoples of the earth, and especially the civilized peoples, that each people is dependent on what happens to another. Further, in all civilized countries large-scale industry has so levelled social development that in all these countries the bourgeoisie and the proletariat have become the two decisive classes of society and the struggle between them the main struggle of the day. The communist revolution will therefore be no merely national one; it will be a revolution taking place simultaneously in all civilized countries, that is, at least in England, America, France, and Germany. In each of these countries it will develop more quickly or more slowly according to whether the country has a more developed industry, more wealth, and a more considerable mass of productive forces. It will therefore be slowest and most difficult to carry out in Germany, quickest and easiest in England. It will also have an important effect upon the other countries of the world, and will completely change and greatly accelerate their previous manner of development. It is a worldwide revolution and will therefore be worldwide in scope.

Socialism is based on the proletariat

Marx and Engels, The Holy Family, Sept.-Nov., 1844

Proletariat and wealth are opposites; as such they form a single whole. They are both creations of the world of private property. The question is exactly what place each occupies in the antithesis. It is not sufficient to declare them two sides of a single whole.

Private property as private property, as wealth, is compelled to maintain itself and thereby its opposite, the proletariat, in existence. That is the positive side of the antithesis, self-satisfied private property.

The proletariat, on the contrary, is compelled as proletariat to abolish itself and thereby its opposite, private property, which determines its existence, and which makes it proletariat. It is the negative side of the antithesis, its restlessness within its very self, dissolved and self-dissolving private property.

The propertied class and the class of the proletariat present the same human self-estrangement. But the former class feels at ease and strengthened in this self-estrangement, it recognizes estrangement as its own power and has in it the semblance of a human existence. The latter feels annihilated in estrangement; it sees in it its own powerlessness and the reality of an inhuman existence. It is, to use an expression of Hegel, in its abasement the indignation at that abasement, an indignation to which it is necessarily driven by the contradiction between its human nature and its condition of life, which is the outright, resolute and comprehensive negation of that nature.

Within, this antithesis the private property-owner is therefore the conservative side, the proletarian the destructive side. From the former arises the action of preserving the antithesis, from the latter the action of annihilating it.

Indeed private property drives itself in its economic movement towards its own dissolution, but only through a development which does not depend on it, which is unconscious and which takes place against the will of private property by the very nature of things, only inasmuch as it produces the proletariat as proletariat, poverty which is conscious of its spiritual and physical poverty, dehumanization which is conscious of its dehumanization, and therefore self-abolishing. The proletariat executes the sentence that private property pronounces on itself by producing the proletariat, just as it executes the sentence that wage-labor pronounces on itself by producing wealth for others and poverty for itself. When the proletariat is victorious, it by no means becomes the absolute side of society, for it is victorious only by abolishing itself and its opposite. Then the proletariat disappears as well as the opposite which determines it, private property.

When socialist writers ascribe this world-historic role to the proletariat, it is not at all, as Critical Criticism pretends to believe, because they regard the proletarians as gods. Rather the contrary. Since in the fully-formed proletariat the abstraction of all humanity, even of the semblance of humanity, is practically complete; since the conditions of life of the proletariat sum up all the conditions of life of society today in their most inhuman form; since man has lost himself in the proletariat, yet at the same time has not only gained theoretical consciousness of that loss, but through urgent, no longer removable, no longer disguisable, absolutely imperative need--the practical expression of necessity--is driven directly to revolt against this inhumanity, it follows that the proletariat can and must emancipate itself. But it cannot emancipate itself without abolishing the conditions of its own life. It cannot abolish the conditions of its own life without abolishing all of the inhuman conditions of life of society today which are summed up in its own situation. Not in vain does it go through the stern but steeling school of labor. It is not a question of what this or that proletarian, or even the whole proletariat, at the moment regards as its aim. It is a question of what the proletariat is, and what, in accordance with this being, it will historically be compelled to do. Its aim and historical action is visibly and irrevocably foreshadowed in its own life situation as well as in the whole organization of bourgeois society today. There is no need to explain here that a large part of the English and French proletariat is already conscious of its historic task and is constantly working to develop that consciousness into complete clarity.

(Chapter IV. Section 4 Proudhon", Critical Comment #2)

Engels, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Jan.-first half of March, 1880

III Proletarian Revolution--solution of the contradictions. The proletariat seizes the public power, and by means of this transforms the socialized means of production, slipping from the hands of the bourgeoisie, into public property. By this act, the proletariat frees the means of production from the character of capital they have thus far borne, and gives their socialized character complete freedom to work itself out. Socialized production upon a predetermined plan becomes henceforth possible. The development of production makes the existence of different classes of society thenceforth an anachronism. In proportion as anarchy in social production vanishes, the political authority of the state dies out Man, at last the master of his own form of social organization, becomes at the same time the lord over nature, his own master--free.

