Marx Engels Collected Works Volume 9
Volume 9 of the Collected Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels is the last in the group of three volumes which show the activities of the founders of scientific communism during the revolutionary years 1848 and 1849. It covers the period from March 6, 1849 to August 1849.
Like volumes 7 and 8, this volume consists in the main of articles written by Marx and Engels for the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, an organ of German and European democracy, and in particular of its revolutionary proletarian wing. It was during the last stage of the revolution, when the objective preconditions for uniting the proletariat and creating a proletarian mass party began to take shape, that the proletarian trend of the paper edited by Marx and Engels became especially pronounced. During this period the Neue Rheinische Zeitung played an increasingly important role as the legal centre which directed the activity of the Communist League members and inspired the revolutionary actions of the proletarian masses.
Marx’s and Engels’ strategy and tactics during the revolution were based on their materialist conception of the dialectic of social change and on the theoretical generalisation of the experience gained by the masses in the struggle. Their activities in that period, as in the earlier stages of the revolution, demonstrated the organic unity of revolutionary theory and practice. In the circumstances that arose in the spring of 1849, they brought a new element into their tactics: still seeking to rally all revolutionary forces against the advancing counter-revolution, they tried to promote an independent political line for the working class, and to differentiate it from the general democratic movement by creating a political proletarian mass organisation.
The distinctive features of the spring and summer of 1849 were the rearguard actions fought by the revolutionary forces and the increasing attacks made by the counter-revolutionaries on the people’s democratic achievements. The reactionary ruling circles in Austria, Prussia and Tsarist Russia were seeking to revive the Holy Alliance in order to crush the revolutionary movement with the help of the French monarchists and the British bourgeois and aristocratic oligarchy. At the same time the people everywhere continued to defend their political and social rights. Proletarian and democratic organisations became increasingly active in spite of police persecutions. A national liberation struggle was waged in Hungary and many parts of Italy. Peasants uprisings took place in Slovakia, Galicia and the Bukovina. A new clash between proletarian and petty-bourgeois democrats on the one hand and the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie on the other was imminent in France. All this led Marx and Engels to expect that a new revolutionary surge would soon take place in Europe, Germany included (see, for instance, this volume, p. 57).
They pinned their hopes on the French proletariat taking the revolutionary initiative, for they thought it would be able to repel any attack by international counter-revolution. They expected the working class to play a major part in the next stage of the bourgeois-democratic revolution and that this would make it possible to extend and consolidate democratic achievements vital to the proletariat, and to carry the revolutionary process further and transform it into a proletarian revolution. Writing about the workers of the Rhine Province Engels observed that “the present movement is only the prologue to another movement a thousand times more serious, in which the issue will concern their own, the workers’, most vital interests” (see this volume, p. 449). Thus the course of events in 1848 and 1849 helped them shape their ideas about the relations of the bourgeois-democratic and proletarian stages of the revolution. These ideas form part of the Marxist theory of “permanent revolution”, which Marx and Engels were to formulate more explicitly and fully later on the basis of analysing the lessons of these events.
Despite the increasingly counter-revolutionary climate in Germany, the militant spirit and revolutionary optimism of their articles in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung continued unabated. The paper constantly called upon the masses to remain vigilant and to fight on against the counter-revolution.
It was the altered balance of class forces in the spring of 1849, the treachery of the liberal bourgeoisie, which became more and more evident, and the vacillation of the petty-bourgeois democrats, which led Marx, Engels and their comrades in the Communist League to do everything they could to ensure the ideological and political independence of the proletariat, and its leading role in the revolutionary struggle. They took practical steps to create a working-class political party embracing the whole of Germany, whose core was to be the Communist League-a task which Marx and Engels had put forward already at the beginning of the revolution. They took into account the fact that the months of revolutionary struggle had brought about changes in the political consciousness of the most advanced section of the German workers, that the German workers were beginning to free themselves from the influence of petty-bourgeois ideas and that the labour movement was overcoming its limitations and disunity. Events were destroying the narrow framework of the craft guilds and turning them towards politics. The Workers’ Fraternity and other German workers’ organisations were becoming politically active. There was a tendency to unite the workers’ associations and to set up a single German workers’ organisation with social as well as political aims. Marx and Engels were eager to play their part in forming this German workers’ organisation. They did all they could to strengthen the Cologne Workers’ Association, to establish contacts between it and other workers’ associations and to call a Workers’ Congress of the whole of Germany (see this volume, pp. 502-03).
On April 14, 1849, Marx, Engels and their associates, supported by the most class-conscious section of the workers, resigned from the Rhenish District Committee of Democrats in order to set up a new and “closer union of the workers’ associations” consisting of like-minded people (see this volume, p. 282). Soon afterwards the Cologne Workers’ Association under their leadership decided to establish relations with the union of German workers’ associations and to withdraw from the Union of the Democratic Associations of the Rhine Province (see this volume, p. 494). However, according to Marx and Engels the ideological, political and organisational separation from the petty-bourgeois democrats did not mean that the working class should refuse to take part in concerted actions with members of the democratic movement. On the contrary, they constantly stressed that all progressive forces must unite more closely in the struggle against the counter-revolution. But they considered that in the given situation united action could not be achieved within the framework of a single organisation.
