Were 19th century democratic socialists the same as social democrats?

Submitted by Agent of the I… on June 19, 2024

I have been reading The Complete Works of Malatesta and through that, I learned that a lot of people identified as ‘democratic socialists’ in Italy in the 19th century. I know that even Marx talks about democratic socialists in some of his writings and criticizes them. This has me wondering if that label was what social democrats called themselves at the time, or if they were different from social democrats. And if the latter is the case, how did they differentiate themselves from social democrats?


1 week ago

Submitted by Anarcho on July 14, 2024

I think that the two terms ("democratic socialist" and "social democrat") were pretty much used interchangeably when Malatesta was writing. When Marx was writing, the term was not used by Marxists until the 1870s/1880s -- in France, in the 1830s/1840s it referred to the likes of Louis Blanc and other Jacobin-socialists.

Groups taking over labels used by others was a common feature of the time -- "collectivists" was used in the IWMA by the Federalist-wing but in the early 1880s it started to be used by the Marxist-wing of the French socialist movement (anarchists preferring communists by then).


3 hours 28 min ago

Submitted by Reddebrek on July 21, 2024

Names and terms change due to time and place. In the 20s and 30s groups calling themselves left communists had a strong chance of being Trots as they were referring to Trotsky's Left Opposition in the fights with Stalin.

In the UK, most Labour Party and adjacents would use Democratic Socialist to draw some distance between them and the Soviet Union and its supporters. Nowadays, I've noticed that within the Labour Party there's a new distinction, Labour's left use Democratic Socialist and their right wing are using Social Democrat, so I guess there's a distinction there if you look hard enough.