A correction on Friederich Engels - Karl Kautsky

Karl Kautsky
Karl Kautsky

Refutation of a communist slander. (Background details below)

Submitted by Noa Rodman on February 2, 2012

The ''Populaire" of September 4 reports on a conference which the Spanish comrade Largo Caballero held on August 12. I have read the lecture with great interest. But as remarkable as it is in my view, I must still correct it on one point, which concerns me personally as the author of the so called "Erfurt Program" which German Social Democracy adopted in 1891 on its Party congress in Erfurt. The correction seems necessary to me because the statements on this point of the by me (and by my party) estimated Spanish comrade are apt to denigrate me in the eyes of my friends and the International.
Caballero undoubtedly came to speak on the Erfurt program because just now a Spanish translation of my commentary to it was published. He explicated that Engels had addressed a letter to me as the author of the program, in which he condemned it as "opportunist''. Only 10 years later this letter was published, despite the fact that it contains most important explanations. In the Spanish edition too nothing was mentioned of this letter.
These declarations would surely cast a very bad light on me, if they were true. That however they are not. Comrade Caballero has become victim of a deception. This deception arose from the following situation: The Party conference of 1890 authorized the executive of German Social Democracy to prepare the draft of a new program. This order was fulfilled by the party executive in June 1891. Its draft was sent to various comrades, including of course foremost Engels. The letter, of which Caballero spoke, represents the critique which Engels exercised on the draft of the party executive. Engels addressed it end June to Wilhelm Liebknecht. Without knowing this critique, I felt myself also not yet satisfied with the draft. I worked out a counter-draft and sent it to Engels. He wrote to me on September 28, 1891: "Your draft programme is far better (underlined by Engels) than the official one and I note with pleasure that Bebel will propose it be accepted." The Erfurt Congress then did not adopt the draft of the party executive criticized by Engels, but accepted my draft which had been approved by him.
The critical letter, which Engels addressed to Liebknecht, I did not know back then. It was not until 1901, after Wilhelm Liebknecht's death, that it was found in his estate. The heirs of Liebknecht made it available to me and I published it then instantly, in the by me edited "Neue Zeit" (5-13 p., 2 October 1901, XX).

In an introduction at the time I explained the whole just described situation. No one, who has read this first publication of Engels's letter, can be in doubt that Engels's critique did not apply to me. Neither in German Social Democracy nor in the International did the letter of Engels in the slightest disparage the Erfurt Program or my book about it.
After the publication of the letter we still have had very sharp clashes between Marxists and revisionists. The most violent attacks were hurled at me, but it occurred to no one to base himself on Engels's critique against me.
That happened first after the world war, when the matter was forgotten for the old generation, and completely unknown for the younger and when the antagonism between the Bolsheviks and Social-Democrats emerged. These hate me grimly, for them no means seem bad enough to tear me down. So they stumbled on the idea of equating my draft for the Erfurt program with the one of the party executive and thus to prove, that Engels had rejected my draft and had seen me in the same bad light, in which today the Bolsheviks want to put me before the international proletariat.
Already repeatedly I have in German party papers corrected this falsification of the facts. But there are lies which appear to be ineradicable. The Communists again and again rely on the sentence: Calumniere audacter semper aliquid haeret. So it was possible that even such a conscientious comrade as Largo Caballero unconsciously yielded to the spread of the communist slander against me.
But I agree completely with Caballero that Engels's letter is very important, and indeed for the Social Democrats of all countries. I would be very happy if our discussion here would lead to it that Engels's analysis - 8 pages long – would be translated into French and Spanish - though with my introduction, not with one by the Communists.

Vienna, 7 September 1933. Karl Kautsky.

Background details

I add some background details to the above article.

In the same sense Friedrich Engels explained in his already cited article of 1891 on the draft Social-Democratic program:
'The democratic republic is the specific form for the dictatorship of the proletariat.' (p. 11)
Those who advocate dictatorship in contrast to democracy can not base themselves on Marx and Engels. Of course with this is not yet proven that they are wrong. They simply have to look for other arguments.

Demokratie oder Diktatur


A large number of comrades from all parts of Germany has adopted the following guiding principles that represent an application of the Erfurt Programme to the current problems of international socialism.

