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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-
bourgeois democracy.
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
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