Farsi    Arabic    English   

Engels To Paul Stumpf
In Mainz

London, 3 January 1895
41 Regent's Park Road, N. W.

Dear Old Man, As you see, I reciprocate your congratulations on the completion of my 74th year (you were kind enough to make me a year younger (than I am) with a resounding Happy New Year. Let us hope that, come the next one, we shall both of us still be hale and hearty; for I have a great desire just to take one peek into the new century, though by the first of January 1901 or thereabouts, I shall be a complete wreck, and then let happen what may.

I was not unduly disturbed about the row in the party.[463] It is much better that things of this kind should crop up from time to time and be properly thrashed out than that people should don their nightcaps. For the very fact that the party has steadily and inexorably grown and expanded has meant that the new elements are more difficult to absorb than their predecessors. The working men of the big cities, i.e. the most intelligent and wideawake, are already ours and what we are now getting are either the working men of the small towns and rural areas, or students, salesmen, etc., or again, those struggling to keep their heads above water, the petty bourgeois and such independent craftsmen as still own or rent a parcel of land, and now, into the bargain, the small peasant proper. And since our party is in fact the only really progressive party and, what is more, the only one strong enough to ensure that advances are made, it is obviously tempting to bring a little socialism to bear on the debt-ridden and near-rebellious middle and big peasants as well, particularly in districts where such people predominate on the land. That might well involve going beyond the limits of what is allowed on principle by our party, in which case there will be a bit of a fracas, but so sound is our party's constitution that no harm will have been done. No one is so stupid as seriously to envisage a break with the great majority of the party, nor is anyone so conceited as to believe himself able to set up, alongside our big party, a small private one, like the Swabian People's Party[464] which has actually succeeded in swelling its numbers from seven to eleven Swabians. All this quarrelling has served only to disappoint the bourgeois who, for twenty years now, have been regularly counting on there being a split, while at the same time ensuring that there should not be the slightest risk of one. Take, for instance, the present Subversion Bill[428] and Liebknecht's elevation to the status of representative of the rights of the Reichstag and of the Imperial Constitution,[436] likewise the threatened coup d'état and infringement of the law by the powers that be. Of course stupidities are committed on our side also, but to render it possible for opponents such as these to get the better of us, we should have to be of a stupidity so abysmal as to be without rival anywhere else in the world today. Otherwise your idea of giving the younger generation a chance to take the helm in the party and thus get itself into a fix would not be at all bad; but I believe that they will acquire experience and common sense even without an experiment of that kind.

As you can see from my address, I have, as we used to say, moved a few doors along. This house is much better and more convenient and is very close to the park entrance.

I hope that the 'Heilig Geist' where we downed a good few glasses in our time, is still flourishing.[465] I should like to cool off on some hot summer's day in its Gothic vaults. But who knows what may not happen? One should never say die.

Well, once again a Happy New Year and warm regards from

F. Engels

First published abridged in:
F. Engels, Politisches Vermächtnis aus unveröffentlichen Briefen, Berlin, 1920
and in full in: Marx and Engels, Works, First Russian Edition, Vol. XXIX, 1946
Printed according to the original
MECW V50 pp405-406


[463] Writing to Engels on 26 November 1894, Paul Stumpf voiced his apprehensions about the differences at the Congress of the German Social-Democratic Party in Frankfurt am Main in October 1894 (see Note 418↓) which, in his view, showed the inadequate theoretical grounding of the young party members.

[418] Engels refers to a congress of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany held in Frankfurt am Main on 21-27 October 1894. The co-report on the main issue on the agenda—the agrarian question—was made by Georg von Vollmar, the leader of the Bavarian Social-Democrats; he insisted on augmenting the agrarian programme by clauses expressing the interests of all the peasantry, including the affluent strata. Some of the delegates, August Bebel among them, voiced objections. The congress elected a commission that was to draft the final text of the Party's agrarian programme as a supplement to the general programme. In addition, delegates heard the reports of the Party Executive Board and the Party group in the Reichstag; it considered such issues as the role of trusts and other major capitalist amalgamations, May Day celebrations, etc.

The final account of the proceedings of the Frankfurt Congress of the German Social-Democratic Party was published by the newspaper Vorwärts (No. 254) on 31 October 1894.

[464] A reference to the German People's Party (Deutsche Volkspartei) founded in 1865; it comprised democratic elements of the petty bourgeoisie and to some extent those of some other strata of the bourgeoisie—for the most part from the southern German states. The German People's Party opposed the Prussian hegemony in Germany and championed a Great German Reich, so-called, which was to include Prussia and Austria. Although it steered anti-Prussian policies and put forward democratic slogans, the People's Party expressed at the same time the particularist aspirations of the individual German states. It was against Germany's unification into unified democratic republic.

[428] Engels refers to the Draft of a Law on amendments and addenda to the Criminal Code, the Military Criminal Code and the legislation on the press ('Der Entwurf eines Gesetzes, betreffend Änderungen und Ergänzungen des Strafgesetzbuchs, des Militärstrafgesetzbuchs und des Gesetzes über die Presse), known for short as the Subversion Bill ('Umsturzvollage'). It envisaged harsh punishment for 'the intention to effect an overthrow of the existing state system' even in the absence of a criminal act, and also for an encroachment on religion, monarchy, matrimony and property. The government tabled the draft law in the Reichstag in December 1894, but the top German legislature rejected it in May 1895.

[436] On 6 December 1894 the members of the Social-Democratic faction in the Reichstag did not rise but remained seated as the Reichstag President von Levetzow had proposed the health of Emperor William II, and the other deputies had stood up to shout three 'hurrahs!' Such behaviour of the Social-Democratic group was qualified as lèse-majesté, thereupon the district court of Berlin decided to start criminal proceedings against Liebknecht. On 11 December the Reichskanzler, Prince zu Hohenlohe, demanded that the Reichstag approve the court decision. But on 15 December the Reichstag rejected this demand by 168 votes against 58.

[465] An allusion to the stay of Marx and Engels in Mainz on 7-9 April 1848 en route from Paris to Cologne. While in Mainz, they met local members of the Communist League, including Paul Stumpf, to discuss the unification of workers' associations for participation in the German revolution of 1848.

MarxEngles.public-archive.net #ME5052en.html