Marx’s work Wage Labour and Capital which is published in this volume, played an important part in preparing the German workers ideologically for setting up an independent political party. The work is based on lectures given by Marx at the German Workers’ Society in Brussels in December 1847. He had been prevented from publishing it at the time by the outbreak of the February revolution in France. It was printed in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in April 1849 as a series of leading articles. In these articles Marx emphasised in particular the class nature of the objectives set forth in the newspaper. In his short preface to the series Marx wrote: “Now, after our readers have seen the class struggle develop in colossal political forms in 1848, the time has come to deal more closely with the economic relations themselves on which the existence of the bourgeoisie and its class rule, as well as the slavery of the workers, are founded” (see this volume, p. 198).
Wage Labour and Capital shows how far economic theory had been worked out by Marx at the end of the 1840s.
In this work Marx examines the nature of the production relations in bourgeois society, which are based on the exploitation of wage labour. He points out that capital and wage labour are mutually interdependent, and on the other hand he emphasises the antagonistic nature of these relations and the radical opposition between the interests of capitalists and workers. He shows that capital comes into being only at a definite stage of social development, and that capitalist society is therefore a historical, transient phenomenon. Bourgeois economists for the most part defined “capital” as a sum of material objects and resources, or accumulated labour. In contrast to this superficial view Marx maintained that the transformation of material objects or accumulated labour into capital presupposes definite social relations. Marx writes-and this has become a classical definition of capital in Marxist political economy: “Capital, also, is a social relation of production. It is a bourgeois production relation, a production relation of bourgeois society” (see this volume, p. 212).
Wage Labour and Capital marks an important step in making clear the economic basis of capitalist exploitation. By means of vivid examples Marx shows that the value produced by the worker exceeds the value of the means of subsistence which he receives in the form of wages, and that this excess is the source of the capitalist’s profit. After examining various aspects of the problem of wages, Marx states an important law, namely that even under the most favourable circumstances for the worker the relative share of wages in the social product falls compared with the share appropriated by the capitalist. Profit and wages stand in inverse proportion to one another. Marx concludes that the growth of capital and the development of the productive forces in bourgeois society were bound to lead to the increasing exploitation of the wage-workers.
So long as the capitalist mode of production continues, the working class cannot free itself from the oppressive system of wage labour. Marx stressed that as social wealth and the productivity of labour increase in bourgeois society, the proletariat forges for itself “the golden chains by which the bourgeoisie drags it in its train” (see this volume, p. 221).
Wage Labour and Capital was written at a time when Marxist political economy had not yet arrived at its mature scientific formulation. In this work Marx still uses the terms “labour as a commodity”, “value of labour” and “price of labour”, which he took over from the English classical economists, though he gave these terms a new meaning. In 1891, when Engels prepared this work for a mass edition, he changed throughout the term “labour as a commodity” to “labour power as a commodity” etc. All these changes are given in footnotes in this volume. In the Preface to Volume II of Capital, Engels wrote that in working out the theory of surplus value in the 1850s Marx showed that “it is not labour which has a value. As an activity which creates value it can no more have any special value than gravity can have any special weight, heat any special temperature, electricity any special strength of current. It is not labour which is bought and sold as a commodity, but labour power. As soon as labour power becomes a commodity, its value is determined by the labour embodied in this commodity as a social product. This value is equal to the labour socially necessary for the production and reproduction of this commodity” (Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. II, Moscow, 1974, pp. 18-19).
Wage Labour and Capital marks an important stage in the working out of a proletarian political economy. And at the same time it exhibits to a marked degree Marx’s talent for popularising and explaining complicated economic problems to workers in a language which they can understand. The work greatly helped to spread the ideas of scientific communism among the working class.
Wage Labour and Capital as well as other articles and reports on current political questions written by Marx and Engels for the Neue Rheinische Zeitung provided material for political discussions in the workers’ associations and helped to make the German workers class conscious. The importance of the paper as a centre which united the forces of the revolutionary proletariat and explained and propagated the programme and tactical principles of the Communist League, was constantly growing. But the victory of the counter-revolution, and the fact that the Neue Rheinische Zeitung was forced to cease publication and Marx and Engels were compelled to leave Prussia cut short their intensive activity and prevented them from putting into practice their plan for creating a workers’ mass party.
Marx and Engels expected the liberation struggle of the oppressed nationalities to play a significant role in the revolutionary strategy of the proletariat. They stressed the importance of Poland’s liberation for the European democratic movement and constantly returned to the history of Poland’s partition and subjugation by the Prussian monarchy, the Austrian Empire and Russian Tsarism (see the article “Posen”). They warmly welcomed the national liberation movements of the Italian and Hungarian peoples. The renewed military operations of the Piedmontese against Austria in the spring of 1849 were regarded by the Neue Rheinische Zeitung as a new indication that the revolution was continuing to develop and as a serious blow at the Habsburg monarchy which was now obliged to wage a war on two fronts, against both Hungary and Italy.
