The Erfurt Program, (1891)

J. H. Robinson, ed.
Readings in European History
(Boston: Ginn, 1906), 2: 619

Hanover Historical Texts Project
Scanned by Brooke Harris, October 1996.
Proofread by Angela Rubenstein, February 1997.
Proofread and pages added by Jonathan Perry, March 2001.

Robinson's Note: A more vigorous denunciation of the present social organization is to be found in the Erfurt programme of October, 1891.

[Page 619] The economic development of industrial society tends inevitably to the ruin of small industries, which are based upon the workman's private ownership of the means of production. It separates him from these means of production and converts him into a destitute member of the proletariat, whilst a comparatively small number of capitalists and great landowners obtain a monopoly of the means of production.

Hand in hand with this growing monopoly goes the destruction of these scattered small industries by industries of colossal growth, the development of the tool into the machine, and a gigantic increase in the productiveness of human labor. But all the advantages of this revolution are monopolized by the capitalist and great landowners. To the proletariat and to the rapidly sinking middle classes, the small tradesmen of the towns and the peasants, it brings an increasing uncertainty of existence, increasing misery, oppression, servitude, degradation, and exploitation.

Ever greater grows the mass of the proletariat, ever vaster the army of the unemployed, ever sharper the contrast between oppressors and oppressed, ever fiercer that war of classes between bourgeoisie and proletariat which divides modern society into two hostile camps and is the common characteristic of ever industrial country.

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