Bernstein’s assault on ‘orthodoxy’

Marc Mulholland examines the revisionist attack on class politics and the three most important responses. Clearly this dispute was about more than ‘reform’ versus ‘revolution’

Between 1896 and 1900 the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) - a mass organisation of the working class, committed to socialism - was shaken by a debate over ‘revisionism’. This was the first major intellectual divide within the forces of Marxism since they developed a mass basis in the 1880s.

The revisionist debate opened when Eduard Bernstein, a leading party theoretician, wrote an article on colonialism in 1896. In this Bernstein argued that, because the SPD by 1896 represented a quarter of voters in the German Reich (state), “we have a certain responsibility for the policy of that Reich”.1 Workers, he said, had a nation to which they should be loyal. When the cause was just, as it was in supporting the Armenians against Turkish repression, socialists should give support to the government.

The eccentric British socialist, Ernest Belfort Bax, responded vigorously. Having encountered Bernstein in England, he was already convinced that Bernstein had “unconsciously ceased to be a social democrat”.2 Always rather romantic about extra-European societies, Bax insisted that it was the duty of socialists “to fight tooth and nail against all advances of civilisation in barbarous and savage countries … ‘Better slavery than capitalism; better the Arab [slave] raider than the chartered company’ must be our device in these questions.”3

Bernstein had little difficulty in responding to this, though his apologia for imperialism went further than prudence required (“under direct European rule, savages are without exception better off than they were before”4). Even when Bax argued with rather more sophistication that imperialism should be opposed by socialists because its expansion of markets, which might prolong the existence of capitalism, he won little sympathy amongst the orthodox by mixing into his polemic anti-Semitic imputations (Bernstein was Jewish).5 Nonetheless, Bernstein was evidently attached to ‘patriotic colonialism’. The exchange meant that the suspicions of the orthodox were already aroused when Bernstein began his series of articles in the Neue Zeit, the journal edited by Karl Kautsky, on the ‘Problems of socialism’.

In his salvo of revisionist articles, Bernstein irritated other socialists by insistently attacking straw-man arguments usually unattached to any particular person or text (except for the easy target of Bax himself). An exception to this imprecision was Bernstein’s direct tilt at a resolution of the Socialist International at its London Congress in 1896 (or, at any rate, a version of it - there was some dispute about the actual wording of the resolution passed). The resolution said:

Economic development has now reached the point where a crisis could be imminent. The Congress therefore calls upon the workers of the world to learn the management of production, so that they are in a position to take over the management of production as class-conscious workers for the common good.6

Bernstein read into this a theory of catastrophic capitalist collapse as the harbinger of social revolution. It is something of a stretch to read the resolution as such, and indeed there was little in the Marxist or SPD canon to suggest any theory of an inevitable and terminal crunch-crisis for capitalism as an economic system.7 In fact, its main textual foundation, discreetly not referred to by Bernstein, was to be found in August Bebel’s writings and speeches.8 It was by no means common coin of the socialist left.

Bernstein argued - against this supposed ‘collapse theory’ - that major economic crises were likely to be a thing of the past because of the development of “adaptability and flexibility” in the business world, principally in the form of credit and market organising cartels.9 This was all for the good, as it made sudden revolution less likely, and Bernstein warned that ‘revolution’ was no good thing. Those “feelings and passions excited” by revolutionary crises, he wrote, were inimical to constructive socialist reform.10

The idea of class struggle - a “simplistic notion … long cherished in Germany and still not quite dead in our literature”11 - was an “endless waste of time, effort and material”.12 To illustrate what he considered to be the real “motor power of progress” leading to collectivism,13 Bernstein republished an article by the British Fabian sympathiser, John A Hobson. For Hobson, the growth of collectivism had little to do with the demands of workers or even socialists. It was simply the natural logical outcome of certain large-scale industries - such as power utilities, banking, insurance, merchant sea carriers, etc - which tended towards monopoly. For Hobson, such industries inevitably developed towards collective ownership by the “operation of ‘natural’ laws”.14

Bernstein was a little more precise than this. Capitalism, he said, “has its own history of development and … under the pressure of modern democratic institutions, and the concepts of social obligation which they entail, it must assume a face other than the one in evidence when political power was monopolised by private property”.15 Socialism, therefore, was not an alternative to constitutional liberalism; it was a variant of it: “organised liberalism”.16

