Page:Karl Marx the man and his message.pdf/14

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happened, on which fighting began in the streets of Paris. It was the famous Communist Manifesto, the most fateful document ever written in the whole history of the working-class movement. It was the birth certificate of the modern Socialist movement. It had a two-fold purpose—to define clearly the nature of the struggle in which the Communists were engaged on behalf of the working class—and the attitude of the League to the working-class movement outside its own ranks. For the moment I shall confine myself to the question of tactics, since it is round these that all the controversy now rages.

Section two of the Manifesto raises the question: "In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole?"

(Proletariat I may explain for the benefit of young readers means working class, and Bourgeois, middle class.) This is how Marx answers the question:—

The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working-class parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement.

In the succeeding paragraphs he goes on to show that what distinguishes, them from others is that understanding, as they do, the true inwardness of the working-class movement, they are able to give it guidance and direction. They are on the one hand:—

The most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all the others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement!

Now nothing can be clearer than this. We may disagree with it, but we cannot misunderstand it.


The Socialist movement was not to be a thing apart from the general working-class movement, with its own tests and dogma, but an integral part of the movement, merely acting as the advanced guard, careful all the time not to get so far ahead as to be out of touch with the main body of the army. And this is exactly what the I.L.P. is, and always has been. The Trade Union movement is the real movement of the working class, and the I.L.P. is the advanced wing. And that, as I shall show later, was what Marx intended the Socialist section of the working-class movement to be. All through his life Marx—Engels also for that matter—rigidly adhered to the policy set forth in the Manifesto. At Cologne he frankly threw in his lot with the Radicals, and he