Critique of the Gotha Programme
By Karl Marx
1. "Labor is the source of wealth and all culture,
and since useful labor is possible only in society and through society,
the proceeds of labor belong undiminished with equal right to all
members of society."
First part of the paragraph: "Labor is the source of
all wealth and all culture."
Labor is not the source of all wealth. Nature
is just as much the source of use values (and it is surely of such
that material wealth consists!) as labor, which itself is only the
manifestation of a force of nature, human labor power. the above
phrase is to be found in all children's primers and is correct insofar
as it is implied that labor is performed with the appurtenant subjects
and instruments. But a socialist program cannot allow such bourgeois
phrases to pass over in silence the conditions that lone
give them meaning. And insofar as man from the beginning behaves
toward nature, the primary source of all instruments and subjects
of labor, as an owner, treats her as belonging to him, his labor
becomes the source of use values, therefore also of wealth. The
bourgeois have very good grounds for falsely ascribing supernatural
creative power to labor; since precisely from the fact that
labor depends on nature it follows that the man who possesses no
other property than his labor power must, in all conditions of society
and culture, be the slave of other men who have made themselves
the owners of the material conditions of labor. He can only work
with their permission, hence live only with their permission.
Let us now leave the sentence as it stands, or rather limps. What
could one have expected in conclusion? Obviously this:
"Since labor is the source of all wealth, no one
in society can appropriate wealth except as the product of labor.
Therefore, if he himself does not work, he lives by the labor of
others and also acquires his culture at the expense of the labor
Instead of this, by means of the verbal river "and since", a proposition
is added in order to draw a conclusion from this and not from the
Second part of the paragraph: "Useful labor
is possible only in society and through society."
According to the first proposition, labor was the source of all
wealth and all culture; therefore no society is possible without
labor. Now we learn, conversely, that no "useful" labor is possible
One could just as well have said that only in society can useless
and even socially harmful labor become a branch of gainful occupation,
that only in society can one live by being idle, etc., etc. -- in
short, once could just as well have copied the whole of Rousseau.
And what is "useful" labor? Surely only labor which produces the
intended useful result. A savage -- and man was a savage after he
had ceased to be an ape -- who kills an animal with a stone, who
collects fruit, etc., performs "useful" labor.
Thirdly, the conclusion: "Useful labor is
possible only in society and through society, the proceeds of labor
belong undiminished with equal right to all members of society."
A fine conclusion! If useful labor is possible only in society
and through society, the proceeds of labor belong to society --
and only so much therefrom accrues to the individual worker as is
not required to maintain the "condition" of labor, society.
In fact, this proposition has at all times been made use of by
the champions of the state of society prevailing at any given
time. First comes the claims of the government and everything
that sticks to it, since it is the social organ for the maintenance
of the social order; then comes the claims of the various kinds
of private property, for the various kinds of private property are
the foundations of society, etc. One sees that such hollow phrases
are the foundations of society, etc. One sees that such hollow phrases
can be twisted and turned as desired.
The first and second parts of the paragraph have some intelligible
connection only in the following wording:
"Labor becomes the source of wealth and culture only
as social labor", or, what is the same thing, "in and through society".
This proposition is incontestably correct, for although isolated
labor (its material conditions presupposed) can create use value,
it can create neither wealth nor culture.
But equally incontestable is this other proposition:
"In proportion as labor develops socially, and becomes
thereby a source of wealth and culture, poverty and destitution
develop among the workers, and wealth and culture among the nonworkers."
This is the law of all history hitherto. What, therefore, had
to be done here, instead of setting down general phrases about "labor"
and "society", was to prove concretely how in present capitalist
society the material, etc., conditions have at last been created
which enable and compel the workers to lift this social curse.
In fact, however, the whole paragraph, bungled in style and content,
is only there in order to inscribe the Lassallean catchword of the
"undiminished proceeds of labor" as a slogan at the top of the party
banner. I shall return later to the "proceeds of labor", "equal
right", etc., since the same thing recurs in a somewhat different
form further on.