Theses on the Tasks of International Social-Democracy (annex to Junius Pamphlet)

This article appeared in the socialist journal Le Populaire (Paris) as Engels et Kautsky. Réfutation d'une calomnie communiste on 21 September 1933. My translation is based on the document in the Karl Kautsky Papers Zurückweisung einer kommunistischen Verleumdung (Eine Berichtigung über Friederich Engels). The point is that Engels's critique was not directed at Kautsky's draft for the Erfurt program. Kautsky quotes Engels's letter of 28 September 1891 in order to show Engels's approval of his draft. Kautsky did not know Engels's critique until after Liebknecht's death, whereupon he published it in the Neue Zeit (without appendix, which wasn't found yet). In the introduction there Kautsky quoted a letter from Engels to him on 29 June 1891 pointing to the key issue:


Dear Kautsky,
I have come down here to take refuge with P. for a few days, having been inundated with an intolerable amount of work. No sooner had I become happily engrossed in group marriage than I was landed with the party programme, which had to be attended to. I meant at first to try rewriting the preamble in rather more succinct form but want of time prevented my doing so, besides which I thought it more important to point out the shortcomings, some avoidable, others not, of the political part, as this would provide me with an opportunity to lash out at the conciliatory opportunism ... [of the Vorwärts] and the clean-devout-joyous-free ‘ingrowing’ of the old canker ‘into socialist society’. I have since heard of your proposal that there should be a new preamble; so much the better.

Kautsky also added some footnotes showing how the party executive changed its draft in response to Engels's critique. The draft of the party executive which was published in the Vorwärts on 4 July 1891 (Entwurf eines Programms der Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands, in MEW B. 22) was thus written with the awareness of Engels's critique. The draft which was sent to Engels and is the actual target of his critique was first published in 1968.

In the 1933 article Kautsky explains that he hadn't been satisfied with the party executive's draft. And he still was not happy with the draft in the Vorwärts. The Neue Zeit published four articles giving a detailed critique of it (and some other counter-proposals). The first three articles (24 August to 7 September), dealing with the theoretical section of the programme, were by Kautsky, the fourth (14 September), analysing the practical demands, was by Bernstein. The various criticisms were summarised in the form of a new draft programme, given in the concluding part of the fourth article.

The following passage from Kautsky's 31 August article was quoted by Nieuwenhuis to show that it totally contradicted Liebknecht's phrase about 'ingrowing':


"Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another" (Communist Manifesto). The expression of "class-state" as the designation of the present state seems to us a hapless choice. Is there then any other state? They tell me about the "people's state" (Volksstaat), understanding it as the state conquered by the proletariat. But it also will be a "class-state." The proletariat will rule the other classes. There will be a big difference to the present state: the class-interest of the proletariat demands the abolition of all class-distinctions. The proletariat can use its domination only for abolishing, as quick as possible, the bases of class-division, which is to say, the proletariat will conquer the state, not to make it into a "true" state, but to abolish it; not to fulfill the "true" purpose of the state, but to render the state "pointless."

Thus, Nieuwenhuis asked, did not Kautsky implicitly combat Liebknecht? Clearly Liebknecht opposed the term dictatorship of the proletariat (on this point Nieuwenhuis likely would have agreed with him). In 1869 Liebknecht said:


Because of the hateful associations connected with the word “bourgeois,” the expression “bourgeois democracy” has become a term of abuse for many workers. But is the bourgeoisie democratic? On the contrary. It is well aware of the close connection existing between democracy and socialism, it hates democracy and is national-liberal. And strange to relate, the same people who with passionate fury attack Jacoby, the enemy of the bourgeoisie, as a “bourgeois democrat,” are politically hand in glove with the bourgeoisie and help it to uphold its social privileges. This proves that those who shout against “bourgeois democracy” are either very short-sighted or very dishonest.

(Liebknecht afterwards explained: The emphasis which I put on the indivisibility of democracy and socialism was called forth by Schweitzer’s tactics of arousing doubts about democracy among the workers;[...]).

