Bebel c. 1900
|Chairman of the |
Social Democratic Party of Germany
21 November 1892 –13 August 1913
|Preceded by|| Paul Singer |
|Succeeded by|| Hugo Haase |
Ferdinand August Bebel
22 February 1840
Deutz (Cologne), Rhine Province, Kingdom of Prussia
|Died||13 August 1913 73) (aged|
|Political party|| Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany |
Social Democratic Party of Germany
Ferdinand August Bebel (22 February 1840 – 13 August 1913) was a German socialist politician, writer, and orator. He is best remembered as one of the founders of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany (SDAP) in 1869, which in 1875 merged with the General German Workers' Association into the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (SAPD). During the repression under the terms of the Anti-Socialist Laws, Bebel became the leading figure of the social democratic movement in Germany and from 1892 until his death served as chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.
The Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany was a Marxist socialist political party in the North German Confederation during the period of unification. Founded in Eisenach in 1869, the SDAP endured through the early years of the German Empire. Often termed the Eisenachers, the SDAP was one of the first political organizations established among the nascent German labor unions of the 19th century. It officially existed under the name SDAP for only six years (1869–1875), but through name changes and political partnerships its lineage can be traced to the present-day Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).
The General German Workers' Association was a German political party founded on 23 May 1863 in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony by Ferdinand Lassalle.
The foundation of the Social Democratic Party of Germany can be traced back to the 1860s, and for much of the 20th and 21st centuries it has represented the centre-left in German politics. The SPD has been the ruling party at several points, first under Friedrich Ebert in 1918. The party was outlawed in Nazi Germany but returned to government in 1969 with Willy Brandt. Meanwhile, the East German branch of the SPD was merged with the ruling KPD. In the modern Federal Republic of Germany, the SPD are the second largest party after the CDU and are currently in government as a junior coalition partner to Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU. The SPD last held the chancellorship under Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005.
Ferdinand August Bebel, known to all by his middle name, was born on 22 February 1840, in Deutz, Germany, now a part of Cologne. He was the son of a Prussian noncommissioned officer in the Prussian infantry, initially from Ostrowo in the Province of Posen, and was born in military barracks.
Cologne-Deutz, often just Deutz is an inner city part of Cologne, Germany and a formerly independent town.
Cologne is the largest city of Germany's most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the fourth most populous city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich with slightly over a million inhabitants within its urban area. The largest city on the Rhine, Cologne is also the most populous city both of the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region, which is Germany's largest and one of Europe's major metropolitan areas, and of the Rhineland. Centred on the left bank of the Rhine, Cologne is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) southeast of North Rhine-Westphalia's capital of Düsseldorf and 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of Bonn. It is the largest city in the Central Franconian and Ripuarian dialect areas.
Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital in Königsberg and from 1701 in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.
As a young man, Bebel apprenticed as a carpenter and joiner in Leipzig.Like most German workmen at that time, he traveled extensively in search of work and he thereby obtained a first-hand knowledge of the difficulties facing the working people of the day.
Leipzig is the most populous city in the federal state of Saxony, Germany. With a population of 581,980 inhabitants as of 2017, it is Germany's tenth most populous city. Leipzig is located about 160 kilometres (99 mi) southwest of Berlin at the confluence of the White Elster, Pleiße and Parthe rivers at the southern end of the North German Plain.
At Salzburg, where he lived for some time, he joined a Roman Catholic workmen's club. When in Tyrol in 1859 he volunteered for service in the war against Italy, but was rejected; and in his own country he was rejected likewise as physically unfit for the army.
Salzburg is the capital city of the State of Salzburg and the fourth-largest city in Austria.
The (Princely) County of Tyrol was an estate of the Holy Roman Empire established about 1140. Originally a jurisdiction under the sovereignty of the Counts of Tyrol, it was inherited by the Counts of Gorizia in 1253 and finally fell to the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1363. In 1804 the Princely County of Tyrol, unified with the secularised Prince-Bishoprics of Trent and Brixen, became a crown land of the Austrian Empire in 1804 and from 1867 a Cisleithanian crown land of Austria-Hungary.
In 1860 he settled in Leipzig as a master turner, making horn buttons.He joined various labor organizations. Although initially an opponent of socialism, Bebel gradually was won over to socialist ideas through pamphlets of Ferdinand Lassalle, which popularized the ideas of Karl Marx. In 1865 he came under the influence of Wilhelm Liebknecht and was thereafter committed fully to the socialist cause.
