Kautsky's theory of proletarian revolution - Isaak Alter

Karl Kautsky August Bebel Second International

A critical survey, quite detailed, but containing few new insights. Source: Under the Banner of Marxism, 1928, No.4, p. 30-71.

Translator's note:
I leave out the last 8 pages, which contain only generalities. I'm aware that my translation is not so good. About the context: Isaak Alter (1892-1937, Исаак Маркович Альтер) wrote the book "Democracy against revolution. Kautsky's teaching on revolution.," Мoscow, 1930., 235 p. (Демократия против революции. Учение Каутского о революции.). He was excluded from the Institute of history in 1931 (together with Slutsky et al. following Stalin's letter "Some Questions Concerning the History of Bolshevism," cf. John Barber's "Soviet Historians in Crisis, 1928-1932"). Alter's "The struggle for the legacy" (Борьба за наследство., 1931, No.4, p. 211-226.) was criticized by the editors in issue No. 7-8. of 1931 (I might also translate this). He was attacked as a revisionist again in PZM 1936, No.7., for rehabilitating pre-war Kautskyism and using Luxemburg's name to spread Trotskyism. - [Noa Rodman

Kautsky's theory of proletarian revolution.1

Exactly 30 years ago in February 1898 Bernstein's article "The Theory of Collapse and Colonial Policy" was published in "Die Neue Zeit.2" This article was destined to become historic. It lay the start of a great discord of two camps, a discord which grew over from an ideological struggle into a struggle on opposite sides of the barricades. This struggle spread to the whole capitalist world, to all countries with a labor movement.

But the most finished, classical forms it took in Germany. If France and Italy went ahead in reformist practice, in the matter of parliamentary corruption of labor leaders, if England was distinguished by its union leaders systematically sold out to the bourgeoisie, if Belgium has given the best example of cooperative opportunism, then Germany remains the glory of first supplier of a theory of opportunism, the glory of the homeland of revisionism. To study revisionism can and should be best of all in Germany.

Here the dispute between the two camps takes the heaviest, most protracted and dramatic forms. Here each of its stages, starting with a journal controversy and ending with civil war, gets simultaneously also a theoretical reflection. With the vacillations and deviations from revolutionary practice correspond, as in a seismograph, recorded vacillations and deviations from Marxist theory.

However, unlike recorded physical fluctuations, theoretical and tactical revisionism does not always lend itself to direct deciphering. Here the process does not proceed fully in the open. Between revisionism and revolutionary Marxism throughout a long series of years is introduced a third tendency - centrism, significantly complicating the situation, obscuring and concealing the meaning of all events.

Before the war, the leaders of German Social-Democracy were centrists. They instilled in the working class then confidence in the brilliant success and the ceaseless advance of the party forward. Millions of votes at elections, hundreds of thousands of members, a wealthy press, the strongest organisation. And at the same time, silently and crawling, the snake of opportunism stealthily creeps in the party. Under the sound of loud words about revolution he sucks her living soul: the will to fight. Under the sweet calculations of past and upcoming victories, over the sedative-festive reporting speeches clouds gather of terrible prospects of impending war.

The war with first bright light illuminates the whole deep abyss, in which the working class was ensnarled by the previous parliamentary-educated-Kautskyist period of party life. The owl of Minerva flies at dusk.

The war helps to call everything by its own name, to assess the deep discrepancy and betrayal, to identify new ways, to raise the masses to revolutionary struggle.

On the background of the victorious October Revolution the German working class lives through difficult years of revolutionary ups and downs. There takes place an unequal battle between the united front of revisionists extending all their efforts to save the capitalist power and capitalist economy, and the young communist movement. The failed 1923 uprising is avenged by economic stabilization and the political fascism of the Hindenburg republic. Social-democracy, bearish in the period of inflation, along with the new temporary upswing of capitalism, revives, redistributes its forces and is recruiting new courage. Bernstein's theory, first saw the light 30 years ago on the pages of "Die Neue Zeit," gaining already in the beginning of the war its first big victory, is consolidating and in slightly changed, modernized form is becoming the official theory of the whole Second International. Together with neo-Bernsteinism also neo-centrism revives, faded, lost of its former autonomy and independence, to the core false and hypocritical, daily exposed by communist critics, but still preserving to a certain extent its old role of tendency, covering the counter-revolutionary degeneration of modern Social-democracy.

On the theoretical front Social-democracy in the last years is feeling a noticeable revival. There occurs a hasty reworking of all parts of a new constructive socialism, which acts under the name of neo-Bernsteinism. The next wave of revolutionary uprising S.-democracy wants to meet armed with a new theory, radically broken off with revolutionary Marxism. It was tired of floundering with the old "revolutionary" prejudices of Marxism, hindering the matter of betrayal of workers.

For the sake of that there is a hasty reworking of the whole party history. Kampffmeyer, Lipinski, Drahn3 attempt to present the history of it in an opportunistic way and project its current views to the past. In such circumstances, the need for reworking this history from the point of view of Leninism is particularly strong. A history of German Social-democracy must first of all reveal the continuity between the old and new opportunism and revisionism, as well as the continuity between pre-war and post-war revolutionary Marxism.

However more important from the problem of this pre-war history for Leninism is the question of centrism as hidden form of opportunism. Elements of centrism which most of all operate today as so-called "left" Social-democrats, are for revolutionary ideology a special danger. In this sense in the first place is important the exposure of the pre-war theory of revolution of Kautsky, which is the main historical start of modern centrism.

1. German centrism.

What is centrism and when does it show up, what is its organisational and social basis, what are the features of its ideology? These are preliminary questions to which without a brief, though summary, answer a proper serious approach also to Kautsky's theory of revolution is impossible.

Formally centrism appears together with left radicalism at the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, factually it already is engendered in Germany much earlier.

The seventies mean for German Social-democracy a period of disunity of ideas. At this time, the party ideology is still found under the predominant influence of Lassalleanism, Dühringism, Katheder-Socialism (not Marxism). Marxism gains ground for itself only in the 80s. But that Marxism does not match completely with the revolutionary Marxism of the founders of this doctrine. It bears, and in the first place in the field of tactics, ideological traces of these doctrines, dominating in the 70s.

True, German Social-democracy was the first major Marxist party, forced for the first time to create the foundations of a Marxist politics. In that sense, oscillations and errors were inevitable. And yet this reason can not fully justify these oscillations and errors. The prolonged and serious cause of the deviations of German S.-democracy from revolutionary Marxism was the special historical condition of development of Germany. Unification from above, - that is the most important political factor, weighing on the history of modern Germany.4 It brought peaceful coexistence of Junkerdom with bourgeoisie based on the hegemony of the former. - It spawned slavish bias of all the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois classes and parties before the state, which brought to pass with its own forces the great matter of national revival. It predestined a non-revolutionary path of development of German society. It completed the destruction of German liberalism, which had already shown in the revolution of 1848 its rotten instability and weakness. The consequent to this cooperation of classes in turn led to the special historical role of German Social-democracy. Social-democracy took over in significant degree the opposition functions of liberalism, became the organisational center of all democratic aspirations of the national mass. Thus, Social-democracy fell under the strong impact of petty-bourgeois fellow travelers.

Growing up in such conditions S.-democratic theory from the start suffered ambiguities, omissions and confusion on all those issues that relate to revolution and the transition from the bourgeois system to socialism. It is this pared down, softened, repurposed, fallen under the influence of opportunist trends and tendencies Marxism, that we call centrism. Centrism stealthily, unnoticeably, gradually revised Marx's theory of revolution and dictatorship of the proletariat. Later to this was joined a misunderstanding of imperialism and imperialist politics and even its indirect support. Thus, the uniqueness of German Marxism and in general the Marxism of the era of the Second International is expressed not only in a maladjustment to the problems of a new era of imperialism, as some think it is, but also simultaneously in the backsliding in the field of the theory of revolution and state. The petty-bourgeois theory of imperialism is essentially only a particular case of petty-bourgeois theory of revolution. And only the sum of these errors also gives us the most essential and characteristic in centrism as a special theoretical tendency.

One must immediately make a reservation. Centrism, like also opportunism, did not appear at once, as something finished and complete. It matures during decades with the whole context and with all the contradictions which the epoch of imperialism carries with itself. It starts with individual "rightist" errors and is shaped only when these rightist errors become chronic and turn into a special tactical, and then also theoretical line. It grows inasmuch as the problem of the revolution and the seizure of power is postponed forward.

Characteristic for the era of the 80s was not yet a theoretical, but a tactical centrism, centrism only in embryonic form at that. Just as Vollmar with his political appearance in the early 90s, justified tactical principles of opportunism, preceded Bernstein, who gave them a theory, similarly Bebel preceded Kautsky.

Why are we conditionally correct to call Bebel's politics in the era of the law against socialism centrist?

The fundamental effort of Bebel consisted in maintaining party equilibrium on the basis of criticisms of the left (the Most faction) and the right (opportunist majority Reichstag faction) with large indulgences of the Right. This is not difficult to prove by the behavior of Bebel in all essential moments of that period. Suffice it to recall, though, his position in the year of confusion and liquidationist sentiment directly after the passage of the law, his philistine attitude towards anarchists, his hesitation in party discussions on fees, in the question of the direction and tone of the "Social-Democrat,5" his formulation of the problem of violent revolution (declaration in the Reichstag in 1881), his important speech in the Reichstag in 1880 on defense of the fatherland, etc. In all these cases Bebel leans to the right and did not conduct resolute enough struggle against the opportunists.

