Eduard Bernstein: Evolutionary Socialism

(1899)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

Bernstein writes that he has been wrongly characterized as advocating “abandonment of the conquest of political power by the proletariat” (that is, by the working class). Instead, he writes, it is a mistake to “expect shortly a collapse of the bourgeois economy” (bourgeois referring to the middle class, with implications of materialism and conventional attitudes). He argues that adherents of the “theory of a catastrophe,” who base their support for it on their reading of Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto, are simply mistaken. The Manifesto was “mistaken in several special deductions, above all in the estimate of the time the evolution would take.” In Bernstein's view, popular opposition to the existing social and economic order is not as great as the Manifesto predicted. Increasing social wealth has not been accompanied by a reduction in the number of large capitalists but by “an increasing number of capitalists of all degrees.” The...

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Otto von Bismarck (Library of Congress)

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