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Title: Socialism: Utopian and Scientific
Author: Engels, Friedrich, 1820-1895
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                                             25 CENTS


                    UTOPIAN AND SCIENTIFIC

                     _By Frederick Engels_

                    [Illustration: _Labor_]

                   CHARLES H. KERR & COMPANY

                     _Publishers CHICAGO_






  _D.Sc., Fellow of University College, London_




Socialism, Utopian and Scientific needs no preface. It ranks with the
Communist Manifesto as one of the indispensable books for any one
desiring to understand the modern socialist movement. It has been
translated into every language where capitalism prevails, and its
circulation is more rapid than ever before.

In 1900, when our publishing house had just begun the circulation of
socialist books, we brought out the first American reprint of the
authorized translation of this work. The many editions required by the
growing demand have worn out the plates, and we are now reprinting it
in more attractive form.

It will be observed that the author in his introduction says that from
1883 to 1892, 20,000 copies of the book were sold in Germany. Our own
sales of the book in America from 1900 to 1908 were not less than

Last year we published the first English version of the larger work to
which the author refers in the opening page of his introduction. The
translation is by Austin Lewis, and bears the title "Landmarks of
Scientific Socialism" (cloth, $1.00). It includes the greater portion
of the original work, omitting what is presented here, and also some
of the personalities due to the heat of controversy.

Frederick Engels is second only to Karl Marx among socialist writers,
and his influence in the United States is only beginning.


  June, 1908.


The present little book is, originally, a part of a larger whole.
About 1875, Dr. E. Dühring, _privatdocent_ at Berlin University,
suddenly and rather clamorously announced his conversion to Socialism,
and presented the German public not only with an elaborate Socialist
theory, but also with a complete practical plan for the reorganization
of society. As a matter of course, he fell foul of his predecessors;
above all, he honored Marx by pouring out upon him the full vials of
his wrath.

This took place about the time when the two sections of the Socialist
party in Germany--Eisenachers and Lassallians--had just effected their
fusion, and thus obtained not only an immense increase of strength,
but, what was more, the faculty of employing the whole of this
strength against the common enemy. The Socialist party in Germany was
fast becoming a power. But to make it a power, the first condition was
that the newly-conquered unity should not be imperiled. And Dr.
Dühring openly proceeded to form around himself a sect, the nucleus
of a future separate party. It thus became necessary to take up the
gauntlet thrown down to us, and to fight out the struggle whether we
liked it or not.

This, however, though it might not be an over difficult, was evidently
a long-winded, business. As is well known, we Germans are of a
terribly ponderous _Gründlichkeit_, radical profundity or profound
radicality, whatever you may like to call it. Whenever anyone of us
expounds what he considers a new doctrine, he has first to elaborate
it into an all-comprising system. He has to prove that both the first
principles of logic and the fundamental laws of the universe had
existed from all eternity for no other purpose than to ultimately lead
to this newly-discovered, crowning theory. And Dr. Dühring, in this
respect, was quite up to the national mark. Nothing less than a
complete "System of Philosophy," mental, moral, natural, and
historical; a complete "System of Political Economy and Socialism";
and, finally, a "Critical History of Political Economy"--three big
volumes in octavo, heavy extrinsically and intrinsically, three
army-corps of arguments mobilized against all previous philosophers
and economists in general, and against Marx in particular--in fact, an
attempt at a complete "revolution in science"--these were what I
should have to tackle. I had to treat of all and every possible
subject, from the concepts of time and space to Bimetallism; from the
eternity of matter and motion to the perishable nature of moral
ideas; from Darwin's natural selection to the education of youth in a
future society. Anyhow, the systematic comprehensiveness of my
opponent gave me the opportunity of developing, in opposition to him,
and in a more connected form than had previously been done, the views
held by Marx and myself on this great variety of subjects. And that
was the principal reason which made me undertake this otherwise
ungrateful task.

My reply was first published in a series of articles in the Leipzig
"Vorwärts," the chief organ of the Socialist party, and later on as a
book: "Herrn Eugen Dühring's Umwälzung der Wissenschaft" (Mr. E.
Dühring's "Revolution in Science"), a second edition of which appeared
in Zürich, 1886.

At the request of my friend, Paul Lafargue, now representative of
Lille in the French Chamber of Deputies, I arranged three chapters of
this book as a pamphlet, which he translated and published in 1880,
under the title: "_Socialisme utopique et Socialisme scientifique_."
From this French text a Polish and a Spanish edition were prepared. In
1883, our German friends brought out the pamphlet in the original
language. Italian, Russian, Danish, Dutch, and Roumanian translations,
based upon the German text, have since been published. Thus, with the
present English edition, this little book circulates in ten
languages. I am not aware that any other Socialist work, not even our
"Communist Manifesto" of 1848 or Marx's "Capital," has been so often
translated. In Germany it has had four editions of about 20,000 copies
in all.

The economic terms used in this work, as far as they are new, agree
with those used in the English edition of Marx's "Capital." We call
"production of commodities" that economic phase where articles are
produced not only for the use of the producers, but also for purposes
of exchange; that is, as _commodities_, not as use-values. This phase
extends from the first beginnings of production for exchange down to
our present time; it attains its full development under capitalist
production only, that is, under conditions where the capitalist, the
owner of the means of production, employs, for wages, laborers, people
deprived of all means of production except their own labor-power, and
pockets the excess of the selling price of the products over his
outlay. We divide the history of industrial production since the
Middle Ages into three periods: (1) handicraft, small master craftsmen
with a few journeymen and apprentices, where each laborer produces the
complete article; (2) manufacture, where greater numbers of workmen,
grouped in one large establishment, produce the complete article on
the principle of division of labor, each workman performing only one
partial operation, so that the product is complete only after having
passed successively through the hands of all; (3) modern industry,
where the product is produced by machinery driven by power, and where
the work of the laborer is limited to superintending and correcting
the performances of the mechanical agent.

I am perfectly aware that the contents of this work will meet with
objection from a considerable portion of the British public. But if we
Continentals had taken the slightest notice of the prejudices of
British "respectability," we should be even worse off than we are.
This book defends what we call "historical materialism," and the word
materialism grates upon the ears of the immense majority of British
readers. "Agnosticism" might be tolerated, but materialism is utterly

And yet the original home of all modern materialism, from the
seventeenth century onwards, is England.

"Materialism is the natural-born son of Great Britain. Already the
British schoolman, Duns Scotus, asked, 'whether it was impossible for
matter to think?'

"In order to effect this miracle, he took refuge in God's omnipotence,
_i.e._, he made theology preach materialism. Moreover, he was a
nominalist. Nominalism, the first form of materialism, is chiefly
found among the English schoolmen.

"The real progenitor of English materialism is Bacon. To him natural
philosophy is the only true philosophy, and physics based upon the
experience of the senses is the chiefest part of natural philosophy.
Anaxagoras and his homoiomeriæ, Democritus and his atoms, he often
quotes as his authorities. According to him the senses are infallible
and the source of all knowledge. All science is based on experience,
and consists in subjecting the data furnished by the senses to a
rational method of investigation. Induction, analysis, comparison,
observation, experiment, are the principal forms of such a rational
method. Among the qualities inherent in matter, motion is the first
and foremost, not only in the form of mechanical and mathematical
motion, but chiefly in the form of an impulse, a vital spirit, a
tension--or a 'qual,' to use a term of Jacob Böhme's[A]--of matter.

"In Bacon, its first creator, materialism still occludes within itself
the germs of a many-sided development. On the one hand, matter,
surrounded by a sensuous, poetic glamour, seems to attract man's whole
entity by winning smiles. On the other, the aphoristically formulated
doctrine pullulates with inconsistencies imported from theology.

"In its further evolution, materialism becomes one-sided. Hobbes is
the man who systematizes Baconian materialism. Knowledge based upon
the senses loses its poetic blossom, it passes into the abstract
experience of the mathematician; geometry is proclaimed as the queen
of sciences. Materialism takes to misanthropy. If it is to overcome
its opponent, misanthropic, fleshless spiritualism, and that on the
latter's own ground, materialism has to chastise its own flesh and
turn ascetic. Thus, from a sensual, it passes into an intellectual,
entity; but thus, too, it evolves all the consistency, regardless of
consequences, characteristic of the intellect.

"Hobbes, as Bacon's continuator, argues thus: if all human knowledge
is furnished by the senses, then our concepts and ideas are but the
phantoms, divested of their sensual forms, of the real world.
Philosophy can but give names to these phantoms. One name may be
applied to more than one of them. There may even be names of names. It
would imply a contradiction if, on the one hand, we maintained that
all ideas had their origin in the world of sensation, and, on the
other, that a word was more than a word; that besides the beings known
to us by our senses, beings which are one and all individuals, there
existed also beings of a general, not individual, nature. An unbodily
substance is the same absurdity as an unbodily body. Body, being,
substance, are but different terms for the same reality. _It is
impossible to separate thought from matter that thinks._ This matter
is the substratum of all changes going on in the world. The word
infinite is meaningless, unless it states that our mind is capable of
performing an endless process of addition. Only material things being
perceptible to us, we cannot know anything about the existence of God.
My own existence alone is certain. Every human passion is a mechanical
movement which has a beginning and an end. The objects of impulse are
what we call good. Man is subject to the same laws as nature. Power
and freedom are identical.

"Hobbes had systematized Bacon, without, however, furnishing a proof
for Bacon's fundamental principle, the origin of all human knowledge
from the world of sensation. It was Locke who, in his Essay on the
Human Understanding, supplied this proof.

"Hobbes had shattered the theistic prejudices of Baconian materialism;
Collins, Dodwall, Coward, Hartley, Priestley similarly shattered the
last theological bars that still hemmed-in Locke's sensationalism. At
all events, for practical materialists, Theism is but an easy-going
way of getting rid of religion."[B]

Thus Karl Marx wrote about the British origin of modern materialism.
If Englishmen nowadays do not exactly relish the compliment he paid
their ancestors, more's the pity. It is none the less undeniable that
Bacon, Hobbes, and Locke are the fathers of that brilliant school of
French materialists which made the eighteenth century, in spite of all
battles on land and sea won over Frenchmen by Germans and Englishmen,
a pre-eminently French century, even before that crowning French
Revolution, the results of which we outsiders, in England as well as
in Germany, are still trying to acclimatize.

There is no denying it. About the middle of this century, what struck
every cultivated foreigner who set up his residence in England, was,
what he was then bound to consider the religious bigotry and stupidity
of the English respectable middle-class. We, at that time, were all
materialists, or, at least, very advanced freethinkers, and to us it
appeared inconceivable that almost all educated people in England
should believe in all sorts of impossible miracles, and that even
geologists like Buckland and Mantell should contort the facts of their
science so as not to clash too much with the myths of the book of
Genesis; while, in order to find people who dared to use their own
intellectual faculties with regard to religious matters, you had to go
amongst the uneducated, the "great unwashed," as they were then
called, the working people, especially the Owenite Socialists.

But England has been "civilized" since then. The exhibition of 1851
sounded the knell of English insular exclusiveness. England became
gradually internationalized, in diet, in manners, in ideas; so much so
that I begin to wish that some English manners and customs had made as
much headway on the Continent as other continental habits have made
here. Anyhow, the introduction and spread of salad-oil (before 1851
known only to the aristocracy) has been accompanied by a fatal spread
of continental scepticism in matters religious, and it has come to
this, that agnosticism, though not yet considered "the thing" quite as
much as the Church of England, is yet very nearly on a par, as far as
respectability goes, with Baptism, and decidedly ranks above the
Salvation Army. And I cannot help believing that under these
circumstances it will be consoling to many who sincerely regret and
condemn this progress of infidelity, to learn that these "new-fangled
notions" are not of foreign origin, are not "made in Germany," like so
many other articles of daily use, but are undoubtedly Old English, and
that their British originators two hundred years ago went a good deal
further than their descendants now dare to venture.

What, indeed, is agnosticism, but, to use an expressive Lancashire
term, "shamefaced" materialism? The agnostic's conception of Nature is
materialistic throughout. The entire natural world is governed by law,
and absolutely excludes the intervention of action from without. But,
he adds, we have no means either of ascertaining or of disproving the
existence of some Supreme Being beyond the known universe. Now, this
might hold good at the time when Laplace, to Napoleon's question, why
in the great astronomer's _Mécanique céleste_ the Creator was not even
mentioned, proudly replied: _Je n'avais pas besoin de cette
hypothèse_. But nowadays, in our evolutionary conception of the
universe, there is absolutely no room for either a Creator or a Ruler;
and to talk of a Supreme Being shut out from the whole existing world,
implies a contradiction in terms, and, as it seems to me, a gratuitous
insult to the feelings of religious people.

Again, our agnostic admits that all our knowledge is based upon the
information imparted to us by our senses. But, he adds, how do we know
that our senses give us correct representations of the objects we
perceive through them? And he proceeds to inform us that, whenever he
speaks of objects or their qualities, he does in reality not mean
these objects and qualities, of which he cannot know anything for
certain, but merely the impressions which they have produced on his
senses. Now, this line of reasoning seems undoubtedly hard to beat by
mere argumentation. But before there was argumentation, there was
action. _Im Anfang war die That._ And human action had solved the
difficulty long before human ingenuity invented it. The proof of the
pudding is in the eating. From the moment we turn to our own use
these objects, according to the qualities we perceive in them, we put
to an infallible test the correctness or otherwise of our
sense-perceptions. If these perceptions have been wrong, then our
estimate of the use to which an object can be turned must also be
wrong, and our attempt must fail. But if we succeed in accomplishing
our aim, if we find that the object does agree with our idea of it,
and does answer the purpose we intended it for, then that is positive
proof that our perceptions of it and of its qualities, _so far_, agree
with reality outside ourselves. And whenever we find ourselves face to
face with a failure, then we generally are not long in making out the
cause that made us fail; we find that the perception upon which we
acted was either incomplete and superficial, or combined with the
results of other perceptions in a way not warranted by them--what we
call defective reasoning. So long as we take care to train and to use
our senses properly, and to keep our action within the limits
prescribed by perceptions properly made and properly used, so long we
shall find that the result of our action proves the conformity of our
perceptions with the objective nature of the things perceived. Not in
one single instance, so far, have we been led to the conclusion that
our sense-perceptions, scientifically controlled, induce in our minds
ideas respecting the outer world that are, by their very nature, at
variance with reality, or that there is an inherent incompatibility
between the outer world and our sense-perceptions of it.