But maybe only the situation pushed him to this? Just the opposite. The epoch of the law proceeded in an atmosphere of economic depression and the systematic persecution of the labor movement. The masses were not yet soaked by parliamentary possibilism and repeatedly exploded in struggle. Opportunism had not yet a solid social base and emerged, mainly, as opportunism from above of the S.-d. parliamentarians. The basic principles of opportunist tactics - all-absorbing parliamentarism, distrust towards grassroots mass movement and braking it, not intimidating the bourgeoisie, misunderstanding the problem of foreign politics and so on - only developed. In such conditions and in such an environment truly revolutionary tactics more than at any other time of pre-war history of German S.-d. would have had chance of success. Bebel was an excellent organizer, managed to create enormous authority in the party's masses, magnificent conductor, sensitively capturing the needs and moods of workers and responding to them, popular and beloved leader of the proletariat, its most devoted soldier, a brilliant exposer of the capitalist system. And yet in Bebel there were felt many prejudices of the petty-bourgeois craft environment, from which he came. The organizer put on the background the revolutionary, the practician - the theorist, the master of party equilibrium - the accuser of reformists. Bebel most of all believed in slow, persistent, systematic work of party building and least of all expected and wanted spontaneous revolutionary upheavals and uprisings. The wholeness and preservation of the through long years of work by him created organization was for him the most precious in the world, involuntarily was turned from a means to an end in itself. Bebel gave no resolute rebuff of the unfolding opportunism, and then also revisionism, and in this way became their involuntarily accomplice.

As for the evaluation of Bebelian tactics in an era of the exclusion law, then here we have evidence of Marx and Engels, and then only Engels in their correspondence at the time. Their criticism was all along the line of pushing the party leadership leftwards. They with considerable scrutiny and not little anxiety watched the politics of the party. Any slippage from a position of "civil war" towards a position of "brotherhood of man," any petty-bourgeois ideas "smuggled in piecemeal," liquidationism, political cowardice they abruptly and mercilessly stigmatized. Particularly cruel they fell upon the then leaders, - this "mixture of doctors, students and katheder-socialists"(Marx), contaminating workers with their petty-bourgeois principles.

The main insufficiency of the position Engels saw in the inconformity between the leftism of the mass and the opportunistic weakness of the leaders. Herewith his criticism touches also Bebel. "The eternal nitpicking" of the old man (Engels) clearly irritated Bebel. By reference to the difficult conditions, to their complexity, allusions to the point that for you, mole, old man afar it is easy to speak, whereas we are here - Bebel tried to soften Engels's criticism of the right.

The discussion with the "youngsters," ending with their exclusion from the party while maintaining the unfolding right Vollmarist wing, closes this first introductory chapter of German centrism.

The subsequent history of its development and its gradual slipping to the right runs parallel with the history of opportunism. The cancellation of the exceptional law against socialism opened a new era in the history of German Social-democracy. The appearance of Vollmar, encouraging a complete program of opportunist politics, had already not only from above, but also deeply social significance. Vollmarism was the expression of p.-b. pressure on the working class. The peasant south becomes an important fortress of opportunism, a hotbed of ideas on agreement with the bourgeoisie, on social-monarchism and social-imperialism. At the same time there is a turn to the right of all the party leadership. The party, emphatically rejecting Vollmar's offers, nevertheless rolls on the way of peaceful, lawful, parliamentary methods of struggle. the discussions on the agrarian question, on the issue of fees and on tactics of the south show the centrist instability of the party leadership.

The appearance of Bernstein, - is the most important step forward not only of opportunism, but also of centrism. Bernsteinism represents already not alone the merely petty-bourgeois south, but also the whole-German opportunism based on the strenghtening labor aristocracy. The "special condition" of the south becomes in the eyes of Bernstein the special condition of the whole of Germany. Opportunism goes on a frontal attack against the party. For for this it tries to draw itself theoretically.

The leadership of the party at the beginning of the debate is silent; it secretly, and sometimes also openly sympathizes with Bernstein. The identification at the Stuttgart party congress of a left mood below forces Bebel and Kautsky to oppose Bernstein. This first appearance was in sufficient degree ambiguous and uncertain. If Kautsky arrives at the conclusion that Bernstein "made us reflect, we will be thankful for that," then Bebel is clearly tempted to postpone discussion and does not yet want to bind himself by a final judgment. The sharp appearence of Parvus and Rosa Luxemburg against Wolfgang Heine and "Vorwärts" Bebel moderates, trying to take an "objective," mediating position.6

If in the following years, especially in Hannover and Dresden discussion leads to a defeat and retreat of Bernsteinism, then also this should not obscure the centrist character of the whole campaign against revisionism.

Firstly, the entire attack goes, mainly, one the line of theoretical differences. Already in Stuttgart Bebel and Kautsky in the concrete question of fees make concessions to Schippel. His Hannover speech's strong condemnation of Bernsteinist theory Bebel accompanies with sympathetic reviews of the practical activity of Bavarian and Baden comrades. The strict resolution against Bernstein on the party congress is accompanied by full connivance in the matter of growth and development of revisionist organizations and press, including the daily organ of the party - "Vorwärts," holding in extention of all discussion an opportunist line.

Secondly, Bernsteinism itself as a socio-political phenomenon is underestimated and obscured. Kautsky in his appearance in Hannover and in his "Anti-Bernstein" hopes that "the present discussion" will be the last, and that it will be possible to move to "more important issues." The social causes of revisionism are either silenced, or diminished. In his article about "crises of Marxism" Kautsky sees in the death of Engels the main cause of Bernsteinism.7 Nobody therefore, except Rosa Luxemburg, demands Bernstein's exclusion from the party. On the contrary, he is helped to come from England and personally to continue the matter of decomposing the working class, he is escorted deputy in the Reichstag, he is only mildly berated in Lübeck (1901) for an explicitly anti-socialist lecture, delivered after his arrival in Berlin ("Is Socialism as a Science possible?" [Wie ist wissenschaftlicher Sozialismus möglich?]).

Thirdly, also the theoretical critique of Bernstein retains the print of centrism, especially in questions about revolution, about dictatorship, about democracy, about Blanquism, etc., as will be discussed further.

A print of duality lies upon the whole campaign. This is the main reason of the incipience at this time also of the left-radical mood. But the duality of this the party does not yet see. Bebel for the party is not a centrist, but the author of beautiful appearance against Bernstein in Hannover and in Dresden. Especially in Dresden, where Bebel advertises himself "the mortal enemy of the bourgeois system," speaks of the "expropriation of expropriators," of the class face of the modern state and the worthlessness of parliamentarism, where he artfully undresses the revisionist tactics ("Only peace, only peace. No noise... Just do not excite the masses, it could damage our electoral district"), such a speech could less than anything incur on Bebel the reproach of vacillations.

If the next three years passed under the sign of a leftist course and a deep retreat of the Bernsteinists, then the defeat of the revolution in Russia gave the signal for their revenge on the whole line. Since 1906-1907 the differentiation of trends and the retreat of centrism happens in a rapid pace. Bebel's retreat in Mannheim on the general strike and in Essen and at the international congress in Stuttgart on the colonial policy paves the way for a tactical merger od both party wings. "One should not, - Bebel says in Stuttgart, - prejudge the position that Social-democracy will take in time of war, one should not exacerbate the relations between party and government." The demonstrative criticism of the southerners in Nuremberg and in Magdeburg, is not accompanied, however, by organizational conclusions, it was the last surge of criticism of the right. Starting from 1910 left radicalism begins to reveal its [centrism's] opportunist essence. In these last years it tries in the person of Kautsky to theorecally shape its tactical slippage.

These are the main stages of the development of centrism. What was its organizational and social base?

The organizational support of centrism was the party apparatus. The party apparatus more than any resisted the reformist offensive. It relatively better than others reflected the opposition mood of the working masses. It also was the natural successor of old orthodox Marxist traditions. It was headed by old leaders and considered itself bound to the old program and old slogans. In the leadership of the party up to the war were found almost exclusively radicals. Marxism remains the official party doctrine and is promoted by its official organs and agitators.

The base of opportunism were first the p.-b. southern organizations, then unions and Reichstag faction. To the extent of the growth of the union and parliamentary bureaucracy, closely connected with the growth of a labor aristocracy and pressure of p.-b. fellow travelers, grew the offensive of reformists on the party and the party apparatus.

This externally concentrated pressure of union and parliamentary opportunism finds in turn support in the party apparatus itself. The apparatus gradually bureaucratizes, lost connection with the masses, acted increasingly under the influence of its own, separate group interests, personally and ideologically interlocked with the parliamentary bureaucracy. Thus, the interests of working class and party were gradually substituted by the interests of a single block of bureaucrats. So happens the aggregation and amalgamation of all p.-b. elements inside and around the party, inside and around the working class.8

Did centrism have its particular social base?

The differentiation of the working class in Germany, as in all imperialist countries, went on one sort of main line, on the line of an allocation of a labor aristocracy. The labor aristocracy is the base of revisionists. On their side gradually moves the party apparatus, dragging behind it the rest of the mass of workers. This mass, of course, cannot be perfectly homogeneous either economically or ideologically. Amongst it we find candidates for higher paid positions in industry, in trade union and in party apparatus, ie the nearest reserve of the labor aristocracy and the labor bureaucracy.

But here also is found that vast majority of workers, that every year more and more feel the pressure of the Junkerist government on political and legal rights of workers, the pressure of the boss on the factory, the pressure of cartels on the market, increasing cost, increasing taxes, increasing militarism and danger of war.

Here there are elements, oscillating, partially infected by revisionists arguments about a peaceful movement toward socialism. But here are still more those that want to struggle with capitalism, believe in their old leaders, believe in their former revolutionariness and follow them to the end, deceived by their revolutionary phrases. True, the left radicals select the most resolute, most critical and revolutionary-minded workers. But overall and in general the social base of centrists and leftists - is one and the same. Centrism has no special social base. In this its singularity, in this the cause of its instability, its oscillations to the left and right, and therefore it can also play only a historically limited role. And only in this way we can explain also, why the ideas of left radicalism, having won such great popularity on the eve of war, suffered such a great crash at the beginning of the war.

