Arnold Petersen, 1933 introduction to Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto

Arnold Petersen,
1933 introduction to Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto
scanned from Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The Communist
Manifesto, New York Labor News Co, 1848, pages xvii-xliv.
Where minor differences between the 1940 and the 1968 editions
have been found, the wording from the 1968 edition is used here.



"But, then, the Manifesto has become a historical document which we have no longer any right to alter."

Thus Frederick Engels sums up, in his preface to the "Communist Manifesto." The statement is of great significance. In the first place, historical documents are seldom, if ever, used as textbooks on the subject matter per se of such documents. Caesar's "Gallic War" is not studied as a manual of warfare. Yet, though a historical document, fundamentally the basic principles of the "Communist Manifesto" are as true and applicable today as when first presented in this immortal document. In the second place, by stating that he and Marx had no right to alter the Manifesto, Engels thereby declares that if they had that right -- or rather, for instance, if he and Marx were to write the Manifesto in the light of the development and experience of -- it would in many important respects be quite different from the historical document of 1848. It is vital importance that the student bear in mind this significant point, for upon a proper understanding of it, and strict adherence to the scientific principle implied, depends the value (to the student) of the "Communist Manifesto."

A word here as to the designation, "Communist Manifesto": Ignorant watchdogs of capitalism, including Customs House censors and snoopers, upon perceiving the word "Communist" in the title, immediately jump to the conclusion that the document is a "thesis" or "manifesto" issued by the Communist party of America, yclept the anarcho-Communists. Indeed, some even believe that it is a manifesto issued by Soviet Russia. If these watchdogs of capitalism really knew their business, they would understand that the "Communist Manifesto" of 1848 is, in fact, a condemnation, emphatic and final, of all the imbecile and crooked acts and pronunciamentos of the American anarcho-Communists, as well as the bureaucratic despotism masquerading as "Socialism" in Russia. They would also find (if they were interested in making such discoveries) that this historical document is equally strong in its condemnation of Social Democratic reform policies, typified in this country by the so-called Socialist party. But, then, one does not expect such acumen in bureaucratic snoopers and censors. In his preface to the "Communist Manifesto," Frederick Engels explains in detail why the document was so named. It could not, said Engels, be called the Socialist Manifesto (though he would have so named it in 1888) because in 1848 Socialist and Socialism denoted very opposite of what those terms now imply; namely, Marxian science. Socialism then was what was later designated Utopian Socialism, as definitely distinguished from Scientific or Marxian Socialism.


As a summary of the fundamentals of Marxism, or scientific Socialism, the first and the greater part of the second sections of the "Communist Manifesto" are supreme in Socialist literature. While most of the principles and conceptions in the "Communist Manifesto" had been expressed by Marx and Engels in previous writings, here for the first time they were presented as an organic whole. In language as magnificent as it is trenchant, as brilliant as it is stirring, and with biting scorn and devastating satire, the authors analyze class society and pronounce the doom of capitalist society, holding up to the bourgeoisie the mirror of feudal society which that same bourgeoisie only recently had helped to speed to its dissolution. No wonder the "specter of Communism" struck terror in the hearts of the capitalists. Though they rejected the findings and the verdict, they knew that the "Communist Manifesto" spoke the truth. The best they might hope for was that the doom might be postponed, and in this respect their hopes were closer to realities than were the expectations of Marx. For Marx had frequently expressed the view that the revolution was close at hand. In March, 1850, Marx, in an address prepared for the central committee of the Communist League, had stated:

"The revolution is imminent. It may be brought about by an independent rising of the French proletariat, or by an attack on the part of the Holy Alliance 1 directed against the revolutionary Babel."



1 The Holy Alliance was an 1815 treaty, following the redivision of Europe among the victors in the Napoleonic wars, signed by the absolute monarchs of Russia, Austria-Hungary and Prussia. Loaded with mystical phrases as a cover for sordid materialistic purposes, the treaty committed the monarchs to lend each other aid and assistance." The term "Holy Alliance came to be applied to a very real and effective organization of the European powers that were opposed to any change, including changes proposed by supporters of capitalism who believed in political democracy.


