Labour Research November 2004


Marxism and social democracy

The revisionist debate 1896-1898

Tudor and Tudor, Cambridge University Press, 400 pages, hardback, £65.00

This recently re-issued collection of articles and letters takes up a range of themes that are still relevant today.

The controversy between Bernstein and his opponents (Bebel, Kautsky, Parvus, Luxemburg and Bax) helped create the split between centre and far left, which remains a feature of socialist politics today.

The authors discuss the classic reform versus revolution question, but also the nature of economic crisis, the role of cartels and large corporations, colonialism and the media.

The clash of their ideas and the sharpness of the prose illustrate the high premium that was placed on clarity in discussion in the international labour movement a century ago.

Most of the documents in the book have never been translated into English before, so the reader can follow the debate for the first time.