Frederick Engels in The Deutsche-Brüsseler Zeitung

The Communists and Karl Heinzen [124]

Source: MECW Volume 6, p. 291
Written: on September 26 and October 3, 1847;
First published: in the Deutsche-Brüsseler-Zeitung Nos. 79 and 80, October 3 and 7, 1847;
Signed: F. Engels.

First Article

Deutsche-Brüsseler-Zeitung No. 79, October 3, 1847

Brussels, September 26. Today’s number of the D-Br-Ztg contains an article by Heinzen [published as a statement in the Polemik column with a note by the editors entitled “Karl Heinzen und die Kommunisten"] in which under the pretext of defending himself against a trivial accusation by the editors, he embarks on a long polemic against the Communists.

The editors advise both sides to drop the polemic. In that case however they ought only to reproduce that part of Heinzen’s article in which Heinzen really defends himself against the accusation of having attacked the Communists first. Even if “Heinzen has no paper at his disposal”, that is no reason for placing one at his disposal for the publication of attacks which the editors of the paper themselves consider stupid.

Incidentally, no greater service could have been rendered to the Communists than has been rendered through the publication of this article. Sillier and more narrow-minded criticisms than those Heinzen here makes of the Communists have never been made of any party. The article is the most dazzling vindication of the Communists. It proves that if they had not already attacked Heinzen, they would be obliged to do so at once.

At the very outset Herr Heinzen presents himself as the representative of all the non-communist German radicals; his intention is to debate with the Communists as one party with another. He “is entitled to demand”, he announces with the greatest assurance what “must be expected of” the Communists, what “must be demanded of them”, what the “duty of real Communists is”. He identifies his differences with the Communists in all respects with those “the German republicans and democrats” have with them and speaks of “we” in the name of these republicans.

Who is Herr Heinzen, then, and what does he represent?

Herr Heinzen is a former liberal, lower-ranking civil servant who in 1844 was still enthusiastic about legitimate progress and the wretched German Constitution, and who at best confessed in a confidential whisper that a republic might be desirable and possible, of course in the far distant future. Herr Heinzen was wrong however about the possibility of legal resistance in Prussia. The bad book he wrote on the bureaucracy [Heinzen, Die Preussische Bureaukratie] (even Jacob Venedey wrote a far better book about Prussia years ago [Venedey, Preussen und Preussenthum]) compelled him to flee the country. Now the truth dawned on him. He declared legal resistance to be impossible, became a revolutionary and naturally a republican as well. In Switzerland he made the acquaintance of that savant sérieux Ruge, who taught him the little philosophy he has, consisting of a confused hotchpotch of Feuerbachian atheism and humanism, reminiscences of Hegel and rhetorical phrases from Stirner. Thus equipped, Herr Heinzen considered himself mature and inaugurated his revolutionary propaganda, leaning on Ruge to the right and Freiligrath to the left.

We are most certainly not criticising Herr Heinzen for his transition from liberalism to bloodthirsty radicalism. But we do maintain that he has made this transition as a result of merely personal circumstances. As long as Herr Heinzen was able to put up legal resistance, he attacked all those who admitted the necessity of a revolution. Scarcely was legal resistance rendered impossible for him when he declared it to be impossible absolutely, without taking into account that for the present this resistance is still perfectly possible for the German bourgeoisie, which is constantly putting up a highly legal resistance. Scarcely had the way back been cut off for him when he declared the necessity of an immediate revolution. Instead of studying conditions in Germany, taking overall stock of them and deducing from this what progress, what development and what steps were necessary and possible, instead of obtaining for himself a clear picture of the complex situation of the individual classes in Germany with regard to each other and to the government and concluding from this what policy was to be followed, instead, in a word, of accommodating himself to the development of Germany, Herr Heinzen quite unceremoniously demands that the development of Germany should accommodate itself to him.

