Lassalle, Ferdinand

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Ferdinand Lassalle (1825-1864) was a founder of the German socialist movement and a disciple of Karl Marx. His short political career spanned only two years, during which time he organized the German working class to political agitation and published over twenty speeches and pamphlets, one of which Dr. Ambedkar partially quotes here.

"The constitutional questions are in the first instance not questions of right but questions of might. The actual constitution of a country has its existence only in the actual condition of force which exists in the country; hence political constitutions have a value and permanence only when they accurately express those conditions of forces which exist in practice within a society—these are the principles you must bear in mind. I have developed these principles in your presence to-day only in so far as they apply to the armed forces; in the first place, because of the brevity of the time at my disposal has permitted only a limited application of these principles; in the second place, because the army is the most decisive and most important of all the organized instruments of force. But you will understand by yourselves that the matter applies equally well to the organization of the officials of justice, of administrative officials, etc; these are likewise organized instruments of power in certain societies. If you will bear this lecture in mind, gentlemen, you will know—if ever again you should be in a position to write a constitution for yourselves—what the necessary procedure must be, and will not content yourselves with filling sheets of paper with writing, but with the real action of making genuine alterations in the actual situation of forces in the country."

Lassalle, Ferdinand. "Ueber Verjassungswesen ("Concerning the Theory of the Constitution") in Voice of Revolt, Volume III: Speeches of Ferdinand Lassalle. New York: International Publishers, 1927, 38-41.