Synopsis of the Prussian Military Question and the German Workers' Party

The First International Working Men's Association

SYNOPSIS OF ENGELS' PAMPHLET THE PRUSSIAN MILITARY QUESTION AND THE GERMAN WORKERS' PARTY

Written middle of March 1865
Published in the Londoner Anzeiger Translated by Rodney Livingstone

The Prussian Military Question and the German Workers' Party. By Frederick Engels. (Hamburg, Otto Meissner)

We can warmly commend this pamphlet to our readers as it treats the most urgent issues of the day in Germany with great incisiveness, impartiality and expert knowledge. The old organisation of the Prussian army, the aims behind its reorganisation, the origins of the constitutional conflict in Prussia, the conduct of the opposition by the Party of Progress and the simultaneous feuding between the Party of Progress and the Workers' Party -- all this is presented here in a brief, but original and exhaustive account.

March 17 1865

The First International Working Men's Association REVIEW OF ENGELS' PAMPHLET THE PRUSSIAN MILITARY QUESTION AND THE GERMAN WORKERS' PARTY

Written earlier than March 13, 1865
Published in Hermann, March 18, 1865 Translated by Christopher Upward

In a March 18 1865 letter Marx told Engels about the review, originally intended for the Londoner Anzeiger.

The Prussian Military Question and the German Workers' Party. By Frederick Engels. (Hamburg, Otto Meissner)

This most important pamphlet falls into three sections.

In the first the author subjects the reorganisation of the Prussian army to the critique of military science. Its main fault he finds in the fact that the reorganisation plan "whilst in appearance reverting to the original concept of universal conscription, which cannot... function without a large army-reserve in the form of a Landwehr, ... in fact executes an about-turn in the direction of the Franco-Austrian cadre-system".

The second section sharply criticises the bourgeois opposition's handling of the military question. The author comes to the conclusion:

"It is immaterial by what errors and complications the bourgeois opposition is now forced into the following position: it must fight the military question through to the end, or it will lose the remnants of political power it still possesses... Can the Prussian bourgeoisie be expected ... to have the courage to remain adamant, come what may? It would have to have changed remarkably for the better since 1848, ... and the yearning for compromise which has found expression daily in the sighs of the Party of Progress since the opening of this session, is not an auspicious sign."

In the third section the author examines the attitude adopted by "the workers' party towards this reorganisation of the army" and the "ensuing constitutional conflict". His answer is summarised in the following sentences:

"The only aspect of army reorganisation in Prussia which is of interest to the German working class is the increasingly thorough implementation of universal conscription."

The policy which the working class must pursue in the constitutional conflict is:

"above all to preserve the organisation of the workers' party as far as present conditions permit; to drive the Party of Progress on to make real progress, as far as possible; ... but to reply to the hypocritical enticements of reaction with the words:

"With the spear one should accept gifts, point against point."

Posted By

libcom
Jul 25 2005 15:09

Share

Attached files