Discovering Imperialism: Social Democracy to World War I (Historical Materialism Book)

Language: English

Pages: 951

ISBN: 1608462358

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Though primarily associated with the most prominent figures in the history of European Marxism—Lenin, Luxemburg, Hilferding, and Bukharin—the theory of imperialism was actually developed through lively and engaged debates within the Second International from 1898–1916. This volume assembles and translates for the first time the main documents from this debate, and features contributions from Karl Kautsky, Parvus, Otto Bauer, Karl Radek, Anton Pannekoek, and Trotsky, among numerous others.

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290–1, quoted in Hansen 1973, p. 88, note 22. 69. Bernstein 1900c. 70. Shaw (ed. ) 1900, p. 3. 71. Shaw (ed. ) 1900, pp. 47 and 49. 72. De Leon 1904, pp. 96–7. Introduction • 23 and was modelled on the SPD’s Dresden resolution. 73 But colonial expansion became a far more immediate political issue, both for the SPD and for international socialism, following the German ‘Hottentot elections’ of 1907, which brought a disastrous setback for Social Democracy. The ‘Hottentot elections’ in Germany (13 January 1907) The Reichstag elections of January 1907 were conducted against the background of a colonial war and genocide in German South-West Africa (present-day Namibia), in which some 65,000 Hereros were massacred by German troops from 1904 to 1908.

And this, so to speak, need for employment and expansion on the part of money-capital, is what finds expression in modern expansion and world policy. When Otto Bauer reviewed Rudolf Hilferding’s Finance Capital in 1910, he acknowledged Cunow’s contribution to this question. 4 In his own review of Hilferding’s work, Cunow called it a ‘valuable supplement’ to Marx’s Capital that ‘undertakes a thorough examination, on the foundations of Marx’s theory of value, of the new phase of development of capitalism’, especially ‘the progressive mobilisation of capital’ through banking credit and joint-stock corporations and ‘the influence of these reorganisations on trade-policy’.

44. Kautsky 1907b, p. 45. Introduction • 41 rebellions, and as deeply as we sympathise with the rebels, Social Democracy cannot encourage them, just as it does not support pointless proletarian putsches in Europe itself. 131 As Bebel feared confronting the armed might of the capitalist state, so Kautsky believed military force narrowly circumscribed the possibility of resisting imperialism and limited the workers’ parties to traditional pursuits in parliament. The conclusion Kautsky reached was that the colonies must be regarded simply as a matter of fact: they were not about to be abandoned by the capitalists, they could not be endorsed by the proletariat, and they were unlikely to achieve independence by their own efforts.

8. [Giddings 1898 (December). ] ‘The United States in 1898’ (31 December 1898) • 119 In order to make my answer clearer, let us first compare American partyconditions with English ones. The Tories were considered for many years to be reactionary and hostile to freedom, while the Liberals were regarded as the shield of English liberties. As far as a party can fulfill its mission, the Liberals have done it. They have defeated the Tories intellectually. England offers today the peculiar spectacle of a progressive nation.

213. Pannekoek 1912c, p. 815. The article was a reply to Eckstein 1912a. It should be pointed out that not all left-wingers sided with Kautsky’s critics on the disarmamentissue. For instance Julian Marchlewski, one of Rosa Luxemburg’s closest collaborators and later co-founder of the Spartacus League, initially backed Kautsky’s position while repudiating Radek’s accusation of being ipso facto a supporter of the Reichstagfraction (Marchlewski 1911a. Radek 1911a. Marchlewski 1911b). Similarly, according to Trotsky, Lenin at first supported Kautsky against Rosa Luxemburg on the issue of disarmament proposals (Trotsky 1932).

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