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 6 of 35)
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were in no way Socialistic steps, neither directly nor indirectly, consciously
nor unconsciously. Otherwise the royal sea-trade, the royal porcelain manu-
facture, and the company-tailors in the army, would be Socialistic
arrangements. [Note of Engels. Reformist Socialists would probably
describe all such arrangements as Socialistic, although " indirectly and
unconsciously " so.]


the case of the great traffic concerns : the post, telegraphs, and

If the crises revealed the inability of the bourgeoisie to
control further the modern productive forces, the conversion
of the great producing and traffic concerns into joint-stock
companies and State property shows that the bourgeoisie can
be dispensed with for that purpose. Every social function of
capitalists is now discharged by salaried servants. The
capitalist has no social activity left, except to pocket incomes,
to cut off coupons, and to gamble on the Stock Exchange,
where the different capitalists relieve each other of their
capital. If the capitalistic method of production at first
crushed out the workers, so now it crushes out the capitalists,
and rejects them, just like the workers, into the surplus popula-
tion, though not immediately into the reserve-army of industry.

But neither the conversion into joint-stock companies, nor
that into State property, takes away the character of capital
from the productive forces. In the case of joint-stock com-
panies this is palpable. And the modern State, again, is only
the organization, which bourgeois society gives itself in order
Capitalist ^° uphold the universal outward conditions of the
ciass-cha- capitalistic method of production against the en-
ex^sUng ^ croacliments, not only of the workers, but of in-
modern dividual capitalists. The modern State, as indeed

^' its form shows, is an essentially capitalist machine,

a State of the capitalists, the ideal of capitalist aggregate. The
more productive forces it takes over into its ownership, the
more does it become a real capitalist aggregate, the more does
it exploit its citizens. The workers remain wage-workers, pro-
letarians. The relationship of capital is not removed ; rather
it culminates. But at the culmination comes transformation.
State-ownership of productive forces is not the solution of the
conflict ; but it contains in itself the formal means of the
solution, the handle to it.

This solution can only be found in the actual recognition of
the social nature of the modern productive forces, so that the


methods of production, appropriation, and exchange shall be
harmonized with the social character of the means of produc-
tion. ThiscanonlytakepIace,if society, openly and
without beating round the bush, seizes hold of the ®^°" '°"'
productive forces, which have outgrown every management
but its own. Thereby the social character of the means of
production and products, — which to-day turns against the pro-
ducers themselves, breaks down periodically the methods of
production and exchange, and only accomplishes itself in
violence and destruction, as a blindly working natural law, — will
be brought to its full effect by the producers acting with their
eyes open, and will transform itself from a cause of disturbance
and periodical collapse into the most powerful lever of
production itself.

The forces operative in society operate just like natural
forces — blindly, violently, destructively, so long as we do not
recognize them and reckon with them. But when once we
have recognized them and grasped their activity, their direc-
tion, and their workings, it only depends upon ourselves to
subject them more and more to our will and to attain our
objects by their means. And this holds particularly true of
the powerful productive forces of to-day. So long as we
obstinately refuse to understand their nature and their cha-
racter — and to thwart this understanding the whole capitalistic
method of production and its defenders strive, — so long
do these forces work themselves out in spite of us, against us,
so long do they dominate us, as we have in detail described.
But once they are apprehended in their nature, they can, in
the hands of the associated producers, be converted from
demonic masters into willing servants. It is the difference
between the destructive force of electricity in the lightning of
the storm, and the fettered electricity of the telegraph and the
arc-light ; the difference between a fiery conflagration, and fire
working in the service of man. With this treatment of the
modern productive forces in accordance with their ultimately
recognized nature, the social anarchy of production is replaced


by a socially designed regulation of production according to
the acquirements of the collectivity and of every individual ;
the capitalistic method of appropriation, in which the product
enslaves first the producer and afterwards the appropriator
too, is replaced by that method of appropriating the products
which is founded in the very nature of the modern means of
production : on the one hand, direct social appropriation as a
means for the maintenance and extension of production ; on
the other hand, direct individual appropriation as a means of
subsistence and enjoyment.

