Works of Frederick Engels

Progress of Social Reform On the Continent [152]

Source: MECW Volume 3, p. 392;
Written: October 23 and at the beginning of November 1843;
First published: in The New Moral World, 3rd Series, Nos. 19 and 21, Nov. 4 and 18, 1843;
Signed: F. Engels;
Printed: according to the newspaper. English original;
Transcribed: in 2000 for by Andy Blunden.

The New Moral World No. 19, November 4, 1843

It has always been in some degree surprising to me, ever since I met with English Socialists, to find that most of them are very little acquainted with the social movement going on in different parts of the continent. And yet there are more than half a million of Communists in France, not taking into account the Fourierists, and other less radical Social reformers; there are Communist associations in every part of Switzerland, sending forth missionaries to Italy, Germany, and even Hungary; and German philosophy, after a long and troublesome circuit, has at last settled upon Communism.

Thus, the three great and civilised countries of Europe — England, France, and Germany, have all come to the conclusion, that a thorough revolution of social arrangements, based on community of property, has now become an urgent and unavoidable necessity. This result is the more striking, as it was arrived at by each of the above nations independently of the others; a fact, than which there can be no stronger proof, that Communism is not the consequence of the particular position of the English, or any other nation, but that it is a necessary conclusion, which cannot he avoided to be drawn from the premises given in the general facts of modern civilisation.

It must, therefore, appear desirable, that the three nations should understand each other, should know how far they agree, and how far they disagree; because there must be disagreement also, owing to the different origin of the doctrine of Community in each of the three countries. The English came to the conclusion practically, by the rapid increase of misery, demoralisation, and pauperism in their own country: the French politically, by first asking for political liberty and equality; and, finding this insufficient, joining social liberty, and social equality to their political claims: the Germans became Communists philosophically, by reasoning upon first principles. This being the origin of Socialism in the three countries, there must exist differences upon minor points; but I think I shall be able to show that these differences are very insignificant, and quite consistent with the best feeling on the part of the Social reformers of each country towards those of the other. The thing wanted is, that they should know each other; this being obtained, I am certain, they all will have the best wishes for the success of their foreign brother Communists.


France is, since the Revolution, the exclusively political country of Europe. No improvement, no doctrine can obtain national importance in France, unless embodied in some political shape. It seems to be the part the French nation have to perform in the present stage of the history of mankind, to go through all the forms of political development, and to arrive, from a merely political beginning, at the point where all nations, all different paths, must meet at Communism. The development of the public mind in France shows this clearly, and shows at the same time, what the future history of the English Chartists must be.

The French Revolution was the rise of democracy in Europe. Democracy is, as I take all forms of government to be, a contradiction in itself, an untruth, nothing but hypocrisy (theology, as we Germans call it), at the bottom. Political liberty is sham-liberty, the worst possible slavery; the appearance of liberty, and therefore the reality of servitude. Political equality is the same; therefore democracy, as well as every other form of government, must ultimately break to pieces: hypocrisy cannot subsist, the contradiction hidden in it must come out; we must have either a regular slavery — that is, an undisguised despotism, or real liberty, and real equality — that is, Communism. Both these consequences were brought out in the French Revolution; Napoleon established the first, and Babeuf the second. I think I may be short upon the subject of Babouvism, as the history of his conspiracy, [written] by Buonarroti [Ph. Buonarroti, Conspiration pour l'égalité dite de Babeuf, suivie du procès auquel elle donna lieu, et des pièces justificatives, etc], has been translated into the English language. [153] The Communist plot did not succeed, because the then Communism itself was of a very rough and superficial kind; and because, on the other hand, the public mind was not yet far enough advanced.

The next French Social reformer was Count de Saint-Simon. He succeeded in getting up a sect, and even some establishments; none of which succeeded. The general spirit of the Saint-Simonian doctrines is very much like that of the Ham-Common Socialists, in England [154]; although, in the detail of the arrangements and ideas, there is a great difference. The singularities and eccentricities of the Saint-Simonians very soon became the victims of French wit and satire; and everything once made ridiculous is inevitably lost in France. But, besides this, there were other causes for the failure of the Saint-Simonian establishments; all the doctrines of this party were enveloped in the clouds of an unintelligible mysticism, which, perhaps, in the beginning, attract the attention of the people; but, at last, must leave their expectations disappointed. Their economical principles, too, were not unexceptionable; the share of each of the members of their communities in the distribution of produce was to be regulated, firstly, by the amount of work he had done; and, secondly, the amount of talent he displayed. A German Republican, Boerne, justly replied to this principle, that talent, instead of being rewarded, ought rather to be considered as a natural preference; and, therefore, a deduction ought to be made from the share of the talented, in order to restore equality.

