Communism, fascism, and democracy: The theoretical foundations

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Communism, fascism, and democracy: The theoretical foundations

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Tie Theoretical Fouidaiins EDITED BY



Communism, Fascism, and Democracy

Communism, Fascism, and Democracy The Theoretical Foundations Edited by CARL


The University of Michigan





This Book is D edicated to M y M other and Father

First Printing © Copyright, 1962, by Caxl Cohen All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in New York by Random House, Inc., and simultaneously in Toronto, Canada, by Random House of Canada, Limited. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 62-10779 Manufactured in the United States of America


“If all communities aim at some good,” Aristotle wrote, “the state, or political community, which is the highest of all, and which embraces all the rest, aims at good in a greater degree than any other, and at the highest good.” More than two thousand years have elapsed since this was written, yet no single type of political organization, no set of funda­ mental principles has won universal acceptance. The proper goals of states, the best methods for the attainment of such goals, and the ideal constitution of political communities in general have been and remain the subjects of profound philosophical dispute. The resolution of these disputes is of the highest importance. For although theoretical conflicts often bear on everyday life, none do so more far-reachingly and urgently than conflicts in the realm of politics. Political decisions may vitally affect almost every aspect of a society’s life— from its level of economic welfare to its very existence as a com­ munity. And the basic ingredients of important public policies are the political philosophies subscribed to by the people concerned. Of course, the day-to-day decisions of individuals and governments are not normally made with sole or even prime reference to the largest principles of poli­ tics. But the most vital decisions, those which deeply affect the tenor of daily life and which give long-range direction to program and policy, are made with deliberate or unconscious regard for theory— for prior philosophical commitments concerning the nature of the person and the state. In this century, these philosophical commitments have crystallized chiefly into three well-developed theories of community organization. We have witnessed, and continue to witness, the contrasts and conflicts of these political philosophies: communism, fascism, democracy— their




very names evoke powerful emotional reactions. The deepest meaning and highest aims of each may not be entirely clear to us; but the world has been largely divided among them, and so significant are the conse­ quences of this division that the study of these political forms is among the most important we could undertake. In spite of these contemporary political pressures, however, the philo­ sophical underpinnings of communism, fascism and democracy are neither widely enough nor well enough understood. Lip service is easily given to a name or a slogan; it is no chore to make obedient reference to the “fatherland” or the “class-struggle of the proletariat” or the “demo­ cratic way of life.” But whichever of these it is our aim to further and support, we are not greatly served by the cheap and easy use of ex­ pressions which, in the frequency of their repetition, have lost the largest part of their real significance. Whether it is our object to oppose or to defend communism or fascism or democracy, we cannot do so intelli­ gently or effectively without the possession of a full understanding of the practical and theoretical operation of each, the works and aims of its supporters, and, perhaps most important, the philosophical founda­ tions upon which the position ultimately rests. A word about the selections that have been chosen for this volume and their arrangement is in order. The criteria employed in selecting appropriate authors and works must, of necessity, be complex; it is not to be expected that everyone will agree with the choices that have been made. Certain characteristics have been specially sought for, and do, I believe, regularly appear. The first consideration has been the representative character of the author, as presenting, officially or unofficially, the true views of the position with which he is associated. In some cases this is not difficult, as when choosing Marx and Lenin to represent communism, or Locke and Mill to represent democracy. In other cases the matter is not so clear, as in selecting Hegel as contributing to the philosophy of fascism, or Robert Owen as contributing to that of communism. In such cases what must be kept in mind is not only the movement as a whole, but the special feature of its philosophy that is being presented. Thus Hegel can be clearly seen as a contributor to the political organicism later manifest in fascism, and Owen as an obvious representative of the uto­ pian socialists from whom Marx learned a great deal. In regard to the particular works chosen, and the excerpts from them, I have also tried to make selections that are representative both of each author, and of the philosophical view to which he has chiefly contributed. Second, I have sought to include those works and passages that are genuinely fundamental to the political philosophy concerned— the key works and their parts which disclose the foundational views of state,


society, and the individual in each philosophy are the ones I have in­ cluded. However, much material of this character necessarily has been passed over in view of the limitations of space. Where possible, I have chosen classical works and authors, that is, statements that, over the years, have become accepted as the most authoritative within the context of the given political philosophy. This is much easier to do, of course, in the case of communism and fascism than in that of democracy, where, in the twentieth century, the question of who speaks with greatest authority is moot. Here too, however, I have tried to select only clear and profound statements of underlying philo­ sophical principles that have been widely accepted and acclaimed. It is always desirable, of course, to read an important philosophical work in its entirety. To that end, the complete text of a fair number of these philosophical essays is included. Frequently, where this was im­ possible, large segments of such works, retaining the essential integrity of the whole, represent them. In some instances, the limited space avail­ able necessitated the inclusion of relatively short excerpts; in such cases the intention is generally to display a specific feature of that philosophy, or a particularly influential passage. Arrangement as well as selection sometimes must be arbitrary. In each of these three philosophies, the most influential contributing traditions have been distinguished, and a separate section devoted to each. For the most part, these sections follow one another in chronological order, but in some- instances this order is impossible to maintain, as in the case of Sections I and II of Part One, and Sections III and IV of Part Three. Within each section chronological order again has been roughly followed, but abandoned when the substance of the selections has made it neces­ sary. Thus in Section V of Part One, on the strategy and tactics of communism, excerpts from Stalin and Lenin follow one another alter­ nately, and in Section II of Part Three certain passages from Mill and Calhoun precede the selection from de Tocqueville. Of course, the di­ vision into sections is itself a somewhat mechanical device that is inade­ quate to display the growth of an important philosophical view in all its complexity. These divisions are justified, however, by the increased ease of interpretation and interrelation that they make possible. A short prefatory note begins each major part and section. These notes are intended neither as summaries nor as interpretations; their chief purpose is to set the scene for the selections that follow, to orient the reader by disclosing something of the character and substance of the philosophical views represented. Each selection, within the several sec­ tions, is headed by an introductory paragraph, the chief purpose of which is to identify the author and the work, and to orient the reader with reference to that author. Finally, there are brief headings inter­

v iii


spersed within that selections themselves. Often, these are taken from the original text, but sometimes, when needed for purposes of clarification, they are supplied (and bracketed) by the editor. It must be strongly emphasized that the arrangement of authors and works— and especially their inclusion under the general headings of communism, fascism, and democracy— should by no means be construed as a narrow labeling of the individual philosophers. Hegel, for example, appears as a contributor (however much he would have winced at the thought) to the foundations of both communism and fascism, and can himself be classified as neither. Hobbes and Bodin are no more properly called fascists than Feuerbach is properly called a communist. In short, the structure of the volume has been devised to disclose the develop­ ment of philosophies, but assuredly not to encourage the mechanical classification of philosophers. Any collection of readings of this kind must expect to be criticized for having omitted passages that should not have been omitted, or for including passages that need not have been included. It is my hope that it will be understood that such differences of opinion are inevitable, and that the selections I have chosen will serve as a reasonably adequate ac­ count of the theoretical foundations of communism, fascism, and de­ mocracy. These three political philosophies are the ruling ones of our time. The force and effect of theory upon practice, the impact of philosophical speculation upon the course of human life, is nowhere clearer than in the realm of the political realities which they dominate. Upon our under­ standing of these political forms and their philosophical foundations de­ pend not only the intelligent and just direction of our present affairs, but our wisest preparations for the future.




PART ONE: COMMUNISM Section I Utopian Socialism 1. Friedrich Engels: Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Part I The Utopians 2. Henri Comte de Saint-Simon: Selected Writings The New Christianity A World Upside Down The Plan of a New Society The Golden Age 3. F. M. Charles Fourier: Selected Writings Of Association Evils of Individual Action in Industry The Phalanstery 4. Robert Owen: The Book of the New Moral World To the Nations of the World From the Old World to the New The Development of Superior Human Character The Irrational Society The New Moral World Section II Dialectics 5. Friedrich Engels: Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Part II Dialectical Philosophy


1 3 4 5 17 17 19 22 25 27 27 28 29 33 33 35 40 42 45 49 50 50



6. Georg W. F. Hegel: Lectures on the Philosophy of His­ tory Dialectical History 7. Friedrich Engels: Letter to Conrad Schmidt On Understanding Hegel Section III Materialism 8. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: The German Ideology The Premises of Materialism 9. Friedrich Engels: Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy Feuerbach and Hegel 10. Ludwig A. Feuerbach: The Essence of Christianity Materialism and Atheism 11. Karl Marx: Theses on Feuerbach 12. Friedrich Engels: Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy Idealism and Materialism Section IV The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Mate­ rialism 13. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Manifesto of the Com­ munist Party Bourgeois and Proletarians Proletarians and Communists Position of the Communists in relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties 14. Vladimir I. Lenin: The Teachings of Karl Marx Marx’s Economic Doctrine Value Surplus Value 15. Karl Marx: Capital The Composition of Capital The Law of Capitalist Accumulation The Law of the Concentration of Capital The Law of Increasing Misery 16. Friedrich Engels: Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Part III Scientific Socialism Section V State, Revolution, and the Future 17. Josef Stalin: The Foundations of Leninism What is Leninism? The Roots of Leninism 18. Vladimir I. Lenin: Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism Concentration of Production and Monopolies

57 58 66 67 69 70 70 72 73 75 75 78 81 81 88 89 90 101 109 111 111 111 113 116 116 117 120 122 124 125 144 145 145 147 148 149

Contents The Export of Capital The Division of the World Among Capitalist Combines The Division of the World Among the Great Powers Imperialism as a Special Stage of Capitalism The Parasitism and Decay of Capitalism The Place of Imperialism in History 19. Josef Stalin: The Foundations of Leninism Imperialism and the Proletarian Revolution Revolution in One Country The Dictatorship of the Proletariat as the Instrument of the Proletarian Revolution The Dictatorship of the Proletariat as the Domination of the Proletariat over the Bourgeoisie 20. Vladimir I. Lenin: State and Revolution The State as the Product of the Irreconcilability of Class Antagonisms The State as an Instrument for the Exploitation of the Oppressed Class The “Withering Away” of the State and Violent Revo­ lution The Transition from Capitalism to Communism First Phase of Communist Society Higher Phase of Communist Society 21. Programme of the Communist International The Ultimate Aim of the Communist International— World Communism 22. Nikita S. Khrushchev: “We Will Bury You” 23. Mao Tse-Tung: On People’s Democratic Dictatorship Section VI The Strategy and Tactics of Communism 24. Vladimir I. Lenin: What Is To Be Done? Revolutionary Theory and the Social-Democratic Move­ ment in Russia The Working Class as Champion of Democracy 25. Josef Stalin: The Foundations of Leninism The Strategy of the Revolution The Tactics of the Revolution 26. Vladimir I. Lenin: The Tasks of the Youth Leagues On Communist Morality 27. Vladimir I. Lenin: “Left Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder Party Discipline Compromises Communism and Trade Unions Communism and Parliaments

xi 152 154 156 158 160 161 164 164 167 169 172 176 177 178 179 184 189 193 199 199 202 204 209 209 210 213 217 217 219 220 220 222 222 225 228 232

xii 28.

29. 30. 31.


The Task of the Communist Parties Josef Stalin: The Foundations of Leninism The Party as the Vanguard of the Working Class The Party as the Organized Detachment of the Work­ ing Class The Party as the Highest Form of Class Organization of the Proletariat The Party as the instrument of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat The Party as the Embodiment of Unity of Will, In­ compatible with the Existence of Factions Josef Stalin: “Two World Centers” Nikita S. Khrushchev: Crimes of the Stalin Era The Cult of the Individual Mao Tse-Tung: On the Correct Handling of Contradic­ tions among the People Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Contend

233 237 237 239 242 243 245 247 248 248 254 254

PART TWO: FASCISM Section I Absolutism 32. Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince Concerning the Things for which Men, and Especially Princes, are Praised or Blamed Concerning Liberality and Meanness Concerning Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether it is Better to be Loved than Feared Concerning the Way in which Princes Should Keep Faith That One Should Avoid Being Despised and Hated The Art of War An Exhortation to Liberate Italy from the Barbarians 33. Jean Bodin: Six Books of the Commonwealth Concerning Sovereignty The True Attributes of Sovereignty 34. Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan The Origin and Nature of the State Sovereignty Section II Organicism 35. Georg W. F. Hegel: The Philosophy of Law Idea and Aim of the State The Constitution The Power of the Prince

261 264 265 265 266 268 270 272 274 274 277 277 281 283 283 286 294 295 295 298 299

Contents Meaning of War 301 International Relations 302 36. Johann G. Fichte: Addresses to the German Nation The Unity of the German Nation 304 The Love of Fatherland 305 37. Heinrich von Treitschke: Politics The State Idea 311 The State as Person 314 The State as Power 316 The State as Sovereign 318 Section III Irrationalism 38. Georges Sorel: Letter to Daniel Halevy The Social Myth 321 39. Houston S. Chamberlain: Foundations of the Nineteenth Century The Entrance of the Germanic People into the History of the World 327 Freedom and Loyalty 328 Forward Glance 330 Section IV Fascist Philosophy in Italy 40. Alfredo Rocco: The Political Doctrine of Fascism Fascism as Action, as Feeling, and as Thought 334 From Liberalism to Socialism 336 Fascism as an Integral Doctrine of Sociality Anti­ thetical to the Atomism of Liberal, Democratic, and Socialist Theories 340 Liberty, Government, and Social Justice in the Polit­ ical Doctrine of Fascism 344 Historical Value of the Doctrine of Fascism 346 41. Benito Mussolini: The Doctrine of Fascism Fundamental Ideas 349 Political and Social Doctrine 354 42. Giovanni Gentile: The Philosophical Basis of Fascism 43. Mario Palmieri: The Philosophy of Fascism Fascism and the Meaning of Life 369 Fascism and the Conduct of Life 371 Fascism and Liberty 375 The Fascist State 377 The Corporative Idea 380 The Legacy of Rome 384 The Hero as Leader 386 44. The National Fascist Party and The Charter of Labor The National Fascist Party 390 The Charter of Labor 391




320 321


332 333


364 369




45. The Fascist Decalogue Section V Fascist Philosophy in Germany 46. Hermann Goering: Germany Reborn Swastika Versus Star 47. Alfred Rosenberg: The Myth of the Twentieth Century Race and History The Myth of Nordic Blood German National Honor State and Folk Nordic Europe 48. Ernst R. Huber: Constitutional Law of the Greater German Reich The People The Führer The National Socialist Party The Individual and the Reich 49. Adolf Hitler: Selected Speeches Might Makes Right Nationalism Versus Internationalism England and France The Jew To The German Youth

392 394 395 395 396 396 397 397 398 399 399 400 401 403 404 405 405 411 413 415 420

PART THREE: DEMOCRACY The Funeral Oration of Pericles Section I Natural Rights Democracy 50. Marcus Tullius Cicero: De Legibus The Source of Law Law is Right Reason Right is Based Upon Nature Natural and Conventional Justice Distinguished 51. John Locke: Second Treatise of Government Of the State of Nature Of the State of War Of Political or Civil Society Of the Beginning of Political Societies Of the Ends of Political Society and Government Of the Extent of the Legislative Power Of the Legislative, Executive, and Federative Power of the Commonwealth Of the Subordination of the Powers of the Common­ wealth

423 424 427 428 428 430 432 435 436 436 439 440 443 449 452 458 459


Contents Of the Dissolution of Government 52. Jean Jacques Rousseau: The Social Contract Of the Right of the Strongest Of Slavery That We Must Always Go Back to an Original Com­ pact Of the Social Pact Of the Civil State Of the Limits of the Sovereign Power 53. Thomas Jefferson: The Declaration of Independence and Selected Letters The Declaration of Independence On Rebellion On Monarchy and America On Government by the People On Education Section II Democratic Liberalism 54. Jeremy Bentham: Principles of Legislation Of the Principle of Utility Objections Answered Of the Value of Pleasures and Pains Of Political Good and Evil Of the Limits which Separate Morals from Legislation Conclusion 55. John Stuart Mill: Considerations on Representative Gov­ ernment The Ideally Best Polity 56. John C. Calhoun: A Disquisition on Government Man and Government Government and Constitution The Concurrent Majority Numerical and Concurrent Majorities Distinguished The Concurrent Majority and Constitutional Govern­ ment Objections and Replies 57. Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America The Real Advantages of a Democracy General Tendency of the Laws Public Spirit Respect for Right Respect for Law All-Pervading Political Activity General Survey of the Subject 58. John Stuart Mill: On Liberty Introductory

463 471 472 473 475 476 477 478 481 481 483 483 485 486 488 489 489 491 495 496 497 498 498 499 506 507 510 517 519 521 524 528 529 529 533 536 538 540 544 547 547



The Tyranny of the Majority The Domain of Human Liberty Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion Section III The Forms of Contemporary Democracy 59. Thomas Hill Green: Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Contract Negative and Positive Freedom 60. Leonard T. Hobhouse: Liberalism The Heart of Liberalism 61. Herbert C. Hoover: Addresses Upon the American Road What is Real Liberalism? The Fifth Freedom 62. Friedrich A. Hayek: The Road to Serfdom Planning and Democracy 63. Socialism: A New Statement of Principles The Distinctive Features of Socialism Two Misleading Dogmas The Duality of the Labour Movement I-deals and Realities The Price of Peace Socialist Action Section IV Democracy as a Way of Life 64. Zevedei Barbu: Democracy and Dictatorship Democracy as a Frame of Mind 65. E. F. M. Durbin: The Politics of Democratic Socialism The Essence of Democracy 66. Henry B. Mayo: An Introduction to Democratic Theory The Theory of Democracy Outlined Distinguishing Principles of a Democratic System 67. Ernest Barker: Principles of Social and Political Theory Democracy and the Plurality of Ideas 68. John Dewey: Selected Writings Philosophy and Democracy The Foundation of Democracy The Future of Liberalism Creative Democracy— The Task Before Us

549 551 553 583 584 584 590 591 600 601 603 606 606 616 616 618 621 622 624 627 631 632 632 643 644 651 651 654 663 663 668 669 674 678 683


The names of political philosophies are inevitably charged with high emotive content. The effects of politics upon our daily lives make this understandable, and it is therefore natural that, in the present serious conflicts between East and West, the terms “communism” and “democ­ racy” should convey not only many meanings, but also intense feelings of reverence and enthusiasm or condemnation and hatred. Yet most will agree that any adequate appraisal of a political phi­ losophy requires, first of all, a clear understanding of what that philos­ ophy is— what claims it makes with regard to the individual and the state, and what changes it demands for the future. Whatever our emo­ tional reactions to communism may be, their justification must ultimately lie in accurate and cool-headed answers to questions of just this sort. But what is the philosophy of communism? What claims does it make? What changes does it demand? And what are the underlying methodolog­ ical and metaphysical principles upon which it rests? These are the issues to which the selections in this part are devoted. Of course, the term “communism” can refer to any system of social organization in which goods are held in common. As the term is most commonly used, how­ ever, it refers to a particular kind of communal organization— one that claims to arise out of the revolutionary movement begun by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the nineteenth century. Its philosophical method is that of dialectics; its metaphysical principles are grounded in a strict materialism; and its philosophy is properly described, therefore, as dialectical materialism.


The growth of socialism in the Western world began in earnest in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. It was a highly revolutionary period. Although the success of the American Revolution did promote the cause of human liberty, the recurring upheavals subsequent to the French Revolution seemed to disclose chronic ailments in European civilization. More fundamental than these, however, was the Industrial Revolution, rapidly sweeping over Western Europe, the impact of which was pain­ fully felt yet only dimly understood. The stupendous and far-reaching changes that the growth of indusry and mass production were to have upon human life and work could not then be foreseen. However, some of those consequences made an early appearance, often in the form of intense competition among growing in­ dustrial enterprises, and— because of the absence of regulation— in the resultant exploitation of the newly created mass of industrial workers. By the middle decades of the nineteenth century, the living and working conditions of the laborer in the industrial centers of Europe were so bad as to be almost beyond belief. The extreme distress of these workers inevitably gave rise to many painful and moving humanitarian complaints. Among the most articulate critics of this period were those thinkers, chiefly French and English, who came to be known as utopian socialists. Witnessing extremes of poverty and degradation on the one hand, and luxury and leisure on the other, they came to believe that the only solution lay in reorganizing the struc­ ture of society and reapportioning its wealth. Although the schemes put forward varied greatly, all were alike in that they would result in a totally new order, in which everyone would work, goods would be owned




in common, and each would receive an equitable share of the wealth produced. The actual proposals of the Utopians were often not only visionary, but far-fetched and unfeasible. Nevertheless, they constitute the background of social thought out of which Marxian communism arose. In articu­ lating the plight of the exploited they opened a path that Marx and Engels were soon to follow, and their vigorous criticisms of the capitalist system were to contribute extensively to Marx’s own critique. Karl Marx himself was bitterly critical of the so-called foolishness, impracticality, and “utopianism” of these early socialists. Yet he de­ fended them against the criticism of others, holding that because of their place in history they could not have done better than they did. In spite of their naïve optimism and wild dreams, he thought they were among the greatest social philosophers in history. Their socialism was utopian; what was needed, Marx thought, was a socialist theory of society that would be truly scientific. That, he believed, was destined to be provided by himself alone.

1. F R IE D R IC H E N G E L S

Friedrich Engels ( 1820-1895) was a life-long friend of, and frequent collaborator with, Karl Marx. Their names are linked as the founders of modern communism. The work from which the following selection is taken is made up of three chapters from a larger work, by Engels alone, Herr Eugen Dühring’s Revolution in Science, first published in 1878. These three chapters (the second and third of which appear later in this volume) comprise one of the clearest statements of communist theory. In this chapter Engels acknowledges his great debt to the utopian socialists and discusses the relation of their theories to the newer communism developed by Marx and himself.

Utopian Socialism


Socialism, Utopian and Scientific: Part I * [T he Utopians] M odem socialism is, in its essence, the direct product of the recog­ nition, on the one hand, of the class antagonisms, existing in the society of today, between proprietors and non-proprietors, between capitalists and wage workers; on the other hand, of the anarchy ex­ isting in production. But, in its theoretical form, modem socialism originally appears ostensibly as a more logical extension of the prin­ ciples laid down by the great French philosophers of the eighteenth century. Like every new theory, modem 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 sub­ jected 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;t 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, * From F. Engels, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Swan Sonnenschein and Co., London, 1892. t 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 think­ ing 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 com­ mon danger, by the late Professor Hegel?



