Marx-Engels Correspondence 1869
Source: MECW, Volume 43, p. 235;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.
The enclosed little document arrived yesterday (though dated 27 February). You must send it back as soon as you have read it, since I have to lay it before the Council on Tuesday next. The gentlemen of the ‘Alliance’ have taken a long time to produce this opus.
In fact, we would rather they had kept their ‘unnumbered legions’ in France, Spain and Italy to themselves.
Bakunin thinks: if we approve his ‘programme radical’ he can trumpet it forth and compromise us tant soit peu [however little]. If we declare ourselves against it, we shall be denounced as counter-revolutionaries. Moreover: if we admit it, he will see to it that, at the Congress in Basle, he is seconded by some riff-raff. I think the answer should be along the following lines:
According to para. 1 of the Rules, every workers’ society that is ‘aiming at the same end, viz., the protection, advancement and complete emancipation of the working classes’, is to be admitted.
As the stage of development reached by different sections of the workers in the same country and by the working class in different countries necessarily varies considerably, the actual movement also necessarily expresses itself in very diverse theoretical forms.
The community of action the International Working Men’s Association is calling into being, the exchange of ideas by means of the different organs of the sections in all countries and, finally, the direct discussions at the general congresses would also gradually create a common theoretical programme for the general workers’ movement.
With regard to the programme of the ‘Alliance’, therefore, it is not necessary for the General Council to submit it to an examen critique. The Council does not need to examine whether it is an adequate scientific expression of the workers’ movement. It has only to ask whether the general tendency of the programme is in opposition to the general tendency of the International Working Men’s Association — the complete emancipation of the working classes!
This reproach might apply to only one phrase in the programme, para. 2: ‘above all, it desires the political, economic and social equalisation of the classes’, interpreted literally, is simply another way of saying the ‘harmony of capital and labour’ preached by bourgeois socialists. The final aim of the International Working Men’s Association is not the logically impossible ‘égalisation des classes’, but the historically necessary ‘abolition des classes’. From the context in which this phrase appears in the programme, however, it seems to be merely a slip of the pen. The General Council has little doubt, therefore, that this phrase, which might lead to serious misunderstanding, will be deleted from the programme.
On this assumption, it is the principle of the International Working Men’s Association to leave each section the responsibility for its own programme. There is, therefore, no obstacle to the transformation of the sections of the Alliance into sections of the International Working Men’s Association.
As soon as this has taken place, the General Council must, in accordance with the Rules, be supplied with a dénombrement of the newly adhering sections, according to country, residence and numbers.
This last point — the census of their legions — will, of course, upset the gentlemen. When you return the letter, tell me what you want changed in this draft reply.
Quoad Liebknecht, I have given further thought to the matter. Publication in the lousy little sheet must not be allowed. Publication as a pamphlet by Wilhelm is a delusion. Should I write to Eichhoff asking whether his brother would publish it at a reasonable price? Could you, in this case, bestow your fee upon the General Council, which is greatly in need of money? I still have a copy of the 6th issue containing the Peasant War (apart from my bound Revue, which is complete). I could send this to Berlin.
Please reply by return.
Moreover, Wilhelm should reprint the last section of the pamphlet on military questions. The transaction with Meissner (in which Wilhelm would have to show his cash! — anyway Meissner is very ticklish upon such points) is impossible.