Saint-Simonism, after having excited, like a brilliant meteor, the attention of the thinking, disappeared from the Social horizon. Nobody now thinks of it, or speaks of it; its time is past.

Nearly at the same time with Saint-Simon, another man directed the activity of his mighty intellect to the social state of mankind — Fourier. Although Fourier’s writings do not display those bright sparks of genius which we find in Saint-Simon’s and some of his disciples; although his style is hard, and shows, to a considerable extent, the toil with which the author is always labouring to bring out his ideas, and to speak out things for which no words are provided in the French language — nevertheless, we read his works with greater pleasure; and find more real value in them, than in those of the preceding school. There is mysticism, too, and as extravagant as any, but this you may cut off and throw it aside, and there will remain something not to be found among the Saint-Simonians — scientific research, cool, unbiased, systematic thought; in short, social philosophy; whilst Saint-Simonism can only be called social poetry. It was Fourier, who, for the first time, established the great axiom of social philosophy, that every individual having an inclination or predilection for some particular kind of work, the sum of all these inclinations of all individuals must be, upon the whole, an adequate power for providing for the wants of all. From this principle, it follows, that if every individual is left to his own inclination, to do and to leave what he pleases, the wants of all will be provided for, without the forcible means used by the present system of society. This assertion looks bold, and yet, after Fourier’s mode of establishing it, is quite unassailable, almost self-evident — the egg of Columbus. Fourier proves, that every one is born with an inclination for some kind of work, that absolute idleness is nonsense, a thing which never existed, and cannot exist: that the essence of the human mind is to be active itself, and to bring the body into activity; and that, therefore, there is no necessity for making the people active by force, as in the now existing state of society, but only to give their natural activity the right direction. He goes on proving the identity of labour and enjoyment, and shows the irrationality of the present social system, which separates them, making labour a toil, and placing enjoyment above the reach of the majority of the labourers; he shows further, how, under rational arrangements, labour may be made, what it is intended to be, an enjoyment, leaving every one to follow his own inclinations. I cannot, of course, follow Fourier through the whole of his theory of free labour, and I think this will be sufficient to show the English Socialists that Fourierism is a subject well worthy of their attention. [155]

Another of the merits of Fourier is to have shown the advantages — nay, the necessity of association. It will be sufficient only to mention this subject, as I know the English to be fully aware of its importance.

There is one inconsistency, however, in Fourierism, and a very important one too, and that is, his nonabolition of private property. In his Phalanstères or associative establishments, there are rich and poor, capitalists and working men. The property of all members is placed into a joint stock, the establishment carries on commerce, agricultural and manufacturing industry, and the proceeds are divided among the members; one part as wages of labour, another as reward for skill and talent, and a third as profits of capital. Thus, after all the beautiful theories of association and free labour; after a good deal of indignant declamation against commerce, selfishness, and competition, we have in practice the old competitive system upon an improved plan, a poor-law bastile on more liberal principles! Certainly, here we cannot stop; and the French, too, have not stopped here.

The progress of Fourierism in France was slow, but regular. There are not a great many Fourierists, but they count among their numbers a considerable portion of the intellect now active in France. Victor Considérant is one of their cleverest writers. They have a newspaper, too, the Phalange, published formerly three times a week, now daily. [156]

As the Fourierists are now represented in England also by Mr. Doherty, I think I may have said enough concerning them, and now pass to the most important and most radical party in France, the Communists.

