Works of Frederick Engels 1847
Source,: MECW Volume 6 p. 75;
Written: in March-April 1847;
First published: in Russian in Marx and Engels, Works 1929;
German socialist literature grows worse from month to month. It increasingly confines itself to the broad effusions of those true socialists whose whole wisdom amounts to an amalgam of German philosophy and German-philistine sentimentality with a few stunted communist slogans. It exhibits a peacefulness which enables it even under the censorship to state its most heartfelt opinions. Even the German police find little in it to take exception to — proof enough that it belongs not to the progressive, revolutionary elements but to the stale, reactionary elements in German literature.
To these true socialists belong not only those who term themselves socialists par excellence, but also the greater part of those writers in Germany who have accepted the party name of Communists. The latter indeed are, if possible, even worse.
Under these circumstances, it goes without saying that these soi-disant communist writers are in no way representative of the Party of the German Communists. They are neither recognised by the Party as its literary representatives nor do they represent its interests. On the contrary, they look after quite other interests, they defend quite other principles, which are opposed in every respect to those of the Communist Party.
The true socialists, to whom, as we have said, most German soi-disant communist writers belong, have learnt from the French Communists that the transition from the absolute monarchy to the modern representative state in no way abolishes the poverty of the great mass of the people, but only brings a new class, the bourgeoisie, to power. They have further learnt from the French Communists that it is precisely this bourgeoisie which, by means of its capital, presses most heavily upon the masses, and hence is the opponent par excellence of the Communists, or socialists respectively, as representatives of the mass of the people. They have not taken the trouble to compare Germany’s level of social and political development with that of France, nor to study the conditions actually existing in Germany upon which all further development depends; hastily and without long reflection they have transferred their hastily acquired knowledge to Germany. Had they been Party men who aimed at a practical, tangible result, who represented particular interests common to an entire class, they would at least have paid attention to the way in which the opponents of the bourgeoisie in France, from the editors of La Réforme to the ultra-Communists, such as in particular the acknowledged representative of the great mass of the French proletariat, old Cabet, behave in their polemic against the bourgeoisie. It should really have struck them that these representatives of the Party not merely engage continually in politics of the day, but that even towards political measures such as proposals for electoral reforms, in which the proletariat has no direct interest, they nevertheless adopt an attitude far removed from sovereign disdain. But our true socialists are not Party men, they are German theoreticians. They are not concerned with practical interests and results, but with eternal truth. The interests which they strive to uphold are the interests of “man”, the results they pursue are limited to philosophical “achievements”. So they only needed to bring their new elucidations into harmony with their own philosophical conscience, in order then to noise abroad before the whole of Germany that political progress, like all politics, is evil, that constitutional freedom in particular elevates to the throne the bourgeoisie, the class most dangerous to the people, and that in general the bourgeoisie cannot be attacked enough.
In France, the rule of the bourgeoisie has for seventeen years been more complete than in any other country in the world. The attacks of the French proletarians, their Party chiefs and literary representatives on the bourgeoisie were therefore attacks on the ruling class, on the existing political system, they were definitely revolutionary attacks. How well the ruling bourgeoisie knows this is proven by the countless press trials and prosecutions of associations, the prohibition of meetings and banquets, the hundred police chicaneries with which it persecutes the Réformistes and Communists. In Germany, things are completely different. In Germany the bourgeoisie is not only not in power, it is even the most dangerous enemy of the existing governments. For these the diversion mounted by the true socialists was very opportune. The struggle against the bourgeoisie, which only too often brought the French Communists imprisonment or exile, brought our true socialists nothing except the permission to print. The revolutionary heat in the polemics by the French proletariat dwindled in the cool breasts of the German theoreticians to a tepidness satisfying the censorship and in this emasculated state was a quite welcome ally for the German governments against the threatening bourgeoisie. True socialism managed to use the most revolutionary propositions that have ever been framed as a protective wall for the morass of the German status quo. True socialism is reactionary through and through.
The bourgeoisie long ago noticed this reactionary tendency of true socialism. But without further thought they took this trend for the literary representative also of German communism, and reproached the Communists publicly and privately with merely playing into the hands of the governments, the bureaucracy, and the nobility with their polemics against a representative system, trial by jury, freedom of the press, and their clamour against the bourgeoisie.
