Title: Marx and Anarchism
Author: Rudolf Rocker
Topic: marxism
Date: 1925
Source: Retrieved on April 26, 2009 from flag.blackened.net
Notes: Section numbering rearranged by The Anarchist Library









Some years ago, shortly after Frederick Engels died, Mr. Eduard Bernstein, one of the most prominent members of the Marxist community, astonished his colleagues with some noteworthy discoveries. Bernstein made public his misgivings about the accuracy of the materialist interpretation of history, and of the Marxist theory of surplus value and the concentration of capital. He went so far as to attack the dialectical method and concluded that talk of a critical socialism was impossible. A cautious man, Bernstein kept his discoveries to himself until after the death of the aged Engels; only then did he make them public, to the consequent horror of the Marxist priesthood. But not even this precaution could save him, for he was assailed from every direction. Kautsky wrote a book against his heresy, and at the Hanover congress poor Eduard was obliged to declare that he was a frail, mortal sinner and that he would submit to the decision of the scientific majority.

For all that, Bernstein had not come up with any new revelations. The reasoning he put up against the foundations of the marxist teaching had already been in existence when he was still a faithful apostle of the marxist church. The arguments in question had been looted from anarchist literature and the only thing worthy of note was that one of the best known social democrats was to employ them for the first time. No sensible person would deny that Bernstein’s criticism failed to make an unforgettable impression in the marxist camp: Bernstein had struck at the most important foundations of the metaphysical economics of Karl Marx, and it is not surprising that the most respectable representatives of orthodox marxism became agitated.

None of this would have been so serious, but for the fact that it was to come in the middle of an even more important crisis. For almost a century the marxists have not ceased to propound the view that Marx and Engels were the discoverers of so called scientific socialism; an artificial distinction was invented between so called utopian socialists and the scientific socialism of the marxists, a distinction that existed only in the imaginations of the latter. In the germanic countries socialist literature has been monopolised by marxist theory, which every social democrat regards as the pure and utterly original product of the scientific discoveries of Marx and Engels.

But this illusion, too, vanished: modern historical research has established beyond all question that scientific socialism only came from the old English and French socialists and that Marx and Engels were adept at picking the brains of others. After the revolutions of 1848 a terrible reaction set in in Europe: the Holy Alliance set about casting its nets in every country with the intention of suffocating socialist thought, which had produced such a very rich literature in France, Belgium, England, Germany, Spain and Italy. This literature was cast into oblivion almost entirely during this era of obscurantism. Many of the most important works were destroyed until they were reduced to a few examples that found a refuge in the tranquillity of certain large public libraries or the collections of some private individuals.

This literature was only rediscovered towards the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries and nowadays the fertile ideas to be found in the old writings of the schools which followed Fourier and SaintSimon, or the works of Considerant, Demasi, Mey and many others, are a source of wonder. It was our old friend W. Tcherkesoff who was the first to come up with a systematic pattern for all these facts: he showed that Marx and Engels are not the inventors of the theories which have so long been deemed a part of their intellectual bequest;[1] he even went so far as to prove that some of the most famous marxist works, such as, for instance, the Communist Manifesto, are in fact only free translations from the French by Marx and Engels. And Tcherkesoff scored a victory when his allegations with regard to the Communist Manifesto were conceded by Avanti, the central organ of the Italian social democrats,[2] after the author had had an opportunity to draw comparisons between the Communist manifesto and The Manifesto of Democracy by Victor Considerant, the appearance of which preceded the publication of Marx and Engels’ pamphlet by five years.

