To the Third Congress of the Socialist Party of the Italian Working People

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[LETTER TO CARLO DELL’AVALLE][1]

Dear Citizen, [2]

....Although I cannot be at your Congress in person, I nevertheless send you my best wishes for its success in the interests of international socialism.

An unprecedented exceptional law has fallen upon the Italian socialists[3] which will without doubt cost them several years of severe suffering. So be it! Others had to pass through similar trials.

When the Paris Commune fell, the bourgeois reaction in France got drunk on proletarian blood. The result is before your eyes: the French Chamber has 50 socialist deputies.

In Germany Bismarck put the socialists outside the law for 12 long years; they ended by trampling on the Anti-Socialist Law [4] and then driving Bismarck from power; and now they have become the strongest party in the empire.

What the French and German workers have done the Italian workers will also do. A Crispi will certainly not succeed where Thiers, MacMahon and Bismarck have failed. Victory is yours. [5]

Long live international revolutionary socialism!

Fraternal greetings.

Frederick Engels

  1. Engels wrote this greeting in response to the invitation to take part in the third congress of the Socialist Party of the Italian Working People. The invitation was sent by a prominent member of the party Carlo Dell’Avalle in a letter of August 30, 1894. The congress, scheduled for September 7-9, 1894 in Imola, was prohibited by the police. Engels’ greeting, as well as the greetings addressed to the congress by other leaders of the socialist movement, including Paul Lafargue and Pablo Iglesias, were read out at the meeting of the Party’s Central Committee on September 10, 1894, and then printed by the Lotta di classe newspaper, No. 38, September 22-23, 1894. The Socialist Party of the Italian Working People was founded in 1892 at a congress in Genoa (it assumed that name in 1893, and from 1895 was called the Italian Socialist Party). It resolutely broke with the anarchists and in the 1890s was a vigorous leader of the Italian mass working-class movement, despite certain reformist errors.
  2. In the manuscript there follows the passage omitted in the newspape: “Your letter of August 30 did not reach me in London and was sent down here—that explains the delay in my reply which I deeply regret. I thank you personally and the Italian socialists whom you represent for your kind invitation. Unfortunately, I am not able to accept it.”— Ed.
  3. Engels is referring to the law on extraordinary measures aimed at protecting public safety passed by the Italian Parliament on July 14, 1894. Allegedly a step only against the anarchists, it was used by Crispi’s government to fight the working-class movement and the mounting influence of the socialists. It provided the grounds for banning the Socialist Party of the Italian Working People, workers ‘organisations and press organs; arrests, police raids and court trials became common occurrences.
  4. See Note 2.
  5. In the manuscript: "Victory is ours". — Ed.