| Member of the Reichstag |
7 June 1920 –20 May 1928
| Member of the Imperial Reichstag |
13 January 1912 –10 November 1918
|Preceded by||Otto Pfundtner|
|Succeeded by||Reichstag dissolution|
31 October 1901 –25 January 1907
|Preceded by||Bruno Schönlank|
|Succeeded by||Otto Pfundtner|
|Born||6 January 1850|
Schöneberg,Kingdom of Prussia
|Died||18 December 1932 82) (aged|
Berlin,Free State of Prussia,German Reich
|Political party|| SDAP (1872–1875)|
| Social democracy |
|Part of a series on|
|Part of a series on|
Eduard Bernstein (German: [ˈeːduaʁt ˈbɛʁnʃtaɪn] ; 6 January 1850 – 18 December 1932) was a German social democratic Marxist theorist and politician. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), Bernstein had held close association to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, but he began to identify what he believed to be errors 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 perspective of an immanent economic necessity to socialism. 
Bernstein was born in Schöneberg (now part of Berlin) to Jewish parents who were active in the Reform Temple on the Johannistrasse whose services were performed on Sunday. His father was a locomotive driver. From 1866 to 1878, he was employed in banks as a banker's clerk after leaving school. 
Bernstein's political career began in 1872, when he joined a socialist party with Marxist tendencies, known formally as the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany. The party was a proponent of the Eisenacher style of German socialism, named after the German town where it was founded. Bernstein soon became known as an activist. His party contested two elections against a rival socialist party, the Lassalleans (Ferdinand Lassalle's General German Workers' Association), but in both elections neither party was able to win a significant majority of the left-wing vote. Consequently, Bernstein, together with August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht, prepared the Einigungsparteitag ("Unification Party Congress") with the Lassalleans in Gotha in 1875. Karl Marx's famous Critique of the Gotha Program criticized what he saw as a Lassallean victory over the Eisenachers, whom he favoured. Bernstein later noted that it was Liebknecht, considered by many to be the strongest Marxist advocate within the Eisenacher faction, who proposed the inclusion of many of the ideas that so thoroughly irritated Marx.
In the 1877 elections, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) gained 493,000 votes. However, two assassination attempts on Kaiser Wilhelm I the next year provided Chancellor Otto von Bismarck a pretext to introduce a law banning all socialist organizations, assemblies and publications. There had been no Social Democratic involvement in either assassination attempt, but the popular reaction against "enemies of the Reich" induced a compliant Reichstag to approve Bismarck's Anti-Socialist Laws. 
Bismarck's strict anti-socialist legislation was passed on 12 October 1878. For nearly all practical purposes the SPD was outlawed, and it was actively suppressed throughout Germany. However, it was still possible for Social Democrats to campaign as individuals for election to the Reichstag, which they did in spite of severe persecution. The party actually increased its electoral success, gaining 550,000 votes in 1884 and 763,000 in 1887.
The vehemence of Bernstein's opposition to the government of Bismarck made it desirable for him to leave Germany.  Shortly before the Anti-Socialist Laws came into effect, Bernstein went into exile in Zurich, accepting a position as the private secretary of Karl Höchberg, a wealthy supporter of social democracy. A warrant subsequently issued for his arrest ruled out any possibility for him to return to Germany, and he was to remain in exile for more than 20 years. In 1888, Bismarck convinced the Swiss government to expel a number of important members of German social democracy and so Bernstein relocated to London, where he associated with Friedrich Engels and Karl Kautsky. It was soon after his arrival in Switzerland that he began to think of himself as a Marxist.  In 1880, he accompanied Bebel to London to clear up a misunderstanding concerning his involvement with an article published by Höchberg that was denounced by Marx and Engels as being "chock-full of bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideas". The visit was a success, and Engels in particular was impressed by Bernstein's zeal and ideas.
Back in Zurich, Bernstein became increasingly active in working for Der Sozialdemokrat (Social Democrat) and later succeeded Georg von Vollmar as the paper's editor, which he was for 10 years. It was during those years between 1880 and 1890 that Bernstein established his reputation as a major party theoretician and a Marxist of impeccable orthodoxy. He was helped in that by the close personal and professional relationship he established with Engels. The relationship owed much to the fact that he shared Engels's strategic vision and accepted most of the particular policies that Engels believed the ideas to entail. In 1887, the German government persuaded the Swiss authorities to ban Der Sozialdemokrat. Bernstein moved to London, where he resumed publication from premises in Kentish Town. His relationship with Engels soon developed into friendship. He also communicated with various English socialist organizations, notably the Fabian Society and Henry Mayers Hyndman's Social Democratic Federation.  In later years, his opponents routinely claimed that his "revisionism" was caused by seeing the world "through English spectacles". However, Bernstein denied the charges. 