But then come the Neo-Kantian agnostics and say: We may correctly
perceive the qualities of a thing, but we cannot by any sensible or
mental process grasp the thing in itself. This "thing in itself" is
beyond our ken. To this Hegel, long since, has replied: If you know
all the qualities of a thing, you know the thing itself; nothing
remains but the fact that the said thing exists without us; and when
your senses have taught you that fact, you have grasped the last
remnant of the thing in itself, Kant's celebrated unknowable _Ding an
sich_. To which it may be added, that in Kant's time our knowledge of
natural objects was indeed so fragmentary that he might well suspect,
behind the little we knew about each of them, a mysterious "thing in
itself." But one after another these ungraspable things have been
grasped, analyzed, and, what is more, _reproduced_ by the giant
progress of science; and what we can produce, we certainly cannot
consider as unknowable. To the chemistry of the first half of this
century organic substances were such mysterious objects; now, we learn
to build them up one after another from their chemical elements
without the aid of organic processes. Modern chemists declare that as
soon as the chemical constitution of no matter what body is known, it
can be built up from its elements. We are still far from knowing the
constitution of the highest organic substances, the albuminous bodies;
but there is no reason why we should not, if only after centuries,
arrive at that knowledge and, armed with it, produce artificial
albumen. But if we arrive at that, we shall at the same time have
produced organic life, for life, from its lowest to its highest forms,
is but the normal mode of existence of albuminous bodies.

As soon, however, as our agnostic has made these formal mental
reservations, he talks and acts as the rank materialist he at bottom
is. He may say that, as far as _we_ know, matter and motion, or as it
is now called, energy, can neither be created nor destroyed, but that
we have no proof of their not having been created at some time or
other. But if you try to use this admission against him in any
particular case, he will quickly put you out of court. If he admits
the possibility of spiritualism _in abstracto_, he will have none of
it _in concreto_. As far as we know and can know, he will tell you
there is no Creator and no Ruler of the universe; as far as we are
concerned, matter and energy can neither be created nor annihilated;
for us, mind is a mode of energy, a function of the brain; all we know
is that the material world is governed by immutable laws, and so
forth. Thus, as far as he is a scientific man, as far as he _knows_
anything, he is a materialist; outside his science, in spheres about
which he knows nothing, he translates his ignorance into Greek and
calls it agnosticism.

At all events, one thing seems clear: even if I was an agnostic, it is
evident that I could not describe the conception of history sketched
out in this little book, as "historical agnosticism." Religious people
would laugh at me, agnostics would indignantly ask, was I going to
make fun of them? And thus I hope even British respectability will not
be overshocked if I use, in English as well as in so many other
languages, the term, "historical materialism," to designate that view
of the course of history, which seeks the ultimate cause and the great
moving power of all important historic events in the economic
development of society, in the changes in the modes of production and
exchange, in the consequent division of society into distinct classes,
and in the struggles of these classes against one another.

This indulgence will perhaps be accorded to me all the sooner if I
show that historical materialism may be of advantage even to British
respectability. I have mentioned the fact, that about forty or fifty
years ago, any cultivated foreigner settling in England was struck by
what he was then bound to consider the religious bigotry and stupidity
of the English respectable middle-class. I am now going to prove that
the respectable English middle-class of that time was not quite as
stupid as it looked to the intelligent foreigner. Its religious
leanings can be explained.

When Europe emerged from the Middle Ages, the rising middle-class of
the towns constituted its revolutionary element. It had conquered a
recognized position within mediæval feudal organization, but this
position, also, had become too narrow for its expansive power. The
development of the middle-class, the _bourgeoisie_, became
incompatible with the maintenance of the feudal system; the feudal
system, therefore, had to fall.

But the great international center of feudalism was the Roman Catholic
Church. It united the whole of feudalized Western Europe, in spite of
all internal wars, into one grand political system, opposed as much to
the schismatic Greeks as to the Mohammedian countries. It surrounded
feudal institutions with the halo of divine consecration. It had
organized its own hierarchy on the feudal model, and, lastly, it was
itself by far the most powerful feudal lord, holding, as it did, fully
one-third of the soil of the Catholic world. Before profane feudalism
could be successively attacked in each country and in detail, this,
its sacred central organization, had to be destroyed.

Moreover, parallel with the rise of the middle-class went on the great
revival of science; astronomy, mechanics, physics, anatomy,
physiology, were again cultivated. And the bourgeoisie, for the
development of its industrial production, required a science which
ascertained the physical properties of natural objects and the modes
of action of the forces of Nature. Now up to then science had but been
the humble handmaid of the Church, had not been allowed to overstep
the limits set by faith, and for that reason had been no science at
all. Science rebelled against the Church; the bourgeoisie could not do
without science, and, therefore, had to join in the rebellion.

The above, though touching but two of the points where the rising
middle-class was bound to come into collision with the established
religion, will be sufficient to show, first, that the class most
directly interested in the struggle against the pretensions of the
Roman Church was the bourgeoisie; and second, that every struggle
against feudalism, at that time, had to take on a religious disguise,
had to be directed against the Church in the first instance. But if
the universities and the traders of the cities started the cry, it was
sure to find, and did find, a strong echo in the masses of the country
people, the peasants, who everywhere had to struggle for their very
existence with their feudal lords, spiritual and temporal.

The long fight of the bourgeoisie against feudalism culminated in
three great, decisive battles.

The first was what is called the Protestant Reformation in Germany.
The war-cry raised against the Church by Luther was responded to by
two insurrections of a political nature: first, that of the lower
nobility under Franz von Sickingen (1523), then the great Peasants'
War, 1525. Both were defeated, chiefly in consequence of the
indecision of the parties most interested, the burghers of the
towns--an indecision into the causes of which we cannot here enter.
From that moment the struggle degenerated into a fight between the
local princes and the central power, and ended by blotting out
Germany, for two hundred years, from the politically active nations of
Europe. The Lutheran reformation produced a new creed indeed, a
religion adapted to absolute monarchy. No sooner were the peasants of
North-east Germany converted to Lutheranism than they were from
freemen reduced to serfs.

But where Luther failed, Calvin won the day. Calvin's creed was one
fit for the boldest of the bourgeoisie of his time. His predestination
doctrine was the religious expression of the fact that in the
commercial world of competition success or failure does not depend
upon a man's activity or cleverness, but upon circumstances
uncontrollable by him. It is not of him that willeth or of him that
runneth, but of the mercy of unknown superior economic powers: and
this was especially true at a period of economic revolution, when all
old commercial routes and centers were replaced by new ones, when
India and America were opened to the world, and when even the most
sacred economic articles of faith--the value of gold and silver--began
to totter and to break down. Calvin's church constitution was
thoroughly democratic and republican; and where the kingdom of God was
republicanized, could the kingdoms of this world remain subject to
monarchs, bishops, and lords? While German Lutheranism became a
willing tool in the hands of princes, Calvinism founded a republic in
Holland, and active republican parties in England, and, above all,

In Calvinism, the second great bourgeois upheaval found its doctrine
ready cut and dried. This upheaval took place in England. The
middle-class of the towns brought it on, and the yeomanry of the
country districts fought it out. Curiously enough, in all the three
great bourgeois risings, the peasantry furnishes the army that has to
do the fighting; and the peasantry is just the class that, the victory
once gained, is most surely ruined by the economic consequences of
that victory. A hundred years after Cromwell, the yeomanry of England
had almost disappeared. Anyhow, had it not been for that yeomanry and
for the _plebeian_ element in the towns, the bourgeoisie alone would
never have fought the matter out to the bitter end, and would never
have brought Charles I. to the scaffold. In order to secure even those
conquests of the bourgeoisie that were ripe for gathering at the
time, the revolution had to be carried considerably further--exactly
as in 1793 in France and 1848 in Germany. This seems, in fact, to be
one of the laws of evolution of bourgeois society.

Well, upon this excess of revolutionary activity there necessarily
followed the inevitable reaction which in its turn went beyond the
point where it might have maintained itself. After a series of
oscillations, the new center of gravity was at last attained and
became a new starting-point. The grand period of English history,
known to respectability under the name of "the Great Rebellion," and
the struggles succeeding it, were brought to a close by the
comparatively puny event entitled by Liberal historians, "the Glorious

The new starting-point was a compromise between the rising
middle-class and the ex-feudal landowners. The latter, though called,
as now, the aristocracy, had been long since on the way which led them
to become what Louis Philippe in France became at a much later period,
"the first bourgeois of the kingdom." Fortunately for England, the old
feudal barons had killed one another during the Wars of the Roses.
Their successors, though mostly scions of the old families, had been
so much out of the direct line of descent that they constituted quite
a new body, with habits and tendencies far more bourgeois than feudal.
They fully understood the value of money, and at once began to
increase their rents by turning hundreds of small farmers out and
replacing them by sheep. Henry VIII., while squandering the Church
lands, created fresh bourgeois landlords by wholesale; the innumerable
confiscations of estates, regranted to absolute or relative upstarts,
and continued during the whole of the seventeenth century, had the
same result. Consequently, ever since Henry VII., the English
"aristocracy," far from counteracting the development of industrial
production, had, on the contrary, sought to indirectly profit thereby;
and there had always been a section of the great landowners willing,
from economical or political reasons, to co-operate with the leading
men of the financial and industrial bourgeoisie. The compromise of
1689 was, therefore, easily accomplished. The political spoils of
"pelf and place" were left to the great land-owning families, provided
the economic interests of the financial, manufacturing, and commercial
middle-class were sufficiently attended to. And these economic
interests were at that time powerful enough to determine the general
policy of the nation. There might be squabbles about matters of
detail, but, on the whole, the aristocratic oligarchy knew too well
that its own economic prosperity was irretrievably bound up with that
of the industrial and commercial middle-class.

From that time, the bourgeoisie was a humble, but still a recognized
component of the ruling classes of England. With the rest of them, it
had a common interest in keeping in subjection the great working mass
of the nation. The merchant or manufacturer himself stood in the
position of master, or, as it was until lately called, of "natural
superior" to his clerks, his workpeople, his domestic servants. His
interest was to get as much and as good work out of them as he could;
for this end they had to be trained to proper submission. He was
himself religious; his religion had supplied the standard under which
he had fought the king and the lords; he was not long in discovering
the opportunities this same religion offered him for working upon the
minds of his natural inferiors, and making them submissive to the
behests of the masters it had pleased God to place over them. In
short, the English bourgeoisie now had to take a part in keeping down
the "lower orders," the great producing mass of the nation, and one of
the means employed for that purpose was the influence of religion.

There was another fact that contributed to strengthen the religious
leanings of the bourgeoisie. That was the rise of materialism in
England. This new doctrine not only shocked the pious feelings of the
middle-class; it announced itself as a philosophy only fit for
scholars and cultivated men of the world, in contrast to religion
which was good enough for the uneducated masses, including the
bourgeoisie. With Hobbes it stepped on the stage as a defender of
royal prerogative and omnipotence; it called upon absolute monarchy to
keep down that _puer robustus sed malitiosus_, to wit, the people.
Similarly, with the successors of Hobbes, with Bolingbroke,
Shaftesbury, etc., the new deistic form of materialism remained an
aristocratic, esoteric doctrine, and, therefore, hateful to the
middle-class both for its religious heresy and for its anti-bourgeois
political connections. Accordingly, in opposition to the materialism
and deism of the aristocracy, those Protestant sects which had
furnished the flag and the fighting contingent against the Stuarts,
continued to furnish the main strength of the progressive
middle-class, and form even to-day the backbone of "the Great Liberal

In the meantime materialism passed from England to France, where it
met and coalesced with another materialistic school of philosophers, a
branch of Cartesianism. In France, too, it remained at first an
exclusively aristocratic doctrine. But soon its revolutionary
character asserted itself. The French materialists did not limit their
criticism to matters of religious belief; they extended it to whatever
scientific tradition or political institution they met with; and to
prove the claim of their doctrine to universal application, they took
the shortest cut, and boldly applied it to all subjects of knowledge
in the giant work after which they were named--the _Encyclopédie_.
Thus, in one or the other of its two forms--avowed materialism or
deism--it became the creed of the whole cultured youth of France; so
much so that, when the great Revolution broke out, the doctrine
hatched by English Royalists gave a theoretical flag to French
Republicans and Terrorists, and furnished the text for the Declaration
of the Rights of Man. The great French Revolution was the third
uprising of the bourgeoisie, but the first that had entirely cast off
the religious cloak, and was fought out on undisguised political
lines; it was the first, too, that was really fought out to the
destruction of one of the combatants, the aristocracy, and the
complete triumph of the other, the bourgeoisie. In England the
continuity of pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary institutions,
and the compromise between landlords and capitalists, found its
expression in the continuity of judicial precedents and in the
religious preservation of the feudal forms of the law. In France the
Revolution constituted a complete breach with the traditions of the
past; it cleared out the very last vestiges of feudalism, and created
in the _Code Civil_ a masterly adaptation of the old Roman law--that
almost perfect expression of the juridical relations corresponding to
the economic stage called by Marx the production of commodities--to
modern capitalistic conditions; so masterly that this French
revolutionary code still serves as a model for reforms of the law of
property in all other countries, not excepting England. Let us,
however, not forget that if English law continues to express the
economic relations of capitalistic society in that barbarous feudal
language which corresponds to the thing expressed, just as English
spelling corresponds to English pronunciation--_vous écrivez Londres
et vous prononcez Constantinople_, said a Frenchman--that same English
law is the only one which has preserved through ages, and transmitted
to America and the Colonies the best part of that old Germanic
personal freedom, local self-government, and independence from all
interference but that of the law courts, which on the Continent has
been lost during the period of absolute monarchy, and has nowhere been
as yet fully recovered.

