The Communist Manifesto is not only one of the most significant documents ever written; it has generated commentaries about itself by some of the most significant thinkers since it was written. Documents about the Manifesto written over the years have themselves become a rich legacy in their own right, which unfortunately is not easily accessible in our country. When the occasion for commemorating 150 years of the Manifesto arose, we thought it would be a good idea if we could bring to our readers two classic pieces on the Manifesto written by two of the outstanding adherents of the socialist doctrine since it began, along with a contemporary assessment. The current number of social Scientist is the result of this endeavour.
The role of Antonio Labriola (1843-1904) in disseminating, clarifying and developing the ideas of Marx and Engels is comparable only to that of G.V.Plekhanov. Like Plekhanov who was often referred to as the "father of Russian Marxism", Labriola was truly the father of Italian Marxism. Both of course took positions late in life which were justly criticised by Lenin as constituting, in different ways, departures from revolutionary Marxism: Plekhanov by adopting a social-chauvinist position during the war and Labriola who died much earlier by moving closer to revolutionary syndicalism (what Lenin called "revisionism from the Left"); but the immense theoretical toils of both these stalwarts are a part of socialism's rich heritage. A Professor of Philosophy at the University of Rome, Labriola was a brilliant scholar and teacher who got attracted to socialism in 1885, lectured on Marxism, for the first time in Italy, in 1889, began a correspondence with Engels in 1890, and worked for the formation of a workers' party in Italy. The first to translate the Communist Manifesto into Italian, Labriola wrote his celebrated piece "In Memory of the Communist Manifesto" in 1895, which we republish in the present issue of Social Scientist.