Ferdinand Lassalle was a Prussian-German jurist, philosopher, socialist and political activist best remembered as the initiator of national-style state socialism in Germany as well as for coining the terms night-watchman state and iron law of wages.
Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary.
Wilhelm Martin Philipp Christian Ludwig Liebknecht was a German socialist and one of the principal founders of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). His political career was a pioneering project combining Marxist revolutionary theory with practical legal political activity. Under his leadership, the SPD grew from a tiny sect to become Germany's largest political party. He was the father of Karl Liebknecht and Theodor Liebknecht.
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Following the death of Lassalle, Bebel was among the group of Socialists that refused to follow new party leader Johann Baptist von Schweitzer at the Eisenach Conference of 1867, an action which gave rise to the name "Eisenachers" for this Marxist faction.Together with Liebknecht, he founded the Sächsische Volkspartei ("Saxon People's Party"). Bebel was also President of the Union of German Workers' Associations from 1867 and a member of the First International.
Bebel was elected to the North German Reichstag as a member from Saxony in that same year.
In 1869 he helped found the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany (SDAP), which later merged with another organization in 1875 to form the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (SAPD), which in turn became the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in 1890.
Bebel's great organizing talent and oratorical power quickly made him one of the leaders of the socialists and their chief spokesman in parliament. He remained a member of the North German Parliament, and later of its counterpart for the German Empire, the Reichstag, until his death, except for the interval of 1881–83.He represented successively the districts of Glauchau-Meerane, Dresden, Strassburg, and Hamburg. Later in his life, he acted as chairman of the SPD. Representing as he did Marxian principles, he was bitterly opposed by certain factions of his party.
In 1870 he spoke in parliament against the continuance of the war with France.Bebel and Liebknecht were the only members who did not vote the extraordinary subsidy required for the war with France. Bebel was one of only two socialists elected to the Reichstag in 1871, and he used his position to protest against the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine and to express his full sympathy with the Paris Commune. German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck afterwards said that this speech of Bebel's was a "ray of light" showing him that socialism was an enemy to be fought against and crushed. Falsely accused of being in league with the French and part of a conspiracy to free French prisoners of war held in Germany and to lead them in an attack from the rear, Bebel and Liebknecht were arrested for high treason, but no prosecution was possible for lack of evidence.
Not wanting to release such important opponents of the war effort, old charges of preaching dangerous doctrines and plotting against the state were levied against Bebel and Liebknecht in 1872.The pair were convicted and sentenced to two years in Festungshaft (imprisonment in a fortress), which was spent at the famous Königstein Fortress. For insulting the German emperor, Bebel was additionally sentenced to nine months' ordinary imprisonment. This incarceration served to increase Bebel's prestige among his party associates and the sympathetic public at large.
In 1874 Bebel took a partner and founded a small button factory, for which he acted as salesman, but in 1889 he gave up his business to devote himself wholly to politics.In 1868 he became connected with the staff of the Volksstaat ("The People's State") at Leipzig, and in 1891 with that of the Vorwärts ("Forward") at Berlin.
After his release from prison, he helped to organize, at the congress of Gotha, the united party of Social Democrats, which had been formed during his imprisonment. After the passing of the Socialist Law he continued to show great activity in the debates of the Reichstag, and was also elected a member of the Saxon parliament; when the state of siege was proclaimed in Leipzig he was expelled from the city, and in 1886 condemned to nine months' imprisonment for taking part in a secret society.
In party meetings of 1890 and 1891, Bebel's policies were severely attacked, first by the extremists, the "young" Socialists from Berlin, who wished to abandon parliamentary action; against these Bebel won a complete victory. On the other side he was involved in a quarrel with Volmar and his school, who desired to put aside from immediate consideration the complete attainment of the socialist ideal, and proposed that the party should aim at bringing about, not a complete overthrow of society, but a gradual amelioration. This conflict of tendencies continued, and Bebel came to be regarded as the chief exponent of the traditional views of the orthodox Marxist party. Though a strong opponent of militarism, he publicly stated that foreign nations attacking Germany must not expect the help or the neutrality of the Social Democrats.Already in 1911 amid the rising tensions between the European powers, Bebel publicly predicted an upcoming great war with millions of soldiers confronting each other followed by a great collapse, "mass bankruptcy, mass misery, mass unemployment and great famine."
