Marx, Revolution, and Social Democracy

Marx, Revolution, and Social Democracy


Philip J. Kain (Author)


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Many people think Marx a totalitarian and Soviet Marxism the predictable outcome of his thought. If one shows them the texts-proves to them that Marx was a radical democrat--they often flip and think him utopian. Totalitarian or utopian--for many those seem to be the alternatives. How might one combat this completely mistaken image?

To establish the connection between Marx and social democracy, philosopher Philip J. Kain argues four main points. First, economy if markets are controlled to eliminate alienation, socialist society for Marx is compatible with a market. Second, markets can be controlled democratically. Third, Marx had a theory of revolution compatible with a democratic electoral movement engaged in by a social democratic party. And fourth, from the late 1860s on, Marx and Engels worked with the German Social Democratic Party of Liebknecht, Bebel, Bernstein, and Kautsky--which eventually became the largest party in Germany and the largest socialist party in the world.

If social democracy is a true expression of Marxism, then Marx cannot be called a totalitarian. There is nothing remotely totalitarian about social democracy. Nor is it utopian. It exists all over Western Europe. Moreover, social democratic parties have always opposed the undemocratic tactics of Soviet Marxism. Drawing on these four points, Kain argues against the depiction of Marx as either utopian or totalitarian, and instead makes a case for Marx as a social democrat, whose strongest legacy is found in Western Europe.



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Oxford University Press


Marx, markets, democracy, revolution, social democracy, Soviet Marxism


Introduction to this book can be read here in Scholar Commons.

Marx, Revolution, and Social Democracy