The beginning ideological differentiation on the eve of the war is not accompanied by organizational differentiation. Workers, sympathizing with the agitation of Rosa Luxemburg, remain in the ranks of a single party, served the ruling party agencies and in the decisive days of the beginning of the war could not give a rebuff to their treacherous policy.9

"The Centre, - Lenin wrote, - consists of routine-worshippers, eroded by the canker of legality, corrupted by the parliamentary atmosphere, etc., bureaucrats accustomed to snug positions and soft jobs. Historically and economically speaking, they are not a separate stratum but represent only a transition from a past phase of the working-class movement—the phase between 1871 and 1914, which gave much that is valuable to the proletariat, particularly in the indispensable art of slow, sustained and systematic organisational work on a large and very large scale—to a new phase that became objectively essential with the outbreak of the first imperialist world war, which inaugurated the era of social revolution.10" In another place Lenin says, that "Kautskyism is not an independent trend.11"

Centrism does not operate on the basis of a special layer of workers, economically specific, socially solidified and shaped like a labor aristocracy. Centrism always means a certain scissors between a leadership slipping to opportunism and the masses. Therefore we still in the bowels of capitalism can win from it workers, and therefore the communist party represents factually, rather than formally the interests of the vast majority of the working class, therefore also centrists are forced always to distort perspectives, deceiving both themselves and the masses with leftist phrases.

But at the same centrism has, as already mentioned earlier, and as Lenin noted, deep historical reasons. The greatest support of centrism was the era of relatively peaceful development of capitalism, creating a series of illusions about the methods of struggle with capitalism, about its strength and stability, about the forms of transition to socialism. Edmund Fischer still before the war declared that "in normal times in general there are no revolutionary parties, there can only be reformist work." Kautsky during the war generalized this with his significant dictum, that "the Second International is an instrument of peace." Any, although temporary, stabilization of capitalism again brings forth opportunist illusions, strengthening the position of the centrists.

But if before the war these illusions in general and as a whole genuinely divided the leadership of the party, then after the trials of war and revolution they are engrafted from above by lies, deceit and violence. But at the same time, if before the war in Germany there was not a clear revolutionary situation and it was possible to tangle with problems of revolution, without causing therewith special attention and protests, then after the war, in an era of social revolution, all this changes radically.

The thesis about the absence of a particular social base of centrists gives us also a guiding thread in the evaluation of centrist ideology.

This ideology is a curved under the impact of revolutionary Marxism, on the one hand, and opportunism on the other. In dependency on the condition of class forces in the country and on the whole political situation, centrists spoke with a more or less revolutionary language. But centrism is a hidden opportunism. Therefore it can not long uphold the position of a consistent Marxism, therefore it can not infinitely maneuver and in general and as a whole tends to revisionism.

This attraction happens in two basic directions, corresponding with the two main ideas of the revisionists.

Revisionism: 1) denied the idea of ​​revolution and dictatorship and counterposes to it the idea of growing socialism in capitalism; 2) defended the idea of class cooperation and thereby volens nolens social-imperialism. The gradual rejection of the Marxist theory of revolution and state, - this is one line of centrism's slippage.

A social patriotism, more or less openly awakened still before the war, an indifferentism in questions of foreign policy, a rejection of propaganda in the army, concessions in matters of native and colonial politics and, finally, a petty-bourgeois pacification theory of imperialism, - this is the second line of slippage.

Under centrism we, thus, understand a particular form of latent opportunism, growing on the ground of the relatively peaceful epoch of pre-war imperialism and particular class interrelations of pre-war Germany. Centrism has no particular social base, although it also emerges due to special historical circumstances. Centrism begins with the inability to sharply enough dissociate from opportunism, with its organizational and tactical cover. Theoretically it is formed when there begins a move away from the Marxist theory of revolution and state and when it begins to build a petty-bourgeois theory of imperialism, which subordinates its politics.

The most prominent exponent of the centrist theory was Kautsky, the clearest path of his vacillation illustrates the theory of proletarian revolution, explained by him for a whole quarter of a century before the war. To its consideration we now turn.

2. The nineties.

The hopes and perspectives, opening up before the party after the repeal of the law against the socialists, got their reflection in the theoretical creativity of the leaders of the party, and in the first place of Kautsky. All his works of that period, until the discussions with Bernstein, carry conciliatory tones and stress rejection of violent revolution.

At the same time, to keep a correct measure in evaluating his opportunism, one must always keep in mind that Kautsky's theory of revolution at all stages of its development is a skillful combination and interweaving simultaneously of two streams. On the one hand, Kautsky wages a constant struggle against the revisionist theory of ingrowth, defending revolution and developing and popularizing old traditional views of Marx; on the other hand, he systematically ignores the more militant side of these views and "supplements" them by opportunist interpretations. To the extent that Kautsky was the best, the most authoritative popularizer of Marxism, his merits are enormous. In particular, the great merit of the Kautsky of the 90s was a beautiful development of the agrarian question. But at the same time it does not follow to forget Lenin's words that "despite the tremendous services he has rendered, Kautsky has never been among those who, at great crises, immediately take a militant Marxist stand.12" Kautsky could always skillfully use weapons to bypass, detract and evade the most pressing, concrete problems of revolution. "These evasions of the question, these omissions and equivocations, inevitably added up to that complete swing-over to opportunism with which we shall now have to deal.13"

This second side of his creativity, before the war receiving little attention, naturally will interest us in the first place.

Let's start with the commentary of Kautsky on the "Erfurt program." Not standing still at the well-known positions derived from Marx's teaching, at once we note the fundamental opportunistic deviation of this work.

Transition for Kautsky is not necessarily fraught with violence. "It is by no means necessary that it be accompanied with violence and bloodshed. There are instances in history when the ruling classes were either so exceptionally clear-sighted or so particularly weak and cowardly that they submitted to the inevitable and voluntarily abdicated.14" This view on the future revolution no longer leaves Kautsky, as well as also the representation on the form, which future expropriation will take. "In no case can it be said that the carrying out of the socialist program demands under all circumstances that the property whose expropriation has become necessary, will be confiscated.15" This conclusion Kautsky is afraid of as of fire.

Both the seizure of power, and the introduction of socialism could be, - he thinks, - accomplished without violence. Therefore it is not surprising that in the commentary, as well as in the Erfurt program itself, on the dictatorship of the proletariat, as form of turnover, there is not a word. The question of revolution itself Kautsky poses separately in section "Future State," without link to the class struggle, which is treated elsewhere.

Parliamentarism already here is considered by Kautsky as the main method of struggle. In this sense his position is to the right of the corresponding resolutions of the Erfurt party congress in 1891,."Of all the means at the disposal of the proletariat, the parliamentary struggle is the most powerful to exert on state authority pressure in its favor and win those concessions from it, that can be claimed. In short, the parliamentary struggle is the most powerful lever that can be utilized to raise the proletariat out of its economic, social and moral degradation.16" Parliamentary republic - is the last word of parliamentarism. "Whether in this case monarchy is retained as decoration, as in England, or not, - is pretty indifferent 17" The "Erfurt Program" can be called the first theoretical document of centrism.

The article of Kautsky apropos Knorr's book, printed in 1893 in the "Neue Zeit," gives already the whole system of centrist views on revolution.

First, revolution is not made. "Social-democracy is a revolutionary party, but not at all a manufacturer of revolution ... We know that just as we can not make a revolution, our enemy is unable to prevent it. Therefore, it does not enter our head to start a revolution or prepare it... And since the revolution can not be instigated by our will, we can say nothing on when, under what conditions and in what forms it comes.18"

Revolution - is a verse, and nothing more. This allows the sabotage all the specific problems it puts forward. In the spirit of this position is solved also the question on violence: "Since we know nothing about the decisive battles of the social war, we, naturally, also cannot say whether they will be bloody, whether physicial violence will play a significant role in them, or whether they will be fought exclusively by means of economic, legislative and political pressure.19"

Kautsky swears that "we do not know anything." But "one can nevertheless say, he assures us after this, that there exists full certainty, that in revolutionary struggles of the proletariat means of the last kind (peaceful - I. A.) will prevail over means of physical, ie military violence, as opposed to how it took place in the revolutionary struggles of the bourgeoisie.20"

So, we have the first seeds of the revisionist theory, counter-posing the socialist revolution as peaceful to the bourgeois as violent. How does Kautsky motivate his course on peaceful revolution? First, in contemporary times there is an enormous preponderance of armed soldiery against the people. Secondly, the working class enjoys freedom of coalition, freedom of the press, by generally ratified rights. All this allows it, unlike the era of bourgeois revolution, to realize the goals of its struggles and to properly assess its strength. Thus, it is able to avoid the so frequent during the time of bourgeois revolution putsches, "urprisings by one blow," quickly subvert governments and typical of that time alternation of revolution and counterrevolution.

The meaning of this reasoning is quite clear. Democracy spares the proletariat from the horrors of the bourgeois revolution. Already here start Kautsky's misadventures with this democracy. A democratic system can not eliminate class antagonisms. But it can do one thing: "It can prevent not revolutions, but some premature unsuccessful revolutionary attempts and can make redundant also some revolutionary uprising. It brings clarity in the correlation of forces of different parties and classes. It does not eliminate their contradictions and does not remove their ultimate goals, but it acts in the direction to prevent rising classes to undertake such tasks for which they have not yet matured, and prevents the ruling classes from rejecting concessions, rejections the consequences of which they are no longer able to cope with. The direction of the development of this does not change, but its course becomes ever more permanent and more calm.21"

So, democracy imposes a bridle both on the proletariat, calming its revolutionary passion, and on the bourgeoisie, causing her to go at voluntary concessions. But this factually means that democracy softens the class antagonisms.

Democratic institutions- that's what distinguishes the era of socialist revolution from bourgeois. Therefore now we will not have more of such high-profile victories, as before, nor such large defeats. "Let the democratic proletarian method of struggle seem more boring than the method of the era of the revolutionary bourgeoisie, it undoubtedly is less dramatic and showy, but it also requires fewer victims."