Herr Heinzen was a violent opponent of philosophy as long as it remained progressive. Scarcely had it become reactionary, scarcely had it become the refuge of all waverers, weaklings and literary hacks, when Herr Heinzen did himself the disservice of joining it. And worse still, fate would have it that Herr Ruge, who himself has been a mere proselyte all his life, has found his only proselyte in Herr Heinzen. Herr Heinzen is thus condemned to provide Herr Ruge with the consolation that at least one person believed he had penetrated his verbal edifices.

For what end is Herr Heinzen actually working then? For the instant establishment of a German republic combining American and 1793 traditions with a few measures borrowed from the Communists, and looking very black, red and gold. [125] As a result of its industrial lethargy, Germany occupies such a wretched position in Europe that it can never seize an initiative, never be the first to proclaim a great revolution, never establish a republic on its own account without France and England. Any German republic that is supposed to be created independently of the development of the civilised countries, any German revolution that is supposed to be carried out on its own and, as happens in Herr Heinzen’s case, leaves the real development of classes in Germany totally out of consideration, any such republic or revolution is nothing but black, red and gold day-dreaming. And in order to make this glorious German republic even more glorious, Herr Heinzen garnishes it with Feuerbachian, Rugified humanism, and proclaims it as the kingdom “of man” which is almost at hand. And the Germans are supposed to make something of all this topsy-turvy day-dreaming?

But how does the great “agitator” Herr Heinzen conduct his propaganda? He declares the princes to be the chief authors of all poverty and distress. This assertion is not only ridiculous but exceedingly damaging. Herr Heinzen could not flatter the German princes, those impotent and feeble-minded puppets, more than by attributing to them fantastic, preternatural, daemonic omnipotence. If Herr Heinzen asserts that the princes can do so much evil, he is thereby also conceding them the power to perform as many good works. The conclusion this leads to is not the necessity of a revolution but the pious desire for a virtuous prince, for a good Emperor Joseph. In any case, the people know far better than Herr Heinzen who their oppressors are. Herr Heinzen will never transfer to the princes the hatred which the serf feels for the feudal lord and the worker for his employer. But of course Herr Heinzen is working in the interests of the landowners and capitalists when he puts the blame for the exploitation of the people by these two classes not on them but on the princes; and the exploitation by the landowners and capitalists is after all surely responsible for nineteen-twentieths of all the misery in Germany!

Herr Heinzen calls for an immediate insurrection. He has leaflets [ Heinzen, Teutsche Revolution. Gesammelte Flugschriften] printed to this effect and attempts to distribute them in Germany. We would ask whether blindly lashing out with such senseless propaganda is not injurious in the highest degree to the interests of German democracy. We would ask whether experience has not proved how useless it is. Whether, at a time of far greater unrest, in the thirties, hundreds of thousands of such leaflets, pamphlets, etc., were not distributed in Germany and whether a single one of them had any success whatever. We would ask whether any person who is in his right mind at all can imagine that the people will pay any attention whatever to political sermonising and exhortations of this kind. We would ask whether Herr Heinzen has ever done anything else in his leaflets except exhort and sermonise. We would ask whether it is not positively ridiculous to trumpet calls for revolution out into the world in this way, without sense or understanding, without knowledge or consideration of circumstances.

What is the task of a party press? To debate, first and foremost, to explain, to expound, to defend the party’s demands, to rebut and refute the claims and assertions of the opposing party. What is the task of the German democratic press? To demonstrate the necessity for democracy by the worthlessness of the present government, which by and large represents the nobility, by the inadequacy of the constitutional system that brings the bourgeoisie to the helm, by the impossibility of the people helping itself so long as it does not have political power. Its task is to reveal the oppression of the proletarians, small peasants and urban petty bourgeoisie, for in Germany these constitute the “people”, by the bureaucracy, the nobility and the bourgeoisie; how not only political but above all social oppression has come about, and by what means it can be eliminated; its task is to show that the conquest of political power by the proletarians, small peasants and urban petty bourgeoisie is the first condition for the application of these means. Its task is further to examine the extent to which a rapid realisation of democracy may be expected, what resources the party can command and what other parties it must ally itself with as long as it is too weak to act alone. — Well, and has Herr Heinzen done even one of these things?