In 1899, at the Hanover Congress of the SPD, Bebel delivered a speech condemning Eduard Bernstein's revisionism. His resolution, Attacks on the Fundamental Views and Tactics of the Party, garnered the support of the vast majority of the Congress, including Bernstein's supporters.
Bebel particularly distinguished himself by his denunciation of the maltreatment of soldiers by officers and still more frequently by non-commissioned officers. His efforts in this matter had received great encouragement when King Albert of Saxony issued an edict dealing with the maltreatment of soldiers in the Saxon contingent, thus cutting the ground from under the feet of the Imperial Government, which had persistently attempted to deny or to explain away the cases put forward by Bebel.
Speaking before the Reichstag, Bebel criticized the war to crush the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, saying:
No, this is no crusade, no holy war; it is a very ordinary war of conquest...A campaign of revenge as barbaric as has never been seen in the last centuries, and not often at all in history...not even with the Huns, not even with the Vandals...That is no match for what the German and other troops of foreign powers, together with the Japanese troops, have done in China…
Bebel is also famed for his outrage at the news of German mistreatment of indigenous people in its South-West African colony, the Herero nation in particular. In 1904 following a revolt by the Herero people who were being pushed off their land to make way for German settlers, the government launched the Herero and Namaqua Genocide to crush the revolt by waging a "war of extermination" against the Herero. He and the German Social Democratic Party thus became the only party in the Reichstag to oppose increased colonial expenditures,and in a speech in March 1904 Bebel classified the policy in German West Africa as ‘not only barbaric, but bestial.’ This caused some sections of the contemporary German press to scathingly classify Bebel as 'Der hereroische Bebel' (Coburger Zeitung, 17 January 1904). Bebel was not deterred; he later followed this up with strongly worded warnings against the rising tide of theories of racial hierarchy and racial purity, causing the general election to the German Reichstag in 1907 to go over in history as the ‘Hottentot Election.’
Bebel's book, Women and Socialism was translated into English by Daniel DeLeon of the Socialist Labor Party of America as Women under Socialism.It figured prominently in the Connolly-DeLeon controversy after James Connolly, then a member of the SLP, denounced it as a "quasi-prurient" book that would repel potential recruits to the socialist movement. The book contained an attack on the institution of marriage which identified Bebel with the most extreme forms of socialism. In the preface to DeLeon's translation, 'Woman Under Socialism', DeLeon distanced himself from Bebel on this point, holding that monogamy was the most desirable form of social organisation.
August Bebel died on 13 August 1913 of a heart attack during a visit to a sanatorium in Passugg, Switzerland. He was 73 years old at the time of his death. His body was buried in Zürich.
At the time of his death Bebel was eulogized by Russian Marxist leader Vladimir Lenin as a "model workers' leader," who had proven himself able to "break his own road" from being an ordinary worker into becoming a political leader in the struggle for a "better social system."
The well-known saying "Anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools" ("Der Antisemitismus ist der Sozialismus der dummen Kerle") is frequently attributed to Bebel, but probably originated with the Austrian democrat Ferdinand Kronawetter; it was in general use among German Social Democrats by the 1890s.
Along with Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Ferdinand Lassalle, Bebel was among the socialist icons included in bas relief portraits on the facade of The Forward building, erected in 1912 as the headquarters of the New York Yiddish-language socialist newspaper.
The Bolsheviks, also known in English as the Bolshevists, was a faction founded by Vladimir Lenin and Alexander Bogdanov that split from the Menshevik faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) at its Second Party Congress in 1903. The RSDLP was a revolutionary socialist political party formed in 1898 in Minsk to unite the various revolutionary organisations of the Russian Empire into one party.
Rosa Luxemburg was a Polish Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist, anti-war activist and revolutionary socialist who became a naturalized German citizen at the age of 28. Successively, she was a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).
Eduard Bernstein was a German social-democratic Marxist theorist and politician. A member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Bernstein had held close association to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, but he saw flaws in Marxist thinking and began to criticize views held by Marxism when he investigated and challenged the Marxist materialist theory of history. He rejected significant parts of Marxist theory that were based upon Hegelian metaphysics and rejected the Hegelian dialectical perspective.
Clara Zetkin was a German Marxist theorist, activist, and advocate for women's rights.