I said before, that everything claiming national importance in France must be of a political nature, or it will not succeed. Saint-Simon and Fourier did not touch politics at all, and their schemes, therefore, became not the common property of the nation, but only subjects of private discussion. We have seen how Babeuf’s Communism arose out of the democracy of the first revolution. The second revolution, of 1830, gave rise to another and more powerful Communism. The “great week” of 1830 [That is, from July 27 to August 20, the peak of the July revolution] was accomplished by the union of the middle and working classes, the liberals and the republicans. After the work was done, the working classes were dismissed, and the fruits of the revolution were taken possession of by the middle classes only. The working men got up several insurrections, for the abolition of political monopoly, and the establishment of a republic, [157] but were always defeated; the middle class having not only the army on their side, but forming themselves the national guard besides. During this time (1834 or 1835) a new doctrine sprang up among the republican working men. They saw that even after having succeeded in their democratic plans, they would continue [to be] the dupes of their more gifted and better educated leaders, and that their social condition, the cause of their political discontent, would not be bettered by any political change whatsoever. They referred to the history of the great revolution, and eagerly seized upon Babeuf’s Communism. This is all that can, with safety, be asserted concerning the origin of modern Communism in France; the subject was first discussed in the dark lanes and crowded alleys of the Parisian suburb, Saint-Antoine, and soon after in the secret assemblies of conspirators. Those who know more about its origin are very careful to keep their knowledge to themselves, in order to avoid the “strong arm of the law”. However, Communism spread rapidly over Paris, Lyons, Toulouse, and the other large and manufacturing towns of the realm; various secret associations followed each other, among which the “Travailleurs Egalitaires”, or Equalitarian Working Men, and the Humanitarians,"” were the most considerable. The Equalitarians were rather a “rough set”, like the Babouvists of the great revolution; they purposed making the world a working-man’s community, putting down every refinement of civilisation, science, the fine arts, etc., as useless, dangerous, and aristocratic luxuries, a prejudice necessarily arising from their total ignorance of history and political economy. The Humanitarians [158], were known particularly for their attacks on marriage, family, and other similar institutions. Both these, as well as two or three other parties, were very short-lived, and the great bulk of the French working classes adopted, very soon, the tenets propounded by M. Cabet, “Père Cabet” (Father C.), as he is called, and which are known on the continent under the name of Icarian Communism.

This sketch of the History of Communism in France shows, in some measure, what the difference of French and English Communism must be. The origin of Social reform, in France, is a political one; it is found, that democracy cannot give real equality, and therefore the Community scheme is called to its aid. The bulk of the French Communists are, therefore, republicans besides; they want a community state of society, under a republican form of government. Now, I do not think that the English Socialists would have serious objections to this; because, though they are more favourable to an elective monarchy, I know them to be too enlightened to force their kind of government upon a people totally opposed to it. It is evident, that to try this would involve this people in far greater disorders and difficulties than would arise from their own democratic mode of government, even supposing this to be bad.

But there are other objections that could be made to the French Communists. They intend overthrowing the present government of their country by force, and have shown this by their continual policy of secret associations. This is true. Even the Icarians, though they declare in their publications that they abhor physical revolutions and secret societies, even they are associated in this manner, and would gladly seize upon any opportunity to establish a republic by force. [159] This will be objected to, I dare say, and rightly, because, at any rate, secret associations are always contrary to common prudence, inasmuch as they make the parties liable to unnecessary legal persecutions. I am not inclined to defend such a line of policy, but it has to be explained, to be accounted for; and it is fully done so by the difference of the French and English national character and government. The English constitution has now been, for about one hundred and fifty years, uninterruptedly, the law of the land; every change has been made by legal means, by constitutional forms; therefore the English must have a strong respect for their laws. But, in France, during the last fifty years, one forced alteration has followed the other; all constitutions, from radical democracy to open despotism, all kinds of laws were, after a short existence, thrown away and replaced by others; how can the people then respect their laws? And the result of all these convulsions, as now established in the French constitution and laws, is the oppression of the poor by the rich, an oppression kept up by force — how can it be expected that the oppressed should love their public institutions, that they should not resort to the old tricks of 1792? They know that, if they are anything, they are it by meeting force by force, and having, at present, no other means, why should they hesitate a moment to apply this? It will be said further: why do not the French Communists establish communities, as the English have done? My reply is, because they dare not. If they did, the first experiment would be put down by soldiers. And if they were suffered to do so, it would be of no use to them. I always understood the Harmony Establishment to be only an experiment, to show the possibility of Mr. Owen’s plans, [160] if put into practice, to force public opinion to a more favourable idea of the Socialist schemes for relieving public distress. Well, if that be the case, such an experiment would be of no avail in France. Show the French, not that your plans are practical, because that would leave them cool and indifferent. Show them that your communities will not place mankind under an “ironbound despotism”, as Mr. Bairstow the Chartist said, in his late discussion with Mr. Watts. [161] Show them that real liberty and real equality will be only possible under Community arrangements, show them that justice demands such arrangements, and then you will have them all on your side.