No. He has not put himself to so much trouble. He has revealed absolutely nothing to the people, in other words to the proletarians, small peasants and urban petty bourgeoisie. He has never examined the position of the classes and parties. He has done nothing but play variations on the one theme: Fight'em, fight'em, fight'em!

And to whom does Herr Heinzen address his revolutionary sermonising? First and foremost to the small peasants, to that class which in our day and age is least of all capable of seizing a revolutionary initiative. For 600 years, all progressive movements have issued so exclusively from the towns that the independent democratic movements of country people (Wat Tyler, Jack Cade, the Jacquerie, the Peasants’ War[126]) were firstly always reactionary manifestations and were secondly always crushed. The industrial proletariat of the towns has become the vanguard of all modern democracy; the urban petty bourgeoisie and still more the peasants depend on its initiative completely. The French Revolution of 1789 and the most recent history of England, France and the eastern states of America prove this. And Herr Heinzen hopes the peasants will fight now, in the nineteenth century?

But Herr Heinzen also promises social reforms. Of course, the indifference of the people towards his appeals has gradually forced him to. And what kind of. reforms are these? They are such as the Communists themselves suggest in preparation for the abolition of private property. The only point Herr Heinzen makes that deserves recognition he has borrowed from the Communists, the Communists whom he attacks so violently, and even that is reduced in his hands to utter nonsense and mere day-dreaming. All measures to restrict competition and the accumulation of capital in the hands of individuals, all restriction or suppression of the law of inheritance, all organisation of labour by the state, etc., all these measures are not only possible as revolutionary measures, but actually necessary. They are possible because the whole insurgent proletariat is behind them and maintains them by force of arms. They are possible, despite all the difficulties and disadvantages which are alleged against them by economists, because these very difficulties and disadvantages will compel the proletariat to go further and further until private property has been completely abolished, in order not to lose again what it has already won. They are possible as preparatory steps, temporary transitional stages towards the abolition of private property, but not in any other way.

Herr Heinzen however wants all these measures as permanent, final measures. They are not to be a preparation for anything, they are to be definitive. They are for him not a means but an end. They are not designed for a revolutionary but for a peaceful, bourgeois condition. But this makes them impossible and at the same time reactionary. The economists of the bourgeoisie are quite right in respect of Herr Heinzen when they present these measures as reactionary compared with free competition. Free competition is the ultimate, highest and most developed form of existence of private property. All measures, therefore, which start from the basis of private property and which are nevertheless directed against free competition, are reactionary and tend to restore more primitive stages in the development of property, and for that reason they must finally be defeated once more by competition and result in the restoration of the present situation. These objections the bourgeoisie raises, which lose all their force as soon as one regards the above social reforms as pure mesures de salut public, as revolutionary and transitory measures, these objections are devastating as far as Herr Heinzen’s peasant-socialist black, red and gold republic is concerned.

Herr Heinzen of course imagines that property relations, the law of inheritance, etc., can at will be altered and trimmed to shape. Herr Heinzen — one of the most ignorant men of this century — may, of course, not know that the property relations of any given era are the necessary result of the mode of production and exchange of that era. Herr Heinzen may not know that one cannot transform large-scale landownership into small-scale without the whole pattern of agriculture being transformed, and that otherwise large-scale landownership will very rapidly re-assert itself. Herr Heinzen may not know what a close relationship exists between today’s large-scale industry, the concentration of capital and the creation of the proletariat. Herr Heinzen may not know that a country as industrially dependent and subservient as Germany can never presume to undertake on its own account a transformation of its property relations other than one that is in the interests of the bourgeoisie and of free competition.

In short: with the Communists these measures have sense and reason because they are not conceived as arbitrary measures but as consequences which will necessarily and of themselves ensue from the development of industry, agriculture, trade and communications, from the development of the class struggle between bourgeoisie and proletariat which is dependent on these; which will ensue not as definitive measures but as transitory ones, mesures de salut public arising from the transitory struggle between the classes itself.