2. "In present-day society, the instruments of labor
are the monopoly of the capitalist class; the resulting dependence
of the working class is the cause of misery and servitude in all
This sentence, borrowed from the Rules of the International, is
incorrect in this "improved" edition.
In present-day society, the instruments of labor are the monopoly
of the landowners (the monopoly of property in land is even the
basis of the monopoly of capital) and the capitalists.
In the passage in question, the Rules of the International do not
mention either one or the other class of monopolists. They speak
of the "monopolizer of the means of labor, that is, the sources
of life." The addition, "sources of life", makes it sufficiently
clear that land is included in the instruments of labor.
The correction was introduced because Lassalle, for reasons now
generally known, attacked only the capitalist class and
not the landowners. In England, the capitalist class is usually
not even the owner of the land on which his factory stands.
3. "The emancipation of labor demands the promotion
of the instruments of labor to the common property of society and
the co-operative regulation of the total labor, with a fair distribution
of the proceeds of labor.
"Promotion of the instruments of labor to the common property"
ought obviously to read their "conversion into the common property";
but this is only passing.
What are the "proceeds of labor"? The product of labor, or its
value? And in the latter case, is it the total value of the product,
or only that part of the value which labor has newly added to the
value of the means of production consumed?
"Proceeds of labor" is a loose notion which Lassalle has put in
the place of definite economic conceptions.
What is "a fair distribution"?
Do not the bourgeois assert that the present-day distribution is
"fair"? And is it not, in fact, the only "fair" distribution on
the basis of the present-day mode of production? Are economic relations
regulated by legal conceptions, or do not, on the contrary, legal
relations arise out of economic ones? Have not also the socialist
sectarians the most varied notions about "fair" distribution?
To understand what is implied in this connection by the phrase
"fair distribution", we must take the first paragraph and this one
together. The latter presupposes a society wherein the instruments
of labor are common property and the total labor is co-operatively
regulated, and from the first paragraph we learn that "the proceeds
of labor belong undiminished with equal right to all members of
"To all members of society"? To those who do not work as well?
What remains then of the "undiminished" proceeds of labor? Only
to those members of society who work? What remains then of the "equal
right" of all members of society?
But "all members of society" and "equal right" are obviously mere
phrases. The kernel consists in this, that in this communist society
every worker must receive the "undiminished" Lassallean "proceeds
Let us take, first of all, the words "proceeds of labor" in the
sense of the product of labor; then the co-operative proceeds of
labor are the total social product.
From this must now be deducted: First, cover for replacement
of the means of production used up. Second, additional
portion for expansion of production. Third, reserve or
insurance funds to provide against accidents, dislocations caused
by natural calamities, etc.
These deductions from the "undiminished" proceeds of labor are
an economic necessity, and their magnitude is to be determined according
to available means and forces, and partly by computation of probabilities,
but they are in no way calculable by equity.
There remains the other part of the total product, intended to
serve as means of consumption.
Before this is divided among the individuals, there has to be deducted
again, from it: First, the general costs of administration
not belonging to production. This part will, from the outset, be
very considerably restricted in comparison with present-day society,
and it diminishes in proportion as the new society develops. Second,
that which is intended for the common satisfaction of needs, such
as schools, health services, etc. From the outset, this part grows
considerably in comparison with present-day society, and it grows
in proportion as the new society develops. Third, funds
for those unable to work, etc., in short, for what is included under
so-called official poor relief today.
Only now do we come to the "distribution" which the program, under
Lassallean influence, alone has in view in its narrow fashion --
namely, to that part of the means of consumption which is divided
among the individual producers of the co-operative society.
