Marx and Engels

Their Contribution to the Democratic Breakthrough

By August H. Nimtz Jr.

Subjects: Political Science
Series: SUNY series in Political Theory: Contemporary Issues
Paperback : 9780791444900, 392 pages, March 2000
Hardcover : 9780791444894, 392 pages, March 2000

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Table of contents



Chapter One
The Democratic Urge and Commencement of a Revolutionary Partnership

The Quest for Democratic Rule

The Partnership Begins

Chapter Two
From Theory to Practice: Toward a Communist Party

Preparing for Revolution

The Communist League

Chapter Three
The Revolutions of 1848–1849: Participating in the "Real Movement"

Prelude to Revolution

The Revolution Begins

The Return to Germany

The June Revolution

Toward the People's Alliance

Chapter Four
The End of the Revolutionary Upsurge and the Lessons of Struggle

From Revolution to Counterrevolution

The Lessons of Revolution

Chapter Five
Interpreting the 1848–1851 Events in France: Marx and Engels versus Tocqueville

Marx and Engels versus Their Contemporaries

Marx and Engels versus Tocqueville

Chapter Six
Political Adjustments to the Long Lull in the Class Struggle

The Communist League: An "episode in the history of a party"

Preparing for the Next Upsurge

Chapter Seven
A New Revolutionary Era and the Birth of the First International

Precursors of Organized Political Activity

The First International: "A Mighty Engine at Our Disposal"


Chapter Eight
The First International: From Brussels to the Paris Commune

The Breadth of the Marx Party Activities

The Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune


Chapter Nine
The First International: The Final Years and Legacy

The Fight for Programmatic Integrity

The International's Legacy


Chapter Ten
Engels and Revolutionary Continuity

The Strategy and Tactics of Party Building

Toward a New International

Engels's Contribution: An Assessment





Presents the first major study of Marx and Engels in two decades and the only study since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the recognized crisis of global capitalism.


According to Nimtz, no two people contributed more to the struggle for democracy in the nineteenth century than Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Presenting the first major study of the two thinkers in the past twenty years and the first since the collapse of the Soviet Union, this book challenges many widely held views about their democratic credentials and their attitudes and policies on the peasantry, the importance of national self-determination, the struggle for women's equality, their so-called Eurocentric bias, political and party organizing, and the possibility for socialist revolution in an overwhelmingly peasant and underdeveloped country like late-nineteenth-century Russia.

August H. Nimtz, Jr. is Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Islam and Politics in East Africa: The Sufi Order in Tanzania.


"Marx and Engels: Their Contribution to the Democratic Breakthrough, by August Nimtz, Jr. , is an exciting and thorough account of the struggle for democracy in Europe, one that places Marx and Engels at its forefront. " — International Socialist Review

"Nimtz has set out to change the way we think about Marx and Engels's place in history by asking not just what they said and wrote, but how this related to what they actually did, and studying this practical side of their work in detail—something which has been surprisingly neglected. It is an original and timely book. Whether or not one accepts the claim that Marx and Engels played the leading role in the ultimately successful struggle for democracy, contrary to the opposite claim of so many 'marxologists,' Nimtz has made a very powerful case for it. " — Colin Leys, coeditor of The Communist Manifesto Now; Socialist Register 1998

"Marx and Engels's signal contribution to the 'democratic breakthrough' in the nineteenth century is massively documented and keenly argued in this book. I was interested in and impressed by the comparative analysis of Tocqueville and Marx-Engels—it is vigorously but lucidly written. " — Herbert G. Reid, University of Kentucky