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Njemačke socijaldemokratske stranke

Njemačke socijaldemokratske stranke


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Njemačka socijaldemokratska stranka (SDP) osnovana je 1875. godine objavom svog programa Gotha. Program je bio mješavina ideja Karla Marxa i Ferdinanda Lassellea. Njegovi prvobitni vođe bili su Ferdinand Bebel i Wilhelm Liebknecht.

Na Općim izborima 1877. u Njemačkoj SDP je osvojio 12 mandata. To je zabrinulo Otta von Bismarcka, a 1878. uveo je antisocijalistički zakon koji je zabranio sastanke i publikacije Socijaldemokratske stranke.

Nakon što je 1890. prestao djelovati antisocijalistički zakon, SDP je brzo rastao i 1912. stranka je osvojila 110 mjesta u Reichstagu. Predvođeni Ferdinandom Bebelom, Karlom Kautskyjem, Friedrichom Ebertom i Eduardom Bernsteinom, SDP je sada bio najveća politička stranka u Njemačkoj. Tijekom Prvog svjetskog rata grupa članova pod vodstvom Kurta Eisnera otišla je u neovisnu socijalističku stranku (USPD).

U listopadu 1918. Max von Baden pozvao je desničarske članove SDP-a da se pridruže njegovoj koalicijskoj vladi. 9. studenog Friedrich Ebert preuzeo je vlast, a tijekom Njemačke revolucije pozvao je njemačku vojsku i Freikorps da se obračunaju s ekstremnom ljevicom. Ebert je sada osuđen kao izdajica od strane Nezavisne socijalističke partije i Njemačke komunističke partije.

11. veljače 1919. Friedrich Ebert izabran je za prvog kancelara Weimarske republike. Ebert, zaokupljen ekonomskim problemima i strahom od daljnje revolucije, ostao je na dužnosti sve do svoje smrti u Berlinu 28. veljače 1925.

Socijaldemokratska stranka nastavila je biti najveća stranka u Weimarskoj republici sve do srpnja 1932. godine, kada je Nacionalsocijalistička njemačka radnička stranka (NSDAP) osvojila 230 mandata u odnosu na 133 SDP -ova.

SDP je u ožujku 1933. glasao protiv Zakona o omogućavanju, koji je Adolfu Hitleru dao diktatorske ovlasti. Nacistička stranka zabranila je SDP u lipnju 1933., a većina njezinih vođa uhićena je i poslana u koncentracijske logore.

SDP je ponovno formiran 1959. godine i posljednjih je godina sudjelovao u nekoliko koalicijskih vlada u Njemačkoj.

Socijaldemokratska stranka, dijete Karla Marxa i samog Fredericka Engelsa, odavno je prestala biti opasan revolucionarni pokret za koji su njegovi pristaše i protivnici mislili da je to bio prije 1914. Rat je otkrio da je to umjerena, ugledna domoljubna organizacija koja je lojalno podržavao carski rat i njegove ciljeve - tako lojalno da su se od njega odvojili njegovi radikalniji elementi. Brojčano najvažnija od njih bila je Nezavisna socijaldemokratska stranka, koja je neko vrijeme podržavala "mir bez aneksija i obeštećenja". Podržavalo ga je većina aktivista radničke klase u uniformama i bez njih, od upravitelja berlinskih inženjerskih radova do revolucionarnih mornara.

Koliko će dugo trajati psihološki razlozi podložnosti Hitleru suočeni s kontinuiranom ekonomskom nestabilnošću velike mase ljudi? Hitler je uspješno prodao Nijemcima ideju da je spasio zemlju i cijelu Europu od boljševizma, te da je boljševizam razorna sila, strogo židovski pokret. U posljednje vrijeme izraz boljševizam s previše upotrebe počeo je gubiti oštrinu. Katolici su također optuženi za boljševizam. Rezultat je bio njihov ulazak u oporbeni pokret. U Saaru se pojavljuje jedan od ilegalnih dokumenata podzemnog pokreta sa srpom i čekićem u kombinaciji s katoličkim križem. Svećenika koji je trebao biti uhićen upozorila je podzemna ruta; njegovu su kuću okružili radnici i seljaci iz susjedstva, od kojih je malo bilo katolika, a vojnici koji su ga došli uhititi okrenuli su se natrag ugledavši gustu gomilu.

Postojanje podzemnog pokreta poriče se u legalnom tisku, ali samo u Berlinu redovito izlazi dvadeset ilegalnih novina. Stotine drugih pojavljuju se nepravilno. Papire dijele djeca i radnici tijekom radnog vremena. Kazna za distribuciju takve krijumčarenja može biti koncentracijski logor; to može biti smrt. Štrajkovi su izdaja, a vođe se kažnjavaju smrću od strijeljanja ili osudama na koncentracijske logore. Ipak, štrajkovi se nastavljaju. Prošlog ljeta dogodili su se deseci, posebno u trgovini metalima. Ponekad se štrajk sastojao u pasivnom polaganju alata na sat vremena. Ponekad se rad samo usporavao, "lijepeći se", kako ih oni nazivaju, "za ruke". Nekada su se demonstrirali za oslobađanje Thälmanna, komunističkog vođe, ali u posljednje vrijeme nije ih bilo, pa se sa sigurnošću ne zna je li živ ili mrtav. Samo Nijemci koji svoje informacije dobivaju iz legalnog tiska imaju iluzije o takozvanoj "beskrvnoj revoluciji" nacista; krv je tekla i teče. No, ako je ovu prošlu godinu obilježila daljnja koncentracija bogatstva u rukama velikih industrijalaca, također je značajno da je u istom razdoblju podzemni pokret postigao najveći napredak.

Vanjski svijet uvijek je nestrpljiv zbog teškoća određene nacije. Drugi ljudi su uvijek vođe glupi i zavarani. Čak su i unutar same Njemačke neki radnici u podzemlju još uvijek zbunjeni iznenadnim Hitlerovim udarcem. Kako je moćni sindikalni pokret mogao biti tako lako slomljen? Njemački radnik, kažu, bio je ideološki najbolje obaviješten radnik na svijetu; čitao je ekonomiju, bio je upućen u marksističku teoriju. Njemački radnik također je bio strpljiv i obdaren moći čekanja i izdržavanja. Njegove vrline su mu postale zamka. Njegovo dugo školovanje u ranijoj militarističkoj Njemačkoj u čijem je redu bio bog učinilo ga je lakšim prevarantom.

Trebalo je vremena da se oporavi od udarca Hitlerove preuzimanja vlasti. U početku socijalisti i komunisti nisu radili zajedno i nisu imali veze s vanjskim skupinama. No obraćenje nije cilj podzemlja. Komunisti su spremni raditi s katolicima radi vjerske slobode, a ako mi je, kako mi je rekao jedan radnik u podzemlju, polovica skupine socijalista koji su s komunistima radili na tome da papirnato postanu komunisti, takav događaj rezultat je iskustva, a ne fokus pokreta. To što su neutralni umorni od parada, stalnih naredbi da se obilježe kuće, da se pojavljuju na ulicama radi "spontanih" demonstracija, malo je olakšalo rad podzemlja. Špijunsko oko možda nije spremno vidjeti sve što se oko njega događa. Štoviše, krug Hitlerovih neprijatelja širi se svaki mjesec. Nove regrute za podzemlje stvara sam Hitler. Kad raspusti Stahlhelm, odjednom dotakne mnoge obitelji koje prije nisu bile antagonisti. Za sada možda jednostavno nisu toliko spremni za vješanje zastava; oni mogu ugušiti svoju ogorčenost i samo se za sitnicu naljutiti na rast cijena; ali tim znakovima služe oporbi bez obzira znaju li to ili ne.

