Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Eduard Bernstein

Eduard Bernstein (January 6 1850 - December 18 1932) was a German social democratic theoretician and politician, member of the SPD; and founder of evolutionary socialism.

Bernstein was born in Berlin on January 6 1850; his political career began in 1872, when he became a member of the Eisenachers (named after the German town Eisenach) and the SDAP (Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei, "Social Democratic Worker's Party"). He prepared the Einigungsparteitag ("unification party congress") in Gotha in 1875 together with August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht.

From 1878 on, Bernstein was the private secretary of social democratic patron Karl Höchberg, working in Zürich; 1888, he was expelled from Switzerland due to pressure from Prussia and moved to London, where he had close contacts to Friedrich Engels.

Between 1880 and 1890, Bernstein published the magazine "Sozialdemokrat" ("Social Democrat"); in 1891, he was one of the authors of the Erfurter Programm, and from 1896 to 1898, he released a series of articles entitled "Probleme des Sozialismus" ("Problems of Socialism") that led to the revisionism debate in the SPD. He also wrote a paper titled "Die Vorraussetzungen des Sozialismus und die Aufgaben der Sozialdemokratie" ("The Prerequisites for Socialism and the Tasks of Social Democracy") in 1899 that was in sharp contrast to the positions of August Bebel, Karl Kautsky and Wilhelm Liebknecht.

In 1901, he returned to Germany, following the lifting of a ban that had kept him from entering the country, and became a member of the Reichstag from 1902 to 1918, where he voted against the armament tabling in 1913, together with the SPD fraction's left wing. From 1917 to 1919, Bernstein was a member of the USPD.

Bernstein died on December 18 1932 in Berlin; a commemorative plaque is placed in his memory at Bozener Straße 18, Berlin-Schöneberg, where he lived from 1918 to his death.