Essays on the materialistic conception of history by Antonio Labriola

By Antonio Labriola

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We \ must rather explain this consciousness out of the 50 IN MEMORY OF THE antagonisms of men's industrial life, out of the con- flict existing between the forces of social produc- tion and the relations of social production. A form of society never breaks down until all the productive forces are developed for which it affords room. New and higher relations of produc- tion are never established, until the material condi- tions of life to support them have been prepared in the lap of the old society itself.

We cannot even COMMUNIST MANIFESTO. 25 to-day arrive at a perfect understanding of critical communism without mentally retracing these doc- trines and following the processes of their appear- ance and disappearance. understanding of the laws upon which rest its for- mation and its process. The moment at which they enter into the past, that is to say, that at which they are intrinsically outgrown, is precisely that of the appearance of the Manifesto. As the first index of the genesis of modern socialism, this writing, which gives only the most general and the most easily accessible features of its teaching, bears within itself traces of the his- toric field within which it is born, which was that of France, England and Germany.

From the time of its appearance this new com- munist doctrine carried an implied criticism of all forms of State socialism from Louis Blanc to Las- salle. This State socialism, although mingled with revolutionary doctrines, was then summed up in the empty dream, in the abracadabra, of the Right to Work. This is an insidious formula if it implies a demand addressed to a government even of revolu- tionary bourgeois. It is an economic absurdity if by it is meant to suppress the unemployment which ensues upon the variations of wages, that is to say upon the conditions of competition.

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