Među njima, komunisti i socijalisti imali su više glasova od Hitlera kojeg su financirali čelični magnati. No, budući da se nisu mogli ujediniti, Hitler je pobijedio i nastavio s brisanjem obje organizacije radničke klase. Socijalisti su se načelno protivili jedinstvu s komunistima i to ih je dovelo do poništenja. Komunisti su apelirali na socijaliste za jedinstvo, ali su inzistirali da to bude pod komunističkim uvjetima. Oni su se protivili jedinstvu radi obrane njemačke građanske demokracije od Hitlera i tvrdili su da socijalističko-komunističko jedinstvo mora biti uvjetovano prihvaćanjem diktature proletarijata.

Komunisti su djelovali prema teoriji da su socijaldemokrati "socijal-fašisti", štetan koncept i nepremostiva prepreka jedinstvu. Ova je teorija smatrala da socijalisti utiru put fašizmu i da se stoga mogu smatrati njegovim saveznicima. Ozbiljne pogreške oba pokreta pridonijele su Hitlerovoj pobjedi, no niti jedno se nije moglo nazvati njegovim saveznicima. Oni su mu bili neprijatelji, a članovi i vođe obje grupe završili su u nacističkim koncentracijskim logorima, u nacističkim mučenjima i stratištima.

Ova strašna objektna lekcija nije izgubljena u svijetu, a sigurno ni u komunistima, socijalistima i sindikalistima. Hitlerov režim ubojstava i ratnih priprema sada je suočio čovječanstvo s najvećom opasnošću u čitavoj povijesti. Nakon hitlerizma i gotovo svjetske depresije, u mnogim su zemljama nastali fašistički pokreti. Ovdje kod kuće cvjetali su fašistički demagozi poput oca Coughlina, Geralda L. K. Smitha i Huey Long. Nešto drugo počelo je cvjetati ovdje i u inozemstvu: popularni antifašistički pokreti, odlučni svugdje u borbi protiv fašizma.


Povijest njemačke socijaldemokratske stranke

U gotovo svakoj Internacionali, nakon prve, primjećujemo jednu dominantnu stranku. U drugom je to bila Njemačka socijaldemokratska partija (SPD), u Trećem je to bila Ruska komunistička partija, u Četvrtoj (u doba Trockog) bila je Socijalistička radnička partija (SWP) Sjedinjenih Država.   Stoga, ispitati povijest Internacionale znači usredotočiti se prvenstveno na povijest svoje dominantne stranke, pratiti njezin uspon i pad.

Povijest stranke borba je frakcija unutar nje. No, ova je povijest samo subjektivna strana problema. Objektivnu stranu problema predstavljaju svjetski ratovi, revolucije, društveni i ekonomski problemi tog vremena. Stoga se svaka povijest Internacionale mora baviti objektivnim i subjektivnim stranama problema.

Stoga se povijest Druge internacionale okvirno mora baviti sljedećim glavnim temama:

1) povijest Njemačke socijaldemokratske stranke (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD, od sada)

3) revolucije koje su slijedile iz ovog rata, uglavnom ruske, njemačke i mađarske. Osim toga, uspona je bilo i u Irskoj, Bugarskoj i Poljskoj. I Italija je bila na rubu revolucije čija je represija dovela do uspona Mussolinija i fašističkog pokreta.  

Povijest Njemačke socijaldemokratske stranke (SPD)

Izvori informacija o povijesti SPD -a

Valja napomenuti da su i  Karl Marx  and  F. Engels je kritizirao njemačku socijaldemokraciju. Ovdje je od posebnog interesa   "Kritika Gotha programa", 1875. i Engelsovo pismo Bebelu 1875. godine.

Jedan izvor o povijesti SPD -a je "Povijest njemačke socijaldemokracije" Franca Mehringa#160. Mehring je bio jedan od vođa lijevog krila SPD -a#160 tijekom Prvog svjetskog rata. Međutim, njegove su se knjige uglavnom bavile prvim godinama SPD -a.   Netko bi to mogao nazvati "prapoviješću".

Da bismo razumjeli "revizionizam" u SPD -u, potrebno je pročitati glavnog revizionista Marxa - Eduarda Bernsteina. Glavna autorska knjiga o ovoj temi prevedena je na engleski kao "Evolucijski socijalizam", 1899. (dostupno na  www.marxists.org).  

Blizina Bernsteina  is  Karla Kautskog. Da biste razumjeli ovog "socijalistu", preporučujem da pročitate zbirku njegovih članaka prikupljenih na engleskom pod naslovom "Socijaldemokracija protiv komunizma"   (dostupno na  www.marxists.org).

Da bih čuo kritiku Kautskog, preporučujem knjigu  Leninove "Proleterske revolucije i odmetnuti Karl Kautsky", 1918.    

August Bebel   je dosadan pisac. Pokušao sam pročitati njegove   "Reminiscences"   nekoliko puta, ali nisam uspio dovršiti. Mnogo je zanimljiviji "Moj život"  Leona Trockog. Poglavlje XVI. Naziva se "Druga imigracija i njemački socijalizam".

Konačno, Rosa Luxembourg. Njezina glavna knjiga za razumijevanje njemačke socijaldemokracije je   "Junijev pamflet", 1915.  

Borba između Lassaleanaca i Eisenacha

SPD je nastao u savezu dviju frakcija: Lassalleansa i Eisenacha. Ko su bile dvije frakcije?

Ferdinand Lassalle (1825-1864) bio je sin bogatog židovskog trgovca. Sudjelovao je u revoluciji 1848-49, za što je dobio godinu dana zatvora i zabranjen mu je život u Berlinu. Međutim, 1855. Lassalle se obratio policijskom komesaru i pruskom princu, moleći da se zabrana ukine. Prema Marxu, ovo je bio kompromis s moćima koje postoje.

Početkom 1860 -ih, Lassalle drži govore u radničkim klubovima.  Godine 1863. osnovao je##Opće njemačko udruženje radnika (ADAV,  Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein). Načela organizacije bila su: 1) borba za opće pravo glasa mirnim, legalnim sredstvima 2) državne subvencije za radničke proizvodne zadruge.

Marx je u pismu od 13. listopada 1868. upućen  Schweitzeru, tadašnjem predsjedniku ADAV -a, Lassallea okarakterizirao na sljedeći način: "Što se tiče unije Lassalle, ona se pojavila u razdoblju reakcije. Nakon 15. godine, Lassalle je u Njemačkoj probudio radnički pokret, i to je njegova besmrtna služba. Ali napravio je velike greške. Sitno polazište - njegovo protivljenje Schulze -Delitzeu - učinio je središnju točku njegove agitacije, - državna potpora za razliku od samopomoći. Tako je bio prisiljen na kompromise s pruskom monarhijom i pruskom reakcijom (feudalne stranke) pa čak i klericima ".