To return to our British bourgeois. The French Revolution gave him a
splendid opportunity, with the help of the Continental monarchies, to
destroy French maritime commerce, to annex French colonies, and to
crush the last French pretensions to maritime rivalry. That was one
reason why he fought it. Another was that the ways of this revolution
went very much against his grain. Not only its "execrable" terrorism,
but the very attempt to carry bourgeois rule to extremes. What should
the British bourgeois do without his aristocracy, that taught him
manners, such as they were, and invented fashions for him--that
furnished officers for the army, which kept order at home, and the
navy, which conquered colonial possessions and new markets abroad?
There was indeed a progressive minority of the bourgeoisie, that
minority whose interests were not so well attended to under the
compromise; this section, composed chiefly of the less wealthy
middle-class, did sympathize with the Revolution, but it was powerless
in Parliament.

Thus, if materialism became the creed of the French Revolution, the
God-fearing English bourgeois held all the faster to his religion. Had
not the reign of terror in Paris proved what was the upshot, if the
religious instincts of the masses were lost? The more materialism
spread from France to neighboring countries, and was reinforced by
similar doctrinal currents, notably by German philosophy, the more, in
fact, materialism and freethought generally became, on the Continent,
the necessary qualifications of a cultivated man, the more stubbornly
the English middle-class stuck to its manifold religious creeds. These
creeds might differ from one another, but they were, all of them,
distinctly religious, Christian creeds.

While the Revolution ensured the political triumph of the bourgeoisie
in France, in England Watt, Arkwright, Cartwright, and others,
initiated an industrial revolution, which completely shifted the
center of gravity of economic power. The wealth of the bourgeoisie
increased considerably faster than that of the landed aristocracy.
Within the bourgeoisie itself, the financial aristocracy, the bankers,
etc., were more and more pushed into the background by the
manufacturers. The compromise of 1689, even after the gradual changes
it had undergone in favor of the bourgeoisie, no longer corresponded
to the relative position of the parties to it. The character of these
parties, too, had changed; the bourgeoisie of 1830 was very different
from that of the preceding century. The political power still left to
the aristocracy, and used by them to resist the pretensions of the new
industrial bourgeoisie, became incompatible with the new economic
interests. A fresh struggle with the aristocracy was necessary; it
could end only in a victory of the new economic power. First, the
Reform Act was pushed through, in spite of all resistance, under the
impulse of the French Revolution of 1830. It gave to the bourgeoisie a
recognized and powerful place in Parliament. Then the Repeal of the
Corn Laws, which settled, once for all, the supremacy of the
bourgeoisie, and especially of its most active portion, the
manufacturers, over the landed aristocracy. This was the greatest
victory of the bourgeoisie; it was, however, also the last it gained
in its own, exclusive interest. Whatever triumphs it obtained later
on, it had to share with a new social power, first its ally, but soon
its rival.

The industrial revolution had created a class of large manufacturing
capitalists, but also a class--and a far more numerous one--of
manufacturing work-people. This class gradually increased in numbers,
in proportion as the industrial revolution seized upon one branch of
manufacture after another, and in the same proportion it increased in
power. This power it proved as early as 1824, by forcing a reluctant
Parliament to repeal the acts forbidding combinations of workmen.
During the Reform agitation, the working-men constituted the Radical
wing of the Reform party; the Act of 1832 having excluded them from
the suffrage, they formulated their demands in the People's Charter,
and constituted themselves, in opposition to the great bourgeois
Anti-Corn Law party, into an independent party, the Chartists, the
first working-men's party of modern times.

Then came the Continental revolutions of February and March, 1848, in
which the working people played such a prominent part, and, at least
in Paris, put forward demands which were certainly inadmissible from
the point of view of capitalistic society. And then came the general
reaction. First the defeat of the Chartists on the 10th April, 1848,
then the crushing of the Paris working-men's insurrection in June of
the same year, then the disasters of 1849 in Italy, Hungary, South
Germany, and at last the victory of Louis Bonaparte over Paris, 2nd
December, 1851. For a time, at least, the bugbear of working-class
pretensions was put down, but at what cost! If the British bourgeois
had been convinced before of the necessity of maintaining the common
people in a religious mood, how much more must he feel that necessity
after all these experiences? Regardless of the sneers of his
Continental compeers, he continued to spend thousands and tens of
thousands, year after year, upon the evangelization of the lower
orders; not content with his own native religious machinery, he
appealed to Brother Jonathan, the greatest organizer in existence of
religion as a trade, and imported from America revivalism, Moody and
Sankey, and the like; and, finally, he accepted the dangerous aid of
the Salvation Army, which revives the propaganda of early
Christianity, appeals to the poor as the elect, fights capitalism in a
religious way, and thus fosters an element of early Christian class
antagonism, which one day may become troublesome to the well-to-do
people who now find the ready money for it.

It seems a law of historical development that the bourgeoisie can in
no European country get hold of political power--at least for any
length of time--in the same exclusive way in which the feudal
aristocracy kept hold of it during the Middle Ages. Even in France,
where feudalism was completely extinguished, the bourgeoisie, as a
whole, has held full possession of the Government for very short
periods only. During Louis Philippe's reign, 1830-48, a very small
portion of the bourgeoisie ruled the kingdom; by far the larger part
were excluded from the suffrage by the high qualification. Under the
second Republic, 1848-51, the whole bourgeoisie ruled, but for three
years only; their incapacity brought on the second Empire. It is only
now, in the third Republic, that the bourgeoisie as a whole have kept
possession of the helm for more than twenty years; and they are
already showing lively signs of decadence. A durable reign of the
bourgeoisie has been possible only in countries like America, where
feudalism was unknown, and society at the very beginning started from
a bourgeois basis. And even in France and America, the successors of
the bourgeoisie, the working people, are already knocking at the door.

In England, the bourgeoisie never held undivided sway. Even the
victory of 1832 left the landed aristocracy in almost exclusive
possession of all the leading Government offices. The meekness with
which the wealthy middle-class submitted to this, remained
inconceivable to me until the great Liberal manufacturer, Mr. W.A.
Forster, in a public speech implored the young men of Bradford to
learn French, as a means to get on in the world, and quoted from his
own experience how sheepish he looked when, as a Cabinet Minister, he
had to move in society where French was, at least, as necessary as
English! The fact was, the English middle-class of that time were, as
a rule, quite uneducated upstarts, and could not help leaving to the
aristocracy those superior Government places where other
qualifications were required than mere insular narrowness and insular
conceit, seasoned by business sharpness.[C] Even now the endless
newspaper debates about middle-class education show that the English
middle-class does not yet consider itself good enough for the best
education, and looks to something more modest. Thus, even after the
Repeal of the Corn Laws, it appeared a matter of course, that the men
who had carried the day, the Cobdens, Brights, Forsters, etc., should
remain excluded from a share in the official government of the
country, until twenty years afterwards, a new Reform Act opened to
them the door of the Cabinet. The English bourgeoisie are, up to the
present day, so deeply penetrated by a sense of their social
inferiority that they keep up, at their own expense and that of the
nation, an ornamental caste of drones to represent the nation worthily
at all State functions; and they consider themselves highly honored
whenever one of themselves is found worthy of admission into this
select and privileged body, manufactured, after all, by themselves.

The industrial and commercial middle-class had, therefore, not yet
succeeded in driving the landed aristocracy completely from political
power when another competitor, the working-class, appeared on the
stage. The reaction after the Chartist movement and the Continental
revolutions, as well as the unparalleled extension of English trade
from 1848-1866, (ascribed vulgarly to Free Trade alone, but due far
more to the colossal development of railways, ocean steamers, and
means of intercourse generally), had again driven the working-class
into the dependency of the Liberal party, of which they formed, as in
pre-Chartist times, the Radical wing. Their claims to the franchise,
however, gradually became irresistible; while the Whig leaders of the
Liberals "funked," Disraeli showed his superiority by making the
Tories seize the favorable moment and introduce household suffrage in
the boroughs, along with a redistribution of seats. Then followed the
ballot; then in 1884 the extension of household suffrage to the
counties and a fresh redistribution of seats, by which electoral
districts were to some extent equalized. All these measures
considerably increased the electoral power of the working-class, so
much so that in at least 150 to 200 constituencies that class now
furnishes the majority of voters. But parliamentary government is a
capital school for teaching respect for tradition; if the middle-class
look with awe and veneration upon what Lord John Manners playfully
called "our old nobility," the mass of the working-people then looked
up with respect and deference to what used to be designated as "their
betters," the middle-class. Indeed, the British workman, some fifteen
years ago, was the model workman, whose respectful regard for the
position of his master, and whose self-restraining modesty in claiming
rights for himself, consoled our German economists of the
_Katheder-Socialist_ school for the incurable communistic and
revolutionary tendencies of their own working-men at home.

But the English middle-class--the good men of business as they
are--saw farther than the German professors. They had shared their
power but reluctantly with the working-class. They had learnt, during
the Chartist years, what that _puer robustus sed malitiosus_, the
people, is capable of. And since that time, they had been compelled to
incorporate the better part of the People's Charter in the Statutes
of the United Kingdom. Now, if ever, the people must be kept in order
by moral means, and the first and foremost of all moral means of
action upon the masses is and remains--religion. Hence the parsons'
majorities on the School Boards, hence the increasing self-taxation of
the bourgeoisie for the support of all sorts of revivalism, from
ritualism to the Salvation Army.

And now came the triumph of British respectability over the
freethought and religious laxity of the Continental bourgeois. The
workmen of France and Germany had become rebellious. They were
thoroughly infected with socialism, and, for very good reasons, were
not at all particular as to the legality of the means by which to
secure their own ascendency. The _puer robustus_, here, turned from
day to day more _malitiosus_. Nothing remained to the French and
German bourgeoisie as a last resource but to silently drop their
freethought, as a youngster, when sea-sickness creeps upon him,
quietly drops the burning cigar he brought swaggeringly on board; one
by one, the scoffers turned pious in outward behavior, spoke with
respect of the Church, its dogmas and rites, and even conformed with
the latter as far as could not be helped. French bourgeoisie dined
_maigre_ on Fridays, and German ones sat out long Protestant sermons
in their pews on Sundays. They had come to grief with materialism.
"_Die Religion muss dem Volk erhalten werden_,"--religion must be
kept alive for the people--that was the only and the last means to
save society from utter ruin. Unfortunately for themselves, they did
not find this out until they had done their level best to break up
religion for ever. And now it was the turn of the British bourgeois to
sneer and to say: "Why, you fools, I could have told you that two
hundred years ago!"

However, I am afraid neither the religious stolidity of the British,
nor the _post festum_ conversion of the Continental bourgeois will
stem the rising Proletarian tide. Tradition is a great retarding
force, is the _vis inertiæ_ of history, but, being merely passive, is
sure to be broken down; and thus religion will be no lasting safeguard
to capitalist society. If our juridical, philosophical, and religious
ideas are the more or less remote offshoots of the economical
relations prevailing in a given society, such ideas cannot, in the
long run, withstand the effects of a complete change in these
relations. And, unless we believe in supernatural revelation, we must
admit that no religious tenets will ever suffice to prop up a
tottering society.

In fact, in England, too, the working-people have begun to move again.
They are, no doubt, shackled by traditions of various kinds. Bourgeois
traditions, such as the widespread belief that there can be but two
parties, Conservatives and Liberals, and that the working-class must
work out its salvation by and through the great Liberal party.
Working-men's traditions, inherited from their first tentative efforts
at independent action, such as the exclusion, from ever so many old
Trade Unions, of all applicants who have not gone through a regular
apprenticeship; which means the breeding, by every such union, of its
own blacklegs. But for all that the English working-class is moving,
as even Professor Brentano has sorrowfully had to report to his
brother Katheder-Socialists. It moves, like all things in England,
with a slow and measured step, with hesitation here, with more or less
unfruitful, tentative attempts there; it moves now and then with an
over-cautious mistrust of the name of Socialism, while it gradually
absorbs the substance; and the movement spreads and seizes one layer
of the workers after another. It has now shaken out of their torpor
the unskilled laborers of the East End of London, and we all know what
a splendid impulse these fresh forces have given it in return. And if
the pace of the movement is not up to the impatience of some people,
let them not forget that it is the working-class which keeps alive the
finest qualities of the English character, and that, if a step in
advance is once gained in England, it is, as a rule, never lost
afterwards. If the sons of the old Chartists, for reasons explained
above, were not quite up to the mark, the grandsons bid fair to be
worthy of their forefathers.

But the triumph of the European working-class does not depend upon
England alone. It can only be secured by the co-operation of, at
least, England, France, and Germany. In both the latter countries the
working-class movement is well ahead of England. In Germany it is even
within measurable distance of success. The progress it has there made
during the last twenty-five years is unparalleled. It advances with
ever-increasing velocity. If the German middle-class have shown
themselves lamentably deficient in political capacity, discipline,
courage, energy, and perseverance, the German working-class have given
ample proof of all these qualities. Four hundred years ago, Germany
was the starting-point of the first upheaval of the European
middle-class; as things are now, is it outside the limits of
possibility that Germany will be the scene, too, of the first great
victory of the European proletariat?

                                                       F. ENGELS.

  _April 20th, 1892._


[A] "Qual" is a philosophical play upon words. Qual literally means
torture, a pain which drives to action of some kind; at the same time
the mystic Böhme puts into the German word something of the meaning of
the Latin _qualitas_; his "qual" was the activating principle arising
from, and promoting in its turn, the spontaneous development of the
thing, relation, or person subject to it, in contradistinction to a
pain inflicted from without.

[B] Marx and Engels, "Die Heilige Familie," Frankfurt a. M. 1845, pp.

[C] And even in business matters, the conceit of national Chauvinism
is but a sorry adviser. Up to quite recently, the average English
manufacturer considered it derogatory from an Englishman to speak any
language but his own, and felt rather proud than otherwise of the fact
that "poor devils" of foreigners settled in England and took off his
hands the trouble of disposing of his products abroad. He never
noticed that these foreigners, mostly Germans, thus got command of a
very large part of British foreign trade, imports and exports, and
that the direct foreign trade of Englishmen became limited, almost
entirely, to the colonies, China, the United States, and South
America. Nor did he notice that these Germans traded with other
Germans abroad, who gradually organized a complete network of
commercial colonies all over the world. But when Germany, about forty
years ago, seriously began manufacturing for export, this network
served her admirably in her transformation, in so short a time, from a
corn-exporting into a first-rate manufacturing country. Then, about
ten years ago, the British manufacturer got frightened, and asked his
ambassadors and consuls how it was that he could no longer keep his
customers together. The unanimous answer was: (1) You don't learn your
customer's language but expect him to speak your own; (2) You don't
even try to suit your customer's wants, habits, and tastes, but expect
him to conform to your English ones.