When did this era of slow victory and little victims begin? "The Paris Commune in 1871, - Kautsky claims, - was the last great defeat of the proletariat.22" With the strengthening of democracy, grows also the proletariat's composure and faith in itself. At the same time "the political situation of the proletariat allows hope that it as long as possible, will try to practice only the above-mentioned "legal methods." The sole enemies of these methods are the bourgeois classes, "who want to provoke revolution out of fear of the revolution." In this position the main task of the proletariat - is not to provoke the bourgeoisie and wait patiently.

Kautsky develops here the position of tactics of attrition, tactics on the long defense, on reformist ingrowth and all initiative of attack is provided to the ruling class "The stronger we will be, the more practical tasks are put on the front plan, the more we are compelled to push our agitation beyond the milieu of of wage-workers, the more we must beware of unnecessary provocation or empty threats." Therefore also "one should not judge too strictly," if we depart in practical matters from the correct line.

To weaken the impression of opportunistic caution, penetrating this entire article, Kautsky tries subsequently to be covered by the famous 1895 preface of Engels. But what Engels expressed about the specific situation in 1895, when German workers were threatened by a new exclusion law, therewith not at all denying the need for violent revolution, Kautsky generalized as a tactic for the entire upcoming epoch of parllamentarism.

All bias of the article is clearly directed against the lefts. Quickly freed from criticism of Knorr's semi-literate book, Kautsky devotes the whole remaining argument to a struggle with the idea of bloody, violent, by the proletarian prepared revolution. Heralding a new era of legal, peaceful means, he is ready to lay all failure of the labor movement after 1871 solely on the anarchists. So it was in Italy in 1873, so it was in Germany in 1878, where the anarchist assassination of Max Hödel gave it opportunity to bring an exclusion law, so it was in Austria in 1884 and in America in 1886. "The only major setbacks, which the labor movement experienced over the past 20 years, were caused by anarchists, or in lesser degree, caused by their preached tactics.23" Kautsky here comes close to the position of the revisionists: either reform or anarchy. His image of anarchists is little different from the usual unenlightened-police representations of them and in any case is absolutely consonant with the revisionists on their views. These people, have nothing in common with class struggle, mentally ill, with perverted instincts, rascals, prostituted killers, etc.

A letter to Mehring from the same year, partly published recently by Frölich, "successfully" complements the ideas of the just outlined article. They reveal the intimate views of Kautsky on "parliamentary" takeover of power.

"To me, in Germany we suffer not from excessive but rather insufficient parliamentarism and the tasks of the proletariat - is to make up that which by its cowardice, the German bourgeoisie did not achieve, - to create a full parliamentary system... For the dictatorship of the proletariat, I cannot think of a better form than a powerful parliament in the image of the English with a Social-democratic majority, operating on a strong and conscious proletariat... The struggle for a true parliamentarism in Germany also would be decisive battle of social revolution, therefore in German a parliamentary system means political victory of the proletariat, but also the reverse... Only a parliamentary republic, whether with a monarchical tip as in the English model or without one, can create the soil from which grows the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialist society. This republic also is that "future state," to which we must strive.24"

Kautsky, as can be seen, poses himself a not at all unrealistic task. The complete democratization of the German state, "even" with maintaining the head of Wilhelm, means everything to him that is needed for the transition towards socialism. This democratized state also is already the "future state." This means that any further smashing of it is no longer required, that it grows into socialism.

Mere acquaintance with Kautsky's views on revolution and its perspectives, as they formed in the first years after the noted Anti-Socialist Law, already makes it not difficult to understand his demeanor in discussion with Bernstein, especially in its first phase. Kausky approves the first articles of Bernstein, printing them in the "Neue Zeit" without any reservations. They "were for me at first highly sympathetic," he confesses in his recently released autobiography.25 In Bernstein's articles Kautsky saw not without reason the continuation of ideas which he had developed in 1893. He put up opposition against Bernstein only with the party congress of Stuttgart [1898], having discovered a hostile relation of the party to the ideas of revisionism. "Anti-Bernstein" itself, as we have noted elsewhere, bears the mark of a certain forcedness and indecision.26

But in this work are contained in a more developed form a number of basic positions of Marxism, set out earlier by Kautsky in the commentary to the "Erfurt program." Hence one cannot deny it great importance for the history of Marxism, although it significantly cedes both in theoretical consistency and in brilliance of presentation to Rosa Luxemburg's "Reform or Revolution." 27In particular, Kautsky acknowledges here that there cannot be talk more about "premature victory of revolution. "The fear that tomorrow we can be awakened by German dictators, least of all worries me... It (victory - I.A.) can be shunned only in the case, if Social-democracy destroys itself.28"

A good place also is on the unity of the proletariat and on the nature of modern democracy. "Progressive democracy in the modern industrial state can only be proletarian democracy. That's why progressive bourgeois democracy is in decline." This - word and thought, is taken from the appearance of Parvus and Rosa Luxemburg against Bernstein.

But in the same composition it is not difficult to find also the reverse. Let's stand still on three questions: on the concept of revolution, on theory and practice and on economic assumptions of revolution.

Kautsky believes that "the solution of the problem of the dictatorship of the proletariat we can completely calmly leave to the future,29" and thus turns his previously expressed recognition that the revolution is overdue, into an empty phrase.

Kautsky repeats his old interpretation of revolution: "At the time of Lassalle Social-democracy tries to find the difference between the revolution with pitchforks and rakes and the social revolution and to show that it fundamentally seeks only the latter revolution.30" And further: "not only the social, but even the political revolution it is not necessary to identify with an uprising.31" He therefore agrees with Bernstein, "that the proletariat as a politically-independent party must be revolutionary not in a political sense, but in a political-economic sense.32" And, clearly going for the same as Bernstein, he says: "I am willing to agree that the word revolution can be misleading, I believe it is also more convenient not to use it without urgent need.33" Exactly. The revolution of Kautsky at this stage is already so anemic that this term is actually "misleading" his readers.

To Kautsky it "also does not occur to deny," that "democracy tends to mitigate unnecessary aggravation of the class struggle.34"

Kautsky is unable to counterpose Bernsteinist tactics with anything worthwhile. In the chapter on tactics he expressly acknowledges that in questions of party practice, such as in matters of cooperative, union, municipal socialism and so on "there is no disagreement at all.35" The whole question boils down to whether these reformist paths achieve socialist transformation. Solidarizing in the question of struggle for reforms with Bernstein, Kautsky hereby authorizes the characteristic for centrism division between theory and practice, "our dispute is theoretical, in practical questions we shall always be able to reach agreement."

Already in the article on Knorr Kautsky counterposed theory, in which he demanded strict consistency, to practice, in which "it is extremely difficult to keep a correct measure, giving full tribute to the present and not lose the future out of sight,36" not slipping to the position of peasantry and petty bourgeoisie and not surrendering proletarian interests. To combine reform and revolution, their dialectical grasp, without rolling in favor of purely-reformist work, this difficulty Kautsky constantly encounters in this work as well in his political practice. Remember though his position a year later at the Paris congress on the question of Millerand. With the help of a separation of socialist principles from practice he could there pull htrough his compromise caoutchouc resolution. Solving practical questions, Kautsky liked to give "good" Marxist seasoned advice, make perfect offers "in general," to immediately abandon them "in particular." In this, moreover, also lies the main feature of centrism in distinction from left radicalism. The lefts have always stressed the need for a revolutionary understanding of reforms and the struggle with revisionism went not so much in the theoretical plane, as the practical.

Finally in "Anti-Bernstein" Kautsky shows serious vacillation in the question of the relation between revolution and the theory of collapse ("Zusammenbruchstheorie") and the economic assumptions of revolution in general. On the one hand, he defends himself against the charge of Bernstein that we are waiting for the advent of socialism from some collapse or one-time shock. "It's not clear what the relation of this argument [of Bernstein] (on the occurrence of a world crisis - I. A.) is with the study on the preconditions of socialism; and one asks oneself in vain what therewith should actually be proven, when it is shown that the occurrence of world crisis in the near future is not absolutely necessary, and that future crises could take the form of crises in individual industries and in individual countries. Their effect, exacerbating the process of capitalist development, remains, in fact, the same.

Therefore, the question on crises can be safely isolated from the study by Bernstein of the preconditions of socialism, and the more readily we go to the next matter, aware of the enormous difficulty of ​​these questions.37 His theory of revolution, Kautsky clearly does not want to associate with the theory of collapse. The theory of a crash he is ready to file, as also earlier violent revolution, in the archive under the department of anarchists and Blanquists.

But, on the other hand, he feels that this will put him in contradiction with all the spirit of Marx's "Capital." He is forced, therefore, to recognize that, due to crisis theory "socialism from a goal which maybe realized in 500 years, or can also be not at all realized - it becomes a palpable and necessary goal of practical politics.38"

Thus, in the same section on crises we encounter a flagrant contradiction, arising from the explicit desire to reconcile Marx's revolutionary teaching with the Bernsteinist course for peace, a painstaking work. The economic contradictions of capitalism grow, - the Marxist Kautsky is forced to repeat after Marx. These contradictions have not any relation to revolution, - he immediately states, following Bernstein.

The parliamentary path of conquest of power is the path of political revolution, carried out independently of the growing economic contradictions. This path is the most desirable and sympathetic for Kautsky. But, on the other hand, capitalist reality with its crises jumps in the eyes and refutes these perspectives on purely-political revolution, just as Marx does in "Capital." Kautsky rushes between one camp and the other, wanting to please both.

In articles of that time Kautsky developed a theory of crises, proceeding from the contradiction between industry and agriculture.39 This theory least of all contributed to grounding a connection between economic contradictions and revolution. The fundamental contradiction, as it is seen by Kautsky, is solved in the frame of the capitalist system, in the worst case with help of land reforms.

"I think I managed to show, that the limits, which allegedly confine the expansion of capitalism, are only limits arising for every mode of production with developed industry, by dint of the dependency on agricultural economy.40" So writes Kautsky about this time in his last work on historical materialism.

