Eduard Bernstein


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(b. 6 Jan. 1850, d. 18 Dec. 1932).

Revisionist German socialist leader A member of the German SPD since 1872, he became head of the party newspaper in 1881. He was the co‐author of the party's Erfurt Programme, and in 1899 he published his major book on the nature of social democracy, Die Voraussetzung des Sozialismus und die Aufgaben der Sozialdemokratie. In it, he rejected the SPD's traditional goal of social revolution, in favour of a pragmatic approach which aimed at a reform of the current capitalist system to the immediate benefit of the working classes. He was an MP (1902–6, 1912–18, and 1920–8), though during 1917–20 he had been a member of the new Independent Socialist Party (USPD). He was the major influence behind the party's transformation from the ideals of Marxism to an acceptance of the Empire, and he endorsed the Weimar Republic from 1918.

Subjects: Sociology — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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