Engels analysed the military campaign in Northern Italy in the articles “The War in Italy and Hungary” and “The Defeat of the Piedmontese” and in a series of reports printed under the heading “From the Theatre of War” in the section “Italy”. These articles, which express the author’s sympathy for the Italian people and call upon them to throw off the Austrian yoke, contain many shrewd observations on the specific features of revolutionary national liberation wars and the conditions required for winning them. In his article “The Defeat of the Piedmontese” Engels writes: “A nation that wants to conquer its independence cannot restrict itself to the ordinary methods of warfare” (see this volume, p. 171), In order to gain victory it has to turn the war into a genuinely revolutionary war supported by the masses of the people.
The reason for the reverse suffered by the Piedmontese army was, according to Engels, above all the policies of the liberal and monarchical groups in Piedmont, which were strongly opposed to the transformation of the war into a truly popular war, for they were afraid that this might lead to a revolutionary upsurge and thus undermine their own rule. “There is only one means to counter the treachery and cowardice of the Government: revolution,” Engels pointed out (see this volume, p. 15 1). The defeat of the Piedmontese put the last revolutionary strongholds in Italy, the republics of Venice and Rome, in a very difficult position. Only a European, and above all a French, revolutionary outbreak could, as Engels wrote, save the situation.
Hungary was another centre where, in the opinion of Marx and Engels, a revolutionary conflagration might start which could spread to the whole of Europe. The Hungarian liberation struggle entered a new phase at that time. The heroic people’s army, directed by Kossuth’s revolutionary government, defied the armed forces of the Habsburg monarchy. In the spring of 1849 the Hungarian troops started their successful counter-offensive.
Marx and Engels watched the developments in the Hungarian revolutionary war closely and with great sympathy. In February 1849, at Marx’s request, Engels began to write military and political surveys of the Hungarian events. Most of them were published under the heading “From the Theatre of War” in the section “Hungary” of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. The first articles of this series are published in Volume 8 of this edition; the remainder form a significant part of this volume. Engels’ article “Hungary”, which generalises and partly sums up his analysis of the Hungarian revolutionary struggle, was published in the last issue of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung on May 19, 1849 (see this volume, pp. 455-63).
This series reveals Engels’ remarkable talent in military matters. On the basis of Austrian Army Bulletins and reports printed in official Austrian and in German conservative and liberal newspapers, which as a rule were pro-Austrian-that is, on the basis of sources containing very tendentious and contradictory information-Engels, by critically sifting and comparing facts, was able to give a realistic account of the military operations. Closely following the course of events, he created a true and exact, though not a detailed (from the sources available to him this was quite impossible) picture showing the main features of the war. Moreover, many of these surveys (for instance “The Military Reports of the Kölnische Zeitung”) contained sharp polemical remarks directed at the enemies of the Hungarian revolution, and also exposed the lies disseminated by the German chauvinistic newspapers. Engels’ military reports, masterpieces which passionately defended the just cause of embattled Hungary, did much to spread the truth about the Hungarian national liberation struggle in Germany.
Even when the Austrian counter-revolutionary army, which had occupied a substantial part of Hungary, was still conducting offensive operations and the German conservative press was triumphantly announcing that Austria’s final victory was imminent, Engels, assessing the military situation with great acuity, observed that the Hungarian revolutionary forces had sufficient resources not only for defence but also for launching a decisive counter-offensive. This prediction, like many others made by Engels in the military sphere, proved true. The April counter-offensive of the Hungarian army, as Engels noted in several of his articles, clearly revealed the genuinely revolutionary and popular nature not only of the war the Hungarians were waging, but also of their way of conducting military operations. Mobilisation of all national forces to repulse the invaders, energy and mobility, well-concerted action of the regular troops and the widespread guerilla movement, and the fact that the enemy was attacked not only at the front but also in the rea rthese were the positive features mentioned by Engels in his analysis of the Hungarian campaign. “The entire might of all the 36 million Austrians has been frustrated and the victorious army which in Welden’s words ‘amazed half Europe’ has been baulked by the daring and enthusiasm of a small nation of barely five million people,” he wrote in the article “Hungarian Victories”. “The imperial forces are learning once again in Hungary the lesson they were taught at Jemappes and Fleurus 50 years ago: it is unwise to make war on revolution” (see this volume, p. 349).