Lassalle je bio poznat po kompromisu s Bismarckom. Na primjer, kada je gradonačelnik Zolingena, član građanske napredne stranke, zatvorio radnički sastanak s Lassalleom, kasnije je poslao telegram Bismarcku u kojem je zatražio zaštitu ministra Junkera od buržoaskog gradonačelnika.

Prema Mehringu, 1864. godine došlo je do privatnih pregovora između Lassallea i Bismarcka u pogledu izbornog prava i državnog kredita za radnička produktivna udruženja. Sve Lassalleve spise autor je prvo poslao Bismarcku. Ministar Junker rekao je za Lassalle 1878. (tj. 14 godina nakon kasnije smrti): "Naši odnosi nisu mogli poprimiti karakter političkih pregovora. Što mi je Lassalle mogao ponuditi i dati? Nije imao ništa što bi ga podržalo ".

U to vrijeme u Pruskoj se vodila borba između Junkera (posjednika) i buržoazije. Junkersi su koristili organizaciju Lassalle kao podršku svom programu. Na primjer, Lassalle je htio da radnici iz Hamburga donesu rezoluciju kojom se poziva Bismarck da se pridruži Schleswig-Holsteinu (država na sjeveru Njemačke) Pruskoj. To je bilo protiv volje Austrije, a sjedinjenje Pruske s Austrijom bio je politički plan buržoaskih stranaka. U međuvremenu, savez Pruske s drugim manjim njemačkim državama, bez Austrije, bio je politički plan pruskih Junkera.

Dana 15. prosinca 1864. izašao je probni broj "Socijaldemokrata", novina ADAV -a. Marx i Engels bili su među suradnicima. U novinama je Schweizer pozitivno govorio o Bismarcku i Kaiseru. Marx i Engels napustili su uredništvo. U izjavi od 23. veljače 1865. zahtijevali su da se u odnosu na feudalno-apsolutističku stranku koristi isti jezik kao i prema naprednoj stranci. Uredništvo je napustio i W. Leibknekht jer je Schweizer bio previše mekan prema službenoj Pruskoj.

Nakon Lassalleove smrti, njegovi su sljedbenici bili poznati po kompromisima s članovima Bismarckove vlade. Lassalleov prijatelj, Bucher, postao je dužnosnik Bismarckove vlade i bio je poznat po tome što je pisao dopise Bismarcku. Marx i Engels bili su sumnjičavi prema Schweizeru. Godine 1873. njegova desna ruka,  Carl Wilhelm Tölcke, rekao je na sastanku čelnika ADAV-a: "Neko vrijeme prije nego što je otišao u zatvor, Schweizer mi je rekao da u slučaju da se bilo što dogodi, uvijek mogu otići u predsjedništvo berlinske policije. Schweizer je otišao sa mnom i predstavio mi je posebno važno to što je pokazao dobro poznavanje situacije u prostorijama. " Tolcke je također rekao da je Schweizer u svoje privatne svrhe koristio članarinu koju su platili članovi udruge. Nakon sastanka, Schweizer je izbačen iz ADAV -a glasovima 5595 naspram 1177.

Za razliku od Lassalleansa, u to se vrijeme pojavila druga stranka radničke klase Njemačke. Njegovo podrijetlo (poput ADAV -a) datira iz 1863. godine, kada je u Frankfurtu osnovano Savez njemačkih radničkih klubova. Federacija je nastala kao lijevo krilo građanske stranke. Bebel i Rosmessler bili su vođe ovog pokreta. Liebknekht, koji je izvorno bio u ADAV -u, 1865. pridružio se Federaciji. 1866. održan je sastanak predstavnika saksonskih radničkih klubova i ADAV -a. Kao rezultat sastanka osnovana je Saska narodna stranka, političko krilo Federacije njemačkih radničkih klubova. Na čelu stranke bili su A. Bebel i W. Liebknecht. Stranka je usvojila "program Hemnitz" (1866). Program:

1) dao osvrt na političku situaciju u ovom trenutku: kraj rata između Pruske i Austrije

2) raspravljalo o "njemačkom pitanju", tj. Problemu ujedinjenja Njemačke

3) tražio različita demokratska prava.

Trebamo napomenuti da politički program sličan je medicinskoj dijagnozi, trebao bi ponuditi ocjenu situacije. Stoga, ako stranka teži globalnoj revoluciji, njezin program trebao bi ponuditi globalnu analizu.

Između Saske narodne stranke i ADAV -a postojale su značajne razlike. ADAV je vjerovao da je kompromis moguć kada radnici podupiru buržoaskog kandidata u jednom okrugu, pod uvjetom da buržoaske stranke podržavaju kandidate radnika u drugom. Za Liebknechta, s druge strane, glavna točka parlamentarnih izbora bila je prosvjetljenje radnika. Schweizer (iz ADAV -a) prihvatio je Sjevernonjemačku konfederaciju, koju je zagovarao Bismarck, dok se Liebknecht tome protivio. Schweizer je bio za sjedinjenje s drugim klasama nacije protiv "intriga Bonaparte" Liebknecht je smatrao da Bismarck zaslužuje poteškoće koje su Francuska i Austrija nanijele protiv Pruske. Liebknekht je Schweizera proglasio agentom Bismarcka, dok je Schweizer Liebknekhta proglasio u tajnom sporazumu s buržoazijom.

Schweizer je doista imao osnova za optužbe protiv Liebknekhta. "Na pitanje 'kakav stav Socijaldemokratska radnička stranka zauzima prema rezolucijama Baselskog kongresa Prve internacionale u pogledu pretvaranja zemlje u kolektivno vlasništvo', list SDWP je odgovorio: 'Nema. Svaki član stranke može i trebao bi zauzeti određeno stajalište, ali stranka kao takva to ne mora činiti. "To je dalo Schwizeru osnovu da kaže kako Eisenachi nemaju hrabrosti priznati svoje pristaše jednog od glavnih načela znanstvenog komunizma, tj. socijalizacije sredstva za proizvodnju, jer je Njemačka pučka stranka (od koje je Saksonska narodna stranka činila ogranak) zahtijevala izravno odricanje od Baselskog manifesta ". F. Mehring također spominje da je Savez njemačkih radničkih klubova subvencionirao buržoaski "Nacionalistički savez". Podrška Baselskom manifestu značila je gubitak ove subvencije.  

Unatoč razlikama, bilo je pokušaja da se dvije stranke ujedine. Radničke novine su 17. srpnja 1869. najavile opći socijaldemokratski radnički kongres za 7.-9. kolovoza 1869. u Eisenchu. Na sastanku je bilo 110 delegata iz ADAV -a, koji predstavljaju 102 tisuće članova, te 262 delegata iz Federacije, koji predstavljaju 140 tisuća radnika. Nakon početnog sastanka postalo je jasno da je međusobni rad nemoguć, pa je svaka od dvije frakcije otišla na svoj sastanak. Delegati Federacije činili su "Socijaldemokratsku radničku stranku", prema planu koji je pripremio Bebel. Stoga je ova stranka dobila ime "Eisenachs".

1874. Tolcke, desna ruka Schweizera, govori vodstvu SDWP -a o ujedinjenju dviju organizacija. Na ovom sindikatu inzistirao je Schweizer: "sindikat po svaku cijenu - s  vođe, ako to žele,  bez them, ako će ostati pasivni, i  protiv them, ako će se usprotiviti ". ADAV ne predstavlja posebne uvjete za ujedinjenje, što iznenađuje čelnike SDWP -a. Pretpostavljamo da je Bismarck, koji je vjerojatno stajao iza ADAV -a, želio sindikat kako bi kontrolirao obje organizacije.