To accomplish this act of universal emancipation is the historical mission of the modern proletariat. To thoroughly comprehend the historical conditions and thus the very nature of this act, to impart to the now oppressed proletarian class a full knowledge of the conditions and of the meaning of the momentous act it is called upon to accomplish--this is the task of the theoretical expression of the proletarian movement, scientific socialism.

(This is the concluding passage of "Socialism, Utopian and Scientific".)

Socialism is made through revolution


Engels, The Condition of the Working-Class in England 1844-March 1845

But assuming that England retained the monopoly of manufactures, that its factories perpetually multiply, what must be the result? The commercial crises would continue, and grow more violent, more terrible, with the extension of industry and the multiplication of the proletariat. The proletariat would increase in geometrical proportion, in consequence of the progressive ruin of the lower middle-class and the giant strides with which capital is concentrating itself in the hands of the few; and the proletariat would soon embrace the whole nation, with the exception of a few millionaires. But in this development there comes a stage at which the proletariat perceives how easily the existing power may be overthrown, and then follows a revolution.

Neither of these supposed conditions may, however, be expected to arise. The commercial crises, the mightiest levers for all independent development of the proletariat, will probably shorten the process, acting in concert with foreign competition and the deepening ruin of the lower middle-class. I think the people will not endure more than one crisis. The next one, in 1846 or 1847, will probably bring with it the repeal of the Corn Laws and the enactment of the Charter. What revolutionary movements the Charter may give rise to remains to be seen. But, by the time of the next-following crisis, which, according to the analogy of its predecessors, must break out in 1852 or 1853, unless delayed perhaps by the repeal of the Corn Laws or hastened by other influences, such as foreign competition --by the time this crisis arrives, the English people will have had enough of being plundered by the capitalists and left to starve when the capitalists no longer require their services. If, up to that time, the English bourgeoisie does not pause to reflect--and to all appearance it certainly will not do so--a revolution will follow with which none hitherto known can be compared. The proletarians, driven to despair, will seize the torch which Stephens has preached to them; the vengeance of the peoples will come down with a wrath of which the rage of 1793 gives no true idea. The war of the poor against the rich will be the bloodiest ever waged. Even the union of a part of the bourgeoisie with the proletariat, even a general reform of the bourgeoisie, would not help matters. Besides, the change of heart of the bourgeoisie could only go as far as a lukewarm juste-milieu [golden mean]; the more determined, uniting with the workers, would only form a new Gironde, and succumb in the course of the mighty development. The prejudices of a whole class cannot be laid aside like an old coat: least of all, those of the stable, narrow, selfish English bourgeoisie. These are all inferences which may be drawn with the greatest certainty: conclusions, the premises for which are undeniable facts, partly of historical development, partly acts inherent in human nature. Prophecy is nowhere so easy as in England, where all the component elements of society are clearly defined and sharply separated. The revolution must come; it is already too late to bring about a peaceful solution; but it can be made' more gently than that prophesied in the foregoing pages. This depends, however, more upon the development of the proletariat than upon that of the bourgeoisie. In proportion, as the proletariat absorbs socialistic and communistic elements, Will the revolution diminish in bloodshed, revenge, and savagery. Communism stands, in principle, above the breach between bourgeoisie and proletariat, recognizes only its historic significance for the present, but not its justification for the future: wishes, indeed, to bridge over this chasm, to do away with all class antagonisms. Hence it recognizes as justified, so long as the struggle exists, the exasperation of the proletariat towards its oppressors as a necessity, as the most important lever for a labor movement just beginning; but it goes beyond this exasperation, because Communism is a question of humanity and not of the workers alone. Besides, it does not occur to any Communist to wish to revenge himself upon individuals, or to believe that, in general, the single bourgeois can act otherwise, under existing circumstances, than he does act. English Socialism, i.e., Communism, rests directly upon the irresponsibility of the individual. Thus the more the English workers absorb communistic ideas, the more superfluous becomes their present bitterness, which should it continue so violent as at present, could accomplish nothing; and the more their action against the bourgeoisie will lose its savage cruelty.

If indeed, it were possible to make the whole proletariat communistic before the war breaks out, the end would be very peaceful; but that is no longer possible, the time has gone by. Meanwhile, I think that before the outbreak of open, declared war of the poor against the rich, there will be enough intelligent comprehension of the social question among the proletariat, to enable the communistic party, with the help of events, to conquer the brutal element of the revolution and prevent a "Ninth Thermidor". In any case, the experience of the French will not have been undergone in vain, and most of the Chartist leaders are, moreover, already Communists. And as Communism stands above the strife between bourgeoisie and proletariat, it will be easier for the better elements of the bourgeoisie (which are, however, deplorably few, and can look for recruits only among the rising generation) to unite with it than the purely proletarian Chartism.