With Herr Heinzen, they have neither sense nor reason, because they take the form of quite arbitrarily conceived, obtusely bourgeois visions of putting the world to rights; because there is no mention of a connection between these measures and historical development; because Herr Heinzen is not in the least concerned about the material feasibility of his proposals; because it is not his aim to formulate industrial necessities but on the contrary to overturn them by decree.

The same Herr Heinzen who is only able to adopt the demands of the Communists after he has so cruelly confused them and transformed them into pure fantasies, that same Herr Heinzen criticises the Communists for “confusing the minds of the uneducated”, for “chasing fantasies” and for “failing to keep their feet on the ground (!) of reality"!

There we have Herr Heinzen in all his activity as an agitator, and we make no bones about our opinion that it brings nothing but harm and discredit upon the whole German radical party. A party writer requires quite different qualities from those possessed by Herr Heinzen, who, as we said, is one of the most ignorant men of our century. Herr Heinzen may have the best will in the world, he may be the most steadfast man in his convictions in the whole of Europe. We also know that he is personally a man of honour and has courage and endurance. But all that does not make him a party writer. To be that, one requires more than convictions, good will and a stentorian voice, to be that, one requires a little more intelligence, a little more lucidity, a better style and more knowledge than Herr Heinzen possesses and, as long experience has proved, than he is capable of acquiring.

Herr Heinzen’s flight has faced him with the necessity of becoming a party writer nevertheless. He was compelled to try to form a party of his own among the radicals. Thus he got into a situation he was not equal to, in which through his unsuccessful efforts to meet the demands of this situation he only makes himself ridiculous. He would make the German radicals look equally ridiculous if they left him the pretence that he was representing them, that he was making himself ridiculous in their name.

But Herr Heinzen does not represent the German radicals. They have quite other representatives, e.g., Jacoby and others. Herr Heinzen represents no one and is recognised by no one as their representative, apart perhaps from some few German bourgeois who sent him money for the purposes of agitation. But we are Mistaken: one class in Germany recognises him as its representative, adores him and roars its head off for him, out-shouts whole tables of drinkers in the taverns for him (just as, according to Herr Heinzen, the Communists “out-shouted the whole literary opposition”). This class is the numerous, enlightened, noble-minded and influential class of commis-voyageurs. [commercial travellers]

And this Herr Heinzen demands that the Communists should recognise him as representative of the radical bourgeoisie and debate with him in that capacity?

For the moment, these are reasons enough to justify the polemic the Communists are conducting against Herr Heinzen. In the next issue we shall investigate the criticisms which Herr Heinzen makes of the Communists in No. 77 of the paper.

If we were not completely convinced that Herr Heinzen is utterly incompetent as a party writer, we would advise him to subject Marx’s Misère de la Philosophie to close study. But as things are, in response to his advice to us to read Fröbel’s Neue Politik, we can only give him the alternative advice to maintain absolute silence and wait quietly until “the fighting starts”. We are convinced that Herr Heinzen will prove as good a battalion commander as he is a bad writer.

So that Herr Heinzen cannot complain about anonymous attacks, we are signing this article.

F. Engels

Second Article

Deutsche-Brüsseler-Zeitung No. 80, October 7, 1847

The Communists — this we established in the first article — are attacking Heinzen not because he is no Communist, but because he is a bad democratic party writer. They are attacking him not in their capacity as Communists but in their capacity as democrats. It is purely coincidental that it is precisely the Communists who have opened the polemic against him; even if there were no Communists at all in the world, the democrats would still have to take the field against Heinzen. In this whole controversy it is only a question of: 1. whether Herr Heinzen as a party writer and agitator is capable of serving German democracy, which we deny; 2. whether Herr Heinzen’s manner of agitation is a correct one, whether it is merely tolerable, which we likewise deny. It is therefore a question neither of communism nor of democracy, but just of Herr Heinzen’s person and his personal eccentricities.