Godine 1875. u Gotha je ujedinjeni kongres. Marx u pismu vodstvu SDWP -a kritizira okvirni program nove stranke. Napada neprecizne, složene formulacije programa, usmjerene prema "popularnom" razumijevanju. Marx se protivi klišeima iz Lassallea koje je nova ujedinjena stranka namjeravala usvojiti, poput lasalovske krilatice "nesmanjenog prihoda od rada". Osim toga, kritizirao je program zbog nedostatka međunarodnog usmjerenja. Radi spajanja, čelnici SDWP -a odustali su od svojih marksističkih načela i usvojili preoblikovanje Lassallean mumbo jumbo -a.

Engels u pismu A. Bebelu, 1875., ponavlja prigovore koje on, zajedno s Marxom, ima protiv programa:

  1. Za početak, usvajaju visoko zvučni, ali povijesno lažni Lassallean izrek: u odnosu na radničku klasu sve ostale klase samo su jedna reakcionarna masa
  2. Drugo, načelo da je radnički pokret internacionalni, prema svim namjerama i namjerama, potpuno je poricano u odnosu na sadašnjost, i to od strane ljudi koji su, u razdoblju od pet godina i pod najtežim uvjetima, podržavali to načelo na najhvalniji način
  3. Treće, naši su se ljudi dopustili opsjednuti lasaelskim "željeznim zakonom o plaćama" koji se temelji na potpuno zastarjelom ekonomskom gledištu, naime da u prosjeku radnici primaju samo minimalnu plaću jer, prema maltuzijanskoj teoriji stanovništva, uvijek ima previše radnika (takvo je bilo Lassalleovo razmišljanje).
  4. Četvrto, kao svoju  jedinu i jedinu društvenu ف potražnju, program nudi - Lassalleovu državnu pomoć u svom najvećem obliku, koju je ukrao Lassalle iz Bucheza
  5. Peto, apsolutno se ne spominje ostvarivanje radničke klase kao klase posredstvom sindikata (jer se Lassalle protivio sindikatima i radije je organizirao svoj narod kao sektu).
  6. Država slobodnog naroda pretvara se u slobodnu državu. Gramatički gledano, slobodno stanje je jedno. s despotskom vladom
  7. "Uklanjanje svih društvenih i političkih nejednakosti", a ne "ukidanje svih klasnih razlika", na sličan je način najsumnjiviji izraz. Budući da će između jedne zemlje, jedne pokrajine, pa čak i jednog i drugog mjesta, uvjeti života uvijek dokazivati ​​a &# 160određena   nejednakost koja se može svesti na minimum, ali nikada u potpunosti ukloniti
  8. “Službenom programu stranke pridaje se manja važnost nego onome što radi. Ali   a  new  program je ipak transparent postavljen u javnosti,  i vanjski svijet po njemu sudi stranci ”.

Napomenimo to savez revolucionarnih i reformističkih stranaka u pravilu završava pobjedom refomističkih načela. Uzmimo primjer Francuske. 1905. vidjeli smo ujedinjenje revolucionarnog i reformističkog krila Francuske socijalističke partije. Fridland i Slutsky pišu: "Iako je ujedinjenje socijalističke partije bilo rezultat čistki reformističke skupine (Mil'eran, Brian i Viviani), a platforma ujedinjenja očitovala je pobjedu Gedistovih načela klasnog rata, uskoro je Utvrđeno je da stranka nije odbacila reformizam na djelu. Ovdje je, kao i u Njemačkoj, odbacivanje revolucionarnih načela bilo sve izraženije što je stranka jačala, to je više izbornih uspjeha postizala ". Možemo pretpostaviti da bi, ako bi se boljševici u Rusiji ujedinili s menjševicima u jedinstvenu socijaldemokratsku stranku, pobijedila i reformska načela.


Demokratsko-republikanska stranka

Iako američki Ustav ne spominje političke stranke, frakcije su se ubrzo razvile među osnivačima novih nacija.

Federalisti, uključujući Georgea Washingtona, Johna Adamsa i Alexandera Hamiltona, favorizirali su snažnu središnju vladu i nacionalni bankarski sustav, kojim je upravljao Hamilton.

No 1792. pristaše Thomasa Jeffersona i Jamesa Madisona, koji su se zalagali za decentraliziranu, ograničenu vladu, formirali su oporbenu frakciju koja će postati poznata kao demokratsko-republikanci.

Unatoč tome što je Washington u svom poznatom oproštajnom upozorenju upozorio Washington na opasnost od političkih stranaka, borba za moć između federalista i Demokratsko-republikanske stranke dominirala je ranom vladom, a Jefferson i njegovi pristaše pojavili su se uvelike trijumfalno nakon 1800. godine.

Federalisti su stalno gubili tlo početkom 19. stoljeća, a potpuno su se raspali nakon rata 1812.


Revolucija ↑

Nakon izbijanja revolucije u studenom 1918., dvije socijaldemokratske stranke privremeno su surađivale u Vijeću narodnih komesara revolucionarne vlade (Rat der Volksbeauftragten) prije nego što su temeljna neslaganja oko dizajna Republike ponovno razorila stare rovove i USPD je napustila Revolucionarnu vladu krajem prosinca 1918. U prosincu 1920. lijevo krilo se spojilo s Komunističkom partijom Njemačke (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, ili KPD), koju su krajem 1918. osnovali Spartakisti i druge radikalne skupine, dok se desničarski USPD ponovno ujedinio s MSPD -om u rujnu 1922. SPD i KPD ostali su nepomirljivi do kraja Weimarske republike.


Walter Mühlhausen, Stiftung Reichspräsident-Friedrich-Ebert-Gedenkstätte


Socijaldemokracija

Definicija: socijaldemokrat je obično član koji plaća plaću pretplate lijeve, bivše komunističke ili lijeve političke stranke koja kombinira u osnovi socijalističke ciljeve s ustavnim metodama, uz opće prihvaćanje (ili toleranciju) nekih od osnovnih načela kapitalističkog sustava. Sadašnji sustav u Kini pada mi na pamet kao nenadmašan primjer bivše komunističke zemlje koja prihvaća mnoga načela socijaldemokracije. Loš primjer bila bi Kuba, gdje je sustav u potpunosti totalitaristički, a metodologija ranog sovjetizma u sovjetskoj Rusiji uobičajena.

Vjeruje se da su naziv 'socijaldemokrat' izumili Wilhelm Liebknecht i August Bebel u Njemačkoj, pri osnivanju svoje njemačke Socijaldemokratske laburističke stranke 1869. Partija se temeljila na učenjima Karla Marxa, iako je preporučavala evolucijsku reformu demokratskim i ustavnim sredstvima.

Stranka se pridružila Njemačkom radničkom udruženju 1875., koje je i sam osnovao Ferdinand Lasalle 1863. Preimenovano u Socijaldemokratsku stranku, podvrgnuto je antisocijalističkom zakonodavstvu od strane Otto von Bismarcka (q.v.).

