Page:Karl Marx the man and his message.pdf/15

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tells how the Communists did the same in most European countries. The paper he edited at Cologne was not a Socialist paper. When the "Red International" was formed in 1864, there never was any pretence that it was other than its name proclaimed it to be—an International association of working men, to the membership of which no Socialist test was ever applied.


He did not ask the working class to unite as class conscious socialists, but only as working men. He knew the class consciousness would come in good time. He had no patience with those who sought to impose any kind of test whatever in the way of the workers uniting as a class industrially or politically, for their own mutual support, protection, and advancement. Of that there cannot be the least manner of doubt, and that being so the question remains, what was the great service which Marx rendered to the working class, and with that I next proceed to deal.


Marx's real title to greatness, and certainly his greatest claim upon the gratitude of the working class, rests upon his discovery, for such it practically was, of the truth that history is but the record of class struggles, and that these are always the inevitable outcome of the economic system of the time resisting a change which its own workings has made inevitable. This is what has come to be known variously as the Economic or Materialistic interpretation of history. All that that means is this: That Marx supplied the same explanation of human progress in civilisation and towards freedom, which Darwin subsequently did of the evolution of animal and plant life towards the stage of perfection now attained. The existence of a ruling class is only a proof of a successful revolutionary struggle waged by that class some former period of its history. With each succeeding class struggle the bounds of human freedom have been enlarged until with the advent of the Capitalist system of wealth production we have society, in the main, divided into two great antagonistic classes—the owners of property and the producers of property. Thus, with the organisation of the enfranchised working class into a definite organisation of their own, industrial and political, the final stage of the struggle for the freedom of the race has been entered upon. When the property-less working class has made all capitalistic property public property, then classes will have disappeared, since that which now divides a community into classes, the private ownership of property, will have disappeared. Differences of individuals will, of course, continue, but these will be individual distinctions, and will not divide men into separate and antagonistic classes. That is the task which falls upon the