Bernstein broadly accepted the Marxist theory which saw in the modern industrial worker “the true, potential vehicle of socialism”. However, he qualified this sharply. Marxists, he believed, were oblivious to the fact that there was “no homogenous proletariat”, a term bundling together indifferently the head stockman and cowherd, clerk and scullion, skilled worker and general handyman.17 He made the broadly accurate point, however, that the hard core of socialist workers tended not to come from large industry, but from “relatively backward, subordinate or intermediate industries”: for example, cigar makers, carpenters, cobblers, tailors, master-craftsman, cottage workers in the textile industry and bookbinders.18

Wage-labourers, Bernstein insisted, did not object to the capitalist extraction of ‘surplus value’ as such, but what they subjectively perceived as the robbery of their ‘surplus labour’. Socialists in turn were attracted by an ethical and rather indistinct belief in justice. It followed that socialist belief was not an automatic reflex of the proletarian condition19: “The proletariat as the sum total of wage-labourers is a reality; the proletariat as a class acting with common purpose and outlook is largely a figment of the imagination.”20

Bernstein saw the gradual social reform of capitalism as being a reflex not of class struggle, but of dawning democracy. This democracy he saw as a filter mechanism, helpfully limiting the influence of the proletariat on society to the degree appropriate to its development: “for democracy means that at any given time the working class should rule to the extent permitted by its intellectual maturity and the current stage of its economic development”.21 (He claimed to be quoting Engels, but it seems to be a tendentious paraphrase of Engels’ 1891 introduction to a new edition of Marx’s The class struggles in France.22)

‘Not ready for power’

Bernstein clearly considered that the proletariat had quite some distance to go before it reached political maturity. The working class, living in crowded conditions, with uncertain and insufficient income and badly educated, was far from ready for power.23 He criticised what he considered to be a socialist “cult” of the masses. The masses were, in fact, to a considerable extent an irrational “herd animal”.24 The political rule of the proletariat, unless it had been trained to responsibility and hedged in by powerful private property institutions, “could, in fact, be implemented only in the form of a dictatorial, revolutionary central power, supported by the terrorist dictatorship of revolutionary clubs”.25

In the most advanced countries the time was not ripe for “the dictatorship of the proletariat” - which meant working class government - but for working class parties to influence government policy.26 For the foreseeable future, socialists should work on the basis of “coalitions and compromises” with bourgeois liberal parties, both outside and inside government.27 Should a socialist government come to power, it would be unwise to attempt to put into practice its maximum programme. Capitalism could not be overturned by decree, given the large number of small enterprises which could not be quickly socialised, nor could it even rolled back very much, for fear of undermining business confidence.28 A social democratic government “could not at first dispense with capitalism unless it wanted to bring economic life to a complete standstill”.29

Only such socialisation as would be acceptable to business and other propertied interests, in this view, could be envisaged. A socialist party could only legitimately put forward demands acceptable to non-socialists: “A demand which all bourgeois parties would necessarily oppose on principle would, by that fact alone, be branded as utopian”30 (my emphasis). It made sense, therefore, for the ruling bourgeois state to undertake only such measures of socialisation it thought prudent. The most productive role for the political party of the working class was to remain in opposition, urging the bourgeoisie on towards collectivism.31

The SPD had habitually characterised socialisation measures by the semi-authoritarian German government, such as factory legislation and nationalisation of utilities like the railways and post office, not as instalments of socialism, but rather as “state capitalism”, calculated to bolster the independence of government vis-à-vis society, and to regulate the working class. Bernstein rejected this idea. Such measures on the part of the right were indeed instalments of socialism.32

For Bernstein, the main function of the socialist movement was to train up the working class for its corporate role in democratising the state. Social democracy had to take in hand a working class “steeped in superstition and with deficient education”.33 In this respect, as he famously put it, he frankly admitted that he had “extraordinarily little feeling for, or interest in, what is usually termed ‘the final goal of socialism’. This goal, whatever it may be, is nothing to me; the movement is everything.”34

The idea of any sort of worker self-management of society was utopian, for “unless socialist society is to make dilettantism a guiding principle, it will need experienced officials”. When it came to the economy, these ‘officials’ were ideally the capitalists themselves. Cooperative self-management could not work in larger-scale enterprises, and the hierarchical modern factory weakened rather than strengthened the instinct for cooperative work.35 Professional managers, as a distinct caste, could not be dispensed with. “It is a matter, not of how big the ‘revolutionary’ army is, but of whether we can do without the captains of industry, to use Carlyle’s phrase.”36 It was necessary, therefore, for workers to learn the self-discipline and self-subordination to state authority that they were evidently deficient in.37