The "undiminished" proceeds of labor have already unnoticeably
become converted into the "diminished" proceeds, although what the
producer is deprived of in his capacity as a private individual
benefits him directly or indirectly in his capacity as a member
Just as the phrase of the "undiminished" proceeds of labor has
disappeared, so now does the phrase of the "proceeds of labor" disappear
Within the co-operative society based on common ownership of the
means of production, the producers do not exchange their products;
just as little does the labor employed on the products appear here
as the value of these products, as a material quality possessed
by them, since now, in contrast to capitalist society, individual
labor no longer exists in an indirect fashion but directly as a
component part of total labor. The phrase "proceeds of labor", objectionable
also today on account of its ambiguity, thus loses all meaning.
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. Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from
society -- after the deductions have been made -- exactly what he
gives to it. What he has given to it is his individual quantum of
labor. For example, the social working day consists of the sum of
the individual hours of work; the individual labor time of the individual
producer is the part of the social working day contributed by him,
his share in it. He receives a certificate from society that he
has furnished such-and-such an amount of labor (after deducting
his labor for the common funds); and with this certificate, he draws
from the social stock of means of consumption as much as the same
amount of labor cost. The same amount of labor which he has given
to society in one form, he receives back in another.
Here, obviously, the same principle prevails as that which regulates
the exchange of commodities, as far as this is exchange of equal
values. Content and form are changed, because under the altered
circumstances no one can give anything except his labor, and because,
on the other hand, nothing can pass to the ownership of individuals,
except individual means of consumption. But as far as the distribution
of the latter among the individual producers is concerned, the same
principle prevails as in the exchange of commodity equivalents:
a given amount of labor in one form is exchanged for an equal amount
of labor in another form.
Hence, equal right here is still in principle -- bourgeois
right, although principle and practice are no longer at loggerheads,
while the exchange of equivalents in commodity exchange exists only
on the average and not in the individual case.
In spite of this advance, this equal right is still constantly
stigmatized by a bourgeois limitation. The right of the producers
is proportional to the labor they supply; the equality
consists in the fact that measurement is made with an equal
But one man is superior to another physically, or mentally, and
supplies more labor in the same time, or can labor for a longer
time; and labor, to serve as a measure, must be defined by its duration
or intensity, otherwise it ceases to be a standard of measurement.
This equal right is an unequal right for unequal labor.
It recognizes no class differences, because everyone is only a worker
like everyone else; but it tacitly recognizes unequal individual
endowment, and thus productive capacity, as a natural privilege.
It is, therefore, a right of inequality, in its content, like every
right. Right, by its very nature, can consist only in the application
of an equal standard; but unequal individuals (and they would not
be different individuals if they were not unequal) are measurable
only by an equal standard insofar as they are brought under an equal
point of view, are taken from one definite side only -- for instance,
in the present case, are regarded only as workers and nothing
more is seen in them, everything else being ignored. Further, one
worker is married, another is not; one has more children than another,
and so on and so forth. Thus, with an equal performance of labor,
and hence an equal in the social consumption fund, one will in fact
receive more than another, one will be richer than another, and
so on. To avoid all these defects, right, instead of being equal,
would have to be unequal.
But these defects are inevitable in the first phase of communist
society as it is when it has just emerged after prolonged birth
pangs from capitalist society. Right can never be higher than the
economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned
In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination
of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the
antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after
labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want;
after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around
development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative
wealth flow more abundantly -- only then then can the narrow horizon
of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe
on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according
to his needs!
I have dealt more at length with the "undiminished" proceeds of
labor, on the one hand, and with "equal right" and "fair distribution",
on the other, in order to show what a crime it is to attempt, on
the one hand, to force on our Party again, as dogmas, ideas which
in a certain period had some meaning but have now become obsolete
verbal rubbish, while again perverting, on the other, the realistic
outlook, which it cost so much effort to instill into the Party
but which has now taken root in it, by means of ideological nonsense
about right and other trash so common among the democrats and French
Quite apart from the analysis so far given, it was in general a
mistake to make a fuss about so-called distribution and put the
principal stress on it.
