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

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Thirdly, it was just as uncertain whether the Prussian Progressive Party, once it had achieved a victory over the Prussian government, would have exploited this victory in the interest of the entire people or only to maintain the privileged position of the bourgeoisie; i.e., whether it would use this victory to establish universal, equal, and direct suffrage, which is called for by the democratic principles and the legitimate interests of the working class.

In the latter case it obviously could not lay claim to the slightest interest on the part of the German working class.

This is what I would have had to tell you at that time in regard to this suggestion.

Today I can add that what, admittedly, was already easy to predict back then has actually proven true – that the Prussian Progressive Party is completely lacking in the energy necessary to bring even so limited a conflict between itself and the Prussian government to a dignified and victorious end.

By continuing, in spite of the government's actual denial of a budgetary approval right, to hold sessions and conduct parliamentary business with a ministry that it has declared to be criminally responsible, it humiliates (by way of this contradiction) itself and the people via the spectacle of an unparalleled weakness and lack of dignity!

By continuing, in spite of the violation of the constitution it has declared, to hold sessions, to keep debating, and to manage parliamentary business with the government, it has become serviceable to the government and even offers it a hand in maintaining the fiction of a constitutional state of affairs.

Instead of declaring the sessions of the Chamber closed until the government declared itself unable to continue the expenditures refused by the Chamber, and thereby holding the government to the unavoidable alternative of either respecting the constitutional right of the Chamber or else renouncing the fiction and apparatus of a constitutional state of affairs, managing business openly and frankly as an absolutist government, shouldering the immense responsibility of such [an absolutist government], and so eliciting the very crisis that inevitably occurs as the fruit of open absolutism – it places the government in the position of combining all the advantages of absolute power with all the advantages of an ostensibly constitutional state of affairs.

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