For Bernstein, it was crucial that socialists cease frightening the propertied classes, who were indispensable for social functioning, with talk class struggle. This would only push them towards reaction. Social democracy must make clear its opposition to “violent revolution”, for, “the more clearly this is said and substantiated, the sooner will … [bourgeois] fear be dissipated”.38

Bernstein denied that society was polarising between a tiny number capitalists and a mass of undifferentiated proletarians, as Marx’s work had seemed to predict:

Modern wage-labourers are not the homogenous mass, uniformly unencumbered by property, family, etc, envisaged in the [Communist] Manifesto. Broad strata have risen from it to achieve petty bourgeois living conditions. And, on the other hand, the dissolution of the middle classes is proceeding much more slowly than the Manifesto thought it could.39

It was precisely in advanced manufacture that divisive hierarchy tended to be most highly developed amongst workers, and “among these there is only a tenuous feeling of solidarity”.40 Workers were divided by wide differences of income and modes of work: “The precision-tool maker and coalminer, the skilled house-decorator and the porter, the sculptor and the modeller and the stoker, lead as a rule very different kinds of life and have very different kinds of wants.”41

Bernstein argued that the wage-earning proletariat was much weaker in the advanced capitalist countries than socialists were inclined to admit, because - against Marx’s predictions - small-scale or petty bourgeois property remained substantial and numerous. Large-scale industry, which, it is worth remembering was defined in Germany as any company with 50 employees or more, accounted for 60% of production, but just over 38% of employment.42 This fragmentation of the economy meant, moreover, that collective ownership of social industry on a scale to quickly overcome capitalism was simply not on the cards.

Bernstein’s revisionism, though comprehensive in its disparagement of a rather straw-man version of Marxist orthodoxy, was not without its evasions and hedged bets. In his response to critics he regularly complained of being misunderstood, and insisted that he stood for no new tactical orientation. Karl Kautsky had a point when he wrote that “the only practical final result” of Bernstein’s scatter-gun critique was “an exhortation not to use terms that might frighten the bourgeoisie”.43

Response 1: Parvus

In a rather effective reply to Bernstein, the leftwing socialist, ‘Parvus’(Alexander Helphand), made the point that the size of workplaces did not determine whether an industry was ripe for socialisation. If numerous relatively small workshops were sufficiently networked, and thus already socialised under capital, they could be equally socialised under common ownership. He made the point that the German gasworks complex, an obvious candidate even for “state capitalist” nationalisation, comprised 427 enterprises employing about 35 men per company. But they were integrated.44 In contrast, enterprises that were truly scattered and mutually independent, such as those in which the main emphasis was on personal service, were not technically fit for ‘concentration’ even if they employed proletarians. Parvus gave as examples of these latter fitters, plumbers, electricians and interior decorators.45

Parvus acknowledged that the middle class of “technical and administrative personnel”, though generally unsympathetic to workers and disliked by them as taskmasters, would necessarily take a “leading role” in a socialist economy as “planners”. This posed a danger for a working class government, as they had the will and ability to dominate:

We, as politicians consciously preparing the way for the social revolution, will then be left with no choice but (1) to bring about a rapid expansion of technical education to ensure that society has plenty of technical and administrative personnel at its disposal, and (2) to discourage [their] adventurism by extending the democratic organisation of factory management and by energetic use of central political power.46

For Parvus, while the size of the enterprise determined whether the entrepreneur had a capitalist or a petty bourgeois consciousness, this did not apply pari-passu to the workers. Those workers in the large factory - and depending upon the industry, he noted, a factory employing 50 workers could be considered “massive” - need not comprise the majority of wage-earners for a class-conscious proletariat to exist, but they did need to be the determining core of the socially progressive urban population. A relatively small number of ‘mass industry’ workers would act as the focal point for much wider wage-earning layers.47

Parvus was rather too blasé about the ability of genuine petty bourgeois to resist the proletarian movement: “the social revolution will not be scuppered by the possible, but very unlikely, resistance of laundresses and barbers.”48 No doubt, but the enormous mass of the petty bourgeoisie and the growing professional classes were a very real barrier to socialist advance. Parvus’s emphasis, however, was on the argument that capitalism did not need to be organised in massive workplaces for socialism to be a ready alternative.