A few months later Marx came to the conclusion that the revolution had been indefinitely postponed. As the crowning climax to the counter-revolutionary movement came the discovery of gold in California. In this connection Marx wrote the following in the Neue Rheinische Revue:

"There can be no talk of a real revolution in such time as this, when general prosperity prevails, when the productive forces of bourgeois society are flourishing as luxuriantly as is possible within the framework of bourgeois conditions. Such a revolution can only take place in periods when these two factors, the modern forces of production and the bourgeois forms of production, are in antagonism each to the other."

The belief of Marx and Engels in the imminence of the revolution is of the greatest importance to a proper understanding and interpretation of the so-called "immediate demands" contained in the latter part of Section II of the "Communist Manifesto," and the similar reference in Section IV. The reference to "forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions" (a conception modified radically by Marx and Engels years later) receives its proper setting in the light of Marx's belief in the early consummation of the Socialist ideal. For it was obvious that in the undeveloped capitalist conditions and the then existing turbulent and violent upheavals, a social revolution could not possibly be achieved except through forcible and violent means. Although the program of immediate demands and the belief in the imminence of the revolution appear contradictory, it must be remembered that the entire situation (as visualized by Marx) was contradictory. Marx understood, of course, that if the revolution did take place, one of the most important tasks of the victorious proletariat would be to complete what was otherwise reserved for capitalism, viz., the building up of industry to the point of making mass production an actual fact -- which it certainly was far from being in 1848. A proletarian victory in the midst of an unfinished capitalist development presupposes a series of compromises and transitional measures, both immediately before, and following, the victory of the revolution. This subject requires special treatment, and is, in fact, dealt with in other Socialist publications, notably in the works of Daniel De Leon, the great American Marxist. 2



2 See De Leon's "Reform or Revolution," "Two Pages From Roman History," and "Socialist Reconstruction of Society." See also "Proletarian Democracy vs. Dictatorships and Despotism," by Arnold Petersen.


The important thing to remember, however, is that the particular stage of economic development dictates the means and tactics of the proletarian revolutionary movement. In the words of the "Communist Manifesto" :

"The proletariat of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie."

In his preface to the "Communist Manifesto," Frederick Engels emphasizes this principle by quoting from his and Marx's joint preface to the German edition of 1872, a passage which, with minor changes, could have been written today. It should be chewed and digested thoroughly by the student. Paraphrasing that passage we can, completely in line with Marx and Engels, now say:

"However much the state of things may have altered during the last eighty-five years, the general principles laid down in this Manifesto are, on the whole, as correct today as even The practical application of the principles will depend, as the Manifesto itself states, everywhere and at all times, on the historical conditions for the time being existing in the different countries, and will vary in accordance with the economic development and historical conditions and traditions of each particular country."

In view of the gigantic strides of modern industry 1900, and particularly since the close of World I; in view of the practical experiences gained a result of the revolutionary outbreaks in Europe, particularly the Paris Commune, and still more, the Russian Revolution, the program contained in Section II of the "Communist Manifesto" has become wholly antiquated. That which in 1848, and even in 1872, may have been considered revolutionary measures, today has become mere reform measures, designed and formulated for a purpose and situation that have been swept away by the logic and effect of capitalist development. When a social revolution is pending and, for whatever reason, is not accomplished, reaction is the inevitable alternative. In such a situation, every reform measure proposed is a concealed measure of reaction. One thing above all others has been especially proved by the Paris Commune and the Russian Revolution, viz., that the working class, especially in countries with the highest degree of capitalist development, cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made State machinery, and wield it for its own purposes. The reform measures enumerated under Section II of the "Communist Manifesto" imply, each and every one of them, a continuation of the capitalist system, and at this stage they constitute impliedly a denial of the principle that "the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made State machinery and wield it for its own purposes."


Note by M.L., web site editor. In the previous paragraph, the 1948 and the 1968 editions differ. The 1968 edition, page xxiv, contains the phrase: "... particularly the Paris Commune, and still more, the Russian Revolution, ...." In this place, the 1948 edition, page xxiii, says: "... particularly the Paris Commune, and still more, the Russian Revolution, where the proletariat now for fifteen years has held political power, * ...." In the 1948 edition the asterisk references a footnote, on the same page, written by Arnold Petersen: "* Fifteen years later this is no longer true. Not the proletariat, but a despotic bureaucracy now rules Russia. -- A.P., February 12, 1948."


