Central European Democracy and Its Background: Economic and Political Group Organization

Central European Democracy and Its Background: Economic and Political Group Organization

Central European Democracy and Its Background: Economic and Political Group Organization

Central European Democracy and Its Background: Economic and Political Group Organization

Excerpt

This book is concerned with a particular type of social organization and a particular stage in the development of certain countries. Some, among my readers, may reproach me for describing phenomena which they regard as characteristic only of a few individual countries in terms of a general trend of modern society. My only answer must be to endeavour to carry out my task in such a way as to make it clear that the problems discussed are not of merely historical interest, and may yet have their relevance even for Britain. All nations at a certain stage of their development have to face certain general problems, though these problems take on very different shapes in different national settings.

The regional framework of the investigation has its own importance. It was chosen not only because of my conviction that contributions to political science are most useful if the authors have had some experience of the political life of the countries they write about, but also because the matters investigated mark an important stage in the development of the modern labour movement. As I have explained elsewhere, I consider the application of Marxism by the Central European Social Democrat parties as a distortion of its original meaning. We cannot, however, neglect the fact that it was in this application or distortion, that Marxism displayed the more popular aspects of its impact during the period of the Second International; even Russian Bolshevism grew up as a direct reaction against this kind of Marxism.

The institutional forms of the experience here discussed should not be thought of as mere reflexions of a local failure to apply Western democratic concepts, not to speak of the naive belief that that failure resulted from mere misunderstandings. Local conditions, which made it inevitable, were reflected in the institutions; but those institutions were shaped by a basic trend found in all countries -- at least all those within the Western political tradition -- whose economic system is based upon private ownership of the means of production. Experience shows that in all these countries, though with differing rates of speed, mass parties . . .

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