Response 2:
Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg also attacked Bernstein from the left. Her arguments, however, were characteristically unorthodox. She recognised that the tactics proposed by Bernstein - the struggle for reforms - did not differ from the day-to-day practice of social democracy. Nor did she object to this. Where she disagreed with Bernstein was with his evaluation of this practical day-to-day activity. When Bernstein saw political activity and trade unionism as subordinating capitalism to social control, Luxemburg insisted that they were no more than vehicles for preparing the proletariat mentally for social revolution:

The main socialist significance of political and trade union activity consists in the fact that it socialises the awareness, the consciousness of the working class. If it is conceived as a means for the direct socialisation of the capitalist economy, it will not only fail to have its supposed effect; it will also forfeit its other and only possible social significance: it will cease to be a means of preparing the working class for the proletarian revolution.49

Class struggle short of revolution, however, had little intrinsic merit.

Luxemburg accepted that the consciousness of the proletarian was not spontaneously socialist. In fact, trade union activity did not challenge capitalism so much as actualise “the capitalist law of wages: ie, the sale of … labour-power at current market prices”.50 Trade unions could be positively reactionary in attempting to inhibit the introduction of technical improvements to production in an attempt to defend the position of relatively privileged skilled workers. If trade unions tried to use their bargaining power to artificially keep up the price of goods their members produced, they were effectively entering into a cartel with the employers against the consumers. The social reforms celebrated by Bernstein tended towards these regressive effects.51

Rather than maintain or improve capitalist productivity, Bernstein’s mode of reformism would tend to undermine it. Reformism, thus, was not practical, because, disconnected from the struggle to transcend capitalism, it simply weakened the economic dynamism of capitalism (Georges Sorel argued something similar). The class politics of the proletariat, disconnected from the ideal of socialism, was simply negative. “As soon as immediate practical results [in the shape of social reform] become the main aim, the harsh and implacable class standpoint, which makes no sense except in connection with the struggle to seize political power, becomes more and more of a negative influence.”52

For Luxemburg, therefore, socialism was required to save the proletariat from an instinctively selfish class point of view against the interests of the community:

Socialism, then, is definitely not a tendency inherent in the daily struggle of the working class. It is inherent only in the ever intensifying objective contradictions of the capitalist economy and in the subjective recognition by the working class that the abolition of these contradictions by means of social revolution is an absolute necessity.53

The logic of reformism, if it was to remain true to the ideal of improving society at large, must inevitably mean the abandonment the class standpoint.54

For Luxemburg, the SPD model of steady organisation of the proletariat was, in fact, inadequate to reach socialism, and instead gave rise to reformist illusions. She did, therefore, rely upon steepening crises tending towards systemic collapse of capitalism as a mechanism for mass radicalisation and socialist revolution. In contrast to virtually all other critics of Bernstein, she said quite clearly that for her “the theory of capitalist breakdown … is the cornerstone of scientific socialism”.55

In her 1910 work, The accumulation of capital, Luxemburg attempted to work out a collapse theory. She argued that capitalists relied upon non-capitalist sectors of the world economy - the peasantry and petty bourgeoisie in the advanced countries, and the colonies - to provide sufficient demand to realise profit which capitalism could not produce from within itself. This led to imperialism, itself a potentially catastrophic process, as it created inter-imperialist wars. Ultimately, it would lead to economic collapse:

… The more violently, ruthlessly and thoroughly imperialism brings about the decline of non-capitalist civilisations, the more rapidly it cuts the very ground from under the feet of capitalist accumulation .… the mere tendency towards imperialism of itself takes forms which make the final phase of capitalism a period of catastrophe.56

Luxemburg’s argument was that reformism in itself was indefensible: it would neither overcome capitalism nor make it more efficient. In fact, quite the opposite. Only socialist revolution was a viable aim for a workers’ party, and revolution would come about as popular reaction to acute capitalist crises.

Response 3:
Karl Kautsky

August Bebel, leader of the SPD, was relatively quick to condemn Bernstein’s articles as “utterly disgraceful”.57 He was particularly annoyed at Bernstein’s implication that his dim colleagues swore blindly by every line in the Communist manifesto.58

Bebel pushed Karl Kautsky into penning a rejoinder. Kautsky was very unwilling to confront his old friend, Bernstein, and at the Stuttgart Congress of the SPD in fact argued that his analysis was entirely appropriate for England, if not for Germany.59 Eventually, however, he came off the fence.