Far from starting futile quarrels with the democrats, in the present circumstances, the Communists for the time being rather take the field as democrats themselves in all practical party matters. In all civilised countries, democracy has as its necessary consequence the political rule of the proletariat, and the political rule of the proletariat is the first condition for all communist measures. As long as democracy has not been achieved, thus long do Communists and democrats fight side by side, thus long are the interests of the democrats at the same time those of the Communists. Until that time, the differences between the two parties are of a purely theoretical nature and can perfectly well be debated on a theoretical level without common action being thereby in any way prejudiced. Indeed, understandings will be possible concerning many measures which are to be carried out in the interests of the previously oppressed classes immediately after democracy has been achieved, e.g. the running of large-scale industry and the railways by the state, the education of all children at state expense, etc.

Now to Herr Heinzen.

Herr Heinzen declares the Communists had begun a quarrel with him, not he with them. The well-known argument of the street-porter, then, which we will readily concede to him. He calls his conflict with the Communists “the absurd split which the Communists have provoked in the camp of the German radicals”. He says that as long as three years ago he had been concerned to prevent the approaching split as far as his powers and circumstances might permit. These fruitless exertions were followed, he says, by attacks on him by the Communists.

Herr Heinzen, as everyone perfectly well knows, was not yet in the radical camp three years ago. At that time Herr Heinzen was progressive-within-the-law and liberal. A split with him was therefore by no means a split in the camp of the radicals.

Herr Heinzen met some Communists here in Brussels at the beginning of 1845. Far from attacking Herr Heinzen for his ostensible political radicalism, they rather took the greatest trouble to bring the then liberal Herr Heinzen over to just this radicalism. But in vain. Herr Heinzen only became a democrat in Switzerland.

“I later became more and more convinced (!) of the need for a vigorous struggle against the Communists” — in other words, of the need for an absurd split in the radical camp! We ask the German democrats whether someone who contradicts himself so absurdly is fitted to be a party writer?

But who are the Communists by whom Herr Heinzen claims he was attacked? The above innuendoes and particularly the ensuing reproaches against the Communists show who it was clearly. The Communists, we read,

“were out-shouting the whole camp of the literary opposition, confusing the minds of the uneducated, decrying even the most radical men in the most uninhibited manner, ... they were intent on paralysing the political struggle as far as possible, ... indeed, they were finally positively allying themselves ... even with reaction. Furthermore they often descended, obviously as a result of their doctrine, to base and false intrigues in practical life......

out of the fog and vagueness of these criticisms looms an easily recognisable figure: that of the literary hack, Herr Karl Grün. Three years ago Herr Grün had some personal dealings with Herr Heinzen, whereupon Herr Grün attacked Herr Heinzen in the Trier’sche Zeitung, Herr Grün attempted to out-shout the whole camp of the literary opposition, Herr Grün strove to paralyse the political struggle as far. as possible, etc.

But since when has Herr Grün been a representative of communism? If he thrust himself on the Communists three years ago, he has never been recognised as a Communist, he has never openly declared himself to be a Communist, and more than a year ago he thought it proper to inveigh against the Communists.

Moreover, even at that time, for Herr Heinzen’s benefit, Marx repudiated Herr Grün, just as he later publicly showed him up in his true colours at the first opportunity.

Concerning Herr Heinzen’s final “base and false” insinuation about the Communists, one incident which occurred between Herr Grün and Herr Heinzen, and nothing more, lies behind this. This incident concerns the two gentlemen in question and not the Communists at all. We are not even so exactly acquainted with this incident as to be able to pass judgment on it. But let us assume Herr Heinzen is in the right. If he then, after Marx and other Communists have repudiated his adversary, after it has been shown beyond all doubt that his adversary was never a Communist, if Herr Heinzen then still presents the incident as a necessary consequence of communist doctrine, it is monstrously perfidious of him.