It is high time that the German Communists disowned the responsibility imputed to them for the reactionary deeds and desires of the true socialists. It is high time that the German Communists, who represent the German proletariat with its very clear, very tangible needs, broke in the most decisive manner with that literary clique — for it is nothing more — which does not know itself whom it represents, and so against its will tumbles into the arms of the German governments; which believes itself to be “realising man” and is realising nothing but the deification of the wretched German philistine. We Communists have in fact nothing in common with the theoretical phantasms and scruples of conscience of this crafty company. Our attacks on the bourgeoisie differ as much from those of the true socialists as from those of the reactionary nobles, e. g., the French legitimists or Young England. The German status quo cannot exploit our attacks in any way, because they are directed still more against it than against the bourgeoisie. If the bourgeoisie, so to speak, our natural enemy, is the enemy whose overthrow will bring our party to power, the German status quo is still more our enemy, because it stands between the bourgeoisie and us, because it hinders us from coming to grips with the bourgeoisie. For that reason we do not exclude ourselves in any way from the great mass of opposition to the German status quo. We only form its most advanced section — a section which at the same time through its unconcealed arrière pensée against the bourgeoisie takes up a quite definite position.
With the meeting of the Prussian United Diet the struggle against the German status quo reaches a turning point. On the attitude of this Diet depends the continuation or the end of the status quo. The parties in Germany, which are still very vague, confused and fragmented through ideological subtleties, are thus faced with the necessity to clarify for themselves what interests they represent, what tactics they must follow, to demarcate themselves from other parties and to become practical. The youngest of these parties, the Communist Party, cannot evade this necessity. It must likewise clarify for itself its position, its plan of campaign, its means of action, and the first step to this is to disavow the reactionary socialists who try to insinuate themselves among the Communists. It can take this step all the sooner because it is strong enough to refuse assistance from all allies who would discredit it.
The status quo in Germany is as follows.
While in France and England the bourgeoisie has become powerful enough to overthrow the nobility and to raise itself to be the ruling class in the state, the German bourgeoisie has not yet had such power. It has indeed a certain influence upon the governments, but in’ all cases where there is a collision of interests, this influence must give way to that of the landed nobility. While in France and England the towns dominate the countryside, in Germany the countryside dominates the towns, agriculture dominates trade and industry. This is the case not only in the absolute, but also in the constitutional, monarchies of Germany, not only in Austria and Prussia, but also in Saxony, Württemberg and Baden.
The cause of this is that in its stage of civilisation Germany lags behind the Western countries. In the latter it is predominantly trade and industry which provide the mass of the population with their livelihood, but with us it is agriculture. England exports no agricultural produce whatever, but is in constant need of supplies from abroad; France imports at least as much agricultural produce as it exports, and both countries base their wealth above all on their exports of industrial products. Germany, on the contrary, exports few industrial goods, but a great quantity of corn, wool, cattle, etc. When Germany’s political system was established — in 1815, the overwhelming importance of agriculture was even greater than now and it was increased still more at that time by the fact that it was precisely the almost exclusively agricultural parts of Germany that had participated most zealously in the overthrow of the French Empire.
The political representative of agriculture is, in Germany as in most European countries, the nobility, the class of big landed proprietors. The political system corresponding to the exclusive dominance of the nobility is the feudal system. The feudal system has everywhere declined in the same degree in which agriculture has ceased to be the decisive branch of production in a country, in the same degree in which an industrial class has formed itself beside the agricultural, towns beside villages.
The class newly forming itself beside the nobility and the peasants more or less dependent on it is not the bourgeoisie, which today rules in the civilised countries and is striving for mastery in Germany; it is the class of the petty bourgeoisie.