When comparing the Austrian and Hungarian military systems Engels emphasised that the former exemplified the clumsiness, the mechanical drill and the stereotyped tactics peculiar to the armed forces of the feudal absolute monarchies, whereas the Hungarians demonstrated the mobility, initiative and tactical versatility, as well as the ability to take quick resolute decisions and to engage in daring manoeuvres, which are characteristic of a popular army welded together in the fire of a revolution. In his article “War in Hungary” Engels wrote, “The Magyars, though inadequately drilled and armed, oppose everywhere the most subtle calculation, the most masterly use of the terrain, the clearest overall view of the situation and the most daring and swift execution to the indolent and mindless but well-drilled mass of the Austrian armies. Superiority in genius is here doing battle with superiority in numbers, weapons and arms drill” (see this; volume, p. 232). In its morale, in unity of the front and rear and support from the masses of the people, the Hungarian army far surpassed its enemy. Engels had a high opinion of the Political and military leaders of the Hungarian revolution, of Kossuth and his associates, of the volunteers from Austria and especially of Polish commanders, like Bem and Dembifiski, who chose to take part in the revolutionary war.
Engels considered that the strength of the Hungarian revolution stemmed from the progressive social and political transformation which had been carried out in the country, i.e. the abolition of many hitherto existing feudal institutions, the introduction of agrarian reforms and the deposition of the Habsburg dynasty. “The Hungarians’ first measure was to carry out a social revolution in their country, to abolish feudalism,” Engels wrote in the article “Hungary” (see this volume, p. 463). Hungary, he said, showed once again that the national liberation movement acquired both strength and stability when together with the fight for independence there was the radical elimination of all feudal relics from the social and political structure.
The abolition of feudal obligations and the other measures which the leaders of the Hungarian revolution carried through in the interest of the peasantry, said Engels, not only ensured that the Hungarian peasants supported the revolution and played an active part in it, but also aroused sympathy for the Magyar struggle among the peasantry in various Slav areas of the Austrian Empire, in particular among the Slovaks, the Poles of Galicia and the Western Ukrainians in the Bukovina. At the end of April 1849 Engels wrote: “Fresh support for the Magyars, which just now, on the eve of their probable victory, is of the greatest significance, is the Polish peasant rising which is about to break out in Galicia” (see this volume, p. 345). In another report he observed that the Slovaks joined the Hungarians, after the latter had “abolished the feudal burdens of the Slovak peasants and made a number of concessions with regard to language and nationality” (see this volume, p. 390).
One of the most important indications of the growing anti-feudal struggle in the Slav areas of Austria was the peasant movement among the Ukrainians in the Bukovina which was led by Lucian Kobylica. Engels welcomed the struggle of the peasants against the nobility in this “most remote corner of the united monarchy” as a Symptom of an impending peasant war throughout the Habsburg Empire, and noted the ties which existed between the peasant leaders and the Hungarian revolutionaries (see this volume, p. 289). The successes of the Hungarian revolutionary army weakened the hold of the Austrian ruling circles on the subjugated Slav nationalities (Czechs, Croats, Serbs of the Voivodina etc.) in the Austrian Empire. By lies and false promises the Habsburgs had been trying to set one nationality against the other so as to use them as tools in the fight against the revolutionary movements in Hungary and Italy. Engels hoped that the further development of the Hungarian war would lead to changes in the national movements of these peoples and that the pro-Austrian elements would be pushed aside and the progressive forces would prevail, thus transforming these movements from reserve armies of the Austrian counter-revolution and of Tsarism into allies of revolutionary Hungary and of the European revolution as a whole. In his articles he cited facts to demonstrate that the Czechs and Southern Slavs did indeed have revolutionary leanings, sympathised with the Magyars and were growing more and more dissatisfied with the military despotism of the Austrian ruling classes and their bureaucratic and centralising tendencies. It was in this light that the people in the Slav areas regarded the Constitution which was imposed on the “united and indivisible Austrian monarchy” by Francis Joseph on March 4, 1849, and in which the earlier promises of autonomy were cynically flouted. In his brilliant denunciatory article “Military Dictatorship in Austria” (which has reached us in manuscript) Engels wrote in this connection: “The wrath previously felt only by the Germans and Magyars at the Austrian habit of gaining victory by cowardly acts of treachery, and after the victory surpassing in barbarity the most brutal bandits, this wrath was now shared by the Slavs as well. They were ensnared by the prospect of a’slav Austria’, they were made use of to win victory in Italy and Hungary, and by way of thanks they are now being subjected again to the old Metternich whip” (see this volume, p. 105). In a number of articles, particularly in “From the Theatre of War.-The Confused Situation in Serbia” (see pp. 144-47) Engels quotes newspaper reports about an imminent revolutionary uprising in Bohemia which had prompted the Government to declare a state of siege in Prague; about the declining prestige of the Right-wing Czech leaders and the growing influence of the supporters of a Czech-German-Hungarian revolutionary alliance; and about the tendency observed in members of the Croatian and Serbian national movements to establish closer relations with the Magyars.
