2 min read

About the Booklet:

Extract from articles and letters 1847-1894. Copenhagen, Publishing House Futura, 1972, 57 p.

Compiled and edited by Communist Working Circle, CWC.

Also published in a newer print edition, edited and with a foreword by Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement, RAIM, and published by the Canadian Kersplebedeb Publishing in 2016, with a long newly written Introduction by Torkil Lauesen and Zak Cope. [149 p.] See more at leftwingbooks.net/

List of Abbreviations:

  • MESW Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Selected Works, vol. I-II Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow 1951.
  • KMC Karl Marx: Capital, vol. I-III Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow 1962.
  • MESC Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Selected Correspondence Progress Publishers, Moscow 1965.
  • MEOC Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: On Colonialism Progress Publishers, Moscow 1968.
  • MEOB Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: On Britain Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow 1962.

Most of the articles in the book is printet in extracts. In the online edition the articles and letters are linked to the complete edition in Marxist Online Archive, MIA – some of the letters on MIA might not be complete. In a few cases there are minor differences in the text, due to different translation.

Quote by V.I. Lenin at p. 9 in the printed edition, see below the contents.

Friedrich Engels & Karl Marx


The Poverty of Philosophy

Karl Marx7632 min read
p. 11:
“These moments of prosperity are, to the periods of crisis and stagnation, in the “true proportion” of 3 to 10. But perhaps also, in speaking of improvement, the economists were thinking of the millions of workers who had to perish in the East Indies so as to procure for the million and a half workers employed in England in the same industry, three years’ prosperity out of ten. …”

Manifesto of the Communist Party

p. 12-13:
“The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.”
“The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate.”

Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League

p. 14:
“… Far from desiring to revolutionize all society for the revolutionary proletarians, the democratic petty bourgeois strive for a change in social conditions by means of which existing society will be made as tolerable and comfortable as possible for them. Hence they demand above all diminution of state expenditure by a curtailment of the bureaucracy and shifting the chief taxes on to the big landowners and bourgeois.”
“… For us the issue cannot be the alteration of private property but only its annihilation, not the smoothing over of class antagonisms but the abolition of classes, not the improvement of existing society but the foundation of a new one. …”

Revolution in China and in Europe

Karl Marx7884 min read
p. 15-16:
“The tribute to be paid to England after the unfortunate war of 1840, the great unproductive consumption of opium, the drain of the precious metals by this trade, the destructive influence of foreign competition on native manufactures the demoralized condition of the public administration, produced two things: the old taxation became more burdensome and harassing, and new taxation was added to the old.”
“That isolation having come to a violent end by the medium of England, dissolution must follow as surely as that of any mummy carefully preserved in a hermetically sealed coffin, whenever it is brought into contact with the open air. Now, England having brought about the revolution of China, the question is how that revolution will in time react on England, and through England on Europe.”

The British Rule in India

Karl Marx8135 min read
p. 17-19:
“… It was the British intruder who broke up the Indian hand-loom and destroyed the spinning-wheel. England began with driving the Indian cottons from the European market; it then introduced twist into Hindostan and in the end inundated the very mother country of cotton with cottons. From 1818 to 1836 the export of twist from Great Britain to India rose in the proportion of 1 to 5,200. In 1824 the export of British muslin to India hardly amount to 1,000,000 yards, while in 1837 it surpassed 64,000,000 of yards. But at the same time the population of Dacca decreased from 150,000 inhabitants to 20,000. This decline of Indian towns celebrated for their fabrics was by no means the worst consequence. British steam and science uprooted, over the whole surface of Hindostan, the union between agricultural and manufacturing industry.”

The Future Results of the British Rule in India

Karl Marx7835 min read
p. 19-21:
“They destroyed it by breaking up the native communities, by uprooting the native industry, and by levelling all that was great and elevated in the native society.”
“All the English bourgeoisie may be forced to do will neither emancipate nor materially mend the social condition of the mass of the people, depending not only on the development of the productive powers, but of their appropriation by the people.”
“While they prated in Europe about the inviolable sanctity of the national debt, did they not confiscate in India the dividends of the rayahs who had invested their private savings in the Company’s own finds?”

Letter from Engels to Marx, Manchester, 23rd May 1856

Friedrich Engels7215 min read
p. 21-23:
“Ireland may be regarded as the first English colony and as one which because of its proximity is still governed exactly in the old way, and one can already notice here that the so-called liberty of English citizens is based on the oppression of the colonies.”
“The country was completely ruined by the English wars of conquest from 1100 to 1850 (for in reality both the wars and the state of siege lasted as long as that).”

English Ferocity in China

Karl Marx8582 min read
p. 23-24:
“… How silent is the press of England upon the outrageous violations of the treaty daily practised by foreigners living in China under British protection!”
“…[T]he English people at home, who look no farther than the grocer’s where they buy their tea, are prepared to swallow all the misrepresentations which the Ministry and the Press choose to thrust down the public throat.”