If these conclusions have not been sufficiently established in the course,of the present work, there may be other opportunities for demonstrating that they are necessary consequences of the historical development of England. But this I maintain, the war of the poor against the rich now carried on in detail and indirectly will become direct and universal. It is too late for a peaceful solution. The classes are divided more and more sharply, the spirit of resistance penetrates the workers, the bitterness intensifies, the guerrilla skirmishes become concentrated in more important battles, and soon a slight impulse will suffice to ; set the avalanche in motion. Then, indeed, will the war-cry resound through the land: "War to the mansion, peace to the cottage!"--but then it will be too late for the rich to beware.

(This is the concluding passage of the work.)

Frederick Engels, Speeches in Elberfeid, 1845

So you see, gentlemen, substantiated also in detail what in the beginning, proceeding from competition in general, I set out in general terms--namely, that the unavoidable result of our existing social relations, under all circumstances, and in all cases, will be a social revolution. With the same certainty with which we can develop from given mathematical principles a new mathematical proposition, with the same certainty we can deduce from the existing economic relations and the principles of political economy the imminence of social revolution. Let us, however, look at this upheaval a little closer; what form will it take, what will be its results, in what ways will it differ from the previous violent upheavals? A social revolution, gentlemen, is something quite different from the political revolutions which have place so far. It is not directed, as these have been, against the property of monopoly, but against the monopoly of property; a social revolution, gentlemen, is theopen war of the poor against the rich. And such a struggle, in which all the mainsprings and causes, which in previous historical conflicts lay dark and hidden at the bottom, operate openly and without concealment, such a struggle, to be sure, threatens to be far fiercer and bloodier than all those that preceded it. The result of this struggle can be twofold. Either the rebellious party only attacks the appearance, not the essence, only the form, not the thing itself, or it goes for the thing itself, grasps the evil itself by the root. In the first case private property will be allowed to continue and will only be distributed differently, so that the causes which have led to the present situation remain in operation and must sooner or later bring about a similar situation and another revolution. But, gentlemen, is this possible? Has there been a revolution which did not really carry out what it was out for? The English revolution realized both the religious and political principles whose suppression by Charles I caused it to break out; the French bourgeoisie in its fight against the aristocracy and the old monarchy achieved everything that it aimed for, made an end to all the abuses which drove it to insurrection. And should the insurrection of the poor cease before poverty and its causes have been eliminated? It is not possible, gentlemen; it would be flying in the face of all historical experience to suppose such a thing. Furthermore, the level pf education of the workers, especially in England and France, forbids us to consider this possible. There only remains, then, the other alternative, namely, that the future social revolution will deal with the real causes of want and poverty, of ignorance and crime, that it will therefore carry through a real social reform. And this can only happen by the proclamation of the principles of communism. Just consider, gentlemen, the ideas which actuate the worker in those countries where the worker too thinks. Look at France, at the different sections of the labor movement, whether they are not all communistic; go to England and listen to the kinds of proposals being made to the workers for the improvement of their position--are they not all based on the principle of common property; study the different systems of social reform and how many will you find that are not communistic? Of all the systems which are still pf any importance today, the only one which is not communistic is that of Fourier, who devoted more attention to the social organization of human activity than to the distribution of its products. All these facts justify the conclusion that a future social revolution will end with the implementation of the principles of communism and hardly permit any other possibility.

If, gentlemen, these conclusions are correct, if the social revolution and practical communism are the necessary result of our existing conditions--then we have to concern ourselves above all with the measures by which we can avoid a violent and bloody overthrow of the social conditions. And there is only one means, namely, the peaceful introduction or at least preparation of communism. If we do not want the bloody solution of the social problem, if we do not want to permit the daily growing contradiction between the education and the condition of our proletarians to come to a head, which, according to all our experience of human nature, will mean that this contradiction will be solved by brute force, desperation and thirst for revenge, then, gentlemen, we must apply ourselves seriously, and without prejudice to the social problem; then we must make it our business to contribute our share towards humanizing the condition of the modern helots. And if it should perhaps appear to some of you that the raising of the hitherto abased classes will not be possible without an abasement of your own condition, then you ought to bear in mind that what is involved is to create for all people such a condition that everyone can freely develop his human nature and live in a human relationship with his neighbors, and has no need to fear any violent shattering of his condition; it must be borne in mind that what some individuals have to sacrifice is not their real human enjoyment of life, but only the semblance of this enjoyment produced by our bad conditions, something which conflicts with the reason and the heart of those who now enjoy these apparent advantages. Far from wishing to destroy real human life with all its requirements and needs, we wish on the contrary really to bring it into being. And if, even apart from this, you will only seriously consider for a moment what the consequences of our present situation are bound to be, into what labyrinths of contradictions and disorders it is leading us--then, gentlemen, you will certainly find it worth the trouble to study the social question seriously and thoroughly. And if I can induce you to do this, I shall have achieved the purpose of my talk.

Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 1845-46

This sum of productive forces, capital funds and social! forms of intercourse, which every individual and every generation finds in existence as something given, is the real basis of what the philosophers have conceived as "substance" and "essence of man," and what they have deified and attacked: a real basis which is not in the least disturbed, in its effect and influence on the development of men, by the fact that these philosophers revolt against it as "self-consciousness" and the "unique." These conditions of life, which different generations find in existence, determine also whether or not the revolutionary convulsion periodically recurring in history will be strong enough to overthrow the basis of everything that exists. And if these material elements of a complete revolution are not present--namely, on the one hand the existing productive forces, on the other the formation of a revolutionary mass, which revolts not only against separate conditions of the existing society, but against the existing "production of life" itself, the "total activity" on which it was based--then it is absolutely immaterial for practical development whether the "idea" of this revolution has been expressed a hundred times already, as the history of communism proves.

(Near the beginning of Section 1(b) "Concerning the production of consciousness")

Engels, Principles of Communism, 1847

Question 16: Will it be possible to bring about the abolition of private property by peaceful methods?

Answer: It is to be desired that this could happen, and Communists certainly would be the last to resist it. The Communists know only too well that all conspiracies are not only futile but even harmful. They know only too well that revolutions are not made deliberately and arbitrarily, but that everywhere and at all times they have been the necessary outcome of circumstances entirely independent of the will and the leadership of particular parties and entire classes. But they also see that the development of the proletariat is in nearly every civilized country forcibly suppressed, and that thus the opponents of the Communists are working with all their might towards a revolution. Should the oppressed proletariat in the end be goaded into a revolution, we Communists will then defend the cause of the proletarians by deed just as will as we do now by word.

<Essentially the same answer is given in the "Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith" to question 14, "As you wish to prepare for community of property by the enlightening and uniting of the proletariat, then you reject revolution?" >

Marx, The Hague Congress-speech, September 8, 1872

The worker will some day have to win political supremacy in order to organize labor along new lines...

But we have by no means affirmed that this goal would be achieved by identical means.

We know of the allowances we must make for the institutions, customs and traditions of the various countries; and we do not deny that there are countries such as America, England, and I would add Holland if I knew your institutions better, where the working people may achieve their goal by peaceful means. If that is true, we must also recognize that in most of the continental countries it is force that will have to be the lever of our revolutions; it is force that we shall some day have to resort to in order to establish a reign of labor.

Engels, Preface to the English edition of "Capital", Vol. 1, Nov. 5, 1886

Surely, at such a moment, the voice ought to be heard of a man whose whole theory is the result of a life-long study of the economic history and condition of England, and whom that study led to the conclusion that, at least in Europe, England is the only country where the inevitable social revolution might be effected entirely by peaceful and legal means. He certainly never forgot to add that he hardly expected the English ruling classes to submit, without a "pro-slavery rebellion," to this peaceful and legal revolution.

Engels, Letter to Gerson Trier in Copenhagen, Dec. 18, 1889

We are agreed on this: that the proletariat cannot conquer political power, the only door to the new society, without violent revolution. For the proletariat to be strong enough to win on the decisive day it must--and Marx and I have advocated this ever since 1847--form a separate party distinct from all others and opposed to them, a conscious class party.

Revolution and the transition to socialism

Engels, Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith, 1847

Question 15: Do you intend to replace the existing social order by community of property at one stroke?

Answer: We have no such intention. The development of the masses cannot be ordered by decree. It is determined by the development of the conditions in which these masses live, and therefore proceeds gradually.

Question 16: How do you think the transition from the present situation to community of property is to be effected?

Answer: The first, fundamental condition for the introduction of community of property is the political liberation of the proletariat through a democratic constitution.

Question 17: What will be your first measure once you have established democracy?

Answer: Guaranteeing the subsistence of the proletariat.

Question 18: How will you do that?

Answer:. I. By limiting private property in such a way that it gradually prepares the way for its transformation into social property, e.g. by progressive taxation, limitation of the right of inheritance in favor of the state, eta, etc. II. By employing workers in national workshops and factories and on national estates. III. By educating all children at the expense of the state.

Question 19: How will you arrange this land of education during the period of transition?

Answer: All children will be educated in state establishments from the time when they can do without the first maternal care.

Engels, Principles of Communism, 1847

Question 17: Will it be possible to abolish private property at one stroke?