U drugim zemljama pojavile su se kopije SPD -a, osobito u Danskoj (1878), Britaniji (1883), Norveškoj (1887), Austriji (1889), the Sjedinjenim Državama (1897, kasnije postajući „Socijalistička partija“, a kasnije i kasnije ‘The Demokratska stranka ’) i Rusiji (1898). U potonjoj zemlji Socijaldemokratska partija (1903.) podijelila se na boljševičku i menjševičku frakciju.

U nekim zemljama (na primjer, u Francuskoj, Italiji i Španjolskoj) njeni članovi obično su usvojili naziv „Socijalistička partija“. U Njemačkoj je SDP bio najveća stranka u Weimarskoj republici (q.v.), koja je podnošljivo upravljala zemljom sve do zabrane 1933., kada je predsjednik von Hindenberg imenovao Adolfa Hitlera za šefa vlade.

Nakon Drugog svjetskog rata stranka u tadašnjoj Zapadnoj Njemačkoj reformirana je novim ustavom (1959.), čime je prekinuta svaka marksistička veza. Godine 1966. ušla je u koaliciju s Kršćanskim demokratima, a zatim još jednu koaliciju sa Slobodnim demokratima između 1969. i 1982. Stvari su bile drugačije u tadašnjoj Istočnoj Njemačkoj, oživljeni SDP je 1990. godine vodio kampanju za svoju dužnost nakon sloma komunista režim.

U Britaniji su četiri ugledna člana Laburističke stranke podnijela ostavku 1981. godine i osnovala Socijaldemokratsku stranku. Imao je kratak i besprijekoran život. Spojila se s Liberalnom strankom 1988. godine i formirala „Socijalne i liberalne demokrate“, ali je ta glomazna oznaka skraćena na „Liberalni demokrati“ 1989. godine.

Lideri rada Kinnock, Smith i Blair reformirali su britansku Laburističku stranku 80 -ih i 90 -ih godina prošlog stoljeća. Danas zadržava naziv, ali bi se točnije moglo opisati kao socijaldemokratska, a ne samo kao socijalistička stranka.


Socijaldemokratska stranka (SPD)

Socijaldemokratska partija (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschland, ili SPD) bila je najstarija njemačka formalna politička stranka. Do uspona nacional -socijalista (NSDAP), SDP je bio i najznačajnija stranka weimarskog doba.

Podrijetlo

SPD je započeo 1875., prvenstveno kao marksistički pokret nastao iz sindikata dviju radničkih stranaka. Novoformirani SPD uspio je iskoristiti veliku bazu navijača industrijskih radnika i sindikalista.

Godine 1877 Reichstag Na izborima su kandidati SPD -a dobili više od 500.000 glasova i osvojili 13 mandata. Iako su te brojke učinile SPD manjinskom strankom koja nije mogla utjecati na politiku, njezin brzi rast i sve veća popularnost alarmirali su carsku vladu.

1878. njemački kancelar Otto von Bismarck proglasio je prvi od nekoliko antisocijalističkih zakona. Izgovor za to bila su dva neuspjela pokušaja atentata na kaisera Wilhelma I. 1878. Bismarck je okrivio SPD i njegovu marksističku ideologiju za poticanje revolucije i terorizma.

Veći dio 1880 -ih SPD je bio meta brojnih policijskih racija, pojedinačnih uhićenja, nadzora i neprijateljske vladine propagande. Nekoliko militantnih sindikata također je bilo meta ili razbijeno. Dok je SPD nastavio djelovati u tom razdoblju, stranci je bilo teško privući članove ili potencijalne kandidate.

Crtić koji prikazuje Bismarcka kako cilja na SPD i liberalne političare

SPD umjeren

SPD je preživio Bismarckovo suzbijanje i do kraja 1880 -ih ponovno je bio u porastu, potaknut oživljenim sindikalnim pokretom. Do 1890 -ih godina SPD je zauzeo umjereniji politički stav.

U razdoblju nakon Bismarcka, čelnici SPD-a i kandidati zalagali su se za socijaldemokratske reforme, a ne za socijalističku revoluciju. Prihvatili su uzroke izvan uvjeta radnika, pozivajući na poboljšanje prava žena i osuđujući ubijanje domorodaca od strane njemačkih kolonijalaca u Africi.

Broj kandidata SPD -a stalno je rastao tijekom 1890 -ih i 1900 -ih. Do 1912. SPD je imala više od milijun članova i bila je najveća stranka u Reichstag. Počeo je ostvarivati ​​utjecaj na javnu politiku, postižući poboljšanja u obrazovanju i zdravstvu, kao i bolja prava i uvjete za industrijske radnike.

SPD je također počeo surađivati, a ne protiv vlade Kajzera Wilhelma II. 1913. SPD je podržao povećane poreze koji su bili potrebni za financiranje Kajzerova programa vojne ekspanzije.

Frakcionizam i rascjepi

Kao što je uobičajeno u velikim političkim strankama, glavna slabost SPD -a bila je njegova ideološka raznolikost i frakcionizam u cijelom članstvu. Sa više od milijun članova, SPD je sadržavao niz stavova iz cijelog političkog spektra.

Vodstvo stranke bili su umjereni socijalisti, predani progresivnim reformama kroz demokratske procese. August Bebel (the SPD’s founder and first leader) and Friedrich Ebert (Bebel’s successor) believed socialist advances could be won through parliamentary means rather than violence or revolution.

The SPD also had a right-wing, comprised of liberals and centrists, and a radical left-wing, containing hardline socialists and Marxists. The latter group embraced more radical policies such as the abolition of the monarchy and the dissolution of aristocratic titles and landed estates.

War divides the party

The divisions within the party were generally manageable. At times of controversy or crisis, however, the SPD’s factions tended to turn on each other. No issue tested the cohesion of the SPD more than the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

The SPD’s radical left-wing took a strong stance against the war, arguing that it was an unnecessary, aggressive and imperialistic adventure. They condemned the war and the moderates in their own party for endorsing it. Some of these anti-war figures, such as Karl Liebknecht, were arrested and imprisoned by the government while others were expelled from the SPD.

A radical faction of the SPD, led by Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, broke away from the party and formed the Spartakusbund. This group led an unsuccessful revolution in January 1919 and reformed as the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).

The Communists despited moderate SPD leaders for their alliance with the right-wing Freikorps and their alleged involvement in the murders of Luxemburg and Liebknecht. As a consequence, the SPD and KPD never reconciled. The two parties remained bitter rivals during the 1920s and early 1930s.

A major player

Until the rise of the NSDAP in the early 1930s, the SPD was the largest political party of the Weimar era. It was the only party to win more than 100 seats at every Reichstag election, beginning with 165 seats in January 1919.

Despite its internal divisions and Germany’s political and economic woes, the SPD remained a strong and consistent supporter of the Weimar Republic and its constitution.

The SPD was a major partner in all but one of the Weimar coalitions. SPD deputies sat in all Weimar era cabinets, three of them as chancellor (Philipp Scheidemann, Gustav Bauer and Hermann Muller.

The party’s approach during the 1920s was moderate and conciliatory: it tried to walk a fine line between steady, conservative policies and progressive reforms, without really succeeding at either. By the early 1930s, the SPD had lost almost half of its voter base. Most were frustrated at the party’s inability to secure stable and lasting progress in Germany.