In 1895, Engels was deeply distressed when he discovered that his introduction to a new edition of The Class Struggles in France, written by Marx in 1850, had been edited by Bernstein and Kautsky in a manner that left the impression that he had become a proponent of a peaceful road to socialism. On 1 April 1895, four months before his death, Engels wrote to Kautsky:
I was amazed to see today in the Vorwärts an excerpt from my 'Introduction' that had been printed without my knowledge and tricked out in such a way as to present me as a peace-loving proponent of legality quand même (at all costs). Which is all the more reason why I should like it to appear in its entirety in the Neue Zeit in order that this disgraceful impression may be erased. I shall leave Liebknecht in no doubt as to what I think about it and the same applies to those who, irrespective of who they may be, gave him this opportunity of perverting my views and, what's more, without so much as a word to me about it. 
In 1891, Bernstein was one of the authors of the Erfurt Program and from 1896 to 1898, he published a series of articles entitled Probleme des Sozialismus (Problems of Socialism) that resulted in the revisionism debate in the SPD.  He also published the book Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus und die Aufgaben der Sozialdemokratie (The Prerequisites for Socialism and the Tasks of Social Democracy) in 1899. The book was in great contrast to the positions of Bebel, Kautsky and Liebknecht. Rosa Luxemburg's 1900 essay Reform or Revolution? was also a polemic against Bernstein's position. In 1900, Bernstein published Zur Geschichte und Theorie des Sozialismus (The History and Theory of Socialism). 
In 1901, Bernstein returned to Germany after the end of the ban that had kept him from entering the country. He became an editor of the newspaper Vorwärts that year   and a member of the Reichstag from 1902 to 1918. He voted against the armament tabling in 1913, together with the SPD fraction's left wing. Although he voted for war credits in August 1914, he opposed World War I from July 1915 and, in 1917, was among the founders of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), which united antiwar socialists, including reformists like Bernstein, centrists like Kautsky and revolutionary socialists like Karl Liebknecht. He was a member of the USPD until 1919, when he rejoined the SPD. From 1920 to 1928, Bernstein was again a member of the Reichstag. On 4 March 1920, as an expert on Anglo-German relations under the German Empire, he became a member of the parliamentary committee investigating the war guilt question. He was one of only a few deputies on the committee to admit Germany's responsibility for the outbreak of war, setting himself apart from the majority of Reichstag members in the bourgeois parties.  He retired from political life in 1928.
Bernstein died on 18 December 1932 in Berlin. A commemorative plaque is placed in his memory at Bozener Straße 18, Berlin-Schöneberg, where he lived from 1918 until his death. His grave in the Eisackstrasse Cemetery became a grave of honour (German: Ehrengrab ) in Berlin.
Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus (1899) was Bernstein's most significant work. Bernstein was principally concerned with refuting Karl Marx's predictions about the imminent and inevitable demise of capitalism and Marx's consequent laissez-faire policy which opposed ameliorative social interventions before the demise. Bernstein indicated simple facts, which he considered to be evidence that Marx's predictions were not being borne out while he noted that while the centralization of capitalist industry was significant, it was not becoming wholescale and that the ownership of capital was becoming more and not less diffuse.   Bernstein's analysis of agriculture, according to which Bernstein believed that land ownership was becoming less concentrated, was largely based on the work of Eduard David  and was in its marshalling of facts impressive enough that even his Orthodox Marxist opponent Karl Kautsky acknowledged its value. 
As to Marx's belief in the disappearance of the middleman, Bernstein declared that the entrepreneur class was being steadily recruited from the proletariat class and so all compromise measures, such as the state regulation of the hours of labour and provisions for old-age pensions should be encouraged. For that reason, Bernstein urged the labouring classes to take an active interest in politics.  Bernstein also indicated what he considered to be some of the flaws in Marx's labour theory of value. 
Looking especially at the rapid growth in Germany, Bernstein argued that middle-sized firms would flourish, the size and power of the middle class would grow and that capitalism would successfully adjust and not collapse. He warned that a violent proletarian revolution, as in France in 1848, produced only reactionary successes, which undermined workers' interests. Therefore, he rejected revolution and instead insisted the best strategy to be patiently building up a durable social movement working for continuous nonviolent incremental change. 
In his work, The Quest for Evolutionary Socialism: Eduard Bernstein and Social Democracy, Manfred Steger touches on Bernstein's desire for socialism through peaceful means and incremental legislation. Some say that is Marxism in its mature form after the revisionists claimed many of Marx's theories to be wrong and came up with theories of their own, including socialism coming through democratic means. 
Bernstein was vilified by the orthodox Marxists led by Karl Kautsky as well as the more radical current led by Rosa Luxemburg for his revisionism.  Nonetheless, Bernstein remained very much a socialist, albeit an unorthodox one as he believed that socialism would be achieved by the advancement of capitalism to social democracy and so on, not by capitalism's destruction (as rights were gradually won by workers, their cause for grievance would be diminished and consequently, so too would the motivation for revolution). During the intra-party debates about his ideas, Bernstein explained that for him the final goal of socialism was nothing; progress toward that goal was everything.