Answer: No, such a thing would be just as impossible as at one stroke to increase the existing productive forces to the degree necessary for instituting community of property. Hence, the proletarian revolution, which in all probability is impending, will transform existing society only gradually, and be able to abolish private property only when the necessary quantity of the means of production has been created.

Question 18: What will be the course of this revolution?

Answer: In the first place it will inaugurate a democratic constitution and thereby, directly or indirectly, the political rule of the proletariat. Directly in England, where the proletariat already constitutes the majority of the people. Indirectly in France and in Germany, where the majority of the people consists not only of proletarians but also of small peasants and urban petty bourgeois, who are only now being proletarianized and in all their political interests are becoming more and more dependent on the proletariat and therefore soon will have to conform to the demands of the proletariat. This will perhaps involve a second fight, but one that can end only in the victory of the proletariat.

Democracy would be quite useless to the proletariat if it were not immediately used as a means of carrying through further measures directly attacking private ownership and securing the means of subsistence of the proletariat. Chief among these measures, already made necessary by the existing conditions, are the following:

1. Limitation of private ownership by means of progressive taxation, high inheritance taxes, abolition of inheritance by collateral lines (brothers, nephews, etc.), compulsory loans and so forth.

2. Gradual expropriation of landed proprietors, factory owners, railway and shipping magnates, partly through competition on the part of state industry and partly directly through compensation in assignations.

3. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels against the majority of the people.

4. Organization of the labor or employment of the proletarians on national estates, in national factories, and workshops, thereby putting and end to competition among the workers themselves and compelling the factory owners, as long as they still exist, to pay the same increased wages as the state.

5. Equal liability to work for all members of society until complete abolition of private ownership. Formation of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

6. Centralization of the credit and banking systems in the hands of the State by means of a national bank with state capital and the suppression of all private bankers and bankers.

7. Increase of national factories, workshops, railways, and ships, cultivation of all uncultivated land and improvement of land already cultivated in the same proportion in which the capital and workers at the disposal of the nation increase.

8. Education of all children, as soon as they are old enough to do without the first maternal care, in national institutions and at the expense of the nation. Education combined with production.

9. The erection of large palaces on national estates as common dwellings for communities of citizens engaged in industry as will as agriculture, and combining the advantages of both urban and rural life without the one-sidedness and disadvantages of either.

10. The demolition of all unsanitary and badly built dwellings and town districts.

11. Equal right of inheritance to be enjoyed by illegitimate and legitimate children.

12. Concentration of all means of transport in the hands of the nation.

Of course, all these measures cannot be carried out at once. But one will always lead to the other. Once the first radical onslaught upon private ownership has been made, the proletariat will see itself compelled to go always further, to concentrate all capital, all agriculture, all industry, all transport and all exchange more and more in the hands of the State. All these measures work towards such results; and they will become realizable and will develop their centralizing consequences in the same proportion in which the productive forces of the country will be multiplied by the labor of the proletariat. Finally, when all capital, all production, and all exchange are concentrated in the hands of the nation, private ownership will automatically have ceased to exist, money will have become superfluous, and production will have so increased and men will be so much changed that the last forms of the old social relations will also be able to fall away.

Marx and Engels, The Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848

We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy.

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible.

Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads in the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production.

These measures will of course be different in different countries. Nevertheless, in the most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable:

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.

2. A heavy progressive of graduated income tax.

3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.

4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the Stated by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.

7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the. bringing into cultivation of wastelands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

8. Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.

10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc., etc.

Marx, First Draft of "The Civil War in France", April-May 1871

The Commune does not do away with the class struggle, through which the working classes strive to the abolition of all classes..., but it affords the rational medium in which that class struggle can run through its different phases in the most rational and humane way. It could start violent reactions and as violent revolutions. It begins the emancipation of labor--its great goal--by doing away with the unproductive and mischievous work of the state parasites, by cutting away the springs which sacrifice an immense portion of the national produce to the feeding of the statemonster on one side, by doing, on the other, the real work of administration, local and national, for workingmen's wages. It begins therefore with an immense saving, with economical reform as well as political transformation.

The communal organization once firmly established on a national scale, the catastrophes it might still have to undergo, would be sporadic slaveholders insurrections, which, while for a moment interrupting the work of peaceful progress, would only accelerate the movement, by putting the sword into the hand of the Social Revolution,

The working class know that they have to pass through different phases of class-struggle. They know that the superseding of the economical conditions of the slavery of labor by the conditions of free and associated labor can only be the progressive work of time,...that they require not only a change of distribution, but a new organization of production, or rather the delivery (setting free) of the social forms of production... of the trammels of slavery, of their present class character, and their harmonious national and international coordination. They know that this work of regeneration will be again and again relented and impeded by the resistance of vested interests and class egotisms. They know that the present "spontaneous action of the natural laws of capital and landed property"--can only be superseded by "the spontaneous action of the laws of the social economy of free and associated labor" by a long process of development of new conditions, as was the "spontaneous action of the economic laws of slavery" and the "spontaneous action of the economical laws of serfdom", But they know at the same time that great strides may be made at once through the Communal form of political organization and that the time has come to begin that movement for themselves and mankind.