Any distribution whatever of the means of consumption is only a
consequence of the distribution of the conditions of production
themselves. The latter distribution, however, is a feature of the
mode of production itself. The capitalist mode of production, for
example, rests on the fact that the material conditions of production
are in the hands of nonworkers in the form of property in capital
and land, while the masses are only owners of the personal condition
of production, of labor power. If the elements of production are
so distributed, then the present-day distribution of the means of
consumption results automatically. If the material conditions of
production are the co-operative property of the workers themselves,
then there likewise results a distribution of the means of consumption
different from the present one. Vulgar socialism (and from it in
turn a section of the democrats) has taken over from the bourgeois
economists the consideration and treatment of distribution as independent
of the mode of production and hence the presentation of socialism
as turning principally on distribution. After the real relation
has long been made clear, why retrogress again?
4. "The emancipation of labor must be the work of
the working class, relative to which all other classes are only
one reactionary mass."
The first strophe is taken from the introductory words of the
Rules of the International, but "improved". There it is said: "The
emancipation of the working class must be the act of the workers
themselves"; here, on the contrary, the "working class" has to emancipate
-- what? "Labor." Let him understand who can.
In compensation, the antistrophe, on the other hand, is a Lassallean
quotation of the first water: "relative to which" (the working class)
"all other classes are only one reactionary mass."
In the Communist
Manifesto it is said:
"Of all the classes that stand face-to-face with
the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary
class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face
of modern industry; the proletariat is its special and essential
The bourgeoisie is here conceived as a revolutionary class --
as the bearer of large-scale industry -- relative to the feudal
lords and the lower middle class, who desire to maintain all social
positions that are the creation of obsolete modes of production.
thus, they do not form together with the bourgeoisie "only one reactionary
On the other hand, the proletariat is revolutionary relative to
the bourgeoisie because, having itself grown up on the basis of
large-scale industry, it strives to strip off from production the
capitalist character that the bourgeoisie seeks to perpetuate. But
the Manifesto adds that the "lower middle class" is becoming
revolutionary "in view of [its] impending transfer to the proletariat".
From this point of view, therefore, it is again nonsense to say
that it, together with the bourgeoisie, and with the feudal lords
into the bargain, "form only one reactionary mass" relative to the
Has one proclaimed to the artisan, small manufacturers, etc., and
peasants during the last elections: Relative to us, you, together
with the bourgeoisie and feudal lords, form one reactionary mass?
Lassalle knew the Communist Manifesto by heart, as his
faithful followers know the gospels written by him. If, therefore,
he has falsified it so grossly, this has occurred only to put a
good color on his alliance with absolutist and feudal opponents
against the bourgeoisie.
In the above paragraph, moreover, his oracular saying is dragged
in by main force without any connection with the botched quotation
from the Rules of the International. Thus, it is simply an impertinence,
and indeed not at all displeasing to Herr Bismarck, one of those
cheap pieces of insolence in which the Marat of Berlin deals. [
Marat of Berlin a reference to Hasselmann, cheif editor of the Neuer
5. "The working class strives for its emancipation
first of all within the framework of the present-day national states,
conscious that the necessary result of its efforts, which are common
to the workers of all civilized countries, will be the international
brotherhood of peoples."
Lassalle, in opposition to the Communist Manifesto and
to all earlier socialism, conceived the workers' movement from the
narrowest national standpoint. He is being followed in this -- and
that after the work of the International!
It is altogether self-evident that, to be able to fight at all,
the working class must organize itself at home as a class
and that its own country is the immediate arena of its struggle
-- insofar as its class struggle is national, not in substance,
but, as the Communist Manifesto says, "in form". But the
"framework of the present-day national state", for instance, the
German Empire, is itself, in its turn, economically "within the
framework" of the world market, politically "within the framework"
of the system of states. Every businessman knows that German trade
is at the same time foreign trade, and the greatness of Herr Bismarck
consists, to be sure, precisely in his pursuing a kind of international
And to what does the German Workers' party reduce its internationalism?