While the capitalistic method of production more and
more converts the great majority of the population into pro-
. letarians, it is creating the power which is com-

the prole- pelled, on pain of perishing, to achieve this
tariate. revolution. While it more and more forces the

great socialized means of production to be converted into
State property, it is itself pointing the path for this revolution's
achievement. The proletariate seizes the power of the State,
and converts the mea?is of production into State property at once.
But it thereby abolishes itself as a proletariate, abolishes all
class distinctions and class antagonisms, and abolishes the
State as State. Society, hitherto, stirred by class antagonisms,
needed the State, i.e. an organization of the exploiting class
in each period to maintain their external conditions of pro-
duction, and especially, therefore, to hold down by force the
exploited classes in the conditions of oppression afforded by
the existing methods of production (slavery, serfdom or
bondage, and wage-labour). The State was the official repre-
sentative of the whole of society, its embodiment in a visible
corporation ; but it was this only in so far as it was the State
of that class which itself for its period represented the whole
of society — in antiquity the State of the slave-holding burgesses,
in the Middle Ages that of the feudal nobility, in our time
that of the bourgeoisie. When at last it really becomes
representative of the whole of society, it renders itself super-
fluous. As soon as there is no longer a class in society to be


held in subjection, as soon as, along with the class-domination
and the struggle for individual existence based on the anarchy
of production hitherto, the resultant clashings and excesses
disappear — there is no longer anything to be repressed, which
might necessitate a special repressive force, a State. The first
act in which the State really appears as representative of the
whole of society — the appropriation of the means of production
in the name of society — is at the same time its last independent
act as a State. The interference of a State authority in social
relations grows superfluous in one sphere after another, and
then of its own accord becomes dormant. For government
of persons is substituted control of things and management
of the processes of production. The State is not " abolished,"
it dies out. In this context should be considered the phrase
"free popular State," both in its temporary rightness for
purposes of agitation, and in its ultimate scientific inadequacy ;
so, too, should the demand of the so-called Anarchists, that
the State should be abolished in twenty-four hours.

The appropriation of all the means of production by society
has, ever since the appearance in history of the capitalistic
method of production, hovered often more or less hazily as
the future ideal before the eyes of individuals and of whole
sects. But it could not become possible, could Material
not be historically necessary, until the material facts con-
conditions were present for it to be carried out. origin and
Neither it nor any other social advance becomes abolition of
realizable through the acquired perception that ° *^^®^'
the existence of classes is contrary to justice, equality, etc. ;
nor through mere willingness to abolish these classes, but
through certain new economic conditions. The splitting of
society into an exploiting and an exploited, a ruling and a
subject class, was the necessary result of the former slight
development of production. As long as the aggregate labour
of society gives a yield only slightly in excess of what was
needed for the bare existence of everybody, as long, therefore,
as labour claims all, or nearly all, the time of the great majority


of the members of society, so long does society necessarily
divide itself into classes. Beside this great majority, which
drudges exclusively at labour, is formed a class freed from
directly productive work, which looks after the common con-
cerns of society — management of labour. State affairs, justice,
science, the arts, etc. The law of the division of labour,
therefore, is what lies at the base of the division of classes.
But that does not prevent this division of classes from having
been established through violence and robbery, guile and
fraud, nor the ruling class from having, when once in the
saddle, secured their domination at the expense of the working
class, and transformed the management of society into an
exploitation of the masses.

But if on this view the division into classes has a certain
historical justification, it has it only for a given period of time,
for given social conditions. It was based on the insufficiency
of production ; it will be swept away by the full unfolding of
the modern productive forces. And, in fact, the abolition of
classes in society presupposes a degree of historical develop-
ment, at which the existence, not merely of this or that
particular ruling class, but of a ruling class at all, and there-
fore of the class-distinction itself, has become an obsolete
anachronism. It presupposes, therefore, a high degree of the
development of production, at which for a special class in
society to appropriate the means of production and products,
and with them political supremacy and the monopoly of
education and intellectual management, is not only superfluous,
but economically, politically, and intellectually a hindrance
to development. This point is now reached. While the
bourgeoisie itself is hardly unaware any longer of its political
and intellectual bankruptcy, its economic bankruptcy is re-
peated regularly every ten years. In every crisis society is
suffocated under the weight of its own productive forces and
products, which it cannot utilize ; and stands helpless before
the absurd contradiction, that the producers have nothing to
consume because there is a dearth of consumers. The