A historian’s view:
“During the period of the Weimar Republic, the SPD remained essentially a party of the working class and made very little inroad into the middle classes. Part of the problem for the SPD at this stage was that it was limited by attachments to its trade union movement and was concerned that any attempt at a more concerted appeal to the middle classes would lose it votes to the communists.”
Stephen Lee

1. The Social Democratic Party or SPD was originally a Marxist-socialist party. It was formed in Germany in 1875 from two workers’ groups.

2. In the 1880s the rapidly growing SPD was subjected to suppression and persecution after the passing of Bismarck’s Anti-Socialist Laws.

3. By the early 1900s, the party leadership adopted moderate social-democratic policies and became more willing to work with the Kaiser’s government.

4. The SPD was split by the party leadership’s support for World War I, with the radical left-wing breaking away to form the Spartacist League and KPD.

5. The SPD supported the Weimar Republic and for much of the Republic’s lifespan was its largest single party. The SPD was well represented in the Reichstag and participated in all coalitions and cabinets until the rise of the NSDAP.

Citation information
Title: “The Social Democratic Party (SPD)”
Authors: Jennifer Llewellyn, Steve Thompson
Publisher: Alpha History
URL: https://alphahistory.com/weimarrepublic/social-democratic-party-spd/
Date published: September 19, 2019
Date accessed: Today’s date
Copyright: The content on this page may not be republished without our express permission. For more information on usage, please refer to our Terms of Use.


Every 10 years the SPD (German Social Democratic Party) presents the grotesque spectacle of its regular anniversary celebration. On May 23, the SPD was 140 years old. No other party places so much emphasis on history and tradition—and is, at the same time, so disinterested in historical truth and in learning lessons from history.

Even a quick look at the entrance ticket to this year’s festivities forced a sharp gasp of breath. Depiction of the party’s ancestral line begins with a portrait of August Bebel and ends with Gerhard Schröder—and between them: Rosa Luxemburg, Kurt Schumacher and Willy Brandt. What a decline! Enough to make one cry, “Hands off Bebel and Luxemburg—the great socialists!”

What is so striking about the current celebrations is that no one is in the mood for celebrating. For months, the party’s chairman has been blackmailing party members to support an austerity programme, affecting all areas of society and overturning everything that the SPD formerly stood for. The state’s social security schemes, which are almost as old as the SPD itself and were introduced by the first German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, as a means to cut the ground from under the feet of the fledgling SPD, are now being dismantled by a social democratic government. What an irony of history.

Just 130 years ago, Bismarck was powerless to prevent the rise of the SPD, either with the carrot of social reform or the whip of anti-socialist legislation. Now, a social democratic chancellor is demolishing state social security provision step by step, thereby inaugurating the final stage of the long political degeneration of his own party.

When a dozen or so parliamentary representatives demonstrated against this by trying to collect signatures for a survey of party members’ opinions, the party executive was outraged. Franz Müntefering, leader of the parliamentary faction and former general secretary of the party, called the initiative “one big dirty trick” and threatened that any MP “who stabbed the chancellor in the back” would have to pay the consequences. Today, fundamental democratic rights are suppressed and every “deviant” intimidated in the party that in its early years had democracy and socialism written large on its flag.

Accompanied by applause from the right-wing media, Chancellor Schröder raises the question of confidence in his leadership and the threat of his resignation before every major party and parliamentary vote. Many commentators see this as a sign of strong leadership and congratulate him, but in fact the truth is quite the opposite. A party leader who can only maintain his authority by making ultimatums and threatening to resign has basically already lost his authority. Obsequious and always available for discussion with company managers and business organisations, Schröder has established an outright dictatorship within his own party and silenced all opposition.

During a speech on May 22, party leader Schröder solemnly declared that his Agenda 2010 programme was in “the best social democratic tradition.” Quite true! Since opportunism took over the party just 90 years ago, it has always gone the way of least resistance, thereby aiding and abetting the most reactionary social forces.

This is happening again today. The planned social cutbacks and the way the social democratic leadership treats the party and parliament are encouraging and strengthening the right-wingers of the CDU/CSU (Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union) coalition and the FDP (Free Democratic Party). The situation is reminiscent of the 1920s and 1930s. At that time, the anti-social policies of the government of Hermann Müller, a social democrat, paved the way for Heinrich Brüning, a centrist who then invoked emergency decrees and paved the way for the Hitler dictatorship. Even at the time, it was clear that the reduction and abolition of social, democratic and parliamentary rights, initiated by the SPD, would finally be directed against the SPD itself.

However, this party has long forgotten how to draw lessons from history or reflect on the political consequences of its attacks on social and democratic rights. That is also the case in relation to the opposition within the party. This internal opposition criticises the Schröder leadership but can offer no alternative. Oskar Lafontaine, a former SPD cabinet minister under Schröder, uses every opportunity to accuse the party leadership of betraying election promises and points out that this government is conducting a redistribution of society’s wealth in favour of the rich in a manner more remorseless than any other post-war government. But what is his answer to the crisis?

As party chairman, architect of the 1998 election victory and finance minister, Lafontaine had the chance to put his words into deeds. But as soon as the business community put him under pressure, he threw in the towel and gave way to Schröder. Not only Schröder, who is well known for his readiness to read the lips of company managers, but also Lafontaine is unwilling to stand up to the business lobby. He, too, wants to avoid a mobilisation of the masses and social conflict. But he took the cowardly course of retiring from office because the neo-liberal offensive cannot be stopped without a broad mobilisation of the population.

Reminiscent of the way Karl Kautsky betrayed the principles of the revolution a hundred years ago, when party practice had long been following the opportunistic theories of Eduard Bernstein, Lafontaine today invokes the phraseology of 1970s social reformism, although the party has long been set on a course of economic liberalism. Just as in the past, the opposing tendencies in the SPD merely represent the left and right varieties of opportunism—although reformism has also degenerated totally over the last hundred years.

No one any longer expects from this party any serious contribution to a progressive solution to major social problems. A mood of depression and morbidity dominated this year’s SPD birthday party. According to the party executive, 7,283 members of the SPD left the party last month—an average of 242 each day.

The main argument of the utterly blockheaded party bureaucracy runs: If we don’t do it, the conservatives will, and everything will be even worse. In view of the difficult economic situation—national and international—no other way remains but the abolition of social provisions for the weakest in society and tax concessions for the strongest and the richest.

The tax reform implemented three years ago by the current government relieved companies of tax payments amounting to 30 billion euros. Not only do many major companies not pay a single cent of tax but taxation offices have actually been reimbursing them with millions of euros over the last two years. Rarely before has a government so openly and shamelessly acted as the rich man’s bailiff in this way—and always with the argument that there’s nothing else that can be done.

There could be no sharper contrast to the founding years of the SPD. In imperial Germany at that time, social conditions were far worse, but the response of the early social democrats was just the opposite: Something has to be done! Tremendous optimism and the conviction that the political and cultural education of the masses constituted the key to a better and fairer society inspired the political endeavours of the young August Bebel and other socialists of those early days.

When delegates from 11 towns and cities assembled in Leipzig in May 1863 and founded the General Association of German Workers in the presence of approximately 600 workers, the 23-year-old Bebel was only a delegate in the audience, but he was already highly regarded in the Workers Education Organisation. Six years later, he founded the Social Democratic Workers’ Party together with Wilhelm Liebknecht and entered the First International.

This was the beginning of a powerful movement that soon conquered the hearts and minds of workers in the towns and the countryside. Basing itself on the teachings of Marx and Engels, the early social democracy became the catchword for the struggle for freedom and democracy.

