Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Oxford University Press


Many people consider Marx to be a totalitarian and Soviet Marxism the realization of his thought.1 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 conception?

What if one could show that European social democracy exemplified Marx's thought far better than did Soviet Marxism?2 If social democracy is closer to being the true heir of Marx, then all claims of totalitarianism evaporate. There is nothing remotely totalitarian about social democracy. It is as democratic as what we have in the United States-and arguably more so. Nor is there anything remotely utopian about social democracy. It exists. It exists all over Western Europe and Britain-as well as elsewhere.

Chapter of

Marx, Revolution, and Social Democracy


This material was originally published in Marx, Revolution, and Social Democracy by Philip J. Kain, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. For permission to reuse this material, please visit

Available for download on Sunday, January 26, 2025