The Communist Manifesto is regarded as one of the earliest works of scientific socialism, and its contents were drawn from the writings of a “utopian”, for marxism categorised Fourier with the utopian socialists. This is one of the most cruel ironies imaginable and certainly is hardly a testimonial to the scientific worth of marxism. Victor Considerant was one of the finest socialist writers with whom Marx was acquainted: he referred to him even in the days before he became a socialist. In 1842 the Allgemeine Zeitung attacked the Rheinische Zeitung of which Marx was the editorinchief, charging it with being favourable to communism. Marx then replied in an editorial in which he stated as follows: “Works like those by Leroux, Considerant and above all the penetrating book by Proudhon cannot be criticised in any superficial sense; they require long and careful study before one begins to criticise them.”[3]

Marx’s intellectual development was heavily influenced by French socialism; but of all the socialist writers of France, the one with the most powerful influence on his thought was P. J. Proudhon. It is even obvious that Proudhon’s book What is Property? led Marx to embrace socialism. Its critical observations of the national economy and the various socialist tendencies opened up a whole new world to Marx and Marx’s mind was most impressed, above all, by the theory of surplus value as set out by the inspired French socialist. We can find the origins of the doctrine of surplus value, that grand “scientific discovery” of which our marxists are so proud, in the writings of Proudhon. It was thanks to him that Marx became acquainted with that theory to which he added modifications through his later study of the English socialists Bray and Thompson.

Marx even recognised the huge scientific significance of Proudhon publicly, and in a special book, which is today completely out of print, he calls Proudhon’s work What is Property? “The first scientific manifesto of the French proletariat”. This work was not reprinted by the marxists, nor was it translated into other languages, even though the official representatives of marxism have made every effort to distribute the writings of their mentor in every language. This book has been forgotten and this is the reason why: its reprinting would reveal to the world the colossal nonsense and irrelevance of all Marx wrote later about that eminent theoretician of anarchism.

Not only was Marx influenced by the economic ideas of Proudhon, but he also felt the influence of the great French socialist’s anarchist theories, and in one of his works from the period he attacks the state the same way Proudhon did.


All who have seriously studied Marx’s evolution as a socialist will have to concede that Proudhon’ s work What is Property? was what converted him to socialism. To those who do not have an exact knowledge of the details of that evolution and those who have not had the opportunity to read the early socialist works of Marx and Engels, this claim will seem out of place and unlikely. Because in his later writings Marx speaks of Proudhon scathingly and with ridicule and these are the very writings which the social democracy has chosen to publish and republish time after time.

In this way the belief was gradually formed that Marx had been a theoretical opponent of Proudhon from the very outset and that there had never been any common ground between them. And, to tell the truth, it is impossible to believe otherwise whenever one looks at what the former wrote about Proudhon in his famous work The Poverty of Philosophy in the Communist Manifesto, or in the obituary published in the Sozialdemokrat in Berlin, shortly after Proudhon’s death.

In The Poverty of Philosophy Marx attacks Proudhon in the basest way, shrinking from nothing to show that Proudhon’s ideas are worthless and that he counts neither as socialist nor as a critic of political economy.

“Monsieur Proudhon, he states, has the misfortune of being peculiarly misunderstood in Europe. In France, he has the right to be a bad economist, because he is reputed to be a good German philosopher. In Germany, he has the right to be a bad philosopher because he is reputed to be one of the ablest French economists. Being both German and economist at the same time, we desire to protest against this double error.”[4]

And Marx went even further: without adducing any proof, he charged Proudhon of having plagiarised the ideas of the English economist Bray. He wrote:

“In Bray’s book[5] we believe we have discovered the key to all the past, present and future works of Monsieur Proudhon.”

It is interesting to find Marx, who so often used the ideas of others and whose Communist Manifesto is in point of fact only a copy of Victor Considerant’s Manifesto of Democracy. charging others with plagiarism.

But let us press on. In the Communist Manifesto Marx depicts Proudhon as a conservative, bourgeois character[6]. And in the obituary he wrote for the Sozialdemokrat (1865) we can find the following:

“In a strictly scientific history of political economy, this book (namely What is Property?) would scarcely deserve a mention. For sensationalist works like this play exactly the same role in the sciences as they do in the world of the novel.”

And in this obituary Marx reiterates the claim that Proudhon is worthless as a socialist and economist, an opinion which he had already voiced in The Poverty of Philosophy.