Modern Socialism is, in its essence, the direct product of the
recognition, on the one hand, of the class antagonisms, existing in
the society of to-day, between proprietors and non-proprietors,
between capitalists and wage-workers; on the other hand, of the
anarchy existing in production. But, in its theoretical form, modern
Socialism originally appears ostensibly as a more logical extension of
the principles laid down by the great French philosophers of the
eighteenth century. Like every new theory, modern Socialism had, at
first, to connect itself with the intellectual stock-in-trade ready to
its hand, however deeply its roots lay in material economic facts.

The great men, who in France prepared men's minds for the coming
revolution, were themselves extreme revolutionists. They recognized no
external authority of any kind whatever. Religion, natural science,
society, political institutions, everything, was subjected to the most
unsparing criticism; everything must justify its existence before the
judgment-seat of reason, or give up existence. Reason became the sole
measure of everything. It was the time when, as Hegel says, the world
stood upon its head;[1] first, in the sense that the human head, and
the principles arrived at by its thought, claimed to be the basis of
all human action and association; but by and by, also, in the wider
sense that the reality which was in contradiction to these principles
had, in fact, to be turned upside down. Every form of society and
government then existing, every old traditional notion was flung into
the lumber-room as irrational: the world had hitherto allowed itself
to be led solely by prejudices; everything in the past deserved only
pity and contempt. Now, for the first time, appeared the light of day,
the kingdom of reason; henceforth superstition, injustice, privilege,
oppression, were to be superseded by eternal truth, eternal Right,
equality based on Nature and the inalienable rights of man.

We know to-day that this kingdom of reason was nothing more than the
idealized kingdom of the bourgeoisie; that this eternal Right found
its realization in bourgeois justice; that this equality reduced
itself to bourgeois equality before the law; that bourgeois property
was proclaimed as one of the essential rights of man; and that the
government of reason, the Contrat Social of Rousseau, came into
being, and only could come into being, as a democratic bourgeois
republic. The great thinkers of the eighteenth century could, no more
than their predecessors, go beyond the limits imposed upon them by
their epoch.

But, side by side with the antagonism of the feudal nobility and the
burghers, who claimed to represent all the rest of society, was the
general antagonism of exploiters and exploited, of rich idlers and
poor workers. It was this very circumstance that made it possible for
the representatives of the bourgeoisie to put themselves forward as
representing, not one special class, but the whole of suffering
humanity. Still further. From its origin, the bourgeoisie was saddled
with its antithesis: capitalists cannot exist without wage-workers,
and, in the same proportion as the mediæval burgher of the guild
developed into the modern bourgeois, the guild journeyman and the
day-laborer, outside the guilds, developed into the proletarian. And
although, upon the whole, the bourgeoisie, in their struggle with the
nobility, could claim to represent at the same time the interests of
the different working-classes of that period, yet in every great
bourgeois movement there were independent outbursts of that class
which was the forerunner, more or less developed, of the modern
proletariat. For example, at the time of the German reformation and
the peasants' war, the Anabaptists and Thomas Münzer; in the great
English revolution, the Levellers; in the great French revolution,

There were theoretical enunciations corresponding with these
revolutionary uprisings of a class not yet developed; in the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries, Utopian pictures of ideal social
conditions; in the eighteenth, actual communistic theories (Morelly
and Mably). The demand for equality was no longer limited to political
rights; it was extended also to the social conditions of individuals.
It was not simply class privileges that were to be abolished, but
class distinctions themselves. A Communism, ascetic, denouncing all
the pleasures of life, Spartan, was the first form of the new
teaching. Then came the three great Utopians; Saint Simon, to whom
the middle-class movement, side by side with the proletarian, still
had a certain significance; Fourier; and Owen, who in the country
where capitalist production was most developed, and under the
influence of the antagonisms begotten of this, worked out his
proposals for the removal of class distinction systematically and in
direct relation to French materialism.

One thing is common to all three. Not one of them appears as a
representative of the interests of that proletariat, which historical
development had, in the meantime, produced. Like the French
philosophers, they do not claim to emancipate a particular class to
begin with, but all humanity at once. Like them, they wish to bring in
the kingdom of reason and eternal justice, but this kingdom, as they
see it, is as far as heaven from earth, from that of the French

For, to our three social reformers, the bourgeois world, based upon
the principles of these philosophers, is quite as irrational and
unjust, and, therefore, finds its way in the dust-hole quite as
readily as feudalism and all the earlier stages of society. If pure
reason and justice have not, hitherto, ruled the world, this has been
the case only because men have not rightly understood them. What was
wanted was the individual man of genius, who has now arisen and who
understands the truth. That he has now arisen, that the truth has now
been clearly understood, is not an inevitable event, following of
necessity in the chain of historical development, but a mere happy
accident. He might just as well have been born 500 years earlier, and
might then have spared humanity 500 years of error, strife, and

We saw how the French philosophers of the eighteenth century, the
forerunners of the Revolution, appealed to reason as the sole judge of
all that is. A rational government, rational society, were to be
founded; everything that ran counter to eternal reason was to be
remorselessly done away with. We saw also that this eternal reason was
in reality nothing but the idealized understanding of the eighteenth
century citizen, just then evolving into the bourgeois. The French
Revolution had realized this rational society and government.

But the new order of things, rational enough as compared with earlier
conditions, turned out to be by no means absolutely rational. The
State based upon reason completely collapsed. Rousseau's Contrat
Social had found its realization in the Reign of Terror, from which
the bourgeoisie, who had lost confidence in their own political
capacity, had taken refuge first in the corruption of the Directorate,
and, finally, under the wing of the Napoleonic despotism. The promised
eternal peace was turned into an endless war of conquest. The society
based upon reason had fared no better. The antagonism between rich and
poor, instead of dissolving into general prosperity, had become
intensified by the removal of the guild and other privileges, which
had to some extent bridged it over, and by the removal of the
charitable institutions of the Church. The "freedom of property" from
feudal fetters, now veritably accomplished, turned out to be, for the
small capitalists and small proprietors, the freedom to sell their
small property, crushed under the overmastering competition of the
large capitalists and landlords, to these great lords, and thus, as
far as the small capitalists and peasant proprietors were concerned,
became "freedom _from_ property." The development of industry upon a
capitalistic basis made poverty and misery of the working masses
conditions of existence of society. Cash payment became more and more,
in Carlyle's phrase, the sole nexus between man and man. The number of
crimes increased from year to year. Formerly, the feudal vices had
openly stalked about in broad daylight; though not eradicated, they
were now at any rate thrust into the background. In their stead, the
bourgeois vices, hitherto practiced in secret, began to blossom all
the more luxuriantly. Trade became to a greater and greater extent
cheating. The "fraternity" of the revolutionary motto was realized in
the chicanery and rivalries of the battle of competition. Oppression
by force was replaced by corruption; the sword, as the first social
lever, by gold. The right of the first night was transferred from the
feudal lords to the bourgeois manufacturers. Prostitution increased to
an extent never heard of. Marriage itself remained, as before, the
legally recognized form, the official cloak of prostitution, and,
moreover, was supplemented by rich crops of adultery.

In a word, compared with the splendid promises of the philosophers,
the social and political institutions born of the "triumph of reason"
were bitterly disappointing caricatures. All that was wanting was the
men to formulate this disappointment, and they came with the turn of
the century. In 1802 Saint Simon's Geneva letters appeared; in 1808
appeared Fourier's first work, although the groundwork of his theory
dated from 1799; on January 1, 1800, Robert Owen undertook the
direction of New Lanark.

At this time, however, the capitalist mode of production, and with it
the antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, was still
very incompletely developed. Modern Industry, which had just arisen
in England, was still unknown in France. But Modern Industry
develops, on the one hand, the conflicts which make absolutely
necessary a revolution in the mode of production, and the doing away
with its capitalistic character--conflicts not only between the
classes begotten of it, but also between the very productive forces
and the forms of exchange created by it. And, on the other hand, it
develops, in these very gigantic productive forces, the means of
ending these conflicts. If, therefore, about the year 1800, the
conflicts arising from the new social order were only just beginning
to take shape, this holds still more fully as to the means of ending
them. The "have-nothing" masses of Paris, during the Reign of Terror,
were able for a moment to gain the mastery, and thus to lead the
bourgeois revolution to victory in spite of the bourgeoisie
themselves. But, in doing so, they only proved how impossible it was
for their domination to last under the conditions then obtaining. The
proletariat, which then for the first time evolved itself from these
"have-nothing" masses as the nucleus of a new class, as yet quite
incapable of independent political action, appeared as an oppressed,
suffering order, to whom, in its incapacity to help itself, help
could, at best, be brought in from without, or down from above.

This historical situation also dominated the founders of Socialism. To
the crude conditions of capitalistic production and the crude class
conditions corresponded crude theories. The solution of the social
problems, which as yet lay hidden in undeveloped economic conditions,
the Utopians attempted to evolve out of the human brain. Society
presented nothing but wrongs; to remove these was the task of reason.
It was necessary, then, to discover a new and more perfect system of
social order and to impose this upon society from without by
propaganda, and, wherever it was possible, by the example of model
experiments. These new social systems were foredoomed as Utopian; the
more completely they were worked out in detail, the more they could
not avoid drifting off into pure phantasies.

These facts once established, we need not dwell a moment longer upon
this side of the question, now wholly belonging to the past. We can
leave it to the literary small fry to solemnly quibble over these
phantasies, which to-day only make us smile, and to crow over the
superiority of their own bald reasoning, as compared with such
"insanity." For ourselves, we delight in the stupendously grand
thoughts and germs of thought that everywhere break out through their
phantastic covering, and to which these Philistines are blind.

Saint Simon was a son of the great French Revolution, at the outbreak
of which he was not yet thirty. The Revolution was the victory of the
third estate, _i.e._, of the great masses of the nation, _working_ in
production and in trade, over the privileged _idle_ classes, the
nobles and the priests. But the victory of the third estate soon
revealed itself as exclusively the victory of a small part of this
"estate," as the conquest of political power by the socially
privileged section of it, _i.e._, the propertied bourgeoisie. And the
bourgeoisie had certainly developed rapidly during the Revolution,
partly by speculation in the lands of the nobility and of the Church,
confiscated and afterwards put up for sale, and partly by frauds upon
the nation by means of army contracts. It was the domination of these
swindlers that, under the Directorate, brought France to the verge of
ruin, and thus gave Napoleon the pretext for his _coup-d'état_.

Hence, to Saint Simon the antagonism between the third estate and the
privileged classes took the form of an antagonism between "workers"
and "idlers." The idlers were not merely the old privileged classes,
but also all who, without taking any part in production or
distribution, lived on their incomes. And the workers were not only
the wage-workers, but also the manufacturers, the merchants, the
bankers. That the idlers had lost the capacity for intellectual
leadership and political supremacy had been proved, and was by the
Revolution finally settled. That the non-possessing classes had not
this capacity seemed to Saint Simon proved by the experiences of the
Reign of Terror. Then, who was to lead and command? According to
Saint Simon, science and industry, both united by a new religious
bond, destined to restore that unity of religious ideas which had been
lost since the time of the Reformation--a necessarily mystic and
rigidly hierarchic "new Christianity." But science, that was the
scholars; and industry, that was in the first place, the working
bourgeois, manufacturers, merchants, bankers. These bourgeoisie were
certainly, intended by Saint Simon to transform themselves into a kind
of public officials, of social trustees; but they were still to hold,
_vis-à-vis_ of the workers, a commanding and economically privileged
position. The bankers especially were to be called upon to direct the
whole of social production by the regulation of credit. This
conception was in exact keeping with a time in which Modern Industry
in France and, with it, the chasm between bourgeoisie and proletariat
was only just coming into existence. But what Saint Simon especially
lays stress upon is this: what interests him first, and above all
other things, is the lot of the class that is the most numerous and
the most poor ("_la classe la plus nombreuse et la plus pauvre_").

Already, in his Geneva letters, Saint Simon lays down the proposition
that "all men ought to work." In the same work he recognizes also that
the Reign of Terror was the reign of the non-possessing masses. "See,"
says he to them, "what happened in France at the time when your
comrades held sway there; they brought about a famine." But to
recognize the French Revolution as a class war, and not simply one
between nobility and bourgeoisie, but between nobility, bourgeoisie,
and the non-possessers, was, in the year 1802, a most pregnant
discovery. In 1816, he declares that politics is the science of
production, and foretells the complete absorption of politics by
economics. The knowledge that economic conditions are the basis of
political institutions appears here only in embryo. Yet what is here
already very plainly expressed is the idea of the future conversion of
political rule over men into an administration of things and a
direction of processes of production--that is to say, the "abolition
of the State," about which recently there has been so much noise.

Saint Simon shows the same superiority over his contemporaries, when
in 1814, immediately after the entry of the allies into Paris, and
again in 1815, during the Hundred Days' War, he proclaims the alliance
of France with England, and then of both these countries with Germany,
as the only guarantee for the prosperous development and peace of
Europe. To preach to the French in 1815 an alliance with the victors
of Waterloo required as much courage as historical foresight.

If in Saint Simon we find a comprehensive breadth of view, by virtue
of which almost all the ideas of later Socialists, that are not
strictly economic, are found in him in embryo, we find in Fourier a
criticism of the existing conditions of society genuinely French and
witty, but not upon that account any the less thorough. Fourier takes
the bourgeoisie, their inspired prophets before the Revolution, and
their interested eulogists after it, at their own word. He lays bare
remorsely the material and moral misery of the bourgeois world. He
confronts it with the earlier philosophers' dazzling promises of a
society in which reason alone should reign, of a civilization in which
happiness should be universal, of an illimitable human perfectibility,
and with the rose-colored phraseology of the bourgeois ideologists of
his time. He points out how everywhere the most pitiful reality
corresponds with the most high-sounding phrases, and he overwhelms
this hopeless fiasco of phrases with his mordant sarcasm.