And furthermore, if in his above reproaches Herr Heinzen has in mind persons other than Herr Grün, he can only mean those true socialists whose admittedly reactionary theories have long ago been repudiated by the Communists. All members of this now completely dissolved movement who are capable of learning anything have come over to the Communists and are now themselves attacking true socialism wherever it still shows itself. Herr Heinzen is thus again speaking with his customary crass ignorance when he once more disinters these superannuated visions in order to lay them at the Communists’ door. Whilst Herr Heinzen here reproaches the true socialists, whom he confuses with the Communists, he subsequently makes the same nonsensical criticisms of the Communists as the true socialists did. He thus has not even the right to attack the true socialists, he belongs, in one respect, to them himself. And whilst the Communists were writing sharp attacks on these socialists, the same Herr Heinzen was sitting in Zurich being initiated by Herr Ruge into those fragments of true socialism which had found a niche for themselves in the latter’s confused brain. Herr Ruge had indeed found a pupil worthy of him!

But what of the real Communists then? Herr Heinzen speaks of honourable exceptions and talented men, of whom he foresees that they will reject communist solidarity (!). The Communists have already rejected solidarity with the writings and actions of the true socialists. Of all the above reproaches, not a single one applies to the Communists, unless it be the conclusion of the whole passage, which reads as follows:

“The Communists ... in the arrogance of their imagined superiority laughed to scorn everything which is indispensable for forming the basis of an association of honourable people.”

Herr Heinzen appears, to be alluding here to the fact that Communists have made fun of his sternly moral demeanour and mocked all those sacred and sublime ideas, virtue, justice, morality, etc., which Herr Heinzen imagines form the basis of all society. We accept this reproach. The Communists will not allow the moral indignation of that, honourable man Herr Heinzen to prevent them from mocking these eternal verities. The Communists, moreover, maintain that these eternal verities are by no means the basis, but on the contrary the product, of the society in which they feature.

If, incidentally, Herr Heinzen foresaw that the Communists would reject solidarity with those people he takes it into his head to associate with them — what is the point of all his absurd reproaches and lying insinuations? If Herr Heinzen only knows the Communists from hearsay, as almost appears to be the case, if he knows so little who they are that he demands they should designate themselves more closely, and so to speak introduce themselves to him, what brazenness is this he exhibits in polemicising against them?

“A designation of those ... who ... actually represent communism or manifest it in its pure form would ... probably have to exclude completely the vast majority of those who base themselves upon communism and are used for it, and it would hardly be the people from the Trier’sche Zeitung alone who would protest against the assertion of such a claim.”

And a few lines later:

“Those who are really Communists now must be allowed the consistency and honesty” (what a decent philistine speaks here!) “of coming forward and openly professing their doctrine and declaring their dissociation from those who are not Communists.... They are under the moral obligation” (how typical of the philistine these expressions are) “not to maintain unscrupulously (!) the confusion which is created in the minds of a thousand suffering, uneducated minds by the impossibility (!!), dreamt of or falsely advertised as a possibility, of finding a way, based on real conditions, to implement that doctrine (!). It is the duty” (the philistine again) “of the real Communists either completely to clarify things for all their unenlightened adherents and to lead them to a definite goal, or else to detach themselves from them and not to use them.”

If Herr Ruge had produced these last three periods, he could have been well pleased. Entirely matching the philistine demands is the philistine confusion of thought, which is concerned only with the matter and not with the form and for that very reason says the exact opposite of what it wants to say. Herr Heinzen demands that the real Communists should detach themselves from the merely seeming ones. They should put an end to the confusion which (that is what he wants to say) arises from the mixing up of two different trends. But as soon as the two words “Communists” and “confusion” collide in his mind, confusion arises there too. Herr Heinzen loses the thread; his constantly reiterated formula, that the Communists in general are confusing the minds of the uneducated, trips him up, he forgets the real Communists and the unreal Communists, he stumbles with farcical clumsiness over a host of impossibilities dreamt of or falsely advertised as possibilities, and finally falls flat on his face on the solid ground of real conditions, where he regains his faculty of reflection. Now he is reminded that he meant to talk about something quite different, that it was not a question of whether this or that was possible. He returns to his theme, but is still so dazed that he does not even cross out that magnificent sentence in which he executed the somersault just described.