Persia and China

Friedrich Engels11712 min read
p. 24-25:
“… One thing is certain, that the death-hour of old China is rapidly drawing nigh. Civil war has already divided the South from the North of the Empire, and the Rebel King seems to be as secure from the Imperialists (if not from the intrigues of his own followers) at Nanking, as the Heavenly Emperor from the rebels at Peking.”

Letter from Engels to Marx, Manchester, 7th October 1858.

Friedrich Engels7682 min read
p. 25:/br> “…is really bound up with the fact that the English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat alongside the bourgeoisie. For a nation which exploits the whole world this is of course to a certain extent justifiable.”

Letter from Marx to Engels, London, 17th November 1862.

Karl Marx7371 min read
p. 26:
“… England has lately discredited itself more than any other country –”


Karl Marx8074 min read
p. 26-28:
“The different momenta of primitive accumulation distribute themselves now, more or less in chronological order, particularly over Spain, Portugal, Holland, France, and England. In England at the end of the 17th century, they arrive at a systematical combination, embracing the colonies, the national debt, the modern mode of taxation, and the protectionist system. These methods depend in part on brute force, e.g., the colonial system.”

Letter from Marx to Engels, London, 30th November 1867.

Karl Marx7033 min read
p. 28-29:
“The question now is, what shall we advise the English workers? In my opinion they must make the repeal of the Union (in short, the affair of 1783, only democratized and adapted to the conditions of the time) an article of their pronunziamento [5]. This is the only legal and therefore only possible form of Irish emancipation which can be admitted in the programme of an English party.”

Letter from Marx to Kugelmann, London, 6th April 1868

Karl Marx7022 min read
p. 30:
“For the moment this turn of affairs is bad for the workers’ party; the intriguers among the workers, such as Odger and Potter, who want to get into the next Parliament, have now a new excuse for attaching themselves to the bourgeois Liberals.
However, this is only a penalty which England – and consequently also the English working class – is paying for the great crime it has been committing for many centuries against Ireland.”

Letter from Engels to Marx, Manchester, 18th November 1868

Friedrich Engels7252 min read
p. 31:
“What do you say to the elections in the factory districts? Once again the proletariat has discredited itself terribly.”

Letter from Engels to Marx, Manchester, 24th October 1869

Friedrich Engels7031 min read
p. 32:
“… Irish history shows one how disastrous it is for a nation when it has subjected another nation.”

Letter from Marx to Kugelmann, London, 29th November 1869

Karl Marx7153 min read
p. 32-33:
“I have become more and more convinced – and the only question is to drive this conviction home to the English working class – that it can never do anything decisive here in England until it separates its policy with regard to Ireland most definitely from the policy of the ruling classes, until it not only makes common cause with the Irish but actually takes the initiative in dissolving the Union established in 1801 [8] and replacing it by a free federal relationship. And this must be done, not as a matter of sympathy with Ireland but as a demand made in the interests of the English proletariat.”

Letter from Marx to Engels, London, 10th December 1869

Karl Marx7492 min read
p. 34:
“For a long time I believed that it would be possible to overthrow the Irish regime by English working-class ascendancy. I always expressed this point of view in the New-York Tribune. Deeper study has now convinced me of the opposite. The English working class will never accomplish anything until it has got rid of Ireland. The lever must be applied in Ireland. That is why the Irish question is so important for the social movement in general.”

Letter from Marx to Meyer and Vogt, London, 9th April 1870

Karl Marx7447 min read
p. 35-37:
“After occupying myself with the Irish question for many years I have come to the conclusion that the decisive blow against the English ruling classes (and it will be decisive for the workers’ movement all over the world) cannot be delivered in England but only in Ireland.”

The English Elections

Friedrich Engels8844 min read
p. 38-39:
“… As regards the workers it must be stated, to begin with, that no separate political working-class party has existed in England since the downfall of the Chartist Party in the fifties. This is understandable in a country in which the working-class has shared more than anywhere else in the advantages of the immense expansion of its large-scale industry. Nor could it have been otherwise in an England that ruled the world market; and certainly not in a country where the ruling classes have set themselves the task of carrying out, parallel with other concessions, one point of the Chartists’ programme, the People’s Charter, after another.”

Letter from Marx to Liebknecht, London, 11th February 1878

Karl Marx7462 min read
p. 40:
“… The English working-class had been gradually becoming more and more deeply demoralised by the period of corruption since 1848 and had at last got to the point when it was nothing more than the tail of the Great Liberal Party, i.e., of its oppressors, the capitalists.”

Letter from Engels to Bernstein, London, 17th June 1879

Friedrich Engels7122 min read
p. 41:
“… For a number of years past (and at the present time) the English working-class movement has been hopelessly describing a narrow circle of strikes for higher wages and shorter hours, not, however, as an expedient or means of propaganda and organisation but as the ultimate aim. The Trade Unions even bar all political action on principle and in their charters, and thereby also ban participation in any general activity of the working-class as a class.”