At the Halle congress (12-18 October 1890) Liebknecht spoke of the present class-state in contrast to a future socialist state (p. 169) and about 'ingrowing' (p. 204). "Liebknecht's report in Halle utilized extracts from Marx's critique in part unceremoniously as his own property, and in part as objects of attack without mentioning the source. Marx would certainly have confronted this rehash with the original and it was my duty in his place to do the same (Engels to Kautksy February 23, 1891)." This neutralisation of Marx's critique was the problem for Engels and Kautsky (supposedly in his letter of 9 January 1891 to Engels, not online). Or was it? The fact is that Liebknecht criticized the Gotha programme and called for a new programme. "In Halle the Gotha Programme was given up even by its creators as altogether inadequate (foreword Engels)." A lot has been made of what Liebknecht said at Halle. Liebknecht touches on the question of the demand for a democractic republic, saying it was almost redundant to include because of its obviousness (p. 179). For him a bourgeois republic remained a (capitalist) class-state. He criticizes the idea of a 'free state' (p. 166-7) making an analogy to a crab breaking its shell, which in fact is an analogy repeated by Engels in his critique of the party executive draft!


These are attempts to convince oneself and the party that “present-day society is developing towards socialism” without asking oneself whether it does not thereby just as necessarily outgrow the old social order and whether it will not have to burst this old shell by force, as a crab breaks its shell, and also whether in Germany, in addition, it will not have to smash the fetters of the still semi-absolutist, and moreover indescribably confused political order.

The controversial phrase about 'ingrowing' is used when Liebknecht denounces the misuse of the word "present-day state" and the misconception of "paving the way" (p. 204). He probably is thinking along the lines of Marx that "What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges", and that "between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of one into the other", etc.

After the publication of Marx's Gotha critique the conservative member of Reichstag Bachem (a nasty fellow) returned to Liebknecht's phrase about 'ingrowing' both to try to show that for socialists the dictatorship of the proletariat was merely a temporary phrase to fanaticize the masses, as well as that socialists didn't really hold to an 'ingrowing' but believed in a transition to a socialist state from one day to the next.

At the Erfurt congress (protocols of Erfurt, p. 342) Liebknecht explained that when he spoke about ingrowing at the previous congress, he only meant that the nature of the development of society should be seen more as something organic instead of machine-like (i.e. a stress on the subjective factor). So here then is Liebknecht's infamous statement at Halle (p. 204):


One error of our programme, which yesterday I only touched upon, consists of the fact that it is divided into different parts in a manner that is rather arbitrary and illogical. Instead of being of one organic cast or figure, it is mechanically cut into 3 parts, which dissolves the organic coherence and is not logically, scientifically justifiable. It says e.g. after the declaration of the general principles: "The Socialist Labor party of Germany, in order to pave the way to the solution of the social question, demands the establishment of "socialistic productive associations". From whom is this demanded? It cannot be from the "future state", but must be from the present-day state. And where will this resolution be "paving the way"? It also cannot be in the "future state", where it has already been achieved, but must be in the present-day state. Then however at the conclusion of this part of the programme comes a second clause: "The Socialist Labor party of Germany demands within the present society". You see, this division is completely arbitrary and it constitutes one of the biggest errors of this programme. Who can sharply divide the present-day state from the future state? The present-day state grows into the future state, just as the future state already resides in the present-day state. It doesn't go like the case with the Anti-socialists laws, at 12 o'clock midnight the old state ends and the new one starts (cheeriness.). Of this childish understanding, which our opponents pay homage to when they fear that we desire to make tabula rasa - as if that were possible! - we must not make ourselves guilty; but we would be, if we wanted to draw a definite border between the present and the so-called future state.

Now let's turn to the draft for the new programme by the party executive. It did contain a plank against state socialism, which Kautsky himself thought was one of its best and clearly written parts (7 September 1891, Neue Zeit). With regret he claimed however that it should be dropped, because a programme can contain only the most essential. Otherwise, why not also include rejections of anarchism or antisemitism in the programme? Of course some people would still confuse Social-Democracy with state socialism, but that is what the "commentary" (of 270 pages) to the programme is for:


The state will not cease to be a capitalist institution until the proletariat, the working-class, has become the ruling class; not until then will it become possible to turn it into a co-operative commonwealth.
From the recognition of this fact is born the aim which the Socialist Party has set before it: to call the working-class to conquer the political power to the end that, with its aid, they may change the state into a self-sufficing co-operative commonwealth.