It is not hard to understand that allegations like this, directed against Proudhon by Marx, could only spread the belief, or rather the conviction, that absolutely no common ground had ever existed between him and that great French writer. In Germany, Proudhon is almost unknown. German editions of his works, issued around 1840, are out of print. The only one of his books republished in German is What is Property? and even it had only a restricted circulation. This accounts for Marx being able to wipe out all traces of his early development as a socialist. We have already seen above how his attitude to Proudhon was quite different at the beginning, and the conclusions which follow will endorse our claims.

As editor in chief of the Rheinische Zeitung, one of the leading newspapers of German democracy, Marx came to make the acquaintance of France’s most important socialist writers, even though he himself had not yet espoused the socialist cause. We have already mentioned a quote from him in which he refers to Victor Considerant, Pierre Leroux and Proudhon and there can be no doubt that Considerant and Proudhon were the mentors who attracted him to socialism. Without any doubt, What is Property? was a major influence over Marx’s development as a socialist; thus, in the periodical mentioned, he calls the inspired Proudhon “the most consistent and wisest of socialist writers”[7]. In 1843, the Prussian censor silenced the Reinische Zeitung; Marx left the country and it was during this period that he moved towards socialism. This shift is quite noticeable in his letters to the famous writer Arnold Ruge and even more so in his work The Holy Family, of a Critique of Critical Criticism, which he published jointly with Frederick Engels. The book appeared in 1845 with the object of arguing against the tendency headed by the German thinker Bruno Bauer[8]. In addition to philosophical matters, the book also dealt with political economy and socialism, and it is especially these parts which concern us here.

Of all the works published by Marx and Engels The Holy Family is the only one that has not been translated into other languages and which the German socialists have not reprinted. True, Franz Mehring, Marx and Engels’ literary executor, did, on the prompting of the German socialist party, publish The Holy Family along with other writings from their early years as active socialists, but this was done sixty years after it was first issued, and, for another thing, their publication was intended for specialists, since they were too expensive for the working man. Apart from that, so little known in Germany is Proudhon, that only a very few have realised that there is a huge gulf between the first opinions which Marx expressed of him and that which he was to have later on.

And yet the book clearly demonstrates the development of Marx’s socialism and the powerful influence which Proudhon wielded over that development. In The Holy Family Marx conceded that Proudhon had all the merits that Marxists were later to credit their mentor with.

Let us see what he says in this connection on page 36:

“All treatises on political economy take private property for granted. This base premise is for them an incontestable fact to which they devote no further investigation, indeed a fact which is spoken about only “accidellement”, as Say naively admits[9]. But Proudhon makes a critical investigation the first resolute, ruthless, and at the same time scientific investigation of the basis of political economy, private property. This is the great scientific advance he made, an advance which revolutionises political economy and for the first time makes a real science of political economy possible. Proudhon’s What is Property? is as important for modern political economy as Sieyes’ work What Is The Third Estate? for modern politics.”

It is interesting to compare these words with what Marx had to say later about the great anarchist theorist. In The Holy Family he says that What is Property? is the first scientific analysis of private property and that it had opened up a possibility of making a real science out of national economy; but in his well known obituary for the Sozialdemokrat the same Marx alleges that in a strictly scientific history of economy that work would scarcely rate a mention.

What lies behind this sort of contradiction? That is something the representatives of so called scientific socialism have yet to make clear. In real terms there is only one answer: Marx wanted to conceal the source he had dipped into. All who have made a study of the question and do not feel overwhelmed by partisan loyalties must concede that this explanation is not fanciful.

But let us hearken again to what Marx has to say about the historical significance of Proudhon. On page 52 of the same work we can read:

“Not only does Proudhon write in the interest of the proletarians he is himself a proletarian, an ouvrier. His work is a scientific manifesto of the French proletariat.”

