Demands of the Communist Party in Germany

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Note from MECW vol. 7 :

The “Demands of the Communist Party in Germany” was written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in Paris between March 21 (when Engels arrived in Paris from Brussels) and March 24, 1848, and discussed by members of the Central Authority of the Communist League, who approved and signed it as their political programme in the German revolution. It was printed as a leaflet in March and distributed in Paris, and soon reached members of the Communist League in other countries, including German emigrant workers in London.

Early in April, it was published in numerous radical newspapers in Germany.

Marx and Engels, who left for Germany round about April 6 and some time later settled in Cologne, did their best along with their followers to popularise this programme document during the revolution. In 1848 and 1849 it was repeatedly published in the periodical press and in leaflet form. In September, the “Demands” were printed in Cologne as a leaflet for circulation by the Cologne Workers’ Associationm ad at the Second Democratic Congress held in Berlin in October 1848, Friedrich Beust, delegate from the Cologne Workers’ Association, spoke, on behalf of the social question commission, in favour of adopting a programme of action closely following the “Demands.” In November and December 1848, various points of the “Demands” were discussed at meetings of the Cologne Workers’ Association.

Unlike the “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” published in February 1848, the “Demands of the Communist Party in Germany” reflects the immediate demands of the democratic Revolution which had broken out in Germany. Clearly, the aims of the “Manifesto” were more far-reaching than the movement in Germany at the time, and unlike the “Demands,” the “Manifesto” was to outlive the immediate conditions in Germany.

“Proletarians of all countries, unite!”

1. The whole of Germany shall be declared a united, indivisible republic.

2. Every German who is 21 years old shall be a voter and be eligible for election, assuming he has not been sentenced for a criminal offence.

3. Representatives of the people shall be paid so that workers may also sit in the parliament of the German people.

4. Universal arming of the people. In future armies shall at the same time be workers’ armies so that the armed forces will not only consume, as in the past, but produce even more than it costs to maintain them.

In addition, these shall be a means of organising work

5. Maintenance of justice shall be free of charge.

6. All feudal burdens, all fees, labour services, tithes etc. which have previously oppressed the peasantry shall be abolished without any compensation.

7. All baronial and other feudal estates, all mines, pits etc. shall be converted into state property. On these estates agriculture shall be practised on a large scale and with the most modern scientific tools for the benefit of all.

8. The mortgages on peasant farms shall be declared state property. The interest for these mortgages shall be paid by the peasants to the state.

9. In the areas where leasing has developed the ground rent or lease payment shall be paid to the state as a tax.

All these measures specified under 6, 7, 8 and 9 will be composed in order to minimise public and other burdens of the peasants and small leaseholders without reducing the means necessary to cover public expenses and without endangering production itself.

10. All private banks will be replaced by a state bank whose bonds will have the character of legal tender.

This measure will make it possible to regulate credit in the interests of the whole people and will thus undermine the dominance of the large financiers. By gradually replacing gold and silver by paper money, it will cheapen the indispensable instrument of bourgeois trade, the universal means of exchange, and will allow the gold and silver to have an outward effect. Ultimately, this measure is necessary to link the interests of the conservative bourgeoisie to the revolution.

11. All means of transport: railways, canals, steamships, roads, posts etc. shall be taken in hand by the state. They shall be converted into state property and made available free of charge to the class without financial resources.

12. In the remuneration of all civil servants there shall be no difference except that those with a family, i.e. with greater needs, shall also receive a larger salary than the others.

13. Complete separation of church and state. The clergy of all denominations shall only be paid by their own voluntary congregations.

14. Limitation of inheritance.

15. Introduction of strongly progressive taxes and abolition of taxes on consumption.

16. Establishment of national workshops. The state shall guarantee the livelihood of all workers and provide for those unable to work.

17. Universal free education of the people.

It is in the interests of the German proletariat, the petty bourgeoisie and the peasantry to work with all their might to implement the above measures. Because it is only through the realisation of these that the millions who have until now been exploited by a small number in Germany and whose exploiters will attempt keep them in subjection will attain their rights and that power owed to them as the creators of all wealth.

The Committee:
Karl Marx Karl Schapper H. Bauer F. Engels
J. Moll W. Wolff