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 today 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 govern­ ment 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 mediaeval burgher of the guild developed into the modem 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 move­ ment 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 Revo­ lution, the Levellers; in the great French Revolution, Babeuf. There were theoretical enunciations corresponding with these revo­

Utopian Socialism


lutionary 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 M ably). 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 distinc­ tions 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 re­ moval 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 philoso­ phers, 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 philosophers. 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 to 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 under­ stands 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 bom 500 years earlier, and might then have spared humanity 500 years of error, strife and suffering. 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 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 jrom 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 eradi­ cated, 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 competi­ tion. Oppression by force was replaced by corruption; the sword, as the first social lever, by gold. The right of the first night was trans­ ferred from the feudal lords to the bourgeois manufacturers. Prostitu­ tion increased to an extent never heard of. Marriage itself remained, as before, the legally recognized form, the official cloak of prostitu­ tion, 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 bom of the “triumph of reason” were bitterly disappointing caricatures. All that was wanting was the

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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. M odem industry, which had just arisen in England, was still unknown in France. But modem in­ dustry 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 vic­ tory 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 condi­ tions, 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 fantasies.



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 fantasies, which today 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 fantastic covering, and to which these philistines are blind. Saint Simon was a son of the great French Revolution, at the out­ break 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 con­ quest of political power by the socially privileged section of it, i.e., the propertied bourgeoisie. And the bourgeoisie had certainly devel­ oped 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 leader­ ship and political supremacy had been proved, and was by the revolu­ tion finally settled. That the non-possessing classes had not this ca­ pacity 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, manufac­ turers, merchants, bankers. These bourgeoisie were, certainly, in­ tended by Saint Simon to transform themselves into a kind of public

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officials, or 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 propo­ sition 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-possessors, 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 eco­ nomics. 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 direc­ tion 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 remorselessly 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 shop­ keeping 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 today — 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 with­ out 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.

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While 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 revo­ lutionizing 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 in­ creasing 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 pro­ duction— the only one possible under existing conditions. Neverthe­ less, even then it was producing crying social abuses— the herding together of a homeless population in the worst quarters of the large town; 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 charac­ ter, 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 revolu­ tion most of his class saw only chaos and confusion, and the oppor­ tunity 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 con­



sisting 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 care­ fully 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. While 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 proprietors. 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 rela­ tively 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?” * 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 £ 3 0 0 ,0 0 0 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.” f To them, therefore, the fruits of this new power belonged. The newly-created, gigantic productive * 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.” t Ibid.

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forces, hitherto used only to enrich individuals and to enslave the masses, offered to Owen the foundations for a reconstruction of so­ ciety; 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 founda­ tion, 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 in­ cluded— 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 posi­ tion. 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, co-operative 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 sub­ jective 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 allow­ ing 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 basis.

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Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) was a typical and influential repre­ sentative of the group called “utopian socialists ” Although his schemes were unrealistic and grandiose and his manner overweening, he was in­ sistent upon the need for a science of social development (of which he conceived himself as founder), and placed great stress on the need to im­ prove the lot of the poor. He believed that the new order which he pro­ posed would revive a genuine Christianity and establish a golden age.

The New Christianity* I conclude this first dialogue by declaring frankly what I think of the Christian revelation. We are certainly superior to our ancestors in the particular, applied sciences. It is only since the fifteenth century, and chiefly since the beginning of the last century, that we have made considerable progress in mathematics, physics, chemistry and physi­ ology. But there is a science much more important for the com­ munity than physical and mathematical science— the science on which society is founded, namely ethics, the development of which has been completely different from that of the physical and mathematical sci­ ences. It is more than eighteen centuries since its fundamental prin­ ciple has been produced, and since then none of the researches of the men of the greatest genius has been able to discover a principle superior in universality or precision to that formulated by the Founder of Christianity. I will go further and say that when society has lost sight of this principle, and ceased to use it as a guide to its conduct, it has promptly relapsed under the despotism of Caesar, and the rule of brute force, which this principle of Christianity had subordinated to the rule of reason. I therefore put the question whether the intelligence which pro* From New Christianity, 1825. This and the following passages are taken from Selected Writings of Henri Comte de Saint-Simon, translated and edited by F. M. Markham, 1952. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.



duced, eighteen centuries ago, the governing principle of the human race, and produced it fifteen centuries before any important progress was made in the physical and mathematical sciences, must not obvi­ ously be superhuman in character, and whether there can be any greater proof of the divine revelation of Christianity. Yes, I believe that Christianity is divinely instituted, and I am persuaded that God extends a special protection to those who strive to subordinate all human institutions to the fundamental principle of this sublime doctrine. I am convinced that I am fulfilling a divine mission in recalling nations and kings to the true spirit of Christianity. Fully confident of the divine protection specially given me in my tasks, I feel emboldened to criticize the kings of Europe who are allied under the sacred name of the Holy Alliance. I address them directly, daring to say to them: “Princes,

“What is the nature and character, in the eyes of God and of Chris­ tians, of the power which you wield? “What is the basis of the social system which you endeavor to establish? What measures have you taken to improve the moral and physical condition of the poor? “You call yourselves Christians, and yet you base your power on material force; you are still the successors of Caesar, and you forget that true Christians have as the final goal of their efforts the abolition of the power of the sword, the power of Caesar, which by its nature is essentially transitory. “Yet this is the power on which you have undertaken to found the social order! According to you, to this power alone belongs the initia­ tion in all improvements demanded by the progress of enlightenment. To support this monstrous system you keep two million men under arms, you compel all tribunals to adopt this principle, you oblige priests, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox, to preach the heresy that the power of Caesar is the governing principle of Christian society. “In recalling the peoples to the Christian religion by the symbol of your union, in giving them peace which is their first need, you have nevertheless failed to win their gratitude: your personal interests are too prominent in the schemes which you claim to be in the common interest. The supreme authority in Europe which rests in your hands is far from being a Christian authority, as it should have been. As

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soon as you act, you display the character and signs of material power, of anti-Christian force. “All the important measures which you have taken since your union in the Holy Alliance have had the effect of worsening the condition of the poor, not only for the present but for future generations. You have raised taxes, you raise them every year, in order to meet the mounting costs of your armies and the luxury of your courts. The class which you favor specially is that of the nobility— a class which, like yourselves, derives its rights from the sword. “However, your blameworthy conduct can be excused in certain respects. If there is one thing which has led you into error, it is the praise which has been given to your united efforts to overthrow the power of the modem Caesar. In fighting against him you have acted in a truly Christian manner; but it is only because the authority of Caesar which was acquired by Napoleon through conquest had in his hands much greater power than in yours, where it came only through inheritance. Your conduct can also be excused, in that the churches which should have restrained you at the edge of the precipice, have joined you in throwing themselves over. “Princes, “Hearken to the voice of God which speaks through me. Return to the path of Christianity; no longer regard mercenary armies, the nobility, the heretical priests and perverse judges, as your principal support, but, united in the name of Christianity, understand how to carry out the duties which Christianity imposes on those who possess power. Remember that Christianity commands you to use all your powers to increase as rapidly as possible the social welfare of the poor!”

[A World Upside Down] * Suppose that France suddenly lost fifty of her best physicists, chem­ ists, physiologists, mathematicians, poets, painters, sculptors, musi­ cians, writers; fifty of her best mechanical engineers, civil and military engineers, artillery experts, architects, doctors, surgeons, apothe­ caries, seamen, clockmakers; fifty of her best bankers, two hundred of her best business men, two hundred of her best farmers, fifty of her best ironmasters, arms manufacturers, tanners, dyers, miners, cloth* From Henri de Saint-Simon, The Organizer, 1819.



makers, cotton manufacturers, silk-makers, linen-makers, manu­ facturers of hardware, of pottery and china, of crystal and glass, ship chandlers, carriers, printers, engravers, goldsmiths, and other metal-workers; her fifty best masons, carpenters, joiners, farriers, lock­ smiths, cutlers, smelters, and a hundred other persons of various un­ specified occupations, eminent in the sciences, fine arts, and pro­ fessions; making in all the three thousand leading scientists, artists, and artisans of France. These men are the Frenchmen who are the most essential producers, those who make the most important products, those who direct the enterprises most useful to the nation, those who contribute to its achievements in the sciences, fine arts and professions. They are in the most real sense the flower of French society; they are, above all Frenchman, the most useful to their country, contribute most to its glory, increasing its civilization and prosperity. The nation would become a lifeless corpse as soon as it lost them. It would immediately fall into a position of inferiority compared with the nations which it now rivals, and would continue to be inferior until this loss had been replaced, until it had grown another head. It would require at least a generation for France to repair this misfortune; for men who are distinguished in work of positive ability are exceptions, and nature is not prodigal of exceptions, particularly in this species. Let us pass on to another assumption. Suppose that France pre­ serves all the men of genius that she possesses in the sciences, fine arts and professions, but has the misfortune to lose in the same day Monsieur the King’s brother, Monseigneur le duc d’Angoulême, Mon­ seigneur le duc de Berry, Monseigneur le duc d’Orléans, Monseigneur le duc de Bourbon, Madame la duchesse d’Angoulême, Madame la duchesse de Berry, Madame la duchesse d’Orléans, Madame la duch­ esse de Bourbon, and Mademoiselle de Condé. Suppose that France loses at the same time all the great officers of the royal household, all the ministers (with or without portfolio), all the councillors of state, all the chief magistrates, marshals, cardinals, archbishops, bish­ ops, vicars-general, and canons, all the prefects and sub-prefects, all the civil servants, and judges, and, in addition, ten thousand of the richest proprietors who live in the style of nobles. This mischance would certainly distress the French, because they are kind-hearted, and could not see with indifference the sudden disap­ pearance of such a large number of their compatriots. But this loss of thirty-thousand individuals, considered to be the most important in

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the State, would only grieve them for purely sentimental reasons and would result in no political evil for the State. In the first place, it would be very easy to fill the vacancies which would be made available. There are plenty of Frenchmen who could fill the function of the King’s brother as well as can Monsieur; plenty who could take the place of a Prince as appropriately as Monseigneur le duc d ’Angoulême, or Monseigneur le duc d’Orléans, or Monsei­ gneur le duc de Bourbon. There are plenty of Frenchwomen who would be as good princesses as Madame la duchesse d’Angoulême, or Madame la duchesse de Berry, or Mesdames d’Orléans, de Bour­ bon, and de Condé. The ante-chambers of the palace are full of courtiers ready to take the place of the great household officials. The army has plenty of soldiers who would be as good leaders as our present Marshals. How many clerks there are who are as good as our ministers? How many administrators who are capable of managing the affairs of the depart­ ments better than the existing prefects and sub-prefects? How many barristers who are as good lawyers as our judges? How many vicars as expert as our cardinals, archbishops, bishops, vicars-general, and canons? As for the ten thousand aristocratic landowners, their heirs could need no apprenticeship to do the honors of their drawing­ rooms as well as they. The prosperity of France can only exist through the effects of the progress of the sciences, fine arts and professions. The Princes, the great household officials, the Bishops, Marshals of France, prefects and idle landowners contribute nothing directly to the progress of the sciences, fine arts and professions. Far from contributing they only hinder, since they strive to prolong the supremacy existing to this day of conjectural ideas over positive science. They inevitably harm the prosperity of the nation by depriving, as they do, the scientists, artists, and artisans of the high esteem to which they are properly entitled. They are harmful because they expend their wealth in a way which is of no direct use to the sciences, fine arts, and professions: they are harmful because they are a charge on the national taxation, to the amount of three or four hundred millions under the heading of ap­ pointments, pensions, gifts, compensations, for the upkeep of their activities which are useless to the nation. These suppositions underline the most important fact of present politics: they provide a point of view from which we can see this fact in a flash in all its extent; they show clearly, though indirectly, that



our social organization is seriously defective: that men still allow them­ selves to be governed by violence and ruse, and that the human race (politically speaking) is still sunk in immorality. The scientists, artists, and artisans, the only men whose work is of positive utility to society, and cost it practically nothing, are kept down by the princes and other rulers who are simply more or less incapable bureaucrats. Those who control honors and other national awards owe, in general, the supremacy they enjoy, to the accident of birth, to flattery, intrigue and other dubious methods. Those who control public affairs share between them every year one half of the taxes, and they do not even use a third of what they do not pocket personally in a way which benefits the citizen. These suppositions show that society is a world which is upside down. The nation holds as a fundamental principle that the poor should be generous to the rich, and that therefore the poorer classes should daily deprive themselves of necessities in order to increase the superfluous luxury of the rich. The most guilty men, the robbers on a grand scale, who oppress the mass of the citizens, and extract from them three or four hundred millions a year, are given the responsibility of punishing minor offenses against society. Ignorance, superstition, idleness and costly dissipation are the privilege of the leaders of society, and men of ability, hard-working and thrifty, are employed only as inferiors and instruments. To sum up, in every sphere men of greater ability are subject to the control of men who are incapable. From the point of view of morality, the most immoral men have the responsibility of leading the citizens towards virtue; from the point of view of distributive justice, the most guilty men are appointed to punish minor delin­ quents.

[The Plan of a New Society] * Let us return to the plan which I propose. If you adopt it and main­ tain it, you will place permanently in the hands of the twenty-one most enlightened men the two great weapons of domination— pres­ tige and wealth. The consequence will be, for many reasons, rapid * From Henri de Saint-Simon, Letters from an Inhabitant of Geneva, 1803.

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progress in the sciences. It is a fact that, with every advance in the sciences, discovery becomes easier; so that those who, like your­ selves, can only devote little time to your education, will be able to learn more, and, as you become more educated, you will diminish the domination gained by the rich. You will soon see, my friends, excel­ lent results. But I cannot spend more time on matters which are comparatively remote consequences of a course of action on which you have not yet embarked. Let us talk of what is immediately in view. You give your respect, that is to say, you voluntarily concede a degree of domination to men who perform services which you consider useful to you. The mistake which you make, in common with the whole of humanity, is in not distinguishing clearly enough be­ tween the immediate and more lasting benefits, between those of local and more general interest, between those which benefit a part of hu­ manity at the expense of the rest, and those which promote the happi­ ness of the whole of humanity. In short, you have not yet realized that there is but one interest common to the whole of humanity, the progress of the sciences. If the mayor of your village obtains for you an advantage over your neighbors, you are pleased with him, you respect him. The inhabi­ tants of the towns show the same desire to be superior to neighboring towns; the provinces are rivals, and between nations there are strug­ gles, called wars, for their particular interests. What part of the efforts of these fractions of the human race has a direct influence on the general interest? It is small, indeed; which is not surprising, considering that humanity has not yet taken steps col­ lectively to reward those who do successful work in the general in­ terest. To gather up and unite all these forces acting in different, and often contrary, directions; to direct them as far as possible to the single purpose of improving the lot of humanity— I do not think a better means can be found than the one I propose. For the moment I have said enough of the scientists; let us speak of the artists. On Sundays eloquence has charms for you: you take pleasure in reading a well-written book, in looking at beautiful pictures and statues, or in listening to music which holds your attention. A great deal of work is required to speak or write in a way which will amuse you, to create a picture or statue which pleases you, or to compose music which interests you. Is it not just, my friends, that you should reward the artists who fill your leisure hours with pleasures which



develop your intelligence, by evoking the most delicate and subtle sensations? My friends, let all of you subscribe, however little; you are so many that the total sum will be considerable. Moreover, the esteem which will accrue to those who are nominated, will give them an immeasur­ able force. You will see how the rich will strive to attain distinction in the sciences and arts, when this career leads to the highest positions of esteem. If you achieve nothing more from it than to distract them from quarrels caused by idleness, quarrels merely to decide how many of you shall be under their orders, quarrels which always involve yourselves, and in which you are the dupes, that will be a considerable gain. If you are convinced by my plan, there will be one difficulty for you, that of selection. I will explain the way in which I should make my choice. I would ask all the mathematicians I know, who, in their opinion, are the three best mathematicians, and I would nominate the three who had the most votes of those whom I had consulted. I would do the same in the case of the physicists, etc. Having divided humanity into three groups, and having put before each of them the reasons which should convince them, I shall now address my contemporaries as a whole, to put before them my reflec­ tions on the French Revolution. The suppression of the privilege of birth required an effort which had ended by breaking up the old organization, and it was not in itself an obstacle to a re-organization of society. But the appeal which had been made to all members of society to fulfil frequently the functions of legislation, was unsuccessful. Apart from the fearful atrocities to which this application of the principle of equality led through the inevitable results of putting power in the hands of the ignorant, it ended by producing a form of government which was absolutely impracticable. The rulers, given salaries in order to include the have-nots, were so increased in number that the work of the governed was barely sufficient to support them. This was a result which was absolutely contrary to the most constant desire of the havenots, which was to pay as few taxes as possible. Here is an idea which seems to me sound. The elementary needs of life are the most imperative. The have-nots can only satisfy them inadequately. A physiologist can see clearly that their most constant desire must be to reduce taxation, or to increase wages, which comes to the same thing. I believe that all classes of society would benefit

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from an organization on these lines: the spiritual power in the hands of the scientists, the temporal power in the hands of the propertyowners; the power to nominate those who should perform the functions of the leaders of humanity, in the hands of all; the reward of the rulers, esteem.

[The Golden Age] * I have tried in this work to prove that the establishment of a political system in conformity with the present state of enlightenment, and the creation of a common power possessing force enough to repress the ambitions of peoples and kings, is the only means of producing a stable and peaceful order in Europe. In this respect the actual plan of organization which I have suggested is of secondary importance; if it were refuted, if it were found to be essentially faulty, I would still have done what I set out to do, provided some other plan were adopted. From another point of view, the plan I have suggested is the most important part of my work. For a long time it has been agreed that the present political system is decayed to its very foundations, and that another system must be set up. Yet in spite of the fact that this view is widespread, and that men’s minds, wearied by revolutions and wars, are prepared to grasp at any means to recover order and repose, nobody has risen above the old routine. They have continued to act on the old principles, as if it was impossible to have any better ones; they have rung the changes on the old system in a thousand different ways, but nothing new has been thought of. The plan of organization which I have put forward is the first which is new and comprehensive. Doubtless it would have been desirable that the plan of re-organi­ zation of the European community should have been thought out by one of the more powerful sovereigns, or at least by a statesman experienced in affairs and renowned for his political talent. Such a plan, backed by great power, or a great reputation, would have converted men’s minds more quickly. The feebleness of human intelligence did not allow matters to follow this course. Was it pos­ sible for those who are engaged in the day-to-day conduct of affairs, * From Henri de Saint-Simon, The Reorganization of the European Commu­ nity, 1814.



and forced inevitably to reason according to the principles of the old system, which they maintain for lack of a better one, to pursue si­ multaneously two different courses? With their attention fixed on the old system and the old devices, could they conceive and keep before their eyes a new system and new methods? With great effort and labor I have reached the standpoint of the common interest of the European peoples. This standpoint is the only one from which it is possible to perceive both the evils which threaten us, and the means of averting them. If those who are in charge of affairs can reach the same level as I have done, they will all be able to see what I have seen. The divisions of public opinion arise from the fact that each man has too narrow a view, and does not dare to free himself from this standpoint from which he persists in judging affairs. For clear-thinking men there is only one method of reasoning, only one way of seeing things, if they are looking at them from the same point of view. If men who have the same nobility of sentiment, up­ rightness of judgment, desire for the public welfare, loyalty to the King, yet have such different opinions, it is because each has his own point of view which he will not abandon. Let them rise above it, and put themselves in the position to which I have tried to elevate men’s minds, and all these different opinions will merge into one. Thus by a happy transformation, beneficial to the State, we shall see all the finest characters, the most enlightened minds, the Montesquious and the Raynouards, the d’Ambrais and the Lanjuinais, and all the others separated by their opinions but united by their feelings, aiming at the same goal and co-operating for the same purpose. There will come a time, without doubt, when all the peoples of Europe will feel that questions of common interest must be dealt with before coming down to national interests; then evils will begin to lessen, troubles abate, wars die out. That is the ultimate direction in which we are steadily progressing; it is there that the progress of the human mind will carry us. But which is more worthy of man’s prudence— to hasten towards it, or to let ourselves be dragged there? Poetic imagination has put the Golden Age in the cradle of the human race, amid the ignorance and brutishness of primitive times; it is rather the Iron Age which should be put there. The Golden Age of the human race is not behind us but before us; it lies in the perfection of the social order. Our ancestors never saw it; our children will one day arrive there; it is for us to clear the way.

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Charles Fourier (1772-1837) was another typically eccentric and un­ realistic social thinker of this period. While he emphasized the funda­ mental importance of industry, which he called “the primordial function and demanded its regulation in the new society, he is most famous for the utopian communities which he proposed. He described in meticulous detail the buildings, grounds, organization, and circumstances of life in the self-sufficient socialist societies, or phalanxes, which he envisioned. The following selections help to explain why this movement came to be called utopian.

[Of Association] * It has been vaguely formulated as a principle that men are made for s o c i e t y : it has not been noted that society may be of two orders, the scattered or disjointed (morcelé) and the combined, the nonassociative and the associative condition. The difference between the one and the other is the difference between truth and falsehood, be­ tween riches and poverty, between light and darkness, between a comet and a planet, between a butterfly and a caterpillar. The present age, with its presentiments of association, has pursued a hesitating advance; it has been afraid to trust to its inspirations which opened up hopes of a great discovery. It has dreamed of social union without daring to undertake the investigation of the means; it has never thought of speculating upon the following alternatives: There can be but two methods in the exercise of industry, namely: the disjointed order or that of isolated families, such as we see, or the associative order. God can choose for the prosecution of human labor only between g r o u p s and i n d i v id u a l s ; associative and combined action, and in­ coherent and disjointed action. * From C. Fourier, The Theory of Universal Unity, 1822. This and the fol­ lowing passages are from Selections from the Works of Fourier, translated by Julia Franklin, published by Swan Sonnenschein and Co., London, 1901.



As a wise dispenser, he could not have speculated upon the em­ ployment of isolated couples, working without union, according to the civilized method; for individual action carries within itself seven germs of disorganization, of which each one by itself would engender a multitude of disorders. We may judge by a list of these evils whether God could for an instant have hesitated to proscribe disjointed labor which engenders them all.

Evils of Individual Action in Industry* Wage labor, indirect servitude.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Death of the functionary. Personal inconstancy. Contrast between the characters of the father and son. Absence of mechanical economy. Fraud, theft, and general mistrust. Intermission of industry on account of lack of means. Conflict of contradictory enterprises.

Opposition of individual and collective interest. A bsence of unity in plans and execution.

God would have adopted all these evils as a basis of the social system had he fixed upon the philosophic method or disjointed labor; can we suspect the Creator of such unreason? . . . All the sophists agree in declaring that man is made for so ciety : according to this principle ought man to aim for the smallest or the largest society possible? It is beyond doubt that it is in the largest that all the mechanical and economical advantages will be found: and since we have only attained the infinitely small, “family-labor” ( “ tra­ vail familial” ), is any other indication required to verify the fact that civilization is the antipodes of destiny as well as of truth? . . . To sum up, all our reformers feel and proclaim the necessity of uniting the working classes into masses or social phalanxes, but they do not wish to acknowledge that the associative process belongs to a science of which the economists have no conception, and of which I alone have formulated a regular theory, ample and without gaps, attacking, and solving all problems, boldly presenting those before * From C. Fourier, The Mistakes of Industry, 1836.