Here, as one can see, Marx states quite specifically that Proudhon is an exponent of proletarian socialism and that his work represents a scientific manifesto from the French proletariat. On the other hand, in the Communist Manifesto he assures us that Proudhon is the incarnation of conservative, bourgeois socialism. Could there be a sharper contrast? Whom are we to believe the Marx of The Holy Family or the author of the Communist Manifesto ? And how come the discrepancy? That is a question we ask ourselves again, and naturally the reply is the same as before: Marx wanted to conceal from everyone just what he owed to Proudhon and any means to that end was admissible. There can be no other possible explanation; the means Marx later used in his contest with Bakunin are evidence that he was not very scrupulous in his choice.

“The contradiction between the purpose and goodwill of the administration, on the one hand, and its means and possibilities. on the other hand, cannot be abolished by the state without the latter abolishing itself, for it is based on this contradiction. The state is based on the contradiction between public and private life, on the contradiction between general interests and private interests. Hence the administration has to confine itself to a formal and negative activity, for where civil life and its labour begin, there the power of the administration ends. Indeed, confronted by the consequences which arise from the unsocial nature of this civil life, this private ownership, this trade, this industry, this mutual plundering of the various circles of citizens, confronted by all these consequences, impotence is the law of nature of the administration. For this fragmentation, this baseness, this slavery of civil society is the natural foundation on which the modern state rests, just as the civil society of slavery was the natural foundation on which the ancient society state rested. The existence of the state and the existence of slavery are inseparable. The ancient state and ancient slavery these straightforward classic opposites were not more intimately riveted to each other than are the modern state and the modern commercial world, these hypocritical Christian opposites.”

This essentially anarchist interpretation of the nature of the state, which seems so odd in the context of Marx’s later teachings, is clear proof of the anarchistic roots of his early socialist evolution. The article in question reflects the concepts of Proudhon’s critique of the state, a critique first set down in his famous book What is Property? That immortal work had decisive influence on the evolution of the German communist, regardless of which fact he makes every effort and not by the noblest methods to deny the early days of its socialist activity. Of course, in this the marxists support their master and in this way the mistaken historical view of the early relations between Marx and Proudhon is gradually built up.

In Germany especially, since Proudhon is almost unknown there, the most complete misrepresentations in this regard are able to circulate. But the more one gets to know the important works of the old socialist writers, the more one realises just how much so called scientific socialism owes to the “utopians” who were, for so long, forgotten on account of the colossal “renown” of the marxist school and of other factors which relegated to oblivion the socialist literature from the earliest period. One of Marx’s most important teachers and the one who laid the foundations for his subsequent development was none other than Proudhon, the anarchist so libelled and misunderstood by the legalistic socialists.


Marx’s political writings from this period for instance, the article he published in Vorwaerts of Paris show how he had been influenced by Proudhon’s thinking and even by his anarchist ideas.

Vorwaerts was a periodical which appeared in the French capital during the year 1844 under the direction of Heinrich Bernstein. Initially it was merely liberal in outlook. But later on, after the disappearance of the Anales GermanoFrancaises, Bernstein contacted the old contributors to the latter who won him over to the socialist cause. From then on Vorwaerts became the official mouthpiece of socialism and the numerous contributors to A. Ruge’s late publication among them Bakunin, Marx, Engels, Heinrich Heine, Georg Herwegh, etc. sent in their contributions to it.

In issue number 63 (7 August 1844) Marx published a polemical work “Critical Notes on the Article ‘The King of Prussia and Social Reform’.” In it, he made a study of the nature of the state and demonstrated its utter inability to reduce social misery and wipe out poverty. The ideas which the writer sets out in the course of his article are wholly anarchist ones in perfect accord with the thinking that Proudhon, Bakunin and other theorists of anarchism have set out in this connection. The readers can judge for themselves from the following extract from Marx’s study:

“The state .... will never see in ‘the state and the system of society’ the source of social maladies. Where political parties exist, each party sees the root of every evil in the fact that instead of itself an opposing party stands at the helm of the state. Even radical and revolutionary politicians seek the root of the evil not in the essential nature of the state but in a definite state form, which they wish to replace with a different state form.

