R. C. K. (Robert Charles Kirkwood) Ensor.

Modern socialism, as set forth by socialists in their speeches, writings, and programmes; online

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Online LibraryR. C. K. (Robert Charles Kirkwood) EnsorModern socialism, as set forth by socialists in their speeches, writings, and programmes; → online text (page 4 of 35)
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and to make plain ths necessity of the cla8B«wa7 in CApitAliitlc



society — to make plain how, by the necessity of Nature, as
long as bourgeois society exists, the system of exploitation and
oppression must exist too. As the cause of the division of
society into two hostile camps we had to assign the fact that
the means of production — i.e. land, raw materials, tools,
machines, mines, and means of transport — have passed from
the possession of the community, of collective society, into
the private possession of individuals. If we imagine a state
of things in which the necessary means of production are in
every individual's possession, so that every one can work
independently of others, then there is no production of
commodities ; every one really produces for himself ; there is
no dependence of one upon another, no exploitation and
enslavement. Whither and how far such a state of things
has existed, we leave commentators to say. It is only possible
and conceivable in a form of society such that the means of
production — notably the chiefest of them. Mother Earth — are
in the possession of the real producers, the workers. As soon
as ever private property in the means of production is started,
there begins exploitation and the splitting of society into two
classes whose interests make them each other's enemies.
This process does not accomplish itself suddenly, but it in-
cessantly goes on, and it may be traced back through the
Middle Ages into the most hoary antiquity. In the bourgeois
society, with which we have to concern ourselves and the
programme is concerned, it accomplishes itself with increasing
rapidity and momentum, according to the degree in which the
means of work are concentrated and become the monopoly or
property of a small minority, and according to the increased
productivity of the means of production, which constantly
grow more perfect. Simple tools become machines ; machines
themselves keep on being improved; aggregates of capital,
and with them the intensity of production, grow continuously.
Out of the small industry develops the great industry ; out
of that, as known to us at the beginning of wholesale capitalistic
production, develops the modern giant industry. Even this


no longer suffices ; the giant concerns coalesce into trusts,
cartels, federations, etc. And with this concentration of
capital, of the means of production, there increases similarly,
on the one hand, the intensity of production, which grows
unlimitedly, and on the other the intensity of exploitation,
the sucking-up of the intermediate classes, the precariousness
of the proletariate's existence, the degree of misery, of oppres-
sion, of enslavement.

This historical process of the development of society and
t'le laws, according to which it accomplishes itself, had to be
set out in the programme. It had to be shown how the
conditions of to-day originate in this separation of the workers
from the means of production ; how with the growing con-
centration of the means of production exploitation has grown
and must grow ; how the root of the evil lies precisely in the
fact that the means of production become private property;
how from this fact exploitation naturally and necessarily results.
For whoever has the strength to work but lacks the means
which would enable him to exert it, to turn it to account, to
bring it into the "economic play of forces" — such a man
cannot live ; he is inseparable from his power of work, and if
he is not to starve he must give himself into the service of
another who is a private owner of means of production. Hence
arises and is developed economic dependence, economic
exploitation, and from it political dependence and enslavement
in every form — a process which, as stated, goes on with
increasing rapidity. The division of society grows ever deeper
and more complete ; what is between the capitalist and
proletarian extremes, the so-called intermediate strata of the
population, which still, on a small scale, own the means of
production but must work themselves even if they also employ
others — these intermediate ** strata " (to avoid the vague word
*' ranks ") disappear more and more, and the whole process
of development of contemporary society proceeds naturally
and necessarily, whither the essential being of that society
drives it, to the concentration of the means of production in


