Ferdinand Lassale and the General German Workers’ Association

Natalia Papenko

Ph.D. (History), associate Professor, National Taras Schevchenko University of Kyiv

UDС 94 (430): 929 Ф. Лассаль

DOI http://doi.org/10.17721/2524-048X.2017.08.261-278


The article considers activity of particular representative of German socialistic movement – Ferdinand Lassalle. Historical figure of this person is connected with the history of German labor movement, the creation of first independent labor organization – the General German Workers’ Association (1863). Historical image of F. Lassalle was for the long time being brightened by historians one-sidedly, through ideological and personal difficulties with K. Marx and F. Engels. Unlike K.Marx, for whom a state and its structures where just superstructure, in other words – social and economic basis, for F.Lassale development of social formation is a natural historical process. K. Marx gambled on revolution, which had to destroy internal contradictions of the society, while F. Lassale gambled on parliament fighting, which, in his opinion, would discover the way to democratic transformations in society.

F. Lassalle remains being bright, talented and discrepant person. Generally, his life and activity in the whole will have always been interesting for researchers.

The whole of his life he was emphatically espousing the general, equal, straight right to vote, which, to his mind, would eliminate different problems of capitalist system and would promote building of democratic society. He was attracted by the idea of republic and democratic lawful state. F. Lassale had been studying problems of state and power, insisted on meaning of political institutions, role of human factor in history. He thought that constitution is a reflection of correlation of powers in fight for authority. That is why, by the means of agitation and popularization of democratic ideas he was trying to unite the labor movement to greater activity and to rally it.

By the beginning of the 60th of XIX century he had been an adherent of democratic lawful state with the republican form of government. In the second half of the 60th he became a supporter of “social monarchy”. During his presidency at the General German Workers’ Association, the principles of authoritarianism were the dominating features of his activity. The General German Workers’ Association, which was created by him, afterwards facilitated the creation of German social democratic party.


lassalleanism, general right to vote, republic, liberals, progressionists.

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