Kautsky later in Unser Verhältnis zum Staat (Neuer Vorwärts, N. 151, 3 May 1936) had to recall, against attempts by the SPD-right to claim Liebknecht for their own state-jubiliation, that when the first point in the Eisenach Program declared; The Social Democratic Workers' Party strives for the establishment of a free people's state - the term "people's state" was used as code for the democratic republic.

In his critique of the Erfurt programme Engels cites Liebknecht's words on the Reichstag being the fig-leaf of absolutism. Incidentally, this may be the source of the confusion (why speak of Liebknecht in third person - if it were a critique directed at him).

In the 1933 article Kautsky is responding to a speech held by PSOE president Francisco Largo Caballero on August 12 at the Torrelodones Summer School of the Socialist Youth. The Summer School marked the "bolshevisation" of the young socialists. Its secretary was Santiago Carillo (later Stalinist and founding father of euro-communism).

According to Kautsky the mistake made by Caballero is a consequence of the slander of the communists, meaning Lenin's mistake in State and Revolution, which was corrected by Kautsky already in Die proletarische Revolution und ihr Programm (1922).
The error seems indeed ineradicable as even in our time J. I. Ramos repeats it in the Spanish introduction to Engels's critique. Our republic by Jack Conrad (Weekly Worker, N.650, 23 November 2006) is an exception.

Caballero's lecture was a plea for a radical turn. This converted him into an idol for the Socialist Youth. It was put out as a brochure by the Socialist Youth under the title Posibilismo Socialista en la Democracia (1933) and can also be found in Discursos a los trabajadores. Paul Heywood's gloss is probably accurate since it repeats Caballero's error:


(Caballero) aimed at rebutting Besteiro's continued criticisms of Socialist ministerial participation. Largo cited in his defense the criticism leveled at Kautsky (sic) by Engels over the SPD's 1891 Erfurt Programme. This was clearly a calculated response to the fact that Besteiro had just written the prologue to a translation of (Kautsky's book on) the Erfurt Programme by Francisco Ayala, though it is likely that the significance was lost on his audience. Engels, he reminded them, had repudiated Kautsky (sic) over his readiness to seek reforms under the Bismarck regime; a minimum requirement for the use of state institutions against the bourgeoisie was the existence of a democratic republic. However, since in Spain a democratic republic did exist, then the PSOE was justified in collaborating with it to improve the position of the working class. After two years, though, Largo had come to realise the hopelessness of trying to use the institutions of the Republic against the reactionary Right […] From this point on, Largo was to adopt an ever more revolutionary rhetoric until confronted with genuine revolution in the Civil War. Julian Besteiro, meanwhile, had written in his prologue that the Erfurt Programme explained 'the fundamental principles of the Marxist idea'. Kautsky was praised effusively as a defender of Marxist orthodoxy against 'reformist opportunism', a clear reference to the PSOE's ministerial collaboration with the Republic. (in Marxism and the failure of organised Socialism in Spain)

Caballero defended his post as minister of labor. The "Spanish Lenin" could not shut up about the dictatorship of the proletariat. Caballero's advocacy of the dictatorship of the proletariat meant in practice the anti-facscist front with Stalinism. Is this what Engels would have wanted to achieve with his critique of Liebknecht's draft of the Erfurt programme? Julián Besteiro on the other hand claimed: Besteiro

If we remain in power, in the long run we either allow ourselves to be taken advantage of by others or we have to exercise a strong hand and become dictators. I fear a Socialist dictatorship more than a bourgeois dictatorship. We could defend ourselves from the latter; with the former we would ourselves be committing suicide.

(July 1931 congress, in Payne: Spain's first democracy)

Besteiro had met Kautsky during his stay in Berlin in 1909-1911 (source) and kept a correspondence with him (7 letters from 1932-33 and one from 1936 stored in the Kautsky Papers). It was on Besteiro's initiative that a translation was published of Kautsky's book on the Erfurt program. His prologue is partly in Saborit's 'Julian Besteiro'. He promoted the publications of other classics such as Die historische Leistung von Karl Marx. In the prologue to the commentary on the Erfurt programme Besteiro made much the same point as Wilhelm Liebknecht had done earlier: Wilhelm Liebknecht

I do not hesitate to repeat my former declaration that a practical surrender of our party principles appears to me far more dangerous than all of Bernstein’s theoretical will-o’-the-wisps put together.

