From radical liberals to permanent revolution: the impact of 1848 on Marx and Engels

12:00pm Saturday 18 September

Featured Speaker

About this session

This session is available in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. 

August Nimtz, author of Marx and Engels: Their Contribution to the Democratic Breakthrough, will be speaking at Socialism 2021 in conversation with Red Flag editor Ben Hillier. 

In 1848 revolutions broke out across Europe in an episode sometimes referred to as the ‘springtime of the peoples’. This anti-monarchical, democratic impulse was lead by a coalition of the reform-minded bourgeoisie and the working class. This coalition did not hold together. It broke apart along class lines as the organic development of working-class struggle took them further than the bourgeoisie was prepared to travel. In some cases this resulted in a new revolutionary front opening up as these two classes faced off in battle.

This period had a profound impact on Marx and Engels. Their works, such as Class Struggles in France, provided great insight into the upheavals. This is uncontroversial. Nimtz goes further, emphasising not just the impact the working-class movement had on the pair, but the impact of Marx and Engels on the working-class movement. This recasting of Marx and Engels as “first and foremost political activists”, in Nimtz words, has a historic interest for those who study the class battles of history, and a contemporary relevance for debates about what it means to be a Marxist today.

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