Thanks to Rob Beamish for an instructive paper. I have two responses, one a
point of ommission, the other of correction.
Omission. The most important influence on the League at the time Marx and
Engels joined up was E. Cabet. This is documented in the following paper
appearing next month in the UK journal *Studies in Marxism*: Filio Diamanti
'The Influence of Etienne Cabet on the Communist Manifesto'.
Correction. It is possible/probable that the date of the second edition of
the Manifesto is wrong. This point is covered in a review I have written
(also coming in *Studies in marxism*) I append the whole review since it
may be of interest.
The Adventures of the Communist Manifesto
Center for Socialist History, 1250 Addison St. Suite 101, Berkeley, CA
94702, USA; 1994; pp. 344.
ISBN 0-916695-07-7 (pbk) $19.95.
Reviewed by Chris Arthur
February 1998 is 150 years since the publication of the most famous
pamphlet in history, the Manifesto of the Communist Party. The excellent
book before us, The Adventures of the Communist Manifesto by the late Hal
Draper, is required reading for all those interested in its meaning and
history. (It incorporates the author's earlier The Annotated Communist
Manifesto.) It contains three parts.
Part One, the 'adventures' proper, has a fascinating discussion of the
circumstances of the publication of the Manifesto, and a detailed history
of the later editions of the nineteenth century, together with English
translations to the present. In this part Draper relies heavily on Bert
Andreas: Le Manifesto Communiste de Marx et Engels. Histoire et
Bibliographie 1848-1918 (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1963).
Part Two contains in parallel text four versions of the Manifesto: the
original German first edition; the first English translation by Helen
MacFarlane, 1850 ('A frightful hobgoblin stalks throughout Europe.'); what
he calls the 'Authorized English Translation' put out by Engels, 1888; and
his own 'New English Version'. The parallel arrangement works splendidly
for ease of reference. Draper's own translation he claims is more faithful
to the first edition than is the Engels one, although he takes care to say
he intends to supplement it, not replace it. The idea of 'supplementation'
is followed in that Draper's alternative rendering is often merely that,
not an improvement.
Part Three has extensive annotations of the above texts, for example
marking differences between various German editions, drawing attention to
places where Engels translated very freely, and elucidating obscure or
misleading expressions in the texts. Indispensable work.
To give an example of the sort of work Draper has done, let us address the
question of the dating of the Manifesto. There is no doubt at all that it
appeared in February 1848. As late as January 24th, 1848, the Central
Committee of the Communist League wrote to Brussels notifying Marx that 'if
the "Manifesto of the C. Party", the writing of which he undertook at the
last congress, has not arrived in London by Tuesday, February 1 of this
year, measures will be taken against him'. Yet, in spite of the date
appearing prominently on the cover, virtually as a sub-title, the Manifesto
has been persistently misrepresented as appearing in 1847! Draper traces
the mistake to Marx and Engels themselves. In Capital Marx quoted from the
Manifesto twice, but the second time, in a footnote to the famous section
on the 'Historical Tendency', he gave 1847 (MEGA II 5 p.692). Not only did
Engels let this stand in subsequent editions and the English translation
(it is silently corrected in the Collected Works Vol.35), he perpetrated
the same error himself in his preface to the American edition of his
Condition of the Working Class in England. Even in today's Collected Works
(Vol. 26 p.441) the last error is perpetuated without editorial comment.
Although the date of the first edition (in 23pp) is not in doubt there is
considerable uncertainty about the dating of the second, the so-called
'thirty pager'. Draper, following Andreas, assigns this to April or May of
1848. However recent German scholarship claims that it was much later.
Wolfgang Meiser has argued that the 30 page edition was printed neither in
1848 nor in London, but, in accordance with a decision of the Communist
League's central office in Cologne, around the turn of the year 1850/51 in
that city; it was deliberately disguised by the use of the imprint of the
first edition produced in London ('Das Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei
vom Februar 1848' in MEGA-Studien 1996/1). Meiser's work has also been
drawn on by Thomas Kuczynski in a detailed study of all the textual
variants in printings of the Manifesto: Das Kommunistische Manifest
(Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei) von Karl Marx und Friedrich Engels;
Hrsg. von Thomas Kuczynski, Shriften aus dem Karl-Marx-Haus 49; Trier,
1995. Kuczynski provides a 'first edition' and a 'reading edition'.
Getting back to Draper again, he also discusses the origin of the wonderful
concluding slogan (or 'hortatory watchword' as he puts it): 'Proletarier
aller Lšnder vereinigt Euch!'. He points out that this first appeared
publicly in the Communist League newspaper Kommunistische Zeitschrift in
September 1847. (There is an English translation of this very interesting
first, and only, issue in The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels ed. D. Ryazanov, London, Martin Lawrence, 1930.) However
Draper does not mention that it occurs first of all at the head of the
Rules adopted at the June 9th 1847 congress of the League (Collected Works
Vol. 6 p.586 - this was the occasion on which the name was changed from
'League of the Just' to Communist League). Since Engels attended this
conference but not Marx, it may well be that he originated it. (He
certainly drafted the Communist Credo that also emerged from this
With regard to the English translations of the Manifesto Draper has also
done some useful detective work. He believes it is possible in the 1888
translation to separate from the original literal work by Sam Moore Engels'
more free-wheeling emendations. In 1928 Eden and Cedar Paul retranslated it
for Martin Lawrence; Draper complains about their excessive freedom and
comments that 'using this translation is risky'. (Unfortunately it is the
one supplied in the otherwise excellent edition of Ryazanov's mentioned
above.) Draper is especially scathing about an unacknowledged revision of
the 1888 translation put out in the 1930s by Lawrence & Wishart (London)
and International Publishers (New York). It was distributed in hundreds of
thousands of copies and came out again in 1948, this time with the revision
acknowledged. The worst 'correction' changes 'win the battle of democracy'
to 'establish democracy' (also done by the Pauls).
Subsequent to Draper's survey we now have another major new translation,
differing substantially from earlier ones in its claim to be more 'vivid',
by Terrell Carver (in Marx: Later Political Writings, Cambridge, C U P,
In sum Draper's work is essential for students and scholars alike, albeit
that new research continues to throw more light on the matters concerned.
(Unfortunately its distribution is poor, and it is probably best to write
directly to the publisher whose address is given at the head here.)