p.192. 112. Engels to Kautsky. 7 February 1882
possible only as between independent nations. What
little republican internationalism there was in the years 1830-48 was grouped
round the France that was to liberate Europe, and French chauvinism
was thus raised to such a pitch that we are still hampered at every
turn by France's mission as universal liberator and hence by its natural
right to take the lead (seen as a caricature in the case of the Blanquists
but also much in evidence in that of e. g. Malon & Co.8).
In the International, too, the French not unnaturally took this view. They,
and many others, had first to learn from events, and must still do so daily,
that international co-operation is possible only among equals, and
even a primus inter pares - at most for immediate action. So long
as Poland remains partitioned and subjugated, therefore, there can be no
development either of a powerful socialist party within the country itself
or of genuine international intercourse between Poles other than the
emigres and the rest of the proletarian parties in Germany, etc. Every
Polish peasant and workman who rouses himself out of his stupor to participate
in the common interest is confronted first of all with the fact of national
subjugation; that is the first obstacle he encounters everywhere. Its removal
is the prime requirement for any free and healthy development. Polish socialists
who fail to put the liberation of the country at the forefront of their
programme remind me of those German socialists who were reluctant to demand
the immediate repeal of the Anti-Socialist Law 9 and freedom
of association, assembly and the press. To be able to fight, you must first
have a terrain, light, air and elbow-room. Otherwise you never get further
Whether, in this connection, a restoration of Poland is possible before the next revolution is of no significance. It is in no way our business to restrain the efforts of the Poles to attain living conditions essential to their further development, or to persuade them that, from the international standpoint, national independence is a very secondary matter when it is in fact the basis of all international cooperation. Besides, in 1873, Germany and Russia were on the brink of war 10 and the restoration of some kind of Poland, the embryo of a later, real Poland, was therefore a strong possibility. And if these Russian gents don't soon put a stop to their pan-Slav intrigues and rabble-rousing in Herzegovina, 11 they may well find themselves with a war on their hands, a war neither they, nor Austria nor Bismarck will be able to control. The only people who are concerned that the
p.193. 112. Engels to Kautsky. 7 February 1882
Herzegovina affair should take a serious turn are the
Russian Pan Slav Party and the Tsar; no one can really concern himself
with the rapacious Bosnian riff-raff any more than with the idiotic Austrian
ministers and officials who are presently pursuing their activities there.
So even without an uprising, as a result, rather, of purely European
conflicts, the establishment of an independent Little Poland would be by
no means impossible, just as the Prussian Little Germany invented by the
bourgeois owed its establishment not to the revolutionary or parliamentary
methods they had dreamed of, but to war.
Hence I am of the opinion that two nations in Europe are not only entitled but duty-bound to be national before they are international- Ireland and Poland. For the best way they can be international is by being well and truly national. That's what the Poles have understood in every crisis and proved on every revolutionary battleground. Deprive them of the prospect of restoring Poland, or persuade them that before long a new Poland will automatically fall into their laps, and their interest in the European revolution will be at an end.
We, in particular, have absolutely no reason to impede the Poles in their necessary efforts to attain independence. In the first place they invented and put into practice in 1863 the methods of struggle which the Russians are now so successfully imitating (cf. Berlin und [St] Petersburg, Appendix 2) 12 and, in the second, they were the only reliable and capable military leaders in the Paris Commune. 13.
