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Building Power to Change the WorldThe Political Thought of the German Council Movements$
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James Muldoon

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198856627

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198856627.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 January 2022

Socialist Republicanism

Socialist Republicanism

(p.99) 4 Socialist Republicanism
Building Power to Change the World

James Muldoon

Oxford University Press

This chapter reconstructs a theory of socialist republicanism from the writings of Karl Kautsky. Comparing it with the theories of the Revolutionary Shop Stewards and the SPD leadership, I argue that during the revolution Kautsky proposed an innovative socialist programme that called for the radical transformation of the state and society. The dominance of the ‘National Assembly versus Council Republic’ ideological framework of the revolution has obscured Kautsky’s ‘centrist’ third option. Kautsky argued for the presence of workers’ councils alongside a parliamentary system and understood democracy and socialism as the twin goals of a socialist revolution. He sought to combine the benefits of political democracy and civil rights for minorities with the gradual socialization of the economy. Drawing from overlooked and untranslated (or newly translated) texts written during the early days of the German Revolution, this interpretation challenges the dominant view of Kautsky as a bourgeois reformist who advocated political quietism during the revolution. It theorizes an important socialist action programme that has been neglected within the scholarly literature.

Keywords:   Karl Kautsky, socialist republicanism, workers’ councils, German Revolution, socialism, democracy

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