In his Anti-critique (1899) - oddly enough never translated into English - Kautsky pointed out that those predictions made by Marx and criticised by Bernstein (immiserisation of the proletariat, the disappearance of intermediate classes and the decline of petty businesses) were far from unique to Marx. They were widely held by other socialists and commentators of the period. Where Marx was original was in his prediction of the proletariat’s growing organisation, discipline and political maturity.60 As Kautsky put it, the Marxist theory

sees in the capitalist mode of production the factor which drives the proletariat to class struggle against the capitalist class, which in turn makes it grow more and more in number, unity, intelligence, self-confidence and political maturity, which ever increases its economic importance, inevitably leading to its organisation as a political party, the victory of which is certain, as is the emergence of socialist production as a consequence of this victory.

This is the core theory for the future of organised socialism; it forms the basic programme of the socialist parties; this - not that ridiculous theory of ‘collapse’, which Bernstein places on our backs - is what we must not lose sight of …61

For Kautsky, the “physical misery” of the proletariat was diminishing, thus increasing its capacity to organise and educate itself, while at the same time its “social misery” was growing - a social misery deriving from the proletariat’s awareness of the polarisation of wealth, the proliferation of commodities and thus its sharpened sense that it was not getting its due.

The bottom line is the fact that the contrast between the needs of wage-workers and the ability to satisfy them out of their wages, thus also the opposition between labour and capital, is ever growing. In was in this growing misery of a physically and mentally strong workforce, not in the growing desperation of half-brutalised, scrofulous hordes [that Marx saw] … the most powerful driving force for socialism. [Marx’s] work is not refuted by the detection of a rising standard of living of the working class.62

Kautsky criticised Bernstein for casually mixing up the precise term, ‘capitalist’, with the imprecise ‘propertied’ (Besitzender). Marx had made no prediction as to the growth or reduction of these ‘propertied’, and if a wage-earner owned clothes and linen, furniture, perhaps a little house and a potato field, it made them no less of a proletarian.63

However, if the industrial production of commodities ever gave way to an economy based upon commerce and trading - as with the Dutch economy since the 18th century and perhaps British economy in the 20th - then rentier property would become more important that wage-labour, and political dynamism would end: “what is certain is that socialism will come out of the workshop and not the [bankers’] vault”.64

Kautsky acknowledged that a ‘new middle class” was expanding. These were the educated classes (Intelligenz): doctors, lawyers, artists, public servants, journalists, police officers, clergy, managerial employees, technicians, merchants, engineers and others. In contrast to the old petty bourgeoisie, they were not fanatically attached to individual private property. Nor, however, were they a fraction of the proletariat, because they were inevitably attached to the bourgeoisie by all sorts of affinities and social ties.

Where the new middle class act as workplace managers for capital, they adopt the antagonism of their employers to the workforce. “But the most significant barrier that separates the Intelligenz and proletariat is that the former constitutes a privileged class. Their privileged position is based on the privilege of education.”65 They see themselves as the natural meritocratic leaders of society, dominating over the swinish masses.

A minority of intellectuals, having the advantage of wide intellectual horizons and trained ability of abstract thinking, may attach themselves to the progressive worker movement, though even then they will likely be hostile to the class struggle. However, with the spread of education, this privilege comes under threat, and the Intelligenz becomes ever more prey to reactionary ideas and anti-Semitism.66

Cartels and share ownership, celebrated by Bernstein, may soften the violence of boom and slump, but at the same time they tend to make capitalist overproduction a chronic rather than a cyclical problem. By undermining healthy competition and exploiting the resources of the state, they also do much to undermine the legitimacy of capitalist private property in the eyes of workers. No other phenomenon of capitalist life did more to persuade workers that political power over the state is a necessity to expropriate idle owners of capital.67

Bernstein was in effect arguing, Kautsky said, for social democracy to transform itself from a class party of the proletariat into a pan-class democratic party. But the non-proletarian elements of any such party, attached as they are to private property or the privileges of education, must inevitably reject deference to the non-propertied proletariat: “A party of democratic concentration is only possible under bourgeois leadership.”68

If the SPD gave up its class orientation, it would lose confidence and unity. The achievement of socialism, Kautsky argued, required the political supremacy of the proletariat (though he was unenthusiastic about the Marxist notion of ‘proletarian dictatorship’69). Indeed, once a truly proletarian party dominates the state, whatever its formal ideology, the bell tolls for capitalism. Kautsky assumed that a worker regime would immediately move to socialise the big capitalist monopolies and to end unemployment. This would leave the remaining capitalists without any effective way to intimidate and discipline their workforce. They would bear the burden of owning their enterprises without being able to effectively manage them, and would quickly ask to be bought out by the state.