(No Compromise – No Political Trading)

The SPD's 1925 Heidelberg programme (written by Kautsky and Hilferding) included the demand of a democratic republic: "The democratic republic is the best ground for the struggle of the working class for liberation and thus for the realisation of socialism." This renders the point which Ben Lewis makes here somewhat void.

The collapse of the Weimar republic polarized the socialists internationally in a very reactionary direction. Kautsky understood the Paris congress of the Socialist International in late August 1933 (Neue Programme: Eine kritische Untersuchung) to be an expression of this rightward shift. Kautsky's hope of writing the introduction to a Spanish and French translation of Engels's critique was not realized.



12 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ccutrone on March 8, 2012

But Marx and Engels thought that the necessary form of the "democratic republic" evinced already in 1848 was precisely the "dictatorship of the proletariat," which is how they characterized the Paris Commune. Kautsky fell down on that score, not because of some original sin (Erfurt Programme), but rather because the concrete reality of what Marx called (his "only original discovery") the "necessity" of the dictatorship of the proletariat, changed. Kautsky differed from Lenin, Luxemburg et al. over the meaning of the dictatorship of the proletariat circa 1917-19. The nature and character of that disagreement -- the divergence within, or "crisis" of Marxism -- over the meaning of the dictatorship of the proletariat is what's at issue, not whether Kautsky had always been wrong/opportunist. Lenin's phrase was that Kautsky was a "renegade," that is, that he betrayed himself (his own former position). I think it was a legitimate disagreement over a changing concrete implication and meaning of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Noa Rodman

12 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Noa Rodman on March 9, 2012

Kautsky said the same thing, paraphrasing; though my controversy with the communists may seems like a meaningless scholastic debate there are real material forces at play (like with the reformation and the peasant struggles).

Noa Rodman

7 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Noa Rodman on March 29, 2017

Kautsky on the publication of Marx's critique of the Gotha programme: 'Zur Geschichte des Marxschen Programm-briefes von 1875," Die Gesellschaft, 1932, 5: 429–44. (here)

I also post a 1875 article of the young Kautsky, replying to some criticism (at the moment I do not know the name of that critic) of the program in Nr. 42 of the paper Der Volksstaat: Organ der sozial-demokratischen Arbeiterpartei und der Internationale Gewerksgenossenschaften. Kautsky's reply appeared in issue Nr. 55, Freitag 14. Mai, 1875 (shortly before the Gotha congress):

Ueber den Programmentwurf
Stimmen aus der Partei
Das Programm der deutschen Arbeiterpartei und der westdeutsche Arbeitertag.
K–z (Karl Kautsky)