Fourier is not only a critic; his imperturbably serene nature makes
him a satirist, and assuredly one of the greatest satirists of all
time. He depicts, with equal power and charm, the swindling
speculations that blossomed out upon the downfall of the Revolution,
and the shopkeeping spirit prevalent in, and characteristic of, French
commerce at that time. Still more masterly is his criticism of the
bourgeois form of the relations between the sexes, and the position of
woman in bourgeois society. He was the first to declare that in any
given society the degree of woman's emancipation is the natural
measure of the general emancipation.

But Fourier is at his greatest in his conception of the history of
society. He divides its whole course, thus far, into four stages of
evolution--savagery, barbarism, the patriarchate, civilization. This
last is identical with the so-called civil, or bourgeois, society of
to-day--_i.e._, with the social order that came in with the sixteenth
century. He proves "that the civilized stage raises every vice
practiced by barbarism in a simple fashion, into a form of existence,
complex, ambiguous, equivocal, hypocritical"--that civilization moves
in "a vicious circle," in contradictions which it constantly
reproduces without being able to solve them; hence it constantly
arrives at the very opposite to that which it wants to attain, or
pretends to want to attain, so that, _e.g._, "under civilization
poverty is born of superabundance itself."

Fourier, as we see, uses the dialectic method in the same masterly way
as his contemporary Hegel. Using these same dialectics, he argues,
against the talk about illimitable human perfectibility that every
historical phase has its period of ascent and also its period of
descent, and he applies this observation to the future of the whole
human race. As Kant introduced into natural science the idea of the
ultimate destruction of the earth, Fourier introduced into historical
science that of the ultimate destruction of the human race.

Whilst in France the hurricane of the Revolution swept over the land,
in England a quieter, but not on that account less tremendous,
revolution was going on. Steam and the new tool-making machinery were
transforming manufacture into modern industry, and thus
revolutionizing the whole foundation of bourgeois society. The
sluggish march of development of the manufacturing period changed into
a veritable storm and stress period of production. With constantly
increasing swiftness the splitting-up of society into large
capitalists and non-possessing proletarians went on. Between these,
instead of the former stable middle-class, an unstable mass of
artisans and small shopkeepers, the most fluctuating portion of the
population, now led a precarious existence.

The new mode of production was, as yet, only at the beginning of its
period of ascent; as yet it was the normal, regular method of
production--the only one possible under existing conditions.
Nevertheless, even then it was producing crying social abuses--the
herding together of a homeless population in the worst quarters of the
large towns; the loosening of all traditional moral bonds, of
patriarchal subordination, of family relations; overwork, especially
of women and children, to a frightful extent; complete demoralization
of the working-class, suddenly flung into altogether new conditions,
from the country into the town, from agriculture into modern industry,
from stable conditions of existence into insecure ones that changed
from day to day.

At this juncture there came forward as a reformer a manufacturer 29
years old--a man of almost sublime, childlike simplicity of character,
and at the same time one of the few born leaders of men. Robert Owen
had adopted the teaching of the materialistic philosophers: that
man's character is the product, on the one hand, of heredity, on the
other, of the environment of the individual during his lifetime, and
especially during his period of development. In the industrial
revolution most of his class saw only chaos and confusion, and the
opportunity of fishing in these troubled waters and making large
fortunes quickly. He saw in it the opportunity of putting into
practice his favorite theory, and so of bringing order out of chaos.
He had already tried it with success, as superintendent of more than
five hundred men in a Manchester factory. From 1800 to 1829, he
directed the great cotton mill at New Lanark, in Scotland, as managing
partner, along the same lines, but with greater freedom of action and
with a success that made him a European reputation. A population,
originally consisting of the most diverse and, for the most part, very
demoralized elements, a population that gradually grew to 2,500, he
turned into a model colony, in which drunkenness, police, magistrates,
lawsuits, poor laws, charity, were unknown. And all this simply by
placing the people in conditions worthy of human beings, and
especially by carefully bringing up the rising generation. He was the
founder of infant schools, and introduced them first at New Lanark. At
the age of two the children came to school, where they enjoyed
themselves so much that they could scarcely be got home again. Whilst
his competitors worked their people thirteen or fourteen hours a day,
in New Lanark the working-day was only ten and a half hours. When a
crisis in cotton stopped work for four months, his workers received
their full wages all the time. And with all this the business more
than doubled in value, and to the last yielded large profits to its

In spite of all this, Owen was not content. The existence which he
secured for his workers was, in his eyes, still far from being worthy
of human beings. "The people were slaves at my mercy." The relatively
favorable conditions in which he had placed them were still far from
allowing a rational development of the character and of the intellect
in all directions, much less of the free exercise of all their
faculties. "And yet, the working part of this population of 2,500
persons was daily producing as much real wealth for society as, less
than half a century before, it would have required the working part of
a population of 600,000 to create. I asked myself, what became of the
difference between the wealth consumed by 2,500 persons and that which
would have been consumed by 600,000?"[2]

The answer was clear. It had been used to pay the proprietors of the
establishment 5 per cent. on the capital they had laid out, in
addition to over £300,000 clear profit. And that which held for New
Lanark held to a still greater extent for all the factories in
England. "If this new wealth had not been created by machinery,
imperfectly as it has been applied, the wars of Europe, in opposition
to Napoleon, and to support the aristocratic principles of society,
could not have been maintained. And yet this new power was the
creation of the working-classes."[3] To them, therefore, the fruits of
this new power belonged. The newly-created gigantic productive forces,
hitherto used only to enrich individuals and to enslave the masses,
offered to Owen the foundations for a reconstruction of society; they
were destined, as the common property of all, to be worked for the
common good of all.

Owen's Communism was based upon this purely business foundation, the
outcome, so to say, of commercial calculation. Throughout, it
maintained this practical character. Thus, in 1823, Owen proposed the
relief of the distress in Ireland by Communist colonies, and drew up
complete estimates of costs of founding them, yearly expenditure, and
probable revenue. And in his definite plan for the future, the
technical working out of details is managed with such practical
knowledge--ground plan, front and side and bird's-eye views all
included--that the Owen method of social reform once accepted, there
is from the practical point of view little to be said against the
actual arrangement of details.

His advance in the direction of Communism was the turning-point in
Owen's life. As long as he was simply a philanthropist, he was
rewarded with nothing but wealth, applause, honor, and glory. He was
the most popular man in Europe. Not only men of his own class, but
statesmen and princes listened to him approvingly. But when he came
out with his Communist theories, that was quite another thing. Three
great obstacles seemed to him especially to block the path to social
reform: private property, religion, the present form of marriage. He
knew what confronted him if he attacked these--outlawry,
excommunication from official society, the loss of his whole social
position. But nothing of this prevented him from attacking them
without fear of consequences, and what he had foreseen happened.
Banished from official society, with a conspiracy of silence against
him in the press, ruined by his unsuccessful Communist experiments in
America, in which he sacrificed all his fortune, he turned directly to
the working-class and continued working in their midst for thirty
years. Every social movement, every real advance in England on behalf
of the workers links itself on to the name of Robert Owen. He forced
through in 1819, after five years' fighting, the first law limiting
the hours of labor of women and children in factories. He was
president of the first Congress at which all the Trade Unions of
England united in a single great trade association. He introduced as
transition measures to the complete communistic organization of
society, on the one hand, cooperative societies for retail trade and
production. These have since that time, at least, given practical
proof that the merchant and the manufacturer are socially quite
unnecessary. On the other hand, he introduced labor bazaars for the
exchange of the products of labor through the medium of labor-notes,
whose unit was a single hour of work; institutions necessarily doomed
to failure, but completely anticipating Proudhon's bank of exchange
of a much later period, and differing entirely from this in that it
did not claim to be the panacea for all social ills, but only a first
step towards a much more radical revolution of society.

The Utopians' mode of thought has for a long time governed the
socialist ideas of the nineteenth century, and still governs some of
them. Until very recently all French and English Socialists did homage
to it. The earlier German Communism, including that of Weitling, was
of the same school. To all these Socialism is the expression of
absolute truth, reason, and justice, and has only to be discovered to
conquer all the world by virtue of its own power. And as absolute
truth is independent of time, space, and of the historical development
of man, it is a mere accident when and where it is discovered. With
all this, absolute truth, reason, and justice are different with the
founder of each different school. And as each one's special kind of
absolute truth, reason, and justice is again conditioned by his
subjective understanding, his conditions of existence, the measure of
his knowledge and his intellectual training, there is no other ending
possible in this conflict of absolute truths than that they shall be
mutually exclusive one of the other. Hence, from this nothing could
come but a kind of eclectic, average Socialism, which, as a matter of
fact, has up to the present time dominated the minds of most of the
socialist workers in France and England. Hence, a mish-mash allowing
of the most manifold shades of opinion; a mish-mash of such critical
statements, economic theories, pictures of future society by the
founders of different sects, as excite a minimum of opposition; a
mish-mash which is the more easily brewed the more the definite sharp
edges of the individual constituents are rubbed down in the stream of
debate, like rounded pebbles in a brook.

To make a science of Socialism, it had first to be placed upon a real


[1] This is the passage on the French Revolution: "Thought, the
concept of law, all at once made itself felt, and against this the old
scaffolding of wrong could make no stand. In this conception of law,
therefore, a constitution has now been established, and henceforth
everything must be based upon this. Since the sun had been in the
firmament, and the planets circled round him, the sight had never been
seen of man standing upon his head--_i.e._, on the Idea--and building
reality after this image. Anaxagoras first said that the Nous, reason,
rules the world; but now, for the first time, had man come to
recognize that the Idea must rule the mental reality. And this was a
magnificent sunrise. All thinking Beings have participated in
celebrating this holy day. A sublime emotion swayed men at that time,
an enthusiasm of reason pervaded the world, as if now had come the
reconciliation of the Divine Principle with the world." [Hegel:
"Philosophy of History," 1840, p. 535.] Is it not high time to set the
anti-Socialist law in action against such teachings, subversive and to
the common danger, by the late Professor Hegel?

[2] From "The Revolution in Mind and Practice," p. 21, a memorial
addressed to all the "red Republicans, Communists and Socialists of
Europe," and sent to the provisional government of France, 1848, and
also "to Queen Victoria and her responsible advisers."

[3] Note, l. c., p. 70.


In the meantime, along with and after the French philosophy of the
eighteenth century had arisen the new German philosophy, culminating
in Hegel. Its greatest merit was the taking up again of dialectics as
the highest form of reasoning. The old Greek philosophers were all
born natural dialecticians, and Aristotle, the most encyclopædic
intellect of them, had already analyzed the most essential forms of
dialectic thought. The newer philosophy, on the other hand, although
in it also dialectics had brilliant exponents (_e.g._ Descartes and
Spinoza), had, especially through English influence, become more and
more rigidly fixed in the so-called metaphysical mode of reasoning, by
which also the French of the eighteenth century were almost wholly
dominated, at all events in their special philosophical work. Outside
philosophy in the restricted sense, the French nevertheless produced
masterpieces of dialectic. We need only call to mind Diderot's "Le
Neveu de Rameau," and Rousseau's "Discours sur l'origine et les
fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes." We give here, in brief,
the essential character of these two modes of thought.

When we consider and reflect upon nature at large, or the history of
mankind, or our own intellectual activity, at first we see the picture
of an endless entanglement of relations and reactions, permutations
and combinations, in which nothing remains what, where, and as it was,
but everything moves, changes, comes into being and passes away. We
see, therefore, at first the picture as a whole, with its individual
parts still more or less kept in the background; we observe the
movements, transitions, connections, rather than the things that move,
combine, and are connected. This primitive, naïve, but intrinsically
correct conception of the world is that of ancient Greek philosophy,
and was first clearly formulated by Heraclitus: everything is and is
not, for everything is fluid, is constantly changing, constantly
coming into being and passing away.

But this conception, correctly as it expresses the general character
of the picture of appearances as a whole, does not suffice to explain
the details of which this picture is made up, and so long as we do not
understand these, we have not a clear idea of the whole picture. In
order to understand these details we must detach them from their
natural or historical connection and examine each one separately, its
nature, special causes, effects, etc. This is, primarily, the task of
natural science and historical research; branches of science which the
Greeks of classical times, on very good grounds, relegated to a
subordinate position, because they had first of all to collect
materials for these sciences to work upon. A certain amount of natural
and historical material must be collected before there can be any
critical analysis, comparison, and arrangement in classes, orders, and
species. The foundations of the exact natural sciences were,
therefore, first worked out by the Greeks of the Alexandrian period,
and later on, in the Middle Ages, by the Arabs. Real natural science
dates from the second half of the fifteenth century, and thence onward
it has advanced with constantly increasing rapidity. The analysis of
Nature into its individual parts, the grouping of the different
natural processes and objects in definite classes, the study of the
internal anatomy of organized bodies in their manifold forms--these
were the fundamental conditions of the gigantic strides in our
knowledge of Nature that have been made during the last four hundred
years. But this method of work has also left us as legacy the habit of
observing natural objects and processes in isolation, apart from their
connection with the vast whole; of observing them in repose, not in
motion; as constants, not as essentially variables; in their death,
not in their life. And when this way of looking at things was
transferred by Bacon and Locke from natural science to philosophy, it
begot the narrow, metaphysical mode of thought peculiar to the last

To the metaphysician, things and their mental reflexes, ideas, are
isolated, are to be considered one after the other and apart from
each other, are objects of investigation fixed, rigid, given once for
all. He thinks in absolutely irreconcilable antitheses. "His
communication is 'yea, yea; nay, nay;' for whatsoever is more than
these cometh of evil." For him a thing either exists or does not
exist; a thing cannot at the same time be itself and something else.
Positive and negative absolutely exclude one another; cause and effect
stand in a rigid antithesis one to the other.