In other words, the capitalist mode of production and political domination of the proletariat are irreconcilable … Whoever organises the proletariat into an independent political party thus prepares the way for the idea of ??social revolution, whatever his love of peace, his placidity and scepticism with which he contemplates the future.70

In this sense, Kautsky was arguing that reformism, even entirely absent of ‘scientific socialism’, led inevitably to socialism, but only if guided by a firmly class-based proletarian party (for him, the formal programme of any such party was entirely secondary).

Kautsky understood that the proletariat may be divided by skill, pay, religion, region and any number of other factors. These divisions were certainly evident to anyone involved in socialist agitation, which found recruitment more difficult, the more it moved out from the core industrial workforce. But the proletariat was no more divided than the bourgeoisie, which ranged from small masters to plutocratic industrial lords, but which nonetheless had in the 19th century ranged itself behind liberalism.71 And, while it was true that the proletariat was not all of one political level, it had always been the case in history that a vanguard elite with political skills led the mass of their class in struggle.

For Kautsky, a wager on the proletariat was a moral duty. If Bernstein was correct in believing that the wage-earning proletariat was politically immature, then there was not much more hope for democracy, never mind socialism. Socialists could not hope to ‘control’ a homogenous proletarian phalanx; they could only encourage workers to look beyond their narrow sectional interests and to help the class organise in itself its capacities to rule: “If we deploy all our efforts in this direction, we will have fulfilled our duty as socialists: the success of our work depends on factors we do not control.”72

For Kautsky, reforms were a necessary part of the proletarian struggle, because they helped elevate the proletariat, making it fit to reconstruct society. Proletarian political rule would, of itself, lead to the construction of a socialist order. The maturity of the working class could not be guaranteed in advance of revolution, however. And, when revolution did come in central Europe in 1917-19, leading to the division of the international socialist movement, Kautsky glumly concluded that the working class had been shown to be not yet ready.73


Too often, the ‘revisionist dispute’ has been depicted as a simple controversy over the accuracy of Marx’s predictions (in which Bernstein stars as the brave lone boy, telling the king that he wears no clothes). Bernstein, however, was arguing a political line: against the idea of a class-based party and for a strategic alliance with the liberal bourgeoisie.

That he lost the debate in these years is unsurprising (‘revisionism’ was formally condemned at the SPD’s Dresden congress in 1903): there was no significant constituency in the German bourgeoisie favouring a long-term alliance with worker-socialists. Even in England, so idealised by Bernstein, the Fabian ideal of ‘permeation’ of the political establishment with ‘reasonable’ and technocratic socialist plans had obviously failed, even as the controversy began, and a solidly proletarian Labour Party (as it was at the time) was coming into existence.

Bernstein’s opponents favoured tactical alliances with bourgeois progressives, if they could be achieved, but insisted upon the necessity of a solidly proletarian party committed to its own class interests. But they were not simply regurgitating Marx. Parvus refused the (still current) caricature of ‘class polarisation’ as necessary to Marxist prediction; Luxemburg insisted that reformism was economically and socially regressive unless it led to socialism; Kautsky (the theoretical ‘pope of Marxism’) conjectured a socialist revolution without socialists! There was no single ‘orthodox’ response to Bernstein.

As in most debates in a living movement, there were more answers than questions.


1. E Bernstein, ‘German social democracy and the Turkish troubles’ Neue Zeit October 14 1896, in H and JM Tudor (eds) Marxism and Social Democracy: the revisionist debate 1896-1898 Cambridge 1988, p51.

2. EB Bax, ‘Our German Fabian convert; or, socialism according to Bernstein’ Justice November 7 1896, in JM Tudor op cit p64. Cf EB Bax, ‘The socialism of Bernstein’ Justice No21, November 1896, in JM Tudor op cit p71.