But to return to the social doctrines of the Icarian Communists. Their “holy book” is the Voyage en Icarie (Travels in Icaria) of Father Cabet, who, by-the-by, was formerly Attorney-General, and Member of the Chamber of Deputies. The general arrangements for their Communities are very little different to those of Mr. Owen. They have embodied in their plans everything rational they found in Saint-Simon and Fourier; and, therefore, are very much superior to the old French Communists. As to marriage, they perfectly agree with the English. Everything possible is done to secure the liberty of the individual. Punishments are to be abolished, and to be replaced by education of the young, and rational mental treatment of the old.

It is, however, curious, that whilst the English Socialists are generally opposed to Christianity, and have to suffer all the religious prejudices of a really Christian people, the French Communists, being a part of a nation celebrated for its infidelity, are themselves Christians. One of their favourite axioms is, that Christianity is Communism, “le Christianisme c'est le Communisme”. This they try to prove by the bible, the state of community in which the first Christians are said to have lived, etc. But all this shows only, that these good people are not the best Christians, although they style themselves so; because if they were, they would know the bible better, and find that, if some few passages of the bible may be favourable to Communism, the general spirit of its doctrines is, nevertheless, totally opposed to it, as well as to every rational measure.

The rise of Communism has been hailed by most of the eminent minds in France; Pierre Leroux, the metaphysician; George Sand, the courageous defender of the rights of her sex; Abbé de Lamennais, author of the Words of a Believer [F. R. de Lamennais, Paroles d'un croyant, 1833] and a great many others, are, more or less, inclined towards the Communist doctrines. The most important writer, however, in this line is Proudhon, a young man, who published two or three years ago his work: What is Property? (Qu'est ce que la Propriété?) where he gave the answer: “La propriété c'est le vol”, Property is robbery. This is the most philosophical work, on the part of the Communists, in the French language; and, if I wish to see any French book translated into the English language, it is this. The right of private property, the consequences of this institution, competition, immorality, misery, are here developed with a power of intellect, and real scientific research, which I never since found united in a single volume. Besides this, he gives very important remarks on government, and having proved that every kind of government is alike objectionable, no matter whether it be democracy, aristocracy, or monarchy, that all govern by force; and that, in the best of all possible cases, the force of the majority oppresses the weakness of the minority, he comes, at last, to the conclusion: “Nous voulons l'anarchie!” What we want is anarchy; the rule of nobody, the responsibility of every one to nobody but himself.

Upon this subject I shall have to speak more, when I come to the German Communists. I have now only to add, that the French Icarian Communists are estimated at about half a million in number, women and children not taken into account. A pretty respectable phalanx, isn’t it? They have a monthly paper, the Populaire, edited by Father Cabet; and, besides this, P. Leroux publishes a periodical, the Independent Review, in which the tenets of Communism are philosophically advocated.

Manchester, Oct. 23, 1843

Germany and Switzerland

The New Moral World No. 21, November 18, 1843

Germany had her Social Reformers as early as the Reformation. Soon after Luther had begun to proclaim church reform and to agitate the people against spiritual authority, the peasantry of Southern and Middle Germany rose in a general insurrection against their temporal lords. Luther always stated his object to be, to return to original Christianity in doctrine and practice; the peasantry took exactly the same standing, and demanded, therefore, not only the ecclesiastical, but also the social practice of primitive Christianity. They conceived a state of villainy and servitude, such as they lived under, to be inconsistent with the doctrines of the Bible; they were oppressed by a set of haughty barons and earls, robbed and treated like their cattle every day, they had no law to protect them, and if they had, they found nobody to enforce it. Such a state contrasted very much with the communities of early Christians and the doctrines of Christ, as laid down in the Bible. Therefore they arose and began a war against their lords, which could only be a war of extermination. Thomas Münzer, a preacher, whom they placed at their head, issued a proclamation, [162] full, of course, of the religious and superstitious nonsense of the age, but containing also among others, principles like these: That according to the Bible, no Christian is entitled to hold any property whatever exclusively for himself; that community of property is the only proper state for a society of Christians; that it is not allowed to any good Christian to have any authority or command over other Christians, nor to hold any office of government or hereditary power, but on the contrary, that, as all men are equal before God, so they ought to be on earth also. These doctrines were nothing but conclusions drawn from the Bible and from Luther’s own writings; but the Reformer was not prepared to go as far as the people did; notwithstanding the courage he displayed against the spiritual authorities, he had not freed himself from the political and social prejudices of his age; he believed as firmly in the right divine of princes and landlords to trample upon the people, as he did in the Bible. Besides this, he wanted the protection of the aristocracy and the Protestant princes, and thus he wrote a tract against the rioters disclaiming not only every connection with them, but also exhorting the aristocracy to put them down with the utmost severity, as rebels against the laws of God. “Kill them like dogs!” he exclaimed. The whole tract is written with such an animosity, nay, fury and fanaticism against the people, that it will ever form a blot upon Luther’s character; it shows that, if he began his career as a man of the people, he was now entirely in the service of their oppressors. The insurrection, after a most bloody civil war, was suppressed, and the peasants reduced to their former servitude.