At first sight this mode of thinking seems to us very luminous,
because it is that of so-called sound commonsense. Only sound
commonsense, respectable fellow that he is, in the homely realm of his
own four walls, has very wonderful adventures directly he ventures out
into the wide world of research. And the metaphysical mode of thought,
justifiable and necessary as it is in a number of domains whose extent
varies according to the nature of the particular object of
investigation, sooner or later reaches a limit, beyond which it
becomes one-sided, restricted, abstract, lost in insoluble
contradictions. In the contemplation of individual things, it forgets
the connection between them; in the contemplation of their existence,
it forgets the beginning and end of that existence; of their repose,
it forgets their motion. It cannot see the wood for the trees.

For everyday purposes we know and can say _e.g._, whether an animal is
alive or not. But, upon closer inquiry, we find that this is, in many
cases, a very complex question, as the jurists know very well. They
have cudgelled their brains in vain to discover a rational limit
beyond which the killing of the child in its mother's womb is murder.
It is just as impossible to determine absolutely the moment of death,
for physiology proves that death is not an instantaneous, momentary
phenomenon, but a very protracted process.

In like manner, every organized being is every moment the same and not
the same; every moment it assimilates matter supplied from without,
and gets rid of other matter; every moment some cells of its body die
and others build themselves anew; in a longer or shorter time the
matter of its body is completely renewed, and is replaced by other
molecules of matter, so that every organized being is always itself,
and yet something other than itself.

Further, we find upon closer investigation that the two poles of an
antithesis, positive and negative, _e.g._, are as inseparable as they
are opposed, and that despite all their opposition, they mutually
interpenetrate. And we find, in like manner, that cause and effect are
conceptions which only hold good in their application to individual
cases; but as soon as we consider the individual cases in their
general connection with the universe as a whole, they run into each
other, and they become confounded when we contemplate that universal
action and reaction in which causes and effects are eternally changing
places, so that what is effect here and now will be cause there and
then, and _vice versâ_.

None of these processes and modes of thought enters into the framework
of metaphysical reasoning. Dialectics, on the other hand, comprehends
things and their representations, ideas, in their essential
connection, concatenation, motion, origin, and ending. Such processes
as those mentioned above are, therefore, so many corroborations of its
own method of procedure.

Nature is the proof of dialectics, and it must be said for modern
science that it has furnished this proof with very rich materials
increasing daily, and thus has shown that, in the last resort, Nature
works dialectically and not metaphysically; that she does not move in
the eternal oneness of a perpetually recurring circle, but goes
through a real historical evolution. In this connection Darwin must be
named before all others. He dealt the metaphysical conception of
Nature the heaviest blow by his proof that all organic beings, plants,
animals, and man himself, are the products of a process of evolution
going on through millions of years. But the naturalists who have
learned to think dialectically are few and far between, and this
conflict of the results of discovery with preconceived modes of
thinking explains the endless confusion now reigning in theoretical
natural science, the despair of teachers as well as learners, of
authors and readers alike.

An exact representation of the universe, of its evolution, of the
development of mankind, and of the reflection of this evolution in the
minds of men, can therefore only be obtained by the methods of
dialectics with its constant regard to the innumerable actions and
reactions of life and death, of progressive or retrogressive changes.
And in this spirit the new German philosophy has worked. Kant began
his career by resolving the stable solar system of Newton and its
eternal duration, after the famous initial impulse had once been
given, into the result of a historic process, the formation of the sun
and all the planets out of a rotating nebulous mass. From this he at
the same time drew the conclusion that, given this origin of the solar
system, its future death followed of necessity. His theory half a
century later was established mathematically by Laplace, and half a
century after that the spectroscope proved the existence in space of
such incandescent masses of gas in various stages of condensation.

This new German philosophy culminated in the Hegelian system. In this
system--and herein is its great merit--for the first time the whole
world, natural, historical, intellectual, is represented as a process,
_i.e._, as in constant motion, change, transformation, development;
and the attempt is made to trace out the internal connection that
makes a continuous whole of all this movement and development. From
this point of view the history of mankind no longer appeared as a wild
whirl of senseless deeds of violence, all equally condemnable at the
judgment seat of mature philosophic reason, and which are best
forgotten as quickly as possible; but as the process of evolution of
man himself. It was now the task of the intellect to follow the
gradual march of this process through all its devious ways, and to
trace out the inner law running through all its apparently accidental

That the Hegelian system did not solve the problem it propounded is
here immaterial. Its epoch-making merit was that it propounded the
problem. This problem is one that no single individual will ever be
able to solve. Although Hegel was--with Saint Simon--the most
encyclopædic mind of his time, yet he was limited, first, by the
necessarily limited extent of his own knowledge, and, second, by the
limited extent and depth of the knowledge and conceptions of his age.
To these limits a third must be added. Hegel was an idealist. To him
the thoughts within his brain were not the more or less abstract
pictures of actual things and processes, but, conversely, things and
their evolution were only the realized pictures of the "Idea,"
existing somewhere from eternity before the world was. This way of
thinking turned everything upside down, and completely reversed the
actual connection of things in the world. Correctly and ingeniously as
many individual groups of facts were grasped by Hegel, yet, for the
reasons just given, there is much that is botched, artificial,
labored, in a word, wrong in point of detail. The Hegelian system, in
itself, was a colossal miscarriage--but it was also the last of its
kind. It was suffering, in fact, from an internal and incurable
contradiction. Upon the one hand, its essential proposition was the
conception that human history is a process of evolution, which, by its
very nature, cannot find its intellectual final term in the discovery
of any so-called absolute truth. But, on the other hand, it laid claim
to being the very essence of this absolute truth. A system of natural
and historical knowledge, embracing everything, and final for all
time, is a contradiction to the fundamental law of dialectic
reasoning. This law, indeed, by no means excludes, but, on the
contrary, includes the idea that the systematic knowledge of the
external universe can make giant strides from age to age.

The perception of the fundamental contradiction in German idealism led
necessarily back to materialism, but _nota bene_, not to the simply
metaphysical, exclusively mechanical materialism of the eighteenth
century. Old materialism looked upon all previous history as a crude
heap of irrationality and violence; modern materialism sees in it the
process of evolution of humanity, and aims at discovering the laws
thereof. With the French of the eighteenth century, and even with
Hegel, the conception obtained of Nature as a whole, moving in narrow
circles, and forever immutable, with its eternal celestial bodies, as
Newton, and unalterable organic species, as Linnæus, taught. Modern
materialism embraces the more recent discoveries of natural science,
according to which Nature also has its history in time, the celestial
bodies, like the organic species that, under favorable conditions,
people them, being born and perishing. And even if Nature, as a whole,
must still be said to move in recurrent cycles, these cycles assume
infinitely larger dimensions. In both aspects, modern materialism is
essentially dialectic, and no longer requires the assistance of that
sort of philosophy which, queen-like, pretended to rule the remaining
mob of sciences. As soon as each special science is bound to make
clear its position in the great totality of things and of our
knowledge of things, a special science dealing with this totality is
superfluous or unnecessary. That which still survives of all earlier
philosophy is the science of thought and its laws--formal logic and
dialectics. Everything else is subsumed in the positive science of
Nature and history.

Whilst, however, the revolution in the conception of Nature could only
be made in proportion to the corresponding positive materials
furnished by research, already much earlier certain historical facts
had occurred which led to a decisive change in the conception of
history. In 1831, the first working-class rising took place in Lyons;
between 1838 and 1842, the first national working-class movement, that
of the English Chartists, reached its height. The class struggle
between proletariat and bourgeoisie came to the front in the history
of the most advanced countries in Europe, in proportion to the
development, upon the one hand, of modern industry, upon the other, of
the newly-acquired political supremacy of the bourgeoisie. Facts more
and more strenuously gave the lie to the teachings of bourgeois
economy as to the identity of the interests of capital and labor, as
to the universal harmony and universal prosperity that would be the
consequence of unbridled competition. All these things could no longer
be ignored, any more than the French and English Socialism, which was
their theoretical, though very imperfect, expression. But the old
idealist conception of history, which was not yet dislodged, knew
nothing of class struggles based upon economic interests, knew nothing
of economic interests; production and all economic relations appeared
in it only as incidental, subordinate elements in the "history of

The new facts made imperative a new examination of all past history.
Then it was seen that _all_ past history, with the exception of its
primitive stages, was the history of class struggles; that these
warring classes of society are always the products of the modes of
production and of exchange--in a word, of the _economic_ conditions of
their time; that the economic structure of society always furnishes
the real basis, starting from which we can alone work out the
ultimate explanation of the whole superstructure of juridical and
political institutions as well as of the religious, philosophical, and
other ideas of a given historical period. Hegel had freed history from
metaphysics--he had made it dialectic; but his conception of history
was essentially idealistic. But now idealism was driven from its last
refuge, the philosophy of history; now a materialistic treatment of
history was propounded, and a method found of explaining man's
"knowing" by his "being," instead of, as heretofore, his "being" by
his "knowing."

From that time forward Socialism was no longer an accidental discovery
of this or that ingenious brain, but the necessary outcome of the
struggle between two historically developed classes--the proletariat
and the bourgeoisie. Its task was no longer to manufacture a system of
society as perfect as possible, but to examine the historico-economic
succession of events from which these classes and their antagonism had
of necessity sprung, and to discover in the economic conditions thus
created the means of ending the conflict. But the Socialism of earlier
days was as incompatible with this materialistic conception as the
conception of Nature of the French materialists was with dialectics
and modern natural science. The Socialism of earlier days certainly
criticised the existing capitalistic mode of production and its
consequences. But it could not explain them, and, therefore, could not
get the mastery of them. It could only simply reject them as bad. The
more strongly this earlier Socialism denounced the exploitation of the
working-class, inevitable under Capitalism, the less able was it
clearly to show in what this exploitation consisted and how it arose.
But for this it was necessary--(1) to present the capitalistic method
of production in its historical connection and its inevitableness
during a particular historical period, and therefore, also, to present
its inevitable downfall; and (2) to lay bare its essential character,
which was still a secret. This was done by the discovery of
_surplus-value_. It was shown that the appropriation of unpaid labor
is the basis of the capitalist mode of production and of the
exploitation of the worker that occurs under it; that even if the
capitalist buys the labor-power of his laborer at its full value as a
commodity on the market, he yet extracts more value from it than he
paid for; and that in the ultimate analysis this surplus-value forms
those sums of value from which are heaped up the constantly increasing
masses of capital in the hands of the possessing classes. The genesis
of capitalist production and the production of capital were both

These two great discoveries, the materialistic conception of history
and the revelation of the secret of capitalistic production through
surplus-value, we owe to Marx. With these discoveries Socialism became
a science. The next thing was to work out all its details and


The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that
the production of the means to support human life and, next to
production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all
social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history,
the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into
classes or orders, is dependent upon what is produced, how it is
produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of view
the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are
to be sought, not in men's brains, not in man's better insight into
eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production
and exchange. They are to be sought, not in the _philosophy_, but in
the _economics_ of each particular epoch. The growing perception that
existing social institutions are unreasonable and unjust, that reason
has become unreason, and right wrong, is only proof that in the modes
of production and exchange changes have silently taken place, with
which the social order, adapted to earlier economic conditions, is no
longer in keeping. From this it also follows that the means of getting
rid of the incongruities that have been brought to light, must also be
present, in a more or less developed condition, within the changed
modes of production themselves. These means are not to be invented by
deduction from fundamental principles, but are to be discovered in the
stubborn facts of the existing system of production.

What is, then, the position of modern Socialism in this connection?

The present structure of society--this is now pretty generally
conceded--is the creation of the ruling class of to-day, of the
bourgeoisie. The mode of production peculiar to the bourgeoisie,
known, since Marx, as the capitalist mode of production, was
incompatible with the feudal system, with the privileges it conferred
upon individuals, entire social ranks and local corporations, as well
as with the hereditary ties of subordination which constituted the
framework of its social organization. The bourgeoisie broke up the
feudal system and built upon its ruins the capitalist order of
society, the kingdom of free competition, of personal liberty, of the
equality, before the law, of all commodity owners, of all the rest of
the capitalist blessings. Thenceforward the capitalist mode of
production could develop in freedom. Since steam, machinery, and the
making of machines by machinery transformed the older manufacture into
modern industry, the productive forces evolved under the guidance of
the bourgeoisie developed with a rapidity and in a degree unheard of
before. But just as the older manufacture, in its time, and
handicraft, becoming more developed under its influence, had come into
collision with the feudal trammels of the guilds, so now modern
industry, in its more complete development, comes into collision with
the bounds within which the capitalistic mode of production holds it
confined. The new productive forces have already outgrown the
capitalistic mode of using them. And this conflict between productive
forces and modes of production is not a conflict engendered in the
mind of man, like that between original sin and divine justice. It
exists, in fact, objectively, outside us, independently of the will
and actions even of the men that have brought it on. Modern Socialism
is nothing but the reflex, in thought, of this conflict in fact; its
ideal reflection in the minds, first, of the class directly suffering
under it, the working-class.

Now, in what does this conflict consist?

Before capitalistic production, _i.e._, in the Middle Ages, the system
of petty industry obtained generally, based upon the private property
of the laborers in their means of production; in the country, the
agriculture of the small peasant, freeman or serf; in the towns, the
handicrafts organized in guilds. The instruments of labor--land,
agricultural implements, the workshop, the tool--were the instruments
of labor of single individuals, adapted for the use of one worker,
and, therefore, of necessity, small, dwarfish, circumscribed. But,
for this very reason they belonged, as a rule, to the producer
himself. To concentrate these scattered, limited means of production,
to enlarge them, to turn them into the powerful levers of production
of the present day--this was precisely the historic rôle of capitalist
production and of its upholder, the bourgeoisie. In the fourth section
of "Capital" Marx has explained in detail, how since the fifteenth
century this has been historically worked out through the three phases
of simple co-operation, manufacture, and modern industry. But the
bourgeoisie, as is also shown there, could not transform these puny
means of production into mighty productive forces, without
transforming them, at the same time, from means of production of the
individual into _social_ means of production only workable by a
collectivity of men. The spinning-wheel, the handloom, the
blacksmith's hammer, were replaced by the spinning-machine, the
power-loom, the steam-hammer; the individual workshop, by the factory
implying the co-operation of hundreds and thousands of workmen. In
like manner, production itself changed from a series of individual
into a series of social acts, and the products from individual to
social products. The yarn, the cloth, the metal articles that now came
out of the factory were the joint product of many workers through
whose hands they had successively to pass before they were ready. No
one person could say of them: "I made that; this is _my_ product."