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which all economists have recoiled, such as the equilibrium of popu­ lation, industry attractive and guaranteeing the good morals of the people.

[The Phalanstery] * The announcement does, I acknowledge, sound very improbable, of a method for combining three hundred families unequal in fortune, and rewarding each person— man, woman, child— according to the three properties, capital, labor, talent. More than one reader will credit himself with humor when he remarks: “Let the author try to associate but three families, to reconcile three households in the same dwelling to social union, to arrangements of purchases and expenses, to perfect harmony in passions, character, and authority; when he shall have succeeded in reconciling three mistresses of associated households, we shall believe that he can succeed with thirty and with three hundred.” I have already replied with an argument which it is well to reproduce (for repetition will frequently be necessary here); I have observed that as econom y can spring only from large combinations, G o d had to create a social theory applicable to large masses and not to three or four families.

An objection seemingly more reasonable, and which needs to be refuted more than once, is that of social discords. How conciliate the passions, the conflicting interests, the incompatible characters— in short, the innumerable disparities which engender so much discord? It may easily have been surmised that I shall make use of a lever entirely unknown, and whose properties cannot be judged until I shall have explained them. The passional contrasted Series draws its nourishment solely from those disparities which bewilder civilized policy; it acts like the husbandman who from a mass of filth draws the germs of abundance; the refuse, the dirt, and impure matter which would serve only to defile and infect our dwellings, are for him the sources of wealth. If social experiments have miscarried, it is because some fatality has impelled all speculators to work with bodies of poor people whom they subjected to a monastic-industrial discipline, chief obstacle to * From C. Fourier, The Theory of Universal Unity, 1822, and The New In­ dustrial and Social World, 1829.



the working of the series. Here, as in everything else, it is ever s i m ­ p l i s m (simplisme) which misleads the civilized, obstinately sticking to experiments with combinations of the poor; they cannot elevate them­ selves to the conception of a trial with combinations of the rich. They are veritable Lemning rats (migrating rats of Lapland), preferring drowning in a pond to deviating from the route which they have de­ cided upon. It is necessary for a company of 1,500 to 1,600 persons to have a stretch of land comprising a good square league, say a surface of six million square toises (do not let us forget that a third of that would suffice for the simple mode).* The land should be provided with a fine stream of water; it should be intersected by hills, and adapted to varied cultivation; it should be contiguous to a forest, and not far removed from a large city, but sufficiently so to escape intruders. The experimental Phalanx standing alone, and without the support of neighboring phalanxes, will, in consequence of this isolation, have so many gaps in attraction, and so many passional calms to dread in its workings, that it will be necessary to provide it with the aid of a good location fitted for a variety of functions. A flat country such as Antwerp, Leipsic, Orleans, would be totally unsuitable, and would cause many Series to fail, owing to the uniformity of the land surface. It will, therefore, be necessary to select a diversified region, like the surroundings of Lausanne, or, at the very least, a fine valley provided with a stream of water and a forest, like the valley of Brussels or of Halle. A fine location near Paris would be the stretch of country lying between Poissy and Confleurs, Poissy and Meulan. A company will be collected consisting of from 1,500 to 1,600 per­ * I had promised a very detailed article upon approximations to the associa­ tive mechanism: Companies with slender means might wish to start on a small scale; that is the favorite method of the French—to outline, to grope. The greater number would advocate a trial reduced to a half, to 900 persons, or to a third, 600 persons. I call their attention to the fact that in reducing a mechanism, its system is perverted, unless all the parts are retained: we can reduce a huge belfry clock to proportions small enough to be enclosed in a minute case, to a watch an inch in diameter; but this watch contains all the parts of the large mechanism, even the arrangement for striking; hence, the system, though reduced, is not changed. It is not so with a mechanism of the passions: in order to reduce it in the same proportions as the cathedral clock to a little watch, we should have to have miniature people, Lilliputians half a foot high, and animals and vegetables of proportionate dimensions.

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sons of graduated degrees of fortune, age, character, of theoretical and practical knowledge; care will be taken to secure the greatest amount of variety possible, for the greater the number of variations either in the passions or the faculties of the members, the easier will it be to make them harmonize in a short space of time. In this district devoted to experiment, there ought to be com­ bined every species of practicable cultivation, including that in con­ servatories and hot-houses; in addition, there ought to be at least three accessory factories, to be used in winter and on rainy days; furthermore, various practical branches of science and the arts, inde­ pendent of the schools. Above all, it will be necessary to fix the valuation of the capital invested in shares; lands, materials, flocks, implements, etc. This point ought, it seems, to be among the first to receive attention; 1 think it best to dismiss it here. I shall limit myself to remarking that all these investments in transferable shares and stock-coupons will be represented. A great difficulty to be overcome in the experimental Phalanx will be the formation of the ties of high mechanism or collective bonds of the Series, before the close of the first season. It will be necessary to accomplish the passional union of the mass of the members; to lead them to collective and individual devotion to the maintenance of the Phalanx, and, especially, to perfect harmony regarding the division of the profits, according to the three factors, Capital, Labor, Talent. This difficulty will be greater in northern than in southern countries, owing to the difference between devoting eight months and five months to agricultural labor. An experimental Phalanx, being obliged to start out with agri­ cultural labor, will not be in full operation until the month of May (in a climate of 50 degrees, say in the region around London or Paris); and, since it will be necessary to form the bonds of general union, the harmonious ties of the Series, before the suspension of field labor, before the month of October, there will be barely five months of full practice in a region of 50 degrees: the work will have to be accomplished in that short space. The trial would, therefore, be much more conveniently made in a temperate region, like Florence, Naples, Valencia, Lisbon, where they would have eight to nine months of full cultivation and a far better opportunity to consolidate the bonds of union, since there



would be but two or three months of passional calm remaining to tide over till the advent of the second spring, a time when the Pha­ lanx, resuming agricultural labor, would form its ties and cabals anew with much greater zeal, imbuing them with a degree of intensity far above that of the first year; it would thenceforth be in a state of complete consolidation, and strong enough to weather the passional calm of the second winter. We shall see in the chapter on hiatuses of attraction, that the first Phalanx will, in consequence of its social isolation and other impedi­ ments inherent to the experimental canton, have twelve special ob­ stacles to overcome, obstacles which the Phalanxes subsequently founded would not have to contend with. That is why it is so im­ portant that the experimental canton should have the assistance coming from field-work prolonged eight or nine months, like that in Naples and Lisbon. As for the selection to be made among the candidates, rich and poor, various qualities which are accounted vicious or useless in civilization should be looked for; such are: A good ear for music. Good manners of families. Aptitude for the fine arts. And various rules which are contrary to philosophic ideas should be followed. To To To To

prefer families having few children. have one-third of the organization consist of celibates. seek characters regarded as peculiar. establish a graduated scale respecting age, fortune, knowledge.

In view of the necessity of uniform education and fusion of the classes among children, I have advised, what I now reiterate, the selection, for the experimental Phalanx, of well-bred families, par­ ticularly in the lower class, since it will be necessary to have that class mingle in labor with the rich, and to make the latter find a charm in this amalgamation. That charm will be greatly dependent upon the good breeding of the inferiors; that is why the people in the en­ virons of Paris, Blois, and Tours will be very suitable for the trial, provided, of course, that a proper selection is made. Let us proceed with the details of composition. . . .

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Robert Owen (1771-1858) is probably the most extraordinary and inspiring of the utopian socialists. From humble origins he rose to the position of an immensely successful industrialist and entrepreneur. In his own mills and plants in Scotland and England he proved that the re­ form of the living and working conditions of the laborer could be made feasible and highly profitable for all. His later attempts to incorporate these reforms into utopian communities, however (as in New Harmony, Indiana), proved abysmal failures. Highly critical of an economic order in which men were “merely trained to buy cheap and sell dear,” he en­ visioned a wholly rational society in which, through the power of intelli­ gence and education, a new and superior type of human character might be developed, and a new moral world brought into being.

[To the Nations of the World] * You are now in the midst of a conflict which involves the deepest and dearest interest of every individual of the human race; and upon its result depends the misery or happiness of the present and future generations. It is a contest between those who believe, that it is for their indi­ vidual interest and happiness that man should continue to be kept in ignorance, and be governed, as heretofore, by force and fraud; and those who are convinced, that for his happiness, he should be hence­ forward governed by truth and justice only. The increase of knowl­ edge renders the ultimate result of the contest no longer doubtful; but it is greatly to be desired that it should speedily terminate to the satisfaction of all parties: and it may now be made so to terminate, by the union of the six leading nations of the more civilized part of the * Robert Owen, “An Address from the Association of All Classes of All Nations to the Governments and People of All Nations.” This and the follow­ ing selections are from The Book of the New Moral World, published by H. Robinson and Co., Glasgow, 1837.



world. For were they united to adopt simultaneously national meas­ ures, to give a wise direction to modern discoveries in the sciences of physics and of mind, they could accomplish the most magnificent re­ sults, for themselves and for the entire family of man. The inexperienced will hastily conclude that these results are im­ practicable, or if practicable, that men are too ignorant, vicious, and selfish to promote a change which would ensure equal privileges to all, although the benefits, thereby arising to each, should far exceed the ad­ vantages which any one can enjoy, under the existing constitution of society. We believe, that through the self-interest of man, these ob­ jections may be overcome. For the experienced know, that all nations might, now, easily adopt arrangements to produce more of all kinds of wealth, essential to human happiness, than would satisfy all to the full extent of their desire, and also establish new institutions, in which the natural faculties and powers of each, might be cultivated from birth, to be greatly superior to any character ever formed, or that can be formed under any of the old institutions of the world. This vital change in the condition and character of the human race, may now be effected with only light, healthy, beneficial, and agreeable manual labour, combined with the most desirable and pleasant mental exer­ cise: and this change may be effected in peace, with universal con­ sent, without injury to the mind, body, or estate, of a single indi­ vidual, in any rank or country. This is the revolution which the progress of knowledge now re­ quires from those who have hitherto ruled the destinies of nations; a revolution in the fundamental principles, and in the arrangement of society, which will essentially promote the interest, and secure the progressive happiness of all, from the highest to the lowest. We undertake to explain the principles of nature, and to unfold the practical measures consequent upon them, by which this great revolution in human affairs, may be now effected, without disorder, or evil of any kind, not even disturbing existing private properties. We proceed one step further; and consequently state, that the progress of knowledge now renders this revolution, in the general character of mankind, so irresistible, that no earthly power can pre­ vent, or much retard its course; and it will be effected either by reason, or by violence forced upon society by the mental degradation of all, and the extreme misery of the many. We, therefore, as the disin­ terested friends of all Classes of all Nations, recommend to all Gov­ ernments and People, that the old prejudices of the world, for or

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against class, sect, party, country, sex, and color, derived solely from ignorance, should be now allowed, by the common consent of all, to die their natural death; that standing armies of all nations should be disbanded, in order that the men may be employed in producing in­ stead of destroying wealth; that the rising generation should be edu­ cated from birth to become superior, in character and conduct, to all past generations; that all should be trained to have as much enjoyment, in producing as in using or consuming wealth, which, through the progress of science, can be easily effected; that all should freely par­ take of it; and that, thus, the reign of peace, intelligence, and universal sympathy, or affection, may, for ever, supersede the reign of ignorance and oppression.

[From the Old World to the New] The religious, moral, political, and commercial arrangements of society, throughout the world, have been based, from the commence­ ment of history, upon an error respecting the nature of man; an error so grievous in its consequences, that it has deranged all the proceedings of society, made man irrational in his thoughts, feelings, and actions, and, consequently, more inconsistent, and perhaps more miserable, than any other animal. This work is written to explain, first— the cause of this universal error, which has produced the derangement, degradation, and misery of the human race; and secondly— open to the present generation, a N e w M o r a l W o r l d founded on principles opposed to this error; and in which, the causes producing it will cease. In this N e w W o r l d , the inhabitants will attain a state of existence, in which a spirit of charity and affection will pervade the whole human race, man will become spiritualized, and happy amidst a race of superior beings. The knowledge which he will thus acquire of himself and of nature, will induce and enable him through his self-interest, or desire for happiness, to form such superior external arrangements as will place him within a terrestrial paradise. As in this New World, all will know, that far more happiness can be obtained by union, than by disunion, all opposition and contention between man and man, and nation and nation, for individual or national advantages, of any kind, will cease. The overwhelming power, which, through the progress of knowl­



edge, may be now obtained by the external circumstances under the control of society, to form the general character of the human race, will become evident to all, and in consequence, no child will be per­ mitted to grow up in ignorance, in superstition, or with inferior dis­ positions or habits; or without a knowledge of his own organization, of its laws, of the laws of nature generally, of the useful sciences, and of the practical arts of life. The degradation, therefore, of mind and body, hitherto produced by a general training in error, regarding the organization or natural powers of man, and the innumerable errors thence arising, will be altogether unknown. The evils, also, which are now produced by the desire ignorantly created to obtain individual superiority in wealth, privileges, and honours will not exist; but advantages much superior to these, will be secured to all, and feelings of a higher character than individual distinctions can create, will be universally experienced. Scientific arrangements will be formed to make wealth everywhere, and at all times superabound beyond the wants or wishes of the human race, and all desire for individual accumulation, or any ine­ quality of condition, will consequently cease. The necessity for a never-ceasing supply of wealth for the use and enjoyment of all, and the right of each to produce and to enjoy his fair share of it, will be obvious and admitted. It will be equally evi­ dent that the unwrought materials to produce manufactured wealth, exist in superfluity, and that scientific aids may now be constructed to procure and work up these materials without any disagreeable, un­ healthy, or premature manual labour, into every variety of the most useful and valuable productions. With means thus ample to procure wealth with ease and pleasure to all, none will be so unwise as to desire to have the trouble and care of individual property. To divide riches among individuals in unequal proportions, or to hoard it for individual purposes, will be perceived to be as useless and as injurious as it would be to divide water or air into unequal quantities for different individuals, or that they should hoard them for their future use. As more wealth will be produced through scientific aid, by healthy exercise, and as a gratifying amusement, than the population of the earth can require or advantageously use, no anxious thoughts, or care for a continued supply will perplex the mind, or injuriously occupy the time of any one. And as sufficient wealth will be so easily produced

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by scientific arrangements to effect whatever riches and knowledge can accomplish by the union of mankind, a far better education than any which has ever yet been proposed or conceived in the old world, will be given from birth to every one. In consequence of the ease with which wealth and scientific knowledge will be obtained, and made abundant for the most ample use and gratification of all, the inferior existing circumstances will be abandoned, and man will no longer live in crowded cities, or in seclusion from enlightened and superior society; but other arrangements will be formed to enable all, as soon as they shall be made rational, to live in superior habitations surrounded by gardens, pleasure-grounds, and scenery, far better de­ signed and executed than any yet possessed by the monarchs of the most powerful, wealthy, and extended empires. The human race will also be surrounded by other very superior circumstances, which, now, by the progress of knowledge, can be placed for the first time under the control of man; circumstances of a far higher character than any which have yet existed in any part of the globe. Ignorance therefore, and poverty, or the fear of it, now the fruitful causes of crime and misery, will no longer disunite man, and be the bane of his happiness. These evils will be known only in the history of the past, or of the irrational period of human existence. Money, which has hitherto been the root, if not of all evil of great injustice, oppression and misery to the human race, making some slavish producers of wealth, and others its wasteful consumers or destroyers, will be no longer required to carry on the business of life: for as wealth of all kinds will be so delightfully created in greater abundance than will ever be required, no money price will be known, for happiness will not be purchaseable, except by a reciprocity of good actions and kind feelings. Consequently, the present classification of society will be not only useless, but it will be discovered to be unjust and productive of every kind of evil; necessarily destructive of sincerity, honesty, and of all the finest feelings, and most valuable sympathies of our nature. This artificial and most injurious classification will be superseded by one derived immediately from nature— one that shall insure sincerity and honesty; that shall cultivate, foster, and encourage the finest feelings, and best sympathies, and continually calling into action the higher qualities of our nature, and that shall insure to every one the full amount of happiness that his original constitution, under the most favourable circumstances, shall be capable of receiving. These effects



can be obtained, only, by a natural classification into employments according to age and capacity. All, at the same period of life, will pursue the same general occupations, for the public benefit, for which all, by their superior training and education, will be made more than competent; and all will have a large portion of each day to employ according to their peculiar capacities and individual inclinations, without interfering with the happiness of others. By these arrangements, and this classification, all will become superior, physically, intellectually, and morally; each will know all the duties of life, and will have the greatest desire to execute them in the best manner. In this classification, however, none will be trained to teach incongruities or mysteries, which must derange the mental faculties and disorder all the transactions of mankind— none will be engaged in devising or administering laws in opposition to the laws of nature; or, in adjudging artificial rewards and punishments to counteract those of nature, which are all wise and efficient. It will be obvious, even to children, thus rationally educated, that all human laws must be either unnecessary, or in opposition to Nature’s laws, they must create disunion, produce crime incessantly, and involve all transactions in inextricable confusion. None will be trained in idle­ ness and uselessness to waste extravagantly the productions of others, to which no just law can give them a shadow of right or title; and no unjust law will be admitted into the code of the N e w M o r a l W o r l d . None will be trained and set apart to attack, plunder, and murder their fellow-men; this conduct will be known to be irrational, and the very essence of wickedness; nor, yet, will any be trained to bar­ gain with, or even to attempt to take advantage of another, or to desire individual privileges or distinctions of any kind. The individual who is trained to buy cheap, sell dear, and seek for individual benefits above his fellows, is thereby degraded— is unfitted to acquire supe­ rior qualities— is deprived of the finest feelings of our nature, and rendered totally incompetent to experience the highest enjoyments of human existence. Nor will any be permitted, by society, to be trained in an inferior manner, or for inferior purposes; because one such example will be injurious to every one— but all will have the original powers and faculties of their nature directed and cultivated, in such a manner, as shall make it unavoidable, that each shall become, at maturity, superior in mind, manner, and conduct. In this N e w W o r l d , the sympathies o f human nature will be

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rightly directed from infancy, and will engender a spirit of benevo­ lence, confidence, and affection, which will pervade mankind. The impurities of the present system, arising from human laws opposed to nature’s laws, will be unknown. The immense mass of degradation of character, and of heart-rending suffering, experienced by both sexes, but especially by women, will be altogether prevented — and the characters of all women will, by a superior, yet natural training, be elevated to become lovely, good, and intellectual. Of this state of purity and felicity few of the present generation have been trained to form any correct or rational conception. In this New World, founded on universal and everlasting truths, no attempt will be made to falsify any of our physical or mental feel­ ings; they will be known to be instincts given, as necessary parts of our nature, to be beneficially exercised and enjoyed. Thus will be attained perfect truth, the great desideratum of human life, to prepare it for the enjoyment of happiness— truth, which, in this New World, will be, upon every subject, the sole language of man to the full extent of his knowledge. There will, therefore, be an undeviating unity between all the thoughts, feelings, language, and actions of the human race. It will be distinctly perceived, that falsehood necessarily produces misery, and that truth necessarily produces happiness; consequently, no mo­ tives will arise among beings rationally educated, and possessing a knowledge of their own nature, to induce any one even to imagine a falsehood. In this regenerated state of human existence, all will be trained from birth to attain physically, mentally, and morally, very superior qualities, and to have them regularly exercised up to the point of temperance, according to the constitution of each. Thus will the well-being, the well-doing, and the happiness of each be insured, and permanently maintained. It must now be evident, that the New Moral World, will have little in common with the old, excepting humanity as it comes into existence at birth, and the simple materials of nature; and even these will be made to receive forms and qualities so superior to those which have hitherto been given to them, that the inexperienced would scarcely believe their natures to be the same. In this book the difference between the two states of existence, and also the mode by which the change from the one to the other will be



effected, without injury to person or property, will be made so plain as easily to be understood. The first part contains an explanation of the Constitution of Human Nature, and the Moral Science of Man, in order that a solid founda­ tion may be laid at the commencement. In the succeeding parts of this book the Conditions requisite to insure the happiness of man, will be stated, with the reason for each Condition. Having considered what individual man is by nature, and what is necessary to the happiness of a being so constituted, an Explanation will be given of the arrange­ ments which are necessary for his social condition, which will lead to the consideration of the best mode to Produce and Distribute wealth— to Form the Character, and to Govern men in the aggregate, so as to insure their happiness . The Religion and Morals of the N e w

will then be explained, and their superiority shown over the mysteries and inconsistencies of the religions and morals of the old world. The principles on which to found a rational government for mankind will next follow, with its laws, the reasons for each law, and the consequences of such a government to the population of the world. To these will succeed an explanation of the practical arrange­ ments by which all the conditions requisite to happiness may be ob­ tained for, and permanently insured to, the human race; together with the mode of effecting the change from the Old to the New World. W orld

[The Development of Superior Human Character] A superior human being, or any one approaching a character de­ serving the name of rational, has not yet been known among man­ kind. A man intelligent and yet consistent in his feelings, thoughts, and actions, does not now exist even in the most civilized part of the world. Therefore, we know only from history or personal acquaint­ ance, human beings who have been considered superior under the irrational system in which the human race has existed up to the present period; beings possessing comparatively superior organiza­ tions, and who have been placed through life amidst the least irrational circumstances. The most excellent of these characters, however, the most choice specimens that ever lived in the artificial and unnatural state which these circumstances have produced, have been but irra­ tional beings— men who have been a little rational in a few points,

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while their fellow-men were made to be irrational in all their feelings, thoughts and actions. Before a truly superior character can be formed among men, a new arrangement of external circumstances must be combined, all of which must be in unison with human nature, and calculated to produce rational impressions only upon the human organization. Every external circumstance, too, must be superior of its kind; and there must be also the absence of slavery and servitude, that no in­ ferior impressions may be made upon any of our faculties. Before this character can be given to the human race, a great change must occur in the whole proceedings of mankind; their feelings, thoughts, and actions must arise from principles altogether different from the vague and fanciful notions by which the mental part of the character of man has been hitherto formed; the whole external cir­ cumstances relative to the production and distribution of wealth, the formation of character, and the government of men, must be changed; the whole of these parts must be re-modeled and united into one system, in which each part shall contribute to the perfection of the whole; nothing must be left to the ignorance or inexperience of individ­ uals or of individual families, whose apparent interests are made to oppose those of their fellows and neighbours; a false interest which diffuses a spirit of jealousy and competition among the members of every class, sect, and party, in every nation, city, town, and village, and too often in families. No! a rational and superior character can be formed only by chang­ ing the whole of the existing irrational circumstances, now everywhere prevalent in the domestic, commercial, political, literary, and religious arrangements of mankind, for an entirely new and scientific combina­ tion of all these separate parts into one entire whole; and this so simplified and arranged, that all may be trained, even at an early period of life, to comprehend it, and also the reason for the formation of each part of this new and scientific machine of society. But this change can never be effected during the continuance of the laws, institutions, and customs of the world, which have arisen from the belief that the character of the individual is formed by himself; that he possesses within himself the power to form his own will, and the inclination or motives which induce him to act. These errors of the imagination have produced the most lamentable consequences in lead­ ing men to form institutions, codes of law, and customs in accordance with them; and, fatally for the happiness and improvement of man­



kind, in direct opposition to the laws of human nature, and to all the natural feelings of the human race. Ignorance, poverty, cruelty, in­ justice, crime, and misery were sure to follow from this opposition to the laws of that Power which pervades the universe, and gives man his nature, his feelings, and all his attributes. This opposition, how­ ever it may have arisen, is, in fact, a direct denial of wisdom, or design in the Cause which creates. That Cause gives man an organization or constitution with propensities, instincts, and faculties necessary for the well-doing, well-being, and happiness of the individual and of society; but inexperienced man, says, “No; these instincts, propensi­ ties, and faculties are bad; it is true, Nature has made them, but Nature is ignorant of the means to accomplish her own ends, we will instruct her better, and will therefore counteract her blind, or foolish, or injurious laws, by all the artificial and unnatural measures our wisdom can devise.” By these vain and futile attempts to oppose Nature, and improve himself, man is made the greatest obstacle in the way of his own happiness, and of the happiness of his race. . . .

