Revisionism and Empire: Socialist Imperialism in Germany, 1897-1914

1st Edition

Roger Fletcher

Published November 12, 2019
Reference - 232 Pages
ISBN 9781138481978 - CAT# K348934
Series: Routledge Library Editions: World Empires

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First published in 1984. Revisionism or reformism has long been recognised as one of the main intellectual ancestors of democratic socialism, the last survivor of the tradition of Enlightenment progressivism and the only viable alternative to conservatism on the one hand and Marxist-Leninism on the other. Both as a movement and as an ideology, revisionism, like Marxism, had its origins in Germany, but has not received anything like the same attention. This study is concerned with two relatively neglected aspects of German revisionism - its diversity and its international relations theorising – while focusing on those revisionists who were associated with Joseph Bloch's journal, the Sozialistische Monatshefte.

Roger Fletcher demonstrates that the revisionist movement consisted of neo-Kantians, 'pragmatists' and reformists of several kinds as well as theoretical revisionists like Edward Bernstein, the alleged 'father of revisionism', and that the political importance of Bernstein, who was primarily a transplanted British Radical, has been widely misunderstood and exaggerated. He shows that the most influential figure in pre-1914 German revisionism was not Bernstein but Bloch, the leader of a small band of socialist imperialists who hoped to use nationalist ideology as a means of integrating the German working class into the Wilhelmine state and society. He argues that despite the limited success enjoyed by this grey eminence of Wilhelmine Social Democracy, Bloch and Bernstein both came to grief on the masses' rock-like indifference to all theory.

This is the first serious study of revisionism as a movement and one of the only studies of right-wing German socialist foreign policy views in the Wilhelmine era. While revealing the central importance of the previously neglected Bloch, and his journal in Wilhelmine Social Democracy, it also sheds fresh light on the thought of Bernstein and his role in classical German Social Democracy. The result of extensive research in Germany and Austria, it is based on a solid grasp of the secondary literature as well as thorough mastery of all the relevant primary sources.


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