Marx-Engels Correspondence 1891

Engels to Kautsky
In Stuttgart

29 June 1891

Source: MECW, Volume 49, pp. 209-212;
Transcribed: by Tony Brown.

Dear Kautsky,

I have come down here to take refuge with Pumps for a few days, having been inundated with an intolerable amount of work. No sooner had I become happily engrossed in group marriage than I was landed with the party programme, which had to be attended to[note]. I mean at first to try rewriting the preamble in rather more succinct form but want of time prevented my doing so, besides which I thought it more important to point out the shortcomings, some avoidable, others not, of the political part, as this would provide me with an opportunity to lash out at the conciliatory opportunism of the Vorwärts and the clean-devout-joyous-free ‘ingrowing’ of the old canker ‘into socialist society’. I have since heard of your proposal that there should be a new preamble; so much the better.

The party is going to print Lassalle’s letters to Marx and myself, annotated by me 260 (thus precluding all censorship by the party). I can attend to this in the autumn, alongside Volume III. (This between ourselves.)

I have taken refuge here in order to finish off part of my correspondence; on Thursday I go home, when work on group marriage will be resumed. I was getting along so nicely – confound these interruptions!

Poverty of Philosophy – the position is that Dietz is to buy himself out for 450 marks, whereupon negotiations will be restricted to the four of us, so all is well and we shall be able to sort things out all right. But there can be no question of you two refusing to take any remuneration for the 2nd edition.

Dietz’s plan for a volume of Marx’s minor works won’t do. Long ago Liebknecht cherished a pet project of this sort; it was to be put into effect by his latest protégé, Paul Ernst, who was also to publish other things of Marx’s and, in fact, to be sent to me for a few months so that I could help him in this. The idea was for the thing to be published by the Berlin bookseller under the party’s imprint – i.e. an edition of Marx alongside an edition of Lassalle. I turned this down categorically, which means that I can do no less where Dietz is concerned. I have Permitted the party to publish a few minor things of Marx’s in pamphlet form and as individual items, without notes or preface. Nor can I go any further than that. I cannot allow them to steal a march on me by bringing out in this piecemeal fashion the complete edition to whose ultimate publication I am committed.

Nor, for that matter, can I now contemplate a new edition of the Condition, etc., not, at any rate, until Volume III is completed. I am perfectly prepared to negotiate this with Dietz in due course, but the chaps have simply got to realise that I can take on absolutely nothing more until Volume III has gone to press. While it is in printing, arrangements can be made for something else. But until then I shall resist all incitements and pet projects, whether they emanate from Dietz or anyone else. After all, the chaps ought to have sense enough to exempt me till then from this sort of thing since it could only involve me in useless, time-consuming correspondence. As soon as I have finished revising the Origin I shall set to work on Volume III and then, come rain or shine, I’ll carry on regardless.

Vollmar’s speech with its quite unnecessary concessions to the present Establishment and its still more unnecessary, and, what’s more, unauthorised assurances that Social-Democrats would play their part if the Fatherland were attacked – i.e. would help defend the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine -has caused unmitigated glee amongst our opponents over here and in France. If it is allowed to pass, our chaps will have to pay very dearly for it in Brussels. The Possibilists and the Hyndmen are quarrying it for notes, after their usual fashion, nor can we over here do anything about it in the absence of an authentic statement denying Vollmar the right to speak in the name of the party. Now, as Hyndman’s man of straw, Bax has recently written on the subject in Justice; I haven’t seen it yet.

The meeting of women in labour in Hyde Park has caused considerable merriment here and in London – the English version even more than the German because of the play on words in demanding a reduction of the hours of labour which, more specifically, can mean travail: a woman in labour.

Ravé’s address is Faubourg Rochereuil, Poitiers, France.

Pumps now lives down here; Percy has taken on an agency for his brothers. Their little house, The Firs, is in Brading Road, exactly one English mile outside the town. It’s small but pretty and has a garden with vegetables and fruit. Old Harney spent four weeks at Ventnor where he had a recurrence of gout and rheumatism. We fetched him over here on Saturday; he will probably travel back with me on Thursday and return to his headquarters in Richmond. He is terribly lame and out of sorts.

Schorlemmer will probably soon be with us. As you know, he’s a very uncommunicative correspondent. While over here, Sam Moore has suffered from African malarial fever but is now better again. In August or September he will be returning to the Niger. In his heart of hearts, I believe, he yearns after the beautiful climatedespite the bouts of fever which recur with menstrual regularity.

How could you possibly imagine I cared a rap about whether or not I’m given pride of place in the Neue Zeit? Simply suit yourself.

Many regards from everyone here.

Yours truly,

As can be seen from the letters of August Bebel and Richard Fischer of 18 June 1891, the following items relating to the drafting of a new programme of German Social-Democracy to be adopted by the party congress in Erfurt had been sent to Engels for consideration: the draft programme compiled by Wilhelm Liebknecht; a copy of it with amendments in Bebel’s hand, Liebknecht’s second draft, taking into account Bebel’s amendments; and the draft proper as endorsed by the party Executive. At the Executive’s decision, copies of the draft were sent to Engels and other working-class and socialist leaders and also to the Social-Democratic Reichstag deputies.

Engels gave a detailed analysis of the document in ‘A Critique of the Draft Social-Democratic Programme of 1891’ (see MECW Vol. 27, pp. 217-34). For a long time the copy of the draft sent to Engels had been considered lost. It was first published in the journal Beitrage zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung (Berlin), 1968, Sonderheft, pp. 173-74. In the present edition it will be found in Volume 27, Note 184. The extent to which Engels’ criticisms on the version of the draft programme sent him were taken into account can be seen from the draft programme published by the party Executive in Vorwärts on 4 July 1891, soon after the receipt of Engels’ comments (see present edition, Vol. 27, Note 184), and from Bebel’s letter of 12 July 189 1. Another draft programme, written by Karl Kautsky, was put forward by the editorial board of Neue Zeit. These documents show that account had been taken of Engels’ criticism pertaining to the general theoretical propositions and to the section stating the economic demands. No changes of substance were made in the political demands section. The draft contained no mention of the conquest of political power by the proletariat, of the democratic republic, of remodelling Germany’s political system or of the need to combat the survivals of feudalism and absolutism.