The Erfurt Program was adopted by the Social Democratic Party of Germany during the SPD congress at Erfurt in 1891. Formulated under the political guidance of Eduard Bernstein, August Bebel, and Karl Kautsky, it superseded the earlier Gotha Program.
Carl Zeth "Zäta" Konstantin Höglund was a leading Swedish communist politician, anti-militarist, author, journalist and mayor (finansborgarråd) of Stockholm (1940–1950).
Konrad Haenisch was a German Social Democratic Party politician and part of "the radical Marxist Left" of German politics. He was a friend and follower of Alexander Parvus.
Wilhelm Hasenclever was a German politician. He was an originally a tanner by trade but later he became a journalist and author. However, he is most well known for his political work in the predecessors of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).
The Saxon People's Party was a left-liberal and radical democratic party in Germany, which existed from its founding by Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel in 1866 in Chemnitz until being integrated into the then founded Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP) in 1869. It was an alliance between liberal, anti-Prussian bourgeois and socialist workers' organizations in Saxony. It is considered one of the precursors to the Social Democratic Party of Germany.
Social democracy is a political, social and economic philosophy that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a liberal democratic polity and a capitalist mixed economy. The protocols and norms used to accomplish this involve a commitment to representative and participatory democracy, measures for income redistribution and regulation of the economy in the general interest and welfare state provisions. In this way, social democracy aims to create the conditions for capitalism to lead to greater democratic, egalitarian and solidaristic outcomes. Due to longstanding governance by social democratic parties during the post-war consensus and their influence on socioeconomic policy in the Nordic countries, social democracy has become associated in policy circles with the Nordic model in the latter part of the 20th century.
State socialism is a classification for any socialist political and economic perspective advocating state ownership of the means of production either as a temporary measure in the transition from capitalism to socialism, or as characteristic of socialism itself. It is often used interchangeably with state capitalism in reference to the economic systems of Marxist–Leninist states such as the Soviet Union to highlight the role of state planning in these economies, with the critics of said system referring to it more commonly as "state capitalism". Libertarian and democratic socialists claim that these states had only a limited number of socialist characteristics. However, Marxist–Leninists maintain that workers in the Soviet Union and other Marxist–Leninist states had genuine control over the means of production through institutions such as trade unions.
Karl Paul August Friedrich Liebknecht was a German socialist, originally in the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and later a co-founder with Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany which split away from the SPD. He is best known for his opposition to World War I in the Reichstag and his role in the Spartacist uprising of 1919. The uprising was crushed by the SPD government and the Freikorps. Liebknecht and Luxemburg were executed.
Impossibilism is a Marxist theory that stresses the limited value of political, economic, and social reforms under capitalism. As a doctrine, impossibilism views the pursuit of such reforms as counterproductive to the goal of achieving socialism for stabilizing and therefore strengthening support for capitalism, thereby helping to ensure its continuation. Impossibilism holds that reforms to capitalism are irrelevant or outright counter-productive to the goal of achieving socialism and should not be a major focus of socialist politics.
Revolutionary socialism is the socialist doctrine that social revolution is necessary in order to bring about structural changes to society. More specifically, it is the view that revolution is a necessary precondition for a transition from capitalism to socialism. Revolution is not necessarily defined as a violent insurrection; it is defined as seizure of political power by mass movements of the working class so that the state is directly controlled or abolished by the working class as opposed to the capitalist class and its interests. Revolutionary socialists believe such a state of affairs is a precondition for establishing socialism and orthodox Marxists believe that it is inevitable but not predetermined.
In Marxist philosophy, the dictatorship of the proletariat is a state of affairs in which the working class hold political power. Proletarian dictatorship is the intermediate stage between a capitalist economy and a communist economy, whereby the government nationalises ownership of the means of production from private to collective ownership. The socialist revolutionary Joseph Weydemeyer coined the term "dictatorship of the proletariat", which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels adopted to their philosophy and economics. The Paris Commune (1871), which controlled the capital city for two months, before being suppressed, was an example of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In Marxist philosophy, the term "Dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" is the antonym to "dictatorship of the proletariat".
Karl Johann Kautsky was a Czech-Austrian philosopher, journalist, and Marxist theoretician. Kautsky was recognized as among the most authoritative promulgators of Orthodox Marxism after the death of Friedrich Engels in 1895 until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
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