Come to that, who are the people who oppose the Poles' national aspirations? First, the European bourgeoisie in whose eyes the Poles have been utterly discredited since the 1846 insurrection with its socialist tendencies 14 and, secondly, the Russian pan-Slavs and those they have influenced, such as Proudhon, who saw this through Herzen's spectacles. But up till today few Russians, even the best of them, are free of pan-Slav tendencies and recollections; they take Russia's pan-Slav vocation for granted, just as the French do France's natural revolutionary initiative. In reality, however, pan-Slavism is an imposture, a bid for world hegemony under the cloak of a non-existent Slav nationality, and it is our and the Russians' worst enemy. That imposture will in due course disintegrate into the void, but in the meantime it could make things very awkward for us. A pan-Slav war, as the last sheet-anchor for Russian Tsardom and Russian reaction, is presently in preparation; whether it will actually materialise is a moot
p.194. 112. Engels to Kautsky. 7 February 1882
point, but if it does there is one thing of which we
may be certain, namely that the splendid progress in the direction of revolution
now being made in Germany, Austria and Russia itself will be totally disrupted
and forced into different and quite unpredictable channels. At best, this
would set us back by 3-10 years; in all likelihood it would mean one last
respite for a constitutional 'new era' 15 in Germany and also,
perhaps, Russia; a Little Poland under German hegemony, a war of retribution
with France, renewed racial incitement and, finally, another Holy Alliance.
Hence pan-Slavism is now more than ever our mortal enemy, despite - or
perhaps just because of - its having one foot in the grave. For the Katkovs,
Aksakovs, Ignatievs and Co. know that their empire will be gone for ever
the moment Tsardom is overthrown and the stage taken by the Russian people.
And hence this ardent desire for war at a moment when the treasury contains
less than nothing and not a banker is willing to advance the Russian government
so much as a penny.
That is precisely why the pan-Slavs have a mortal hatred of the Poles. Being the only anti-pan-Slav Slavs, they are consequently traitors to the sacred cause of Slavdom and must be forcibly incorporated into the Great Slav Tsardom of which the future capital is Tsarigrad, i.e. Constantinople.
Now you may perhaps ask me whether I have no feeling of sympathy for the small Slav peoples and fragments thereof which have been split apart by those three wedges –the German, the Magyar and the Turkish –driven into the Slav domain? To tell the truth, damned little. The Czecho-Slovak cry of distress:
"Boze! ... Ach nikdo neni na zemi
Kdoby Slavum (sic) spravedlivost cinil? " (a)
p.195. 112. Engels to Kautsky. 7 February 1882
Slavs, I am sure that six months of independence will
suffice to bring them begging for re-admittance. But in no circumstances
will these little nationalities be granted the right they are presently
arrogating to themselves in Serbia, Bulgaria and East Rumelia - of preventing,
that is, the extension of the European railway network to Constantinople.
Now as for the differences that have arisen between the Poles in Switzerland, these are emigre squabbles 16 such as are seldom of any consequence, least of all in the case of an emigration which will be celebrating its centenary in 3 years' time and which, owing to the urge felt by all emigres to do, or at any rate plan, something, has given birth to plan after plan, one new so-called theory after another. But, as you will see from the foregoing, we are not of the same opinion as the Rownosc people and, indeed, we told them as much in a message sent on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of 29 November 1830, which was read out at the meeting in Geneva. (See Vol. 24, pp. 343-45). (You will find a Polish version of it in the report (Sprawozdanie, etc.- Biblijoteka Rownosci: No. 1, Geneva, 188 1), pp. 30 ff. The Rownosc people have apparently allowed themselves to be impressed by the radical-sounding slogans of the Genevan Russians and are now anxious to prove that they are not open to the reproach of national chauvinism. This aberration, of which the causes are purely local and transitory, will blow over without having any appreciable effect on Poland as such, and refuting it in detail would be more trouble than it was worth.
How the Poles, by the way, will sort things out with the White and Little Russians and Lithuanians of the old Poland, or with the Germans as regards the frontier is, for the time being, no concern of ours.
Proof, by the way, of how little the workers, even in allegedly 'oppressed' countries, are tainted by the pan-Slav yearnings of the academics and bourgeois is provided by the splendid accord between German and Czech workers in Bohemia.
But enough for now. Kindest regards from
Original Notes From Volume 46: page 507
1) At the International Socialist Congress was held in Chur, serious
differences surfaced between the polish socialist groups. Kautsky, who
wrote to Engels about the mater on 8 November 1881, asked for his opinion
concerning the stand Der Sozialdemokrat ought to take in this affair.
