Tuesday, February 11, 2014
From The Pens Of Karl Marx And Friedrich Engels-Their Struggles To Build Communist Organizations-The Early Days
The foundation article by Marx or Engels listed in the headline goes along with the propaganda points in the fight for our communist future mentioned in other posts in this space. Just below is a thumbnail sketch of the first tentative proceedings to form a communist organization that would become a way-station on the road to building a Bolshevik-type organization in order fight for the socialist revolution we so desperately need and have since Marx and Engels first put pen to ink.
Marx/Engels Internet Archive-The Communist League
A congress of the League of the Just opened in London on June 2, 1847. Engels was in attendance as delegate for the League's Paris communities. (Marx couldn't attend for financial reasons.)
Engels had a significant impact throughout the congress -- which, as it turned out, was really the "inaugural Congress" of what became known as the Communist League. This organization stands as the first international proletarian organization. With the influence of Marx and Engels anti-utopian socialism, the League's motto changed from "All Men are Brothers" to "Working Men of All Countries, Unite!"
Engels: "In the summer of 1847, the first league congress took place in London, at which W. Wolff represented the Brussels and I the Paris communities. At this congress the reorganization of the League was carried through first of all. ...the League now consisted of communities, circles, leading circles, a central committee and a congress, and henceforth called itself the 'Communist League'."
The Rules were drawn up with the participation of Marx and Engels, examined at the First Congress of the Communist League, and approved at the League's Second Congress in December 1847.
Article 1 of the Rules of the Communist League: "The aim of the league is the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the rule of the proletariat, the abolition of the old bourgeois society which rests on the antagonism of classes, and the foundation of a new society without classes and without private property."
The first draft of the Communist League Programme was styled as a catechism -- in the form of questions and answers. Essentially, the draft was authored by Engels. The original manuscript is in Engels's hand.
The League's official paper was to be the Kommunistische Zeitschrift, but the only issue produced was in September 1847 by a resolution of the League's First Congress. It was First Congress prepared by the Central Authority of the Communist League based in London. Karl Schapper was its editor.
The Second Congress of the Communist League was held at the end of November 1847 at London's Red Lion Hotel. Marx attended as delegate of the Brussels Circle. He went to London in the company of Victor Tedesco, member of the Communist League and also a delegate to the Second Congress. Engels again represented the Paris communities. Schapper was elected chairman of the congress, and Engels its secretary.
Friedrich Lessner: "I was working in London then and was a member of the communist Workers' Educational Society at 191 Drury Lane. There, at the end of November and the beginning of December 1847, members of the Central Committee of the Communist League held a congress.Karl Marx and Frederick Engels came there from Brussels to present their views on modern communism and to speak about the Communists' attitude to the political and workers' movement. The meetings, which, naturally, were held in the evenings, were attended by delegates only... Soon we learned that after long debates, the congress had unanimously backed the principles of Marx and Engels..."
The Rules were officially adopted December 8, 1847.
Engels: "All contradiction and doubt were finally set at rest, the new basic principles were unanimously adopted, and Marx and I were commissioned to draw up the Manifesto." This would, of course, become the Communist Manifesto.
Markin comment on this series:
No question that today at least the figures of 19th century communist revolutionaries, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, are honored more for their “academic” work than their efforts to build political organizations to fight for democratic and socialist revolutions, respectively, as part of their new worldview. Titles like Communist Manifesto, Das Kapital, The Peasants Wars In Germany, and the like are more likely to be linked to their names than Cologne Communist League or Workingmen’s International (First International).
While the theoretical and historical materialist works have their honored place in the pantheon of revolutionary literature it would be wrong to neglect that hard fact that both Marx and Engels for most of their lives were not “arm chair" revolutionaries or, in Engels case, merely smitten by late Victorian fox hunts with the upper crust. These men were revolutionary politicians who worked at revolution in high times and low. Those of us who follow their traditions can, or should, understand that sometimes, a frustratingly long sometimes, the objective circumstances do not allow for fruitful revolutionary work. We push on as we can. Part of that pushing on is to become immersed in the work of our predecessors and in this series specifically the work of Marx and Engels to create a new form of revolutionary organization to fight the fights of their time, the time from about the Revolutions of 1848 to the founding of various socialist parties in Europe in the latter part of the 19th century.