German Social Democracy, 1905-1917

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No political parties of present-day Germany are separated by a wider gulf than the two parties of labor, one democratic and reformist, the other totalitarian and socialist-revolutionary. Social Democrats and Communists today face each other as bitter political enemies across the front lines of the cold war; yet they share a common origin in the Social Democratic Party of Imperial Germany. How did they come to go separate ways? By what process did the old party break apart? How did the prewar party prepare the ground for the dissolution of the labor movement in World War I, and for the subsequent extension of Leninism into Germany? To answer these questions is the purpose of my study.

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Editorial Reviews

World Politics
A brilliant and formidable analysis of the SDP in the period immediately following its formal rejection of revisionism...An extraordinary synthesis of intellectual, political and sociological history [Mr.Schorske] succeeds in placing the story of the SDP in the general framework of German internal and foreign politics. He has a special flair for the lucid statement of difficult ideas, and combines this with a patience when dealing with endless materials concerning the institutional structures on both the national and the local level, of the party and the trade union movement alike.
Journal of Central European Affairs
A masterful study! Professor Schorske's book combines the methodological thoroughness of a scholarly monograph with the breadth of political insight needed to investigate and explain Social Democratic history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674351257
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1983
  • Series: Harvard Historical Studies Series , #65
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 0.78 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl E. Schorske is Professor of History, Princeton University.
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Table of Contents


1. Background: The Erfurt Synthesis and the Rise of Reformism.

i. Toward a Revolutionary Socialist Party.

ii. The Forces of Reform: The Southern Wing.

iii. The Forces of Reform: The Trade-Unions.

iv. Bernstein's Revisionism.

v. Party Discipline and Revisionist Federalism.

2.The Impact of the Russian Revolution of 1905.

i. The Intensification of Labor's Economic Struggles.

ii. Restlessness in the Radical Camp.

iii. The Russian Revolution, the Mass Strike, and the Trade-Unions.

iv. The Battle of Jena and the Radical Victory.

v. The Suffrage Crisis.

vi. Mannheim: The Trade-Unions Strike Back.

vii. The Radical Legacy of 1905.

3.The Elections of 1907 and the National Question.

i. The Elections of 1907: The Victory of the "World-Political Idea".

ii. Disunity in Defeat.

iii. The Status of the National Question before 1907.

iv. The Party Practitioners: Compromise with Nationalism? The International Congress: the National Question Begged.


4.The Extension of the Trade-Union Influence.

i. The Fallow Years.

ii. The Destruction of a Symbol.

iii. Curbing the Youth Movement.

iv. The Pattern of Trade-Union Conquest and Its Significance.

v. The Radical Position in the Bloc Period: Kautsky's Road to Power.

5.Party Structure and Factional Power.

i. Toward a Uniform Party Structure.

ii. The New Bureaucracy.

iii. Regional Organizations: The New Centers of Power.

iv. The Party Congress: Structure and Politics.


6. The Break-up-of the B├╝low Bloc: Reformist Possibilities

i. The Reich Financial Crisis and the Dissolution of the B&uumlllow Bloc.

ii. A Coalition for Reform? : The Progressives and the National Liberals.

iii. Social Democracy and the Financial Reform.

iv. Reformist Opportunity and the Vacillation of the Radicals.

7. The Constitutional Crisis: The Swing to the Left and the Division to the Radicals. . .

i. The Tactic for Suffrage Reform.

ii. The "Suffrage Storm" and the Division of the Radicals.

iii. The Revisionist Offensive and Radical Disunity.

iv. Aftermath as Magdeburg: The Triple Split.


8. The Morocco Crisis and the party Reform. . .

i. The Morocco Crisis: Ballot Box versus Creed.

ii. The Demand for the Reform of the Executive.

iii. The New Executive.

iv. The Deflection of Reform and the Radical Revolt.

v. The Political Significance of the Reform Movement.

9. The Electoral Alliance of 1912 and the left Radical Offensive.

i. The Electoral Alliance 0/ 1912.

ii. Failure of the Reform Coalition: The National Liberals Move Rightward.

iii. Imperialism and the "New Tactic."

iv. Wormwood and Gall.

10. The Sense of Sickness and the Reconsolidation of the Radicals

i. Labor on the Defensive.

ii. Internal Pressures on the Trade-Unions.

iii. Against Imperialism or for Reform?

iv. The Doldrums.

v. What Is to Be Done?

vi. The Final Alignment: Reunion on the Left.

vii. Toward the Independent Social Democratic Party.


11. War and Schism

i. August Fourth.

ii. The New Position of the Labor Leaders.

iii. The New Discipline and the Re-Emergence of the Opposition.

iv. The Division of the Opposition Leadership; the Annexation Question.

v. Economic Hardships and Political Persecution.

vi. The Schism Consummated.


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