3. EB Bax, ‘Our German Fabian convert’, in JM Tudor op cit p73.

4. E Bernstein, ‘The struggle of social democracy and the social revolution’, part 1: ‘Political aspects’ Neue Zeit January 5 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p154.

5. EB Bax, ‘Colonial policy and chauvinism’ Neue Zeit December 21 1897, in JM Tudor op cit pp140-49.

6. Cited in E Bernstein, ‘The struggle of social democracy and the social revolution’, part 2: ‘The theory of collapse and colonial policy’ Neue Zeit January 19 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p159.

7. A point Kautsky made in K Kautsky Bernstein und das sozialdemokratische Programm: eine Antikritik Stuttgart 1899, pp42-43.A fellow revisionist, Konrad Schmidt, claimed to identify the collapse theory in the Communist manifesto, but was only able to do so as a multidimensional social crisis rather than a singular economic seizure. See K Schmidt, ‘Final goal and movement’ Vorwärts February 20 1898. Rosa Luxemburg, in response to Bernstein, did in fact formulate a collapse theory based upon international capitalism being unable to generate sufficient markets for its commodity production, and its exhaustion of all non-capitalist markets. Capitalism thus was “inexorably approaching the beginning of the end, the time of capitalism’s final crisis” (R Luxemburg, ‘The method’ Leipziger Volkszeitung September 21 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p258.

8. Eg, A Bebel Women and socialism 50th edition, New York 1910, p366.

9. E Bernstein, ‘Collapse and colonial policy’, p164.

10. E Bernstein The preconditions of socialism (1899), Cambridge 1993, p125.

11. E Bernstein, ‘The conflict in the English engineering industry’, part 1: ‘The issues of principle in the conflict’ Neue Zeit December 20 1897, in JM Tudor op cit p124.

12. E Bernstein, ‘General observations on utopianism and eclecticism’ Neue Zeit October 28 1896, in JM Tudor op cit p77. Cf E Bernstein, ‘Problems of socialism’, second series: ‘Socialism and child labour and industry’ Neue Zeit September 29 1897, in JM Tudor op cit p106.

13. E Bernstein, ‘General observations on utopianism and eclecticism’ Neue Zeit October 28 1896, in JM Tudor op cit p80.

14. JA Hobson, ‘Collectivism in industry’ (October 1896): www.marxists.org/archive/hobson/1896/10/collectivism.html.

15. E Bernstein, ‘The struggle of social democracy and the social revolution’, part 1: ‘Political aspects’ Neue Zeit January 5 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p153.

16. E Bernstein Preconditions of socialism (1899), Cambridge 1993, p150.

17. Bernstein to Bebel, October 20 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p326.

18. E Bernstein, ‘The realistic and the ideological moments in socialism’ Neue Zeit Nos34 and 39, 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p235.

19. E Bernstein Preconditions of socialism (1899), Cambridge 1993, p107.

20. E Bernstein, ‘The realistic and the ideological moments in socialism’ Neue Zeit Nos34 and 39, 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p241.

21. ‘Statement’ by Edward Bernstein, read by August Bebel to the SPD party in Stuttgart, in JM Tudor op cit p290.

22. Universal suffrage “accurately informed us concerning our own strength and that of all hostile parties, and thereby provided us with a measure of proportion for our actions second to none, safeguarding us from untimely timidity as much as from untimely foolhardiness”: www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/subject/hist-mat/class-sf/intro.htm.

23. E Bernstein Preconditions of socialism (1899), Cambridge 1993, pp206-08.

24. E Bernstein, ‘Crime and the masses’ Neue Zeit November 10 1897, in JM Tudor op cit pp109, 110, 130.

25. E Bernstein Preconditions of socialism (1899), Cambridge 1993, p152. Cf ibid p205.

26. E Bernstein, ‘General observations on utopianism and eclecticism’ Neue Zeit October 28 1896, in JM Tudor op cit pp74-75.

27. E Bernstein, ‘Social democracy and imperialism’ (May 1900), in RB Day and D Gaido Witnesses to the permanent revolution: the documentary record Chicago 2009, p219.

28. Cited in E Bernstein, ‘The theory of collapse and colonial policy’ Neue Zeit January 19 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p167.