The present political system of Germany is nothing more than a compromise between the nobility and the petty bourgeoisie, which amounts to resigning power into the hands of a third class: the bureaucracy. In the composition of this class the two high contracting parties participate according to their respective status; the nobility, which represents the more important branch of production, reserves to itself the higher positions, the petty bourgeoisie contents itself with the lower and only in exceptional circumstances puts forward candidates for the higher administration. Where the bureaucracy is subjected to direct control, as in the constitutional states of Germany, the nobility and petty bourgeoisie share in it in the same way; and that here also the nobility reserves to itself the lion’s share is easily understood. The petty bourgeoisie can never overthrow the nobility, nor make itself equal to it; it can do no more than weaken it. To overthrow the nobility, another class is required, with wider interests, greater property and more determined courage: the bourgeoisie.
In all countries the bourgeoisie emerges from the petty bourgeoisie with the development of world trade and large-scale industry, with the accompanying free competition and centralisation of property. The petty bourgeoisie represents inland and coastal trade, handicrafts, manufacture based on handwork — branches of industry which operate within a limited area, require little capital, have a slow turnover and give rise to only local and sluggish competition. The bourgeoisie represents world trade, the direct exchange of products of all regions, trade in money, large factory industry based on the use of machinery — branches of production which demand the greatest possible area, the greatest possible capital and the quickest possible turnover, and give rise to universal and stormy competition. The petty bourgeois represents local, the bourgeois general interests. The petty bourgeois finds his position sufficiently safeguarded if, while exercising indirect influence on state legislation, he participates directly in provincial administration and is master of his local municipality. The bourgeois cannot protect his interests without direct, constant control of the central administration, foreign policy and legislation of his state. The classical creation of the petty bourgeoisie were the free cities of the German Reich, that of the bourgeoisie is the French representative state. The petty bourgeois is conservative as soon as the ruling class makes a few concessions to him; the bourgeois is revolutionary until he himself rules.
What then is the attitude of the German bourgeoisie to the two classes that share political rule?
While a rich and powerful bourgeoisie has been formed in England since the seventeenth and in France since the eighteenth century, one can speak of a German bourgeoisie only since the beginning of the nineteenth century. There were before then, it is true, a few rich shipowners in the Hanseatic towns, a few rich bankers in the interior, but no class of big capitalists, and least of all of big industrial capitalists. The creator of the German bourgeoisie was Napoleon. His continental system and the freedom of trade made necessary by its pressure in Prussia gave the Germans a manufacturing industry and expanded their mining industry. After a few years these new or expanded branches of production were already so important, and the bourgeoisie created by them so influential, that by 1818 the Prussian government saw that it was necessary to allow them protective tariffs. The Prussian Customs Act of 1818 was the first official recognition of the bourgeoisie by the government. It was admitted, though reluctantly and with a heavy heart, that the bourgeoisie had become a class indispensable for the country. The next concession to the bourgeoisie was the Customs Union. The admission of most of the German states into the Prussian customs system was no doubt originally occasioned simply by fiscal and political considerations, but no one benefited from it as much as did the German, more especially the Prussian, bourgeoisie. Although the Customs Union here and there brought a few small advantages to the nobility and petty bourgeoisie, on the whole it harmed both groups still more through the rise of the bourgeoisie, keener competition and the supplanting of the previous means of production. Since then the bourgeoisie, especially in Prussia, has developed rather quickly. Although its advance during the last thirty years has not been nearly as great as that of the English and French bourgeoisie, it has nevertheless established most branches of modern industry, in a few districts supplanted peasant or petty-bourgeois patriarchalism, concentrated capital to some extent, produced something of a proletariat, I and built fairly long stretches of railroad. It has at least reached the point of having either to go further and make itself the ruling class or to renounce its previous conquests, the point where it is the only class that can at the moment bring about progress in Germany, can at the moment rule Germany. It is already in fact the leading class in Germany, and its whole existence depends upon its becoming legally so as well.
