Brentano vs. Marx

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Written in December 1890 -- February 1891

First published as a pamphlet in: F. Engels,

In Sachen Brentano contra Marx wegem angeblicher Zitatsfälschung.

Geschichtserzählung und Dokumente

Hamburg, 1891

 ONLINE VERSION: Translated by John Peet

Transcribed for the Internet by



by Frederick Engels


Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII

Click here to see the supporting


attached to Engels' pamphlet. They include:


1 -- 

The Inaugural Address (of the First


2 -- 

Capital, Vol. I


 3 -- 

The Charge

4 -- 

Karl Marx replies

5 -- 

Retort by Anonymous

6 -- 

Marx's second reply

7 -- 

The rejoinder of Anonymous



 8 -- 

Attack by S. Taylor

9 -- 

Eleanor Marx's reply

10 -- 

Sedley Taylor's retort

11 -- 

Eleanor Marx's second reply


1891: Brentano vs. Marx (1 of 22) [23/08/2000 18:00:19]

 12 -- 

From Engels' preface to the fourth German

edition of Marx's Capital, Volume One.

13 -- 

Brentano's reply

14 -- 

From the Appendices to Brentano's reply

15 -- 

From the Parliamentary Reports of the London

Press or April 17, 1863

16 -- 

Gladstone to Brentano

17 -- 

Engels' reply to No. 17



In my Preface to the fourth edition of the first volume of Marx's Capital found myself obliged to return to a polemic

against Marx, initiated by Anonymous in the Berlin Concordia in 1872, and taken up again by Mr. Sedley Taylor of

Cambridge in The Times in 1883. Anonymous, revealed by Mr. Taylor as Mr. Lujo Brentano, had accused Marx of

falsifying a quotation. The short report on the affair which I gave in my Preface (it is printed amongst the attached

Documents, No.12

), certainly was not intended to be pleasant to Mr. Brentano; nothing was more natural than that he

should answer me. And this took place in a pamphlet: Meine Polemik mit Karl Marx. Zugleich em Beitrag zur Frage des

Fortschritts der Arbeiterkiasse und seiner Ursachen. Von Lujo Brentano, Berlin, Walther & Apolant, 1890.

 This pamphlet gives us too much and too little. Too much, because it "also" gives us at length Mr. Brentano's views on

"the advance of the working class and its causes". These views have absolutely nothing to do with the point at issue. I

remark only this: Mr. Brentano's constantly repeated declaration that labour protection legislation and trade association

organisations are fitted to improve the condition of the working class is by no means his own discovery. From the

Condition of the Working Class in England and The Poverty of Philosophy to Capital and down to my most recent

writings, Marx and I have said this a hundred times, though with very sharp reservations. Firstly, the favourable effects of

the resisting trade associations are confined to periods of average and brisk business; in periods of stagnation and crisis

they regularly fail; Mr. Brentano's claim that they "are capable of paralysing the fateful effects of the reserve army" is

ridiculous boasting. And secondly -- ignoring other less important reservations -- neither the protection legislation nor the

resistance of the trade associations removes the main thing which needs abolishing: Capitalist relations, which constantly

reproduce the contradiction between the Capitalist class and the class of wage labourers. The mass of wage labourers

remain condemned to life-long wage labour; the gap between them and the Capitalists becomes ever deeper and wider the

more modern large-scale industry takes over all branches of production. But since Mr. Brentano would gladly convert

wage-slaves into contented wage-slaves, he must hugely exaggerate the advantageous effects of labour protection, the

resistance of trade associations, social piecemeal legislation, etc.; and as we are able to confront these exaggerations with

the simple facts -- hence his fury.

 The pamphlet in question gives too little, since it gives, of the documents in the polemic, only the items exchanged

between Mr. Brentano and Marx, and not those which have appeared since with regard to this question. So in order to place

the reader in a position to form an overall judgement, I give, in the appendix: 1. the incriminated passages from the

Inaugural Address of the General Council of the International and from Capital; 2. the polemic between Mr. Brentano and

Marx; 3. that between Mr. Sedley Taylor and Eleanor Marx; 4. my Preface to the 4th edition of Capital and Mr. Brentano's

reply to it; and 5. passages relevant to Gladstone's letters to Mr. Brentano. It goes without saying that I thereby omit all

those passages of Brentano's argument which do not touch upon the question of falsification of quotation, but only

constitute his "contribution to the advance", etc.




n No. 10 of the Berlin Concordia, March 7, 1872, there was a fierce anonymous attack upon Marx as the author of the

Inaugural Address of the General Council of the International in 1864. In this Address, it was stated, Marx had falsified a

quotation from the budget speech made by Gladstone, at that time English Chancellor of the Exchequer, on April 16, 1863.

 The passage from the Inaugural Address is printed in the appendix, 

Documents, No. 1

. The article from the Concordia

1891: Brentano vs. Marx (2 of 22) [23/08/2000 18:00:19]

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