So much for the style. Regarding the matter, we repeat that, honest German that he is, Herr Heinzen comes too late with his demands, and that the Communists repudiated those true socialists long ago. But then we see here once again that the application of sly insinuations is by no means irreconcilable with the character of a decent philistine. For Herr Heinzen gives it clearly enough to be understood that the communist writers are only using the communist workers. He says in almost as many words that if these writers were to come forward openly with their intentions, the vast majority of those who are being used for communism would be excluded completely. He regards the communist writers as prophets, priests or preachers who possess a secret wisdom of their own but deny it to the uneducated in order to keep them on leading-strings. All his decent philistine demands that things be clarified for the unenlightened and that these persons must not be used, obviously proceed from the assumption that the literary representatives of communism have an interest in keeping the workers in the dark, as though they were. merely using them, just as the Illuminati [127] wished to use the common people in the last century. This insipid idea also causes Herr Heinzen to burst forth with always inopportune talk about confusion in the minds of the uneducated, and compels him, as a penalty for not speaking his mind plainly, to perform stylistic somersaults.

We merely take note of these insinuations, we do not take issue with them. We leave it to the communist workers to pass judgment on them themselves.

At last, after all these preliminaries, diversions, appeals, insinuations and somersaults by Herr Heinzen, we come to his theoretical attacks on and reflections about the Communists.

Herr Heinzen

“discerns the core of the communist doctrine simply in ... the abolition of private property (including that earned through labour) and in the principle of the communal utilisation of the earth’s riches which follows inescapably from that abolition.”

Herr Heinzen imagines communism is a certain doctrine which proceeds from a definite theoretical principle as its core and draws further conclusions from that. Herr Heinzen is very much mistaken. Communism is not a doctrine but a movement; it proceeds not from principles but from facts. The Communists do not base themselves on this or that philosophy as their point of departure but on the whole course of previous history and specifically its actual results in the civilised countries at the present time. Communism has followed from large-scale industry and its consequences, from the establishment of the world market, of the concomitant uninhibited competition, ever more violent and more universal trade crises, which have already become fully fledged crises of the world market, from the creation of the proletariat and the concentration of capital, from the ensuing class struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie. Communism, insofar as it is a theory, is the theoretical expression of the position of the proletariat in this struggle and the theoretical summation of the conditions for the liberation of the proletariat.

Herr Heinzen will now no doubt realise that in assessing communism he has to do rather more than discern its core simply in the abolition of private property; that he would do better to undertake certain studies in political economy than to gabble wildly about the abolition of private property; that he cannot know the first thing about the consequences of the abolition of private property if he does not also know its conditions.

However, in this respect, Herr Heinzen labours under such gross ignorance that he even says “the communal utilisation of the earth’s riches” (another fine expression) is the consequence of the abolition of private property. Precisely the contrary is the case. Because large-scale industry, the development of machinery, communications and world trade are assuming such gigantic proportions that their exploitation by individual capitalists is becoming daily more impossible; because the mounting crises of the world market are the most striking proof of this; because the productive forces and the means of exchange which characterise the present mode of production and exchange are daily becoming increasingly more than individual exchange and private property can manage; because, in a word, the moment is approaching when communal management of industry, of agriculture and of exchange will become a material necessity for industry, agriculture and exchange themselves — for this reason private property will be abolished.

