“Babouvism left its stamp not only on French Socialists and Communists but also on the international proletarian movement. In England, it was no less a person than Bronterre O’Brien, the leading Chartist theorist, who translated and added enthusiastic notes to ‘Buonarroti’s History of Babeuf’s Conspiracy’, and it was another Chartist, Henry Hetherington, editor of the ‘Poor Man’s Guardian’, a Chartist organ, who published the book in 1836. Babouvist ideas were inherited by the Communist League from its parent, the Federation of the Just, which had its origin in Paris, and whose members owed their theoretical views to contact with the neo-Babouvists of the thirties. Karl Marx, toot, met the leaders of the Parisian secret societies after his arrival in Paris in 1843, where he set himself to the study of the French utopian socialists. From Buonarroti’s book, which was apparently the only source of his information on the Conspiracy of the Equals, he carried away an incomplete evaluation of the Babouvists. He appreciated them as the vigorous champions of the proletarian cause, as those who “learned from history that with the removal of the social question of monarchy versus republic, no single social question would still be solved for the proletariat” (83). But at the same time he saw in them only “crude, uncivilized materialists” (84). A somewhat similar verdict was written into the ‘Communist Manifesto’. Marx had in mind Babouvism and similar movements when he wrote: «The first direct efforts made by the proletariat in a time of general ferment, in a period when feudal society was being overthrown, to further its own interests as a class were necessarily futile, owing to the undeveloped condition of the proletariat itself, and owing to the non-existence of the material conditions requisite for the liberation of the workers (conditions which are only engendered during the bourgeois epoch). The revolutionary literature thrown up in connection with these early proletarian movements was perforce reactionary. It preached universal asceticism and a crude equalitarianism» (85). This judgment of the Babouvists was a bit too harsh. True, Babeuf and his followers were utopians who portrayed a perfect social system which was somewhat Spartan in character, somewhat “crude” in its “equalitarianism”. They idealized Lycurgus and spoke venerably of the Gracchi. But they also stressed the significance of the economic question, painted the bitter struggle between the workers and the bourgeoisie, regarded the state and the legal system as the instruments of the “haves” to oppress the “have-nots”, depended on the revolutionary action of the proletariat to usher in the new society, taught the necessity of a revolutionary dictatorship to educate the people for a new life and, at a time when the industrial revolution had hardly made inroads in France, contemplated the almost limitless social and economic blessings resulting from modern technology in a planned society. It was precisely because the ‘Manifeste des Egaux’ leaned to a “crude equalitarianism” from which art would be banished that the Babouvists rejected the document. Though Marx was severe in his appraisal of their theoretical system, he was nevertheless deeply impressed by it as well as by their organization and tactics. Traces of their influence are found in the ‘Communist Manifesto’s’ immediate program, of which several demands are similar to those of the Babouvists. Furthermore, the tactics of revolutionary dictatorship; advocated and developed by the conspirators, were formulated and crystallized by Blanqui and his followers and by Marx as the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat (86), which Lenin applied for the first time in history” (pag 192-194) [Samuel Bernstein, ‘Babeuf and Babouvism. II’, Science & Society, New York, n. 2, 1938] [(83) Marx-Engels, ‘Gesamtausgabe’, VI, Part I, p. 309; (84) Karl Marx, ‘Selected Essays’, tr. H.J. Stenning, p. 194; (85) Ryazanoff, ‘The Communist Manifesto’, p. 63; (86) See the secret agreement signed by Willich, Marx, Harney, Engels and by two emissaries of Blanqui in ‘Unter dem Banner des Marxismus’, March 1928, p. 144-145. See also Karl Marx, ‘The Class Struggles in France’, International Publishers, p. 126; Marx’s letter to Weydemeyer in ‘Selected Correspondence’, p. 57; a Blanquist document of 1872, cited in part in Postgate, ‘Out of the Past’, p. 69-70; the Blanquist Manifesto of 1874, in A. Zévaès, ‘Les grandes manifestes du socialisme français’, p. 71 et seq.; Marx, ‘Critique of the Gotha Programme’, Moscow, 1933, p. 44-45]

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