If we except some solitary instances, of which no notice was taken by the public, there has been no party of Social Reformers in Germany, since the peasants’ war, up to a very recent date. The public mind during the last fifty years was too much occupied with questions of either a merely political or merely metaphysical nature — questions, which had to be answered, before the social question could be discussed with the necessary calmness and knowledge. Men, who would have been decidedly opposed to a system of community, if such had been proposed to them, were nevertheless paving the way for its introduction.

It was among the working class of Germany that Social Reform has been of late made again a topic of discussion. Germany having comparatively little manufacturing industry, the mass of the working classes is made up by handicraftsmen, who previous to their establishing themselves as little masters, travel for some years over Germany, Switzerland, and very often over France also. A great number of German workmen is thus continually going to and from Paris, and must of course there become acquainted with the political and social movements of the French working classes. One of these men, William Weitling, a native of Magdeburg in Prussia, and a simple journeyman-tailor, resolved to establish communities in his own country.

This man, who is to be considered as the founder of German Communism, after a few years’ stay in Paris, went to Switzerland, and, whilst he was working in some tailor’s shop in Geneva, preached his new gospel to his fellow-workmen. He formed Communist Associations in all the towns and cities on the Swiss side of the lake of Geneva, most of the Germans who worked there becoming favourable to his views. Having thus prepared the public mind, he issued a periodical, the Young Generation,’ for a more extensive agitation of the country. This paper, although written for working men only, and by a working man, has from its beginning been superior to most of the French Communist publications, even to Father Cabet’s Populaire. It shows that its editor must have worked very hard to obtain that knowledge of history and politics which a public writer cannot do without, and which a neglected education had left him deprived of. It shows, at the same time, that Weitling was always struggling to unite his various ideas and thoughts on society into a complete system of Communism. The Young Generation was first published in 1841; in the following year, Weitling published a work: Guarantees of Harmony and Liberty, in which he gave a review of the old social system and the outlines of a new one. I shall, perhaps, some time give a few extracts from this book.

Having thus established the nucleus of a Communist party in Geneva and its neighbourhood, he went to Zurich, where, as in other towns of Northern Switzerland, some of his friends had already commenced to operate upon the minds of the working men. He now began to organise his party in these towns. Under the name of Singing Clubs, associations were formed for the discussion of Social reorganisation. At the same time Weitling advertised his intention to publish a book, — The Gospel of the Poor Sinners. [163] But here the police interfered with his proceedings.

In June last, Weitling was taken into custody, his papers and his book were seized, before it left the press. The Executive of the Republic appointed a committee to investigate the matter, and to report to the Grand Council, the representatives of the people. This report has been printed a few months since. It appears from it, that a great many Communist associations existed in every part of Switzerland, consisting mostly of German working men; that Weitling was considered as the leader of the party, and received from time to time reports of progress; that he was in correspondence with similar associations of Germans in Paris and London, and that all these societies, being composed of men who very often changed their residence, were so many seminaries of these “dangerous and Utopian doctrines”, sending out their elder members to Germany, Hungary, and Italy, and imbuing with their spirit every workman who came within their reach. The report was drawn up by Dr. Bluntschli, a man of aristocratic and fanatically Christian opinions, and the whole of it therefore is written more like a party denunciation, than like a calm, official report. Communism is denounced as a doctrine dangerous in the extreme, subversive of all existing order, and destroying all the sacred bonds of society. The pious doctor, besides, is at a loss for words sufficiently strong to express his feelings as to the frivolous blasphemy with which these infamous and ignorant people try to justify their wicked and revolutionary doctrines, by passages from the Holy Scriptures. Weitling and his party are, in this respect, just like the Icarians in France, and contend that Christianity is Communism.