(In the latter part of the Subsection "The Character of the Commune", which is in the Section "La Commune")

The seizure of political power and the state


Engels, Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith, 1847

Question 16: How do you think the transition from the, present situation to community of property is to be effected?

Answer: The first, fundamental condition for the introduction of community of property is the political liberation of the proletariat through a democratic constitution.

Engels, Principles of Communism, 1847

Question 18: What will be the course of this revolution?

Answer: In the first place it will inaugurate a democratic constitution and thereby, directly or indirectly, the political rule of the proletariat. Directly in England, where the proletariat already constitutes the majority of the people. Indirectly in France and Germany, where the majority of the people consists not only of proletarians but also of small peasants and urban petty bourgeois, who are only now being proletarianized and in all their political interests are becoming more and more dependent on the proletariat and therefore soon will have to conform to the demands of the proletariat. This will perhaps involve a second fight, but one that can end only in the victory of the proletariat.

Democracy would be quite-useless to the proletariat if it were not immediately used as a means of carrying through further measures directly attacking private ownership and securing the means of subsistence of the proletariat.

Marx and Engels, The Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848


We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy.

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the-ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible.

Marx, The Class Struggles in France, Jan. 1850-Nov. 1, 1850

... the proletariat increasingly organizes itself around Revolutionary Socialism, around Communism, for which the bourgeoisie itself has invented the name of Blanqui. This Socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution; the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations.

(Three-quarters of the way through Section III "Consequences of June 13, 1849")

Marx, Letter to Engels in Manchester, Oct. 8, 1858

The difficult question for us is this: on the Continent the revolutions imminent and will moreover immediately assume a socialist character. Is it not bound to be crushed in this little corner, considering that in a far greater territory the movement of bourgeois society is still in the ascendant?

Marx, Letter to Ferdinand Domeia Nieuwenhuis in the Hague, Feb. 22, 1881

One thing you can at any rate be sure of: a socialist government does not come into power in a country unless conditions are so developed that it can above all take the necessary measures for intimidating the mass of the bourgeoisie sufficiently to gain time--the first desideratum [requisite]--for lasting action.

Perhaps you will refer me to the Paris Commune; but apart from the fact that this was merely the rising of a town under exceptional conditions, the majority of the Commune was by no means socialist, nor could it be. With a small amount of sound common sense, however, they could have reached a compromise with Versailles useful to the whole mass of the people--the only thing that could be reached at the time. The appropriation of the Bank of France alone would have been enough to dissolve all the pretensions of the Versailles people in terror, etc., etc.

... Scientific insight into the inevitable disintegration of the dominant order of society continuously proceeding before our eyes, and the ever-growing passion into which the masses are scourged by the old ghosts of government --while at the same time the positive development of the means of production advances with gigantic strides--all this is a sufficient guarantee that with the moment of (he outbreak of a real proletarian revolution there will also be given the conditions (though these are certain not to be idyllic) of its next immediate modus operandi [form of action].

Engels, The Future-Italian Revolution and the Socialist Party, Jan, 26, 1894

The victory of the disintegrating petty bourgeoisie and of the peasantry may therefore possibly bring on a ministry of the "converted" republicans. That will get us universal suffrage and considerably greater freedom of movement (press, assembly, association, abolition of police surveillance, etc.)--new arms not to be disdained.

Or it will bring us a bourgeois republic with the same people and some Mazzinists among them. That would considerably increase our liberty and our field of action, at least for the time being. And Marx said that the bourgeois republic is the sole political form in which the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie can be fought to a finish, to say nothing of the repercussions this would have in Europe.

Hence the victory of the present revolutionary movement is bound to make us stronger and place us in a more favorable environment. We should commit the greatest error if we were to stand aside, if in our conduct vis-a-vis "related" parties we were to confine ourselves to purely negative criticism. A moment may come when it will be our duty to co-operate with them in a positive way. What moment might that be?

Evidently, it is not our business directly to prepare a movement which, strictly speaking, is not a movement of the class we represent. If the republicans and radicals believe the hour for action has struck, let them give free rein to their impetuosity. As for ourselves we have been deceived too often by the high-sounding promises of these gentlemen to let ourselves be taken in once more,...