“From the political point of view, the state and the system of society are not two different things. The state is the system of society. Insofar as the state admits the existence o f social defects, it sees their cause either in the laws of nature, which no human power can command, or in private life which does not depend on the state, or in the inexpedient activity of the administration, which does not depend on it. Thus England sees the cause of poverty in the law of nature by which the population must always be in excess of the means of subsistence. On the other hand, England explains pauperism as due to the bad will of the poor, just as the King of Prussia explains it by the unchristian feelings of the rich, and just as the convention explained it by the suspect counterrevolutionary mentality of the property owners. Therefore England punishes the poor, the King of Prussian admonishes the rich, and the convention cuts off the heads of the property owners.

“Finally, every state seeks the cause in accidental or deliberate shortcomings of the administration, and therefore it seeks the remedy of its ills in measures of the administration. Why? Precisely because administration is the organising activity of the state.

On 20 July 1870, Karl Marx wrote to Frederick Engels: “The French need a thrashing. If the Prussians are victorious the centralisation of state power will be helpful for the centralisation of the German working class; furthermore, German predominance will shift the centre of gravity of West European labour movements from France to Germany. And one has but to compare the movement from 1866 to today to see that the German working class is in theory and organisation superior to the French. Its domination over the French on the world stage would mean likewise the dominance of our theory over that of Proudhon, etc.”

Marx was right: Germany’s victory over France meant a new course for the history of the European labour movement. The revolutionary and liberal socialism of the Latin countries was cast aside leaving the stage to the statist, antianarchist theories of marxism. The development of that lively, creative socialism was disrupted by a new iron dogmatism which claimed full knowledge of social reality, when it was scarcely more than a hotchpotch of theological phraseology and fatalistic sophisms and turned out to be the tomb of all genuinely socialist thought.

Along with the ideas, the methods of the socialist movement changed too. Instead of revolutionary groups for propaganda and for the organisation of economic struggles, in which the internationalists saw the embryo of the future society and organs suited to the socialisation of the means of production and exchange, came the era of the socialist parties and parliamentary representation of the proletariat. Little by little the old socialist education which was leading the workers to the conquest of the land and the workshops was forgotten, replaced with a new party discipline which looked on the conquest of political power as its highest ideal.

Marx’s great opponent, Michael Bakunin, clearly saw the shift in the position and with a heavy heart predicted that a new chapter in the history of Europe was beginning with the German victory and the fall of the Commune. Physically exhausted and staring death in the face he penned these important lines to Ogarev on 11 November 1874:

“Bismarskism, which is militarism, police rule and a finance monopoly fused into one system under the name of the New State, is conquering everywhere. But in maybe ten or fifteen years the unstable evolution of the human species will once again shed light on the paths of victory. “ On this occasion, Bakunin was mistaken, failing to calculate that it would take a halfcentury until Bismarckism was toppled amid a terrible world cataclysm.

Just as German victory in 1871 and the fall of the Paris Commune were the signals for the disappearance of the old International, so the Great War of 1914 was the exposure of the bankruptcy of political socialism.

And then something odd and sometimes truly grotesque happened, which can only be explained in terms of complete ignorance of the old socialist movement.

Bolsheviks independents, communists and so on, endlessly charged the heirs of the old social democrats with a shameful adulteration of the principles of marxism. They accused them of having bogged the socialist movement down in the quagmire of bourgeois parliamentarism, having misinterpreted the attitudes of Marx and Engels to the State, etc., etc. Nikolai Lenin, the spiritual leader of the Bolsheviks, tried to give his charges a solid basis in his famous book The State and Revolution which is, according to his disciples, a genuine and pure interpretation of marxism. By means of a perfectly ordered selection of quotations Lenin claims to show that “the founders of scientific socialism” were at all times declared enemies of democracy and the parliamentary morass and that the target of all their efforts was the disappearance of the state.

One must remember that Lenin discovered this only recently when his party, against all expectations, found itself in the minority after the elections to the Constituent Assembly. Up to then the Bolsheviks, just like the other parties, had participated in elections and had been careful not to conflict with the principles of democracy. They took part in the last elections for the Constituent Assembly of 1917, with a grandiose programme, hoping to win an overwhelming majority. But when they found that, in spite of all that, they were left in a minority they declared war on democracy and dissolved the Constituent Assembly, with Lenin issuing The State and Revolution as a personal self-justification.


