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Critique of the Gotha Programme

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The Critique of the Gotha Programme is a seminal work by the renowned German philosopher, economist, and socialist revolutionary Karl Marx. Written in 1875, the critique represents Marx's analysis and appraisal of the draft program of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), known as the Gotha Programme.


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The Gotha Programme was drafted during the unification congress of the SPD held in Gotha, Germany, in 1875. The program aimed to establish the ideological and political framework for the party's future actions and policies. However, Marx, along with his collaborator Friedrich Engels, found certain aspects of the program problematic and subjected it to critical checking.

Key Themes

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1. Critique on Lassalle: Marx's critique of the Gotha Programme is primarily focused on its perceived adherence to the ideas of Ferdinand Lassalle, a prominent figure in the German workers' movement. Marx, while acknowledging Lassalle's contributions, criticized his emphasis on state intervention and the role of the state in social transformation. Marx argued for a more radical approach that centered on the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system.

2. Labor Theory of Value: Central to Marx's critique is his reiteration of the labor theory of value. He criticizes the Gotha Programme for its failure to adequately address the issue of labor compensation and the distribution of wealth. Marx contends that under socialism, individuals should be remunerated according to their labor contribution rather than their needs or the principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs," as advocated by the Gotha Programme.

3. Critique of the State: Marx's critique extends to the Gotha Programme's treatment of the state. He argues that the program's endorsement of a transitional state characterized by "the dictatorship of the proletariat" is inherently flawed. Marx contends that such a state would perpetuate class divisions and ultimately hinder the achievement of a classless society.

Despite its initial reception, the Critique of the Gotha Programme has emerged as a foundational text within Marxist theory and socialist thought. It has inspired numerous debates and interpretations among scholars and activists, shaping discussions on the nature of socialism, the role of the state, and the organization of the economy.

The critique remains relevant in contemporary discourse on socialism and communism, serving as a touchstone for those seeking to understand and advance Marxian ideas in the context of evolving political and economic realities.


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- Marx, Karl. "Critique of the Gotha Programme." *Marx/Engels Selected Works*, vol. 3, Progress Publishers, 1970. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/gotha/

- McLellan, David. *Karl Marx: Selected Writings*. Oxford University Press, 2000. https://books.google.com/books/about/Karl_Marx.html?hl=de&id=yTWcAQAAQBAJ

- Sperber, Jonathan. *Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life*. Liveright Publishing, 2017. https://books.google.com/books/about/Karl_Marx_A_Nineteenth_Century_Life.html?hl=de&id=hBpSh9JYAKcC