So when Herr Heinzen forcibly separates the abolition of private property, which is of course the condition for the liberation of the proletariat, from the conditions that attach to it, when he considers it quite out of all connection with the real world simply as an ivory-tower fantasy, it becomes a pure cliché about which he can only talk platitudinous nonsense. This he does as follows:

“By its above-mentioned casting-off of all private property..., communism necessarily also abolishes individual existence.” (So Herr Heinzen is reproaching us for wanting to turn people into Siamese twins.) “The consequence of this is once more ... the incorporation of each individual into a perhaps (!!) communally organised barracks ... economy.” (Would the reader kindly note that this is avowedly only the consequence of Herr Heinzen’s own absurd remarks about individual existence.) “By these means communism destroys ... individuality ... independence ... freedom.” (The same old twaddle as we had from the true socialists and the bourgeoisie. As though there was any individuality to be destroyed in the individuals whom the division of labour has today turned against their will into cobblers, factory workers, bourgeois, lawyers, peasants, in other words, into slaves of a particular form of labour and of the mores, way of life, prejudices and blinkered attitudes, etc., that go with that form of labour!) “It sacrifices the individual person with its necessary attribute or basis” (that “or” is marvellous) “of earned private property to the ‘phantom of the community or society'” (is Stirner here as well?), “whereas the community cannot and should not” (should not!!) “be the aim but only the means for each individual person.”

Herr Heinzen attaches particular importance to earned private property and in so doing once again proves his crass unfamiliarity with the matter on which he is speaking. Herr Heinzen’s philistine justice, which allows to each man what he has earned, is unfortunately frustrated by large-scale industry. As long as large-scale industry is not so far advanced that it frees itself completely from the fetters of private property, thus long does it permit no other distribution of its products than that at present occurring, thus long will the capitalist pocket his profit and the worker increasingly know by practice just what a minimum wage is. M. Proudhon attempted to develop a system for earned property which would relate it to existing conditions, and, we all know, he failed spectacularly. Herr Heinzen, it is true, will never risk a similar experiment, for in order to do so he would need to study, and he will not do that. But let the example of M. Proudhon teach him to expose his earned property less to public scrutiny.

And if Herr Heinzen reproaches the Communists for chasing fantasies and failing to keep their feet on the ground of reality — to whom does this reproach properly apply?

Herr Heinzen goes on to say a number of other things which we need not enter into. We merely observe that his sentences get worse and worse the further he proceeds. The clumsiness of his language, which can never find the right word, would of itself suffice to discredit any party which acknowledged him as its literary representative. The solidity of his conviction constantly makes him say something quite different from what he intends to say. Thus each of his sentences contains a twofold nonsense: firstly the nonsense he intends to say, and secondly the one he doesn’t intend to say but nevertheless says. We gave an example of it above. It only remains for us to observe that Herr Heinzen repeats his old superstition about the power of the princes when he says that the power which must be overthrown and which is none other than the power of the State, is and always has been the progenitor and’ preserver of all injustice, and that his aim is to establish a State really based on justice (!) and within this fantasy structure

“to undertake all those social reforms which have emerged in the course of events m general (!), as correct (!) in theory and possible (!) in practice"!!!

His intentions are as good as his style is bad, and that is the fate of the well-meaning in this bad world.

From seduction by the Zeitgeist,
Nature-nurtured sansculotte
Dancing badly, but yet bearing
Good intentions in a bosom rough;
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Void of talent, yet a character.
[Heine, Atta Troll]

Our articles will fill Herr Heinzen with all the righteous indignation of an outraged honest philistine, but for all that he is not going to give up either his style of writing or his discreditable and ineffectual manner of agitation. We found his threat to string us up on the nearest lamp-post when the day for action and decision comes most entertaining.

In short: the Communists must co-operate with the German radicals and desire to do so. But they reserve the right to attack any writer who discredits the entire party. This, and no other, was our intention in attacking Heinzen.

Brussels, October 3, 1847

F. Engels

N. B. We have just received a pamphlet written by a worker [Stephan Born]: Der Heinzen’sche Staat, eine Kritik von Stephan, Bern, Rätzer. If Herr Heinzen wrote half so well as this worker, he might be well satisfied. From this pamphlet Herr Heinzen can see clearly enough, amongst other things, why the workers want nothing to do with his peasant republic. We also observe that this pamphlet is the first written by a worker which does not adopt a moral attitude but attempts to trace the political struggles of the present back to the struggle of the various classes of society with one another.