[The Irrational Society] These facts and laws make it evident that human nature is a com­ pound of qualities, different from that which it has hitherto appeared to be; that these qualities have been misconceived, and that the true nature of man has been, to the present time, hidden from the human race; that this want of all knowledge of himself from which man has hitherto suffered, is now the great, and almost sole cause of all crime and misery. He has mistaken the most important instincts of his nature for the creations of his will, whereas facts now prove that his will is created by these instincts. This fundamental error respecting the qualities of the material of human nature, has, of necessity, deranged all the proceedings of mankind, and prevented the whole race from becoming rational. Man has imagined that he has been formed to believe and to feel as he likes, by the power of his will, and to be to a great extent, independent of external nature. All past society has been founded on these erroneous assumptions, and, in consequence, the human mind has been a chaos of perplexing inconsistencies, and all human affairs a compound of the most irrational transactions, in­ dividually, nationally, and universally.

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The stronger members of every association have tyrannized over the weaker, and by open force or by fraud, made them their slaves— such is the state of society over the world at this moment. But tyrants and slaves are never rational; nor can such a condition of society ever produce intelligence, wealth, union, virtue, and happiness among mankind; or place man in a condition of permanent progressive improvement. This division into tyrants and slaves, has produced a classification of society, which, however necessary in its early stages, is now creating every kind of evil over the earth, and prevents the possibility of any one attaining that high degree of excellence and happiness which, otherwise, might be so easily secured to the whole of the human race; a classification which must be destroyed before injustice and oppres­ sion— vice and misery, can be removed. For while men shall be divided into castes of employers and employee— masters and servants, sovereign and subject, tyrant and slave— ignorance, poverty, and disunion must pervade the world, and there must be an alternate advance and retrogression in all nations. The division of the inhabi­ tants of the earth into tyrants and slaves has produced, not only the general classification which has been mentioned, but others subdivid­ ing these into Emperors, Kings, and Princes, into Legislators and Pro­ fessors of divinity, law, medicine and arms; into producers and non­ producers of wealth and knowledge; into buyers and sellers of each other’s powers, faculties, and products, and into the respective serv­ ants of all these divisions. Thus making a heterogeneous mass of con­ tending interests among the whole human race, which, while these opposing feelings shall be created, must sever man from man, and nation from nation, to the incalculable injury of every individual of all nations. It is now, therefore, evident that man has committed the same mistake from the beginning, respecting the power and faculties of his own nature, as he did for so long a period in relation to the laws of motion which govern the solar system; and from the same cause— the want of a sufficient number of facts accurately observed and systematically arranged, to enable him to draw sound deductions, and discover the truth. It is equally evident, that while these funda­ mental errors respecting the powers and faculties of human nature shall be entertained by, and shall control the conduct of those who govern the nations of the world, the same confusion of ideas, in the conception and direction of human affairs, must prevail, as existed



in all minds respecting the solar system, when it was generally believed that the earth was the centre of the universe, and that the sun, stars, and planets moved round it. Those who discovered the principles which now so beautifully explain the motions of the heavenly bodies, were deemed by the priest­ hood of those days, infidels, because this knowledge of nature’s laws was opposed to their superstitions and ignorance; and Galileo, to save his life, was compelled publicly to deny, in words, what he was forced, through the knowledge which he had acquired, to believe by an irresistible instinct of his nature. Thus the priesthood forced him to give a public denial to those truths which he was compelled to believe, in order to escape a death of excruciating torment. In like manner, now, the promulgators of those divine principles of truth which must produce charity, kindness, and affection un­ limited, and harmonize all minds as well as all human affairs, are called infidels by the priesthood of the present day; and the priests now desire to make them also deny the truth, by inflicting on them fines and imprisonment, or by using all the influence which they possess to destroy the only means of living within the power of these lovers of truth. Knowledge, however, progresses; the opinions of man­ kind on these subjects are rapidly changing; the errors and evils of the priesthood are seen and felt by the intelligent over the world; and all the signs of the times make it evident that the era approaches when mental truth shall be as free as physical truth, and when the far greater benefits to be derived from the former will be experienced and universally acknowledged. Men will then recur to the present state of mental imbecility, rela­ tive to human nature, as we now do to the notions formerly entertained of the form of the earth, the solar movements, and the principles of mechanics and chemistry. It seems extraordinary, at first, that the physical sciences, requiring so much accurate observation of external nature, so much profound thought and reflection, and often, such an extended, unbroken chain of close reasoning, should have made the advance the world now witnesses; and that so little progress should have been made in mental knowledge, which can alone insure happiness to the human race; this is, however, explained by the fact, that the priesthood in all countries, in all times, have opposed the barrier of their hitherto allpowerful influence, to stifle inquiries and prevent investigations, which

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they perceived would undermine their power over the human mind, and consequently, over the fortunes of men. Thus the most intricate and important discoveries have been made in some of the physical sciences, while the mental and moral sciences have remained in total darkness. Even now, upon these latter subjects, the most erroneous assumptions, in opposition to all facts, are taught to the mass of mankind, who are, in consequence, made imbecile and mentally blind. This injurious state of human affairs will remain as long as the authorized teachers of the people are made to believe that they (the teachers) have an interest in keeping the people in mental dark­ ness. And the teachers will continue thus to instruct, until they shall be better instructed themselves with respect to their own interest and happiness. Thus the errors of the world relative to these facts and laws of human nature, have kept past generations in the ignorance, poverty, disunion, crime, and misery which have hitherto pervaded all parts of the earth; and while these errors are retained, the evils must con­ tinue to increase. But it is, and always, without a single exception, has been the highest interest of all men, in all countries, that these errors should be removed; and happily men now begin to perceive this truth. We have, in this chapter, stated a few only of the most obvious deductions from the facts and laws, or constitution of human nature; were we now to enter fully upon this wide field of new knowledge, a volume would be insufficient to contain that which might be advan­ tageously written; but the subsequent parts of this book will afford a better opportunity to place the subject gradually before the mind, when it will be more habituated to follow this train of reasoning.

[The New Moral World] These facts and laws of nature, whenever they shall be fully un­ derstood and generally adopted in practice, will become the means of forming a new character for the human race. Instead of being made irrational, as they have hitherto been, they will be made rational, they will be formed to become of necessity, c h a r it a b l e to their fellow-men of every clime, color, language, sentiment, and feeling;



and k i n d to all that has life. When a knowledge of these facts and laws shall be taught to all from infancy, they will know that the clime, color, language, opinions, and feelings, are the necessary effects of causes over which the individuals, subject to their influence, have no control; they will not, therefore, be angry with their fellow-men for experiencing influences which are unavoidable. These different effects will be considered varieties of nature, useful for observation and re­ flection, for instruction and amusement. Such varieties in the character of man, as now produce opposing feelings and interests, and thence anger, violence, wars, and disunion, and all manner of oppression and injustice, crimes and misery, will, on the contrary, elicit knowl­ edge, friendship, and pleasure. Hence characters the most opposite by nature will seek each other, unite and form intimate associations, in order that the most extended knowledge of human nature, and of nature generally, may be acquired, one interest formed, and affection made everywhere to abound. The necessary result of unions of opposite varieties of character, will be, speedily to remove prejudices of every description, to dispel ignorance, root out all evil passions, destroy the very germs of dis­ union, and make men wise to their own happiness. Thus there will be no opposing interests or feelings among men in any part of the globe: the spirit of the world will be changed, and the selfishness of ignorance will be superseded by the self-interest, or, which is the same, the benevolence of intelligence. The individuality of man, unavoidable by his nature, which is, now, through ignorance, a cause of so much of the disunion of the human race, will become the cause of the more intimate union, and of the increase of pleasure and enjoyment. Contrasts of feelings and opinions which have been hitherto causes of anger, hatred, and repul­ sion, will become sources of attraction, as being the most easy and direct mode to acquire an extended knowledge of our nature, and of the laws which govern it. The causes which produce these differ­ ences will be examined with affection by the parties, and solely with a view to discover the truth; for all will be lovers of truth, and no one will feel, or think of being ashamed of truth. They will know assuredly, and without a shadow of doubt, that truth is nature, and nature God; that “God is truth, and truth is God,” as so generally expressed by the Mohammedans. And when men shall be made wise, by acquiring an accurate knowledge of the facts and laws of their nature, and can pursue a lengthened rational train of reasoning founded upon them;

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no one will shrink from, or be ashamed of the discoveries which nature will thus unfold. It will be known to all, that our individual physical feelings, and mental convictions or feelings, are instincts of our nature; all will, therefore, express them as such— nature will be justified— man’s false shame of declaring the truth will be removed, and all motive to falsehood will cease. As each human being will have the knowledge which will enable him accurately to express and ex­ plain the real power, state, and condition of his own mind, and will always speak the truth; his character will be fully known to every one. It is solely the want of an accurate acquaintance with the science of human nature, or the individual and social character of man, that has given rise to the motives which have engendered falsehood, un­ charitableness, and unkindness. The effects which will be produced on society, by these facts and laws being known and publicly taught, are far too great to be com­ prehended by the faculties of men as they have been hitherto culti­ vated. When truth, in every department of human knowledge, shall supersede error and falsehood; when, by common consent, from con­ viction of the injury produced, men shall abandon falsehood, and speak the language of truth only, throughout all nations, then, indeed, will some conception be acquired of what human nature is, and what are its powers and capacities for improvement and enjoyment. Under this change, man will appear to be a new-created being. The powers, capacities, and dispositions cultivated under a system of falsehood, arising from ignorance of the laws of his nature, will assume another character, when cultivated from infancy under a system of truth— a character so different in manner and spirit, that, could they now be seen in juxtaposition, they would appear to belong to opposite natures; the one irrational, actively engaged in measures to defeat its own happiness, and in making the earth a Pandemonium; the other rational, daily occupied in measures to promote and secure the happiness of all around, and in making the earth a paradise. Thus will the present irrational arrangements of society give place to those which are rational. The existing classification of the popula­ tion of the world will cease. One portion of mankind will not, as now, be trained and placed to oppress, by force or fraud, another portion, to the great disadvantage of both; neither will one portion be trained in idleness, to live in luxury on the industry of those whom they op­ press, while the latter are made to labor daily and to live in poverty. Nor yet will some be trained to force falsehood into the human mind,



and be paid extravagantly for so doing, while other parties are pre­ vented from teaching the truth, or severely punished if they make the attempt. There will be no arrangements to give knowledge to a few, and to withhold it from the many; but, on the contrary, all will be taught to acquire knowledge of themselves, of nature generally, and of the principles and practice of society, in all its departments, which knowledge will be easily made familiar to every one. The whole business of life will be so simplified, that each will understand it, and will delight in its varied practice. Thus, will the effects upon society, of a knowledge of these facts and laws, remove the causes of all evil, and establish the reign of good over the world.


While the theories of the utopian socialists constitute the critical back­ ground of communism, its positive character has complex and abstruse philosophical roots. Central among the ideas that Marx borrowed from earlier philosophers and incorporated into his own system was the concept of dialectical method, which virtually all post-Marxian communists believe is the only truly scientific approach to the course of history and the process of social development. Dialectics, though part of a venerable philosophic tradition, does not become a paramount theme until its appearance in the philosophical and historical treatises of the German thinker, Georg Hegel. Although Marx became an active social theorist and revolutionary, it must never be for­ gotten that he began adult life as a serious student of academic philosophy, and particularly of the philosophy of Hegel. Marx eventually came to reject some of the principal elements of the Hegelian system, but he accepted as fundamental the dialectical interpretation of history that Hegel had emphasized. Orthodox communists still believe, as Marx maintained, that the dialectic of history makes inevitable the coming of the classless society to which they look forward. The dialectical method is not easy to describe or understand. To put it as simply as possible, it views the logical and historical process of events as composed of opposing or conflicting elements or phases that must eventually be reconciled in some higher, more perfect union or synthesis. Out of this new synthesis, which may be a concept or an event, its own opposite arises in turn, and a new dialectical conflict appears, which must lead to yet another synthesis, and so on. The dialectician believes that only within the framework of this inexorable, spiral-like development can the course of past and present world events be fully understood.




In the following selections from Engels and Hegel, the nature of dia­ lectics and the application of the dialectic to history are presented in the writings of its strongest advocates.


This, the second part of Socialism, Utopian and Scientific (the first part appears in the preceding section), is the clearest description yet writ­ ten of the communist conception of dialectical thinking, and the relation of the communist philosophy to the Hegelian system. Engels’ argument, later to be spelled out more carefully, is that the Hegelian dialectic, while correct in essence, was not correctly applied. Correct application, he con­ tends, was accomplished by Marx, and makes possible a truly scientific socialism.

Socialism, Utopian and Scientific: Part II


[Dialectical Philosophy] 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 philoso­ phers were all natural bom dialecticians, and Aristotle, the most en­ cyclopedic 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 never* From F. Engels, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Swan Sonnenschein and Co., London, 1892.



theless produced masterpieces of dialectic. We need only call to mind Diderot’s Le Neveu de Rameau, and Rousseau’s Discours sur l’ori­ gine 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 indi­ vidual 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, in the Middle Ages, by the Arabs. Real natural science dates from the second half of the fifteenth century, and thence onward it has ad­ vanced 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 funda­ mental 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 century. 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 so-called sound common sense. Only sound com­ mon sense, 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 contradic­ tions. In the contemplation of individual things, it forgets the connec­ tion 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 cudgeled 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 in­ terpenetrate. 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 versa. 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 in­ creasing 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 cen­ tury 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, develop­ ment; 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 phenomena. 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 encyclopedic 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 em­ bracing 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 ideal­ ism 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 Linnaeus, taught. Modem 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 condi­ tions, people them, being bom 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, modem material­ ism is essentially dialectic, and no longer requires the assistance of that sort of philosophy which, queen-like, pretended to rule the re­ maining 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. While, 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 modem 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 civilization.” The new facts made imperative a new examination of all past his­ tory. 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 expla­ nation of the whole superstructure of juridical and political institu­ tions 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 pro­ letariat 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 antagonisms 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 modem natural science. The socialism of earlier days certainly criticized 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 ex­ ploitation 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 capital­ istic method of production in its historical connection and its inevita­ bleness during a particular historical period, and therefore, also, to present its inevitable downfall; and 2) to lay bare its essential char­ acter, 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 exploita­ tion 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 explained. 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 be­ came a science. The next thing was to work out all its details and relations.


Georg Hegel (1770-1831) was one of the great philosophers of all time. He had not only an encyclopedic mind, as Engels said, but a grand



synoptic vision, and he has exerted a powerful influence upon philosophers of every description. Except under communist regimes, his philosophical method is no longer commonly held in high repute; yet his contribu­ tions to the contemporary political philosophies of both extreme left and extreme right are extraordinary. He is a difficult, puzzling, and gigantic figure in the history of thought. The following selection, from The Philosophy of History, illustrates the complexity of his views, and the way in which the dialectic serves him as an instrument of interpretation and comprehension. The whole of world history is to be understood, he claims, as the dialectical development of Spirit in time.

[Dialectical History] * Universal history— as already demonstrated— shows the develop­ ment of the consciousness of Freedom on the part of Spirit, and of the consequent realization of that Freedom. This development implies a gradation— a series of increasingly adequate expressions or manifesta­ tions of Freedom, which result from its Idea. The logical, and— as still more prominent— the dialectical nature of the Idea in general, viz. that it is self-determined— that it assumes successive forms which it successively transcends; and by this very process of transcending its earlier stages, gains an affirmative, and, in fact, a richer and more concrete shape— this necessity of its nature, and the necessary series of pure abstract forms which the Idea successively assumes— is ex­ hibited in the department of Logic. Here we need adopt only one of its results, viz. that every step in the process, as differing from any other, has its determinate peculiar principle. In history this principle is idiosyncrasy of Spirit— peculiar National Genius. It is within the limitations of this idiosyncrasy that the spirit of the nation, concretely manifested, expresses every aspect of its consciousness and will— the whole cycle of its realization. Its religion, its polity, its ethics, its legislation, and even its science, art, and mechanical skill, all bear its stamp. These special peculiarities find their key in that common peculiarity— the particular principle that characterizes a people; as, on the other hand, in the facts which History presents in detail, that common characteristic principle may be detected. That such or such a specific quality constitutes the peculiar genius of a people, is the * From G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of History. These pas­ sages are from a translation by J. Sibree, published by Henry G. Bohn, London, 1861.



element of our inquiry which must be derived from experience, and historically proved. To accomplish this, pre-supposes not only a disci­ plined faculty of abstraction, but an intimate acquaintance with the Idea. The investigator must be familiar à priori (if we like to call it so), with the whole circle of conceptions to which the principles in question belong— just as Kepler (to name the most illustrious ex­ ample in this mode of philosophizing) must have been familiar à priori with ellipses, with cubes and squares, and with ideas of their relations, before he could discover, from the empirical data, those immortal “Laws” of his, which are none other than forms of thought pertaining to those classes of conceptions. He who is unfamiliar with the science that embraces these abstract elementary conceptions, is as little capable— though he may have gazed on the firmament and the motions of the celestial bodies for a lifetime— of understanding those Laws, as of discovering them. From this want of acquaintance with the ideas that relate to the development of Freedom, proceed a part of those objections which are brought against the philosophical consideration of a science usually regarded as one of mere experience; the so-called à priori method, and the attempt to insinuate ideas into the empirical data of history, being the chief points in the indictment. Where this deficiency exists, such conceptions appear alien— not lying within the object of investigation. To minds whose training has been narrow and merely subjective— which have not an acquaintance and familiarity with ideas— they are something strange— not embraced in the notion and conception of the subject which their limited intel­ lect forms. Hence the statement that Philosophy does not understand such sciences. It must, indeed, allow that it has not that kind of un­ derstanding which is the prevailing one in the domain of those sciences, that it does not proceed according to the categories of such Understanding, but according to the categories of Reason— though at the same time recognizing that Understanding, and its true value and position. It must be observed that in this very process of scientific Understanding, it is of importance that the essential should be dis­ tinguished and brought into relief in contrast with the so-called nonessential. But in order to render this possible, we must know what is essential; and that is— in view of the History of the World in general — the Consciousness of Freedom, and the phases which this conscious­ ness assumes in developing itself. . . . History in general is therefore the development of Spirit in Time, as Nature is the development of the Idea in Space.



If then we cast a glance over the World’s-History generally, we see a vast picture of changes and transactions; of infinitely manifold forms of peoples, states, individuals, in unresting succession. Every­ thing that can enter into and interest the soul of man— all our sensibil­ ity to goodness, beauty, and greatness— is called into play. On every hand aims are adopted and pursued, which we recognize, whose ac­ complishment we desire— we hope and fear for them. In all these occurrences and changes we behold human action and suffering pre­ dominant; everywhere something akin to ourselves, and therefore everywhere something that excites our interest for or against. Some­ times it attracts us by beauty, freedom, and rich variety, sometimes by energy such as enables even vice to make itself interesting. Some­ times we see the more comprehensive mass of some general interest advancing with comparative slowness, and subsequently sacrificed to an infinite complication of trifling circumstances, and so dissipated into atoms. Then, again, with a vast expenditure of power a trivial result is produced; while from what appears unimportant a tremendous issue proceeds. On every hand there is the motliest throng of events drawing us within the circle of its interest, and when one combination vanishes another immediately appears in its place. The general thought—;the category which first presents itself in this restless mutation of individuals and peoples, existing for a time and then vanishing— is that of change at large. The sight of the ruins of some ancient sovereignty directly leads us to contemplate this thought of change in its negative aspect. What traveler among the ruins of Carthage, of Palmyra, Persepolis, or Rome, has not been stimulated to reflections on the transiency of kingdoms and men, and to sadness at the thought of a vigorous and rich life now departed— a sadness which does not expend itself on personal losses and the uncertainty of one’s own undertakings, but is a disinterested sorrow at the decay of a splendid and highly cultured national life! But the next consideration which allies itself with that of change, is, that change while it imports dissolution, involves at the same time the rise of a new life— that while death is the issue of life, life is also the issue of death. This is a grand conception; one which the Oriental thinkers attained, and which is perhaps the highest in their meta­ physics. In the idea of Metempsychosis we find it evolved in its rela­ tion to individual existence; but a myth more generally known, is that of the Phoenix as a type of the Life of Nature; eternally preparing for itself its funeral pile, and consuming itself upon it; but so that from



its ashes is produced the new, renovated, fresh life. But this image is also Asiatic; oriental not occidental. Spirit— consuming the envelope of its existence— does not merely pass into another envelope, nor rise rejuvenescent from the ashes of its previous form; it comes forth exalted, glorified, a purer spirit. It certainly makes war upon itself— consumes its own existence; but in this very destruction it works up that existence into a new form, and each successive phase becomes in its turn a material, working on which it exalts itself to a new grade. If we consider Spirit in this aspect— regarding its changes not merely as rejuvenescent transitions, i.e., returns to the same form, but rather as manipulations of itself, by which it multiplies the material for future endeavors— we see it exerting itself in a variety of modes and directions; developing its powers and gratifying its desires in a variety which is inexhaustible; because every one of its creations, in which it has already found gratification, meets it anew as material, and is a new stimulus to plastic activity. The abstract conception of mere change gives place to the thought of spirit manifesting, developing, and perfecting its powers in every direction which its manifold nature can follow. What powers it inherently possesses we learn from the variety of products and formations which it originates. In this pleas­ urable activity, it has to do only with itself. As involved with the con­ ditions of mere nature— internal and external— it will indeed meet in these not only opposition and hindrance, but will often see its endeavors thereby fail; often sink under the complications in which it is entangled either by Nature or by itself. But in such case it perishes in fulfilling its own destiny and proper function, and even thus ex­ hibits the spectacle of self-demonstration as spiritual activity. The very essence of Spirit is activity; it realizes its potentiality— makes itself its own deed, its own work— and thus it becomes an object to itself; contemplates itself as an objective existence. Thus is it with the Spirit of a people: it is a Spirit having strictly defined characteristics, which erects itself into an objective world, that exists and persists in a particular religious form of worship, customs, con­ stitution, and political laws— in the whole complex of its institutions — in the events and transactions that make up its history. That is its work— that is what this particular Nation is. Nations are what their deeds are. Every Englishman will say: We are the men who navigate the ocean, and have the commerce of the world; to whom the East Indies belong and their riches; who have a parliament, juries, etc.— The relation of the individual to that Spirit is that he appropriates



to himself this substantial existence; that it becomes his character and capability, enabling him to have a definite place in the world— to be something. For he finds the being of the people to which he belongs an already established, firm world— objectively present to him— with which he has to incorporate himself. In this its work, therefore— its world— the Spirit of the people enjoys its existence and finds its satis­ faction.— A Nation is moral— virtuous— vigorous— while it is en­ gaged in realizing its grand objects, and defends its work against external violence during the process of giving to its purposes an ob­ jective existence. The contradiction between its potential, subjective being— its inner aim and life— and its actual being is removed; it has attained full reality, has itself objectively present to it. But this having been attained, the activity displayed by the Spirit of the people in question is no longer needed; it has its desire. The Nation can still accomplish much in war and peacc at home and abroad; but the living substantial soul itself may be said to have ceased its activity. The essential, supreme interest has consequently vanished from its life, for interest is present only where there is opposition. The nation lives the same kind of life as the individual when passing from maturity to old age— in the enjoyment of itself— in the satisfaction of being exactly what it desired and was able to attain. Although its imagination might have transcended that limit, it nevertheless aban­ doned any such aspirations as objects of actual endeavor, if the real world was less than favorable to their attainment— and restricted its aim by the conditions thus imposed. This mere customary life (the watch wound up and going on of itself) is that which brings on natural death. Custom is activity without opposition, for which there remains only a formal duration; in which the fulness and zest that originally characterized the aim of life are out of the question— a merely external sensuous existence which has ceased to throw itself enthusiastically into its object. Thus perish individuals, thus perish peoples by a natural death; and though the latter may continue in being, it is an existence without intellect or vitality; having no need of its institutions, because the need for them is satisfied— a political nullity and tedium. In order that a truly universal interest may arise, the Spirit of a People must advance to the adoption of some new purpose; but whence can this new purpose originate? It would be a higher, more comprehensive conception of itself— a transcending of its principle— but this very act would involve a principle of a new order, a new National Spirit.