To the consciousness that the result of its efforts will be "the
international brotherhood of peoples" -- a phrase borrowed from
the bourgeois League of Peace and Freedom, which is intended to pass as equivalent
to the international brotherhood of working classes in the joint
struggle against the ruling classes and their governments. Not a
word, therefore, about the international functions of the German
working class! And it is thus that it is to challenge its own bourgeoisie
-- which is already linked up in brotherhood against it with the
bourgeois of all other countries -- and Herr Bismarck's international
policy of conspiracy.
In fact, the internationalism of the program stands even infinitely
below that of the Free Trade party. The latter also asserts
that the result of its efforts will be "the international brotherhood
of peoples". But it also does something to make trade international
and by no means contents itself with the consciousness that all
people are carrying on trade at home.
The international activity of the working classes does not in any
way depend on the existence of the International Working Men's Association.
This was only the first attempt to create a central organ for the
activity; an attempt which was a lasting success on account of the
impulse which it gave but which was no longer realizable in its
historical form after the fall of the Paris Commune.
Bismarck's Norddeutsche was absolutely right when it announced, to the satisfaction of its
master, that the German Workers' party had sworn off internationalism
in the new program.
"Starting from these basic principles, the German
workers' party strives by all legal means for the free state—and—socialist
society: that abolition of the wage system together with the iron
law of wages -- and—exploitation in every form; the elimination
of all social and political inequality."
I shall return to the "free" state later.
So, in future, the German Workers' party has got to believe in
Lassalle's "iron law of wages"! That this may not be lost, the nonsense
is perpetrated of speaking of the "abolition of the wage system"
(it should read: system of wage labor), "together with the iron
law of wages". If I abolish wage labor, then naturally I abolish
its laws also, whether they are of "iron" or sponge. But Lassalle's
attack on wage labor turns almost solely on this so-called law.
In order, therefore, to prove that Lassalle's sect has conquered,
the "wage system" must be abolished "together with the iron law
of wages" and not without it.
It is well known that nothing of the "iron law of wages" is Lassalle's
except the word "iron" borrowed from Goethe's "great, eternal iron
laws".  The word "iron" is a label by which the true believers
recognize one another. But if I take the law with Lassalle's stamp
on it, and consequently in his sense, then I must also take it with
his substantiation for it. And what is that? As Lange already showed,
shortly after Lassalle's death, it is the Malthusian theory of population
(preached by Lange himself). But if this theory is correct, then
again I cannot abolish the law even if I abolish wage labor a hundred
times over, because the law then governs not only the system of
wage labor but every social system. Basing themselves directly
on this, the economists have been proving for 50 years and more
that socialism cannot abolish poverty, which has its basis in nature,
but can only make it general, distribute it simultaneously
over the whole surface of society!
But all this is not the main thing. Quite apart from the false
Lassallean formulation of the law, the truly outrageous retrogression
consists in the following:
Since Lassalle's death, there has asserted itself in our party
the scientific understanding that wages are not what they appear
to be -- namely, the value, or price, of labor—but
only a masked form for the value, or price, of
labor power. Thereby, the whole bourgeois conception of
wages hitherto, as well as all the criticism hitherto directed against
this conception, was thrown overboard once and for all. It was made
clear that the wage worker has permission to work for his own subsistence—that
is, to live, only insofar as he works for a certain time
gratis for the capitalist (and hence also for the latter's co-consumers
of surplus value); that the whole capitalist system of production
turns on the increase of this gratis labor by extending the working
day, or by developing the productivity—that is, increasing
the intensity or labor power, etc.; that, consequently, the system
of wage labor is a system of slavery, and indeed of a slavery which
becomes more severe in proportion as the social productive forces
of labor develop, whether the worker receives better or worse payment.
And after this understanding has gained more and more ground in
our party, some return to Lassalle's dogma although they must have
known that Lassalle did not know what wages were, but,
following in the wake of the bourgeois economists, took the appearance
for the essence of the matter.
