Luxemburg's Reform or Revolution

Socialism 2017

August 15, 2017

In the late 1800s, Eduard Bernstein, representing a developing trend in the German Social Democratic Party, wrote a series of articles “revising” Marxism to contend that capitalism could be gradually and peacefully transformed into socialism. Bernstein became famous for his statement that “the movement is everything and the final goal nothing.” The young Polish-born revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg wrote the most important reply to his attack on the essence of Marxism, defending the necessity of revolution (and the fight for reforms as a means of preparing the working class for revolution), and showing that the “revisionists” (what we today would call reformists) were seeking not a more “peaceful” road to socialism, but merely the surface modification of capitalism.

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