New Engels Translation

The February 1970 issue of Marxism Today, the theoretical journal of the Communist Party, publishes in full for the first time in English Frederick Engels’ Critique of the Draft Social-Democratic Programme. This document, translated by Jack Cohen, is Engels’ comment on the programme the German Social Democrats were to discuss at their conference in Erfurt in 1891. It is mainly a criticism of those Social Democrats who believed that the working class would be able to come to power peacefully in the undemocratic German Empire. A peaceful capture of power may be possible, says Engels, in countries “where the representative parliamentary body concentrates all power in its hands, where you can do what you please constitutionally as soon as you have the majority of the people behind you” but certainly not in Germany where the Reichstag does not control the government.


Another passage clearly explains Marx’s Theory of Increasing Misery and answers those who say it means that the workers will be reduced to paupers as capitalism progresses. Engels quotes “the numbers and the poverty of the proletariat constantly increase” from the draft programme and comments:


  Put in such an absolute and categorical way, this is not correct. The organisation of the workers, their constantly increasing resistance, will most probably act as a certain barrier against the increase of poverty. But what certainly is increasing is the uncertainty of existence. That. I would put in (Engels’ emphasis).


Marxism Today can be had from the C.P.G.B, 16 King Street, London, W.C.2.