But at the same time Engels criticised the Right wing of the Serbian, Croatian and Slavonian movements which was still intent on union with the Habsburgs and on creating an autonomous Slav state within the framework of the Austrian Empire, although the Austrian ruling clique had thrown off its mask and had openly shown its hostility to Slav national interests (see this volume, pp. 307-10). The national movement of the Southern Slavs did not manage at the time to shake off the domination of these Right-wing sections, which were accomplices of the Austrian counter-revolution. This was partly the fault of the Hungarian leaders, who refused to recognise the national demands of the Serbs and other Slavs incorporated in Hungary under the administrative division in force at the time. Almost to the end of the revolution, the Hungarian Government pursued a national policy based mainly on the principle of Magyarisation and underestimation of the national aspirations of the other nationalities. Only on July 28, 1849, when the Hungarian revolutionary Government was about to fall, did it officially proclaim equality of rights for all the nationalities inhabiting the country.
Marx and Engels considered that the consolidation of the European reactionary forces and the attempts to form an Austro-Russian-Prussian counter-revolutionary alliance spelt danger not only to the Hungarian but also the European revolution. They considered that the impending armed intervention by Tsarist Russia in Hungary was fraught with grave danger (see for example “The Third Party in the Alliance”, “The Tsar and His Subordinate Knyazes” etc.). Engels’ hopes were never realised that the Hungarian revolutionary army would extend its operations into Austria, and that a fresh revolutionary conflagration would occur in Austria itself before Tsarist troops could come 1 to the aid of the Habsburg monarchy. Owing to the defeat of the revolutionary and democratic forces in the other countries, the Hungarian national liberation movement, despite the successes it achieved in the spring of 1849, could not withstand the onslaught of the joint forces of the counter-revolution, and in the beginning of August 1849 the Hungarian revolution was crushed.
Marx and Engels pressed for an intensification of the struggle for a united democratic German republic brought about by a democratic transformation of the existing backward and divided petty states. They strongly opposed plans for the unification of Germany “from above”, dominated by Junker Prussia or feudal Austria, and were against the Prussianisation of Germany.
The main obstacle to the progressive development of Germany was, in their view, the counter-revolutionary Hohenzollern monarchy in Prussia, the bulwark of the most conservative sections-the aristocracy, the bureaucracy and the military-of the old society, which endeavoured to stifle the revolution completely and to re-establish the pre-revolutionary absolutist regime in a slightly refurbished form and masked by the “granted” Constitution. The Neue Rheinische Zeitung exposed the counter-revolutionary schemes of the Prussian ruling clique and the reactionary court camarilla in a number of articles, for example, “Government Provocations” and “The Counter-Revolutionary Plans in Berlin”. Predicting the further course of development in Prussia, Engels wrote that one of the ultimate aims of the Prussian reactionaries was to set up a dictatorship of the sabre and to revise the limited Constitution of December 5, 1848, so as to make it even more conservative. Their intention was “by new dictated measures to get rid of the troublesome fetters which even the martial-law Charter of December 5 still imposed on our counter-revolution” (see this volume, p. 370).
The anti-democratic Bills introduced by the Brandenburg-Manteuffel Government in Prussia and designed to abolish freedom of assembly and association and freedom of the press and restore the former Prussian patriarchal laws were sharply attacked in Marx’s articles “Three New Bills”, “The Hohenzollern General Plan of Reform” and “The Hohenzollern Press Bill”. Not a single case of coercion and arbitrary police rule escaped exposure in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung (see “Dissolution of the Second Chamber”, “Longing for a State of Siege”, “Counter-Revolutionary Offensive and Victory of the Revolution”, “The New Martial-Law Charter” etc.).
The Prussian kings and their myrmidons were branded by Marx and Engels as hangmen of the liberation movement not only in Prussia but in the whole of Germany. Marx called them “the royal terrorists” who “are in practice brutal, disdainful and mean, in theory cowardly, secretive and deceitful, and in both respects disreputable” (see this volume, p. 453). He emphasised that to pursue a counter-revolutionary policy directed against the people was well-established tradition in the house of Hohenzollern. And about Frederick William II, he wrote in the article “The Deeds of the Hohenzollern Dynasty": “It is well known that in 1792 he entered into a coalition with Austria and England to suppress the glorious French Revolution and invaded France” (see this volume, p. 419). The history of rise of this Prussian dynasty, which became firmly established by means of plunder, treachery and violence, is narrated by Marx with biting sarcasm.
In a number of articles published in this volume -"Draft Address of the Second Chamber”, “The Debate on the Address in Berlin”, “Sitting of the Second Chamber in Berlin, April 13”, “The Debate on the Law on Posters"-Engels deals with the proceedings in the Second Chamber of the Prussian Diet which was convoked on the basis of the “granted” Constitution of December 5, 1848, after the Prussian coup d'état. He exposes the attempts of the Government to consolidate the counter-revolutionary regime by means of the Diet, and then proceeds to criticise the members of the Left opposition, i.e. the liberals and democrats. Engels is indignant because the opposition, including the extreme Left, fail to defend the democratic rights of the people and “moderate their claims to the same extent as those of the Right increase theirs”, thus revealing their lack of political principles and their compliant attitude (see this volume, p. 136). For they think that it is possible by parliamentary and constitutional methods to achieve that which in the existing situation can only be achieved by revolutionary means, by the use of arms. “Instead of adopting an extra-parliamentary position in the parliament, the only honourable one in such a Chamber, they make one concession after another to parliamentary expediency; instead of ignoring the constitutional point of view as far as possible, they actually seek an opportunity of coquetting with it for the sake of peace” (p. 136). The wavering and indecision of the Left wing in the German Assembly at Frankfurt were also unreservedly condemned by Marx and Engels (see Marx’s articles “The March Association” and “The Frankfurt March Association and the Neue Rheinische Zeitung”). They saw it as dangerous collusion with the counter-revolution.