To be sure, Lenin’s task was no easy one: on the one hand, he was forced to make daring concessions to the antistatist tendencies of the anarchists, while on the other hand he had to show that his attitude was by no means anarchist, but purely marxist. As an inevitable consequence of this, his work is full of mistakes against all the logic of sound human thought. One example will show this to be so in his desire to emphasise, as far as possible, a supposed antistate tendency in Marx, Lenin quotes the famous passage from The Civil War in France where Marx gives his approval to the Commune for having begun to uproot the parasitic state. But Lenin did not bother to remember that Marx in so saying it was in open conflict with all he had said earlier was being forced to make concessions to Bakunin’s supporters against whom he was then engaged in a very bitter struggle.

Even Franz Mehring who cannot be suspected of sympathy with the majority socialists was forced to grant that this was a concession in his last book, Karl Marx, where he says: “However truthful all the details in this work may be, it is beyond question that the thinking it contains contradicts all the opinions Marx and Engels had been proclaiming since the Communist Manifesto a quarter century earlier.”

Bakunin was right when he said at the time: “The picture of a Commune in armed insurrection was so imposing that even the marxists, whose ideas the Paris revolution had utterly upset, had to bow before the actions of the Commune. They went further than that; in defiance of all logic and their known convictions they had to associate themselves with the Commune and identify with its principles and aspirations. It was a comic carnival game, but a necessary one. For such was the enthusiasm awakened by the Revolution that they would have been rejected and repudiated everywhere had they tried to retreat into the ivory tower of their dogma.”


Lenin forgot something else, something that is certainly of primary importance in the matter. It is this: that it was precisely Marx and Engels who tried to force the organisations of the old International to go in for parliamentary activity, thereby making themselves directly responsible for the wholesale bogging down of the socialist labour movement in bourgeois parliamentarism. The International was the first attempt to bring the organised workers of every country together into one big union, the ultimate goal of which would be the economic liberation of the workers. With the various sections differing in their thinking and tactics, it was imperative to lay down the conditions for their working together and recognise the full autonomy and independent authority of each of the various sections. While this was done the International grew powerfully and flourished in every country. But this all changed completely the moment Marx and Engels began to push the different national federations towards parliamentary activity; that happened for the first time at the lamentable London conference of 1871, where they won approval for a resolution that closed in the following terms:

“Considering, that against this collective power of the propertied classes the working class cannot act, as a class, except by constituting itself into a political party, distinct from, and opposed to, all old parties formed by the propertied classes; that this constitution of the working class into a political party is indispensable in order to assure the triumph of the Social Revolution and its ultimate end the abolition of classes; that the combination of forces which the working class has already effected by its economical struggles ought at the same time to serve as a lever for its struggles against the political power of landlords and capitalists the Conference recalls to the members of the International: that in the militant state of the working class, its economical movement and its political action are indissolubly united.”

That a single section or federation in the International should adopt such a resolution was quite possible, for it would only be incumbent on its members to act upon it; but that the Executive Council should impose it on member groups of the International, especially an issue that was not submitted to a General Congress, was an arbitrary act in open contravention of the spirit of the International and necessarily had to bring energetic protests from all the individualist and revolutionary elements.

The shameful congress at The Hague in 1872 crowned the labours undertaken by Marx and Engels by turning the International into an electoral machine, including a clause to the effect of obliging the various sections to fight for the seizure of political power. So Marx and Engels were guilty of splitting the International with all its noxious consequences for the labour movement and it was they who brought about the stagnation and degeneration of Socialism through political action.