But if on the contrary the movement is genuinely national our people will not stay in hiding nor will they need a password and our participation in the movement is a matter of course. At such time however it must be clearly understood, and we must loudly proclaim it, that we are participating as an independent party, allied for the moment with radicals and republicans but wholly distinct from them; that we entertain no illusions whatever as to the result of the struggle in case of victory; that far from satisfying us this result will only mean to us another stage won, a new base of operations for further conquests; that on the very day of victory our ways will part; that from that day on we shall constitute the new opposition to the new government, an opposition that is not reactionary but progressive, the opposition of the extreme Left, which will press on to new questions beyond the ground already gained.

In all the above I have merely given you my personal opinion botchy you asked me to, and I have done so with the greatest hesitation. As far as the general tactics are" concerned I have experienced their efficacy all my life. They have never failed me. But as regards their application to present conditions in Italy, that is another matter; that must be decided on the spot, by those who are in the thick of events.

The overthrow of the bourgeois state

Marx, Inaugural Address of the Workingmen's International Association, Sept. 28, 1864

But there was in store a still greater victory of the political economy of labor over the political economy of property. We speak of the co-operative movement, especially the co-operative factories raised by the unassisted efforts of a few bold "hands." The value of these great Social experiments cannot be overrated. By deed, instead of by argument, they have shown that production on a large scale, and in accord with the behests of modern science, may be carried on without the existence of a class of masters employing a class of hands; that to bear fruit, the means of labor need not be monopolized as a means of dominion over, and of extortion against, the laboring man himself; and that, like slave labor, like serf labor, hired labor is but a transitory and inferior form, destined to disappear before associated labor plying its toil with a willing hand, a ready mind, and a joyous heart. In England, the seeds of the co-operative system were sown by Robert Owen; the working men's experiments, tried on the Continent, were, in fact, the practical upshot of the theories, not invented, but loudly proclaimed, in 1848.

At the same time, the experience of the period front 1848 to 1864 has proved beyond doubt that, however excellent in principle, and however useful in practice, cooperative labor, if kept within the narrow circle of the casual efforts of private workmen, will never be able to arrest the growth in geometrical progression of monopoly, to free the masses, nor even to perceptibly lighten the burden of their miseries. It is perhaps for this very reason that plausible noblemen, philanthropic middle-class spouters, and even keen political economists, have all at once turned nauseously complimentary to the very co-operative labor system, they had vainly tried to nip in the bud by deriding it as the Utopia of the dreamer, or stigmatizing it as the sacrilege of the Socialist. To save the industrious masses, co-operative labor ought to be developed to national dimensions; and consequently, to be fostered by national means. Yet, the lords of land and the lords of capital will always use their political privileges for the defence and perpetuation of their economical monopolies. So far from promoting, they will continue to lay every possible impediment in the way of the emancipation of labor. Remember the sneer with which, last session, Lord Palmerston put down the advocates of the Irish Tenants' Right Bill. The House of Commons, cried he, is a house of landed proprietors.

To conquer political power has therefore become the great duty of the working classes. They seem to have comprehended this, for in England, Germany, Italy, and France there have taken place simultaneous revivals, and simultaneous efforts are being made at the political reorganization of the workingmen's party.

(Towards the end of the address)

Marx, Letter to Ludwig Kugelmann, April 12, 1871

If you look at the last chapter of my Eighteenth Brumaire, you will find that I declare that the next attempt of the French Revolution will be no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it, and this is the preliminary condition for every real people's revolution on the Continent. And this is what our heroic Party comrades in Paris are attempting. What elasticity; what historical initiative, what a capacity for sacrifice in these Parisians!...If they are defeated only their "good nature" will be to blame. They should have marched at once on Versailles after first Vinoy and then the reactionary section of the Paris National Guard had themselves retreated. They missed their opportunity because of conscientious scruples. They did not want to start a civil war, as if that mischievous abortion Thiers had not already started the civil war with his attempt to disarm Paris! Second mistake: The Central Committee surrendered its power too soon, to make way for the Commune. Again from too "honorable" scrupulosity!

Marx, Second Outline of The Civil War in France, April-May 1871

In its most simple conception the Commune meant the preliminary destruction of the old governmental machinery at its central seats, Paris and the other great cities of France, and its superseding by real self-government, which, at Paris and the great cities, the social strongholds of the working class, was the government of the working class. Through the siege Paris had got rid of the army which was replaced by a National Guard, with its bulk formed by the workmen of Paris. It was only due to this state of things that the rising of the 18th of March had become possible. This fact was to become an institution, and the National Guard of the great cities, the people armed against governmental usurpation, to supplant the standing army, defending the government against the people. The Commune to consist of the municipal councilors of the different arrondissements (as Paris was the initiator and the model, we have to refer to it), chosen by the suffrage of all citizens, responsible, and revocable in short terms. The majority of that body would naturally consist of workmen or acknowledged representatives of the working class. It was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time,...

