The Second International, 1889-1914

The Second International, 1889-1914

The Second International, 1889-1914

The Second International, 1889-1914

Excerpt

There are a number of reasons why it seems worth while to attempt a history of the international aspects of Socialism between 1889, the year of the founding of the Second International, and 1914, when the unity of Socialists everywhere, in which so many hopes had been placed, was shown to be a sham. First of all, as in any historical episode, there is the interest of the personalities involved and their reaction to the problems presented to them. For at least fifty years international Socialism was one of the great intellectual forces in Europe; and the movement included at various times people as striking and as diverse as Lenin and Bernard Shaw, Rosa Luxemburg and William Morris, Jean Jaurès and Benito Mussolini, while no statesman or political thinker could avoid taking it into account.

Secondly, and it is from this angle that the question has most frequently been studied, it is in the Second International that the Third had its roots. Its weaknesses and mistakes contributed to the rise of Communism; its doctrinal discussions were the link between the original teachings of Marx and the 'Marxism- Leninism' which is the official creed of some nine hundred million people today.

Finally, Social Democracy was a genuinely international force. It was believed that certain problems were common to the parties which were members of the Second International and that they could be met by common solutions. Thus the tactical behaviour and the theoretical beliefs of one Socialist party often had a profound influence on other parties; and, indeed, one of the main themes of the history of the Second . . .

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