Marx-Engels Correspondence 1895

Engels to Schlüter


Source: Marx Engels On Britain, Progress Publishers 1953;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

London, January 1, 1895

Things here are much the same as in your country. The socialist instinct is getting stronger and stronger among the masses, but as soon as it is a question of translating the instinctive impulses into clear demands and ideas people at once begin to disagree. Some go to the Social-Democratic Federation, others to the Independent Labour Party, still others go no further than the trade-union organisation, etc., etc. In brief, nothing but sects and no party. The leaders are almost all pretty unreliable fellows, the candidates for the top leadership are very numerous but by no means conspicuously fitted for the posts, while the two big bourgeois parties stand there, purse in hand, on the look-out for someone they can buy. Besides, so-called “democracy” here is very much restricted by indirect barriers. A periodical costs a terrible amount of money, a parliamentary candidature ditto, living the life of an M.P. — ditto, if only on account of the enormous correspondence entailed. A checking up of the miserably kept electoral register likewise costs a lot and so far only the two official parties can afford the expense. Anyone, therefore, who does not sign up with either of these parties has little chance of getting on the election list of candidates. In all these respects people here are a long way behind the Continent, and are beginning to notice this. Furthermore, we have no second ballots here and a relative majority or, as you Americans say, plurality, suffices. At the same time everything is arranged for only two parties. A third party can at most turn the scales in favour of one of the other two until it equals them in strength.

Nor are the Trade Unions in this country capable of accomplishing anything like the beer boycott in Berlin. An arbitration court like the one they succeeded in getting there is something still unattainable here.

Yet here, as in your country, once the workers know what they want, the state, the land, industry and everything else will be theirs.