Translated into terms of modern American industrial conditions, this means that the working class cannot use the political State as an agency for the social revolution, or to administer production after the surrender of capitalism. It means that the working class must organize Socialist Industrial Unions to take the place of the "State machinery" (that is, the political State), for the purpose of insuring victory and to make it possible to conduct the Socialist Industrial Republic, the Industrial Unions, in fact, constituting the very structure and framework of the Industrial Cooperative Commonwealth of Labor.


Apart, then, from the sections dealing with immediate demands and the brief reference to forcible (violent) overthrow of capitalist society, the "Communist Manifesto" portrays, on a broad canvas and in master strokes, the essential relations in class society, and particularly in capitalist society. Despite its supposed hoary antiquity, it is strikingly modern, even to the very language employed. Of the amazing results of machine production, with the wholesale displacement of labor, creating the so-called technological unemployment problem, the "Communist Manifesto" says:

"In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed; a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market." (Italics ours.)

The labor market today shows little, if any, fluctuation, for the supply of labor power in excess of the demand has been constantly and rapidly increasing, until now we have an estimated total of 15 million unemployed. 3 Almost ninety years ago the great founders of modern Socialism foresaw this condition, and for almost as many years they have been denounced as visionaries by the pundits of capitalist society.



3 This was the situation in 1933.


With equal incisiveness the authors of the "Communist Manifesto" delineated the course of capitalist development with its ever recurrent crises. Who can read the following passage, and fail to perceive how very apposite it is in view of the condition in which capitalism at present finds itself?

"For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeoisie and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put on its trial, each time more threateningly, the existence of the bourgeois society. In these crises a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, is periodically destroyed. In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity -- the epidemic of overproduction. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilization, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into' the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them."

Having thus revealed the cancer of capitalist society, Marx and Engels ask:

"And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises?"

And they answer:

"On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented." (Italics ours.)

But what the capitalist class could do in 1848, it can no longer do. The world markets have been conquered. With but minor exceptions there are no more opportunities for conquests of new markets, and world capitalism knows it. Its wisest heads acknowledge that tfiey are at a loss as to what to do. Not so long ago Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England (that hitherto sturdy bulwark of international capitalism), despairingly declared:

"The difficulties are so vast, so unlimited, that I approach the whole subject not only in ignorance, but in humility. It is too great for me. I wonder if anyone in the world can really direct the affairs of the world or of his country, with any assurance of the result his action will have.

"Who, a year ago, could have foreseen the position to which, little by little, we drifted; first down and then up; then down and then up.

"The confused events of the world have brought about a series of events and a general tendency which appears to me presently outside the control of any man, any country, or any government."

More recently another pillar of capitalist society, President Nicholas Murray Butler of Columbia University, just as alarmed, if seemingly less despairingly, insisted that the fundamental problem of the times was to bring into harmonious relations the "two parts of our economic mechanism, the technique of production and the technique of exchange." President Butler's language, in posing the problem, is almost identical to that of Marx and Engels, who, in posing the identical question more than half a century ago, proved that this conflict between the mode of production and the mode of exchange was irreconcilable under capitalism, and that the conflict itself presaged the end of capitalism. The presence of the millions of unemployed throws upon the ruling class the 'burden of feeding them, lest the exploited and starving workers turn upon the masters of industry with all the ferocity of desperate and outraged human beings. Here, too, the prophetic words of the "Communist Manifesto" ring out startlingly up to date:

"And here it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state that it has to feed him instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie; in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society."

While there still are millions of exploited workers who produce surplus values for the capitalist owners of industry, it is nevertheless true that in ever increasing measure the capitalist is compelled to feed the worker instead of ibeing fed by him.