The speeches of August Bebel gave concrete rendering to the vision of a new, higher level of society. From then on, the tone of the party was no longer to be set by exploitation and personal enrichment paired with stupidity and arrogance, but by notions of social equality, solidarity and education for all. Party membership rocketed in spite of attempts to suppress it by the Prussian authoritarian state and Bismarck’s anti-socialist laws.

At the turn of the century, the sense of an imminent change towards a better future was widespread and was based on rapid developments in science and technology. However, the dynamic rise of capitalism also nourished the conditions for a rapidly growing stream of opportunism that finally engrossed a major part of the party leadership. Only a year after Bebel’s death, the SPD parliamentary faction voted to accept the Kaiser’s request for war expenditure in August 1914, thus leading millions of workers into the slaughterhouse of the First World War.

This betrayal had devastating consequences for the entire twentieth century. From then on, the SPD devoted itself entirely to the maintenance of the bourgeois order and saw itself as responsible for the suppression of any revolutionary change. When the Russian Revolution gave a powerful impulse to the socialist movement at the end of the war and the Kaiser was deposed in Germany, the SPD’s official party organ Vorwärts published advertisements for the counter-revolutionary Free Corps—the paramilitary war veterans organisation that later produced many of the leading Nazis.

While the SPD’s chairman and future president of the German Reich, Friedrich Ebert, cooperated with the military high command, his party friend Gustav Noske, as head of the military department, organised the bloody suppression of the Spartakus rebellion and allowed thousands of revolutionary workers to be slaughtered. The most prominent victims were Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

This was followed by the refusal of the SPD to fight alongside the communists against Hitler and the National Socialists. After Hitler’s rise to power, the social democratic trade union leaders offered to cooperate with the fascist regime, though this failed to save them from the concentration camps. Leon Trotsky wrote in 1932: “The most decrepit layer of decrepit capitalist Europe is the social democratic bureaucracy.”

Owing to the role of Stalinism in the Soviet Union and internationally, the SPD again became influential after the Second World War. It exploited the crimes of the Stalinist bureaucracy to stir up anticommunist sentiment. Moreover, the post-war economic recovery seemed to back the claim that the social market economy was a successful alternative to socialism.

The SPD achieved its greatest success at the beginning of the 1970s—shortly after the post-war boom had reached its height. Since then, it has declined at an increasingly rapid rate. The end of the Cold War also heralded the final stage in the decomposition of the SPD. There no longer exists the slightest basis for politics based on class compromise and the welfare state. The new role of the United States, under whose protective umbrella social democracy had been able to carry out its reformist policies, has now made the SPD irrelevant.

August Bebel would doubtless have had nothing but scorn and derision for today’s SPD with all its bickering factions and tendencies. The process of decay has advanced enormously since Rosa Luxemburg referred to the party as a “stinking corpse.”

Contrary to those who regard the twentieth century as the grave of all socialist aspirations, Bebel and Luxemburg were apt to reflect that the birth of bourgeois society was also painful and took a long time. They regarded the great achievements in science and technology as proof of the enormous creative energy of humanity. And instead of moaning about the demise of a political party that has long since outlived its relevance, they would call for the working population to take up the struggle to determine its own political fate.


What Happened to Marxism in Germany after Marx

Karl Marx had envisioned an international movement without boundaries. (Image: Good Luck Photo/Shutterstock)

Nationalist parties formed in different countries although Karl Marx had expected it to be more of an international movement without boundaries. Therefore, these parties came together in the Second International, or the Socialist International. It was established in the highly symbolic year of 1889, the 100 th anniversary of the French Revolution. The Second International was planned to continue the work of the First International. They met in international congresses that were held periodically. In these congresses they renewed their promises of international solidarity.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels collaborated to found modern socialism. (Image: Photo of Karl Marx by Friedrich Karl WunderPhoto of Friedrich Engels by George Lester/Public domain)

More than 20 countries took part in the congresses and they did some considerable work for the improvement of working conditions. For example the eight-hour working day, the introduction of International Women’s Day (8 March), and the International Workers’ Day (1 May) were all first suggested or campaigned in these congresses.

Ovo je prijepis iz video serije The Rise of Communism: From Marx to Lenin. Watch it now, on Wondrium.

The German Social Democratic Party

The national parties that participated in the Second International came from many different countries. But the most significant national socialist party was the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), which was established in 1875.

During the Second Industrial Revolution, Germany was rapidly turning into an industrialized country. The SPD also had started to grow in the political arena. They had aimed for the parliament (the Reichstag) and planned to increase the number of their deputies in the parliament. In a period of three years, from 1871 to 1874, the size of their national vote tripled. With the advances of industrialization, their popularity among people also increased. In the 1877 parliament election, half a million people voted for the SPD. This popularity raised a red flag for the conservative party, most importantly Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

The SPD is Outlawed in Germany

First of all, Bismarck decided to compete with this popularity by passing a number of laws to win the hearts of workers. As a conservative, it was very unlikely of him to introduce socially motivated laws. The Sickness Insurance Law, Old Age Pensions, and Accident Insurance were the most notable ones.

He considered Social Democratic parties the enemies of state and society and believed they had to be taken seriously. When the last German emperor, the Kaiser, was targeted by anarchists’ assassins (although not successful), Bismarck passed the Anti-Socialist Laws of 1878 and banned all activities of the Social Democratic Party.

The SPD continued to work as an underground organization and even had their candidates stand for the parliament. Some of the leaders were in prison but the movement itself showed no signs of decline. Since the SPD was outlawed, the candidates stood for elections as independent politicians. Ironically, the party saw tremendous growth in votes, parliament seats, and the membership of SPD-sponsored trade unions.

The SPD Grows Bigger

After a while, the SPD was not just a political movement. In fact, it had turned into a subculture that was present in many aspects of the Germans’ lives. There were many social and cultural associations, groups and clubs, even kindergartens, libraries, and schools that worked as socialist entities. Socialist workers and their families supported them and these were interpreted as the early signs of the utopic society of workers.

German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck considered Social Democratic parties the enemies of state and society. (Image: Evert Duykinck/Public domain)

Finally, with Bismarck’s resignation in 1890, the Anti-Socialist Laws were invalidated and the SPD won a historic battle. In the following years, the popularity and social base of the SPD continued to grow. It had the largest vote among German parties in the 1912 federal elections. 4.5 million people voted for the party and they occupied 110 seats, which was a third of the seats in the parliament. Another major development was the number of women in the party, which constituted 16 percent of the members.

With this large number of supporters, a German Socialist government would be bound to form in an election. But they also widely advertised their revolutionary ideas. Ironically, the social support, the socialist subculture that was manifested in many social, cultural, and political forms prevented them from carrying on a revolution. They wanted to keep their political careers rather than engaging in changing the status quo. Although they belonged to the opposition, they were parts of the system and did not want it to change.

Common Questions about Marxism in Germany

The SPD is the Social Democratic Party in Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands). Although at some point it was banned, it continued to grow into the largest Marxist party in Europe.

The SPD had a great influence in Germany . It changed from a mere political party into a subculture that was present in many cultural and social aspects. Socialist schools, kindergartens, libraries, reading clubs, and sports associations operated with the support of socialist workers.

Otto von Bismarck was the Chancellor of the German Empire from 1871 to 1890. As a conservative, Bismarck banned all the activities of the SPD . After his resignation, all the bans were removed.

