Ken Lawrence wrote this introduction to the Freedom Information Service’s publication of the inquiry in 1973.

A Workers’ Inquiry, Karl Marx. Freedom Information Service, Bewick/ed

The questionnaire that follows was written by Karl Marx not long before his death. As such, it is the most recent example of Marxism as practiced by Marx himself. Woven into the text are two concepts which are of special concern in the 1970’s.

First is the meaning of class consciousness, and how it is influenced by Marxists. In this questionnaire, which superficially resembles a modern sociological exercise, the questioner makes an active and deliberate intervention into the consciousness of the worker being questioned.

Each question asks not for an opinion, but a fact. The answers are concrete. By the time a worker has answered the entire list, she or he will have faced a mirror of her or his own exploitation, and its mechanisms, in great detail.

Thus, using the current jargon, “consciousness raising” will have taken place, not through proselytizing or haranguing by the Marxist, but through the accumulated answers to questions which educate both the worker and the interviewer. The totality of answers provides an accurate mosaic of the proletarian reality, which, in the process of its discovery, lays the groundwork for the overthrow of capital.

Second is the meaning of socialism to Marx. He says in his introductory remarks:

These statements of labor’s grievances are the first act which socialist democracy must perform, in order to prepare the way for social regeneration.”

Thus, for Marx, it is socialist democracy - what Engels called “the invading socialist society” - which makes the revolution and overthrows capitalism, not “the revolution” which creates socialism.

-Ken Lawrence
May 28, 1973


Ken Lawrence

Ken Lawrence was a communist militant and member of the Sojourner Truth Organisation.