Economic theory and political thought in German social democracy : An essay in the 'Rezeption' of Marx's Capital with particular reference to Kautsky, Parvus, Hilferding and Luxemburg
This thesis investigates the political import of economic
theory and analysis within German social democracy. Part I
(Ch. 1) briefly discusses the Lassallean origins of social
democracy with reference to Lassalle's economic doctrines.
It continues (in Ch. 2) by analysing the prime contribution of
Marx's Capital to shaping the Marxism that displaced
Lassalleanism, and came to be embodied in the Erfurt Programme.
as the SPD's official doctrine. The main results of my
research, however, are presented in the four chapters of
Part II. Here, I approach the Political logic and influence
of economic theory, by way of case studies of four politically
influential social democratic economic theorists: Karl Kautsky;
Parvus; Rudolf Hilferding; and Rosa Luxemburg. In addition
to developing the main theme of this thesis, each of these
may be taken as a contribution to the literature on these
particular theorists, as well as to the historiography of
German social democracy (in
particular, in the period 1890-1914).
Marx's Capital was the basis of social democratic economic
theory in the period under consideration. Consequently,
analysing the development and political implications of social
democratic economic theory contributes to the study of the
appropriatior.., interpretation and influence - the 'Rezeption',
in short - of Capitol. Moreover, in so doing, I attempt
to provide a theoretical critique, and to indicate the actual
content as well as methodological shortcomings, misinterpretations
and lacunae in the social democratic 'Rezeption'
of Capital. My theoretical critique is undertaken from a
'fundamentalist' interpretation of Conit_l, and illuminates
the theoretical limitations - together with the political
- of the most advanced attempts to move beyond
the Erfurt Programme towards a scientific guide to political
action in the imperialist epoch. Finally, this thesis is
also intended as a minor contribution to the political
reading of Capital.