As a reaction to the popularity of the Social Democratic Party in Germany, Otto von Bismarck introduced a number of social welfare laws . He wanted to improve the working conditions to prevent workers from supporting the SPD .


Bismarck Tried to End Socialism’s Grip—By Offering Government Healthcare

It was 1881, and German chancellor Otto von Bismarck had a serious socialist problem. He’d passed the Anti-Socialist Law of 1878, which banned Social Democratic meetings, associations and newspapers, but he couldn’t remove the party outright from the Reichstag. The socialists still found favor with too many constituents.

The political climate of the era was a result of German unification, the period stretching across the 19th century and culminating in 1871, when 26 small states, principalities, duchies and territories formed the German Empire. But thanks to the German constitution, Bismarck didn’t have to worry about pleasing the populace his chancellorship was approved solely by Wilhelm I. But with the European economy in free fall, a nearly successful assassination attempt on the kaiser, and a short-lived but bloody socialist uprising in France, Bismarck was determined to undermine a party that he saw as a danger to the volatile new nation state. So the Iron Chancellor came up with a masterful plan: beat the socialists at their own game by offering health insurance to the working class.

“That was a calculation,” says historian Jonathan Steinberg, the author of Bismarck: A Life. “It had nothing to do with social welfare. He just wanted some kind of bribery to get social democratic voters to abandon their party.”

Bismarck didn’t care what the program—Krankenversicherungsgesetz—was called or how it was described, as long as citizens knew that the state—his state—coined the idea. “Call it socialism or whatever you like,” Bismarck said during the 1881 Reichstag public policy and budget debates. “It is the same to me.”

So in 1883, with the passage of the Health Insurance Law, Bismarck made Germany into a welfare state—all to stymie the socialists. The law was the first national system in the world, Steinberg says. Both employers and employees paid into insurance funds, and the German government verified workers’ enrollment by comparing employer records with fund membership lists, threatening employers of uninsured workers with fines.

Over the next several decades, the initial law would be expanded with accident insurance (1884), disability insurance (1889) and unemployment insurance (1927)—and before long, the rest of Europe had taken note of Germany’s program. (Great Britain, for example, went in a different direction its health care laws stipulated treatment be financed by the government through taxes.)

Bismarck’s insurance scheme wasn’t an entirely original idea. European governments had implemented public health measures since the 14th century, when the Italian city-states took measures to control the spread of bubonic plague through quarantines. And community organized health insurance groups—called “mutual societies” or “sick funds”—appeared around the same time in certain professions. Miners in Bohemia, for example, had Knappschaftskassen, whose members paid into a common pot. The money went towards hospitals and the care of widows and orphans of miners killed in work accidents. The idea only grew in popularity during the Industrial Revolution, which dramatically reshaped the workforce. By the time Bismarck got around to his proposal five centuries later, 25 to 30 percent of workers in northwest Europe had sickness funds.

“Factory work harmed worker health. There was a demand for healthcare that they needed to finance,” says John Murray, an economist at Rhodes College and the author of Origins of American Health Insurance: A History of Industrial Sickness Funds. “But a key part of the Industrial Revolution that’s overlooked is that once workers got paid in cash once a week or every few weeks, they had cash that could be spent on what we would call health insurance.”

In other words, the availability of currency in densely populated cities made it logistically much easier to organize sickness funds. Farmers and workers like domestic servants were often paid with the goods they produced or in room and board rather than with cash, which made paying into a sickness fund much more complicated.

Those hurdles in the way of universal coverage remained unsolved under Bismarck’s law. Anyone who earned a living through in-kind compensation (like farmers) weren’t required to join the insurance groups. But as the population grew in cities, coverage boomed. In 1885, the enrollment was 4.3 million Germans by 1913, that number had jumped to 13.6 million. And this came with a number of surprising repercussions.

In the 19th century, Germany had been one of Europe’s largest labor exporters, with more than 1 million leaving the country between 1851 and 1860 alone. Most made the U.S. their destination. “At the time, the combined effects of industrialization and the war against France had heightened a new sensitivity to the consequences of migration, both in economic and military terms,” writes economic historian David Khoudour-Castéras. By providing workers with government-mandated health insurance—something they couldn’t find anywhere else—Germany made itself more appealing to its citizens. Emigration decreased dramatically in the years leading up to World War I, in part because workers could take sick days if they stayed in Germany.

Meanwhile, the United States only started organizing mutual funds in the 1870s, and workers compensation in industrial accidents was limited before World War I. It wasn’t until the Social Security Act of 1935 that the federal government got involved in a meaningful way, and even then most health insurance was employment-based, not unlike the Bismarck system but without the government mandates. As Khoudour-Castéras writes, “The level of protection of American workers against the main threats… was very low before the Great Depression and virtually nonexistent before World War I. By contrast, most German workers were covered by social insurance mechanisms by 1913.”  

As for the German economy, it did grow in the decades after Bismarck’s law passed whether that was a direct response to the increasing number of people covered by insurance is hard to say. “Yes, there was a correlation, but it’s not clear to me whether the growth caused greater insurance coverage or the other way around,” Murray says. He adds that part of the benefit to the economy and the government was that with insurance, workers who fell sick were less likely to fall into poverty and strain the government’s poor law institutions.

But did Bismarck’s new insurance actually improve worker health? According to economists Stefan Bauernschuster, Anastasia Driva and Erik Hornung, it did. Between 1884 and the end of the century, blue collar worker mortality rates fell 8.9 percent, they write in a recent study. “Surprisingly, the insurance was able to reduce infectious disease mortality in the absence of effective medication for many of the prevailing infectious diseases.”

The German model evolved over the 20th century, but remained effective and popular. When the system was exported to the Netherlands, Belgium and France during World War II, each of the countries kept the model, despite the fact that it was imposed under Nazi occupation.

All told, Bismarck’s system was a massive success—except in one respect. His goal to keep the Social Democratic Party out of power utterly failed. “The vote for the Social Democratic Party went up and by 1912 they were the biggest party in the Reichstag,” Steinberg says. Perhaps fortunately for Bismarck, he wasn’t around to see their rise. He died in 1898 without another chance to remove the socialists from power.

That Bismarck was able to create the system at all is thanks to a series of unlikely events, Steinberg says. After all, Bismarck only remained in power long enough to establish the law because of the longevity of Wilhelm I—who survived multiple assassination attempts and lived to be 90 in a period when the life expectancy was around 40. If the kaiser had died sooner, his heir would’ve immediately replaced Bismarck, probably with a less conservative chancellor, and who knows what would’ve happened with the healthcare law.

“[The insurance law] was manipulative, clever, worked well, and left a great inheritance,” Steinberg says. “But I think Bismarck never cared much that he was the founder of the welfare state in Germany.” 

Editor's note, July 17, 2017: This article has been edited to clarify the type of government established in Germany during unification. Germany did not become a republic until after World War I.


Wilhelm Liebknecht and the Founding of the German Social Democratic Party

Liebknecht (1826-1900) significantly influenced the shape and destiny of the German Socialist movement and dominated its Marxist wing. He was involved in several abortive insurrections in Germany, was imprisoned there, and after his release, was exiled to England where he worked closely with Engels and Marx. After his return to Germany, his influence led ultimately to the founding of the Social Democratic party.

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