a few hands, and the expropriation, the spoliation, of those
who have not the means of production by the monopoUsts
who have. Thus the whole history of bourgeois society is a
history of expropriation — expropriation made a permanent system.
The possessor of the means of production expropriates the
man who has none and must work for him for a wage ; he
pays in the wage only a part of the work performed ; the
surplus-value, the unpaid performance, becomes in his hand
(the hand of the possessor of the means of work) capital, and
enables him to draw tighter and firmer the worker's chains,
to complete his enslavement and exploitation. Thus the
worker, as he works and creates wealth, forges the fetters of
his own bondage. Nothing in the process can be altered by
pious wishes. All criticisms of capitalism, which do not go
to the core, are fruitless ; all attempts to remove the " excres-
cences " of capitalism, while maintaining its bases, are Utopian.
These " excrescences " are the logical results, the inevitable
consequence of the capitalistic system ; whoever wants to
remove them must remove it, their cause. By this demand
the Social Democracy distinguishes itself from all other parties
and stamps itself a revolutio?tary party, while all other parties,
without exception, take their stand upon private ownership of
the means of production. This point, because of its out-
standing importance, we have formulated in the programme
now submitted to you more fully and precisely than was done
in the first draft. In the latter it was stated that all other
parties took their stand in common upon capitalism, and,
therefore, were collectively hostile to the working classes.
Against this it could be urged that in Germany we have
movements which, though politically unimportant do aim, like
us, at clipping the wings of capitalism so far as it manifests
itself on the large scale — I mean movements like those in
favour of guilds and corporations, or the Anti-Semitic. These
we cannot easily designate as capitalistic, but they do, as our
draft puts it, take their stand on private ownership of the
means of production, and they do so in common with all


other parties. And against all parties standing there in
common we Social Democrats close our ranks. There are
no compacts, no compromises; between us and the army of
our allied opponents is a great gulf, a gulf growing wider and
deeper every day, across which the economic leap may be
made from their side to ours, because theirs is the higher;
and every day and hour the pressure and logic of the economic
development throws across into the proletariate from the
ranks of our adversaries regiments who previously fought
there, and thousands, yes, hundreds of thousands, are hurled
into the abyss of misery. But this bottomless gulf is not filled
up by their bodies ; it exists, it is the boundary separating us
from all other parties, and every one who wants to cross it,
who resigns himself to petty-bourgeois Utopianisms, who does
not at every moment keep clearly before his eyes, that only
the removal of the causes, only the abolition of private property
in the means of production, only the aboUtion of the entire
present method of producing commodities, can bring misery,
exploitation, and enslavement to an end, who mistakenly
believes that gradually, by way of compromise, by petty
bourgeois salves and palliatives the evils of contemporary
society may be so mitigated as to be at least for some time
bearable — every one who subscribes to such views deserts the
revolutionary ground of the party. We have to consider that
when we ask, " Are you one of us or not ?" The finest phrase
about improving the lot of the workers profits nothing, we get
no help thence.

It is of the esse?ice of the present society and production,
that exploitation grows ever more intense. Can we, by the
legislation of the State, be it never so powerful, be screwed
back into medioevalism ? Can the great industry be sacrificed
to the small industry, as the guild party desire ? No ; it is
simply impossible. In the very simple question of the law
for protecting workers the class-State of to-day, which must
serve capitalism, has never had the power to free itself from
the dominating class — that same State which dreamers have


