ObMarx #1

Zodiac zodiac at gold.interlog.com
Wed Aug 16 14:46:57 MDT 1995

Having just sent that tiny missive about Louis Proyect, I wanna
add something actually _about_ Marx and/or Marxism.

There are several newsgroups which have developed such conventions --
where you must include some obligatory reference to the subject of the
forum. Yes, I think I would like to do that. Yes, I do. From this day
forward, every post of mine will include an actual real honest-to-goodness
fact/observation/question on Karl.

So here's my ObMarx -- one of my favorite snippets from a Marx letter --
this one to Schweitzer (Oct 13 68), a leader in the German labor movement.


"Moreover, like everyone who maintains that he has a panacea for the
suffering of the masses in his pocket, he [Lassalle] gave his agitation
from the outset a religious and sectarian character. Every sect is in
fact religious. Furthermore, just because he was the founder of a sect,
he denied all natural connection with the earlier working-class
movement both inside and outside of Germany. He fell into the same
mistake as Proudhon: instead of looking among the genuine elements of
the class movement for the real basis of his agitation, he wanted to
prescribe the course to be followed by this movement, according to a
certain doctrinaire recipe.

"Most of what I am now saying, post factum, I had already told Lassalle
in 1862, when he came to London and urged me to place myself with him
at the head of the new movement.

"You yourself have experienced in your own person the opposition between
the movement of a sect and the movement of a class. The sect sees the
justification for its existence and its point of honor not in what it
has in _common_ with the class movement but in the _particular
shibboleth_ which distinguishes it from the movement. Therefore, when
at Hamburg you proposed the congress for the formation of trade unions,
you were able to smash the opposition of the sect only by threatening
to resign from the office of president. In addition, you were obliged
to assume a dual personality and to announce that in one case you were
acting as the head of the sect and in the other as the organ of the
class movement.

"The dissolution of the General Association of German Workers gave you
the opportunity to take a great step forward and to declare, to prove
if necessary, that a new stage of development had now been reached, and
that the moment was ripe for the sectarian movement to merge in the
class movement and make an end of all sectarianism. As for the true
content of the sect it would, as was the case with all previous
working-class sects, be carried on into the general movement as an
element enriching it.

"Instead of this you actually demanded of the class movement that it
should subordinate itself to the movement of a particular sect....

"As for the draft Rules [of the General Federation of German Trade
Unions, just formed on September 26, upon a highly centralized
foundation], I consider them erroneous in principle, and I believe I
have had as much experience in the trade union field as any of my
contemporaries. Without going further into details I only want to
remark that _centralist_ organization, although very useful for secret
societies and sectarian movements, goes against the nature of trade
unions. Even if it were possible -- I state outright that it is
impossible -- it would not be desirable, and least of all in Germany.
Here, where the worker's life is regulated from childhood on by
bureaucracy, and he himself believes in the authorities, in the bodies
appointed over him, he must be taught before all else to walk by


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