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Engels To F. Wiesen[179]
In Baird (Texas)

London,[180] 14 March 1893
122 Regent’s Park Road, N. W.

Dear Comrade,

An accumulation of work has prevented me from replying any sooner to your note of 29 January.

I don’t see why it should necessarily represent an infringement of the Social-Democratic principle if a man puts up candidates for some political office for which election is required and if he votes for those candidates, even if he is engaged in an attempt to abolish that office.

One might consider that the best way to abolish the Presidency and the Senate in America would be to elect to those posts men who had pledged themselves to bring about their abolition; it would then be logical for one to act accordingly. Others might consider this method to be inexpedient; it’s a debatable point. There could be circumstances in which such a mode of action might also involve a denial of the revolutionary principle; why it should always and invariably be so, I entirely fail to see.

For the first objective of the labour movement is the conquest of political power for and by the working class. Once we are agreed on that, differences of opinion between upright men, in full command of their wits, as to the ways and means of struggle are unlikely to give rise to a dispute over principles.

In my view the best tactics in any given country are those which lead most quickly and surely to the goal. But in America in particular that goal is still a very long way off, and I believe I would not be wrong in attributing to this very circumstance the importance which is still sometimes attached to such academic issues over there.

I authorise you to publish these lines—unabridged.

Very sincerely yours,

F. Engels

First published, slightly abridged, in:
Briefe und Auszüge aus Briefen von Joh. Phil. Becker, Jos. Dietzgen,
Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx u. A. an F. A. Sorge und Andere
, Stuttgart, 1906
and in full (in English) in Science and Society, Vol. 11, No. 3, New York, 1938
Printed according to the original
MECW V50 p119


[179] This letter was first published in English in full in: Science and Society, N.Y., 1938. Vol. 11, No. 3.

[180] The rough notes of this letter jotted down by Engels are extant, together with the copy he made for F. Sorge; Engels sent it to Sorge with his letter of 18 March 1893 (see this volume, pp. 124-126). The different reading of the copy compared with the original is marked in the footnotes. As is clear from these three documents, the letter is indicated to have been written in London, though at that time Engels was recuperating in Eastbourne (see Note 175↓).

Engels wrote the following address on the envelope: Mr. F. Wiesen, Baird, Texas, U.S. America.

[175] Engels was taking a rest at Eastbourne from March 1 to March 17 1893 or thereabouts.

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