called a " social " kingdom or empire ! Society does not
let itself be forced back into earlier forms of production
inferior for business purposes ; and the new forms lead
naturally and necessarily to ever greater concentration of the
means of production, ever greater exploitation and enslave-
ment, ever more general proletarization of the members of
society. Therefore the Social Democracy demands that this
be attacked at the base, at the root, that the causes of these
conditions be removed. Its demand is not a capricious, but
fully conscious demand ; it has risen to that view of the world
which conceives society as an organism whose growth and
development are natural and necessary. It sees that con-
temporary society has created conditions which must destroy
it; it sees — what is expressed in all our draft programmes —
that the society of to-day is driven onwards with brazen logic
to a catastrophe, to its own " world-ruin," which is not to be
averted. Socialism is not an arbitrary invention. The so-called
"State of the Future," with which we are derided and whose
bases we can of course only indicate in general outlines, is the
necessary, inevitable consequence of the capitalistic State of
the Present, as Socialistic production is the necessary result
and consequence of to-day's capitalistic production. Thus
capitalism, while ever expanding further and piling up gigan-
tically the means of its power, is at the same time creating the
enemy and the powers to which it must succumb — creating, as
the Commtmist Manifesto says, its own grave-digger — digging
its own grave. Capitalism makes the proletariate, which il
produces, its own heir, prepares its heritage, forges its weapons,
enables it to realize what we are striving after, creates for
it the material conditions for the realization of our ideal, —
in short, the Capitalistic State of the Present begets against its tvill
the State of the Future. In a condition of bourgeois industry
on the small scale, of dwarf economics, a philanthropic
Utopianism, self-styled Socialism, was possible ; but revolu-
tionary scientific Socialism, which has grasped the laws of the
development, and regards itself as that development's last


consequence, was simply inconceivable. Socialism is the
result of modern capitalism ; the Socialist State is the successor
and heir of the Capitalist State.

Therefore in our draft-programme we have nowhere in-
troduced a misty, airy end to be aimed at. We have stated
what is and what is coming. We have said : Society is thus ;
its laws are these ; we can no more alter them than the State
of to-day can ; they lead necessarily to the Socialistic society,
and since Socialism is a social necessity, we strive after
it, and call on the workers to range themselves under the
banner of the Social Democracy, and to " step into the ring "
— as of old the revolutionary peasants said — into the ring of
the Social Democratic programme.

We have declared that the movement accomplishes itself
on the basis of the class-war. This word, which was first im-
ported into German from English by Marx, forms the best
refutation of the supposition that the Marxian doctrine,
scientific SociaUsm, excludes personal interference with the
process of economic development, and favours a certain
fatalism, an inactive expectancy. That supposition is false ;
the exact opposite is true. It was precisely Marx who
exhibited the whole development of bourgeois society as the
result of a series of class-wars, which fulfil themselves in ever
higher forms, with an ever deeper and further content, corre-
sponding to the uninterrupted onward development of economic
conditions. And the class-war is a war of living men, a real,
personally fought, genuine war ; and no one has expressed this
nature of the war more precisely than Marx.

If we say we wish to abolish the class-State of to-day, we
must also declare, to break the point off our opponents' objec-
tions, that the Social Democracy, while it fights the class-State,
will by abolishing the present form of production abolish the
class-war itself When the means of production have passed
into the community's possession, then the proletariate is no
longer a class, any more than the bourgeoisie ; the classes
cease; there only remains society, the society of equals —


genuine human society, humane humanity. Hence it has been,
and had to be, declared most distinctly that we do not seek to re-
place one class-domination by another. Only malice and thought-
lessness can currently foist such a thought upon us, for in
order to rule, in order to be able to exercise a domination, I
must personally possess means of production — my owning
means of production is the indispensable condition of domina-
tion — and personal, private ownership of the means of pro-
duction is just what Socialism abolishes. Domination and
exploitation in every form are to be abolished ; men are to
be free and equal — not masters and slaves, only comrades,
only brothers and sisters.

Next to this general thought, we had to emphasize the
international character of the party. Since the foundation of
the " International " in the middle of the sixties, the inter-
nationalism of the worker's movement has been recognized and
practically observed by the German workers on every occasion.
In the new programme we have expressed this thought very
definitely on two sides firstly, on the economic side — in that
the economic development of its own nature bears an inter-
national character ; and secondly, on the political side,
because the international character of the economic develop-
ment makes it impossible to solve social questions nationally
in one land, and hence the international co-operation of the
working-class is necessary. Further we had — and in view
of the misinterpretations and perverse conclusions to which
certain proceedings abroad have given rise, this was doubly
our duty — to declare with special emphasis and in words which
admit of no doubt, that we " feel and declare ourselves one
with the class-conscious workers of all other lands." The
international Social Democracy is for us not a phantom, not
merely a fine phrase ; it is an end, without whose attainment
the emancipation of the working-class cannot be accom-
plished. We are internationalists in deadly earnest. We are
fully aware of the consequences of our declaration and the
obligations which it lays upon us ; and if we do not state