Along with their criticism of the constitutional delusions of the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois democrats, Marx and Engels outlined the principles of truly revolutionary parliamentary tactics. The democratic forces should use parliaments-even those composed mainly of reactionary deputies -to expose the intrigues of the ruling circles and to mobilise the people against them. They should combine parliamentary forms of struggle with extensive non-parliamentary mass action; for the latter is the main thing in the fight against counter-revolutionary attacks and in the defence of the people’s democratic achievements. And they should recognise that the decisive role in this struggle belongs to the proletariat, a class which, as Engels said, “by its very position ... is revolutionary” and is the main danger to the counter-revolutionary order (see this volume, p. 326).
The events which followed very quickly confirmed Marx’s and Engels’ opinion of the groundlessness of constitutional illusions. The Prussian Government, which deemed that appositional views were being too strongly expressed in the Second Chamber of the Prussian Diet, summarily dissolved it on April 27, 1849.
The bourgeois-democratic revolution in Germany now entered its final phase, which was marked by mass action in defence of the imperial Constitution drawn up by the Frankfurt National Assembly and rejected by the King of Prussia and the counter-revolutionary governments of the other German states.
According to Marx and Engels, the imperial Constitution could not as such provide a programme or a banner for the proletariat and the revolutionary democrats. As to the question of German unification, the Constitution not only reflected the readiness of the liberal, Prussophile majority of the Frankfurt National Assembly to resort to compromise but also retained the monarchical form of government. Marx and Engels had been warning for a long time that the anti-revolutionary policy of compromise pursued by the liberals in the National Assembly would end ingloriously, with the dissolution of the Assembly by the counter-revolutionary forces as soon as they felt that they no longer needed it as a protection against the pressure of the popular movement. “On the monument to be erected at the site of its wretched activity,” said the article “Vienna and Frankfurt”, “the wayfarer will read: ‘Perished through its own fault, through cowardice, professorial stupidity and chronic meanness, amid in part the revengeful derision, and in part the complete indifference of the people"’ (see this volume, p. 48). In the articles “A Prussian Kick for the Frankfurt Assembly” and “A New Prussian Kick for the Frankfurt Assembly” Marx and Engels depicted the complete political helplessness of the liberals and moderate democrats in the Frankfurt Parliament and their inability to repulse the reaction and to defend their own creation, the imperial Constitution.
Although Marx and Engels clearly understood the limitations of this Constitution, they emphasised the revolutionary nature of the popular movement that came to its defence. The defence of the Constitution was in fact a fight to preserve the still surviving achievements of the revolution, for though the Constitution was couched in extremely moderate terms, it nevertheless proclaimed a number of civil liberties and paved the way to overcoming the country’s political fragmentation. Engels wrote: “The people regard every step, however small, towards the unification of Germany as a step towards abolition of the petty sovereigns and liberation from the oppressive burden of taxation” (see this volume, p. 378). In a series of articles (“News from Southern Germany”, “The Prussian Army and the Revolutionary Uprising of the People”, “The Approaching Revolution”, “The Uprising in Elberfeld and Düsseldorf”, “The Uprising in the Berg Country”, “Elberfeld” etc.) the editors of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung greeted those who had fought, weapons in hand, in Saxony, the Rhine Province and South-West Germany, spoke of their fighting spirit and examined the democrats’ chances of victory, and at the same time they denounced the murderous action of the punitive expeditions and the treachery of the moderate bourgeoisie. The fact that the armies in the Palatinate and Baden went over to the insurgents was in their eyes a reassuring sign, of great significance for the prospects of the revolution (see this volume, p. 399).
Marx and Engels hoped that the campaign for the imperial Constitution would develop into a national uprising, which, spreading through the whole of Germany, would merge with the Hungarian revolution, the national liberation struggle of the Italian people and the revolutionary action of the French proletariat, to form one mighty stream. Although Marx and Engels did not agree with the political principles and tactics of the petty-bourgeois leaders of the movement in defence of the Constitution, they supported it with all the means at their disposal. Engels and other members of the Communist League took part in the Elberfeld uprising, and later fought in the insurgent army of Baden and the Palatinate against the counter-revolutionary troops.
