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 German Social Democracy  (1896)  

By Bertrand Russell, B.A.
Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge

On Social Democracy and
the Woman Question in Germany
By Alys Russell, B.A.

Longmans, Green, and Co.
London, New York, and Bombay. 1896


The following six Lectures were delivered at the London School of Economics and Political Science in February and March 1896. They are not intended to supply a full history of Social Democracy in Germany, but rather to bring into relief those aspects of such a history which seemed to the author to have been the most important in producing the present political situation. The principle of selection, accordingly, has been throughout to emphasise the events and the speculations which have led to the actual state of feeling. Thus in treating of Marx, I have confined myself to those parts of his work which have chiefly influenced Socialistic opinion in Germany, and have treated very slightly the second and third volumes of Das Kapital, which have not yet, so far as I was able to discover, had any considerable influence in modifying the effects of the first volume.

Again, in the Lecture on Lassalle, I have laid far more stress on his debts to Marx than on those to Rodbertus; not because the latter were less important in Lassalle himself, but because, so far as his political effect is concerned, the views he owed to Rodbertus had little result; while those which came from Marx, on the contrary, bore good fruit, both directly and indirectly, in the subsequent growth of Social Democracy.

My acknowledgments are due to my wife for constant help, both by criticism and by collection of material; also to all the German Socialists, whether leaders or followers, with whom I have come in contact, for their uniform courtesy, and for their kind assistance in supplying information.

A bibliography of the principal works consulted is appended.


 Contents (Detailed)

Lecture I

Marx and the Theoretic Basis of Social Democracy

1. Marx’s training, 1
(a) German Philosophy—Hegel and Feuerbach, 2
(b) French Socialists, especially Proudhon, 9
(c) English Socialists, Bray, Thompson, etc, perhaps influenced Marx through
     his friendship with Engels, who lived chiefly in England, 10

2. The Communist Manifesto, 1848, the materialistic theory of history, 10

3. Marx’s economic theory, as set forth in his “Capital,” 1867, 15
(a) The theory of value and surplus-value. Account and criticism, 15
(b) The law of the concentration of capital. Account and criticism, 28

Lecture II


1 . Marx a student, not an agitator. He views first brought home to the working
     classes by Lassalle, 41

2. Brief review of German conditions up to the time of Lassalle’s agitation, 42
(a) Battle of Jena and emancipation of serfs. War of Liberation, 1813, 43
(b) Revolutions of 1848. At first a united movement of bourgeoisie and
     proletariat, but the bourgeoisie became alarmed at the demands of the
     proletariat, and a reaction set in before much had been gained, 45
(c) Economic progress of Germany during the Fifties. Spread of laissez-
     faire Liberalism. Schulze-Delitzsch’s friendly societies, 46

3. Lassalle’s writings and agitation, 1863 and 1864. The Universal German
     Working-Men’s Association. Lassalle’s death, 1864, 47

4. Lassalle’s sources: Rodbertus and Marx, 64

5. Lassalle’s character and the results of his work. His effect chiefly emotional, 66

Lecture III

History of German Socialism From the Death of Lassalle to the Passing of the Exceptional Law, 1878

1. The various organisations and their development towards Marxianism, 69
(a) Lassalle’s Universal German Working-Men’s Association up to 1871,
     under presidency of v. Schweitzer, continued to coquette with Bismarck.
     Afterwards became more democratic and Marxian, and joined Marx’s
     followers 1875, 70
(b) International Working-Men’s Association, founded in London, 1864,
     followed Marx, and obtained great influence in Germany, chiefly
     through Marx’s friend Liebknecht, 71
(c) League of German Working-Men’s Societies, founded in Leipzig, 1863,
     to oppose Lassalle from side of Liberalism. Bebel, the leader of the
     League, became a Socialist under the influence of Liebknecht, and
     carried most of his followers with him, 74
(d) In 1869 the League amalgamated with the Members of the International
     to form the Social Democratic Working-Men’s Party. Joined by Lassalle’s
     Association in 1875, Marx’s influence became supreme, 75

2. The Franco-Prussian War. Consequent check to Social Democracy, 81
3. German Constitution, as determined in 1871, 83
4. Growing hostility to Socialism, and passing of the Exceptional Law, 1878, 90

Lecture IV

Social Democracy Under the Exceptional Law, 1878-1890

1. Principal Motives of popular enmity to Social Democracy, 92
(a) Atheism, 93
(b) Views on Marriage and the Family, 94
(c) Internationalism, 97
(d) Advocacy of Revolution, 98

2. Principal Provisions of the Exceptional Law, 100

3. Administration of the Exceptional Law, and attitude of official leaders
     under it, 102

4. Bismarck’s State-Socialism, and consequent conflict between leaders
     and bulk of party, 107

5. A policeman’s view of Socialism and the Exceptional Law, 109

6. Agitation under the Exceptional Law. Increase of Socialist Vote.
     Expiration of the Exceptional Law, 1890, 113

Lecture V

Organisation, Agitation, Tactics and Programme of Social Democracy Since the Fall of the Socialist Law

1. Organisation, as determined by Annual Congress of 1890. Recent dissolutions
     by the police, and resulting changes of organisation, 116

2. Methods of agitation, 127

3. Discussion of Tactics at Annual Congress of 1891. Two opposite tendencies,
     to State-Socialism and to Revolution, 133

4. The Erfurt Programme adopted at the Annual Congress of 1891, 136

Lecture VI

The Present Position of Social Democracy

1. The various political parties of Germany, their programmes and strength.
     The over-representation of Agriculture, and resulting importance of
     the Agrarian Vote, 144

2. The Agrarian Difficulty, 152
(a) As a result of Marx’s views of economic theory, 153
(b) As discussed at the two Party Congresses of 1894 and 1895, 154

3. Conclusion, 163


Social Democracy and the Woman Question in Germany

By Alys Russell, B.A.

Bibliography and Index