Social Democracy and the Aristocracy  book cover
1st Edition

Social Democracy and the Aristocracy

ISBN 9781138514652
Published April 16, 2018 by Routledge
231 Pages

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Book Description

Ever since the rise of mass labor movements in the late nineteenth century, socialism has been seen as an inevi- table and antagonistic response to capitalism and the spread of industrialization. Over the course of the twentieth century, however, socialism's failure to gain ground in the United States and most of the non-Western world exposed the limited, Eurocentric views of socialist theorists, and also the inadequacy of the theory as it applied to Europe as well. John Kautsky argues that a key factor in the development of social democratic labor movements was the persistence of powerful remnants of aristocratic institutions and ideologies whose survival into the industrial age preserved exclusionary hierarchies. These led, in turn, to radicalism and class consciousness among workers.Kautsky traces the evolution of socialist labor movements in Europe and Japan where aristocratic elements were still strong, detailing the survival of aristocratic privilege and the concomitants of worker class consciousness and demands for equality. He shows how social democratic reliance on free elections was primarily a weapon against the aristocracy rather than capitalism. Contradicting socialist theory, working-class growth came to an end, class lines became blurred, and a considerable degree of equality was achieved through the welfare state. Kautsky turns to those countries that were sufficiently industrialized to have large numbers of workers, but also had reasonably free elections, civil liberties, and less repression of trade unions. Though the United States, Canada, post-Soviet Russia, Mexico, and India have very different histories and societies, their workers have not confronted a powerful aristocracy. Great Britain, the first and for long the most advanced industrial country, was virtually the last to develop a socialist labor movement. In contrast, socialist movements in Canada and the United States, where egalitarian traditions were strong, found little support. Kautsky's concluding chapters treat the spread of corruption, the rise of new oligarchies in Russia, and the position of workers no longer honored and politically weak. In its innovative perspective on long-held theories and its currency for contemporary problems, Social Democracy and Aristocracy is an important contribution to political thought in the post-Marxist world. Its global approach makes it uniquely valuable for the comparative study of labor history and economic development.

Table of Contents

1. Aristocratic Class Consciousness and Survival 

2. The New Working Class and Its Class Consciousness 

3. Socialist Parties Without a Mass Labor Base 

4. The Growth and Optimism of Early Social Democracy 

5. The Socialist Position on Democracy on Capitalism and on the Aristocracy 

6. The End of Socialist Growth the Need for NonWorkers Votes and the Changing Working Class 

7. From Workers Party to Peoples Party From Exclusion to Partnership 

8. The Social Democrats Achievements and Prospects 

9. The Evolution of Japanese Social Democracy 

10. Britain the United States and Canada Late Socialism No Socialism and Little Socialism 

11. The Aristocracy and Modernization From Without 

12. The Modernizers Revolution Their Regime and Their Dilemma 

13. Societies in the Wake of Modernizing Regimes 

14. Labor Under Post Modernizing Regimes

15. The Absence of Socialist Labor Parties

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John H. Kautsky is professor emeritus of political science at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author of Karl Kautsky, The Politics of Aristocratic Empires (both available from Transaction), and Marxism and Leninism, Not Marxism-Leninism.