It is as if, among slaves who have at last got behind the secret
of slavery and broken out in rebellion, a slave still in thrall
to obsolete notions were to inscribe on the program of the rebellion:
Slavery must be abolished because the feeding of slaves in the system
of slavery cannot exceed a certain low maximum!
Does not the mere fact that the representatives of our party were
capable of perpetrating such a monstrous attack on the understanding
that has spread among the mass of our party prove, by itself, with
what criminal levity and with what lack of conscience they set to
work in drawing up this compromise program!
Instead of the indefinite concluding phrase of the paragraph, "the
elimination of all social and political inequality", it ought to
have been said that with the abolition of class distinctions all
social and political inequality arising from them would disappear
"The German Workers' party, in order to pave
the way to the solution of the social question, demands the
establishment of producers' co-operative societies with state
aid under the democratic control of the toiling people. The
producers' co-operative societies are to be called into being
for industry and agriculture on such a scale that the socialist
organization of the total labor will arise from them."
After the Lassallean "iron law of wages", the physic of the prophet.
The way to it is "paved" in worthy fashion. In place of the existing
class struggle appears a newspaper scribbler's phrase: "the social
question", to the "solution" of which one "paves the way".
Instead of arising from the revolutionary process of transformation
of society, the "socialist organization of the total labor" "arises"
from the "state aid" that the state gives to the producers' co-operative
societies and which the state, not the workers, "calls
into being". It is worthy of Lassalle's imagination that with state
loans one can build a new society just as well as a new railway!
From the remnants of a sense of shame, "state aid" has been put
-- under the democratic control of the "toiling people".
In the first place, the majority of the "toiling people" in Germany
consists of peasants, not proletarians.
Second, "democratic" means in German "Volksherrschaftlich" [by
the rule of the people]. But what does "control by the rule
of the people of the toiling people" mean? And particularly in the
case of a toiling people which, through these demands that it puts
to the state, expresses its full consciousness that it neither rules
nor is ripe for ruling!
It would be superfluous to deal here with the criticism of the
recipe prescribed by Buchez in the reign of Louis Philippe, in opposition
to the French socialists and accepted by the reactionary workers,
of the Atelier.
The chief offense does not lie in having inscribed this specific
nostrum in the program, but in taking, in general, a retrograde
step from the standpoint of a class movement to that of a sectarian
That the workers desire to establish the conditions for co-operative
production on a social scale, and first of all on a national scale,
in their own country, only means that they are working to revolutionize
the present conditions of production, and it has nothing in common
with the foundation of co-operative societies with state aid. But
as far as the present co-operative societies are concerned, they
are of value only insofar as they are the independent creations
of the workers and not protégés either of the governments or of
I come now to the democratic section.
A. "The free basis of the state."
First of all, according to II, the German Workers' party strives
for "the free state".
Free state — what is this?
It is by no means the aim of the workers, who have got rid of the
narrow mentality of humble subjects, to set the state free. In the
German Empire, the "state" is almost as "free" as in Russia. Freedom
consists in converting the state from an organ superimposed upon
society into one completely subordinate to it; and today, too, the
forms of state are more free or less free to the extent that they
restrict the "freedom of the state".
The German Workers' party — at least if it adopts the program
— shows that its socialist ideas are not even skin-deep; in
that, instead of treating existing society (and this holds good
for any future one) as the basis of the existing state
(or of the future state in the case of future society), it treats
the state rather as an independent entity that possesses its own
intellectual, ethical, and libertarian bases.
And what of the riotous misuse which the program makes of the words
"present-day state", "present-day society", and of the still more
riotous misconception it creates in regard to the state to which
it addresses its demands?
"Present-day society" is capitalist society, which exists in all
civilized countries, more or less free from medieval admixture,
more or less modified by the particular historical development of
each country, more or less developed. On the other hand, the "present-day
state" changes with a country's frontier. It is different in the
Prusso-German Empire from what it is in Switzerland, and different
in England from what it is in the United States. The "present-day
state" is therefore a fiction.