Das Programm, wie es zwischen Vertrauensmännern beider Richtungen vereinbart war, hat aus der Arbeiterpartei selbst mehrfache Anfechtungen erfahren, die meisten auf dem westdeutschen Arbeitertage. Wir halten die meisten der Aussetzungen für unrichtig oder unerheblich, und werden deshalb, freilich ohne ein anderes Mandat als unser reges Interesse für die Arbeitersache zu haben, durch Begründung unserer Ansicht zur Klärung der Meinungen beizutragen suchen. Wir sind dabei, was der Verwerfung des Programms von Seiten einzelner Redner auf jenem Arbeitertage gegenüber zu betonen nicht unnütz ist, uns vollkommen klar, daß wir an der Vereinigung der deutschen Arbeiterpartei unter ein Programm und eine Organisation festhalten, auch wenn uns Vieles am schließlich vereinbarten Programm oder an der Organisation nicht gefallen sollte, denn die Hauptsache, die Befreiung der Arbeit von dem Tribut an das Capital durch die Erhebung der Arbeitsmittel zum Gemeingut, hält der Arbeiter-Congreß unzweifelhaft fest; über den Weg, wie das am sichersten und schnellsten zu erreichen, mögen im Einzelnen differierende Ansichten herrschen, unter Männern aber, die mit Muth und Entschloffenheit nach einem Ziele freben, darf die Differenz über die passenden Mittel nicht zur Spaltung führen, jeder Theil wird zwar mit aller Macht der Gründe für seine Ansicht werben, aber nach gefaßtem Beschluffe wird sich die Minorität der Majorität fügen.
Dem Programm wird im Allgemeinen (Punct a. der Correspondenz im „Volksstaat“ Nr. 42) vorgeworfen, daß es durch „seine Kürze um jeden Preis“ Jedem erlaube, nach seinem persönlichen Belieben alles Mögliche hinzu- und hineinzudenken. Das wäre allerdings schlimm, doch alles Mögliche läßt sich nicht hineindenken, das Arbeiterprogramm stellt sehr bestimmte Sätze auf. Das Ziel, die Befreiung der Arbeit vom Tribut an das Capital; das Mittel, Erhebung der Arbeitsmittel zum Gemeingut; die Art der Ausführung, Gründung von Productivgenoffenschaften mit Staatshilfe für Industrie und Ackerbau sind ganz bestimmt hervorgehoben. Auch was als Grundlage des Staates von der Partei erstrebt wird, ist meist deutlich angegeben, ebenso fehlt nicht die Angabe der Forderungen, deren Verwirklichung schon unter der gegenwärtigen Herrschaft des Lohnsystems erreicht werden soll. Viele einzelne Punkte freilich bleiben unbestimmt, doch halten wir das nicht für einen Nachtheil, denn auch in der Arbeiterpartei herrschen Differenzen der Anfichten über viele Punkte, und noch mehr Ungewißheit des einzelnen tüchtigen und denkenden Mitgliedes über die spezielle praktische Ausführung gar mancher als nothwendig erkannten Forderung. Ein detailliertes Programm über den Aufbau des sozialdemokratischen Staates und der auf Gleichheit und Gerechtigkeit gegründeten Gesellschaft halten wir deshalb für unmöglich, sehen also in dem Fehlen deselben auch keinen Nachtheil. Und wenn wir selbst in nächster Zeit, was doch erst durch harten Kampf errungen werden muß, die Macht zum Aufbau des Staates und der Gesellschaft in unserem Sinne erlangten, so werden wir eben bessern, worüber wir einig sind, und werden das Uebrige, wenn auch Schlechte, beim Alten lassen, bis wir über die Art der Aenderung in der Majorität des Volkes ebenfalls klar und einig geworden wären.

Speziell wird dem Programm vorgeworfen (in Punkt b), daß der erste Abschnitt unter Abschnitt I unrichtig und unverständlich sei. Es ist das ein harter Vorwurf, – der Programmtentwurf der deutschen Arbeiterpartei wird damit auf das Niveau des Schulze-Delitzsch'schen Arbeiterkatechismus herabgesetzt. Der Ausdruck „Arbeit ist die Quelle alles Reichthums und aller Kultur" wird getädelt. Es habe hiernach den Anschein, als wenn die Arbeiter außer der Cultur auch Reichthum anstreben wollten, da Reichthum aber nur im Gegensatz zur Armuth denkbar sei und diese in der sozialistischen Gesellschaft nicht vorhanden sein könne, so könne in ihr auch nicht von Reichthum die Rede sein. Im ersten Absatz des Programms ist ja aber gar nicht von den zukünftigen Zeiten das Recht der Gesammtheit auf den Reichthum und die Cultur, an denen jetzt nur Wenige theilnehmen, aus der Entstehung dieser Güter durch die Arbeit in der Gesellschaft hergeleitet. Doch auch in der sozialistischen Gesellschaft kann von Reichthum die Rede sein, indem ihm die Armuth der heutigen und aller vergangenen Zeiten entgegen gesetzt wird. Die sozialistische Gesellschaft wird eine Summe von Arbeits- und Genußmitteln, das ist Reichthum, befitzen, wie sie der heutigen Zeit trotz der Ueberarbeitung der Massen nicht zu Gebote stehen. In diesem Sinne strebt also die Arbeiterpartei nach Reichthum, nach Vermehrung des Nationalreichthums, welcher aber, ungleich der jetzigen Zeit, Allen zu Gute komut.