In this supreme crisis of capitalism, social profiles are being brought into sharper relief. The imbecilities of the apologists of capitalism stand out unmistakably as such; the banalities of the editorial lickspittles sound sillier than ever; and the intelligence and ability of the would-be intellects of the capitalist institutions of learning are in inverse ratio to the mountain of difficulties which they attempt to solve. One is reminded of Marx's brilliant and scathing observation in "Capital"

"On the level plain, simple mounds look like hills; and the imbecile flatness of the present bourgeoisie is to be measured by the altitude of its great intellects."


If the "Communist Manifesto" unmistakably points to the doom of the capitalist and his system, "the best of all possible systems," it is equally effective in its implicit criticism and ridicule of the Social Democrat and the anarcho-Communist. The two are alike in so many respects (despite superficial indications to the contrary) that it is necessary to deal with them jointly-as the obverse and reverse of the same medal, viz., social reformism and fatuous reliance on the political State as the agency of social transformation or social revolution. One can take paragraph upon paragraph from the "Communist Mianifesto," and, by merely substituting modern designations for the original ones, cause them to read as if they were written especially for these times. Social Democrat and anarcho-Communist alike want to save the small farmer and his petty property. The Social Democrat (Socialist party platform, 1932) declares:

"As special measures for agricultural upbuilding, we propose:

"1. The reduction of tax burdens, by a shift from taxes on farm property to taxes on incomes, inheritances, excess profits and other similar forms of taxation....

"3. The creation of a Federal marketing agency for the purchasing and marketing of agricultural products....

"5. The socialization of Federal land banks and the extension by these banks of long-term credit to farmers at low rates of interest.

"6. Social insurance against losses due to adverse weather conditions."

The anarcho-Communist (Communist party platform, 1932) pleads for:

"Emergency relief for the impoverished farmers without restrictions by the government and banks; exemption of impoverished farmers from taxes, and no forced collection of rents or debts."

If there is any virtue in the anarcho-Communist plank as compared to that of the Social Democratic SP, it is its brevity. But, then, anarcho-Communism has shown in the past that it is capable of crowding more nonsense to the square yard than any other group. In the 1931 election program of the Communist party, greater details are given as to the petty farmer and the things the anarcho-Communists are going to do for him. A brief quotation will suffice. We read:

"Only when capitalism is overthrown ... can these conditions be ended. Only such a government [as visualized by the anarcho-Communists] will outlaw the robbers of the toilers and fix prices so that the city workers pay less and toiling farmers get more for farm products." (Italics ours.)

Here we have a delightful picture of a system of society where capitalism supposedly has been banished, but where all its essential features have been retained -- price system, wage workers and socially reactionary and economically useless petty farmers! Once again we have the pronouncement of the "Communist Manifesto" on such a madhouse conception of Socialism:

"In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby to march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but requires in reality that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society...."

And what is true of the anarcho-Communists is, of course, equally true of the Social Democrats, the would-be Socialist party. Why these two precious saviors of the American "peasant" (as useless in American economic life as the corner grocer, and as reactionary) should criticize each other so violently, in view of their manifest oneness, is not quite clear. It may possibly be explained on the ground of their being engaged in the sale of the same shoddy commodity, hence hating each other, as do competing capitalist vendors] of the same commodities. It is obvious, however, that I as petty bourgeois reformers they oppose the revolutionary effects of the development of ultra-capitalism I which, in the words of the "Communist Manifesto," has "rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life" by driving it into the! cities. Social Democrat and anarcho-Communist alike are determined to maintain the petty farmer in the "idiocy of rural life."

To the reformer, this "poor farmer" is the "peasant," who plays such an important role in Europe's industrially backward countries. He is also the "peasant" classified in this passage from the "Communist Manifesto":

"The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay, more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history." (Italics ours.)

Thus we see the Socialist party reformers as well as the shouters of "revolutionary" phrases, the Communists, pleading the cause of a group designated by the "Communist Manifesto" as "conservative" and "reactionary" and as a "fraction of the middle class." Again, one frequently hears the anarcho-Communist speak of the minority of the "oppressed" which must take charge of the revolution "in the interest of the proletariat," because, forsooth, the mass of the workers are too dumb to act without that "intelligent minority>" The "Communist Manifesto" has this to say on that subject:

All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority. The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air."