Imperialism Kautsky considered, as overripe capitalism, and its coming had not at all any relevance to the thesis about impossibility of premature revolution.

Thus, also from this side Kautsky cleared himself a path to a purely political revolution. "Already three decades ago, - he writes further, - I showed the possibility..., that this victory (of socialism - I. A.) can occur sooner, than a chronic crisis, which back then I still expected. Since then capitalism has withstood so many crises, was able to adapt to so many new, often strong and unexpected demands, that today, purely in terms of economics, it appears to me much more viabile, than half a century ago.41" And Kautsky then comes to the conclusion that socialism, which he expects, will come independently from economic collapse, from the contradiction between the productive forces and production relations. "The capitalists, - he assures us, - are getting stronger in economy, the proletarians - in politics .42" This is the latest wisdom of the "Marxist" Kautsky. Its roots we will encounter in the by us still assorted works, inasmuch as there is here already a policy of isolating revolution from it economic background. From this perspective should be regarded also the concessions of Kautsky in the theory of impoverishment. His switch of a theory of absolute poverty to a theory of relative poverty is badly linked to the thesis on the intensification class struggle under capitalism and opened the way for a rapprochement with Bernstein. And now, when Kautsky the Marxist turns in ordinary petty-bourgeois sociology and politics, his theory of impoverishment transforms in a theory of "enrichment". "Not from struggle against poverty, but from struggle for freedom and power socialism will come," - Kautsky writes in 1922.43

And in his Lebenswerk this idea is expressed even more cynically and frank; "The more the capitalist mode of production blooms and develops, the better the prospects of a socialist system replacing the capitalist one.44"

Hence already the direct conclusion that the path to socialism leads through strengthening capitalism.45 That's where grew the modest in appearance and in any case disguised concessions which Kautsky made to Bernstein in 1899. Kautsky detaches the theory of crises, the theory of imperialism and the theory of impoverishment from the theory of proletarian revolution. This should have lead him to a rupture between the economic and the political, to a course on a neat, quietly, cloudless political revolution, and ultimately to a softening, and then also denial of the basic law of historical materialism on the contradiction between forces and relations of production. On such a denial lies fundamentally the Bernsteinist theory of ingrowth, just as on its recognition, - lies fundamentally the Marxist theory of revolution .46"

Thus Kautsky's "Anti-Bernstein" transforms in "Near-Bernstein," and arguments of the theory of revisionism imperceptibly were glued to the theory and defense of orthodox Marxism.

3. The left stage.

The main line of discrepancy between revisionism and centerism was the recognition or non-recognition of revolution, as a prerequisite condition of the emancipation of the proletariat. But since the very notion of revolution on closer examination had lost in Kautsky all certainty and in any case all revolutionary determinedness, this circumstance forces him to ever new arguments, explanations and additions to this topic.

Moreover, the environment itself since the beginning of the twentieth century demanded the recognition of Kautsky, of posing the question "about the practical struggle for political power." Germany finally entered in a phase of "world politics," and the whole world - in a phase of military collisions and political complications. In Belgium started the grand general strike movement, thrown up in other countries (Netherlands, Sweden) and put forward the problem about the general strike; in England begins the era of a new trade union movement, and the Labour party first emerges independently on the political scene; in Russia loom bodeful clouds, clearly foreshadowing revolution, and even In the United States there is a significant reawakening in the labor movement.

In 1902 Kautsky was invited to the Netherlands, where to Dutch students he read two lectures about revolution, which in the form of two pamphlets, the most known titled "Social Revolution" and "On the Day after the Social Revolution," went around the whole socialist world.

Kautsky was forced to recognize that an era began of heightened class struggle, that this aggravation is associated with heavy concentration of capital, with increasing militarism and taxes, with the growth of exploitation, with the decline of parliamentarism and liberalism. "There is no doubt that the number of socialist representatives increases, but simultaneously therewith the bourgeois democracy falls to pieces... In the degree that the class which rules through Parliamentarism is rendered superfluous and indeed injurious, the Parliamentary machinery loses its significance.47" "Democracy is indispensable as a means of ripening the proletariat for the social revolution. But it is not capable of preventing this revolution." Kautsky also sees that reform may in certain cases strengthen the ruling classes, that the revolution is approaching and that on this background it is necessary to recognize the already advanced life itself of new forms of struggle in the form of political strikes. These and a number of other ideas against the English methods in the labor movement and for the Russian methods, open a whole phase of Kautsky's left appearance.

In particular wonderfully written in the same year is Kautsky's article "The Slavs and Revolution," published in "Zaria.48" Kautsky predicts in it the transfer of hegemony of the revolutionary movement to the Slavic nations, and in particular to Russia. Russia expects revolution, with the help of which Kautsky hopes "to exorcise the spirit of flabby philistinism and coldly calculating politics that is beginning to spread in our midst, and cause the fighting spirit and the passionate devotion to our great ideals to flare up again." His words on Russia, as the instigator of the nearest revolution, and on Western Europe, as the bulwark of reaction, contained a beautiful prophecy for an entire period of history.

It not at all gathers to challenge the revolutionary meaning of the propaganda of Kautsky in this, like, however, also in the previous period, if we again try to show that also here one is far of speaking about any coherent-revolutionary line. Let's stand still only on the questions about armed uprising, about strike, about war, and about expropriation.49

"The coming revolution will not resemble the old: it will be able to use the organization and democratic forms of proletarian organizations. We have no ground to think that barricade battles and similar warlike accompaniments will play a decisive role today.50" This not new for Kautsky position drew objections of the Polish socialist Lusnia (Kelles-Krauz). Kautsky's reply to Lusnia we discuss further on.

The question about the strike began at that time to acquire already international importance. The question about the strike was essentially in disguised and rudimentary form the question about the paths of the proletarian revolution. Kautsky admits that "it will play a great role in the revolutionary battles of the future.51" But here again he begins with reservations, with which he subsequently manages to kill also the strike itself, to turn it, as also his revolution, in an empty shadow, in a chimerical myth.

Kautsky rejects the possibility of a "general strike" in the sense of work stoppage of allworkers of a country by a given signal. "This, - he says, - presupposes a unanimity and an organization of the laborers which is scarcely possible in present society, and which if it were once attained would be so irresistible that no general strike would be necessary. Such a strike would, however, at one stroke render impossible the existence not simply of existing society but all existence, and that of the proletarians long before that of the capitalist, and must consequently collapse uselessly at just the moment when its revolutionary virtue began to develop.52"

Putting us in front of such a desperate dilemma and deadly intimidating us with it, Kautsky already can to come to the conclusion that general strike essentially is only a means, "supplementing" and "strengthening" other more important forms of struggle.

Just as ambiguous are also Kautsky's statements about war and revolution. On the one hand, he recognizes that war - is a revolutionary factor. "Very often in such a situation war fulfills the function to which the aspiring class has not yet grown... We must reckon on the possibility of a war within a perceptible time and therewith also the possibility of political convulsions that will end directly in proletarian uprisings or at least in opening the way to them.53" But on the next page already we learn, that "war is the most irrational means to this end (revolution - I.A.). It brings such terrible destruction and creates such gigantic demands upon the State that any revolution springing from it is heavily loaded with tasks that are not essential to it but which momentarily absorb all its means and energy. Consequently a revolution which rises from war is a sign of the weakness of the revolutionary class, and often the cause of further weakness, just because of the sacrifice that it brings with it, as well as by the moral and intellectual degradation to which war gives rise... So we have not the slightest ground to wish for an artificial acceleration of our advance by a war.54" The path from war to revolution Kautsky decisively rejects.

The second lecture is devoted to the problems of the transition period. From the loud sounding section "The Expropriation of the Expropriators" we learn, that "once the capitalists recognized, however, that they had the right to bear only the risk and burdens of capitalist business, these men would be the very first ones to renounce the further extension of capitalist production and to demand that their undertakings be purchased because they could no longer carry them on with any advantage.55" Compensation also here is considered a more likely form of expropriation, than confiscation. In an extreme case, Kautsky is ready to achieve confiscation in the form of a progressive tax. This "permits the disappearance of capitalist property through a long drawn out process proceeding in the exact degree in which the new order is established and its benevolent influence made perceptible.56" By these means it would be possible to stretch the operation over a decade, and it "in this way loses its harshness, becomes more acceptable and less painful.57"

In what this progressive tax, replacing confiscation, would differ from the proposal of Bernstein in this domain - remains unclear. Certain is only that Kautsky in every way tries to sweeten the pill of future expropriation for the capitalists and promises them the painlessness and reasonableness of this operation. As a pure utopian, the capitalist class interests he hopes wholly to subordinate by supreme intelligence, which allegedly will move their acts and should, therefore, lead them to willingly submit themselves and their capital to the dictates of the socialist authority.

Answering two years later Lusnia in the article "Revolutionary perspectives" Kautsky speaks on a number of issues even more frankly. "Politically, the fighting proletariat develops most satisfactorily under a constitution such as Germany's. It does not have the slightest reason for wanting to change it illegally and by force... It is impossible for such a régime to provoke an armed revolt of the people wherever the masses are led by Social Democracy.58" So Kautsky is fully satisfied with the imperial constitution and proclaims on its basis the legitimacy of whatever may be. His speech sounds here already purely philistine.