The result of Weitling’s trial did very little to satisfy the anticipations of the Zurich government. Although Weitling and his friends were sometimes very incautious in their expressions, yet the charge of high treason and conspiracy against him could not be maintained; the criminal court sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment, and eternal banishment from Switzerland; the members of the Zurich associations were expelled the Canton; the report was communicated to the governments of the other Cantons and to the foreign embassies, but the Communists in other parts of Switzerland were very little interfered with. The prosecution came too late, and was too little assisted by the other Cantons; it did nothing at all for the destruction of Communism, and was even favourable to it, by the great interest it produced in all countries of the German tongue. Communism was almost unknown in Germany, but became by this an object of general attention.

Besides this party there exists another in Germany, which advocates Communism. The former, being thoroughly a popular party, will no doubt very soon unite all the working classes of Germany; that party which I now refer to is a philosophical one, unconnected in its origin with either French or English Communists, and arising from that philosophy which, since the last fifty years, Germany has been so proud of.

The political revolution of France was accompanied by a philosophical revolution in Germany. Kant began it by overthrowing the old system of Leibnitzian metaphysics, which at the end of last century was introduced in all Universities of the Continent. Fichte and Schelling commenced rebuilding, and Hegel completed the new system. There has never been, ever since man began to think, a system of philosophy as comprehensive as that of Hegel. Logic, metaphysics, natural philosophy, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of law, of religion, of history, all are united in one system, reduced to one fundamental principle. The system appeared quite unassailable from without, and so it was; it has been overthrown from within only, by those who were Hegelians themselves. I cannot, of course, give here a complete development either of the system or of its history, and therefore must restrain myself to the following remarks. The progress of German philosophy from Kant to Hegel was so consistent, so logical, so necessary, if I may say so, that no other systems besides those I have named could subsist. There are two or three of them, but they found no attention; they were so neglected, that nobody would even do them the honour to overthrow them. Hegel, notwithstanding his enormous learning and his deep thought, was so much occupied with abstract questions, that he neglected to free himself from the prejudices of his age — an age of restoration for old systems of government and religion. But his disciples had very different views on these subjects. Hegel died in 1831, and as early as 1835 appeared Strauss’ Life of Jesus, the first work showing some progress beyond the limits of orthodox Hegelianism. Others followed; and in 1837 the Christians rose against what they called the New Hegelians, denouncing them as Atheists, and calling for the interference of the state. The state, however, did not interfere, and the controversy went on. At that time, the New, or Young Hegelians, were so little conscious of the consequences of their own reasoning, that they all denied the charge of Atheism, and called themselves Christians and Protestants, although they denied the existence of a God who was not man, and declared the history of the gospels to be a pure mythology. It was not until last year, in a pamphlet [Frederick Engels, Schelling and Revelation], by the writer of these lines, that the charge of Atheism was allowed to be just. But the development went on. The Young Hegelians of 1842 were declared Atheists and Republicans; the periodical of the party, the German Annals[Deutsche Jahrbücher für Wissenschaft und Kunst], was more radical and open than ever before; a political paper [Rheinische Zeitung für Politik, Handel und Gewerbe] was established, and very soon the whole of the German liberal press was entirely in our hands. We had friends in almost every considerable town of Germany; we provided all the liberal papers with. the necessary matter, and by this means made them our organs; we inundated the country with pamphlets, and soon governed public opinion upon every question. A temporary relaxation of the censorship of the press added a great deal to the energy of this movement, quite novel to a considerable part of the German public. Papers, published under the authorisation of a government censor, contained things which, even in France, would have been punished as high treason, and other things which could not have been pronounced in England, without a trial for blasphemy being the consequence of it. The movement was so sudden, so rapid, so energetically pursued, that the government as well as the public were dragged along with it for some time. But this violent character of the agitation proved that it was not founded upon a strong party among the public, and that its power was produced by the surprise, and consternation only of its opponents. The governments, recovering their senses, put a stop to it by a most despotic oppression of the liberty of speech. Pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, scientific works were suppressed by dozens, and the agitated state of the country soon subsided. It is a matter of course that such a tyrannical interference will not check the progress of public opinion, nor quench the principles defended by the agitators; the entire persecution has been of no use whatever to the ruling powers; because, if they had not put down the movement, it would have been checked by the apathy of the public at large, a public as little prepared for radical changes as that of every other country; and, if even this had not been the case, the republican agitation would have been abandoned by the agitators themselves, who now, by developing farther and farther the consequences of their philosophy, became Communists. The princes and rulers of Germany, at the very moment when they believed to have put down for ever republicanism, saw the rise of Communism from the ashes of political agitation; and this new doctrine appears to them even more dangerous and formidable than that in whose apparent destruction they rejoiced.