"Self-conscious," "immense majority" -- what inconvenient terms for those who prate about the "proletarian dictatorship" in a country where the "immense majority" -- the wage workers -- must "self-consciously" achieve their emancipation!

"A part of the bourgeoisie [we read in the "Communist Manifesto"] is desirous of redressing social grievances, in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society. To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organizers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole and corner reformers of every imaginable kind.... They ... all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat.... [They do not desire] abolition of the bourgeois relations of production -- an abolition that can be effected only by a revolution -- but administrative reforms based on the continued existence of these relations; reforms, therefore, that in no respect affect the relations between capital and labor, but, at the best, lessen the cost and simplify the administrative work of bourgeois government." (Italics ours.)

If this passage had been written for the special benefit of the "liberals" and the Social Democrats the world over, it could not have been more happily conceived and phrased. We have the concrete examples of the Eberts and Scheidemanns in Germany a decade ago, and of the MacDonalds of England and Staunings of Denmark at this very moment, busily engaged in lessening the cost and simplifying the administrative work of capitalist governments. And in this country we have their confreres, the aspirants to similar "honors," the Hillquits and the Thomases, urging the very reforms and measures derided by the "Communist Manifesto." During the 1932 campaign we witnessed the pleas (through platforms and spoken words) of the Socialist party politicians for cheaper government, lower taxes, purification of the judiciary, etc., etc. -- all of which pleas imply a continued existence of capitalism. In a speech reported in the New York World-Telegram of October 21, 1932, Mr. Norman Thomas, the Socialist party's candidate for President, urged, among other things:

"A central financial institution with 'steadily increasing powers over the issuance of credit and the direction of investment into industrial channels.'"

If this does not definitely commit Mr. Thomas and his party to advocacy of capitalist measures for the specific prolongation of capitalist society, and "business at the old stand," then, indeed, every out-and-out advocate of capitalism is a revolutionary Socialist!

Neatly and concisely the "Communist Manifesto" sums up this form of "Socialism":

"In its positive aims, however, this form of Socialism aspires either to restoring the old means of production and of exchange, and with them the old property relations and the old society, or to cramping the modern means of production and of exchange, within the framework of the old property relations that have been and were bound to be exploded by those means. In either case, it is both reactionary and Utopian."

Let us now again turn to the anarcho-Communists, especially as imitators of Russian Communism. There is hardly a measure adopted in Russia which does not find its counterpart with the "burlesque bolsheviki" in America. If Soviets are needed and logical in Russia, Soviets are logical in the United States, the extremely opposite conditions here to the contrary notwithstanding. If the "dictatorship of the proletariat" is applicable in Russia, where transition measures and transition governmental forms are necessary, then "proletarian dictatorship" is necessary here where there is no need whatever of such transition measures-indeed no possible room even for a transition period in the sense understood in Russia. Nicolai Lenin clearly recognized this -- in fact he agreed completely with the position of the Socialist Labor Party as to there being no need of a transition period (and all that goes with that) in United States. If street and barricade fights necessary and logical enough in primitive Russia, street fights and barricades we must have in the United States, 4 where the appearance of the workers on the streets for any insurrectionist purpose would be the signal for instant mass slaughter and complete disruption of all revolutionary activity-where, indeed, the source of working-class power lies in the industry, and where (organized to take and hold the machinery of production) the workers should remain, or march in, when the revolutionary crisis reaches its apogee. One can multiply these imitations indefinitely. In Part III of the "Communist Manifesto" there appears a passage which, with minor changes in designation here and there, reads as if Marx and Engels had in mind the imbecile American anarcho-Communists and their recently acquired allies, the "radical" American literati. Paraphrased, that passage would read:



4 Today (1959), under the obvious influence of several Smith , Act convictions, the Communist party repudiates force and violence. When this was written, however, the CP ridiculed the Socialist Labor Party's advocacy of peaceful and civilized methods. "... the working class cannot itself come into power without civil war," William Z. Foster wrote in his book, "Toward Soviet America" (Coward-McCann, New York, 1932). And Moissaye J. Olgin wrote in "Why Communism?": "We Communists say there is one way to abolish the capitalist State, and that la to smash it by force." (Workers Library Publishers, New York, 1935.)