But what does the proletariat do, if it is attacked? The sole means of "violent resistance" from the side of the proletariat - is the strike. And if the strike does not help, also in this case there's nothing to despair. The matter should be provided by a proper passage of development, further by the prudence of government and external events. Kautsky hopes that "consciousness of such force (of the proletariat -I. A.) may, under certain conditions, be sufficient in order to induce the falling class to peaceful talks with the adversary." He counts further that capitalism itself cannot do without democracy, and meaning also without Social-democracy. "Today the proletariat so represents the future, and even the present vital interests of the nation, that a government cannot repress by force without confining and crippling the entire life of the nation - a condition that must sooner or later lead to its economic and political collapse in one of those crises from which no state is spared.59"

Here better than anywhere else, crawls out a fatalistic conception of revolution and a petty-bourgeois view on legality. Here Kautsky fully admits his weakness in the face of impending revolution. Providing a solution to the question by the prudence of the government and by the course of external events, he doesn't forget once more to strongly disassociate from such as revolutionary uprising or propaganda in the army. "Since we have no intention of carrying out propaganda within the ranks of the army in order to incite them to insurrection - and nobody in the entire Geran Social Democracy thinks of doing that today - we have no need to debate the forms that such insubordination could and should assume. On the other hand, it is certainly important even today, if not for our action then at least for our propaganda and theoretical conceptions, to state unambiguously that we expect nothing from an armed uprising of the people and that we will not allow ourselves to be provoked into it under any circumstances.60" "Given modern armaments, today it has become impossible to bring down a government, even the weakest and most foolish one, by means of armed resistance.61"

But one means of fighting - the general strike - would be conserved in the hands of the proletariat. Let us look again to this strike and to the chances of winning through it. What are the prerequisites of a victorious political strike?

1) It is necessary that the proletariat "constitutes the predominant part of the population."

2) The proletariat must go through a long school of political and trade union struggles, must be sufficiently cultured and in its majority tightly organized, "in order not to make unreasonable and hasty steps."

3) "The industry must be highly developed." This idea is developed later in "Socialism and colonial policy": "A socialist mode of production can as little proceed from economically backward countries as from economically backward branches of production.62"

4) It is necessary that the government be quite weak, because "one cannot unsettle a government, as in Switzerland, elected by the people, one that does not lean upon external instruments of power that can be disorganised through a strike but rather upon the majority of the people.63" Kautsky therefore seeks to strike a government, "that no longer enjoys the thrust of the propertied classes or even of the bureaucracy and the army.64"

5) The strike must be unexpected, it is impossible in advance to assign a date of the strike.

6) "The economic factors that contribute to the success of the workers are progressively less relevant in a mass strike the more it becomes a general strike. The general strike itself eliminates them... And the workers are even more interested in the continuation of production than the capitalists because the latter are in possession not only of the means of production but also of all the large reserves of means of consumption The capitalists can thus endure a general stoppage of production longer than the workers; in fact they are in a position to starve them65" Kautsky draws here the so popular subsequently in S.-d. theory of continuity of the production process.

7) Finally, the task itself of the political strike, as Kautsky formulates it, is to replace the barricade struggle and "violent resistance," in order, thus, to paralyze the activity of the government. The strike also here is not a prologue to revolt, but a means against rebellion, or a means, replacing the revolt.

Under these requirements to rely on general strike, as means of revolutionary struggle, especially is not necessary. It assumes a conjunction of such complex prerequisites, such an ideal combination of conditions, which not in any country nor in any political situation ever awaits the proletariat. The funnier sounds an ominous statement with which Kautsky begins his article: "Social democracy is strong to the extent that it raises the concrete question of "practical struggle for political power." On verification it turned out that the practical struggle for power is turned in a series of proofs about the impossibility and hopelessness of such a struggle.

Moreover, above all the impossibility of this Kautsky demonstrates in relation to Germany. Here the government is the most strong in the world, and here is "the best army and bureaucracy," and here is a "most peaceful, lacking revolutionary traditions, population." To other countries, especially Russia, Kautsky is more merciful. After Russia in turn he values Belgium, and then the United States of North America. Therewith Kautsky is hopeful that revolution starting in other countries "may affect Germany in such a way, that here the conquest of political power is accomplished without any disasters, by peaceful paths.66"

This is the safest for Germany and for German Social-democracy marsh route of revolution, charted by Kautsky. He wasn't deprived of a patriotic predisposition to the own country. Kautsky is ready for revolution, but... not at his home.

We should not think that the positions of "Revolutionary perspectives" were for Kautsky by chance. "The therein put ideas," - he wrote in 1914, - build to the present day the guiding thread for my position in the matter of the general strike. In these arguments I basically changed nothing despite all new experiences and views.67"

If "Revolutionary perspectives" was a significant step back towards opportunism, compared with "Social Revolution," the following years of revolutionary uprising push Kautsky again on the path of left conclusions. From 1905 to 1909 Kautsky is under the predominant influence of the lefts and, mainly, Rosa Luxemburg.

In discussion with French opportunists, in the question on the Russian revolution and on the general strike, in the question on militarism, on war, on colonial policy, on the national question, on the appraisal of the era of revolutions Kautsky goes ahead of German Social-democracy.68 Especially important is his appearance: regarding the Russian revolution, on the question of war and colonial policy and his brochure "The Road to Power."

From the eight articles, devoted by Kautsky to Russian affairs, particularly excels the brochure on "The Driving Forces of the Russian revolution and its Prospects." Here, as is known, Kautsky comes close to Lenin's treatment of 1905. He acknowledges the originality of the Russian revolution, happening "on the border of bourgeois and socialist society," sees the reactionariness of Russian liberalism, understands, that "in Russia there is no lasting framework of bourgeois democracy" and that "the time of bourgeois revolution, ie revolution, in which the driving force is the bourgeoisie, has passed also for Russia." To these driving forces of the Russian revolution he counts the proletariat and the peasantry. Finally, Kautsky here also recognizes the international significance of the Russian revolution, "giving a powerful impetus to all progressively developed countries of capitalist civilization." The Russian revolution - writes Kautsky in 1905, in the preface to the second volume of "Theories of surplus value," - is the grandest and most magnificent coronation of Marxist practical activity.69 No less famous are Kautsky's appearances in Jena, Essen and Stuttgart over militarism, war and colonial policy and the adjacent to them writings.

In these critical watershed years for German Social-democracy Kautsky opposed the beginning slippage of the center on opportunistic rails. He demands struggle against militarism, he criticizes Bebel's counterposition of defensive and offensive war, he attacks Bebel's "socialist colonial policy." The only true criterion in the question of war, - is - "the interests of the proletariat, which simultaneously are international interests." "In case of war, - Kautsky says in Stuttgart, - for us it is not a national, but an international question, for the war between the great powers would be a world war, it will cover the whole of Europe, and not be limited to two countries... Fortunately, it's just a misunderstanding, as though German- Social-democracy in case of war wants to be guided not by an international, but a national point of view, as though she feels herself primarily German, and already in second turn - proletarian. German proletarians solidarize with French proletarians, - and not at all with the German Junkers and scharfmachers [rightwing instigators].70

Developing these ideas in his brochure about "Patriotism, War and Social-Democracy "(1907), Kautsky comes to the conviction that "the proletariat of capitalist countries should not engage in bourgeois national objectives." However, in this internationalism in him are admixed patriotic notes. "Invasion of the enemy army, - he writes, - means such unspeakable misery for the whole country, that it by itself calls all people to defense, and not any class can evade this powerful flow." The feeling of international solidarity is mitigated here by a recognition of some passive patriotism, patriotism "willy-nilly." The same loophole Kautsky leaves himself also in the colonial question, when disassociating from uprisings of natives.

The most revolutionary for this whole period and, perhaps, in all the literary activity of Kautsky was his "Road to Power."

Here the left position of "Social Revolution" get its further beautiful development and design. "Road to Power" is nine-tenths the work program of left radicalism. "This pamphlet of Kautsky’s, - Lenin says about it, - should serve as a measure of comparison of what the German Social-Democrats promised to be before the imperialist war and the depth of degradation to which they, including Kautsky himself, sank when the war broke out.71"

The vast majority of questions is put here impeccably. The general line of the pamphlet - is the defense of left positions and the struggle against opportunism. Kautsky fervently fights for the right to revolutionary prediction and ridicules the mindless slavery to routine, temperance and practicality of realist politicians, who do not see beyond their nose. He tears with his yesterday's caution in the question of revolution. "Certainly we must recognize the possibility of defeat in the case of every great movement or uprising. Only the fool sees victory already in his pocket before he enters upon a battle... We would be a miserable sort of fellows, and, indeed, direct traitors to our cause, and incapable of any fight, if we overlooked the possibility of defeat and reckoned only upon victory.72"

It is particularly important that all these perspectives Kautsky links to an analysis of the actual state of capitalism, in which he sees increasing intensification of class antagonisms, the deterioration of masses, approaching world war, the extraordinary growth of political reaction. "The policy of imperialism, - says Kautsky, - may become the starting point for the overthrow of the present ruling system.73"

No less spicy, in the light of the later retreat of Kautsky, is his position on the general rightward turn of the bourgeoisie and on a single reactionary mass. "It is demanding moral suicide of the Socialists to ask them to enter into a coalition in such conditions.74"

And nevertheless also here, in this most revolutionary of Kautsky's productions, emerge quite clearly opportunistic ears: exactly there and then, where and when it comes to practical realization of this by Kautsky himself described arch-revolutionary situation. The path and methods of revolution remain on the level of the article of 1893, which for this purpose is also abundantly quoted. On a principal exit from parliamentary methods for Western Europe not here one word. Also here the activity of the mass is, primarily, action of trade unions, action, ancillary to parliamentarism. In this point is retained the direct union and continuity both with previous and with subsequent works.

However in defense of Kautsky, the author of "Road to Power," it's nonetheless necessary to say that the here marked contradiction between a correct total perspective of the era and extreme scantiness of practical slogans is characteristic to a certain extent also for the camp of left radicalism. If the left beautifully felt and depicted (though wrongly explained) the imperialist epoch and the associated with it revolutionary tremors underfoot, in the domain of tracing concrete paths and methods of future revolution they were quite helpless. The ideological differentiation with centrists had not yet been carried out clearly enough by that time. Both in the domain of tactics and in the domain of theory of state and revolution, and the evaluation of the transition period the lefts had not yet a single whole ideology. They were only halfway to Bolshevism and shared with the centrists a number of misconceptions and prejudices. True, the lefts (not all) were genuine proletarian revolutionaries and as such were able in the future to get rid of their weaknesses and errors. But so far this subjective side of the process was not yet sufficiently clear, and the centrists could fully take advantage of their position.