With the rise of the bourgeoisie and its growing influence coincides, indeed, the growing impotence of the hitherto official ruling classes. The nobility has become more and more impoverished and encumbered with debts since the time of Napoleon. The buying free from corvée raised the production costs of corn for the nobility and exposed it to competition from a new class of independent small peasants — disadvantages which in the long run were far from being compensated for by the peasants overreaching themselves when they bought themselves free. Russian and American competition limited the market for its corn, Australian and in some years South Russian that of its wool. And the more the production costs and competition increased, the more was exposed the incapacity of the nobility to work its estates profitably, and to apply the newest advances in agriculture. Like the French and English nobility of the last century, the German nobility employed the rising level of civilisation only to squander its fortune magnificently on pleasures in the big cities. Between the nobility and the bourgeoisie began that competition in social and intellectual education, in wealth and display, which everywhere precedes the political dominance of the bourgeoisie and ends, like every other form of competition, with the victory of the richer side. The provincial nobility turned into a Court nobility, only thereby to be ruined all the more quickly and surely. The three per cent revenues of the nobility went down before the fifteen per cent profit of the bourgeoisie, the three-per-centers resorted to mortgages, to credit banks for the nobility and so on, in order to be able to spend in accordance with their station, and only ruined themselves so much the quicker. The few landed gentry wise enough not to ruin themselves formed with the newly-emerging bourgeois landowners a new class of industrial landowners. This class carries on agriculture without feudal illusions and without the nobleman’s nonchalance, as a business, an industry, with the bourgeois appliances of capital, expert knowledge and work. Such a class is so far from being incompatible with the rule of the bourgeoisie that in France it stands quite peacefully alongside it and participates according to its wealth in its rule. It constitutes the section of the bourgeoisie which exploits agriculture.
The nobility has therefore become so impotent, that a part of it has already gone over to the bourgeoisie.
The petty bourgeoisie was already in a weak position in relation to the nobility; still less can it hold out against the bourgeoisie. Next to the peasants, it is the most pathetic class that has ever meddled with history. With its petty local interests, it advanced no further even in its heyday (the later Middle Ages) than to local organisations, local struggles and local advances, to an existence on sufferance alongside the nobility, never to general, political, dominance. With the emergence of the bourgeoisie it loses even the appearance of historical initiative. Wedged in between nobility and bourgeoisie, under pressure alike from the political preponderance of the former and from the competition of the heavy capital of the latter, it split into two sections. The one, that of the richer and big-city petty bourgeoisie, joins the revolutionary bourgeoisie more or less timidly; the other, recruited from the poorer burghers, especially those of the small provincial towns, clings to the existing state of things and supports the nobility with the whole weight of its inertia. The more the bourgeoisie develops, the worse becomes the position of the petty bourgeoisie. Gradually this second section also realises that under existing conditions its ruin is certain, whereas under the rule of the bourgeoisie, alongside the probability of that ruin, it enjoys at least the possibility of advancing into the ranks of the bourgeoisie. The more certain its ruin, the more it ranges itself under the banner of the bourgeoisie. As soon as the bourgeoisie has come to power, the petty bourgeoisie splits again. It supplies recruits to every section of the bourgeoisie, and besides forms, between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat now emerging with its interests and demands, a chain of more or less radical political and socialist sects, which one can study more closely in the English or French Chamber of Deputies and the daily press. The more sharply the bourgeoisie penetrates into the undisciplined and poorly armed swarms of petty bourgeoisie with the heavy artillery of its capital, with the closed columns of its joint-stock companies, the more helpless the petty bourgeoisie becomes, the more disorderly its flight, until no other way of escape remains to it than either to muster behind the long files of the proletariat and to march under its banner — or to surrender to the bourgeoisie at its discretion. This diverting spectacle can be observed in England at every trade crisis, and in France at the present moment. In Germany we have only arrived at that phase when the petty bourgeoisie in a moment of despair and squeezed for money forms the heroic resolution to renounce the nobility and place its trust in the bourgeoisie.
The petty bourgeoisie is therefore just as little able as the nobility to raise itself to be the ruling class in Germany; on the contrary, it places itself every day more and more under the command of the bourgeoisie.
There remain the peasants and the propertyless classes.