expansive power of the means of production is bursting the
bonds which the capitalistic method of production puts upon it.
Its emancipation from these bonds is the sole condition to be
fulfilled for an uninterrupted, ever rapidly advancing develop-
ment of productive forces, and with it a practically unlimited
increase of production itself. Nor is that all. Social appro-
priation of the means of production removes not only the
present artificial check on production, but also the positive
squandering and spoiling of productive forces and products,
which at present is the inevitable accompaniment of production
and: culminates in the crises. Moreover, it sets free for the
community a mass of the means of production and products,
by doing away with the imbecile expenditure upon luxuries
which the now ruling classes and their political representatives
practise. The possibility of securing for all members of
society, by means of social production, an existence, which
not only is in a material sense perfectly adequate and daily
growing wealthier, but also guarantees to them the perfectly
free training and exercise of their physical and mental faculties
— this possibility was never ours until now, but ours it now is.^
When society takes possession of the means of production,
there is no more production of commodities, and therefore no
more subjection of the producer to the product. The anarchy
inside social production is replaced by systematic conscious

' A few figures might give an approximate idea of the enormous ex-
pansive force of the modern means of production, even under the pressure
of capitalism. According to Giffen's latest calculation, the total wealth of
Great Britain and Ireland was, in round figures : —

1814 2,200 million ;/^.

1865 6,100 „ „

1875 8,500 „ „

As to the amount of waste of the means of production and products in crises
at the second congress of German manufacturers, at Berlin, February 21,
1878, the aggregate loss of the German iron industry alone in the recent
crisis was put at ^22, 7 50,000. [Engels' note. In a paper read to the
British Association on September 11, 1903, Sir R. Giffen estimated the
capital wealth of the United Kingdom at 15,000 million pounds.]



organization. The struggle for individual existence ceases.
In a certain sense this marks the final separation of man from
the animal kingdom, and his passage from animal conditions
of existence to really human ones. The circle of conditions of
life environing men, which hitherto dominated them, now
passes under their domination and control ; they now for the
first time become real, conscious masters of nature, because,
and in that, they are masters of their own association. The
laws of their own social action, which previously withstood
them as external overmastering laws of nature, are now applied,
and so mastered, by men, with full practical knowledge. The
peculiar association of men, which hitherto confronted them as
something doled out by nature and history, now becomes their
own free act. The objective external powers, which. controlled
history, come under the control of men themselves. Hence-
forth for the first time men will make their own history quite
consciously ; henceforth the social causes which they set in
motion will predominantly and in a steadily increasing measure
have the results which they wish them to have. Mankind leap
from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom.

To perform this act of world-emancipation is the mission
in history of the modern proletariate. To investigate its
historical conditions, and so its very nature, and to make the
class which is called upon to act — the oppressed class of to-day
— aware of the conditions and the nature of its own action, is
the object of the theoretic expression of the proletarian move-
ment — scientific Socialism.




By Karl Marx and F. Engels

The Manifesto was the first great deliverance of Marx and Engels.
It dates from Nov. 1847 — Jan. 1848. A German revolution on a scale
greater than the French of 1789 was then generally anticipated, and
the thought of the writers took a "catastrophic" tinge, which it
afterwards outgrew. The idea that Marx hoped less from labour
organization than from labour pauperism and despair, has chiefly been
derived from the Manifesto ; which was written when the latter were
everywhere, the former nowhere.

Nevertheless, with its strong sketch of the Class War, and
its appeal " Proletarians of all lands, unite ! " it is an epoch-marking
document. In a German preface of 1872, the authors justified their
reprinting it on this ground, while observing, '* This programme has
in some details become antiquated. One thing especially was proved
by the (Paris) Commune, viz. that ' the working class cannot simply
lay hold of the ready-made State machinery, and wield it for its own
purposes.' "

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

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


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

These measures will of course be different in different

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

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 improvement of the soil generally in accord-
ance with a common plan.

8. Equal liabihty of all to labour. Establishment of
industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing in-
dustries : 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 children's factory labour in its present form.
Combination of education with industrial production, etc., etc.

When in the course of development, class distinctions have


disappeared, 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 proletariate 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 development of each is the condition for the free develop-
ment of all.