"The Bolshevik literature of Russia, a literature that originated under the pressure of a Czaristic ; autocracy in power, and that was the expression of the struggle against this power, and responsive to I the backward economic development, was introduced into the United States at a time when the working I class had begun its contest with capitalist autocracy. "American anarcho-Communists -- would-be Russian Communists and beaux esprits -- eagerly seized on this Bolshevik literature, only forgetting that when these writings immigrated from Russia into the United States, Russian social conditions had not immigrated along with them. In contact with United States social conditions, this Russian Bolshevik literature lost all its immediate practical significance, and assumed a purely literary aspect....

"The work of American literati 5 consisted solely in bringing the Russian Bolshevik ideas into harmony with their ancient petty bourgeois political conscience, or, rather, in annexing the Russian Bolshevik ideas without deserting their own petty bourgeois point of view."



5 Vide the recent campaign utterances in support of the Communist party candidates of such "literati" as Edmund Wilson, Sherwood Anderson, Malcolm Cowley, Waldo Frank, Langston Hughes, Clifton B. Fadiman, Granville Hicks, et al. Included in this group should also be the redoubtable Max Eastman, whose capers and "professional Revolutionism" have elighted two continents, and fully earned for him the lashings repeatedly administered to him by Leon Trotsky, himself the rling of a substantial portion of the American "intelligentsia." V.F. Calverton, once promising as a proletarian critic of ature, appears to oscillate between Socialist sense and anarcho-Communist nonsense, with the preponderance in favor anarcho-Communism, as his repeated references to "Workers and Farmers" movements in his recent booklet, "For Revolution," would seem to indicate -- A.P.

Since this footnote was written all the surviving "literati" repudiated their "radicalism" and are now staunch supporters of the status quo.)


To this may be added a paraphrase of a trenchant paragraph of the "Communist Manifesto":

"The robe of speculative cobwebs embroidered with flowers of rhetoric, steeped in the dew of sickly sentiment, this transcendental robe in which American anarcho-Communism and its literary allies wrapped their sorry rehash of 'Russian Bolshevik truths,' served to increase wonder fully the sale of their goods amongst the American public."

The picture is complete. Nothing more need be said with respect to the stupid imitators of Russian Communism. With respect to the literati, this might be added: The importance of revolutionary literature is not to be underestimated, but this literature must seek its inspiration from the revolutionary struggles and movements and the actual economic and political conditions of the country where it originates. And on this point, this passage from the "Communist Manifesto" is peculiarly apposite:

"We do not here refer to that literature which, in every great modern revolution, has always given voice to the demands of the proletariat...."

Capitalist society is doomed. That revolution which Marx thought possible in 1848 is possible now. It is by no means inevitable. But the situation in 1933 differs from that of 1848, among other things, in that the total collapse of capitalism is inevitable now, whereas then capitalist development in an industrially revolutionary sense had scarcely begun. There is no new lease of life possible for capitalism. Every step it takes, every means it employs toward its hoped-for recovery brings it ten steps nearer the brink of final collapse. The revolution is not inevitable, first, because the proletarian revolution cannot be the result of an automatic process. Secondly, since that revolution, in the language of the "Communist Manifesto," must be the self-conscious, i.e., classconscious, act of the immense majority and in the interests of the immense majority, and lacking the economic power flowing from the basis of previous revolutionary classes (new forms of private property), it follows that only by developing its own economic power can the proletariat in advanced industrial countries become victorious. That potential economic power resides in the integral Industrial Union of the workers. But that economic power, the Industrial Unions, cannot be gathered without the revolutionary political organization of the working class, the Socialist Labor Party. Thus organized, the proletarian revolution is inevitable. Hence, we say, in the ringing words of Daniel De Leon:

"Unite ! Unite on the economic field upon the only basis that economic unity is possible -- the basis of the solidarity of the working class, the only solid fact from which political unity can be reflected! Unite! Unite upon the only economic principle capable of backing up the right of the labor ballot with the might to enforce! ... Unite for the emancipation of the working class, and to save civilization from a catastrophe!"


New York, N.Y., Jan. 29, 1933.