Such a new principle does in fact enter into the Spirit of a people that has arrived at full development and self-realization; it dies not a simply natural death— for it is not a mere single individual, but a spiritual, generic life; in its case natural death appears to imply de­ struction through its own agency. The reason of this difference from the single natural individual, is that the Spirit of a people exists as a genus, and consequently carries within it its own negation, in the very generality which characterizes it. A people can only die a violent death when it has become naturally dead in itself, as, e.g., the German Imperial Cities, the German Imperial Constitution. It is not of the nature of all-pervading Spirit to die this merely natural death; it does not simply sink into the senile life of mere custom, but— as being a National Spirit belonging to Universal His­ tory— attains to the consciousness of what its work is; it attains to a conception of itself. In fact it is world-historical only in so far as a universal principle has lain in its fundamental element— in its grand aim: only so far is the work which such a spirit produces, a moral, political organization. If it be mere desires that impel nations to activity, such deeds pass over without leaving a trace; or their traces are only ruin and destruction. Thus, it was first Chronos— Time— that ruled; the Golden Age, without moral products; and what was pro­ duced— the offspring of that Chronos— was devoured by it. It was Jupiter— from whose head Minerva sprang, and to whose circle of divinities belong Apollo and the Muses— that first put a constraint upon Time, and set a bound to its principle of decadence. He is the Political god, who produced a moral work— the State. In the very element of an achievement the quality of generality, of thought, is contained; without thought it has no objectivity; that is its basis. The highest point in the development of a people is this— to have gained a conception of its life and condition— to have re­ duced its laws, its ideas of justice and morality to a science; for in this unity [of the objective and subjective] lies the most intimate unity that Spirit can attain to in and with itself. In its work it is em­ ployed in rendering itself an object of its own contemplation; but it cannot develop itself objectively in its essential nature, except in thinking itself. At this point, then, Spirit is acquainted with its principles— the general character of its acts. But at the same time, in virtue of its very generality, this work of thought is different in point of form from the actual achievements of the national genius, and from the vital agency



by which those achievements have been performed. We have then before us a real and an ideal existence of the Spirit of the Nation. If we wish to gain the general idea and conception of what the Greeks were, we find it in Sophocles and Aristophanes, in Thucydides and Plato. In these individuals the Greek spirit conceived and thought itself. This is the profounder kind of satisfaction which the Spirit of a people attains; but it is “ideal,” and distinct from its “real” activity. At such a time, therefore, we are sure to see a people finding satis­ faction in the idea of virtue; putting talk about virtue partly side by side with actual virtue, but partly in the place of it. On the other hand pure, universal thought, since its nature is universality, is apt to bring the Special and Spontaneous— Belief, Trust, Customary Morality— to reflect upon itself, and its primitive simplicity; to show up the limi­ tation with which it is fettered— partly suggesting reasons for re­ nouncing duties, partly itself demanding reasons, and the connection of such requirements with Universal Thought; and not finding that connection, seeking to impeach the authority of duty generally, as destitute of a sound foundation. At the same time the isolation of individuals from each other and from the Whole makes its appearance; their aggressive selfishness and vanity; their seeking personal advantage and consulting this at the expense of the State at large. That inward principle in transcend­ ing its outward manifestations is subjective also in form— viz., sel­ fishness and corruption in the unbound passions and egotistic interests of men. Zeus, therefore, who is represented as having put a limit to the de­ vouring agency of Time, and stayed this transiency by having estab­ lished something inherently and independently durable— Zeus and his race are themselves swallowed up, and that by the very power that produced them— the principle of thought, perception, reasoning, in­ sight derived from rational grounds, and the requirement of such grounds. Time is the negative element in the sensuous world. Thought is the same negativity, but it is the deepest, the infinite form of it, in which therefore all existence generally is dissolved; first finite existence— determinate, limited form: but existence generally, in its objective character, is limited; it appears therefore as a mere datum — something immediate— authority— and is either intrinsically finite and limited, or presents itself as a limit for the thinking subject, and its infinite reflection on itself [unlimited abstraction].



But first we must observe how the life which proceeds from death, is itself, on the other hand, only individual life; so that, regarding the species as the real and substantial in this vicissitude, the perishing of the individual is a regress of the species into individuality. The perpetuation of the race is, therefore, none other than the monoto­ nous repetition of the same kind of existence. Further, we must re­ mark how perception— the comprehension of being by thought— is the source and birthplace of a new, and in fact higher form, in a prin­ ciple which while it preserves, dignifies its material. For Thought is that Universal— that Species which is immortal, which preserves identity with itself. The particular form of Spirit not merely passes away in the world by natural causes in Time, but is annulled in the automatic self-mirroring activity of consciousness. Because this annulling is an activity of thought, it is at the same time conservative and elevating in its operation. While then, on the one side, Spirit annuls the reality, the permanence of that which it is, it gains on the other side, the essence, the Thought, the Universal element of that which it only was [its transient conditions]. Its principle is no longer that immediate import and aim which it was previously, but the essence of that import and aim. The result of this process is then that Spirit, in rendering itself ob­ jective and making this its being an object of thought, on the one hand destroys the determinate form of its being, on the other hand gains a comprehension of the universal element which it involves, and thereby gives a new form to its inherent principle. In virtue of this, the substantial character of the National Spirit has been altered — that is, its principle has risen into another, and in fact a higher principle. It is of the highest importance in apprehending and comprehending History to have and to understand the thought involved in this transi­ tion. The individual traverses as a unity various grades of develop­ ment, and remains the same individual; in like manner also does a people, till the Spirit which it embodies reaches the grade of uni­ versality. In this point lies the fundamental, the Ideal necessity of transition. This is the soul— the essential consideration— of the philo­ sophical comprehension of History. Spirit is essentially the result of its own activity: its activity is the transcending of immediate, simple, unreflected existence— the negation of that existence, and the returning into itself. We may compare it with the seed; for with this the plant begins, yet it is also



the result of the plant’s entire life. But the weak side of life is exhibited in the fact that the commencement and the result are disjoined from each other. Thus also is it in the life of individuals and peoples. The life of a people ripens a certain fruit; its activity aims at the com­ plete manifestation of the principle which it embodies. But this fruit does not fall back into the bosom of the people that produced and matured it; on the contrary, it becomes a poison-draught to it. That poison-draught it cannot let alone, for it has an insatiable thirst for it: the taste of the draught is its annihilation, though at the same time the rise of a new principle. We have already discussed the final aim of this progression. The principles of the successive phases of Spirit that animate the Nations in a necessitated gradation, are themselves only steps in the develop­ ment of the one universal Spirit, which through them elevates and completes itself to a self-comprehending totality. While we are thus concerned exclusively with the Idea of Spirit, and in the History of the World regard everything as only its mani­ festation, we have, in traversing the past— however extensive its periods— only to do with what is present; for philosophy, as occu­ pying itself with the True, has to do with the eternally present. Noth­ ing in the past is lost for it, for the Idea is ever present; Spirit is im­ mortal; with it there is no past, no future, but an essential now. This necessarily implies that the present form of Spirit comprehends within it all earlier steps. These have indeed unfolded themselves in succession independently; but what Spirit is it has always been es­ sentially; distinctions are only the development of this essential nature. The life of the ever present Spirit is a circle of progressive embodi­ ments, which looked at in one aspect still exist beside each other, and only as looked at from another point of view appear as past. The grades which Spirit seems to have left behind it, it still possesses in the depths of its present.


The following brief letter, written to give assistance in reading Hegel, is equally valuable in presenting the essential character of the Hegelian dialectic, as Engels understood it.



Engels to Conrad Schmidt* (London, 1 November 1891) [On Understanding Hegel] It is impossible, of course, to dispense with Hegel and the man also takes some time to digest. The shorter Logic in the Encyclopedia makes quite a good beginning. But you must take the edition in the sixth volume of the Works, not the separate edition by Rosenkranz (1845), because there are far more explanatory additions from the lectures in the former, even if that ass Henning has often not under­ stood them himself. In the Introduction you have the criticism, first (par. 26, etc.) of W olfs version of Leibnitz (metaphysics in the historical sense), then of English-French empiricism (par. 37, etc.) then Kant (par. 40, seq.) and finally (par. 61) of Jacoby’s mysticism. In the first section (Being) do not spend too long over Being and Nothing; the last para­ graphs on Quality and then Quantity and Measure are much finer, but the theory of Essence is the main thing: the resolution of the abstract contradictions into their own instability, where one no sooner tries to hold on to one side alone than it is transformed unnoticed into the other, etc. At the same time you can always make the thing clear to yourself by concrete examples; for instance, you, as a bridegroom, have a striking example of the inseparability of identity and differ­ ence in yourself and your bride. It is absolutely impossible to decide whether sexual love is pleasure in the identity in difference or in the difference in identity. Take away the difference (in this case of sex) or the identity (the human nature of both) and what have you got left? I remember how much this very inseparability of identity and differ­ ence worried me at first, although we can never take a step without stumbling upon it. But you ought on no account to read Hegel as H err Barth has done, namely in order to discover the bad syllogisms and rotten dodges which served him as levers in construction. That is pure schoolboy’s work. It is much more important to discover the truth and the genius which lie beneath the false form and within the artificial connections. * From Selected Correspondence of Marx and Engels, 1942. Reprinted by permission of International Publishers, New York.



Thus the transitions from one category or from one contradiction to the next are nearly always arbitrary— often made through a pun, as when Positive and Negative (par. 120) “zugrunde gehen” [perish] in order that Hegel may arrive at the category of “Grund” [reason, ground]. To ponder over this much is waste of time. Since with Hegel every category represents a stage in the history of philosophy (as he generally indicates), you would do well to compare the lectures on the history of philosophy (one of his most brilliant works). As relaxation, I can recommend the Aesthetic. When you have worked yourself into that a bit you will be amazed. Hegel’s dialectic is upside down because it is supposed to be the “self-development of thought,” of which the dialectic of facts therefore is only a reflection, whereas really the dialectic in our heads is only the reflection of the actual development which is fulfilled in the world of nature and of human history in obedience to dialectical forms. If you just compare the development of the commodity into capital in Marx with the development from Being to Essence in Hegel, you will get quite a good parallel for the concrete development which results from facts; there you have the abstract construction, in which the most brilliant ideas and often very important transmutations, like that of quality into quantity and vice versa, are reduced to the apparent self-development of one concept from another— one could have manufactured a dozen more of the same kind. . . .


To apply the dialectic, Marx believed, was not enough. It had to be applied correctly, and to the proper subject matter. The mistake that had been made with the dialectic heretofore, he maintained, was in applying it only to the realm of pure thought. Marx believed it should be applied to the hard facts of human life, to the concrete concerns of human needs and wants— in a word, to matter. Although they admitted their debt to the German materialist Ludwig Feuerbach, Marx and Engels believed that their philosophical materialism was new in that it was the first to view the world, not only as constituted of matter, but as organized in a dia­ lectical framework. Only on these materialist premises, they claimed, could the dialectic be properly utilized, and world history understood. At the same time, only with this dialectical approach could materialism be truly scientific. Because Marx and Engels were thoroughgoing materialists, they re­ jected all principles based on the supernatural or the divine. They re­ jected theism; they rejoiced in Feuerbach’s atheistic account of the essence of Christianity. Marx’s favorite myth was that of Prometheus bound to the rock yet defiant of the gods. On the basis of this materialism, communists since Marx have denied the truth or applicability of any ethical or religious principles founded on claims of divine or super­ natural authority.





Karl Marx ( 1818-1883) is the most important single figure in the de­ velopment of the philosophy of modern communism. When the following selection, from The German Ideology, was written, Marx was a young man of twenty-eight. His philosophical system was not yet fully developed, hut he had grasped the issue concerning which he was to rebel against the Hegelian philosophy. “In direct contrast to German philosophy,” he and Engels wrote, “which descends from heaven to earth, here we ascend from earth to heaven.”

[The Premises of Materialism] * The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity. These premises can thus be verified in a purely empirical way. The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals. Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organization of these individuals and their consequent rela­ tion to the rest of nature. . . . The fact is, therefore, that definite individuals who are productively active in a definite way enter into these definite social and political relations. Empirical observation must in each separate instance bring out empirically, and without any mystification and speculation, the connection of the social and political structure with production. The social structure and the state are continually evolving out of the life process of definite individuals, but of individuals not as they may ap­ pear in their own or other people’s imagination, but as they really * From K. Marx and F. Engels, The German Ideology. Written in 1845-46, this work was first published almost a century later. These passages are re­ printed by permission of International Publishers, New York.



are, i.e., as they are effective, produce materially, and are active under definite material limits, presuppositions, and conditions inde­ pendent of their will. The production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness is at first directly interwoven with the material activity and the material inter­ course of men, the language of real life. Conceiving, thinking, the mental intercourse of men appear at this stage as the direct efflux of their material behavior. The same applies to mental production as ex­ pressed in the language of the politics, laws, morality, religion, metaphysics of a people. Men are the producers of their conceptions, ideas, etc.— real, active men, as they are conditioned by a definite development of their productive forces and of the intercourse cor­ responding to these, up to its furthest forms. Consciousness can never be anything else than conscious existence, and the existence of men is their actual life process. If in all ideology men and their circum­ stances appear upside down, as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life process. In direct contrast to German philosophy, which descends from heaven to earth, here we ascend from earth to heaven. That is to say, we do not set out from what men say, imagine, conceive, nor from men as narrated, thought of, imagined, conceived, in order to arrive at men in the flesh. We set out from real, active men, and on the basis of their real life process we demonstrate the development of the ideological reflexes and echoes of this life process. The phantoms formed in the human brain are also, necessarily, sublimates of their material life process, which is empirically verifiable and bound to material premises. Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development; but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this, their real existence, their thinking, and the products of their thinking. Life is not de­ termined by consciousness, but consciousness by life. In the first method of approach the starting point is consciousness taken as the living individual; in the second it is the real, living individuals them­ selves, as they are in actual life, and consciousness is considered solely as their consciousness. This method of approach is not devoid of premises. It starts out from the real premises, and does not abandon them for a moment.



Its premises are men, not in any fantastic isolation or abstract defi­ nition, but in their actual, empirically perceptible process of develop­ ment under definite conditions. As soon as this active life process is described, history ceases to be a collection of dead facts, as it is with the empiricists (themselves still abstract), or an imagined activity of imagined subjects, as with the idealists. Where speculation ends— in real life— there real, positive science begins: the representation of the practical activity, of the practical process of development of men. Empty talk about consciousness ceases, and real knowledge has to take its place. When reality is de­ picted, philosophy as an independent branch of activity loses its medium of existence. At best, its place can be taken only by a sum­ ming up of the most general results, abstractions which arise from the observation of the historical development of men. Viewed apart from real history, these abstractions have in themselves no value whatsoever. They can only serve to facilitate the arrangement of historical material, to indicate the sequence of its separate strata. But they by no means afford a recipe or schema, as does philosophy, for neatly trimming the epochs of history. On the contrary, our diffi­ culties begin only when we set about the observation and the arrange­ ment— the real depiction— of our historical material, whether of a past epoch or of the present. The removal of these difficulties is gov­ erned by premises which it is quite impossible to state here, but which only the study of the actual life process and the activity of the individuals of each epoch will make evident. We shall select here some of these abstractions, which we use to refute the ideologists, and shall illustrate them by historical examples.


Late in his life Engels acknowledged the debt of the communist phi­ losophy to the work of Ludwig Feuerbach, with a small volume named after that philosopher. In the following passage from that work, the impact of Feuerbach's materialism upon Marx and Engels is vividly described.



[Feuerbach and Hegel] * . . . One can imagine what a tremendous effect this Hegelian system must have produced in the philosophy-tinged atmosphere of Germany. It was a triumphal procession which lasted for decades and which by no means came to a standstill on the death of Hegel. On the contrary, it was precisely from 1830 to 1840 that “Hegelian­ ism” reigned most exclusively and, to a greater or lesser extent, in­ fected even its opponents. It was precisely in this period that H e­ gelian views, consciously or unconsciously, most extensively pene­ trated the most diversified sciences and leavened even popular litera­ ture and the daily press, from which the average “educated con­ sciousness” derives its mental pabulum. But this victory along the whole front was only the prelude to an internal struggle. As we have seen, the doctrine of Hegel, taken as a whole, left plenty of room for giving shelter to the most diverse practical party views. And in the theoretical Germany of that time two things above all were practical: religion and politics. Whoever placed the chief emphasis on the Hegelian system could be fairly conservative in both spheres; whoever regarded the dialectical method as the main thing could belong to the most extreme opposition, both in politics and re­ ligion. Hegel himself, despite the fairly frequent outbursts of revolu­ tionary wrath in his works, seemed on the whole to be more inclined to the conservative side. Indeed, his system had cost him much more “hard mental plugging” than his method. Towards the end of the thirties the cleavage in the school became more and more apparent. The left wing, the so-called Young Hegelians, in their fight with the pietist orthodox and the feudal reactionaries, abandoned bit by bit that philosophical-genteel reserve in regard to the burning questions of the day which up to that time had secured state toleration and even protection for their teachings. And when, in 1840, orthodox pietism and absolutist feudal reaction ascended the throne with Fred­ erick William IV, open partisanship became unavoidable. The fight was still carried on with philosophical weapons, but no longer for abstract philosophical aims. It turned directly on the destruction of * From F. Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy. These passages are reprinted from Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy by Marx and Engels, edited by L. S. Feuer, Doubleday and Conti“ pany, Anchor Books; New York, 1959.



traditional religion and of the existing state. And while in the Deutsche Jahrbücher the practical ends were still predominantly put forward in philosophical disguise, in the Rheinische Zeitung of 1842 the Young Hegelian school revealed itself directly as the philosophy of the as­ piring radical bourgeoisie and used the meager cloak of philosophy only to deceive the censorship. . . . We will not go further into this side of the decomposition process of the Hegelian school. More important for us is the following: the main body of the most determined Young Hegelians was, by the prac­ tical necessities of its fight against positive religion, driven back to Anglo-French materialism. This brought them into conflict with their school system. While materialism conceives nature as the sole reality, nature in the Hegelian system represents merely the “alienation” of the Absolute Idea, so to say, a degradation of the Idea. At all events, thinking and its thought product, the Idea, is here the primary, nature the derivative, which exists at all only by the condescension of the Idea. And in this contradiction they floundered as well or as ill as they could. Then came Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity. With one blow it pulverized the contradiction, in that without circumlocutions it placed materialism on the throne again. Nature exists independently of all philosophy. It is the foundation upon which we human beings, our­ selves products of nature, have grown up. Nothing exists outside nature and man, and the higher beings our religious fantasies have created are only the fantastic reflection of our own essence. The spell was broken, the “system” was exploded and cast aside, and the con­ tradiction, shown to exist only in our imagination, was dissolved. One must himself have experienced the liberating effect of this book to get an idea of it. Enthusiasm was general; we all became at once Feuerbachians. How enthusiastically Marx greeted the new concep­ tion and how much— in spite of all critical reservations— he was in­ fluenced by it, one may read in The Holy Family. . . . The Hegelian school disintegrated, but Hegelian philosophy was not overcome through criticism. . . . Feuerbach broke through the system and simply discarded it. But a philosophy is not disposed of by the mere assertion that it is false. And so powerful a work as Hegelian philosophy, which had exercised so enormous an influence on the in­ tellectual development of the nation, could not be disposed of by simply being ignored. It had to be “sublated” in its own sense, that



is, in the sense that while its form had to be annihilated through criticism, the new content which had been won through it had to be saved. How this was brought about we shall see below.


Ludwig Feuerbach ( 1804-1872) was a popular German philosopher whose materialism was expressed in the famous epigram: Man is what he eats . (Der Mensch ist was er isst.) ln The Essence of Christianity, from the preface to which the following passage is taken, Feuerbach denies that God exists, except as an idealized object of human consciousness. “Let it be r e m e m b e r e d h e remarks, “that atheism is the secret of re­ ligion itself.”