But where, in a given society, the fundamental form of production is
that spontaneous division of labor which creeps in gradually and not
upon any preconceived plan, there the products take on the form of
_commodities_, whose mutual exchange, buying and selling, enable the
individual producers to satisfy their manifold wants. And this was the
case in the Middle Ages. The peasant, _e.g._, sold to the artisan
agricultural products and bought from him the products of handicraft.
Into this society of individual producers, of commodity-producers, the
new mode of production thrust itself. In the midst of the old division
of labor, grown up spontaneously and upon _no definite plan_, which
had governed the whole of society, now arose division of labor upon _a
definite plan_, as organized in the factory; side by side with
_individual_ production appeared _social_ production. The products of
both were sold in the same market, and, therefore, at prices at least
approximately equal. But organization upon a definite plan was
stronger than spontaneous division of labor. The factories working
with the combined social forces of a collectivity of individuals
produced their commodities far more cheaply than the individual small
producers. Individual production succumbed in one department after
another. Socialized production revolutionized all the old methods of
production. But its revolutionary character was, at the same time, so
little recognized, that it was, on the contrary, introduced as a means
of increasing and developing the production of commodities. When it
arose, it found ready-made, and made liberal use of, certain machinery
for the production and exchange of commodities; merchants' capital,
handicraft, wage-labor. Socialized production thus introducing itself
as a new form of the production of commodities, it was a matter of
course that under it the old forms of appropriation remained in full
swing, and were applied to its products as well.

In the mediæval stage of evolution of the production of commodities,
the question as to the owner of the product of labor could not arise.
The individual producer, as a rule, had, from raw material belonging
to himself, and generally his own handiwork, produced it with his own
tools, by the labor of his own hands or of his family. There was no
need for him to appropriate the new product. It belonged wholly to
him, as a matter of course. His property in the product was,
therefore, based _upon his own labor_. Even where external help was
used, this was, as a rule, of little importance, and very generally
was compensated by something other than wages. The apprentices and
journeymen of the guilds worked less for board and wages than for
education, in order that they might become master craftsmen

Then came the concentration of the means of production and of the
producers in large workshops and manufactories, their transformation
into actual socialized means of production and socialized producers.
But the socialized producers and means of production and their
products were still treated, after this change, just as they had been
before, _i.e._, as the means of production and the products of
individuals. Hitherto, the owner of the instruments of labor had
himself appropriated the product, because, as a rule, it was his own
product and the assistance of others was the exception. Now the owner
of the instruments of labor always appropriated to himself the
product, although it was no longer _his_ product but exclusively the
product of the _labor of others_. Thus, the products now produced
socially were not appropriated by those who had actually set in motion
the means of production and actually produced the commodities, but by
the _capitalists_. The means of production, and production itself, had
become in essence socialized. But they were subjected to a form of
appropriation which presupposes the private production of individuals,
under which, therefore, every one owns his own product and brings it
to market. The mode of production is subjected to this form of
appropriation, although it abolishes the conditions upon which the
latter rests.[4]

This contradiction, which gives to the new mode of production its
capitalistic character, _contains the germ of the whole of the social
antagonisms of to-day_. The greater the mastery obtained by the new
mode of production over all important fields of production and in all
manufacturing countries, the more it reduced individual production to
an insignificant residuum, _the more clearly was brought out the
incompatibility of socialized production with capitalistic

The first capitalists found, as we have said, alongside of other forms
of labor, wage-labor ready-made for them on the market. But it was
exceptional, complementary, accessory, transitory wage-labor. The
agricultural laborer, though, upon occasion, he hired himself out by
the day, had a few acres of his own land on which he could at all
events live at a pinch. The guilds were so organized that the
journeyman of to-day became the master of to-morrow. But all this
changed, as soon as the means of production became socialized and
concentrated in the hands of capitalists. The means of production, as
well as the product of the individual producer became more and more
worthless; there was nothing left for him but to turn wage-worker
under the capitalist. Wage-labor, aforetime the exception and
accessory, now became the rule and basis of all production; aforetime
complementary, it now became the sole remaining function of the
worker. The wage-worker for a time became a wage-worker for life. The
number of these permanent wage-workers was further enormously
increased by the breaking-up of the feudal system that occurred at the
same time, by the disbanding of the retainers of the feudal lords, the
eviction of the peasants from their homesteads, etc. The separation
was made complete between the means of production concentrated in the
hands of the capitalists on the one side, and the producers,
possessing nothing but their labor-power, on the other. _The
contradiction between socialized production and capitalistic
appropriation manifested itself as the antagonism of proletariat and

We have seen that the capitalistic mode of production thrust its way
into a society of commodity-producers, of individual producers, whose
social bond was the exchange of their products. But every society,
based upon the production of commodities, has this peculiarity: that
the producers have lost control over their own social inter-relations.
Each man produces for himself with such means of production as he may
happen to have, and for such exchange as he may require to satisfy
his remaining wants. No one knows how much of his particular article
is coming on the market, nor how much of it will be wanted. No one
knows whether his individual product will meet an actual demand,
whether he will be able to make good his cost of production or even to
sell his commodity at all. Anarchy reigns in socialized production.

But the production of commodities, like every other form of
production, has its peculiar inherent laws inseparable from it; and
these laws work, despite anarchy, in and through anarchy. They reveal
themselves in the only persistent form of social inter-relations,
_i.e._, in exchange, and here they affect the individual producers as
compulsory laws of competition. They are, at first, unknown to these
producers themselves, and have to be discovered by them gradually and
as the result of experience. They work themselves out, therefore,
independently of the producers, and in antagonism to them, as
inexorable natural laws of their particular form of production. The
product governs the producers.

In mediæval society especially in the earlier centuries, production
was essentially directed towards satisfying the wants of the
individual. It satisfied, in the main, only the wants of the producer
and his family. Where relations of personal dependence existed, as in
the country, it also helped to satisfy the wants of the feudal lord.
In all this there was, therefore, no exchange; the products,
consequently, did not assume the character of commodities. The family
of the peasant produced almost everything they wanted: clothes and
furniture, as well as means of subsistence. Only when it began to
produce more than was sufficient to supply its own wants and the
payments in kind to the feudal lord, only then did it also produce
commodities. This surplus, thrown into socialized exchange and offered
for sale, became commodities.

The artisans of the towns, it is true, had from the first to produce
for exchange. But they, also, themselves supplied the greatest part
of their own individual wants. They had gardens and plots of land.
They turned their cattle out into the communal forest, which, also,
yielded them timber and firing. The women spun flax, wool, and so
forth. Production for the purpose of exchange, production of
commodities, was only in its infancy. Hence, exchange was restricted,
the market narrow, the methods of production stable; there was local
exclusiveness without, local unity within; the mark[5] in the country,
in the town, the guild.

But with the extension of the production of commodities, and
especially with the introduction of the capitalist mode of production,
the laws of commodity-production, hitherto latent, came into action
more openly and with greater force. The old bonds were loosened, the
old exclusive limits broken through, the producers were more and more
turned into independent, isolated producers of commodities. It became
apparent that the production of society at large was ruled by absence
of plan, by accident, by anarchy; and this anarchy grew to greater
and greater height. But the chief means by aid of which the capitalist
mode of production intensified this anarchy of socialized production,
was the exact opposite of anarchy. It was the increasing organization
of production, upon a social basis, in every individual productive
establishment. By this, the old, peaceful, stable condition of things
was ended. Wherever this organization of production was introduced
into a branch of industry, it brooked no other method of production by
its side. The field of labor became a battle-ground. The great
geographical discoveries, and the colonization following upon them,
multiplied markets and quickened the transformation of handicraft into
manufacture. The war did not simply break out between the individual
producers of particular localities. The local struggles begat in their
turn national conflicts, the commercial wars of the seventeenth and
the eighteenth centuries.

Finally, modern industry and the opening of the world-market made the
struggle universal, and at the same time gave it an unheard-of
virulence. Advantages in natural or artificial conditions of
production now decide the existence or non-existence of individual
capitalists, as well as of whole industries and countries. He that
falls is remorselessly cast aside. It is the Darwinian struggle of the
individual for existence transferred from Nature to society with
intensified violence. The conditions of existence natural to the
animal appear as the final term of human development. The
contradiction between socialized production and capitalistic
appropriation now presents itself as _an antagonism between the
organization of production in the individual workshop and the anarchy
of production in society generally_.

The capitalistic mode of production moves in these two forms of the
antagonism immanent to it from its very origin. It is never able to
get out of that "vicious circle," which Fourier had already
discovered. What Fourier could not, indeed, see in his time is, that
this circle is gradually narrowing; that the movement becomes more and
more a spiral, and must come to an end, like the movement of the
planets, by collision with the center. It is the compelling force of
anarchy in the production of society at large that more and more
completely turns the great majority of men into proletarians; and it
is the masses of the proletariat again who will finally put an end to
anarchy in production. It is the compelling force of anarchy in social
production that turns the limitless perfectibility of machinery under
modern industry into a compulsory law by which every individual
industrial capitalist must perfect his machinery more and more, under
penalty of ruin.

But the perfecting of machinery is making human labor superfluous. If
the introduction and increase of machinery means the displacement of
millions of manual, by a few machine-workers, improvement in machinery
means the displacement of more and more of the machine-workers
themselves. It means, in the last instance, the production of a number
of available wage-workers in excess of the average needs of capital,
the formation of a complete industrial reserve army, as I called it
in 1845,[6] available at the times when industry is working at high
pressure, to be cast out upon the street when the inevitable crash
comes, a constant dead weight upon the limbs of the working-class in
its struggle for existence with capital, a regulator for the keeping
of wages down to the low level that suits the interests of capital.
Thus it comes about, to quote Marx, that machinery becomes the most
powerful weapon in the war of capital against the working-class; that
the instruments of labor constantly tear the means of subsistence out
of the hands of the laborer; that the very product of the worker is
turned into an instrument for his subjugation. Thus it comes about
that the economizing of the instruments of labor becomes at the same
time, from the outset, the most reckless waste of labor-power, and
robbery based upon the normal conditions under which labor functions;
that machinery, "the most powerful instrument for shortening
labor-time, becomes the most unfailing means for placing every moment
of the laborer's time and that of his family at the disposal of the
capitalist for the purpose of expanding the value of his capital"
("Capital," American edition, p. 445). Thus it comes about that
over-work of some becomes the preliminary condition for the idleness
of others, and that modern industry, which hunts after new consumers
over the whole world, forces the consumption of the masses at home
down to a starvation minimum, and in doing thus destroys its own home
market. "The law that always equilibrates the relative surplus
population, or industrial reserve army, to the extent and energy of
accumulation, this law rivets the laborer to capital more firmly than
the wedges of Vulcan did Prometheus to the rock. It establishes an
accumulation of misery, corresponding with accumulation of capital.
Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time,
accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality,
mental degradation, at the opposite pole, _i.e._, on the side of the
class that produces _its own product in the form of capital_." (Marx'
"Capital" Vol. I [Kerr & Co.]. p. 709.) And to expect any other
division of the products from the capitalistic mode of production is
the same as expecting the electrodes of a battery not to decompose
acidulated water, not to liberate oxygen at the positive, hydrogen at
the negative pole, so long as they are connected with the battery.

We have seen that the ever-increasing perfectibility of modern
machinery is, by the anarchy of social production, turned into a
compulsory law that forces the individual industrial capitalist always
to improve his machinery always to increase its productive force. The
bare possibility of extending the field of production is transformed
for him into a similar compulsory law. The enormous expansive force of
modern industry, compared with which that of gases is mere child's
play, appears to us now as a _necessity_ for expansion, both
qualitative and quantitative, that laughs at all resistance. Such
resistance is offered by consumption, by sales, by the markets for
the products of modern industry. But the capacity for extension,
extensive and intensive, of the markets is primarily governed by quite
different laws, that work much less energetically. The extension of
the markets can not keep pace with the extension of production. The
collision becomes inevitable, and as this cannot produce any real
solution so long as it does not break in pieces the capitalist mode of
production, the collisions become periodic. Capitalist production has
begotten another "vicious circle."

As a matter of fact, since 1825, when the first general crisis broke
out, the whole industrial and commercial world, production and
exchange among all civilized peoples and their more or less barbaric
hangers-on, are thrown out of joint about once every ten years.
Commerce is at a stand-still, the markets are glutted, products
accumulate, as multitudinous as they are unsaleable, hard cash
disappears, credit vanishes, factories are closed, the mass of the
workers are in want of the means of subsistence, because they have
produced too much of the means of subsistence; bankruptcy follows
upon bankruptcy, execution upon execution. The stagnation lasts for
years; productive forces and products are wasted and destroyed
wholesale, until the accumulated mass of commodities finally filter
off, more or less depreciated in value, until production and exchange
gradually begin to move again. Little by little the pace quickens. It
becomes a trot. The industrial trot breaks into a canter, the canter
in turn grows into the headlong gallop of a perfect steeplechase of
industry, commercial credit, and speculation, which finally, after
breakneck leaps, ends where it began--in the ditch of a crisis. And so
over and over again. We have now, since the year 1825, gone through
this five times, and at the present moment (1877) we are going through
it for the sixth time. And the character of these crises is so clearly
defined that Fourier hit all of them off, when he described the first
as "_crise pléthorique_," a crisis from plethora.

