EDUARD BERNSTEIN 1850-1932
After Marx’s death, Engels asked a young German social democrat named Eduard Bernstein to put together a fourth volume of Das Kapital from Marx’s notes. Bernstein struggled to reconcile the changing realities he saw around him, with the predictions Marx made in The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital. In some ways, working conditions were improving and capitalism was still thriving. The supposedly “inevitable” revolution had not arrived.
In 1899 Bernstein published Evolutionary Socialism. In it he proposed a critique of Marxism. Bernstein suggested there could be a gradual transformation of capitalism into socialism without revolution. Bernstein said, “The movement is everything, the final goal is nothing.”
His critique became known as “revisionism” or gradualism. It marked a major split between socialists who believed that the path to a better society lay through liberalism and those that believed that the only choice was revolution.
For more information, read interviews with:
New York University
Author, The Social Democratic Moment
Illinois State University
Author, The Quest for Evolutionary Socialism: Eduard Bernstein and Social Democracy
Gareth Stedman Jones
University of Cambridge
Author, Languages of Class: Studies in English Working Class History 1832-1982