Luxemburg argued that socialism has its end in social revolution and revisionism "amounts in practice to the advice [...] that we abandon the social revolution—the goal of Social Democracy—and turn social reform from a means of the class struggle into its final aim".  She says revisionism has lost sight of scientific socialism and reverted to idealism and therefore lost its predictive force. Since reformists underestimate the anarchy of capitalism[ citation needed ] and say it has adaptability and viability, by which they mean that the contradictions of capitalism would not of historical necessity drive it to its doom, Luxemburg said they would abandon the objective necessity for socialism and give up all hope for a socialist future. The movement would collapse unless revisionism is repudiated. Trade unionists, who could see the successes of capitalism and the improvement of working conditions and who wanted to improve working conditions through parliament, generally followed Bernstein while those who were more orthodox generally followed Luxemburg. 
Foreign policy was Bernstein's main intellectual interest between 1902 and 1914, with many articles in the Sozialistische Monatshefte (Socialist Monthly). He advocated policy positions for Germany that were aggressively nationalist, imperialist and expansionist.  
Bernstein considered protectionism (high tariffs on imports) as helping only a selective few, being fortschrittsfeindlich (anti-progressive) for its negative effects on the masses. He argued Germany's protectionism was based only on political expediency, isolating Germany from the world (especially from Britain), creating an autarky that would result only in conflict between Germany and the rest of the world.  Bernstein wanted to end Germany's protectionism and argued that tariffs did not increase grain production, did not counter British competition, did not increase farm profits and did not promote improvements in farming. Instead, it inflated rents, interest rates and prices, hurting everyone involved. In contrast, he argued that free trade led to peace, democracy, prosperity and the highest material and moral well-being of all humanity. 
Bernstein rejected reactionary bourgeois nationalism and called instead for a cosmopolitan-libertarian nationalism. He recognized the historical role of the national factor and said that the proletariat must support their country against external dangers. He called on workers to assimilate themselves within nation-states, which entailed support for colonial policies and imperial projects. Bernstein was sympathetic to the idea of imperial expansions as a positive and civilizing mission, which resulted in a bitter series of polemics with the anti-imperialist Ernest Belfort Bax.  Bernstein supported colonialism as he believed it uplifted backward peoples and it worked well for both Britain and Germany. Bernstein supported such policies in an intensely racialized manner, arguing in 1896 that "races who are hostile to or incapable of civilisation cannot claim our sympathy when they revolt against civilisation" and that the "savages [must] be subjugated and made to conform to the rules of higher civilisation".  However, he was disturbed by the Kaiser's reckless policies. He wanted strong friendship especially with Britain and France and protection against the Russian threat to Germany. He envisioned a sort of league of nations.  
Bernstein's views on Jewish matters evolved. He never identified as a Zionist, but after initially favouring a wholly assimilationist solution to "the Jewish Question", his attitude toward Zionism became considerably more sympathetic after World War I.  
Bernstein is also noted for being "one of the first socialists to deal sympathetically with the issue of homosexuality". 
Ferdinand August Bebel 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.
Social Reform or Revolution? is an 1899 pamphlet by Polish-German Marxist theorist Rosa Luxemburg. Luxemburg argues that trade unions, reformist political parties and the expansion of social democracy—while important to the proletariat's development of class consciousness—cannot create a socialist society as Eduard Bernstein, among others, argued. Instead, she argues from a historical materialist perspective that capitalism is economically unsustainable and will eventually collapse and that a revolution is necessary to transform capitalism into socialism. The pamphlet was heavily influential in revolutionary socialist circles and along with Luxemburg's other work an important precursor to left communist theory.
Franz Erdmann Mehring was a German communist historian, literary and art critic, philosopher, and revolutionary socialist politician who was a senior member of the Spartacus League during the German Revolution of 1918–1919.
The Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany was a Marxist socialist political party in the North German Confederation during unification.
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.
The Godesberg Program of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) was ratified in 1959 at a convention in the town of Bad Godesberg near Bonn. It represented a fundamental change in the orientation and goals of the SPD, rejecting the aim of replacing capitalism while adopting a commitment to reform capitalism and a mass party orientation that appealed to ethical rather than class-based considerations. It also rejected nationalization as a major principle of socialism.
Blanquism refers to a conception of revolution generally attributed to Louis Auguste Blanqui (1805–1881) that holds that socialist revolution should be carried out by a relatively small group of highly organised and secretive conspirators. Having seized power, the revolutionaries would then use the power of the state to introduce socialism. It is considered a particular sort of "putschism"—that is, the view that political revolution should take the form of a putsch or coup d'état.