The peasants, among whom we include here only the small peasant tenants or proprietors, with the exclusion of the day labourers and farm labourers — the peasants form a similarly helpless class as do the petty bourgeoisie, from whom, however, they differ to their advantage through their greater courage. But they are similarly incapable of all historical initiative. Even their emancipation from the fetters of serfdom comes about only under the protection of the bourgeoisie. Where the absence of nobility and bourgeoisie allows them to rule, as in the mountain cantons of Switzerland and in Norway, pre-feudal barbarisms, local narrow-mindedness, and dull, fanatical bigotry, loyalty and rectitude rule with them. Where, as in Germany, the nobility continues to exist beside them, they are squeezed, just like the petty bourgeoisie, between the nobility and the bourgeoisie. To protect the interests of agriculture against the growing power of trade and industry, they must join with the nobility. To safeguard themselves against the overwhelming competition of the nobility and especially the bourgeois landowners, they must join with the bourgeoisie. To which side they finally adhere depends upon the nature of their property. The big farmers of eastern Germany, who themselves exercise a certain feudal dominance over their farm labourers, are in all their interests too closely involved with the nobles to dissociate themselves from them in earnest. The small landowners in the west who have emerged from the breaking up of the estates of the nobility, and the small farmers in the east who are subject to patrimonial jurisdiction and still partly liable to corvée labour, are oppressed too directly by the nobles or stand too much in opposition to them not to adhere to the side of the bourgeoisie. That this is actually the case is proved by the Prussian provincial diets.
Rule by the peasants is also, therefore, fortunately unthinkable. The peasants themselves think of it so little that they have for the greatest part already placed themselves at the disposal of the bourgeoisie.
And the propertyless, in common parlance the working, classes? We shall soon speak of them at greater length; for the moment it is sufficient to point to the division among them. This division into farm labourers, day. labourers, handicraft journeymen, factory workers and lumpen proletariat, together with their dispersal over a great, thinly populated expanse of country with few and weak central points, already renders it impossible for them to realise that their interests are common, to reach understanding, to constitute themselves into one class. This division and dispersal makes nothing else possible for them but restriction to their immediate, everyday interests, to the wish for a good wage for good work. That is, it restricts the workers to seeing their interest in that of their employers, thus making every single section of the workers into an auxiliary army for the class employing them. The farm labourer and day labourer supports the interests of the noble or farmer on whose estate he works. The journeyman stands under the intellectual and political sway of his master. The factory worker lets himself be used by the factory owner in the agitation for protective tariffs. For a few talers the lumpen proletarian fights out with his fists the squabbles between bourgeoisie, nobility and police. And where two classes of employers have contradictory interests to assert, there exists the same struggle between the classes of workers they employ.
So little is the mass of the workers in Germany prepared to assume the leadership in public matters.
To summarise. The nobility is too much in decline, the petty bourgeoisie and peasants are, by their whole position in life, too weak, the workers are still far from sufficiently mature to be able to come forward as the ruling class in Germany. There remains only the bourgeoisie.
The poverty of the German status quo consists chiefly in this: no single class has hitherto been strong enough to establish its branch of production as the national branch of production par excellence and thus to set itself up as the representative of the interests of the whole nation. All the estates and classes that have emerged in history since the tenth century: nobles, serfs, peasants subject to corvée labour, free peasants, petty bourgeoisie, journeymen, manufactory workers, bourgeoisie and proletarians, all exist alongside one another. Those among these estates and classes who in consequence of their property represent a branch of production, namely the nobles, free peasants, petty bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie, have participated in political rule in proportion to their number, their wealth, and their share in the total production of the country. The result of this division is that, as we have said, the nobility has got the lion’s share, the petty bourgeoisie the smaller share, and that officially the bourgeoisie count only as petty bourgeoisie and the peasants as peasants do not count at all, because they, with the slight influence they possess, divide themselves between the other classes. This regime represented by the bureaucracy is the political summing-up of the general impotence and contemptibility, of the dull boredom and the sordidness of German society. it is matched by the breaking up of Germany into thirty-eight local and provincial states together with the breaking up of Austria and Prussia into autonomous provinces from within and by the disgraceful helplessness against exploitation and kicks from without. The cause of this general poverty lies in the general lack of capital. In poverty-stricken Germany every single class has borne from the beginning the mark of civic mediocrity, and in comparison with the same classes in other countries has been poor and depressed. How petty bourgeois appears the high and low German nobility since the twelfth century beside the rich and carefree French and English nobility, so full of the joy of living and so purposeful in their whole behaviour! How tiny, how insignificant and parochial appear the burghers of the German free cities of the Reich and the Hanseatic towns beside the rebellious Parisian burghers of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the London Puritans of the seventeenth century! How petty bourgeois still appear our principal magnates in industry, finance, shipping, beside the Stock Exchange princes of Paris, Lyons, London, Liverpool and Manchester! Even the working classes in Germany are thoroughly petty bourgeois. Thus the petty bourgeoisie have at least the consolation in their depressed social and political position of being ‘the standard class of Germany; and of having imparted to all other classes their specific depression and their concern over their existence.