[Materialism and Atheism] * The clamor excited by the present work has not surprised me and hence it has not in the least moved me from my position. On the con­ trary, I have once more, in all calmness, subjected my work to the severest scrutiny, both historical and philosophical; I have, as far as possible, freed it from its defects of form, and enriched it with new developments, illustrations and historical testimonies— testimonies in the highest degree striking and irrefragable. Now that I have thus verified my analysis by historical proofs, it is to be hoped that readers whose eyes are not sealed will be convinced and will admit, even though reluctantly, that my work contains a faithful, correct transla­ tion of the Christian religion out of the oriental language of imagery into plain speech. And it has no pretension to be anything more than a close translation, or, to speak literally, an empirical or historicophilosophical analysis, a solution of the enigma of the Christian re­ ligion. The general propositions which I premise in the Introduction are no à priori, excogitated propositions, no products of speculation; they have arisen out of the analysis of religion; they are only, as indeed * From The Essence of Christianity, translated by Marian Evans. Published by John Chapman, London, 1854.



are all the fundamental ideas of the work, generalizations from the known manifestations of human nature, and in particular of the re­ ligious consciousness— facts converted into thoughts, i.e., expressed in general terms, and thus made the property of the understanding. The ideas of my work are only conclusions, consequences, drawn from premises which are not themselves mere ideas, but objective facts either actual or historical— facts which had not their place in my head simply in virtue of their ponderous existence in folio. I unconditionally repudiate absolute, immaterial, self-sufficing specu­ lation— that speculation which draws its material from within. I differ toto cœlo from those philosophers who pluck out their eyes that they may see better; for my thought I require the senses, especially sight; I found my ideas on materials which can be appropriated only through the activity of the senses. I do not generate the object from the thought, but the thought from the object; and I hold that alone to be an object which has an existence beyond one’s own brain. I am an idealist only in the region of practical philosophy, that is, I do not regard the limits of the past and present as the limits of humanity, of the future; on the contrary, I firmly believe that many things— yes, many things— which with the short-sighted, pusillanimous practical men of today, pass for flights of imagination, for ideas never to be realized, for mere chimeras, will tomorrow, i.e., in the next century— centuries in individual life are days in the life of humanity— exist in full reality. Briefly, the “Idea” is to me only faith in the historical future, in the triumph of truth and virtue; it has for me only a political and moral significance: for in the sphere of strictly theoretical phi­ losophy, I attach myself, in direct opposition to the Hegelian phi­ losophy, only to realism, to materialism in the sense above indicated. The maxim hitherto adopted by speculative philosophy: all that is mine I carry with me, the old omnia mea mecum porto, I cannot, alas! appropriate. I have many things outside myself, which I cannot convey either in my pocket or my head, but which nevertheless I look upon as belonging to me, not indeed as a mere man— a view not now in ques­ tion— but as a philosopher. I am nothing but a natural philosopher in the domain of mind; and the natural philosopher can do nothing without instruments, without material means. In this character I have written the present work, which consequently contains nothing else than the principle of a new philosophy verified practically, i.e., in concreto, in application to a special object, but an object which has a universal significance: namely, to religion, in which this principle



is exhibited, developed and thoroughly carried out. This philosophy is essentially distinguished from the systems hitherto prevalent, in that it corresponds to the real, complete nature of man; but for that very reason it is antagonistic to minds perverted and crippled by a super­ human, i.e., anti-human, anti-natural religion and speculation. It does not, as I have already said elsewhere, regard the pen as the only fit organ for the revelation of truth, but the eye and ear, the hand and foot; it does not identify the idea of the fact with the fact itself, so as to reduce real existence to an existence on paper, but it separates the two, and precisely by this separation attains to the fact itself; it recognizes as the true thing, not the thing as it is an object of the abstract reason, but as it is an object of the real, complete man, and hence as it is itself a real, complete thing. This philosophy does not rest on an understanding per se, on an absolute, nameless under­ standing, belonging one knows not to whom, but on the understanding of man— though not, I grant, on that of man enervated by specu­ lation and dogma— and it speaks the language of men, not an empty, unknown tongue. Yes, both in substance and in speech, it places philosophy in the negation of philosophy, i.e., it declares that alone to be the true philosophy which is converted in succum et sanguinem, which is incarnate in Man; and hence it finds its highest triumph in the fact that to all dull and pedantic minds, which place the essence of philosophy in the show of philosophy, it appears to be no phi­ losophy at all. This philosophy has for its principle, not the Substance of Spinoza, not the ego of Kant and Fichte, not the Absolute Identity of Schelling, not the Absolute Mind of Hegel, in short, no abstract, merely conceptional being, but a real being, the true Ens realissimum— man; its principle, therefore, is in the highest degree positive and real. It generates thought from the opposite of thought, from Matter, from existence, from the senses; it has relation to its object first through the senses, i.e., passively, before defining it in thought. Hence my work, as a specimen of this philosophy, so far from being a production to be placed in the category of Speculation— although in another point of view it is the true, the incarnate result of prior philosophical sys­ tems— is the direct opposite of speculation, nay, puts an end to it by explaining it. Speculation makes religion say only what it has itself thought, and expressed far better than religion; it assigns a meaning to religion without any reference to the actual meaning of religion; it does not look beyond itself. I, on the contrary, let religion itself



speak; I constitute myself only its listener and interpreter, not its prompter. Not to invent, but to discover, “to unveil existence,” has been my sole object; to see correctly, my sole endeavor. It is not I, but religion that worships man, although religion, or rather theology, denies this; it is not I, an insignificant individual, but religion itself that says: God is man, man is God; it is not I, but religion that denies the God who is not man, but only an ens rationis— since it makes God bccome man, and then constitutes this God, not distinguished from man, having a human form, human feelings and human thoughts, the object of its worship and veneration. I have only found the key to the cipher of the Christian religion, only cxtricated its true meaning from the web of contradictions and delusions called theology— but in doing so I have certainly committed a sacrilege. If therefore my work is negative, irreligious, atheistic, let it be remembered that atheism— at least in the sense of this work— is the secret of religion itself; that religion itself, not indeed on the surface, but fundamentally, not in intention or according to its own supposition, but in its heart, in its essence, believes in nothing else than the truth and divinity of human nature. . . .


In the spring of 1845, Marx jotted down some notes on the philosophy of Ludwig Feuerbach, which were soon forgotten, and only came to light many years later. Called the Theses on Feuerbach, these notes display Marx’s activistic temper and the revolutionary direction of his thought.

Theses on Feuerbach* I The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism— that of Feu­ erbach included— is that the thing [Gegenstand], reality, sensuousness, * Reprinted from Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy, by Marx and Engels, edited by L. S. Feuer, Doubleday and Company, Anchor Books, New York, 1959.



is conceived only in the form of the object [Objekt] or of contempla­ tion [Anschauung], but not as human sensuous activity, practice, not subjectively. Hence it happened that the active side, in contradistinc­ tion to materialism, was developed by idealism— but only abstractly, since, of course, idealism does not know real, sensuous activity as such. Feuerbach wants sensuous objects really differentiated from the thought objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective [gegenständliche] activity. Hence, in the Essence of Chris­ tianity, he regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude, while practice is conceived and fixed only in its dirty-judaical form of appearance. Hence he does not grasp the signif­ icance of “revolutionary,” of “practical-critical,” activity. II The question whether objective [gegenständliche] truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory, but is a practical question. In practice man must prove the truth, that is, the reality and power, the this-sidedness [Diesseitigkeit] of his think­ ing. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question. III The materialist doctrine that men are products of circumstances and upbringing, and that, therefore, changed men are products of other circumstances and changed upbringing, forgets that it is men that change circumstances, and that the educator himself needs educating. Hence this doctrine necessarily arrives at dividing society into two parts, of which one is superior to society (in Robert Owen, for example). The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolu­ tionizing practice. IV Feuerbach starts out from the fact of religious self-alienation, the duplication of the world into a religious, imaginary world and a real one. His work consists in the dissolution of the religious world into



its secular basis. He overlooks the fact that after completing this work, the chief thing still remains to be done. For the fact that the secular foundation detaches itself from itself and establishes itself in the clouds as an independent realm is really to be explained only by the self-cleavage and self-contradictoriness of this secular basis. The latter must itself, therefore, first be understood in its contradiction and then, by the removal of the contradiction, revolutionized in prac­ tice. Thus, for instance, once the earthly family is discovered to be the secret of the holy family, the former must then itself be criticized in theory and revolutionized in practice. . . . VII Feucrbach, consequently, does not see that the “religious sentiment” is itself a social product, and that the abstract individual whom he analyzes belongs in reality to a particular form of society. VIII Social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which mislead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice. IX The highest point attained by contemplative materialism, that is, materialism which does not understand sensuousness as practical ac­ tivity, is the contemplation of single individuals in “civil society.” X The standpoint of the old materialism is “civil” society; the stand­ point of the new is human society, or socialized humanity. XI The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.




The most powerful statement of the Marxist conception of the oppo­ sition of idealism and materialism is to be found in Engels’ Ludwig Feuer­ bach. The following selection from that work presents a concise exposition of the materialistic presuppositions of the communist philosophy.

[Idealism and Materialism] * The great basic question of all philosophy, especially of more recent philosophy, is that concerning the relation of thinking and being. From the very early times when men, still completely ignorant of the structure of their own bodies, under the stimulus of dream ap­ paritions came to believe that their thinking and sensation were not activities of their bodies, but of a distinct soul which inhabits the body and leaves it at death— from this time men have been driven to reflect about the relation between this soul and the outside world. If upon death it took leave of the body and lived on, there was no occasion to invent yet another distinct death for it. Thus arose the idea of its immortality, which at that stage of development appeared not at all as a consolation, but as a fate against which it was no use fighting, and often enough, as among the Greeks, as a positive misfortune. Not religious desire for consolation, but the quandary arising from the common universal ignorance of what to do with this soul, once its existence had been accepted, after the death of the body led in a general way to the tedious notion of personal immortality. In an exactly similar manner the first gods arose through the personifica­ tion of natural forces. And these gods in the further development of religions assumed more and more an extra-mundane form, until finally by a process of abstraction, I might almost say of distillation, oc*

From F. Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy. These passages are reprinted from Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy by Marx and Engels, edited by L. S. Feuer, Doubleday and Com­ pany, Anchor Books, New York, 1959.



curring naturally in the course of man’s intellectual development, out of the many more or less limited and mutually limiting gods there arose in the minds of men the idea of the one exclusive God of the monotheistic religions. Thus the question of the relation of thinking to being, the relation of the spirit to nature— the paramount question of the whole of philosophy— has, no less than all religion, its roots in the narrow­ minded and ignorant notions of savagery. But this question could for the first time be put forward in its whole acuteness, could achieve its full significance, only after humanity in Europe had awakened from the long hibernation of the Christian Middle Ages. The question of the position of thinking in relation to being, a question which, by the way, had played a great part also in the scholasticism of the Middle Ages, the question: Which is primary, spirit or nature?— that question, in relation to the Church, was sharpened into this: Did God create the world or has the world been in existence eternally? The answers which the philosophers gave to this question split them into two great camps. Those who asserted the primacy of spirit to nature and, therefore, in the last instance, assumed world creation in some form or other— and among the philosophers, Hegel, for example, this creation often becomes still more intricate and impos­ sible than in Christianity— comprised the camp of idealism. The others, who regarded nature as primary, belong to the various schools of materialism. These two expressions, idealism and materialism, originally signify nothing else but this; and here, too, they are not used in any other sense. What confusion arises when some other meaning is put into them will be seen below. But the question of the relation of thinking and being has yet another side: In what relation do our thoughts about the world surrounding us stand to this world itself? Is our thinking capable of the cognition of the real world? Are we able in our ideas and notions of the real world to produce a correct reflection of reality? In philo­ sophical language this question is called the question of the identity of thinking and being, and the overwhelming majority of philosophers give an affirmative answer to this question. With Hegel, for example, its affirmation is self-evident; for what we cognize in the real world is precisely its thought content— that which makes the world a gradual realization of the Absolute Idea, which Absolute Idea has existed somewhere from eternity, independent of the world and before the



world. But it is manifest without further proof that thought can know a content which is from the outset a thought content. It is equally manifest that what is to be proved here is already tacitly contained in the premises. But that in no way prevents Hegel from drawing the further conclusion from his proof of the identity of thinking and being that his philosophy, because it is correct for his thinking, is therefore the only correct one, and that the identity of thinking and being must prove its validity by mankind immediately translating his philosophy from theory into practice and transforming the whole world according to Hegelian principles. This is an illusion which he shares with well-nigh all philosophers. In addition there is yet a set of different philosophers— those who question the possibility of any cognition, or at least of an exhaustive cognition, of the world. To them, among the more modern ones, belong Hume and Kant, and they have played a very important role in philosophical development. What is decisive in the refutation of this view has already been said by Hegel, in so far as this was possible from an idealist standpoint. The materialistic additions made by Feuerbach are more ingenious than profound. The most telling refu­ tation of this, as of all other philosophical crotchets, is practice, namely, experiment and industry. If we are able to prove the cor­ rectness of our conception of a natural process by making it our­ selves, bringing it into being out of its conditions and making it serve our own purposes into the bargain, then there is an end to the Kantian ungraspable “thing-in-itself.” The chemical substances pro­ duced in the bodies of plants and animals remained just such thingsin-themselves until organic chemistry began to produce them one after another, whereupon the thing-in-itself became a thing for us, as, for instance, alizarin, the coloring matter of the madder, which we no longer trouble to grow in the madder roots in the field, but produce much more cheaply and simply from coal tar. For three hundred years the Copernican solar system was a hypothesis with a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand chances to one in its favor, but still always a hypothesis. But when Le verrier, by means of the data provided by this system, not only deduced the necessity of the existence of an unknown planet, but also calculated the position in the heavens which this planet must necessarily occupy, and when Galle really found this planet the Copernican system was proved. If, nevertheless, the Neo-Kantians are attempting to resurrect the Kantian conception in Germany and the agnostics that of Hume in England (where in fact



it never became extinct), this is, in view of their theoretical and prac­ tical refutation, accomplished long ago, scientifically a regression and practically merely a shamefaced way of surreptitiously accepting materialism while denying it before the world. But during this long period from Descartes to Hegel and from Hobbes to Feuerbach the philosophers were by no means impelled, as they thought they were, solely by the force of pure reason. On the contrary, what really pushed them forward most was the powerful and ever more rapidly onrushing progress of natural science and industry. Among the materialists this was plain on the surface, but the idealist systems also filled themselves more and more with a materialist con­ tent, and attempted pantheistically to reconcile the antithesis between mind and matter. Thus, ultimately, the Hegelian system represents merely a materialism idealistically turned upside down in method and content. . . . The course of evolution of Feuerbach is that of a Hegelian— a never quite orthodox Hegelian, it is true— into a materialist, an evo­ lution which at a definite stage necessitates a complete rupture with the idealist system of his predecessor. With irresistible force Feuer­ bach is finally driven to the realization that the Hegelian premundane existence of the Absolute Idea, the “pre-existence of the logical categories” before the world existed, is nothing more than the fan­ tastic survival of the belief in the existence of an extramundane crea­ tor; that the material, sensuously perceptible world to which we our­ selves belong is the only reality; and that our consciousness and thinking, however suprasensuous they may seem, are the product of a material, bodily organ, the brain. Matter is not a product of mind, but mind itself is merely the highest product of matter. This is, of course, pure materialism. But, having got so far, Feuerbach stops short. He cannot overcome the customary philosophical prejudice, prejudice not against the thing but against the name materialism. He says: “To me materialism is the foundation of the edifice of human essence and knowledge; but to me it is not what it is to the physi­ ologist, to the natural scientists in the narrower sense, for example, to Moleschott, and necessarily is from their standpoint and profession, namely, the edifice itself. Backwards I fully agree with the materialists, but not forwards.” Here Feuerbach lumps together the materialism that is a general world outlook resting upon a definite conception of the relation be­ tween matter and mind and the special form in which this world out­



look was expressed at a definite historical stage, namely, in the eight­ eenth century. More than that, he lumps it with the shallow, vulgarized form in which the materialism of the eighteenth century continues to exist today in the heads of naturalists and physicians, the form which was preached on their tours in the fifties by Büchner, Vogt, and Moleschott. But just as idealism underwent a series of stages of development, so also did materialism. With each epoch-making dis­ covery even in the sphere of natural science it has to change its form, and after history also was subjected to materialistic treatment a new avenue of development has opened here, too. The materialism of the last century was predominantly mechanical, because at that time, of all natural sciences, only mechanics, and indeed only the mechanics of solid bodies— celestial and terrestrial— in short, the mechanics of gravity, had come to any definite close. Chemistry at that time existed only in its infantile, phlogistic form. Biology still lay in swaddling clothes; vegetable and animal organisms had been only roughly examined, and were explained as the result of purely mechanical cause. What the animal was to Descartes, man was to the materialists of the eighteenth century— a machine. This exclusive application of the standards of mechanics to processes of a chemical and organic nature— in which processes the laws of me­ chanics are, indeed, also valid, but are pushed into the background by other, higher laws— constitutes the first specific but at that time inevitable limitation of classical French materialism. The second specific limitation of this materialism lay in its inability to comprehend the universe as a process, as matter undergoing unin­ terrupted historical development. This was in accordance with the level of the natural science of that time, and with the metaphysical, that is, anti-dialectical, manner of philosophizing connected with it. Nature — so much was known— was in eternal motion. But according to the ideas of that time, this motion turned, also eternally, in a circle and therefore never moved from the spot; it produced the same results over and over again. This conception was at that time inevitable. The Kantian theory of the origin of the solar system had been put forward but recently, and was still regarded merely as a curiosity. The history of the development of the earth, geology, was still totally unknown, and the conception that the animate natural beings of today are the result of a long sequence of development from the simple to the com­ plex could not at that time scientifically be put forward at all. The unhistorical view of nature was therefore inevitable. We have the



less reason to reproach the philosophers of the eighteenth century on this account since the same thing is found in Hegel. According to him, nature, as a mere “alienation” of the Idea, is incapable of de­ velopment in time— capable only of extending its manifoldness in space, so that it displays simultaneously and alongside of one another all the stages of development comprised in it, and is condemned to an eternal repetition of the same processes. This absurdity of a de­ velopment in space, but outside of time— the fundamental condition of all development— Hegel imposes upon nature just at the very time when geology, embryology, the physiology of plants and animals, and organic chemistry were being built up, and when everywhere on the basis of these new sciences brilliant foreshadowings of the later theory of evolution were appearing (for instance, Goethe and Lam arck). But the system demanded it; hence the method, for the sake of the system, had to become untrue to itself. This same unhistorical conception prevailed also in the domain of history. Here the struggle against the remnants of the Middle Ages blurred the view. The Middle Ages were regarded as a mere inter­ ruption of history by a thousand years of universal barbarism. The great progress made in the Middle Ages— the extension of the area of European culture, the viable great nations taking form there next to each other, and finally the enormous technical progress of the four­ teenth and fifteenth centuries— all this was not seen. Thus a rational insight into the great historical interconnections was made impossible, and history served at best as a collection of examples and illustrations for the use of philosophers. The vulgarizing peddlers, who in Germany in the fifties dabbled in materialism, by no means overcame this limitation of their teachers. All the advances of natural science which had been made in the meantime served them only as new proofs against the existence of a creator of the world; and, indeed, they did not in the least make it their business to develop the theory any further. Though idealism was at the end of its tether and was dealt a deathblow by the Revolution of 1848, it had the satisfaction of seeing that materialism had for the moment fallen lower still. Feuerbach was unquestionably right when he refused to take responsibility for this materialism, only he should not have confounded the doctrines of these itinerant preachers with materialism in general. Here, however, there are two things to be pointed out. First, even during Feuerbach’s lifetime natural science was still in that process of



violent fermentation which only during the last fifteen years had reached a clarifying, relative conclusion. New scientific data were acquired to a hitherto unheard-of extent, but the establishing of in­ terrelations, and thereby the bringing of order into this chaos of dis­ coveries following closely upon each other’s heels, has only quite recently become possible. It is true that Feuerbach had lived to see all three of the decisive discoveries— that of the cell, the transforma­ tion of energy, and the theory of evolution, named after Darwin. But how could the lonely philosopher, living in rural solitude, be able sufficiently to follow scientific developments in order to appreciate at their full value discoveries which natural scientists themselves at that time either still contested or did not know how to make adequate use of? The blame for this falls solely upon the wretched conditions in Germany, in consequence of which cobweb-spinning eclectic flea crackers had taken possession of the chairs of philosophy, while Feuerbach, who towered above them all, had to rusticate and grow sour in a little village. It is therefore not Feuerbach’s fault that the historical conception of nature, which had now become possible and which removed all the one-sidedness of French materialism, re­ mained inaccessible to him. Second, Feuerbach is quite correct in asserting that exclusively natural-scientific materialism is indeed “the foundation of the edifice of human knowledge, but not the edifice itself.” For we live not only in nature but also in human society, and this also no less than nature has its history of development and its science. It was therefore a question of bringing the science of society, that is, the sum total of the so-called historical and philosophical sciences, into harmony with the materialist foundation, and of reconstructing it thereupon. But it did not fall to Feuerbach’s lot to do this. . . .


The dialectic applied to matter— correct philosophical method put to work on the real stuff of the world— provides the skeleton of dialectical materialism. What flesh was put on these bones? Marx and Engels be­ lieved that dialectical materialism applied to the course of world history could yield but one result, and the theory of history that they thus derived was called historical materialism. In brief, historical materialism is the theory that history can only be understood as the development of human societies attempting in their several ways to meet the material needs of the different classes of which society is comprised. Since material and economic considerations are always paramount, the classes will always contend for control of the economic order. These class struggles will succeed one another in dia­ lectical development, each dominant class necessarily giving rise to its own opposition, and to the new struggle that must lead to the next higher synthesis. “The history of all hitherto existing society,” The Com­ munist Manifesto begins, “is the history of class struggles.” The more detailed development of historical materialism will disclose the precise character of the present stage in the series of class struggles. Marx and Engels said that under the capitalist system, the current stage, dialectical conflict is concentrated in the clash of two great economic classes: the bourgeoisie, which controls the means of production and distribution, and the proletariat, or the mass of exploited industrial workers. The selections in this section present the Marxist treatment of the background and character of this stage of world history and what Marx­ ists think will be the following stage. Capitalism, Marx held, is but one of


The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


a long series of phases through which the dialectic of history must move. Marx’s economic treatise Capital is, as he subtitled it, “a critique of politi­ cal economy,” an attempt to describe and analyze the real character of the capitalist system, disclosing the essential contradictions contained within it. He believed that these internal contradictions, which dialectical materialism laid bare, must result in the downfall of the capitalist system and its eventual replacement by a new synthesis.


