Eduard Bernstein

German politician (1850–1932)

Eduard Bernstein (January 6 1850December 18 1932) was a German social democratic theoretician and politician, a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, and the founder of "evolutionary socialism" or "reformism".

Eduard Bernstein

"Evolutionary Socialism" (1899)[1] edit

published by the Independent Labour Party

  • [T]he increase of social wealth is not accompanied by a diminishing number of capitalist magnates, but by an increasing number of capitalists of all degrees.
    • Chapter II, The Economic Development of Modern Society
  • Democracy is in principle the suppression of class government, though it is not yet the actual suppression of classes.
    • Chapter III, The Tasks and Possibilities of Social Democracy
  • Democracy is the high school of compromise.
    • Chapter III, The Tasks and Possibilities of Social Democracy
  • The parties which assumed the names of liberals were, or became in due course, simple guardians of capitalism.
    • Chapter III, The Tasks and Possibilities of Social Democracy
  • The aim of all socialist measures, even of those which appear outwardly as coercive measures, is the development and the securing of a free personality. Their more exact examination always shows that the coercion included will raise the sum total of liberty in society, and will give more freedom over a more extended area than it takes away.
    • Chapter III, The Tasks and Possibilities of Social Democracy
  • We may think as we like theoretically, about man’s freedom of action, we must practically start from it as the foundation of the moral law, for only under this condition is social morality possible.
    • Chapter III, The Tasks and Possibilities of Social Democracy
  • If democracy is not to excel centralised absolutism in the breeding of bureaucracies, it must be built up on an elaborately organised self-government with a corresponding economic, personal responsibility of all the units of administration as well as of the adult citizens of the state. Nothing is more injurious to its healthy development than enforced uniformity and a too abundant amount of protectionism or subventionism.
    • Chapter III, The Tasks and Possibilities of Social Democracy

Sourced edit

  • The fact of the modern national States or empires not having originated organically does not prevent their being organs of that great entity which we call civilised humanity, and which is much too extensive to be included in any single State. And, indeed, these organs are at present necessary and of great importance for human development. On this point Socialists can scarcely differ now. And it is not even to be regretted, from the Socialist point of view, that they are not characterised purely by their common descent. The purely ethnological national principle is reactionary in its results. Whatever else one may think about the race-problem, it is certain that the thought of a national division of mankind according to race is anything rather than a human ideal. The national quality is developing on the contrary more and more into a sociological function. But understood as such it is a progressive principle, and in this sense Socialism can and must be national. This is no contradiction of the cosmopolitan consciousness, but only its necessary completion, The world-citizenship, this glorious attainment of civilisation, would, if the relationship to national tasks and rational duties were missing, become a flabby characterless parasitism. Even when we sing "Ubi bene, ibi patria," we still acknowledge a "patria," and, therefore, in accordance with the motto, "No rights without duties"; also duties towards her.

Quotes about edit

  • The most audacious assault on the premises and agenda of Marxism was undertaken by Eduard Bernstein, a leading light of German social democracy and the founder of socialist “Revisionism.” Bernstein had spent many years in England, where he came in contact with the Fabians. In the late 1890s he appealed to Social Democrats to adjust their theory as well as their program to the fact that capitalism was not about to collapse and labor was not sinking into destitution. He continued to believe in socialism but, like Jaurès, thought it would come about as the result of peaceful political and social progress within capitalism. He foresaw something like a convergence of capitalism and socialism, with the latter emerging from the former. The German Social Democratic Party, Europe’s largest and most influential, rejected Bernstein’s Revisionist theories and continued to adhere to the revolutionary Erfurt Program. In practice, however, it did exactly what Bernstein advocated, that is, emphasize trade unionism and electoral politics. (It formally abandoned Marxism only in 1959.)

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