But the German petty-bourgeois leaders proved incapable of solving revolutionary tasks. Marx and Engels tried in vain to persuade them to act more resolutely and in particular to induce the Left-wing deputies of the National Assembly to summon the revolutionary army of Baden and the Palatinate to Frankfurt, and thus to transfer the main battlefield to the centre of Germany. The uprisings in defence of the imperial Constitution lacked central direction, were isolated from one another and remained localised. They were brutally put down by the counter-revolutionary troops. The last centres of the movement in Baden and the Palatinate were suppressed in July 1849.
The Prussian Government had wanted for a long time to find a suitable opportunity to settle accounts with the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. During the May uprisings of 1849 the angry voice of the newspaper was particularly irksome to the powers that be. As the Chartist Democratic Review wrote, the newspaper proclaimed “in every line ‘war to the knife’ against his Prussian kingship, and all the oppressors and betrayers of the German people” (see this volume, p. 513).
In order to put an end to the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, the Government took advantage of Marx not being a Prussian citizen to expel him from Prussia, and began reprisals against the other editors. The last issue of the paper, printed in red, appeared on May 19, 1849. In it Marx summed up the newspaper’s relentless fight for the revolutionary cause. He stressed the paper’s role as harbinger of the militant consolidation of the revolutionary forces, defender of working-class interests and herald of the principles of proletarian internationalism (see the article “The Summary Suppression of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung”). He reminded his readers of the newspaper’s solidarity with those who fought in the proletarian uprising in Paris and, addressing the men behind the police persecution, said: “ Was not the essence of the June revolution the essence of our paper?” (see this volume, p. 453). The Neue Rheinische Zeitung had defended the democratic and national interests of the German people with equal fortitude and consistency. Marx proudly wrote, “We have saved the revolutionary honour of our country” (see this volume, p. 454).
The address to the workers of Cologne concludes thus: “In bidding you farewell the editors of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, thank you for the sympathy you have shown them. Their last word everywhere and always will be: emancipation of the working class!” (see this volume, p. 467).
After the suppression of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, Marx and Engels used every opportunity to write for the surviving democratic press in the same revolutionary spirit. Several of their articles and statements published in this volume were written for the German democratic papers which were still able to appear.
In his article “The Revolutionary Uprising in the Palatinate and Baden” Engels answered the attempts of the German conservative press to blacken the revolutionaries fighting there. After refuting false accusations, Engels pointed out that the revolutionary struggle in South-West Germany was a component part of the European revolutionary movement. “The Palatinate and Baden,” he wrote, 11 will stand on the side of freedom against slavery, of revolution against counter-revolution, of the people against the sovereigns, of revolutionary France, Hungary and Germany against absolutist Russia, Austria, Prussia and Bavaria” (see this volume, p. 476).
The sketch “Repudiation”, written by Engels after the end of the military campaign in Baden and the Palatinate, was aimed at several petty-bourgeois German emigrants in Switzerland who tried to cast aspersions on one of the proletarian units of the insurgent army, a unit in which Engels himself had fought.
Marx’s article “The 13th of June”, which can also be found in this section, is of special importance. It discusses the political crisis in France which was bound up with the opposition of the Mountain-a petty-bourgeois party-against the Government and President Louis Bonaparte, who in violation of the Constitution had sent an army to Italy to crush the Roman Republic. The leaders of the Mountain, refusing more resolute measures at this crucial moment, called upon the masses to take part in an unarmed demonstration. Marx, who was in Paris at the time, saw the demonstrators being dispersed by troops.
Anticipating in this article the detailed analysis of these events which he was to give in The Class Struggles in France, Marx showed that the fiasco of the “parliamentary uprising” was the logical outcome of the French petty-bourgeois democrats’ inconsistencies,
which could be traced right back to the anti-proletarianism which the leaders, for instance Ledru-Rollin, had displayed during the rising of the Paris workers in June 1848....... June 13, 1849 is only the retaliation for June 1848. On that occasion the proletariat was deserted by the ‘Mountain’, this time the ‘Mountain’ was deserted by the proletariat” (see this volume, pp. 478-79). Marx regarded the events of June 13, 1849 as a severe blow to the European revolutionary movement as a whole. The defeat suffered by the French petty-bourgeois democrats helped consolidate the political monopoly of the conservative, monarchist forces in France and, in the last analysis, it paved the way for the counter-revolutionary Bonapartist coup d'état of December 2, 1851.
The Appendices in this volume contain documents illustrating Marx’s and Engels’ participation in the work of various democratic and proletarian organisations. These give an idea of how Marx and Engels directed the activities of the Cologne Workers’ Association, and of how their associates fought sectarian ‘and splitting elements. This section also contains material about the Congress of the Workers’ Associations of the Rhineland called in connection with the planned Congress of all the German Workers’ Associations-to which Marx and Engels attached great importance, since it marked a new stage in the creation of a mass proletarian party. Also included are documents relating to the persecution of Marx and Engels by the Prussian authorities, and to the legal proceedings against the Neue Rheinische Zeitung and its editors, as well as comments of the workers’ and democratic press in Germany and England on the closing down of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung and Marx’s expulsion from Prussia. The police inspector’s notification of Marx’s expulsion from Paris in the summer of 1849 shows that the harassment of Marx continued and that this time it was organised by the French bourgeois government. All these documents throw light on the situation in which Marx and Engels worked during the last months of the revolution.
