Revolutionaries Take Up Marxism
As a Guide to Action
Mankind is shorter by a head, and that the greatest head of our time. The movement of the proletariat goes on, but gone is the central point to which Frenchmen, Russians, Americans and Germans spontaneously turned at decisive moments to receive always that clear indisputable counsel which only genius and consummate knowledge of the situation could give. Local lights and small talents, if not the humbugs, obtain a free hand. The final victory remains certain, but the detours, the temporary and local deviations — unavoidable as is — will grow more than ever. Well, we must see it through; what else are we here for? And we are far from losing courage because of it. — Frederick Engels, March 15, 1883 
Many changes have taken place since the life-long friend and close collaborator of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, wrote those words on March 15, 1883, one day after Marx passed away. And despite all the twists and turns the working class has gone through since then in its struggle for empowerment, the life and work of Karl Marx remain a “central point” to which all communist revolutionaries and all those who aspire for a new society must turn. Today, as was the case 135 years ago, only Marxism can provide the kind of “clear indispensable counsel which only genius and consummate knowledge of the situation could give.” Turning to Marxism means paying attention to the concrete analysis of the concrete conditions, to ensure that the “central point” of the contemporary world is established around which everybody else can rally and unite.
Today, even though there is one International Communist and Workers’ Movement, there is no one central point as existed at the time of the First International established by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels on September 28, 1864, at which time the authority of Marxism was established, or later at the time of the Third International, established by V.I. Lenin on March 2, 1919, when the authority of Leninism prevailed. The lack of one central point today is consistent with the state of affairs which prevails as a result of the retreat of revolution where communist parties the world over have their own central points. While this reflects the existence of different tendencies within this movement, it also underscores the need to elaborate Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought as the central point which develops and becomes profound only in the course of practice.
In this regard, the greatest achievement of Karl Marx was to be a revolutionist who could not carry on his activities without revolutionizing social science. Social science was a body of knowledge scattered into various sections and claimed as the property of this or that individual or sect. With his two discoveries of the general law of motion of nature and society, the theory of dialectical and historical materialism, and the specific law of motion of capitalist society, the theory of surplus value, Karl Marx revolutionized social science as the body of knowledge of all those in whose interest it will be to organize proletarian socialist revolution. Revolutionized social science could no longer be merely the domain of some philosophers or ivory tower intellectuals. It became the preserve of those who would revolutionize society.
These achievements of Karl Marx, who remained a revolutionist in all fields, served as a guide to action for V.I. Lenin who further revolutionized social science, confirming what Marx had predicted, that without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. This issue which posed itself at the time Karl Marx carried out his work, and after him V.I. Lenin, continues to pose itself today. All those who wish to be revolutionists have to follow Marxism as a guide in their practice.
On the occasion of the 135th anniversary of the death of Karl Marx, TML Weekly repeats what Engels wrote on March 15, 1883: “The final victory remains certain, but the detours, the temporary and local deviations — unavoidable as is — will grow more than ever. Well, we must see it through; what else are we here for? And we are far from losing courage because of it.”
Speech at the Graveside of Karl Marx
On the 14th of March, at a quarter to three in the afternoon, the greatest living thinker ceased to think. He had been left alone for scarcely two minutes, and when we came back we found him in his armchair, peacefully gone to sleep — but forever.
An immeasurable loss has been sustained both by the militant proletariat of Europe and America, and by historical science, in the death of this man. The gap that has been left by the departure of this mighty spirit will soon enough make itself felt.
Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore the production of the immediate material means of subsistence and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.
But that is not all. Marx also discovered the special law of motion governing the present-day capitalist mode of production and the bourgeois society that this mode of production has created. The discovery of surplus value suddenly threw light on the problem, in trying to solve which all previous investigations, of both bourgeois economists and socialist critics, had been groping in the dark.
Two such discoveries would be enough for one lifetime. Happy the man to whom it is granted to make even one such discovery. But in every single field which Marx investigated — and he investigated very many fields, none of them superficially — in every field, even in that of mathematics, he made independent discoveries.
Such was the man of science. But this was not even half the man. Science was for Marx a historically dynamic, revolutionary force. However great the joy with which he welcomed a new discovery in some theoretical science whose practical application perhaps it was as yet quite impossible to envisage, he experienced quite another kind of joy when the discovery involved immediate revolutionary changes in industry, and in historical development in general. For example, he followed closely the development of the discoveries made in the field of electricity and recently those of Marcel Deprez.
For Marx was before all else a revolutionist. His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival. His work on the first Rheinische Zeitung(1842), the Paris Vorwärts (1844), the Deutsche Brüsseler Zeitung (1847), the Neue Rheinische Zeitung (1848-49), the New York Tribune (1852-61), and in addition to these, a host of militant pamphlets, work in organisations in Paris, Brussels and London, and finally, crowning all, the formation of the great International Working Men’s Association — this was indeed an achievement of which its founder might well have been proud even if he had done nothing else.
And, consequently, Marx was the best hated and most calumniated man of his time. Governments, both absolutist and republican, deported him from their territories. Bourgeois, both conservative or ultra-democratic, vied with one another in heaping slanders upon him. All this he brushed aside as though it were a cobweb, ignoring it, answering only when extreme necessity compelled him. And he died beloved, revered and mourned by millions of revolutionary fellow workers — from the mines of Siberia to California, in all parts of Europe and America — and I make bold to say that though he may have had many opponents he had hardly one personal enemy.
His name will endure through the ages, and so also will his work!
(Foreign Language Publishing House, Moscow, 1955.)