Chapter 3b of The Communist Manifest Simplified

German or 'True' Socialism Icon

April 16, 2022

C. German or “True” Socialism

The Socialist and Communist literature of France began as a fight against the capitalists in power.

  • This literature was introduced into Germany when the German capitalists had just begun its contest with feudal absolutism.

German philosophers, would-be philosophers, and beaux esprits (men of letters), eagerly seized on this literature.

  • They forgot that when these writings came from French social conditions which did not immigrate with them.

Under German social conditions, this French literature lost all its immediate practical significance.

  • It became purely literary.

Thus, to the German philosophers of the 18th Century:

  • the demands of the first French Revolution were just the demands of “Practical Reason” in general
  • the utterance of the will of the revolutionary French capitalists signified, to them, the laws of pure Will, as true human Will generally.

This annexation happened in the same way that a foreign language is appropriated by translation.

The introduction of French philosophical phrases, the Germans dubbed as:

  • “Philosophy of Action”
  • “True Socialism”
  • “German Science of Socialism”
  • “Philosophical Foundation of Socialism”, etc.

The French Socialist and Communist literature was thus completely emasculated.

Instead of it, the fight of the Prussian capitalists against feudal aristocracy and absolute monarchy, became more earnest.

  • This was the liberal movement.

The “True” Socialist demands were:

  • fighting liberalism
  • going against representative government
  • going against capitalism
  • preaching to the masses that they had everything to lose from this capitalist movement.

German Socialism was the silly echo of Feudal French anti-capitalism.

criticism, whose it was, presupposed the existence of modern capitalist society, with its corresponding economic conditions of existence, and the political constitution adapted thereto, the very things those attainment was the object of the pending struggle in Germany.

To the absolute governments, True Socialism served as a welcome scarecrow against the threatening capitalists.

The monarchial government used this “True” Socialism as a weapon against the German capitalists.

it, at the same time, directly represented a reactionary interest, the interest of German Philistines.

In Germany, the petty-capitalist class was a relic of the 16th century. Since then, it had constantly cropped up under the various forms. It is the real social cause of the existing state of things.

To preserve this class is to preserve the existing state of things in Germany.

The industrial and political supremacy of the capitalists threatens Germany with certain destruction either by:

  • the concentration of capital, or
  • the rise of a revolutionary proletariat.

“True” Socialism appeared to kill these two birds with one stone. It spread like an epidemic.

German Socialism recognised gradually its own calling as the bombastic representative of petty-capitalism.

  • It proclaimed:
    • Germany as the model nation
    • the German petty-capitalist as the typical man.

2. Conservative or Capitalist Socialism

Some capitalists want to redressing social grievances in order to secure the continued existence of capitalist society.

To this group belong:

  • economists
  • philanthropists
  • humanitarians
  • improvers of the condition of the working class
  • organisers of charity
  • members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals
  • temperance fanatics
  • hole-and-corner reformers

Proudhon’s Philosophie de la Misère is an example of this form.

The Socialistic capitalist:

  • wants all the advantages of modern social conditions, without the struggles and dangers that capitalism creates.
  • wants the existing state of society, minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements.
  • wants a capitalism without a proletariat.
  • The capitalists naturally conceives the world in which it is supreme to be the best

Capitalist Socialism develops system for this.

In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby to march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but requires in reality, that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the capitalists.

A second, and more practical, but less systematic, form of this Socialism sought to depreciate every revolutionary movement in the eyes of the working class by showing that no mere political reform, but only a change in the material conditions of existence, in economical relations, could be of any advantage to them.

By changes in the material conditions of existence, this form of Socialism, however, by no means understands abolition of the capitalist relations of production, an abolition that can be affected only by a revolution, but administrative reforms, based on the continued existence of these relations;

reforms, therefore, that in no respect affect the relations between capital and labour, but, at the best, lessen the cost, and simplify the administrative work, of capitalist government.

Capitalist Socialism is only a mere figure of speech.

Free trade: for the benefit of the working class.

Protective duties: for the benefit of the working class.

Prison Reform: for the benefit of the working class. This is the last word and the only seriously meant word of capitalist socialism.

It is summed up in the phrase: Capitalism for the benefit of the working class.