Punkt c. scheint auf den ersten Blick nicht ohne Grund: „er hält es für unrichtig, daß die Abhängigkeit der Arbeiterklasse und die daraus entsprungene Knechtschaft in allen Formen lediglich bedingt sei durch das Monopol der Capitalistenklasse auf die Arbeitsmittel. Die politische und religiöse Knechtschaft hätten unzweifelhaft auch noch andere Ursachen." Gewiß – Aberglaube, Unwissenheit, Sucht nach Auszeichnung, auch nach solcher, die sich nicht in Geld umsetzen läßt und Anderes mehr, schaffen ergebene Diener fürstlicher und priesterlicher Herrschsucht. In jetziger Zeit aber möchte doch die Sucht nach Capital und damit nach Genuß ohne entsprechende Arbeit die Hauptursache sein, daß Fürsten willige Werkzeuge zu jeder Knechtung finden, und selbst der Aberglaube, welcher die Priester als die Vermittler der ewigen Seligkeit erscheinen läßt und mächtig macht, durch wen anders ist er groß gezogen worden, als durch welche die priesterlichen Vertröstungen auf ein zukünftiges Leben brauchte, um die Ungerechtigkeit dieses Lebens erträglich zu machen? Das Monopol der Capitalistenclasse auf die Arbeitsmittel ist nicht das einzige, aber es ist das verbindende Glied der Knechtschaftskette. Zerreist es, und die Kette ist zerrissen.

Punkt d. Im Absatz 3 und 4 wird vermißt, wovon die Arbeit befreit werden soll, das geht ja aber schon aus Absatz 2 hervor, die Arbeit foll; befreit werden von der Abhängigkeit von der Capitalistenklasse. – Das aber ist richtig, was in Punkt d, weiter erwähnt ist, daß der Ausdruck gerechte Vertheilung des Arbeitsertrages ein sehr unbestimmter ist. Alles Mögliche, z. B. der Schulze'sche Entbehrungslohn läßt fich nun freilich nicht hineindenken, allein die Einen, wozu auch wir gehören, würden den Arbeitsertrag ja nach dem Werth der geleisteten Arbeit gerecht vertheilen wollen mit Beibehaltung eines von Zeit zu Zeit festzusetzenden Minimallohnes, um mindestens in den ersten phäse der sozialistischen Produktion das Streben nach erhöhtem Genuß als Anreiz zu [...]

Eine nachträgliche Spaltung durch Offenlaffen wesentlicher Fragen fürchten wir nicht, da kein Sozialdemokrat seine Meinung wird durchsetzen wollen, ist doch Gehorsam gegen die Majorität die erste demokratische Tugend.

Zu Punkt e. Wir finden keinen Unterschied des Sinnes der Ausdrücke: muß das Werk der Arbeiterklasse fein und: ist die Aufgabe der Arbeiterklasse.

Zu Punkt f. Die nähere Definition des freien Staates, die unter Abschnitt 2 vermißt wird, folgt allerdings kurz und nicht erschöpfend in den 5 Nummern über die freiheitliche Grundlage des Staates. Dieselben find nicht erschöpfend, fie sagen z.B. nichts über die höchste Spitze des Staates. Wir für unsern Theil verzeihen es bei heutigen Preß- und Vereinsgesetzen und deren Handhabung den Ausarbeitern des Programms, daß sie über jenen Punkt nichts sagen mochten, und denken uns hierbei freilich Manches hinein. Im Uebrigen sind wir schon zufrieden, wenn auch nur die ausgesprochenen Forderungen von uns bald erreicht werden.

Der Tadel unter Punkt g, die Redaction der ganzen Vorlage sei mangelhaft, erscheint uns ungerecht hart, aber dem stimmen wir bei, daß die Uebersicht gewinnt, wenn die drei Grundlagen des Staates als besondere Abschnitte behandelt werden.

Unter h wird jede Andeutung vermißt, was in Nr. 5 unter Abschnitt 3 unter Rechtsprechung durch das Volk und unentgeltlicher Rechtspflege zu verstehen sei. Unseres Wiffens haben Diskussionen dieser Punkte innerhalb der Arbeiterpartei noch nicht allgemein stattgefunden, deshalb würden wir eine spezielle Ausführung dieser Punkte im Programm, das, wie gesagt, nur die fertigen geistigen Errungenschaften der Partei geben soll, für verfrüht halten. Doch müßte das Ziel erwähnt werden, und werde zugleich damit der Ueberzeugung Ausdruck gegeben, daß die gegenwärtige Rechtsprechung mit ihrem vom Justizminister resp. auf defen Vorschlag ernannten und placierten Richtern und ihren vom Gerichtspräsidenten aus der Klasse der Besitzenden ausgewählten Geschworenen keine Rechtsprechung durch das Volk sei. Wir haben uns bei diesem Punkt 5 freilich Manches hineingedacht, nämlich das: Die Kreisinsaffen wählen aus fich eine bestimmte Anzahl Schöffen, die für das laufende Jahr die gerichtlichen Geschäfte im Voraus unter sich vertheilen und während ihres Amtes Besoldung beziehen.