As early as autumn, 1842, some of the party contended for the insufficiency of political change, and declared their opinion to be, that a Social revolution based upon common property, was the only state of mankind agreeing with their abstract principles. But even the leaders of the party, such as Dr. Bruno Bauer, Dr. Feuerbach, and Dr. Ruge, were not then prepared for this decided step. The political paper of the party, the Rhenish Gazette [Rheinische Zeitung], published some papers advocating Communism, but without the wished-for effect. Communism, however, was such a necessary consequence of New Hegelian philosophy, that no opposition could keep it down, and, in the course of this present year, the originators of it had the satisfaction of seeing one republican after the other join their ranks. Besides Dr. Hess, one of the editors of the now suppressed Rhenish Gazette, and who was, in fact, the first Communist of the party, there are now a great many others; as Dr. Ruge, editor of the German Annals, the scientific periodical of the Young Hegelians, which has been suppressed by resolution of the German Diet [164]; Dr. Marx, another of the editors of the Rhenish Gazette; George Herwegh, the poet whose letter to the King of Prussia was translated, last winter, by most of the English papers [165], and others: and we hope that the remainder of the republican party will, by-and-by, come over too.

Thus, philosophical Communism may be considered for ever established in Germany, notwithstanding the efforts of the governments to keep it down. They have annihilated the press in their dominions, but to no effect; the progress parties profit by the free press of Switzerland and France, and their publications are as extensively circulated in Germany, as if they were printed in that country itself. All persecutions and prohibitions have proved ineffectual, and will ever do so; the Germans are a philosophical nation, and will not, cannot abandon Communism, as soon as it is founded upon sound philosophical principles: chiefly if it is derived as an unavoidable conclusion from their own philosophy. And this is the part we have to perform now. Our party has to prove that either all the philosophical efforts of the German nation, from Kant to Hegel, have been useless — worse than useless; or, that they must end in Communism; that the Germans must either reject their great philosophers, whose names they hold up as the glory of their nation, or that they must adopt Communism. And this will be proved; this dilemma the Germans will be forced into, and there can scarcely be any doubt as to which side of the question the people will adopt.

There is a greater chance in Germany for the establishment of a Communist party among the educated classes of society, than anywhere else. The Germans are a very disinterested nation; if in Germany principle comes into collision with interest, principle will almost always silence the claims of interest. The same love of abstract principle, the same disregard of reality and self-interest, which have brought the Germans to a state of political nonentity, these very same qualities guarantee the success of philosophical Communism in that country. It will appear very singular to Englishmen, that a party which aims at the destruction of private property is chiefly made up by those who have property; and yet this is the case in Germany. We can recruit our ranks from those classes only which have enjoyed a pretty good education; that is, from the universities and from the commercial class; and in either we have not hitherto met with any considerable difficulty.

As to the particular doctrines of our party, we agree much more with the English Socialists than with any other party. Their system, like ours, is founded upon philosophical principle; they struggle, as we do, against religious prejudices whilst the French reject philosophy and perpetuate religion by dragging it over with themselves into the projected new state of society. The French Communists could assist us in the first stages only of our development, and we soon found that we knew more than our teachers; but we shall have to learn a great deal yet from the English Socialists. Although our fundamental principles give us a broader base, inasmuch as we received them from a system of philosophy embracing every part of human knowledge; yet in everything bearing upon practice, upon the facts of the present state of society, we find that the English Socialists are a long way before us, and have left very little to be done. I may say, besides, that I have met with English Socialists with whom I agree upon almost every question.

I cannot now give an exposition of ‘this Communist system without adding too much to the length of this paper; but I intend to do so some time soon, if the Editor of the New Moral World [G. A. Fleming] will allow me the space for it. [166] I therefore conclude by stating that, notwithstanding the persecutions of the German governments (I understand that, in Berlin, Mr. Edgar Bauer is being prosecuted for a Communist publication [167]; and in Stuttgart another gentleman has been committed for the novel crime of “Communist correspondence"!), notwithstanding this, I say, every necessary step is taken to bring about a successful agitation for Social Reform, to establish a new periodical, and to secure the circulation of all publications advocating Communism.