Engels set forth his views in a letter to Kautsky of 7 February 1882.
2) The Holy Alliance-an association of European monarchs founded in September 1815 on the initiative of the Russian Tsar Alexander I and the Austrian Chancellor Metternich to suppress the revolutionary movement.
3) The national liberation movement for the unification of Italy ended in 1861 with the establishment of a single Italian state (only Rome, which was incorporated into the Italian state after the abolition of the Pope's secular authority in 1870, remained outside it at the time). The event paved the way for the expansion of the independent workers' movement.
4) Little Germany-a plan for the unification of Germany under the Prussian aegis minus Austria. Engels is referring here to the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, which gave birth to the North German Confederation (Norddeutscher Bund), a federative state formed in 1867 to replace the disintegrated German Confederation. The establishment of the North German Confederation was a major step towards the national unification of Germany. The Confederation ceased to exist in January 187 1, when the German Empire was founded.
5) By the Lassallean party Engels implies the General Association of German Workers, the first national German workers' organisation founded on 23 May 1863 at the congress of workers' associations in Leipzig. The main organisational documents and the programme were drawn up by Ferdinand Lassalle, who became the organisation's first president. The errors in Lassalle's propaganda strategy and in his tactics, as well as the anti-democratic structure of the Association gave rise to a strong opposition, the bulk of which joined the Eisenachers. The Eisenach Party -the Social-Democratic Workers' Party of Germany set up at the General Congress of German, Swiss and Austrian Social-Democrats held in Eisenach on 7-9 August 1869. The party programme declared support for the principles of the First International, although Lassallean ideas still wielded a considerable influence in it. At the Congress in Gotha in 1875, the Eisenachers and the Lassalleans formed a single party of the working class, which called itself the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany up to 1890.
6) The Federal Diet (Bundestag) -the central organ of the German Confederation set up by the Vienna Congress in 1815. It comprised representatives of the German states and sat in Frankfurt-am-Main under the chairmanship of the Austrian representative. The Federal Diet ceased to exist together with the German Confederation at the time of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866.
7) A reference to the constitution of 1860 (the so-called October diploma- Oktoberdiplom). It gave Hungary, which formed part of the Austrian monarchy, certain rights (the convocation of a Hungarian parliament, the use of the Hungarian language in administration, etc.) The crisis of the Austrian Empire and mounting popular discontent led to its transformation in 1867 into the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Hungary was recognised as a sovereign part of the state. Political consolidation promoted the development of capitalism there. In 1868, the first workers' organisations emerged in the country, the Budapest Workers' Union and the General Workers' Union (subsequently the latter became the leading organisation of the socialist workers' movement).
8) The Federative Union (full name, Union federative du Centre, the Federative Union of the Centre), one of the six associations constituting the French Workers' Party, had been formed by April 1880. An association of the party's organisations in Paris, it consisted of 80 groups. The Union's leadership was in the hands of the party's Right opportunist wing, the Possibilists - Brousse, Malon and Joffrin (editors of the Proletaire). At the meetings of the Federative Union of the Cqntre on 17 and 24 January 1882, the Egalite editorial board and all party groups siding with the Guesdists were expelled from the Federative Union. Only 28 groups voted in favour, that is, slightly more than one-third of the groups making up the Federative Union (48 groups out of the 80 were present at the meetings mentioned above). After their expulsion from the Federative Union of the Centre, the Guesdists founded a revolutionary federation and called it the Federation of the Centre (Federation du Centre).
9) Anti-Socialist Law
10) A reference to the events of 1873-75, when the Bismarck government tried to provoke a war with France. The Russian government resolutely sided with France. Thanks to the pressure being put on the German government by Russia, Austria and Britain, Bismarck's attempt failed.