Nevertheless, the different states of the different civilized countries,
in spite or their motley diversity of form, all have this in common:
that they are based on modern bourgeois society, only one more or
less capitalistically developed. They have, therefore, also certain
essential characteristics in common. In this sense, it is possible
to speak of the "present-day state" in contrast with the future,
in which its present root, bourgeois society, will have died off.
The question then arises: What transformation will the state undergo
in communist society? In other words, what social functions will
remain in existence there that are analogous to present state functions?
This question can only be answered scientifically, and one does
not get a flea-hop nearer to the problem by a thousand-fold combination
of the word 'people' with the word 'state'.
Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period
of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding
to this is also a political transition period in which the state
can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.
Now the program does not deal with this nor with the future state
of communist society.
Its political demands contain nothing beyond the old democratic
litany familiar to all: universal suffrage, direct legislation,
popular rights, a people's militia, etc. They are a mere echo of
the bourgeois People's party, of the League
of Peace and Freedom. They are all demands which, insofar as
they are not exaggerated in fantastic presentation, have already
been realized. Only the state to which they belong does
not lie within the borders of the German Empire, but in Switzerland,
the United States, etc. This sort of "state of the future" is a
present-day state, although existing outside the "framework" of
the German Empire.
But one thing has been forgotten. Since the German Workers' party
expressly declares that it acts within "the present-day national
state", hence within its own state, the Prusso-German Empire —
its demands would indeed be otherwise largely meaningless, since
one only demands what one has not got — it should not have
forgotten the chief thing, namely, that all those pretty little
gewgaws rest on the recognition of the so-called sovereignty of
the people and hence are appropriate only in a democratic republic.
Since one has not the courage — and wisely so, for the circumstances
demand caution — to demand the democratic republic, as the
French workers' programs under Louis Philippe and under Louis Napoleon
did, one should not have resorted, either, to the subterfuge, neither
"honest"  nor decent,
of demanding things which have meaning only in a democratic republic
from a state which is nothing but a police-guarded military despotism,
embellished with parliamentary forms, alloyed with a feudal admixture,
already influenced by the bourgeoisie, and bureaucratically carpentered,
and then to assure this state into the bargain that one imagines
one will be able to force such things upon it "by legal means".
Even vulgar democracy, which sees the millennium in the democratic
republic, and has no suspicion that it is precisely in this last
form of state of bourgeois society that the class struggle has to
be fought out to a conclusion — even it towers mountains above
this kind of democratism, which keeps within the limits of what
is permitted by the police and not permitted by logic.
That, in fact, by the word "state" is meant the government machine,
or the state insofar as it forms a special organism separated from
society through division of labor, is shown by the words "the German
Workers' party demands as the economic basis of the state: a single
progressive income tax", etc. Taxes are the economic basis of the
government machinery and of nothing else. In the state of the future,
existing in Switzerland, this demand has been pretty well fulfilled.
Income tax presupposes various sources of income of the various
social classes, and hence capitalist society. It is, therefore,
nothing remarkable that the Liverpool financial reformers —
bourgeois headed by Gladstone's brother — are putting forward
the same demand as the program.
B. "The German Workers' party demands as the intellectual
and ethical basis of the state:
"1. Universal and equal elementary education by the state. Universal
compulsory school attendance. Free instruction."
"Equal elementary education"? What idea lies behind these words?
Is it believed that in present-day society (and it is only with
this one has to deal) education can be equal for all classes?
Or is it demanded that the upper classes also shall be compulsorily
reduced to the modicum of education — the elementary school
— that alone is compatible with the economic conditions not
only of the wage-workers but of the peasants as well?
