The Tower of Bebel (part 2 of 3)

September 4, 2013 in History, Party & Programme

Thomas continues with his three-part on Bebel and the congress of 1891 in Brussels.

Socialists can do nothing to stop the war, they can only use it to spread socialist awareness.

Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel (1889). A life-long struggle against capitalist wars and the general strike tactic.

This is the second part of a three-part series on the influence of August Bebel and of German social democracy in general on the proceedings of the international socialist congress of 1891 1. We left off on Wednesday morning August 19, with the vote on protective labour legislation. This important debate featured a speech by German party leader August Bebel, who reaffirmed the unity within the German party and who defended the general Marxist attitude towards labour legislation. After a short discussion on the Jewish question had resolved that the Jewish worker cannot liberate himself when he does not struggle together with the international proletariat, the congress moved on to the more contentious issues of international organisation and tactics. In part three I will use the last days of the congress to discuss the existence of conflicting social democratic models within the Socialist International. Read the rest of this entry →

  1. I’ve used three sources for the proceedings of the Brussels congress of 1891. (They are listed below.) One source is made up of articles from the Times. Though this source omits certain parts of the debates and is focused on British speakers and British affairs, it is a fairly honest report. The other two are Belgian sources and it occurred to me that one is more cautious than the other when it comes to describing what was meant or even said. The official Belgian report  from 1893, it seems to me, is more conservative than the report from the Flemish (Ghent) socialist paper Vooruit. When it comes to quoting, Vooruit seems to be more precise. According to the official report for example, the resolution on strike action advised the workers not to go on strike without any assurance of success. However, the Ghent report writes about local strikes being insufficient because “the workers’ question is one and international, and can only be solved through international means”. Comparison was needed, hence the use of three sources.