this in so many words, as the old programme did, that is
merely because, after our present declaration that we " declare
ourselves one with " the Social Democracy of all other lands,
we held it superfluous, indeed weakening. What we here
solemnly resolve will, like everything else in this programme,
be realized in his life by every one of us, and translated into
his acts and affairs. In the international alliance of the
proletariate the German Social Democracy will always do its
duty, and shrink from nothing which duty bids.

I draw your attention, further, to the clause in the seventh
section : " The battle of the working-class against capitahstic
exploitation is necessarily a political battle. The working-
class cannot carry on their economic battles and develop
their economic organization without political rights." There
we express the political nature of our party, and separate
ourselves from those who preach the so-called " propaganda
by action ; " who in reality erect inaction into a programme,
and practise the propaganda of do-nothing with a flood of
revolutionary phrases. We must act, must influence politics,
must use every tool and handle at our disposal, apply every
lever to further our work. There is much to do, and the
more force we expend, the greater the sum-total of force
that we put into the work, the sooner will the work be done.
To expect that without our intervening in the political battle
the transformation of society, the social revolution, will be
achieved, is childish folly. Whoever thinks so has no idea of
the difficulty and magnitude of our war of emancipation. In
Halle I spc^ce of " how the society of to-day grows into the
SociaHstic society." I have often been taken to task for the
word. I meant to indicate by it merely the organic character
of the development of society, which is not a machine, but
a collective living being; but on every occasion, including
that one, I have clearly insisted that men are not the toy of
destiny, and may not stand inactive, expecting blessings to
descend on them ; that circumstances determine men, but that
they are also determined by men ; and that as the class-war


is a constant human wrestle, so the attainment of our end can
only be the fruit of a ceaseless war, in which all fight together,
and each throws his whole self, his existence, recklessly into
the balance, joyfully staking life and property.

*' It cannot effect the passing of the means of production
into the ownership of the community without acquiring political
power," says this section, further on; that is, we fight for
power in t/ie State, for " the latch of legislation," which is now
monopolized by our opponents in their class-interest. " To
shape this battle of the working-class into a conscious and
united effort, and to show it its naturally necessary end is the
object of the Social Democratic party." So it is not our
object to conjure up before the workers the phantasm of
the State of the Future, but to enlighten them upon the
process of development and the laws of the movement,
of the society of to-day ; to show them what is necessary
to make an end of exploitation and enslavement, to show
them how bourgeois society itself in its further development
more and more puts into our hands the means of abolish-
ing it. Here the double character of our party is clearly
expressed : the scientific character which refuses, after the
Bismarckian recipe of blood and iron, to conceive the his-
torical movement as an arbitrary one which you can lead as
you like to revolution or reaction, and which recognizes that
the movement has fixed, unalterable laws ; and the practical
character of our party, which manifests itself in that the workers
are shown the way to the end, are shown that they can only
attain their end by obtaining political power, only by our
hastening as much as possible the process of dissolution of
contemporary society, only by our organizing ourselves for
power more and more.


By F, Engels

This is Part iii. § 2 of Engels' Henn Eugen Duhrings Umw'dlzung
der Wissenschaft.

F. Engels (1820— 1895) ''^^s the son of a wealthy Bremen cotton-
spinner. In 1844 he met Karl Marx in Paris, and for the rest of his
life was Marx's alter ego. The two last volumes of Marx's Capital
were edited by him after Marx's death.