Revisionism represents various ideas, principles, and theories that are based on a revision of Marxism. According to their critics, this involve a significant revision of fundamental Marxist theories and premises, and usually involve making an alliance with the bourgeois class. Academics have used revisionism to describe post-Stalin, Eastern European writers who criticized one-party rule and argued in favour of freedom of the press and of the arts, intra- and sometimes inter-party democracy, independent labor unions, the abolition of bureaucratic privileges, and the subordination of police to the judiciary.
In Marxism, a theoretician is an individual who observes and writes about the condition or dynamics of society, history, or economics, making use of the main principles of Marxian socialism in the analysis.
Revolutionary socialism is a political philosophy, doctrine, and tradition within socialism that stresses the idea that a social revolution is necessary to bring about structural changes in society. More specifically, it is the view that revolution is a necessary precondition for transitioning from a capitalist to a socialist mode of production. Revolution is not necessarily defined as a violent insurrection; it is defined as a 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.
In Marxist philosophy, the dictatorship of the proletariat is a condition in which the proletariat holds state power. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the intermediate stage between a capitalist economy and a communist economy, whereby the post-revolutionary state seizes the means of production, compels the implementation of direct elections on behalf of and within the confines of the ruling proletarian state party, and instituting elected delegates into representative workers' councils that nationalise ownership of the means of production from private to collective ownership. During this phase, the administrative organizational structure of the party is to be largely determined by the need for it to govern firmly and wield state power to prevent counterrevolution and to facilitate the transition to a lasting communist society. Other terms commonly used to describe the dictatorship of the proletariat include socialist state, proletarian state, democratic proletarian state, revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and democratic dictatorship of the proletariat. In Marxist philosophy, the term dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is the antonym to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Orthodox Marxism is the body of Marxist thought that emerged after the death of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and which became the official philosophy of the majority of the socialist movement as represented in the Second International until the First World War in 1914. Orthodox Marxism aims to simplify, codify and systematize Marxist method and theory by clarifying the perceived ambiguities and contradictions of classical Marxism.
Reformism is a political doctrine advocating the reform of an existing system or institution instead of its abolition and replacement.
Karl Johann Kautsky was a Czech-Austrian philosopher, journalist, and Marxist theorist. Kautsky was one of the most authoritative promulgators of orthodox Marxism after the death of Friedrich Engels in 1895 until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
Forerunners of Modern Socialism is a four volume work that documents the history of primitive communist and socialist ideas, edited by Karl Kautsky and including contributions by a number of prominent intellectuals of the Second International, including Eduard Bernstein, Paul Lafargue, C. Hugo, Franz Mehring, and Georgii Plekhanov. The first volume was published in 1895.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Marxism:
Crisis of Marxism was a term first employed in the 1890s after the unexpected revival of global capitalist expansion became evident after the Great Depression of Europe from 1873-1896, which eventually precipitated a crisis in Marxist theory. The crisis resulted in a series of theoretical debates over the significance of economic recovery for the strategy of the socialist movement, leading to ideological fragmentation and increasingly sectarian debates. By the 1890s, orthodox Marxists came to believe that capitalism was on the “verge of breakdown,” while the socialist movement was on the “verge of revolutionary triumph,” but due to a renewed burst of capitalist and industrial activity such interpretations could no longer be maintained in Western Europe.
The Stuttgart Congress of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) was held between October 3–October 8, 1898, in Stuttgart, Kingdom of Württemberg.
Social democracy originated as an ideology within the labour whose goals have been a social revolution to move away from purely laissez-faire capitalism to a social capitalism model sometimes called a social market economy. In a nonviolent revolution as in the case of evolutionary socialism, or the establishment and support of a welfare state. Its origins lie in the 1860s as a revolutionary socialism associated with orthodox Marxism. Starting in the 1890s, there was a dispute between committed revolutionary social democrats such as Rosa Luxemburg and reformist social democrats. The latter sided with Marxist revisionists such as Eduard Bernstein, who supported a more gradual approach grounded in liberal democracy and cross-class cooperation. Karl Kautsky represented a centrist position. By the 1920s, social democracy became the dominant political tendency, along with communism, within the international socialist movement, representing a form of democratic socialism with the aim of achieving socialism peacefully. By the 1910s, social democracy had spread worldwide and transitioned towards advocating an evolutionary change from capitalism to socialism using established political processes such as the parliament. In the late 1910s, socialist parties committed to revolutionary socialism renamed themselves as communist parties, causing a split in the socialist movement between these supporting the October Revolution and those opposing it. Social democrats who were opposed to the Bolsheviks later renamed themselves as democratic socialists in order to highlight their differences from communists and later in the 1920s from Marxist–Leninists, disagreeing with the latter on topics such as their opposition to liberal democracy whilst sharing common ideological roots.