4. Pre-war retreat of Kautsky.

The polemical article, "What next?" ("Was nun?"), directed against Rosa Luxemburg, begins a new stage in the development of Kautsky. Kautsky at once becomes a 100% defender of the official line of the leadership.

What prompted him to such a drastic turn to the right? Maybe the environment itself changed? However, all the facts say the reverse. Facts of the last years are - the crisis of 1907, the "hungry tariff duties," the bill on state security, the conservative-liberal block of Bülow, interchanging with the black-blue block of conservatives with priests, the growing wave of patriotism, based on which Social-democracy lost in the "Hottentot" elections, the growing preparations for war and the growing power of the reactionary Prussian Landtag, obscuring itself also the scoured to the background Reichstag. Against this background, the knot of class antagonisms is ever more prolonged. Workers rise and look for an exit in mass struggle, in street demonstrations, in the general strike. Meanwhile Social-democratic parliamentarians are limited to discussion of prospects of future elections, estimating electoral bulletins and preparation of ministerial combinations.

The question, like never before, is placed at hand: imperialism or socialism, with the leadership to opportunism or with the lefts to revolution. Kautsky feared the thorny path upstream. He at once lost all his revolutionary oaths of yesterday and became advocate of the center in that precise moment when the center took shape as a coherent reformist trend.

Three questions most clearly characterize the attitude of Kautsky to revolution in this period: it is the question on mass movement and the strike, on the state and on imperialism.75

If in "Revolutionary perspectives" Kautsky dismantled the strike indirectly through bringing it thousands of unrealistic conditions, now his appearance against the strike carries a significantly more direct and frank character.

First of all, Kautsky sees it as his duty to confuse the question on the nature of the strike itself. For this he invents a strict division between the economic and the political, the defensive and offensive strike and an organized and an unorganized movement.76

A future strike, if it is already destined to break out, must be strictly political and defensive. An economic strike, Kautsky thinks, under the iron discipline which rules in large state, municipal and private institutions, in general is impossible, besides it hits more on workers than on capitalists. As for the offensive strategy, starting with the Paris Commune, by force of the new conditions it was replaced by a strategy of attrition.

Further, Kautsky tries to limit the strike both in time and in scope. He is opposed to linking individual mass strikes in a single general strike and against an extended "period of mass strikes." If strike is inevitable, then let it be, at least, "a political mass strike, as one-time act.77

The idea of Rosa Luxemburg and Pannekoek, that the revolutionary process in its very development gains increasing strength, grows and rises to progressively higher stages, such dynamic idea of ​​revolution is deeply alien to Kautsky.

It is easy to notice that the discussion with the lefts about the strike was nothing other than a struggle against the revolutionary Russian experience, against the methods of the 1905 revolution. In order to be insulated from them, Kautsky invents another distinction between the labor movement in the East and the movement in Western Europe. In Western Europe, and, of course, primarily in Prussia, there are "special conditions." In Prussia the government. the army, the bureaucracy is very strong. Furthermore, the working class here has such means of struggle, which the Russian workers do not possess. All of this appeal to the "concrete," - is a common trick of opportunism, wishing to escape from revolutionary regularities and generalizations. This can be seen even because Kautsky, in order to save a "special, Prussian, condition," is compelled to dissociate also from the experience of the Belgian general strike.

in passing Kautsky depicts the Russian revolution as "an act of despair (Verzweiflungsakt) of helots." Russians resort to all sorts of means, as they "have nothing more to lose." The experience of the Russian revolution so enthusiastically welcomed once by Kautsky, now is regarded as "product of the backwardness of the movement." It cannot in any case be object of imitation. Therefore that, "which from the standpoint of formless revolutionary strikes of revolutionary Russia may seem a superfluous narrow-pedantic distinction, for Western Europe is a condition of any rationally lead strike.78"

But the "rational" strike of Kautsky is nothing other than a purely-political, limited in size, in space and in time movement. The main thing in such a castrated strike is taking care that it does not extend, not adopt too violent, revolutionary, unexpected forms, that it does not escalate into the question about overthrowing the government.79

But most vividly Kautsky loaths the strike and the mass movement, when he starts the discussion on the organized and the unorganized mass. Progress of the labor movement is represented by Kautsky as the increasing displacement of the movement of the unorganized mass. "The strike of the unorganized masses 'without a plan and intention' is disappearing 80" Ridiculing Rosa L.'s views on this subject, Kautsky writes: "On the one hand, the mass strike can not be organized, it appears by itself. On the other hand, it is prepared by slogans, put forward by the party. First the mass is the source and bearer of the movement, then it turns out that again the mass is not able to do anything when it in advance is not given slogans.81" Kautsky himself doesn't solve the contradiction between the spontaneous and the organized, with which he accuses Rosa. "The moment of it's (the strike - I. A.) appearance, - he recognizes, - does not depend on us.82 Hence preaching tactics of crossed arms. But, on the other hand, "the mass strike is then only possible when the mass of the proletariat will rise as one man.83"

The strike for Kautsky - is a spontaneous phenomenon. On this basis he mocks Rosa, who considered the question of the strike now particularly relevant: "If the strike was relevant, then about this it wouldn't be necessary to discuss.84" On the other hand, the same Kautsky dreams about the organized strike and strongly reviles a spontaneous mass strike. His campaign against the mass movement, against the streets has great significance. It means the theoretical anticipation of Noske-ism, it shows that the bureaucratic degeneration of the party starts already to theoretically take shape.

In this reproach to spontaneity Kautsky is little original. He uses arguments of reactionary bourgeois sociologists like Le Bon and Sighele. With their help Kautsky presents the "laws" of mass psychology. "The more an individual sees how around [him] all are inspired by one desire, the more this massive influence is felt on him, the more he loses the independence of his own will, not only physically, but also morally the mass masters him, even if alone by himself, quietly reflecting, he would strive for completely different objectives and actions.85

"The ignorance and unclarity of the mass is not by chance86" Spontaneous movement of the mass leads to a bare destruction of institutions. The mass cannot carry out positive work. It cannot give a correct assessment of government and operates under the influence of random excitation. "Where it became victorious, it has installed as many times reactionary elements as revolutionary elements.87" Therefore, the "mass can perhaps fight, but, as a mass cannot legislate or govern the state.88" The action of the unorganized mass Kautsky compares with an army, in which "destruction is expressed exclusively in physical murder, devastation, arson.89"

The action of the mass can be as much reactionary, even meaningless, as it can become in certain circumstances, the driving force of social progress. To illustrate his idea on reactionariness of the mass Kautsky refers to the mass uprising in 1878 in London, "which was a naked orgy of looting and drunkenness, which the army put an end to,90" to the "highly reactionary" movement in Spain 1808, to the Russian pogroms, to American lynching of negroes and Japanese and so on.

All these and similar to it characteristics of the mass, or rather mob, are unceremoniously taken out of the hands of bourgeois politicians. Kautsky roughly tears with Marxism, without making the slightest attempt to apply class analysis to his examples. Thus he lumps the movement of the workers mass against capitalism together on one heap with the movement of bribed by the czar hired pogromists or with an excited by bourgeois chauvinism multitude of killers in America. And by these paths Kautsky is trying to devalue, to belittle the mass movement.

True, also here he leaves himself a loophole to retreat. Also now he is ready to talk about the strike in general, talk about the growth of class contradictions and about the growth of the mass movement, mutual support of the organized and unorganized and lavishes noncommittal compliments at the address of revolutionary Russia.

But as soon as the strike from the field of scientific dispute is turned in a perspective of tomorrow Kautsky bucks. The masses for the strike are not yet ready. Therefore the next elections in the Reichstag - is the only mode of action. The present-day situation is such, - he writes in 1910, - that a great election victory could turn in a catastrophe for the ruling government system.91"

These beautiful prospects will be spoiled only in one case: if we show impatience. And, finally, is it worth arguing over all this. "After all in the last decades the election campaign has become the most powerful class-wide action of the proletariat.92"

Therefore it is necessary to throw away all sorts of new strategic and tactical plans and to conserve the old tested tactics to strengthen our organization, to conquer new positions in society and the state, to educate the mass. "About that which cannot be foreseen, we can only reflect, but not write in advance tactical stipulations.93"

The same question is discussed by Kautsky in the polemic with Pannekoek in 1912. It must be recognized that Kautsky deftly uses all those ambiguities that were present in the left radicals on the question of spontaneity and consciousness. If Kautsky rejected the spontaneous, "blind instinct" in favor of the conscious, organized, the left bend the stick to the other side, idealizing the revolutionary instinct of the mass. With errors on both sides, the errors on the side of Kautsky were nevertheless immeasurably greater, because the dispute essentially was about whether the proletariat is revolutionary, whether the mass movement is the latest criterion of struggle, or whether a detachment of the party apparatus and its "conscious" leaders from the mass movement must be recognized as such a criterion. While herein Pannekoek detracted the role of organization or depicted it too abstractedly, Kautsky fully identified power and preservation of organization with power and successes of the revolutionary movement. Pannekoek herein, be it in faulty form, correctly anticipated the direction of the movement, the possibility of temporary defeat of the organization, which will not mean yet the defeat of the movement itself. Kautsky acts here as true ideologue of the bureaucratised leadership, for whom the preservation of the party organization, the conservation of officials in power stands above any principles. In him the organization is not subject to the principles, but the reverse, principles, theory are written in order to justify every step of the leadership.

In polemics with Pannekoek in still obscure form there was the dispute about the possibility of betrayal of the interests of the proletarian by the party apparatus, about the possibility of a split with the old party, about the inevitability in certain moments of transition to illegal organization.