Letter from Marx to Danielson, London, 19th February 1881

Karl Marx8412 min read
p. 42:
“… In India serious complications, if not a general outbreak, is in store for the British government. What the English take from them annually in the form of rent, dividends for railways useless to the Hindus; pensions for military and civil servicemen, for Afghanistan and other wars, etc., etc. – what they take from them without any equivalent and quite apart from what they appropriate to themselves annually within India – speaking only of the value of the commodities the Indians have gratuitously and annually to send over to England – it amounts to more than the total sum of income of the sixty millions of agricultural and industrial labourers of India!”

Letter from Engels to Kautsky, London, 12th September 1882

Friedrich Engels7322 min read
p. 43:
“… You ask me what the English workers think about colonial policy. Well, exactly the same as they think about politics in general: the same as the bourgeois think. There is no workers’ party here, you see, there are only Conservatives and Liberal-Radicals, and the workers gaily share the feast of England’s monopoly of the world market and the colonies.”

Letter from Engels to Bebel, Eastbourne, 30th August 1883

Friedrich Engels7133 min read
p. 44-45:
“Participation in the domination of the world market was and is the economic basis of the political nullity of the English workers. The tail of the bourgeoisie in the economic exploitation of this monopoly but nevertheless sharing in its advantages, they are, of course, politically the tail-of the “Great Liberal Party,” which for its part pays them small attentions, recognises Trade Unions and strikes as legitimate factors, has abandoned the fight for an unlimited working-day and has given the mass of better-off workers the vote.”

England in 1845 and in 1885

Friedrich Engels80013 min read
p. 45-50:
“The truth is this: during the period of England’s industrial monopoly the English working-class have, to a certain extent, shared in the benefits of the monopoly. These benefits were very unequally parcelled out amongst them; the privileged minority pocketed most, but even the great mass had, at least, a temporary share now and then. And that is the reason why, since the dying-out of Owenism, there has been no Socialism in England. With the breakdown of that monopoly, the English working-class will lose that privileged position; it will find itself generally – the privileged and leading minority not excepted – on a level with its fellow-workers abroad. And that is the reason why there will be Socialism again in England.”

Letter from Engels to Bebel, London, 28th October 1885

Friedrich Engels7573 min read
p. 51-52:
“But since then the colossal growth of industry has produced a class of workers of whom there are as many or more as there are “skilled” workers in the trade unions and whose performance is as good as that of the “skilled” workers or better, but who can never become members. These people have been virtually brought up on the craft rules of the trade unions. But do you suppose the unions ever dreamt of doing away with this silly bunk? Not in the least. I cannot recall having read of a single proposal of the kind at a Trade Union Congress. The fools want to reform society to suit themselves but not to reform themselves to suit the development of society.”

Letter from Engels to Sorge, London, 7th December 1889

Friedrich Engels7463 min read
p. 52-53
“The most repulsive thing here is the bourgeois “respectability” bred into the bones of the workers.”

Letter from Engels to Sorge, London, 19th April 1890

Friedrich Engels7312 min read
p. 53-54:
“But under the surface the movement is going on, is embracing ever wider sections and mostly just among the hitherto stagnant lowest strata. The day is no longer far off when this mass will suddenly find itself, when it will dawn upon it that it itself is this colossal mass in motion, and when that day comes short work will be made of all the rascality and wrangling.”

Letter from Engels to Kautsky, Ryde, 4th September 1892

Friedrich Engels7373 min read
p. 54-55:
“You see something unfinished in the Fabian Society. On the contrary, this crowd is only too finished: a clique of bourgeois “Socialists” of diverse calibres, from careerists to sentimental Socialists and philanthropists, united only by their fear of the threatening rule of the workers and doing all in their power to spike this danger by making their own leadership secure, the leadership exercised by the “eddicated.” If afterwards they admit a few workers into their central board in order that they may play there the role of the worker Albert of 1848, the role of a constantly outvoted minority, this should not deceive anyone.”

Letter from Engels to Sorge, London, 18th January 1893

Friedrich Engels7502 min read
p. 56:
“This Socialism of theirs [The Fabians] is then represented as an extreme but inevitable consequence of bourgeois Liberalism; hence their tactics of not resolutely fighting the Liberals as adversaries but of pushing them on towards Socialist conclusions and therefore of intriguing with them, of permeating Liberalism with Socialism, of not putting up Socialist candidates against the Liberals but of fastening them on to the Liberals, of forcing them upon them, or deceiving them into taking them.”

Letter from Engels to Plekhanov, London, 21st May 1894

Friedrich Engels7541 min read
p. 57:
“… One is indeed driven to despair by these English workers with their sense of imaginary national superiority, with their essentially bourgeois ideas and viewpoints, with their “practical” narrow-mindedness, with the parliamentary corruption which has seriously infected the leaders.”

Quote by V.I. Lenin

At p. 9 in the printed edition.

“It must be observed that in Great Britain the tendency of imperialism to split the workers, to strengthen opportunism among them and to cause temporary decay in the working-class movement, revealed itself much earlier than the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries; for two important distinguishing features of imperialism were already observed in Great Britain in the middle of the nineteenth century – vast colonial possessions and a monopolist position in the world market. Marx and Engels traced this connection between opportunism in the working-class movement and the imperialist features of British capitalism systematically, during the course of several decades.”

V. I. Lenin

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