Nearly all revolutionary movements in Europe were defeated in the summer of 1849. The reasons which led to this defeat were pretty thoroughly examined by Marx and Engels in many of the articles published in volumes 7 to 9 of this edition. Again and again they had warned that unless the revolutionary forces succeeded in bringing about a radical change in the course of events, the swing over of a considerable section of the European bourgeoisie to the counter-revolutionary camp and the vacillation of the petty-
bourgeois democrats would be fatal to the bourgeois-democratic revolution. In 1848-49 the bulk of the people, including the workers, had not yet reached a sufficient degree of political independence and ideological maturity to enable them ultimately to change the direction of social development in favour of the revolution.
However owing to the intrinsic laws governing revolutionary processes in general, as Marx and Engels observed later, the events .of 1848 and 1849 influenced the historical process not only in this particular revolutionary period, but also at subsequent stages. The revolutions of 1848 and 1849 left unsolved a number of social and political tasks which remained, however, on the agenda of history. These revolutions, moreover, brought about significant changes in the social consciousness of various classes of society.
The years 1848 and 1849 were of special importance for the future development of Marxism. They confirmed the correctness and viability of its main conclusions and provided material for its further enrichment. On the other hand, none of the doctrinaire and sectarian trends in the revolutionary movement was able to stand the test of revolutionary reality, and the collapse of their illusions, antiquated traditions and utopian doctrines was one of the positive results of the revolution. The defeat of the revolutionary movement could shake neither the methodological basis of the Marxist theory, nor the political ideas and the strategic and tactical principles which Marx and Engels had put forward. For they were truly scientific conclusions drawn from progressive social processes which were actually taking place and which, though at that time they manifested themselves merely as tendencies of social development, later increasingly succeeded in forcing their way into history. Lenin was perfectly justified in saying that “the tactics of Marx in 1848 were correct ... they and only they really provided reliable, firm and unforgettable lessons for the proletariat” (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 15, p. 47).
The strategy and tactics worked out by Marx and Engels in 1848 and 1849 is an invaluable asset of the revolutionary labour movement of many countries. Many times has recourse been made-and it will continue to be made-to the lessons of that period.
This volume contains not only the writings of Marx and Engels which were published in Volume 6 of the Russian and German editions of their Collected Works, but also many articles and documents discovered as a result of research carried out in the USSR and the GDR during the last few years. A total of 102 articles and reports, amounting to nearly one half of this volume, were only recently published as part of Volume 43 of the Second Russian Edition of the Works of Marx and Engels.
(if the 146 articles forming the main section of the volume, 140 appear in English for the first time and this is noted on each occasion at the end of the translation. Only Wage Labour and Capital, “The Deeds of the Hohenzollern Dynasty”, “Counter-Revolutionary Offensive and Victory of the Revolution”, “The Summary Suppression of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung”, “Hungary” and “To the Workers of Cologne” have been previously published in English. Apart from a passage which appeared in the Democratic Review, the Appendices consist entirely of material not previously published in English. All the texts have been translated from the German except where otherwise stated.
Since it has not always been possible to determine whether a given article was written by Marx or by Engels, the author’s name at the end of the article appears only where it has been definitely established which one of them wrote the article in question.
The titles of the articles are taken, wherever possible, from the tables of contents printed in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Those supplied by the editors of the present edition are in square brackets. If a periodical from which Marx and Engels quote is not available, references to other publications in which the material in question was also published are given in footnotes and also in the index of quoted and mentioned literature.
The volume was compiled and the preface and notes written by Velta Pospelova and edited by Lev Golman (Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the CC CPSU). The name index, the index of quoted and mentioned literature and the index of periodicals were prepared by Irina Shikanyan with the help of Evgenia Dakhina and Natalia Lapitskaya. For the reader’s convenience, there is a glossary of geographical names which, in addition to the form generally used in the German press of the time, gives their modern equivalents. The glossary was prepared by Yury Vasin and the subject index by Vladimir Sazonov (Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the CC CPSU).
The translations were made by Jack Cohen, Clemens Dutt, Michael Hudson, Dorothy Jaeschke, Hugh Rodwell, Barbara Ruhemann, Barrie Selman, Christopher Upward and Joan and Trevor Walmsley (Lawrence and Wishart) and Salo Ryazanskaya (Progress Publishers) and edited by Richard Abraham, Maurice Cornforth, Sheila Lynd, Margaret Mynatt (Lawrence and Wishart), Salo Ryazanskaya, Margarita Lopukhina, Vladimir Pavlov and Maria Shcheglova (Progress Publishers) and Norire Ter-Akopyan, scientific editor (Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the CC CPSU).
The volume was prepared for the press by the editor Margarita Lopukhina and the assistant editor Natalia Kim (Progress Publishers).