In these crises, the contradiction between socialized production and
capitalist appropriation ends in a violent explosion. The circulation
of commodities is, for the time being, stopped. Money, the means of
circulation, becomes a hindrance to circulation. All the laws of
production and circulation of commodities are turned upside down. The
economic collision has reached its apogee. _The mode of production is
in rebellion against the mode of exchange._

The fact that the socialized organization of production within the
factory has developed so far that it has become incompatible with the
anarchy of production in society, which exists side by side with and
dominates it, is brought home to the capitalists themselves by the
violent concentration of capital that occurs during crises, through
the ruin of many large, and a still greater number of small,
capitalists. The whole mechanism of the capitalist mode of production
breaks down under the pressure of the productive forces, its own
creations. It is no longer able to turn all this mass of means of
production into capital. They lie fallow, and for that very reason the
industrial reserve army must also lie fallow. Means of production,
means of subsistence, available laborers, all the elements of
production and of general wealth, are present in abundance. But
"abundance becomes the source of distress and want" (Fourier), because
it is the very thing that prevents the transformation of the means of
production and subsistence into capital. For in capitalistic society
the means of production can only function when they have undergone a
preliminary transformation into capital, into the means of exploiting
human labor-power. The necessity of this transformation into capital
of the means of production and subsistence stands like a ghost between
these and the workers. It alone prevents the coming together of the
material and personal levers of production; it alone forbids the means
of production to function, the workers to work and live. On the one
hand, therefore, the capitalistic mode of production stands convicted
of its own incapacity to further direct these productive forces. On
the other, these productive forces themselves, with increasing energy,
press forward to the removal of the existing contradiction, to the
abolition of their quality as capital, to the _practical recognition
of their character as social productive forces_.

This rebellion of the productive forces, as they grow more and more
powerful, against their quality as capital, this stronger and stronger
command that their social character shall be recognized, forces the
capitalist class itself to treat them more and more as social
productive forces, so far as this is possible under capitalist
conditions. The period of industrial high pressure, with its unbounded
inflation of credit, not less than the crash itself, by the collapse
of great capitalist establishments, tends to bring about that form of
the socialization of great masses of means of production, which we
meet with in the different kinds of joint-stock companies. Many of
these means of production and of distribution are, from the outset, so
colossal, that, like the railroads, they exclude all other forms of
capitalistic exploitation. At a further stage of evolution this form
also becomes insufficient. The producers on a large scale in a
particular branch of industry in a particular country unite in a
"Trust," a union for the purpose of regulating production. They
determine the total amount to be produced, parcel it out among
themselves, and thus enforce the selling price fixed beforehand. But
trusts of this kind, as soon as business becomes bad, are generally
liable to break up, and, on this very account, compel a yet greater
concentration of association. The whole of the particular industry is
turned into one gigantic joint-stock company; internal competition
gives place to the internal monopoly of this one company. This has
happened in 1890 with the English _alkali_ production, which is now,
after the fusion of 48 large works, in the hands of one company,
conducted upon a single plan, and with a capital of £6,000,000.

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

In any case, with trusts or without, the official representative of
capitalist society--the State--will ultimately have to undertake the
direction of production.[7] This necessity for conversion into
State-property is felt first in the great institutions for intercourse
and communication--the postoffice, the telegraphs, the railways.

If the crisis 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, show 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 capitalistic 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.

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 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 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 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 to-day 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.

Active social forces work exactly like natural forces: blindly,
forcibly, destructively, so long as we do not understand, and reckon
with, them. But when once we understand them, when once we grasp their
action, their direction, their effects, it depends only upon ourselves
to subject them more and more to our own will, and by means of them to
reach our own ends. And this holds quite especially of the mighty
productive forces of to-day. As long as we obstinately refuse to
understand the nature and the character of these social means of
action--and this understanding goes against the grain of the
capitalist mode of production and its defenders--so long these forces
are at work in spite of us, in opposition to us, so long they master
us, as we have shown above in detail.

But when once their nature is understood, they can, in the hands of
the producers working together, be transformed from master demons into
willing servants. The difference is as that between the destructive
force of electricity in the lightning of the storm, and electricity
under command in the telegraph and the voltaic arc; the difference
between a conflagration, and fire working in the service of man. With
this recognition at last of the real nature of the productive forces
of to-day, the social anarchy of production gives place to a social
regulation of production upon a definite plan, according to the needs
of the community and of each individual. Then the capitalist mode of
appropriation, in which the product enslaves first the producer and
then the appropriator, is replaced by the mode of appropriation of the
products that is based upon the nature of the modern means of
production; upon the one hand, direct social appropriation, as means
to the maintenance and extension of production--on the other, direct
individual appropriation, as means of subsistence and of enjoyment.

Whilst the capitalist mode of production more and more completely
transforms the great majority of the population into proletarians, it
creates the power which, under penalty of its own destruction, is
forced to accomplish this revolution. Whilst it forces on more and
more the transformation of the vast means of production, already
socialized, into State property, it shows itself the way to
accomplishing this revolution. _The proletariat seizes political power
and turns the means of production into State property._

But in doing this, it abolishes itself as proletariat, abolishes all
class distinctions and class antagonisms, abolishes also the State as
State. Society thus far, based upon class antagonisms, had need of the
State. That is, of an organization of the particular class which was
_pro tempore_ the exploiting class, an organization for the purpose of
preventing any interference from without with the existing conditions
of production, and therefore, especially, for the purpose of forcibly
keeping the exploited classes in the condition of oppression
corresponding with the given mode of production (slavery, serfdom,
wage-labor). The State was the official representative of society as a
whole; the gathering of it together into a visible embodiment. But it
was this only in so far as it was the State of that class which itself
represented, for the time being, society as a whole; in ancient times,
the State of slave-owning citizens; in the middle ages, the feudal
lords; in our own time, the bourgeoisie. When at last it becomes the
real representative of the whole of society, it renders itself
unnecessary. As soon as there is no longer any social class to be held
in subjection; as soon as class rule, and the individual struggle for
existence based upon our present anarchy in production, with the
collisions and excesses arising from these, are removed, nothing more
remains to be repressed, and a special repressive force, a State, is
no longer necessary. The first act by virtue of which the State really
constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society--the
taking possession of the means of production in the name of
society--this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a
State. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain
after another, superfluous, and then dies out of itself; the
government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and
by the conduct of processes of production. The State is not
"abolished." _It dies out._ This gives the measure of the value of the
phrase "a free State," both as to its justifiable use at times by
agitators, and as to its ultimate scientific insufficiency; and also
of the demands of the so-called anarchists for the abolition of the
State out of hand.

Since the historical appearance of the capitalist mode of production,
the appropriation by society of all the means of production has often
been dreamed of, more or less vaguely, by individuals, as well as by
sects, as the ideal of the future. But it could become possible, could
become a historical necessity, only when the actual conditions for its
realization were there. Like every other social advance, it becomes
practicable, not by men understanding that the existence of classes is
in contradiction to justice, equality, etc., not by the mere
willingness to abolish these classes, but by virtue of certain new
economic conditions. The separation of society into an exploiting and
an exploited class, a ruling and an oppressed class, was the
necessary consequence of the deficient and restricted development of
production in former times. So long as the total social labor only
yields a produce which but slightly exceeds that barely necessary for
the existence of all; so long, therefore, as labor engages all or
almost all the time of the great majority of the members of
society--so long, of necessity, this society is divided into classes.
Side by side with the great majority, exclusively bond slaves to
labor, arises a class freed from directly productive labor, which
looks after the general affairs of society; the direction of labor,
State business, law, science, art, etc. It is, therefore, the law of
division of labor that lies at the basis of the division into classes.
But this does not prevent this division into classes from being
carried out by means of violence and robbery, trickery and fraud. It
does not prevent the ruling class, once having the upper hand, from
consolidating its power at the expense of the working-class, from
turning their social leadership into an intensified exploitation of
the masses.

But if, upon this showing, division into classes has a certain
historical justification, it has this only for a given period, only
under given social conditions. It was based upon the insufficiency of
production. It will be swept away by the complete development of
modern productive forces. And, in fact, the abolition of classes in
society presupposes a degree of historical evolution, at which the
existence, not simply of this or that particular ruling class, but of
any ruling class at all, and, therefore, the existence of class
distinction itself has become an obsolete anachronism. It presupposes,
therefore, the development of production carried out to a degree at
which appropriation of the means of production and of the products,
and, with this, of political domination, of the monopoly of culture,
and of intellectual leadership by a particular class of society, has
become not only superfluous, but economically, politically,
intellectually a hindrance to development.

This point is now reached. Their political and intellectual bankruptcy
is scarcely any longer a secret to the bourgeoisie themselves. Their
economic bankruptcy recurs regularly every ten years. In every crisis,
society is suffocated beneath the weight of its own productive forces
and products, which it cannot use, and stands helpless, face to face
with the absurd contradiction that the producers have nothing to
consume, because consumers are wanting. The expansive force of the
means of production bursts the bonds that the capitalist mode of
production had imposed upon them. Their deliverance from these bonds
is the one precondition for an unbroken, constantly-accelerated
development of the productive forces, and therewith for a practically
unlimited increase of production itself. Nor is this all. The
socialized appropriation of the means of production does away, not
only with the present artificial restrictions upon production, but
also with the positive waste and devastation of productive forces and
products that are at the present time the inevitable concomitants of
production, and that reach their height in the crises. Further, it
sets free for the community at large a mass of means of production and
of products, by doing away with the senseless extravagance of the
ruling classes of to-day, and their political representatives. The
possibility of securing for every member of society, by means of
socialized production, an existence not only fully sufficient
materially, and becoming day by day more full, but an existence
guaranteeing to all the free development and exercise of their
physical and mental faculties--this possibility is now for the first
time here, but _it is here_.[8]

With the seizing of the means of production by society, production of
commodities is done away with, and, simultaneously, the mastery of
the product over the producer. Anarchy in social production is
replaced by systematic, definite organization. The struggle for
individual existence disappears. Then for the first time, man, in a
certain sense, is finally marked off from the rest of the animal
kingdom, and emerges from mere animal conditions of existence into
really human ones. The whole sphere of the conditions of life which
environ man, and which have hitherto ruled man, now comes under the
dominion and control of man, who for the first time becomes the real,
conscious lord of Nature, because he has now become master of his own
social organization. The laws of his own social action, hitherto
standing face to face with man as laws of Nature foreign to, and
dominating, him, will then be used with full understanding, and so
mastered by him. Man's own social organization, hitherto confronting
him as a necessity imposed by Nature and history, now becomes the
result of his own free action. The extraneous objective forces that
have hitherto governed history, pass under the control of man
himself. Only from that time will man himself, more and more
consciously, make his own history--only from that time will the social
causes set in movement by him have, in the main and in a constantly
growing measure, the results intended by him. It is the ascent of man
from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom.

Let us briefly sum up our sketch of historical evolution.

I. _Mediæval Society._--Individual production on a small scale. Means
of production adapted for individual use; hence primitive, ungainly,
petty, dwarfed in action. Production for immediate consumption, either
of the producer himself or of his feudal lord. Only where an excess of
production over this consumption occurs is such excess offered for
sale, enters into exchange. Production of commodities, therefore, only
in its infancy. But already it contains within itself, in embryo,
_anarchy in the production of society at large_.

II. _Capitalist Revolution._--Transformation of industry, at first by
means of simple co-operation and manufacture. Concentration of the
means of production, hitherto scattered, into great workshops. As a
consequence, their transformation from individual to social means of
production--a transformation which does not, on the whole, affect the
form of exchange. The old forms of appropriation remain in force. The
capitalist appears. In his capacity as owner of the means of
production, he also appropriates the products and turns them into
commodities. Production has become a _social_ act. Exchange and
appropriation continue to be _individual_ acts, the acts of
individuals. _The social product is appropriated by the individual
capitalist._ Fundamental contradiction, whence arise all the
contradictions in which our present day society moves, and which
modern industry brings to light.

   A. Severance of the producer from the means of production.
   Condemnation of the worker to wage-labor for life. _Antagonism
   between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie._

   B. Growing predominance and increasing effectiveness of the laws
   governing the production of commodities. Unbridled competition.
   _Contradiction between socialized organization in the individual
   factory and social anarchy in production as a whole._

   C. On the one hand, perfecting of machinery, made by competition
   compulsory for each individual manufacturer, and complemented by
   a constantly growing displacement of laborers. _Industrial
   reserve-army._ On the other hand, unlimited extension of
   production, also compulsory under competition, for every
   manufacturer. On both sides, unheard of development of productive
   forces, excess of supply over demand, over-production, glutting
   of the markets, crises every ten years, the vicious circle:
   excess here, of means of production and products--excess there,
   of laborers, without employment and without means of existence.
   But these two levers of production and of social well-being are
   unable to work together, because the capitalist form of
   production prevents the productive forces from working and the
   products from circulating, unless they are first turned into
   capital--which their very superabundance prevents. The
   contradiction has grown into an absurdity. _The mode of
   production rises in rebellion against the form of exchange._ The
   bourgeoisie are convicted of incapacity further to manage their
   own social productive forces.

   D. Partial recognition of the social character of the productive
   forces forced upon the capitalists themselves. Taking over of the
   great institutions for production and communication, first by
   joint-stock companies, later on by trusts, then by the State. The
   bourgeoisie demonstrated to be a superfluous class. All its
   social functions are now performed by salaried employees.

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.


[4] It is hardly necessary in this connection to point out, that, even
if the form of appropriation remains the same, the _character_ of the
appropriation is just as much revolutionized as production is by the
changes described above. It is, of course, a very different matter
whether I appropriate to myself my own product or that of another.
Note in passing that wage-labor, which contains the whole capitalistic
mode of production in embryo, is very ancient; in a sporadic,
scattered form it existed for centuries alongside of slave-labor. But
the embryo could duly develop into the capitalistic mode of production
only when the necessary historical preconditions had been furnished.

[5] _See Appendix._

[6] "The Condition of the Working-Class in England" (Sonnenschein &
Co.), p. 84.

[7] 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, only then--even if it
is the State of to-day that effects this--is there an economic
advance, the attainment of another step preliminary to the taking 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 Metternich 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.

[8] A few figures may serve to give an approximate idea of the
enormous expansive force of the modern means of production, even under
capitalist pressure. According to Mr. Giffen, the total wealth of
Great Britain and Ireland amounted, in round numbers, in

    1814 to £2,200,000,000.
    1865 to £6,100,000,000.
    1875 to £8,500,000,000.

As an instance of the squandering of means of production and of
products during a crisis, the total loss in the German iron industry
alone, in the crisis of 1873-78, was given at the second German
Industrial Congress (Berlin, February 21, 1878) as £22,750,000.

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    |           "But the perfecting of machinery is making      |
    |           human labor superfluous."                       |
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