The Peasant War in Germany - səhifə 2
class, the difference is quite clear.
“Who profited by the Revolution of 1525? The princes. Who profited by
the Revolution of 1848? The big princes, Austria and Prussia. Behind the
princes of 1525 there stood the lower middle-class of the cities, held
chained by means of taxation. Behind the big princes of 1850, there
stood the modern big bourgeoisie, quickly subjugating them by means of
the State debt. Behind the big bourgeoisie stand the proletarians.”
I am sorry to state that in this paragraph too much honour was given to the German
bourgeoisie. True, it had the opportunity of “quickly subjugating” the monarchy by means
of the State debt. Never did it avail itself of this opportunity.
Austria fell as a boon into the lap of the bourgeoisie after the war of 1866, but the
bourgeoisie does not understand how to govern. It is powerless and inefficient in
everything. Only one thing is it capable of doing: to storm against the workers as soon as
they begin to stir. It remains at the helm only because the Hungarians need it.
And in Prussia? True, the State debt has increased by leaps and bounds. The deficit has
become a permanent feature. The State expenditures keep growing, year in and year out.
The bourgeoisie have a majority in the Chamber. No taxes can be increased and no debts
incurred without their consent. But where is their power in the State? It was only a couple
of months ago, when a deficit was looming, that again they found themselves in the most
favourable position. They could have gained considerable concessions by persevering.
What was their reaction? They considered it a sufficient concession when the Government
allowed them to lay at its feet nine millions, not for one year alone, but to be collected
indefinitely every year.
I do not want to blame the “national liberals” of the Chamber more than is their due. I
know they have been forsaken by those who stand behind them, by the mass of the
bourgeoisie. This mass does not wish to govern. 1848 is still in its bones.
Why the German bourgeoisie has developed this remarkable trait, will be discussed
In general, however, the above quotation has proved perfectly true. Beginning from
1850, the small States were in constant retreat, serving only as levers for Prussian and
Austrian intrigues. Austria and Prussia were engaged in ever-stronger struggles for
supremacy. Finally, the fearful clash of 1866 took place. Austria, retaining all its provinces,
subjugated, directly and indirectly, the entire north of Prussia, while leaving the fate of the
three southern States in the air.
In all these grand activities of the States, only the following are of particular
The Peasant War in Germany
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importance for the German working class:
First, that universal suffrage has given the workers the power to be directly represented
in the legislative assemblies.
Second, that Prussia has set a good example by swallowing three crowns by the grace
of God. That after this operation her own crown is maintained by the grace of God as pure
as she claims it to be, not even the national liberals believe any more.
Third, that there is only one serious enemy of the Revolution in Germany at the present
time – the Prussian government.
Fourth, that the Austro-Germans will now be compelled to ask themselves what they
wish to be, Germans or Austrians; whom they wish to adhere to, to Germany or her
extraordinary transleithanian appendages. It has been obvious for a long time that they will
have to give up one or the other. Still, this has been continually glossed over by the petty-
As to other important controversies concerning 1866 which were threshed out between
the “national-liberals” and the people’s party ad nauseam, coming years will show that the
two standpoints fought so bitterly simply because they were the opposite poles of the same
In the social conditions of Germany, the year 1866 has changed almost nothing. A few
bourgeois reforms: uniform measures and weights, freedom of movement, freedom of
trade, etc. – all within limits befitting bureaucracy, do not even come up to that of which
other western European countries have been in possession for a long while, and leave the
main evil, the system of bureaucratic concessions, unshaken. As to the proletariat, the
freedom of movement, and of citizenship, the abolition of passports and other such
legislation is made illusory by the current police practice.
What is much more important than the grand manoeuvres of the State in 1866 is the
growth of German industry and commerce, of the railways, the telegraph, and ocean
steamship navigation since 1848. This progress may be lagging behind that of England or
even France, but it is unheard of for Germany, and has done more in twenty years than
would have been previously possible in a century. Germany has been drawn, earnestly and
irrevocably, into world commerce. Capital invested in industry has multiplied rapidly. The
position of the bourgeoisie has improved accordingly. The surest sign of industrial
prosperity – speculation – has blossomed richly, princes and dukes being chained to its
triumphal chariot. German capital is now constructing Russian and Rumanian railways,
whereas, only fifteen years ago, the German railways went a-begging to English
The Peasant War in Germany
– 6 –
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