In 1847 Marx was asked by a small group which called itself the In­ ternational Communist League to prepare a statement of policy for the meeting of that group the coming year. He agreed to do so, and with Engels’ help produced what is now known as the Communist Manifesto. In this, their most famous and powerful work, Marx and Engels are con­ sciously applying the principles of materialism and dialectical method to the problems of society. Into a pamphlet of only thirty-five pages, they compress a general theory of history, an analysis of the ills of European society, and a detailed program of revolutionary action. But the Manifesto is more than a program, more than an analytical and tightly woven argu­ ment: it is an impassioned plea for the union of the laboring classes. “Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working­ men of all countries, unite!”

Manifesto of the Communist Party* A specter is haunting Europe— the specter of Communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exor­ cise this specter: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies. Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where the Opposition that * Reprinted here in its entirety, with the exception of Part III, a short dia­ tribe against certain socialist groups of their time with whom Marx and Engels violently disagreed.



has not hurled back the branding reproach of Communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reac­ tionary adversaries? Two things result from this fact: I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European powers to be itself a power. II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the specter of Communism with a mani­ festo of the party itself. To this end, Communists of various nationalities have assembled in London, and sketched the following manifesto, to be published in the English, Frcnch, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish lan­ guages. I. Bourgeois and Proletarians

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guildmaster and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a com­ plicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations. The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society, has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones. Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinctive feature: It has simplified the class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other— bourgeoisie and pro­ letariat.

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed. The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonization of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feu­ dal society, a rapid development. The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolized by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed aside by the manufacturing middle class; division of labor between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labor in each single workshop. Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever ris­ ing. Even manufacture no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionized industrial production. The place of manu­ facture was taken by the giant, modern industry, the place of the industrial middle class, by industrial millionaires— the leaders of whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois. Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an im­ mense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, rail­ ways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, in­ creased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages. We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange. Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, it became an armed and selfgoverning association in the medieval commune; here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany), there taxable “third estate” of the monarchy (as in France); afterwards, in the period of manu­ facture proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute mon-



archy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, corner-stone of the great monarchies in general— the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of modern industry and of the world market, con­ quered for itself, in the modern representative state, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie has played a most revolutionary role in history. The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superi­ ors,” and has left no other bond between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment.” It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom— Free Trade. In one word, for ex­ ploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation. The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage-laborers. The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation. The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigor in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former migrations of nations and crusades. The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bour­ geois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind. The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere. The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized na­ tions, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individ­ ual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures there arises a world literature. The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all nations, even the most barbarian, into civilization. The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of pro­ duction; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In a word, it creates a world after its own image. The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban



population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a con­ siderable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West. More and more the bourgeoisie keeps doing away with the scat­ tered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralized means of pro­ duction, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralization. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, govern­ ments and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class interest, one frontier and one customs tariff. The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has crcated more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalization of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground— what earlier century had even a presenti­ ment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labor? We see then that the means of production and of exchange, which served as the foundation for the growth of the bourgeoisie, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organization of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in a word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder. Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and political constitution adapted to it, and by the economic and political sway of the bourgeois class. A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modem bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modem conditions of production, against the property rela­ tions that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeoisie and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put the existence of the entire bourgeois so­ ciety on trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity— the epidemic of over-production. Society sud­ denly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed. And why? Because there is too much civilization, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much com­ merce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois prop­ erty; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these con­ ditions, by which they are fettered, and no sooner do they overcome these fetters than they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented. The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself. But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons— the modern working class— the proletarians. In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, de­ veloped— a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a com­ modity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently



exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market. Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to division of labor, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for his maintenance, and for the propagation of his race. But the price of a commodity, and there­ fore also of labor, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage de­ creases. Nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labor increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by increase of the work exacted in a given time, or by increased speed of the machinery, etc. Modern industry has converted the little workshop of the patri­ archal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of laborers, crowded into the factory, are organized like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois state; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the over-looker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is. The less the skill and exertion of strength implied in manual labor, in other words, the more modern industry develops, the more is the labor of men superseded by that of women. Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class. All are instruments of labor, more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex. No sooner has the laborer received his wages in cash, for the mo­ ment escaping exploitation by the manufacturer, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shop­ keeper, the pawnbroker, etc. The lower strata of the middle class— the small tradespeople, shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants— all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly

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because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which modem industry is carried on, and is swamped in the com­ petition with the large capitalists, partly because their specialized skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production. Thus the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population. The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first the contest is carried on by individual laborers, then by the work people of a factory, then by the operatives of one trade, in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them. They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois conditions of production, but against the instruments of production themselves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their labor, they smash machinery to pieces, they set factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished status of the workman of the Middle Ages. A t this stage the laborers still form an incoherent mass scattered over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition. If anywhere they unite to form more compact bodies, this is not yet the consequence of their own active union, but of the union of the bourgeoisie, which class, in order to attain its own political ends, is compelled to set the whole proletariat in motion, and is moreover still able to do so for a time. At this stage, therefore, the proletarians do not fight their enemies, but the enemies of their enemies, the rem­ nants of absolute monarchy, the landowners, the non-industrial bour­ geois, the petty bourgeoisie. Thus the whole historical movement is concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie; every victory so obtained is a victory for the bourgeoisie. But with the development of industry the proletariat not only in­ creases in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and it feels that strength more. The various interests and conditions of life within the ranks of the proletariat are more and more equalized, in proportion as machinery obliterates all distinctions of labor and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level. The growing competition among the bourgeois, and the resulting commercial crises, make the wages of the workers ever more fluctuat­ ing. The unceasing improvement of machinery, ever more rapidly developing, makes their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions between individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and more the character of collisions between two classes. Thereupon the workers begin to form combinations (trade unions)



against the bourgeoisie; they club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these occasional revolts. Here and there the contest breaks out into riots. Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. This union is furthered by the improved means of communication which are created by modern industry, and which place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralize the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes. But every class struggle is a political struggle. And that union, to attain which the burghers of the Middle Ages, with their miserable highways, required cen­ turies, the modern proletarians, thanks to railways, achieve in a few years. This organization of the proletarians into a class, and consequently into a political party, is continually being upset again by the com­ petition between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier. It compels legislative recognition of par­ ticular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie itself. Thus the ten-hour bill in England was carried. Altogether, collisions between the classes of the old society further the course of development of the proletariat in many ways. The bourgeoisie finds itself involved in a constant battle. At first with the aristocracy; later on, with those portions of the bourgeoisie itself whose interests have become antagonistic to the progress of industry; at all times with the bourgeoisie of foreign countries. In all these battles it sees itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, to ask for its help, and thus, to drag it into the political arena. The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the pro­ letariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie. Further, as we have already seen, entire sections of the ruling classes are, by the advance of industry, precipitated into the prole­ tariat, or are at least threatened in their conditions of existence. These also supply the proletariat with fresh elements of enlighten­ ment and progress. Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour,

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the process of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within the whole range of old society, assumes such a violent, glaring character, that a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift, and joins the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands. Just as, therefore, at an earlier period, a section of the nobility went over to the bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the bour­ geoisie goes over to the proletariat, and in particular, a portion of the bourgeois ideologists, who have raised themselves to the level of comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole. Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of modem industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product. The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history. If by chance they are revolutionary, they are so only in view of their impending transfer into the proletariat; they thus defend not their present, but their future interests; they desert their own standpoint to adopt that of the proletariat. The “dangerous class,” the social scum ( Lumpenproletariat), that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue. The social conditions of the old society no longer exist for the proletariat. The proletarian is without property; his relation to his wife and children has no longer anything in common with bourgeois family relations; modem industrial labor, modem subjection to capital, the same in England as in France, in America as in Germany, has stripped him of every trace of national character. Law, morality, religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests. All the preceding classes that got the upper hand, sought to fortify their already acquired status by subjecting society at large to their conditions of appropriation. The proletarians cannot become masters of the productive forces of society, except by abolishing their own previous mode of appropriation, and thereby also every other previ­



ous mode of appropriation. They have nothing of their own to secure and to fortify; their mission is to destroy all previous securities for, and insurances of, individual property. All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the selfconscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority. The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air. Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the prole­ tariat with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle. The proletariat of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie. In depicting the most general phases of the development of the proletariat, we traccd the more or less veiled civil war, raging within existing society, up to the point where that war breaks out into open revolution, and where the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat. Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. But in order to oppress a class, certain conditions must be assured to it under which it can, at least, continue its slavish existence. The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the com­ mune, just as the petty bourgeois, under the yoke of feudal abso­ lutism, managed to develop into a bourgeois. The modern laborer, on the contrary, instead of rising with the progress of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident, that the bour­ geoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to im­ pose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society. The essential condition for the existence and sway of the bour­ geois class, is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condi­ tion for capital is wage-labor. Wage-labor rests exclusively on com­

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petition between the laborers. The advance of industry, whose in­ voluntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the laborers, due to competition, by their revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of modem industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.

II. Proletarians and Communists In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole? The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working class parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the prole­ tariat as a whole. They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mold the proletarian movement. The Communists are distinguished from the other working class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole. The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the prole­ tariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian move­ ment. The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all the other proletarian parties: Formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat. The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way



based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes. The abolition of existing property relations is not at all a distinctive feature of Communism. All property relations in the past have continually been subject to historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions. The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal property in favor of bourgeois property. The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition ot property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete ex­ pression of the system of producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few. In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property. We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolish­ ing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man’s own labor, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence. Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of the petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily. Or do you mean modem bourgeois private property? But does wage-labor create any property for the laborer? Not a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage-labor, and which cannot increase except upon condition of begetting a new supply of wage-labor for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wagelabor. Let us examine both sides of this antagonism. To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion. Capital is therefore not a personal, it is a social, power. When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into

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the property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social char­ acter of the property that is changed. It loses its class character. Let us now take wage-labor. The average price of wage-labor is the minimum wage, i.e., that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the laborer in bare existence as a laborer. What, therefore, the wage-laborer appropriates by means of his labor, merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labor, an appropriation that is made for the maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no surplus wherewith to command the labor of others. All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the laborer lives merely to increase capital, and is allowed to live only insofar as the interest of the ruling class requires it. In bourgeois society, living labor is but a means to increase ac­ cumulated labor. In Communist society, accumulated labor is but a means to widen, to enrich, to promote the existence of the laborer. In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past. In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality. And the abolition of this state of things is called by the bourgeois, abolition of individuality and freedom! And rightly so. The abolition of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly aimed at. By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production free trade, free selling and buying. But if selling and buying disappears, free selling and buying dis­ appears also. This talk about free selling and buying, and all the other “brave words” of our bourgeoisie about freedom in general, have a meaning, if any, only in contrast with restricted selling and buying, with the fettered traders of the Middle Ages, but have no meaning when opposed to the Communist abolition of buying and selling, of the bourgeois conditions of production, and of the bour­ geoisie itself. You are horrified at our intending to do away with private prop­ erty. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few



is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non­ existence of any property for the immense majority of society. In a word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend. From the moment when labor can no longer be converted into capital, money, or rent, into a social power capable of being monopo­ lized, i.e., from the moment when individual property can no longer be transformed into bourgeois property, into capital, from that mo­ ment, you say, individuality vanishes. You must, therefore, confess that by “individual” you mean no other person than the bourgeois, than the middle class owner of property. This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way, and made impossible. Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labor of others by means of such appropriation. It has been objected, that upon the abolition of private property all work will cease, and universal laziness will overtake us. According to this, bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone to the dogs through sheer idleness; for those of its members who work, acquire nothing, and those who acquire anything, do not work. The whole of this objection is but another expression of the tautology: There can no longer be any wage-labor when there is no longer any capital. All objections urged against the Communist mode of producing and appropriating material products, have, in the same way, been urged against the Communist modes of producing and appropriating intellectual products. Just as, to the bourgeois, the disappearance of class property is the disappearance of production itself, so the dis­ appearance of class culture is to him identical with the disappearance of all culture. That culture, the loss of which he laments is, for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as a machine. But don’t wrangle with us so long as you apply, to our intended abolition of bourgeois property, the standard of your bourgeois no­ tions of freedom, culture, law, etc. Your very ideas are but the out­ growth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois

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property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will whose essential character and direction are determined by the economic conditions of existence of your class. The selfish misconception that induces you to transform into eter­ nal laws of nature and of reason, the social forms springing from your present mode of production and form of property— historical relations that rise and disappear in the progress of production— this misconception you share with every ruling class that has preceded you. What you see clearly in the case of ancient property, what you admit in the case of feudal property, you are of course forbidden to admit in the case of your own bourgeois form of property. Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists. On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution. The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital. Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty. But, you will say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social. And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention of society, direct or indirect, by means of schools, etc.? The Com­ munists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class. The bourgeois claptrap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parent and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of modem industry, all family ties among the proletarians are tom asunder, and their children trans­ formed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labor. But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the whole bourgeoisie in chorus. The bourgeois sees in his wife a mere instrument of production.



He hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion than that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women. He has not even a suspicion that the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production. For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the virtuous indigna­ tion of our bourgeois at the community of women which, they pre­ tend, is to be openly and officially established by the Communists. The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial. Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common pros­ titutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives. Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalized community of women. For the rest, it is self-evident, that the abolition of the present system of produc­ tion must bring with it the abolition of the community of women springing from that system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private. The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality. The workingmen have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got. Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself the nation, it is, so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word. National differences and antagonisms between peoples are vanish­ ing gradually from day to day, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, to the world market, to uni­ formity in the mode of production and in the conditions of life corresponding thereto. The supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish still faster. United action, of the leading civilized countries at least, is one of the first conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat. In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by another is put an end to, the exploitation of one nation by another will also be put an end to. In proportion as the antagonism between classes

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within the nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation to another will come to an end. The charges against Communism made from a religious, a philo­ sophical, and, generally, from an ideological standpoint, are not de­ serving of serious examination. Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that m an’s ideas, views, and conceptions, in one word, man’s consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life? What else does the history of ideas prove, than that intellectual production changes its character in proportion as material production is changed? The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class. When people speak of ideas that revolutionize society, they do but express the fact that within the old society the elements of a new one have been created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas keeps even pace with the dissolution of the old conditions of existence. When the ancient world was in its last throes, the ancient religions were overcome by Christianity. When Christian ideas succumbed in the 18th century to rationalist ideas, feudal society fought its deathbattle with the then revolutionary bourgeoisie. The ideas of religious liberty and freedom of conscience, merely gave expression to the sway of free competition within the domain of knowledge. “Undoubtedly,” it will be said, “religion, moral, philosophical and juridical ideas have been modified in the course of historical devel­ opment. But religion, morality, philosophy, political science, and law, constantly survived this change. “There are, besides, eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, etc., that are common to all states of society. But Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience.” What does this accusation reduce itself to? The history of all past society has consisted in the development of class antagonisms, antagonisms that assumed different forms at different epochs. But whatever form they may have taken, one fact is common to all past ages, viz., the exploitation of one part of society by the other. No wonder, then, that the social consciousness of past ages, despite all the mutiplicity and variety it displays, moves within cer­



tain common forms, or general ideas, which cannot completely van­ ish except with the total disappearance of class antagonisms. The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with tra­ ditional property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas. But let us have done with the bourgeois objections to Commu­ nism. We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to establish democracy. The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of pro­ duction in the hands of the state, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible. Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the con­ ditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production. These measures will of course be different in different countries. Nevertheless in the most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable. 1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes. 2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax. 3. Abolition of all right of inheritance. 4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels. 5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly. 6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state. 7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the im­ provement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan. 8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture. 9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries;

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gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equable distribution of the population over the country. 10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of child factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc. When, in the course of development, class distinctions have dis­ appeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another. If the prole­ tariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class; if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms, and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class. In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free develop­ ment of each is the condition for the free development of all. . . .

IV. Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties Section II has made clear the relations of the Communists to the existing working class parties, such as the Chartists in England and the Agrarian Reformers in America. The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement. In France the Communists ally themselves with the Social-Democrats, against the conservative and radical bourgeoisie, reserving, however, the right to take up a critical position in regard to phrases and illusions traditionally handed down from the great Revolution. In Switzerland they support the Radicals, without losing sight of the fact that this party consists of antagonistic elements, partly of Democratic Socialists, in the French sense, partly of radical bourgeois. In Poland they support the party that insists on an agrarian revo­



lution as the prime condition for national emancipation, that party which fomented the insurrection of Cracow in 1846. In Germany they fight with the bourgeoisie whenever it acts in a revolutionary way, against the absolute monarchy, the feudal squire­ archy, and the petty bourgeoisie. But they never cease, for a single instant, to instil into the working class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat, in order that the German work­ ers may straightway use, as so many weapons against the bourgeoisie, the social and political conditions that the bourgeoisie must necessarily introduce along with its supremacy, and in order that, after the fall of the reactionary classes in Germany, the fight against the bour­ geoisie itself may immediately begin. The Communists turn their attention chiefly to Germany, because that country is on the eve of a bourgeois revolution that is bound to be carried out under more advanced conditions of European civilization and with a much more developed proletariat than what existed in England in the 17th and in France in the 18th century, and because the bourgeois revolution in Germany will be but the prelude to an immediately following proletarian revolution. In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things. In all these movements they bring to the front, as the leading question in each case, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time. Finally, they labor everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries. The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite!

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V. I. Lenin (1870-1924) was the leader of the successful communist revolution in Russia in 1917, and the founder of the present Soviet Gov­ ernment. Some of his theoretical contributions to communist philosophy will appear in later sections of this volume. The Teachings of Karl Marx, from which the following selection is taken, was intended to be purely expository. Here Lenin presents a straightforward explanation of the con­ cepts of value and surplus value as he understood them to be employed in Marx’s economic writings.

Marx’s Economic Doctrinet “It is the ultimate aim of this work to reveal the economic law of motion of modern society” (that is to say, capitalist, bourgeois so­ ciety), writes Marx in the preface to the first volume of Capital. The study of the production relationships in a given, historically determinate society, in their genesis, their development, and their decay— such is the content of M arx’s economic teaching. In capitalist society the dominant feature is the production of commodities, and Marx’s analysis therefore begins with an analysis of a commodity.

Value A commodity is, firstly, something that satisfies a human need; and, secondly, it is something that is exchanged for something else. The utility of a thing gives it use-value. Exchange-value (or simply, value) presents itself first of all as the proportion, the ratio, in which a certain number of use-values of one kind are exchanged for a cer­ tain number of use-values of another kind. Daily experience shows * Lenin’s original name was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, although he later came to be known as Nikolai Lenin. Following the most usual practice, how­ ever, he will be referred to here as Vladimir I. Lenin.— Ed. t This and the following passages are from The Teachings of Karl Marx. Reprinted by permission of the Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow.



us that by millions upon millions of such exchanges, all and sundry use-values in themselves very different and not comparable one with another, are equated to one another. Now, what is common in these various things which are constantly weighed one against another in a definite system of social relationships? That which is common to them is that they are products of labor. In exchanging products, people equate to one another most diverse kinds of labor. The pro­ duction of commodities is a system of social relationships in which different producers produce various products (the social division of labor), and in which all these products are equated to one another in exchange. Consequently, the element common to all commodities is not concrete labor in a definite branch of production, not labor of one particular kind, but abstract human labor— human labor in gen­ eral. All the labor power of a given society, represented in the sum total of values of all commodities, is one and the same human labor power. Millions upon millions of acts of exchange prove this. Con­ sequently, each particular commodity represents only a certain part of socially necessary labor time. The magnitude of the value is deter­ mined by the amount of socially necessary labor, or by the labor time that is socially requisite for the production of the given commodity of the given use-value. “ . . . Exchanging labor products of different kinds one for another, they equate the values of the exchanged products; and in doing so they equate the different kinds of labor expended in production, treating them as homogeneous human labor. They do not know that they are doing this, but they do it.” As one of the earlier economists said, value is a relationship between two persons, only he should have added that it is a relationship hidden beneath a material wrapping. We can only understand what value is when we consider it from the point of view of a system of social production relationships in one particular historical type of society; and, moreover, of relationships which present themselves in a mass form, the phenomenon of exchange repeating itself millions upon millions of times. “As values, all commodities are only definite quan­ tities of congealed labor time.” Having made a detailed analysis of the twofold character of the labor incorporated in commodities, Marx goes on to analyze the form of value and of money. His main task, then, is to study the origin of the money form of value, to study the historical process of the development of exchange, beginning with isolated and casual acts of exchange ( “simple, isolated, or casual value form,” in which a given quantity of one commodity is exchanged

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


for a given quantity of another), passing on to the universal form of value, in which a number of different commodities are exchanged for one and the same particular commodity, and ending with the money form of value, when gold becomes this particular commodity, the universal equivalent. Being the highest product of the development of exchange and of commodity production, money masks the social character of individual labor, and hides the social tie between the various producers who come together in the market. Marx analyzes in great detail the various functions of many; and it is essential to note that here (as generally in the opening chapters of Capital) what ap­ pears to be an abstract and at times purely deductive mode of expo­ sition in reality reproduces a gigantic collection of facts concerning the history of the development of exchange and commodity produc­ tion. Money . . . presupposes a definite level of commodity exchange. The various forms of money (simple commodity equivalent or means of circulation, or means of payment, treasure, or international money) indicate, according to the different extent to which this or that function is put into application, and according to the comparative predominance of one or other of them, very different grades of the social process of production. [Capital, Vol. I.]

