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Marx Articles From the Labour Standard

Marx Articles From the Labour Standard

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Published by Communist Party

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Published by: Communist Party on Aug 01, 2008
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Frederick Engels'
Articles for
As the 1870s drew to a

close, the temporary peace
between the English classes
grew shakey. The Great
Depression of the 1870s
swept the western world and
was, as always, particularly
rough on the proletariat. The
capitalist cycle downturn set
in motion familiar attacks by
the capitalist class against
what reformist compromises
within the capitalist system

George Shipton, Secretary of
the London Trades Council,
also served as editor ofThe

Labour Standard, the organ

of British trade unions. He
asked Engels to contribute to
a discussion of reformism and
the labor movement itself.

Engels complied and,
between May and August
1881, wrote 11 articles, all
appearing as unsigned
editorials. He used
contemporary issues to
elaborate basic economic
principles of scientific
socialism and the nature of
capitalism itself. Engels
stressed the inevitability of

1881: Labour Standard articles
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1881-ls/index.htm (1 of 4) [23/08/2000 17:43:28]

the conflict between the
capitalists and the proletariat
-- that struggle isn't an
aberration, it's a central
feature of capitalism.
Capitalists will forever be
interested in lowering the
wages and living conditions
of the masses of property-less
people because it's simply in
their interest.

He held up trade unions as
the daily defenders of the
working class in that struggle.
In the first article, Engels said
the labor movement should
lose the meaningless slogan
"A Fair Day's Wages for a
Fair Day's Work" -- since
capitalism's internal nature
prevents capitalists from
being "fair" to the workers
whose wages they must
continually seek to depress --
with the slogan: "Possesion
of the means of work -- raw
material, factories, machinery
-- by the working people

In the article "A Working
Men's Party," Engels notes
that unions alone cannot
break people free from the
endless cycle of capitalist
wage-slavery. They must
congregate in an independent
political party. England's lack
of such a party kept the
working class tailing after the
"Great Liberal Party." And
that creates confusion and

TheMECW notes: "These
articles by Engels exerted a
1881: Labour Standard articles
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1881-ls/index.htm (2 of 4) [23/08/2000 17:43:28]

definite influence on the
young generation in the
British socialist movement.
James Macdonald, later to be
one of the representatives of
the Marxist wing of the
British socialists, said what
really attracted him to
socialism were Engels'
articles in The Labour

Standard(How I Became A
Socialist, London, 1896, pp.
From different Engels letters

(to Marx, August 11; to
George Shipton, August 10
and August 15; to Johann
Philipp Becker, February 10

1882) we learn he stopped

writing for the paper because
of the growth of "opportunist
elements" in its editorial

original articles were written
in English, the online
versions are directly from the
newspaper itself.

May 07: A Fair Day's
Wages for a Fair
Day's Work
May 21: The Wages
May 28:Trades
Unions -- part 1
Jun 04:Trades
Unions -- part 2
Jun 18: The French
Commercial Treaty
1881: Labour Standard articles
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1881-ls/index.htm (3 of 4) [23/08/2000 17:43:28]

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