The following two extracts are from Lassalle's classical Offenes
AnlLuort-Schreiben, addressed in March, 1863, to the Central Com-
mittee for summoning a general congress of German workers at
Leipzig. The portions of the letter not here given consist mainly
of an argument that co-operation of the Rochdale sort could not
solve the social problem, and a plea for co-operative (producing)
associations of workmen, to whom the State should loan capital
( Louis Blanc's plan). The Offenes Antwoit-Schteiben was the basis of
the Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein, the first central German
Socialist party (founded May 23, 1863).

Ferdinand Lassalle (1825-1864) received a university education at
Breslau and Berlin. In 1848 he wrote for Marx's paper, the Neue
Rheinische Zeitung. In 1849 he was tried and sentenced to six months'
imprisonment. Later, he resided at Berlin, publishing literary and
scientific work, including (in 1861) his System der enuoibenen Rechte.
In 1862 his Socialistic address, the Arbeiterprogramm, raised a storm ;
he was prosecuted, and sentenced to four months' imprisonment,
which was commuted. Thenceforward his activity as an agitator
was incessant till his sudden death, which occurred in a duel.

The brazen economic law ' which fixes wages under the con-
ditions of to-day, under the control of the supply of and
demand for labour, is this : that the average wage always
remains reduced to the necessary subsistence which national
custom demands for the continuance of life and propagation.

' As a brazen law, this is now quite discredited ; it was a valid inference
from premisses of Matthus and Ricardo, which have been upset. Never-
theless it may still throw a certain light on the case of unskilled labourers,
who form a large numerical percentage in all modern industrial com-



This is the point around which the actual daily wage gravitates
like a pendulum, without ever being able much to exceed it
or to fall far short of it. It cannot permanently ^j^g brazen
exceed this average, because, in consequence of law of
the easier and better condition of the workers, the "'*®®^*
ranks of the workers would increase, their propagation would
increase, and with the increase of the working population
would go a corresponding increase in the supply of hands,
which would quickly send the wage of labour down to and
below its former level. Wages can also never for long fall
below this necessary subsistence ; for there would result in
that case emigration, celibacy, and decrease of the birth-rate,
and finally a decrease, due to misery, in the number of
workers, which by diminishing the supply of working hands
would bring back the wage of labour to its former level.

The actual average wage of labour moves round that centre
of gravity, about which it must continually fluctuate, and to
which it must continually revert, sometimes exceeding it (in a
period of prosperity in all or single branches of trade), some-
times not reaching it (in a period of more or less general misery
and crises).

The limitation of the average wage to that which national
custom deems absolutely necessary for the continuance of life
and propagation — that is, I repeat, the brazen and cruel law,
which controls the wage of labour under the conditions of

This law is indisputable. To back it I might cite every
great and famous name in the science of political economy. I
might cite them from the Liberal school itself, for it is precisely
this school which has discovered and demonstrated the law.

This brazen and cruel law you must before all stamp deep,
deep in your souls, and take it as the starting-point for all
your thoughts.

Here I can give you and the whole working-class an unfail-
ing method whereby once for all you can avoid being duped
and led astray.


When any one speaks to you of improving the position of
the workers, ask him first — Does he acknowledge this law or
not ?

If he does not, then you must infer, that this man either
wants to dupe you, or is pitifully ignorant of political economy.
For, as I have already observed, there is not one economist of
note, even in the Liberal school, who contradicted the law.
Adam Smith and Say, Ricardo and Malthus, Bastiat and John
Stuart Mill, are unanimous in acknowledging it. Agreement
prevails among all men of science.

And if the person who is speaking about the condition of
the workers, acknowledges this law when you question him,
then ask him further — How he wants to abolish it ? And if
he cannot answer, quietly turn your back on him. He is an
empty babbler, who wants to dupe and dazzle with vain
phrases either you or himself.

Let us for a moment regard more closely the effect and
nature of this law. Otherwise worded, it is as follows : From
the yield of labour (production) there is deducted and divided
among the workers as much as they require to continue life

Online LibraryR. C. K. (Robert Charles Kirkwood) EnsorModern socialism, as set forth by socialists in their speeches, writings, and programmes; → online text (page 6 of 35)