How is this poverty to be overcome? Only one way is possible: one class must become strong enough to make the rise of the whole nation dependent upon its rise, to make the advancement of the interests of all other classes dependent upon the advancement and development of its interests. The interest of this one class must become for the time being the national interest, and this class itself must become for the time being the representative of the nation. From that moment, this class and with it the majority of the nation, finds itself in contradiction with the political status quo. The political status quo corresponds to a state of affairs which has ceased to exist: to the conflict of interests of the different classes. The new interests find themselves restricted, and even a part of the classes in whose favour the status quo was established no longer sees its own interests represented in it. The abolition of the status quo, peacefully or by force, is the necessary consequence. In its place enters dominance by the class which for the moment represents the majority of the nation, and under whose rule a new development begins.
As the lack of capital is the basis of the status quo, of the general weakness, so possession of capital, its concentration in the hands of one class, can alone give this class the power to supplant the status quo.
Does this class, which can overthrow the status quo, exist now in Germany? It exists, although, compared with the corresponding class in England and France, in a perhaps very petty bourgeois way; but still it exists and, indeed, in the bourgeoisie.
The bourgeoisie is the class which in all countries overthrows the compromise established between nobility and petty bourgeoisie in the bureaucratic monarchy, and thus to begin with conquers power for itself.
The bourgeoisie is the only class in Germany which at least gives a great part of the industrial landowners, petty bourgeoisie, peasants, workers and even a minority among the nobles a share in its interests, and has united these under its banner.
The party of the bourgeoisie is the only one in Germany that definitely knows with what it must replace the status quo; the only one that does not limit itself to abstract principles and historical deductions, but wishes to carry into effect very definite, concrete and immediately practicable measures; the only one which is at least organised to some extent on a local and provincial basis and has a sort of plan of campaign, in short, it is the party which fights first and foremost against the status quo and is directly interested in its overthrow.
The party of the bourgeoisie is therefore the only one that at present has a chance of success.
The only question then is: Is the bourgeoisie compelled by necessity to conquer political rule for itself through the overthrow of the status quo, and is it strong enough, given its own power and the weakness of its opponents, to overthrow the status quo?
We shall see.
The decisive section of the German bourgeoisie are the factory owners. On the prosperity of industry depends the prosperity of the whole domestic trade, of the Hamburg and Bremen and, to some extent, Stettin sea trade, of banking; on it depend the revenues of the railways, and with that the most significant part of the Stock Exchange business. Independent of industry are only the corn and wool exporters of the Baltic towns and the insignificant class of importers of foreign industrial products. The needs of the factory owners thus represent the needs of the whole bourgeoisie and of the classes at present dependent upon it.
The factory owners are further divided into two sections: the one gives the initial processing to raw materials and sends them into trade half-finished, the other takes over the half-finished materials and brings them to market as finished commodities. To the first group belong the spinners, to the second the weavers. In Germany the first section also includes the iron producers. [Here four pages of the manuscript are missing]
... to introduce newly invented techniques, to establish good communications, to obtain cheap machines and raw materials, to train skilled workers, requires an entire industrial system; it requires the interlocking of all branches of industry, sea-ports which are tributary to the industrial interior and carry on a flourishing trade. All this has long ago been proved by the economists. But such an industrial system requires also nowadays, when England is almost the only country that has no competition to fear, a complete protective system embracing all branches of industry threatened by foreign competition, and modifications to this system must always be made according to the position of industry. Such a system the existing Prussian Government cannot give, nor can all the governments of the Customs Union. It can only be set up and operated by the ruling bourgeoisie itself. And for this reason also the German bourgeoisie can no longer do without political power.
