RE: [OPE] English-German translations? Erfurt Programme

From: Paul Cockshott (
Date: Sun Jul 20 2008 - 10:25:25 EDT

I have a related question concerning the meaning of terms used by German Social Democracy.
The German Social Democracy publicly founded itself at the 1891 partie-tag in Erfurt, adopting a new programme, named after that town. Although much shorter than the `Manifesto' the Erfurt Progamme, showed clear commonalities:

"The interests of the working classes are the same in all countries with a capitalistic mode of  production. With the extension of the world's commerce, and of production for the worldmarket, the position of the worker in every country grows ever more dependent on the position of the worker in other countries. The liberation of the working class, accordingly, is a work in which the workmen of all civilised countries are equally involved. In recognition of this, the Social Democratic Party of Germany feels and declares itself to be one with the classconscious workmen of all other countries.

The Social Democratic Party of Germany does not fight, accordingly, for new classprivileges and classrights, but for the abolition of classrule and of classes themselves, for equal rights and equal duties of all, without distinction of sex or descent. Starting from these views, it combats, within existing society, not only the exploitation and oppression of wageearners, but every kind of exploitation and oppression, whether directed against a class, a party, a sex, or a race."

We see here echoes of 1848, but also a widening of view. Social Democracy now fought not only class oppression, but also all other sorts, including racial and sexual oppression. Like before, the party gave primacy to the struggle for democracy:

"Proceeding from these principles, the Social Democratic Party of Germany demands, to begin with:

1. Universal, equal, and direct suffrage, with secret ballot, for all elections, of all citizens of the realm over twenty years of age, without distinction of sex. Proportional representation, and until this is introduced, legal redistribution of electoral districts after every census. Biennial legislative periods. Holding of the elections on a legal holiday. Compensation for the elected representatives. Abolition of every limitation of political rights, except in the case of legal incapacity."

Recall that these demands were put forward at a time when universal adult suffrage did not exist anywhere so more was expected of universal suffrage then than today. But much is assumed rather than stated. It is assumed that elections are to a parliament, but the relationship between parliament and executive are not spelt out ( for fear of openly challenging the Kaiser). If we assume that the parliament is to appoint an executive, then the model of politics being put forward is that which, after 1945, became the norm in modern capitalist countries. We know in retrospect, that this turns out to be something very different from the 1848 goal of the state being the organised working class. 

But the next demand is much more radical:

"2. Direct legislation through the people, by means of the rights of proposal and rejection. Selfdetermination and selfgovernment of the people in realm, state, province and parish. Election of magistrates by the people, with responsibility to the people. Annual voting of taxes."

The model of democracy demanded here is quite different. Instead of what is now called representative democracy, they demanded direct democracy. Laws are to be proposed and passed by the people rather than parliament. The people are to take control of the judiciary by electing judges, taxes are to be subject to direct popular vote. How can two such different models of politics be advanced in the same programme?

Because the outcome was a compromise. The rank and file demanded direct democracy. The party leadership was content with the indirect democracy of the first demand.

My question is: what is 
a) the correct german original of the 'magistrates' who are to be elected.
b) the english word magistrate has two meanings (1) a judge in a minor court -- this is the everyday
meaning of the word, (2) a more classical meaning where a magistrate is an official of a republic, so
Julius Ceasar might be refered to as the 1st Magistrate of the Republic.
Which of these meanings did the Erfurt text bear in 1891. Was it a coded demand for a republic?

Paul Cockshott
Dept of Computing Science
University of Glasgow
+44 141 330 1629

-----Original Message-----
From: on behalf of Dogan Gmen
Sent: Sat 7/19/2008 10:21 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE] English-German translations?
"collective worker" = Gesamtarbeiter
"free association of producers" = freie Assoziation der Produzenten


Dogan Gmen
Author of The Adam Smith Problem:
Reconciling Human Nature and Society in
The Theory of Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations,
I. B. Tauris, London&New York 2007



-----Original Message-----
From: Adler Paul <>
To: Outline mailing list on Political Economy <>
Sent: Sat, 19 Jul 2008 23:09
Subject: [OPE] English-German translations?

I am looking for the German equivalents of a couple of Marx's phrases:  "collective worker" and "free association of producers". Can anyone help? 

And if I need to translations for other phrases in the future, is there an internet resource I could use? 

Thanks in advance 




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