Pannekoek underestimated the force of opportunistic instincts, brought up, nurtured, strengthened by the revisionists and, thus, simplified the perspectives of future struggle and prepared himself unexpected disappointment. Kautsky saw only this opportunism of the mass, considered only it, set the course only to it. Hence the calculated, niggling, petty realism of his, devoid of any belief in revolution, recently still ridiculed by himself in "Road to Power." This realism allows Kautsky not only to predict the events of August 4, but also accordingly to "be prepared" to them. Already anticipating in 1912 the possibility of mass chauvinism in the beginning of war, Kautsky believes that it is impossible to do anything. With an impending war one cannot fight.

Finally, in this same polemics with Pannekoek Kautsky gives his clearest formulation on the state. Here he only stigmatizes as anarchism any encroachments on breaking the state. Our task is to conquer the state, and not to break it, as anarchists want. The discussion can only be about "certain shifts of relations of power within the state power.94" '"The goal of our political struggle remains herein the same: to conquer state power through winning a majority in the parliament and elevate the parliament to dominator over government. But not destruction of state power.95" Herein "Kautsky, -Lenin writes, - displays a 'superstitious reverence' for ministries,96 which he wants to keep after the revolution, as well as the old division of legislative, judicial and executive power.

Kautsky here not only completely ignores the lessons of the Paris Commune and shows a complete misunderstanding of Marx's view on the state-commune, but he makes already an obvious step towards conservation of the state apparatus also after the victory of socialism.

Previously, the revolutionary mass movement was replaced in Kautsky by the party apparatus and the care about its "conservation" no matter what.97 Now proletarian dictatorship appears for him only in the form of a replacement of one government by another, in the form of moving a small layer of bureaucrats. The revolution from below is substituted for him with "revolution" from above, the class struggle moves only in legality. Even the slogan of a republic, extended at the time by Rosa Luxemburg, seems to him slightly revolutionary, outdated, irrelevant.

We can not stand still here at other works of Kautsky during this period. His pre-election article in "Vorwärts" in 1912, as well as both economic and political works printed in those years in the "Neue Zeit," are important however for our theme in one respect. Here Kautsky wants to theoretically substantiate his turn to the right. He tries to give a socio-economic rationale of centrism.

It consists, firstly, in a new analysis of class forces in Germany. The turn to the left of the Freethinkers [Progressive People's Party] before the elections in 1912 was regarded by the leadership and its theorist Kautsky as the beginning of an era of a "new liberalism." Therefore they go to a pre-election block with the Freethinkers and change their old principles. Further Kautsky also significantly alters his views on imperialism. Also in his earlier works, since 1898, Kautsky regarded imperialism largely as tainted capitalism, as a kind of superficial derivation, not necessarily tied with the historical development of capitalism. But this utopian-negative attitude towards imperialism is combined in him with the recognition of most phenomena accompanying it. Kautsky grasped then that imperialism brings with it slavery and exploitation, and that fighting it means fighting for socialism. Now in discussions with Radek and Lensch the revolutionary-utopian element of Kautsky's views turns reactionary-utopian. He hopes for a "transition to a cheaper and less dangerous method of expansion," than violence. "Violence, - he claims, - does not in any degree constitute a necessary prerequisite for economic progress," and therefore we can hope that the bourgeoisie will proceed by other peaceful ways. The bourgeoisie in its majority has interest in peaceful methods of expansion. On the basis of this pacifism a block with it is possible of Social-democracy. Appealing to the "long-term interests" of bourgeois society, Kautsky hopes to sway the bourgeoisie on the side of pacifism and disarmament slogans. Capitalism still has a wide field of application, therefore the ultimatum of the lefts: imperialism or socialism must be resolutely rejected. And here Kautsky sprinkles the first contours of the theory of "super-imperialism". However the theory of super-imperialism, means nothing other than a firm rejection of the socialist revolution, as goal of the nearest period. It means the recognition of the viability and progressivity of capitalism and the requirement of long cooperation with it.

Thus, the slide of the center to the right in these four pre-war years, gets its "theoretical" shape. The treath of war Kautsky tries to eliminate by pacifistic phrases and an utopia on self-disarmament of the bourgeoisie. The prospect of impending revolution he wants to kill with a specially baked for this theory of super-imperialism. The defense of a block with bourgeois parties on the basis of a hastily concocted theory of "new liberalism." The mass movement he wants to compromise with the help of a worthless theory about reactionary elements and with the help of the isolation of the labor movement in Prussia [compromise] the experience of the revolutionary movement in other countries, especially the Russian revolutionary experience. if the left Kautsky in 1905 welcomed the revolution in Russia as an event of international significance, the Kautsky of the last few years before the war saw this revolution and the methods used in it, as evidence of the backwardness and underdevelopment both of the country and its labor movement.

So, all the left slogans of "Road to Power" are curtailed one after the other. In place of a sober account of the growing danger a series of invented theories is presented to the workers. In place of a preparation of the proletariat to war and to the inevitable revolutionary struggles following it, its consciousness is poisoned by false soothing phrases in the spirit of official optimism, in the spirit of that "official" marxism, which was so brilliantly exposed by Rosa Luxemburg.


Kautsky's path to opportunism was complicated and hidden. After the 1905 revolution, Kautsky fluctuates between centrism and left radicalism, time and again developing the position of the latter. And still the map we set out of his views on revolution turns out far from applied. Yet if you take such a typical centrist as Bebel, his statements over the same period of time on violent revolution, on parliamentarism, on democracy, on the general strike, on the state, on war and colonial policy, on defense of the fatherland, and so on, then here the case stood even sadder.

Bebel spoke significantly more direct and straight than Kautsky. In questions of defense of the fatherland, defensive and offensive wars and colonial policy he, as is known, began to give way quite early. No less vascillating also were his views on the state. Recall, at least, Bebel's appearance in Breslau (1895). where he advocated, together with W. Liebknecht, the extention of the civilizing functions of the bourgeois state. "We even must force the state to take on itself more and more civilizing functions: in this way we will destroy in the final light all the foundations on which it rests... The notion that one shouldn't strengthen the power of the state, placing on it civilizing function, is Manchesterism: our party must free itself of this Manchesterist husk.98" And in Hamburg (1897) Bebel called for "the development of the state through reform."

Bebel was the first to begin a retreat on the question of general strike, on the party relation with the trade unions, on the relation to revolutionary Russia. Regarding the issue of violent revolution, on this account Bebel's views were also significantly more resolute than Kautsky's.

At a student meeting in Berlin December 17, 1897 he said: "We are thrown in the face a series of charges: firstly, that we want a violent revolution. I do not deny that there was a time when we thought about it, but already ten years ago I said in the German Reichstag, that violent revolution is not all necessary." A couple of years later in a speech in Bamberg (1902) apropos the center, he stated: "We do not crave destruction, but only construction.99"

The same motifs we encounter in his speech, consecrated to Bernstein, in Hannover: "If partisans of bourgeois society are so foolish to think, that we'd want to make violent revolution and pierce their skulls to the wall, then we, really, do not charge for their stupidity... It are not the revolutionaries who create revolution, at all times it are the reactionaries who create them.100" And in this question Bebel does not argue with Bernstein: "To a certain extent we are all opportunists. Nobody wants to jump tomorrow on the barricades. The dispute is about the scope of what we can achieve, and on this we will always argue." Bebel recognizes the benefit of different opinions, and the only thing he requires of a party member, is: "common fundamental views about bourgeois society - on the one hand, about socialist society - on the other.101"

For the centrist Bebel typical is also a complete silence about problems of the transition period and extraordinary softness and indulgence in questions of tactics. Bebel liked to write a lot about future socialist society. His sharp attacks on contemporary bourgeois society and its representatives cause constant delight to the audience. But the last thing you'll hear from him is anything specific about the ways and means of the socialist revolution. At the Jena congress Bebel also says: - "For us, the Social-democrats, acceptance of revolution is determined not by means, but by goals.102" Thus, the question about means of struggle, about tactics remains open. On this ground also happens Bebel's convergence with the opportunists.

To these few remarks about Bebel we confine ourselves. We brought them only to with all the more right count Kautsky's views on revolution as typical of the pre-war centrism.

in the 24 years that have elapsed since the repeal of the law against socialism, Kautsky went through three main phases in the development of his views on the problem of revolution.

1) In the 90s he tried in accordance with the hopes raised in the party after the repeal of the law, to shape a Social-democratic tactics, as a tactics of peaceful parliamentary victory, lead through a majority in parliament and through non-violent revolution to socialism.

In the forced discussion with Bernstein developing in more detail his attitude to the problems of revolution, he, defending Marxist theory, veers in questions of tactics and a series of points to the defense of positions, similar to the ones of Bernstein.

2) The first decade of the twentieth century, acutely puts forward all problems of imperialism, pushes Kautsky to the left, makes him recognize new methods of struggle and begin to develop an enhanced treatment of a whole series of problems, directly affecting the seizure of power and the establishment of the socialist system. This most left period of Kautsky's development is marked at the same time by a special complexity, entanglement and inconsistency of individual positions. Here strangely intertwine deep revolutionary views with the old course on democracy, parliamentarism and legality. The amplitude of oscillations is particularly high. (It suffices to compare, at least, "Revolutionary perspectives" with "Road to Power").

3) In the last four most crucial pre-war years Kautsky's 2-decade vacillation begins decisively determining towards opportunism. Kautsky curtails the fundamental theses of his "Road to Power," aims all the fire of his criticism at the left and tries to bring a theoretical basis for the opportunistic tactics of the leadership.

In the overall evaluation of Kautsky's theory of revolution one should never lose sight of this concrete history of his views, as well as the concrete situation and the conditions in which certain of his works were created. However, this augmented historicity in assessment should not deprive us of the right to distinguish from the whole complex of his statements a few fundamental points, repeated over the whole length of this period.


Original title: Теория пролетарской революции Каутского (Под знаменем марксизма, 1928, No 4, с. 30-71.).


Noa Rodman
Oct 7 2015 17:17

A correction to footnote 68: "Die Aussichten der russischen Revolution" is not the same article as "The Driving Forces of the Russian Revolution and Its Prospects" (translated in Witnesses to Permanent Revolution).