Surplus Value At a particular stage in the development of commodity production, money becomes transformed into capital. The formula of commodity circulation was C-M-C (commodity— money— commodity); the sale of one commodity for the purpose of buying another. But the general formula of capital, on the contrary, is M-C-M (money— commodity — money) ; purchase for the purpose of selling— at a profit. The desig­ nation “surplus value” is given by Marx to the increase over the original value of money that is put into circulation. The fact of this “growth” of money in capitalist society is well known. Indeed, it is this “growth” which transforms money into capital as a special, his­ torically defined, social relationship of production. Surplus value can­ not arise out of the circulation of commodities, for this represents nothing more than the exchange of equivalents; it cannot arise out of an advance in prices, for the mutual losses and gains of buyers and sellers would equalize one another; and we are concerned here, not with what happens to individuals, but with a mass or average or



social phenomenon. In order that he may be able to receive surplus value, “Moneybags must . . . find in the market a commodity whose use-value has the peculiar quality of being a source of value”— a commodity, the actual process of whose use is at the same time the process of the creation of value. Such a commodity exists. It is human labor power. Its use is labor, and labor creates value. The owner of money buys labor power at its value, which is determined, like the value of every other commodity, by the socially necessary labor time requisite for its production (that is to say, the cost of maintaining the worker and his family). Having bought labor power, the owner of money is entitled to use it, that is to set it to work for the whole day — twelve hours, let us suppose. Meanwhile, in the course of six hours ( “necessary” labor time) the laborer produces sufficient to pay back the cost of his own maintenance; and in the course of the next six hours ( “surplus” labor time), he produces a “surplus” product for which the capitalist does not pay him— surplus product or surplus value. In capital, therefore, from the viewpoint of the process of production, we have to distinguish between two parts: first, constant capital, expended for the means of production (machinery, tools, raw materials, etc.), the value of this being (all at once or part by part) transferred, unchanged, to the finished product; and, secondly, varia­ ble capital, expended for labor power. The value of this latter capital is not constant, but grows in the labor process, creating surplus value. To express the degree of exploitation of labor power by capital, we must therefore compare the surplus value, not with the whole capital, but only with the variable capital. Thus, in the example just given, the rate of surplus value, as Marx calls this relationship, will be 6:6, i.e., 100% . There are two historical prerequisites to the genesis of capital: first, accumulation of a considerable sum of money in the hands of individ­ uals living under conditions in which there is a comparatively high development of commodity production. Second, the existence of work­ ers who are “free” in a double sense of the term: free from any con­ straint or restriction as regards the sale of their labor power; free from any bondage to the soil or to the means of production in general— i.e., of propertyless workers, of “proletarians” who cannot maintain their existence except by the sale of their labor power. There are two fundamental ways in which surplus value can be increased: by an increase in the working day ( “absolute surplus

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


value” ); and by a reduction in the necessary working day ( “relative surplus value” ). Analyzing the former method, Marx gives an im­ pressive picture of the struggle of the working class for shorter hours and of government interference, first (from the fourteenth century to the seventeenth) in order to lengthen the working day, and subse­ quently (factory legislation of the nineteenth century) to shorten it. Since the appearance of Capital, the history of the working-class movement in all lands provides a wealth of new facts to amplify this picture. . . . Of extreme importance and originality is M arx’s analysis of the accumulation of capital, that is to say, the transformation of a por­ tion of surplus value into capital and the applying of this portion to additional production, instead of using it to supply the personal needs or to gratify the whims of the capitalist. Marx pointed out the mistake made by earlier classical political economy (from Adam Smith o n ), which assumed that all the surplus value which was transformed into capital became variable capital. In actual fact, it is divided into means of production plus variable capital. The more rapid growth of constant capital as compared with variable capital in the sum total of capital is of immense importance in the process of development of capitalism and in that of the transformation of capi­ talism into Socialism. The accumulation of capital, accelerating the replacement of workers by machinery, creating wealth at the one pole and poverty at the other, gives birth to the so-called “reserve army of labor,” to a “relative over-abundance” of workers or to “capitalist over-popu­ lation.” This assumes the most diversified forms, and gives capital the possibility of expanding production at an exceptionally rapid rate. This possibility, in conjunction with enhanced facilities for credit and with the accumulation of capital in the means of produc­ tion, furnishes, among other things the key to the understanding of the crises of overproduction that occur periodically in capitalist coun­ tries— first about every ten years, on an average, but subsequently in a more continuous form and with a less definite periodicity. From ac­ cumulation of capital upon a capitalist foundation we must dis­ tinguish the so-called “primitive accumulation” : the forcible sever­ ance of the worker from the means of production, the driving of the peasants off the land, the stealing of the communal lands, the system



of colonies and national debts, of protective tariffs, and the like. “Primitive accumulation” creates, at one pole, the “free” proletarian: at the other, the owner of money, the capitalist. . . .

15. K A R L M A R X

The last years of Marx’s life were spent in an arduous attempt to give a definitive account of the principles, excesses, and contradictions of the capitalist economy. The result, never completed, was Capital (Das Kapital). In Part VII of the first volume of Capital, from which the fol­ lowing passages are taken, several of Marx's laws of the behavior of capital are explained, and their effects described.

[ T h e C o m p o sitio n o f C a p ita l] * In this chapter we consider the influence of the growth of capital on the lot of the laboring class. The most important factor in this inquiry, is the composition of capital and the changes it undergoes in the course of the process of accumulation. The composition of capital is to be understood in a two-fold sense. On the side of value, it is determined by the proportion in which it is divided into constant capital or value of the means of production, and variable capital or value of labor-power, the sum total of wages. On the side of material, as it functions in the process of production, all capital is divided into means of production and living labor-power. This latter composition is determined by the relation between the mass of the means of production employed, on the one hand, and the mass of labor necessary for their employment on the other. I call the former the value composition, the latter the technical composition of capital. Between the two there is a strict correlation. To express this, I call the value-composition of capital, insofar as it is determined * From K. Marx, Capital. This and the following selections are reprinted from the original English translation by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, edited by Friedrich Engels, and published by Swan Sonnenschein, Lowery, and Co., London, 1887.

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by its technical composition and mirrors the changes of the latter, the organic composition of capital. Wherever I refer to the composition of capital, without further qualification, its organic composition is al­ ways understood. The many individual capitals invested in a particular branch of production have, one with another, more or less different composi­ tions. The average of their individual compositions gives us the com­ position of the total capital in this branch of production. Lastly, the average of these averages, in all branches of production, gives us the composition of the total social capital of a country, and with this alone are we, in the last resort, concerned in the following investiga­ tion.

[The Law of Capitalist Accumulation] Growth of capital involves growth of its variable constituent or of the part invested in labor-power. A part of the surplus-value turned into additional capital must always be retransformed into variable capital, or additional labor-fund. If we suppose that, all other cir­ cumstances remaining the same, the composition of capital also re­ mains constant (i.e., that a definite mass of means of production constantly needs the same mass of labor-power to set in m otion), then the demand for labor and the subsistence-fund of the laborers clearly increase in the same proportion as the capital, and the more rapidly, the more rapidly the capital increases. . . . As simple reproduction constantly reproduces the capital-relation itself, i.e., the relation of capitalists on the one hand, and wage-workers on the other, so reproduction on a progressive scale, i.e., accumulation, re­ produces the capital relation on a progressive scale, more capitalists or larger capitalists at this pole, more wage-workers at that. The reproduction of a mass of labor-power, which must incessantly re­ incorporate itself with capital for that capital’s self-expansion; which cannot get free from capital, and whose enslavement to capital is only concealed by the variety of individual capitalists to whom it sells itself, this reproduction of labor-power forms, in fact, an essential of the reproduction of capital itself. Accumulation of capital is, there­ fore, increase of the proletariat. . . . The law of capitalist production, that is at the bottom of the pre­ tended “natural law of population,” reduces itself simply to this: The



correlation between accumulation of capital and rate of wages is nothing else than the correlation between the unpaid labor transformed into capital, and the additional paid labor necessary for the setting in motion of this additional capital. It is therefore in no way a relation between two magnitudes, independent one of the other: on the one hand, the magnitude of the capital; on the other, the number of the laboring population; it is rather, at bottom, only the relation between the unpaid and the paid labor of the same laboring population. If the quantity of unpaid labor supplied by the working-class, and accumu­ lated by the capitalist class, increases so rapidly that its conversion into capital requires an extraordinary addition of paid labor, then wages rise, and, all other circumstances remaining equal, the unpaid labor diminishes in proportion. But as soon as this diminution touches the point at which the surplus-labor that nourishes capital is no longer supplied in normal quantity, a reaction sets in: a smaller part of revenue is capitalized, accumulation lags, and the movement of rise in wages receives a check. The rise of wages therefore is confined within limits that not only leave intact the foundations of the capitalis­ tic system, but also secure its reproduction on a progressive scale. The law of capitalistic accumulation, metamorphosed by economists into a pretended law of nature, in reality merely states that the very nature of accumulation excludes every diminution in the degree of exploitation of labor, and every rise in the price of labor, which could seriously imperil the continual reproduction, on an ever enlarging scale, of the capitalistic relation. It cannot be otherwise in a mode of production in which the laborer exists to satisfy the needs of self­ expansion of existing values, instead of on the contrary, material wealth existing to satisfy the needs of development on the part of the laborer. As, in religion, man is governed by the products of his own brain, so in capitalistic production, he is governed by the prod­ ucts of his own hand. In Part IV * it was shown, how the development of the produc­ tiveness of social labor presupposes co-operation on a large scale; how it is only upon this supposition that division and combination of labor can be organized, and the means of production economized * In Part IV, Marx explains that surplus value may be increased not only by increasing the length of the working day, but also by increasing the productivity of the worker. This reduces the time required for the laborer to produce the value needed for his own subsistence. By increasing productivity, therefore, the capitalist is enabled to take a larger proportion of the value created during the working day. This Marx calls “the production of relative surplus value.”—Ed.

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by concentration on a vast scale; how instruments of labor which, from their very nature, are only fit for use in common, such as a system of machinery, can be called into being; how huge natural forces can be pressed into the service of production; and how the transformation can be effected of the process of production into a technological application of science. On the basis of the production of commodities, where the means of production are the property of pri­ vate persons, and where the artisan therefore either produces com­ modities, isolated from and independent of others, or sells his laborpower as a commodity, because he lacks the means for independent industry, co-operation on a large scale can realize itself only in the increase of individual capitals, only in proportion as the means of social production and the means of subsistence are transformed into the private property of capitalists. The basis of the production of commodities can admit of production on a large scale in the capitalistic form alone. A certain accumulation of capital, in the hands of indi­ vidual producers of commodities, forms therefore the necessary pre­ liminary of the specifically capitalistic mode of production. We had, therefore, to assume that this occurs during the transition from handi­ craft to capitalistic industry. It may be called primitive accumulation, because it is the historic basis, instead of the historic result of spe­ cifically capitalist production. How it itself originates, we need not here inquire as yet. It is enough that it forms the starting point. But all methods for raising the social productive power of labor that are developed on this basis, are at the same time methods for the in­ creased production of surplus-value or surplus-product, which in its turn is the formative element of accumulation. They are, therefore, at the same time methods of the production of capital by capital, or methods of its accelerated accumulation. The continual retransforma­ tion of surplus-value into capital now appears in the shape of the increasing magnitude of the capital that enters into the process of production. This in turn is the basis of an extended scale of produc­ tion, of the methods for raising the productive power of labor that ac­ company it, and of accelerated production of surplus-value. If, there­ fore, a certain degree of accumulation of capital appears as a condi­ tion of the specifically capitalist mode of production, the latter causes conversely an accelerated accumulation of capital. With the accumulation of capital, therefore, the specifically capitalistic mode of production develops, and with the capitalist mode of production the accumulation of capital. Both these economic factors bring about,



in the compound ratio of the impulses they reciprocally give one another, that change in the technical composition of capital by which the variable constituent becomes always smaller and smaller as com­ pared with the constant. . . .

[The Law of the Concentration of Capital] Every individual capital is a larger or smaller concentration of means of production, with a corresponding command over a larger or smaller labor-army. Every accumulation becomes the means of new accumulation. With the increasing mass of wealth which functions as capital, accumulation increases the concentration of that wealth in the hands of individual capitalists, and thereby widens the basis of production on a large scale and of the specific methods of capitalist production. The growth of social capital is effected by the growth of many individual capitals. All other circumstances remaining the same, individual capitals, and with them the concentration of the means of production, increase in such proportion as they form aliquot parts of the total social capital. At the same time portions of the original capi­ tals disengage themselves and function as new independent capitals. Besides other causes, the division of property, within capitalist families, plays a great part in this. With the accumulation of capital, therefore, the number of capitalists grows to a greater or less extent. Two points characterize this kind of concentration which grows directly out of, or rather is identical with, accumulation. First: The increasing concentration of the social means of production in the hands of individual capitalists is, other things remaining equal, limited by the degree of increase of social wealth. Second: The part of social capital domiciled in each particular sphere of production is divided among many capitalists who face one another as independent commodity-producers competing with each other. Accumulation and the concentration accompanying it are, therefore, not only scattered over many points, but the increase of each functioning capital is thwarted by the formation of new and the subdivision of old capitals. Accumulation, therefore, presents itself on the one hand as increasing concentration of the means of production, and of the command over labor; on the other, as repulsion of many individual capitals one from another. This splitting-up of the total social capital into many individual capitals or the repulsion of its fractions one from another, is counter­

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


acted by their attraction. This last does not mean that simple concen­ tration of the means of production and of the command over labor, which is identical with accumulation. It is concentration of capitals already formed, destruction of their individual independence, expro­ priation of capitalist by capitalist, transformation of many small into few large capitals. This process differs from the former in this, that it only presupposes a change in the distribution of capital already to hand, and functioning; its field of action is therefore not limited by the absolute growth of social wealth, by the absolute limits of accumu­ lation. Capital grows in one place to a huge mass in a single hand, because it has in another place been lost by many. This is centraliza­ tion proper, as distinct from accumulation and concentration. The laws of this centralization of capitals, or of the attraction of capital by capital, cannot be developed here. A brief hint at a few facts must suffice. The battle of competition is fought by cheapening of commodities. The cheapness of commodities depends, cœteris paribus, on the productiveness of labor, and this again on the scale of production. Therefore, the larger capitals beat the smaller. It will further be remembered that, with the development of the capitalist mode of production, there is an increase in the minimum amount of individual capital necessary to carry on a business under its normal conditions. The smaller capitals, therefore, crowd into spheres of pro­ duction which modern industry has only sporadically or incompletely got hold of. Here competition rages in direct proportion to the number, and in inverse proportion to the magnitudes, of the antagonistic capi­ tals. It always ends in the ruin of many small capitalists, whose capitals partly pass into the hand of their conquerors, partly vanish. Apart from this, with capitalist production an altogether new force comes into play— the credit system. Not only is this itself a new and mighty weapon in the battle of competition. By unseen threads it, moreover, draws the disposable money, scattered in larger or smaller masses over the surface of society, into the hands of individual or associated capitalists. It is the specific machine for the centralization of capitals. The centralization of capitals or the process of their attraction becomes more intense, in proportion as the specifically capitalist mode of production develops along with accumulation. In its turn, centrali­ zation becomes one of the greatest levers of this development. It shortens and quickens the transformation of separate processes of production into processes socially combined and carried out on a large scale.



The increasing bulk of individual masses of capital becomes the material basis of an uninterrupted revolution in the mode of pro­ duction itself. Continually the capitalist mode of production con­ quers branches of industry not yet wholly, or only sporadically, or only formally, subjugated by it. At the same time there grow up on its soil new branches of industry, such as could not exist without it. Finally, in the branches of industry already carried on upon the capitalist basis, the productiveness of labor is made to ripen, as if in a hothouse. In all these cases, the number of laborers falls in pro­ portion to the mass of the means of production worked up by them. An ever increasing part of the capital is turned into means of produc­ tion, an ever decreasing one into labor-power. With the extent, the concentration and the technical efficiency of the means of production, the degree lessens progressively, in which the latter are means of employment for laborers. A steam plow is an incomparably more efficient means of production than an ordinary plow, but the capitalvalue laid out in it is an incomparably smaller means for employing men than if it were laid out in ordinary plows. At first, it is the mere adding of new capital to old, which allows of the expansion and tech­ nical revolution of the material conditions of the process of produc­ tion. But soon the change of composition and the technical transforma­ tion get more or less completely hold of all old capital that has reached the term of its reproduction, and therefore has to be replaced. This metamorphosis of old capital is independent, to a certain extent, of the absolute growth of social capital, in the same way as its centralization. But this centralization which only redistributes the social capital already to hand, and melts into one a number of old capitals, works in its turn as a powerful agent in this metamorphosis of old capital. On the one hand, therefore, the additional capital formed in the course of accumulation attracts fewer and fewer laborers in propor­ tion to its magnitude. On the other hand, the old capital periodically reproduced with change of composition, repels more and more of the laborers formerly employed by it.

[The Law of Increasing Misery] The greater the social wealth, the functioning capital, the extent and energy of its growth, and, therefore, also the absolute mass of

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


the proletariat and the productiveness of its labor, the greater is the industrial reserve-army. The same causes which develop the expansive power of capital, develops also the labor-power at its disposal. The relative mass of the industrial reserve-army increases therefore with the potential energy of wealth. But the greater this reserve-army in proportion to the active labor-army, the greater is the mass of a consolidated surplus population, whose misery is in inverse ratio to its torment of labor. The more extensive, finally, the Lazarus-layers of the working-class, and the industrial reserve-army, the greater is official pauperism. This is the absolute general law of capitalist ac­ cumulation. Like all other laws it is modified in its working by many circumstances, the analysis of which does not concern us here. The folly is now patent of the economic wisdom that preaches to the laborers the accommodation of their number to the requirements of capital. The mechanism of capitalist production and accumulation constantly effects this adjustment. The first word of this adaptation is the creation of a relative surplus population, or industrial reservearmy. Its last word is the misery of constantly extending strata of the active army of labor, and the dead weight of pauperism. The law by which a constantly increasing quantity of means of production, thanks to the advance in the productiveness of social labor, may be set in movement by a progressively diminishing ex­ penditure of human power, this law, in a capitalist society— where the laborer does not employ the means of production, but the means of production employ the laborer— undergoes a complete inversion and is expressed thus: the higher the productiveness of labor, the greater is the pressure of the laborers on the means of employment, the more precarious, therefore, becomes their condition of existence, viz., the sale of their own labor-power for the increasing of another’s wealth, or for the self-expansion of capital. The fact that the means of production, and the productiveness of labor, increase more rapidly than the productive population, expresses itself, therefore, capitalisti­ cally in the inverse form that the laboring population always increases more rapidly than the conditions under which capital can employ this increase for its own self-expansion. We saw in Part IV, when analyzing the production of relative sur­ plus value: within the capitalist system all methods for raising the social productiveness of labor are brought about at the cost of the individual laborer; all means for the development of production



transform themselves into means of domination over, and exploita­ tion of, the producers; they mutilate the laborer into a fragment of a man, degrade him to the level of an appendage of a machine, destroy every remnant of charm in his work and turn it into a hated toil; they estrange from him the intellectual potentialities of the labor-process in the same proportion as science is incorporated in it as an inde­ pendent power; they distort the conditions under which he works, subject him during the labor-process to a despotism the more hateful for its meanness; they transform his lifetime into working time, and drag his wife and child beneath the wheels of the juggernaut of capi­ tal. But all methods for the production of surplus value are at the same time methods of accumulation; and every extension of accumu­ lation becomes again a means for the development of those methods. It follows therefore that in proportion as capital accumulates, the lot of the laborer, be his payment high or low, must grow worse. The law, finally, 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.


The following selection is the third Part of Engels' Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, of which the two earlier Parts have been included in Part One, Sections I and II, of this volume. Even more clearly than The Com­ munist Manifesto, this passage presents the general theory of historical materialism, as well as its conclusions about the future of capitalism and about the classless society which was, Engels believed, its inevitable suc­ cessor. This is probably the best single short statement of the communist world view.

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


[Scientific Socialism] * 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 un­ reason, 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 incon­ gruities 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 de­ duction 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 con­ ceded— is the creation of the ruling class of today, 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 equality before the law of all commodity owners, and of all the rest of the capitalist blessings. * From F. Engels, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Swan Sonnenschein and Co., London, 1892.



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, objec­ tively, 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 produc­ tion and of its upholder, the bourgeoisie. In Part IV 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 modem 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

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


spinning-wheel, the hand-loom, the blacksmith’s hammer were re­ placed 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 suc­ cessively 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 handi­ craft. Into this society of individual producers, of commodity pro­ ducers, 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 pro­ duced 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 ma­ chinery for the production and exchange of commodities; merchants’ capital, handicraft, wage labor. Socialized production thus introduc­ ing 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 medieval stage of evolution of the production of commodi­



ties, 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 be­ longed wholly to him, as a matter of course. His property in the prod­ uct was, therefore, based upon his own labor. Even where external help was used, this was, as a rule, of little importance, and very gen­ erally was compensated by something other than wages. The appren­ tices and journeymen of the guilds worked less for board and wages than for education, in order that they might become master craftsmen themselves. Then came the concentration of the means of production and of the producers in large workshops and manufactories, their transforma­ tion into actual socialized means of production and socialized pro­ ducers. 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 indi­ viduals. 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 be­ come in essence socialized. But they were subjected to a form of appropriation which presupposes the private production of indi­ viduals, under which, therefore, everyone 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.* * 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, scat­ tered 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 pre-conditions had been furnished.

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


This contradiction, which gives to the new mode of production its capitalistic character, contains the germ of the whole of the social antagonisms of today. 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 produc­ tion to an insignificant residuum, the more clearly was brought out the incompatibility of socialized production with capitalistic appropria­ tion. The first capitalists found, as we have said, alongside of other forms of labor, wage labor read-made for them in the market. But it was exceptional, complimentary, necessary, 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 today became the master of tomorrow. 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; afore­ time 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 enor­ mously increased by the breaking up of the feudal system that oc­ curred 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 ap­ propriation manifested itself as the antagonism of proletariat and bourgeoisie. 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 peculi­ arity: that the producers have lost control over their own social inter­ relations. Each man produces for himself with such means of produc­ tion as he may happen to have, and for such exchange as he may re­



quire 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 pro­ duction, has its peculiar inherent laws inseparable from it; and these laws work, despite anarchy, in and through anarchy. They reveal them­ selves in the only persistent form of social inter-relations, i.e., in ex­ change, and here they affect the individual producers as compulsory laws of compétition. 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, inde­ pendently of the producers, and in antagonism to them, as inexorable natural laws of their particular form of production. The product gov­ erns the producers. In medieval 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 com­ modities. 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 exclusive­ ness without, local unity within; the mark in the country, in the town, the guild.

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


But with the extension of the production of commodities, and es­ pecially 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 in­ troduced 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 be­ tween 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, modem 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 con­ ditions 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 pro­ duction. 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 superflu­ ous. If the introduction and increase of machinery means the displace­ ment 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,* 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 capi­ tal. 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 sub­ sistence 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 dis­ posal of the capitalist for the purpose of expanding the value of his capital.” (Capital, p. 406, New York, 1939.) Thus it comes about that overwork of some becomes the preliminary condition for the idleness of others, and that modem 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 * The Condition of the Working Class in England, Sonnenschein and Co., p. 84.

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


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, p. 661, New York, 1939.) 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 com­ pulsory 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 modem 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 col­ lisions 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. Com­ merce is at a standstill, the markets are glutted, products accumulate, as multitudinous as they are unsalable, 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, execu­



tion upon execution. The stagnation lasts for years; productive forces and products are wasted and destroyed wholesale, until the accumu­ lated 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 circu­ lation 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 produc­ tion 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” (F ourier), because it is the very thing that pre­ vents 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 transforma­ tion into capital, into the means of exploiting human labor power. The necessity of this transformation into capital of the means of pro­

The Theory of Dialectical and Historical Materialism


duction 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, there­ fore, 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 for­ ward 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 socialism 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 regu­ lating 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 com­ pany, conducted upon a single plan, and with a capital of