The governmental force of repression and authority over society was thus to be broken in its merely repressive organs, and where it had legitimate functions to fulfill these functions were not to be exercised by a body superior to the society, but by the responsible agents of society itself.

(From the last two paragraphs of Section 6 "The Commune")

Engels, Letter to Carlo Cafiero, July 28, 1871

...I know of no one in the General Council who is, against the complete elimination of social classes, and of no General Council document that fails to completely conform with this. We must get rid of landed proprietors and capitalists, putting in their place the associated class of agricultural and industrial workers who have taken possession of all the means of production: the land, the implements, the machines, the raw materials, and all that is needed to sustain life in the time required for production. We must further the development of that class. As a result inequality is bound to vanish. And to bring the matter to an end, it is essential that the proletariat should win political domination.

Marx and Engels, Resolution of the Conference of Delegates to IWA, Sept. 1871

Considering the following passage of the preamble to the Rules: "The economical emancipation of the working classes is the great end to which every political movement ought to be subordinate as a means"....

That the Inaugural Address of the International Working Men's Association (1864) states: "The lords of land and the lords of capital will always use their political privileges for the defense and perpetuation of their economical monopolies, So far from promoting, they will continue to lay every possible impediment in the way of the emancipation of labor.... To conquer political power has therefore become the great duty of the working classes."

That the Congress of Lausanne (1867) has passed this resolution: "The social emancipation of the workmen is inseparable from their political emancipation";

That the declaration of the General Council... (1870) says: "Certainly by the tenor of our Statutes, all our branches in England, on the Continent, and in America have the special mission not only to serve as centers for the militant organization of the working class, but also to support, in their respective countries, every political movement tending towards' the accomplishment of our ultimate end--the economical emancipation of the working class";


Considering, that against this collective power of the propertied classes the working class cannot act as a class except by constituting itself into a political party, distinct from, and opposed to, all old parties formed by the propertied classes;

That this constitution of the working class into a political party is indispensable in order to ensure the triumph of the Social Revolution and its ultimate end-- the abolition of classes; …

Engels, Apropos of Working Class Political Action, Sept. 21, 1871

We want the abolition of classes. What is the means of achieving it? The only means is political domination of the proletariat.

Marx, Letter to Frederick Bolte, Nov. 23, 1871

The political movement of the working class has as its ultimate object, of course, the conquest of political power for this class, and this naturally requires a previous organization of the working class developed up to a certain point and arising precisely from its economic struggles.


Where the working class is not yet far enough advanced in its organization to undertake a decisive campaign against the collective power, i.e., the political power of the ruling classes, it must at any rate be trained for this by continual agitation against this power and by a hostile attitude toward the policies of the ruling classes. Otherwise it remains a plaything in their hands, …

Marx and Engels, Preface to the 1872 German edition of "The Communist Manifesto"


One thing especially was proved by the commune, viz., that "the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made State machinery and wield it for its own purposes".

Marx and Engels, Resolution on the Rules of the General Congress of the IWA, Sept. 2-7, 1872

Article 7a. In its struggle against the collective power of the possessing classes the proletariat can act as a class only by constituting itself a distinct, political party, opposed to all the old parties formed by the possessing classes.

The coalition of the forces of the working class, already achieved by the economic struggle, must also serve in the hands of this class, as a lever in its struggle against the political power of its exploiters.

As the lords of the land and of capital always make use of their political privileges to defend and perpetuate their economic monopolies and to enslave labor, the conquest of political power becomes the great duty of the proletariat.

Engels, Letter to Eduard Bernstein in Zurich, Aug. 27, 1883

.....The bourgeois republic, headed perhaps by the Progressive Party, will enable us in the beginning to win over the great masses of the workers to revolutionary socialism. This will be done in one or two years and will lead to the utter exhaustion and self-destruction of all intermediate parties that may still exist apart from our Party. Only then can we successfully take over.

The big mistake the Germans make is to think that the revolution is something that can be made overnight. As h matter of fact it is a process of development of the masses that takes several years even under conditions accelerating this process. Any revolution completed overnight removed only a reaction that was hopeless at the very start (1830) or led directly to the opposite of what had been aspired to (1848, France).

Engels, Letter to Eduard Bernstein, Jan. 1, 1884

It is simply a question of showing that the victorious proletariat must first refashion the old bureaucratic, administratively centralized state power before it can use if for its own purposes; whereas all bourgeois republicans since 1848 inveighed against this machinery so long as they were in the opposition, but once they were in the government they took it over without altering it and used it partly against the reaction but still more against the proletariat. That in The Civil War < Marx's book on the Paris Commune, "The Civil War in France" > the instinctive tendencies of the Commune were put down to its credit as more or less deliberate plans was justified and even necessary under the circumstances.

(To be concluded in the next issue)

[Back to Top]