Gustave Eckstein (by Trotsky)
|Written||3 August 1916|
Published in the collection Political Profiles, 1972
THERE HAS DIED in Switzerland at 42 years of age one of the most outstanding Austro-German Marxists, comrade Eckstein. All comrades who have followed Neue Zeit and Kampf over recent years will know this name and will recall with gratitude his numerous articles from which we have learnt a great deal.
Eckstein possessed an exceptionally many-sided erudition: he combined a profound learning in the field of the natural sciences and ethnography with a serious education in the field of history and political economy. He wrote and spoke in the simple clear language of the propagandist which gave the most complex thoughts a generally comprehensible form: in this sense he belonged to Kautsky’s school with whom he was generally linked by a close ideological friendship in the course of his last, most fruitful period of his life.
From the start of the war and of the crisis in German Social-Democracy to which it gave birth, Eckstein took up the position of an internationalist – on the left flank of Neue Zeit. We do not know in what relation he stood to the left wing of Social-Democracy in his contributions to party meetings where he subjected the official line of the party to criticism and in particular, mercilessly unmasked the myth of a “democratic” war against Tsarism.
Pulmonary tuberculosis gnawed unceasingly at Eckstein’s frail body. This disease in its time compelled him to cruise to China and Japan through which he established an acquaintance and contacts with the Far East. The Family Law of the Japanese, a work which was issued as a separate supplement inside Neue Zeit represented one of the fruits of this voyage. But in the end tuberculosis overcame Eckstein and he died in Zurich the other day, a few days after a second operation.
Eckstein’s sister, Theresa Eckstein-Schlesinger, a prominent socialist who occupied a revolutionary internationalist position was joined to her brother by bonds of close friendship. May it serve as a consolation to her that all of us who knew him on either this or that side of the trenches together with her mourn Gustav not only as one of the best Marxist forces but also as one of the noblest figures in the international family of socialism.