When revolution broke out in Spain in 1873, the members of the International almost all of them anarchists ignored the petitions of the bourgeois parties and followed their own course towards the expropriation of the land, the means of production in a spirit of social revolution. General strikes and rebellions broke out in Alcoy, San Lucar de Barrameda, Seville, Cartagena and elsewhere, which had to be stifled with bloodshed. The port of Cartagena held out longer, remaining in the hands of revolutionaries until it finally fell under the fire of Prussian and English warships. At the time, Engels launched a harsh attack on the Spanish Bakuninists in the Volksstaat, taking them to task for their unwillingness to join forces with the Republicans. Had he lived long enough, how Engels would have criticised his communist disciples from Russia and Germany!

After the celebrated 1891 Congress when the leaders of the socalled “Youth” were expelled from the German social democratic party, for levelling the same charges as Lenin was to do, against “opportunists” and “kautskyists”, they founded a separate party with its own paper, Der Sozialist, in Berlin. Initially, the movement was extremely dogmatic and its thinking was almost identical to the thinking of the communist party of today. If, for instance, one reads Teistler’s book Parliamentarism and the Working Class, one comes across the same ideas as in Lenin’s The State and Revolution. Like the Russian bolsheviks and the members of the German communist party, the independent socialists of that time repudiated the principles of democracy, and refused to take any part in bourgeois parliaments on the basis of the reformist principles of marxism.

So what had Engels to say of these “Youth” who, like the communists, delighted in accusing the leaders of the Social Democrat Party of betraying marxism? In a letter to Sorge in October 1891, the aged Engels passed the following kindly comments: “The nauseating Berliners have become the accused instead of staying the accusers and having behaved like miserable cowards were forced to work outside the party if they want to do anything. Without doubt there are police sties and cryptoanarchists among their number who want to work among our people. Along with them, there are a number of dullards, deluded students and an assortment of insolent mountebanks. All in all, some two hundred people.” It would be really interesting to know what fond descriptions Engels would have honoured our “communists” of today with, they who claim to be “the guardians of marxist principles”.


It is impossible to characterise the methods of the old social democracy. On that issue Lenin has not one word to say and his German friends have even less. The majority socialists ought to remember this telling detail to show that they are the real representatives of marxism; anyone with a knowledge of history will agree with them. It was marxism that imposed parliamentary action on the working class and marked out the path followed by the German social democratic Party. Only when this is understood will one realise that the path of social liberation brings us to the happy land of anarchism despite the opposition of marxism.


[1] W. Tcherkesoff: Pages d’Histoire socialiste; les precurseurs de l’lnternationale.

[2] The article, entitled “Il Manifesto della Democrazia”, was first published in Avanti! (Year 6; number 1901, of 1902).

[3] Rheinische Zeitung, number 289, 16 October 1842.

[4] Marx: The Poverty of Philosophy, foreword.

[5] Bray: Labour’s Wronszs and Labour’s Remedy, Leeds, 1839.

[6] Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto, page 21.

[7] Rheinische Zeitung, 7 January 1843.

[8] B. Bauer was one of the most assiduous members of the Berlin circle “The Free”, where outstanding figures from the world of German freethought (of the first half of the nineteenth century) could be seen; figures like Feuerbach, author of The Essence of Christianity, a profoundly atheist work, or Max Stirner, author of The Ego and His Own. The authoritarian thought of Karl Marx was fated to clash with the free thinking of B. Bauer and his friends, among whom we must not forget E. Bauer, whose book Der Kritik mit Kirche und Staat [A Critique of Church and State] was completely confiscated by the authorities and burned (first edition, 1843). The second printing (Berne, 1844) had better luck. But not the author, who was sentenced and imprisoned for his antistate, antichurch ideas. (Editor’s Note.)

[9] J. B. Say, an English economist of the day whose complete works Max Stirner translated into German. Karl Marx’s phobia for French anarchist thought (as we know, his Poverty of Philosophy is a continuous criticism of Proudhon’s Philosophy of Poverty) or for German freethought (his massive book Documents of Socialism is a vain, laughable attempt to make little of and dismiss The Ego and His Own), also rose up against this sociologist, much discussed at the time by anyone critical of the state and trying to escape its tyranny. (Editor’s Note.)