29. E Bernstein, ‘Critical interlude’ Neue Zeit March 1 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p220.

30. E Bernstein Preconditions of socialism (1899), Cambridge 1993, p175.

31. E Bernstein, ‘Critical interlude’ Neue Zeit March 1 1898, in JM Tudor op cit 221.

32. E Bernstein, ‘General observations on utopianism and eclecticism’ Neue Zeit October 28 1896, in JM Tudor op cit p76.

33. E Bernstein Preconditions of socialism (1899), Cambridge 1993, p160.

34. E Bernstein, ‘The theory of collapse and colonial policy’ Neue Zeit January 19 1898, in JM Tudor op cit pp168-69.

35. E Bernstein Preconditions of socialism (1899), Cambridge 1993, pp115-19.

36. E Bernstein, ‘Critical interlude’ Neue Zeit March 1 1898, footnote viii, in JM Tudor op cit p228.

37. E Bernstein, ‘The social and political significance of space and number’ Neue Zeit April 14 and 21 1897, JM Tudor op cit pp83-98 (quotation p88).

38. E Bernstein Preconditions of socialism (1899), Cambridge 1993, p158.

39. E Bernstein, ‘Critical interlude’ Neue Zeit March 1 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p217.

40. E Bernstein Preconditions of socialism (1899), Cambridge 1993, p104.

41. Ibid p105.

42. Cited in E Bernstein, ‘The theory of collapse and colonial policy’ Neue Zeit January 19 1898, in JM Tudor op cit pp161-62.

43. K Kautsky Bernstein und das sozialdemokratische Programm: eine Antikritik Stuttgart 1899, p8.

44. A Parvus, ‘Further forays into occupational statistics’ Sächsischen Arbeiterzeitung February 1 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p181.

45. A Parvus, ‘The social revolutionary army’ Sächsischen Arbeiterzeitung February 6 1898, in JM Tudor op cit pp185-86.

46. A Parvus, ‘The social revolutionary army (continued)’ Sächsischen Arbeiterzeitung February 8 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p188.

47. A Parvus, ‘Further forays into occupational statistics’ Sächsischen Arbeiterzeitung February 1 1898, in JM Tudor op cit pp182, 183-84,

48. A Parvus, ‘Further forays into occupational statistics’ Sächsischen Arbeiterzeitung February 1 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p177.

49. R Luxemburg, ‘Practical consequences and the general character of the theory’ Leipziger Volkszeitung September 28 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p270.

50. R Luxemburg, ‘The introduction of socialism through social reforms’ Leipziger Volkszeitung September 24 and 26 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p260.

51. Ibid in JM Tudor op cit pp261-63. Kautsky agreed with Luxemburg’s argument here, while Bernstein refused to condemn cartel/trade union alliances formed to “counter unfair competition and unregulated undercutting”. E Bernstein Preconditions of socialism (1899), Cambridge 1993, footnote by Bernstein, p137.

52. R Luxemburg, ‘Practical consequences and the general character of the theory’ Leipziger Volkszeitung September 28 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p271.

53. Ibid.

54. R Luxemburg, ‘Practical consequences and the general character of the theory’ Leipziger Volkszeitung September 28 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p272.

55. R Luxemburg Social reform or revolution (1899, 1908), in D Howard (ed) Selected political writings of Rosa Luxemburg New York and London 1971, p123.

56. R Luxemburg The accumulation of capital: www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1913/accumulation-capital/ch31.htm.

57. Bebel to Kautsky, February 15 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p135.

58. Bebel to Bernstein, October 22 1898, in JM Tudor op cit p330.

59. Kautsky at the SPD party in Stuttgart, in JM Tudor op cit p295.

60. K Kautsky Bernstein und das sozialdemokratische Programm: eine Antikritik Stuttgart 1899, p46.

61. Ibid p48.

62. Ibid p120.

63. Ibid p81.

64. Ibid p95.

65. Ibid p131.

66. Ibid pp131-135.

67. Ibid p151.

68. Ibid p177.

69. Ibid p172.

70. Ibid pp180-183.

71. Ibid p188.

72. Ibid pp194-95.

73. “… the working class was not strong enough to be able to maintain the power which the catastrophe placed in its hands, especially as the war had weakened its ranks, demoralised many of its members, and disrupted its most revolutionary sections. Instead of presenting a united front to its middle class opponents, the working class was ravaged by internecine strife” (K Kautsky The labour revolution (1924): www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1924/labour/ch02_b.htm).