Such a protective system, moreover, is all the more necessary in Germany, since there manufacture lies in its death throes. Without systematic tariff protection the competition of English machinery will kill manufacture, and. the bourgeoisie, petty bourgeoisie and workers hitherto maintained by it will be ruined. Reason enough for the German bourgeoisie to ruin what remains of manufacture rather with German machines.
Protective tariffs are therefore necessary for the German bourgeoisie and only by that bourgeoisie itself can they be introduced. if only for that reason, then, it must seize state power.
But it is not only by insufficient tariffs that the factory owners are hindered in the complete utilisation of their capital; they are also hindered by the bureaucracy. If in the matter of customs legislation they meet with indifference from the government, in their relations with the bureaucracy they meet with its most direct hostility.
The bureaucracy was set up to govern petty bourgeoisie and peasants. These classes, dispersed in small towns or villages, with interests which do not reach beyond the narrowest local boundaries, have necessarily the restricted horizons corresponding to their restricted mode of life. They cannot govern a large state, they can have neither the breadth of vision nor the knowledge to balance the different conflicting interests. And it was exactly at that stage of civilisation when the petty bourgeoisie was most flourishing that the different interests were most complicatedly intertwined (one need only think of the guilds and their conflicts). The petty bourgeoisie and the peasants cannot, therefore, do without a powerful and numerous bureaucracy. They must let themselves be kept in leading strings so as to escape the greatest confusion, and not to ruin themselves with hundreds and thousands of lawsuits.
But the bureaucracy, which is a necessity for the petty bourgeoisie, very soon becomes an unbearable fetter for the bourgeoisie. Already at the stage of manufacture official supervision and interference become very burdensome; factory industry is scarcely possible under such control. The German factory owners have hitherto kept the bureaucracy off their backs as much as possible by bribery, for which they can certainly not be blamed. But this remedy frees them only from the lesser half of the burden; apart from the impossibility of bribing all the officials with whom a factory owner comes into contact, bribery does not free him from perquisites, honorariums to jurists, architects, mechanics, nor from other expenses caused by the system of supervision, nor from extra work and waste of time. And the more industry develops, the more “conscientious officials” appear — that is, officials who either from pure narrow-mindedness or from bureaucratic hatred of the bourgeoisie, pester the factory owners with the most infuriating chicaneries.
The bourgeoisie, therefore, is compelled to break the power of this indolent and pettifogging bureaucracy. From the moment the state administration and legislature fall under the control of the bourgeoisie, the independence of the bureaucracy ceases to exist; indeed from this moment, the tormentors of the bourgeoisie turn into their humble slaves. Previous regulations and decrees, which served only to lighten the work of the officials at the expense of the industrial bourgeoisie, give place to new regulations which lighten the work of the industrialists at the expense of the officials.
The bourgeoisie is all the more compelled to do this as soon as possible because, as we have seen, all its sections are directly concerned in the quickest possible increase of factory industry, and factory industry cannot possibly grow under a regime of bureaucratic harassment.