11) In January 1882, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had been occupied by Austria in 1878 under the terms of the Berlin Congress, witnessed an uprising provoked by the Austro-Hungarian government's law of 1881 on military conscription to be introduced in the occupied territories. The uprising reached its peak in the first half of February 1882. The Tsarist government tried to use it to promote its own ends.
12) This refers to the national liberation insurrection of 1863-64 in the Polish territories belonging to Tsarist Russia. The insurrection was suppressed by the Russian government. The anonymous book, Berlin und St. Petersburg. Preussische Beitrage zur Geschichte der Russisch-deutschen Beziehungen, Leipzig, 1880, was the work of the German political writer Julius Eckardt. Appendix 2, to which Engels refers here, deals with the Polish insurrection of 1863-64.
13) This refers above all, to Walery Wroblewski and Jaroslaw Dombrowski. Wroblewski, appointed general, commanded one of the Commune's three armies. General Dombrowski, who first headed the defence operations at one of the key sectors of the front, later commanded the Ist Army of the Commune and in early May 1871 was appointed commander-in-chief of its armed forces.
14) The reference is to the programme advanced in the days of the Cracow uprising (February 1846) by Dembowski, who voiced the interests of the peasantry and the urban poor (to give land to those who had none, radically to improve the workers' condition by setting up national, or 'social', workshops). The National Government formed in Cracow on 22 February issued a manifesto announcing the abolition of feudal duties and taxes. The Cracow uprising was suppressed early in March 1846. In November, Austria, Prussia and Russia signed a treaty on the annexation of the city to the Austrian empire.
15) Engels is referring to the 'liberal course' proclaimed by William, Prince (King from 1861) of Prussia, in October 1858, when he assumed the regency. In actual fact, not one of the reforms expected by the bourgeoisie was carried out. William's policy aimed at consolidating the Prussian monarchy and Junkerdom.
16) As for footnote number (1).
Dear Mr Kautsky,
You really must forgive me for having kept you waiting so long for an answer. I have had so many interruptions of every kind that finally, in order to get any work done at all, I had to give short shrift to
179. Engels to Kautsky. 12 September 1882;
everything of lesser importance and put aside all such
correspondence as was not absolutely necessary. And since, with your colonial
question 1 you had set me a task that was by no means easy to
tackle, your letters met with the same fate, and in the process the good
Walter got overlooked.
Should Walter and Dr Braun come over here, I shall be glad to see them and whatever can be done for them I will gladly do. As for the rest, it will no doubt turn out all right. But what is Walter actually expected to study over here? That's what needs clearing up first of all. Socialism as such? No need for him to come over here for that, since it's to be had everywhere save in Austria and Germany; moreover, he will quickly exhaust that field, i. e. such literature as is worth reading. Economics? History? Of these he will find an embarras de richesses a at the British Museum -so much so, indeed, that a newcomer runs the risk of instantly losing his bearings. Natural science? That would mean lectures which are wildly expensive here. It seems to me that, before the chap is sent over here, a definite curriculum should be laid down for his studies-at least in outline-and if this were sent to me, it would be easier to judge whether it could best be carried out in this country or somewhere else. Without at least some knowledge of English, he would be completely at a loss here. It would, I think, be a good idea to get him to study French and English for 6 months beforehand, so that he could at least read a modicum of both before he went abroad. He should, besides, have some previous knowledge of history, geography and, if possible, also mathematics and natural science if he wants to study profitably. What the situation is in this respect I cannot know; but if it's at all unsatisfactory, it would certainly be better if you first got him to come to Vienna, so that he might acquire these things under the guidance of his friends and generally learn exactly how one sets about learning something thoroughly off one's own bat. Otherwise, here in London, it would, for the most part, be money down the drain. These are simply thoughts that have passed through my mind when pondering on the case and which may be completely irrelevant, but after all I know little or nothing about the young man's level of education, and that is why I considered it necessary to raise these points. If you let me know more about this, you will not be kept waiting for an answer. All things being equal I am, as you know, always in favour of getting ambitious young people
179. Engels to Kautsky. 12 September 1882
to come abroad so that they may extend their horizons
and rid themselves of the parochial prejudices which they must needs acquire
You should not, by the way, count too much on Marx so far as Walter is concerned. He is unlikely to come home before next May, and even then he will probably have to take great care of himself if he is to get his work completed. In particular he is now strictly forbidden to talk overmuch, on top of which he has to spend his evenings quietly if he is not to have bad nights. In the daytime, however, he will, of course, be working. If one is trying to get rid of chronic bronchitis of many years' standing and ensure, after three serious bouts of pleurisy, not only that it disappears without trace, but also that it doesn't recur, and to do all this in one's sixty-fifth year, one has enough to contend with on that account alone.
