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The Socialists: Ferdinand Lassalle: Excerpt from "Open Letter" (1863)

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From this it follows with certainty which position the working class must take in political terms and which relationship to the Progressive Party it needs to observe.

The working class needs to constitute itself as an independent political party and make universal, equal, and direct suffrage into the principle watchword for and banner of this party. The representation of the working class in the legislative bodies of Germany – this alone is what can satisfy its legitimate interests in political terms. To introduce a peaceful and lawful agitation toward this end with all lawful means, this is and must be the program of the workers' party in political terms.

It is self-explanatory how this workers' party has to behave toward the German Progressive Party.

To feel and constitute itself everywhere as an independent party thoroughly separated from the Progressive Party, while nevertheless supporting the Progressive Party on points and questions where there is a common interest, to turns its back on it and oppose it whenever it departs from this [common interest], to force the Progressive Party thereby either to move forward and exceed the level of progress or sink even deeper into the swamp of meaninglessness and powerlessness in which it has already become knee-deep – that must be the simple tactic of the German Workers' Party vis-à-vis the German Progressive Party.

So much for what you have to do in political terms.

[ . . . ]

Source: Ferdinand Lassalle, Gesammelte Reden und Schriften [Collected Speeches and Writings], ed. Edward Bernstein. Berlin: Paul Cassirer, 1919-20, vol. 3, pp. 41-47.

Translation: Jeremiah Riemer

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