Critique of the Gotha Program
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The Critique of the Gotha Program (German: Kritik des Gothaer Programms) is a document based on a letter by Karl Marx written in early May 1875 to the Eisenach faction of the German social democratic movement, with whom Marx and Friedrich Engels were in close association.1 Offering perhaps Marx's most detailed pronouncement on programmatic matters of revolutionary strategy, the document discusses the "dictatorship of the proletariat," the period of transition from capitalism to communism, proletarian internationalism, and the party of the working class.
The Critique is also notable for elucidating the principles of "To each according to his contribution" as the basis for a "lower phase" of communist society directly following the transition from capitalism, and "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" as the basis for a future "higher phase" of communist society. In describing the lower phase, he states that "the individual receives from society exactly what he gives to it" and advocates remuneration in the form of labour vouchers as opposed to money. The Critique of the Gotha Program, published after his death, was one of Marx's last major writings.
The letter is named for the Gotha Program, a proposed platform for a forthcoming party congress that was to take place in the town of Gotha. At the party congress, the Eisenachers planned to unite with the Lassallean faction to form a unified party later to become the powerful German Social Democratic Party. The Eisenachers sent the draft program for a united party to Marx for comment. Marx found the program negatively affected by the influence of Ferdinand Lassalle, whom Marx regarded as an opportunist willing to limit the demands of the workers' movement in exchange for concessions from the government. However, at the congress held in Gotha in late May 1875, the draft program was accepted with only minor alterations.
Engels had Marx's programmatic letter published much later, in 1891, when the German Social Democratic Party had declared its intention of adopting a new program.
The Gotha programme presented a moderate, evolutionary way to socialism, as opposed to the revolutionary approach of the "orthodox" Marxists. As result, the latter accused the Gotha program of being "revisionist" and ineffective.2
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