"Universal compulsory school attendance. Free instruction." The
former exists even in Germany, the second in Switzerland and in
the United States in the case of elementary schools. If in some
states of the latter country higher education institutions are also
"free", that only means in fact defraying the cost of education
of the upper classes from the general tax receipts. Incidentally,
the same holds good for "free administration of justice" demanded
under A, 5. The administration of criminal justice is to be had
free everywhere; that of civil justice is concerned almost exclusively
with conflicts over property and hence affects almost exclusively
the possessing classes. Are they to carry on their litigation at
the expense of the national coffers?
This paragraph on the schools should at least have demanded technical
schools (theoretical and practical) in combination with the elementary
"Elementary education by the state" is altogether objectionable.
Defining by a general law the expenditures on the elementary schools,
the qualifications of the teaching staff, the branches of instruction,
etc., and, as is done in the United States, supervising the fulfillment
of these legal specifications by state inspectors, is a very different
thing from appointing the state as the educator of the people! Government
and church should rather be equally excluded from any influence
on the school. Particularly, indeed, in the Prusso-German Empire
(and one should not take refuge in the rotten subterfuge that one
is speaking of a "state of the future"; we have seen how matters
stand in this respect) the state has need, on the contrary, of a
very stern education by the people.
But the whole program, for all its democratic clang, is tainted
through and through by the Lassallean sect's servile belief in the
state, or, what is no better, by a democratic belief in miracles;
or rather it is a compromise between these two kinds of belief in
miracles, both equally remote from socialism.
"Freedom of science" says paragraph of the Prussian Constitution.
Why, then, here?.
"Freedom of conscience"! If one desired, at this time of the Kulturkampf
to remind liberalism of its old catchwords, it surely could have
been done only in the following form: Everyone should be able to
attend his religious as well as his bodily needs without the police
sticking their noses in. But the Workers' party ought, at any rate
in this connection, to have expressed its awareness of the fact
that bourgeois "freedom of conscience" is nothing but the toleration
of all possible kinds of religious freedom of conscience from the
witchery of religion. But one chooses not to transgress the "bourgeois"
I have now come to the end, for the appendix that now follows in
the program does not constitute a characteristic component part
of it. Hence, I can be very brief.
"2. Normal working day."
In no other country has the workers' party limited itself to such
an indefinite demand, but has always fixed the length of the working
day that it considers normal under the given circumstances.
"3. Restriction of female labor and prohibition
of child labor."
The standardization of the working day must include the restriction
of female labor, insofar as it relates to the duration, intermissions,
etc., of the working day; otherwise, it could only mean the exclusion
of female labor from branches of industry that are especially unhealthy
for the female body, or are objectionable morally for the female
sex. If that is what was meant, it should have been said so.
"Prohibition of child labor." Here it was absolutely essential
to state the age limit.
A general prohibition of child labor is incompatible with the existence
of large-scale industry and hence an empty, pious wish. Its realization
-- if it were possible -- would be reactionary, since, with a strict
regulation of the working time according to the different age groups
and other safety measures for the protection of children, an early
combination of productive labor with education is one of the most
potent means for the transformation of present-day society.
"4. State supervision of factory, workshop, and
In consideration of the Prusso-German state, it should definitely
have been demanded that the inspectors are to be removable only
by a court of law; that any worker can have them prosecuted for
neglect of duty; that they must belong to the medical profession.
"5. Regulation of prison labor."
A petty demand in a general workers' program. In any case, it
should have been clearly stated that there is no intention from
fear of competition to allow ordinary criminals to be treated like
beasts, and especially that there is no desire to deprive them of
their sole means of betterment, productive labor. This was surely
the least one might have expected from socialists.
"6. An effective liability law."
It should have been stated what is meant by an "effective" liability
Be it noted, incidentally, that, in speaking of the normal working
day, the part of factory legislation that deals with health regulations
and safety measures, etc., has been overlooked. The liability law
comes into operation only when these regulations are infringed.
In short, this appendix also is distinguished by slovenly editing.
Dixi et salvavi animam meam.
[I have spoken and saved my soul.]
Quoted from Goethe's Das Göttliche
 Epitaph used by the Eisenachers. Here a play on
words in German.