You ask me what the English workers think of colonial policy. Well, exactly what they think of any policy -the same as what the middle classes think. There is, after all, no labour party here, only conservatives and liberal radicals, and the workers cheerfully go snacks in England's monopoly of the world market and colonies. As I see it, the actual colonies, i.e. the countries occupied by European settlers, such as Canada, the Cape, Australia, will all become independent; on the other hand, countries that are merely ruled and are inhabited by natives, such as India, Algeria and the Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish possessions, will have to be temporarily taken over by the proletariat and guided as rapidly as possible towards independence. How this process will develop is difficult to say. India may, indeed very probably will, start a revolution and, since a proletariat that is effecting its own emancipation cannot wage a colonial war, it would have to be given its head, which would obviously entail a great deal of destruction, but after all that sort of thing is inseparable from any revolution. The same thing could also happen elsewhere, say in Algeria or Egypt, and would certainly suit us best. We shall have enough on our hands at home. Once Europe has been reorganised, and North America, the resulting power will be so colossal and the example set will be such that the semi-civilised countries will follow suit quite of their own accord; their economic needs alone will see to that. What social and political phases those countries will then have to traverse before they likewise acquire a socialist organisation is something about which I do not believe we can profitably speculate at present. Only one thing is certain, namely that a victorious proletariat cannot forcibly confer
179. Engels to Bernstein. 13 September 1882
With kindest regards.
From Marx and Engels Collected Works: Volume 46; Moscow 1992; pp. 320-323
Original Footnotes from Moscow Edition.
Notes from page. 519
1) In a letter of 11 May 1882, Kautsky asked Engels to give his opinion of the colonies in Asia after the victory of the European proletariat. As for Kautsky himself, he asserted that the British proletariat and India would both benefit if India remained under Britain.
2) In 1879-82 Egypt witnessed an upsurge of the national liberation movement against British and French capital179. Engels to Kautsky. 12 September 1882; page 320
which had established direct financial control over the country (in 1878, representatives of Britain and France were made ministers of the Egyptian government and given the right of veto). The insurrection of the Cairo garrison forced the Khedive of Egypt to issue a constitution in September 188 1. In December, Egypt acquired a parliament led by the National Party which had been founded that same year and represented a bloc of liberal landowners and merchants with the patriotically minded officers and intellectuals supported by the peasantry and petty bourgeoisie. The National Party set the country's independence as its target ('Egypt for Egyptians'). However, in the summer of 1882, having provoked a conflict with Egypt, Britain opened hostilities, which, despite the resistance of the Egyptian troops headed by Colonel Arabi, ended in a British victory. In September, they captured Cairo, and Egypt became their colony to all intents and purposes.
The public meetings of protest against the British aggression and the bombardment of Alexandria mentioned by Marx were organised in Paris by the Federation of the Centre (see Note 230) in late July 1882 with the participation of the Citoyen editors Henri Brissac, Jules Guesde and Paul Lafargue. The Guesdists' resolution on Egypt hailed Arabi Pasha and the National Party as worthy of the great mission they had assumed.