A Users' Guide to Marxism: Social Democracy

Socialism 2017

August 15, 2017

The debate between reform and revolution—do we change the existing order from within, or do we destroy capitalism and build society anew—is as old as the idea of socialism itself. Should we “take over” the state by winning electoral office, or should we break up the old state and replace it with workers’ democracy? Social Democracy, especially since the First World War, evolved into a politics committed to the electoral, reformist road. But that road, instead of transforming capitalism, transformed social democracy. Everywhere, parties committed to gradualist socialism assumed the role of defenders of capitalism—committed to modifying it in order to save it and not destroy it. Today these parties are part of the mainstream status quo, and are in deep crisis. What lessons can socialists today draw from this sad trajectory?

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