His book, Henn Eugen Duhrings Umwdlzung der Wissenschaft, was
published in 1878, towards the close of Marx's life. Few books are
cited oftener or with more authority in the discussions of the German

The materialist conception of history starts from the

principle that production, and next to production the

exchange of its products, is the basis of every
The **ma- . , , . . . . .■'

teriaiistcon- social system ; that m every society arising in

eeptionof history the allotment of products, and with it the

division of society into classes or ranks, depends

upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how when

produced it is exchanged. Accordingly the ultimate causes

of all social changes and political revolutions are not to be

looked for in the heads of men, in their growing insight into

eternal truth and justice, but in changes of the methods of

production and exchange ; they are to be looked for not in

the philosophy, but in the economy of the epoch in question.

The awakening perception that existing social arrangements

are unreasonable and unjust, that reason has become nonsense

and goodness a scourge, is only a symptom of the fact that in



the methods of production and forms of exchange alterations
have silently gone on, to which the social system fitted for
earlier economic conditions no longer corresponds. That
amounts to saying that the means for removing the evils
revealed must itself, more or less developed, be present in
the altered conditions of production. This means is not
something to be invented out of the head, but something
to be discovered by means of the head in the material facts of
production lying before us.

How does modern Socialism accord with this conception ?

The present social system has been, as is now pretty
generally conceded, created by the now dominant class, the
bourgeoisie. The method of production proper to the bour-
geoisie, designated, since Marx, as the capitalistic method
of production, was incompatible with the local and fixed privi-
leges and the reciprocal personal ties of the feudal system ;
the bourgeoisie shattered the feudal system and erected on
its ruins the bourgeois conception of society, the empire of
free competition, of free locomotion, of equal rights for the
possessors of commodities, and of all the other bourgeois fine
things. The capitalistic method of production
could now unfold itself freely. The productive the "great
forces elaborated under the direction of the hour- '"dustpy "
geoisie developed, after steam and the new machinery had
transformed the old manufacture into the great industry, with
hitherto unheard-of rapidity on a hitherto unheard-of scale.
But as in its time manufacture and the handicraft developed
under its influence came into conflict with the feudal fetters of
the guilds, so the great industry in its fuller development
comes into conflict with the limitations in which the
capitalistic method of production has confined it. under con-
The new productive forces have already quite d'tions de-
outgrown the bourgeois form of their utilization ; pft'ty m°'^
and this conflict between productive forces and dustpy.
methods of production is not a conflict which has originated
in the heads of men, like the conflict between human original


sin and divine righteousness, but it exists in facts, is objective,
outside of us, independent of the will or the course even of
those human beings who have brought it about Modern
SociaUsm is nothing more than the mirroring in thought of
this conflict in fact, its ideal reflection in the heads of the
class, primarily, which directly suffers by it, the working-

In what does this conflict consist ?

Before capitalistic production — that is, in the Middle Ages
— there everywhere existed petty industry, on the basis of the
workers owning privately their means of production : the
Iff! s f agriculture of the small free or subject peasants,
the present the handicraft of the towns. The means of work
system of — land, agricultural implements, workshop, manual
and ex- tools — were means of work for the individual,

change, Q^iiy calculated for individual use, so necessarily

upon a small, pigmy, restricted scale. But for that very
reason they belonged as a rule to the producer himself. To
concentrate these fragmentary, cramped means of production,
to expand them, to transform them into the powerfully
operative lever of the production of to-day, was just the
role in history of the capitalistic method of production and
its agent, the bourgeoisie. How it carried this out historically
after the fifteenth century in the three stages of simple
co-operation, manufacture, and the great industry, Marx
has depicted expressly in the fourth section of Capital.
But the bourgeoisie, as is there proved, could
obsoles- '^ot change those limited means of production

Online LibraryR. C. K. (Robert Charles Kirkwood) EnsorModern socialism, as set forth by socialists in their speeches, writings, and programmes; → online text (page 4 of 35)