Dem endlich unter i Gerügten stimmen wir bei. Die progressive Einkommensteuer als einzige Steuer ist etwas, das wir schon unter der Herrschaft des Lohnsystems zur einstweiligen Erleichterung der Arbeiterklaffe erreichen wäffen, und gehört deshalb in dem letzten Abschnitt, sie ist aber nicht die wirtschaftliche grundlage des zu erstrebenden sozialdemokratisches staates, denn dieser vertheilt den Arbeitsertrag (mit Zurückbehaltung einer Reserve) soweit er das Genussmitteln bestetht, an alle Arbeiter des Staates, auch an die, welche man heute Staats- order Communcaldiener etc. heisst, bedarf also überhaupt nicht noch besondere Steuern.

Von eine correspondenten in ein früheren Nummer des "Volksstaat", sowie in einer Versammlung zu Coburg wurde ferner vorgeschlagen, die Bestimmung über Krieg und Frieden dem Volke direkt, nicht den Volksvertretern zuzutheilen. Dieser Vorschlag ist auf die Erfahrung gegründet, daß unsere heutigen parlamentarischen Versammlungen das Volk nicht vertreten. Allein man übersieht, daß bei allgemeinem gleichem Wahlrecht und bei völlig freiem Vereinsrecht und freier Preffe eine wahre Volksvertretung zu Stande kommt, und daß diese Volksvertretung, deren beschloffene Gesetze das Volk bestätigt, von anderer Bestätigung ist im Programm nirgends die Rede, stets das Bewußtsein der im Volke ruhenden Souveränität behält. Dieser Volksvertretung, scheint uns, dürfen wir getrost das Recht über Krieg und Frieden anvertrauen. Ein Punkt aber läßt es uns passend erscheinen, dies wirklich zu thun. Der Soldat im Felde, also ein großer Theil des Volkes, ist selbst über die militärischen, vielmehr noch über die politischen Verhältniffe weit weniger unterrichtet, als der gemächlichste Zeitungsleser daheim, zudem stellen sich der freien Besprechung im Heere so viel Schwierigkeiten entgegen, das wir sagen müssen, der Soldat in Felde ist ungeeignet, über Krieg und Frieden zu beschliessen. Wenn es so unmöglich ist, das ganze Volk direkt nach seinen Meinungs , da scheint es uns besser zu sein, wie ein Programm bestimmt, den von ganzen Volke frei gewählten Vertretern die Bestimmung über Krieg und Frieden zuzuertheilen.

Noa Rodman

6 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Noa Rodman on May 24, 2018

A small passage from Kautsky's letter of 9 January 1891 to Engels (unfortunately not online) is cited p. 330 in The Political Ideas of Marx and Engels: Marxism and Totalitarian Democracy (1818–1850) by Richard Norman Hunt (1974):

Kautsky to Engels

... a lot of nonsense has been written about the dictatorship of the proletariat [...] If only these people would read before they complain. Instead of dictatorship, what now figures everywhere is Liebknecht's idea of 'growing into' [Hinenwachsen] socialism.

This complaint in Kautsky's letter about the reformists in the party caused Engels to use the phrase 'dictatorship of the proletariat' again (in a new way according to Hunt) in his introduction to Marx's Civil War in France.

It would be nice to have Kautsky's full letter (Friederich Engels' Briefwechsel mit Karl Kautsky, p. 285).

By the way, the term "dictatorship" was already used prior to Marx, namely by Ludwig Börne (a favorite writer of Kautsky) in relation to the French Revolution:

Die Diktatur des Volks, die Herrschaft der Anarchie, hat die Revolution und Frankreich gerettet.

On Ludwig Börne see Raphael Hörmann's "Writing the Revolution: German and English Radical Literature, 1819-1848/49" (2011; thesis 2007, Glasgow) pp. 233-51: Börne's Shifting Perspective on Proletarian Social Revolution.