The subordination of the customs and the bureaucracy to the interest of the industrial bourgeoisie are the two measures with the implementation of which the bourgeoisie is most directly concerned. But that does not by any means exhaust its needs. The bourgeoisie is compelled to subject the whole system of legislation, administration and justice in almost all the German states to a thoroughgoing revision for this whole system serves to maintain and uphold a social condition which the bourgeoisie is continually working to overthrow. The conditions under which nobility and petty bourgeoisie can exist side by side are absolutely different from the conditions of life of the bourgeoisie, and only the former are officially recognised in the German states. Let us take the Prussian status quo as an example. If the petty bourgeoisie could subject themselves to the judicial as well as to the administrative bureaucracy, if they could entrust their property and persons to the discretion and torpidity of an “independent”, i. e., bureaucratically self-sufficient judicial class, which in return offered them protection against the encroachments of the feudal nobility and at times also against those of the administrative bureaucracy, the bourgeoisie cannot do so. For lawsuits concerning property the bourgeoisie requires at least the protection of publicity, and for criminal trials moreover that of the jury as well, the constant control of justice through a deputation of the bourgeoisie. — The petty bourgeois can put up with the exemption of nobles and officials from common legal procedure because his official humiliation in this way fully corresponds to his make his class the first in society and state, cannot do this. — The lower social status. The bourgeois, who must either be ruined or petty bourgeois can, without prejudice to the smooth course of his way of life, leave legislation on landed property to the nobility alone; in fact he must, since he has enough to do to protect his own urban interests from the influence and encroachment of the nobles. The bourgeois cannot in any way leave the regulation of property relationships in the countryside to the discretion of the nobility, for the complete development of his own interests requires the fullest possible industrial exploitation of agriculture too, the creation of a class of industrial farmers, free saleability and mobilisation of landed property. The need of the landowner to procure money on mortgage gives to the bourgeois here an opportunity and forces the nobility to allow the bourgeoisie, at least in relation to the mortgage laws, to influence legislation concerning landed property. — If the petty bourgeois, with his small scale of business, his slow turnover and his limited number of customers concentrated in a small area, has not found the miserable old Prussian legislation on trade too oppressive but has even been grateful for the bit of protection it provided, the bourgeois cannot bear it any longer. The petty bourgeois, whose highly simple transactions are seldom dealings between merchant and merchant, but almost always only sales from retailer or producer direct to consumer — the petty bourgeois seldom goes bankrupt and easily accommodates himself to the old Prussian bankruptcy laws. According to these laws, debts on bills are paid off from total assets before book debts, but customarily the whole assets are devoured by court costs. The laws are framed first of all in the interests of the judicial bureaucracy who administer the assets, and then in the interests of the non-bourgeois as opposed to the bourgeois. The noble in particular, who draws or receives bills on the purchaser or consignee of the corn he has dispatched, is thereby covered, and so are in general all those who have something to sell only once a year and draw the proceeds of that sale in a single transaction. Among those engaged in trade, the bankers and wholesalers are again protected, but the factory owner is rather neglected. The bourgeois, whose dealings are only from merchant to merchant, whose customers are scattered, who receives bills on the whole world, who must move in the midst of a highly complicated system of transactions, who is involved at every moment in a bankruptcy — the bourgeois can only be ruined by these absurd laws. — The petty bourgeois is interested in the general policy of his country only in so far as he wants to be left in peace; his narrow round of life makes him incapable of surveying the relations of state to state. The bourgeois, who has to deal or to compete with the most distant countries, cannot work his way up without the most direct influence on the foreign policy of his state. — The petty bourgeois could let the bureaucracy and nobility levy taxes on him, for the same reasons that he subjected himself to the bureaucracy; the bourgeois has a quite direct interest in having the public burdens so distributed that they affect his profit as little as possible.
In short, if the petty bourgeois can content himself with opposing to the nobility and the bureaucracy his inert weight, with securing for himself influence on the official power through his vis inertiae, the bourgeois cannot do this. He must make his class dominant, his interests crucial, in legislation, administration, justice, taxation and foreign policy. The bourgeoisie must develop itself to the full, daily expand its capital, daily reduce the production costs of its commodities, daily expand its trade connections and markets, daily improve its communications, in order not to be ruined, The competition on the world market compels it to do so. And to be able to develop freely and to the full, what it requires is precisely political dominance, the subordination of all other interests to its own.
That in order not to be ruined the German bourgeoisie requires political dominance now, we have shown above in connection with the question of protective tariffs and with its attitude to the bureaucracy. But the most striking proof of this is the present state of the German money and commodity market.
The prosperity of English industry in 1845 and the railway speculations to which it led had on this occasion a stronger effect on France and Germany than at any earlier lively period of business. The German factory owners did good business, which stimulated German business in general. The agricultural districts found a willing market for their corn in England. The general prosperity enlivened the money market, facilitated credit and attracted on to the market a large number of small amounts of capital, of which in Germany there were so many lying half idle. As in England and France, only somewhat later and in somewhat — [Here the manuscript breaks off]