Eduard Bernstein, a German politician of the socialist party, sets out his beliefs in peaceful, incremental legislative transition to a socialist planned economy.
Writing in 1899, the mature Bernstein had by this time disavowed the earlier doctrines of Marxism which crucially advocated violence in the form of revolutionary upheaval. Across three chapters, he details the practical steps a given nation can take to instilling socialism via peaceful means. Quoting Marx’s later works, as well as the words of Friedrich Engels, Bernstein develops an alternative thesis that goes against the grain of early Communist thought.
Bernstein discusses how a society can realign its industry, production and workers toward achieving a purely socialist-communist outcome. Under no illusions about the stark differences between a capitalist, free market economy and a planned, socialist one, the author details how and in what order the incremental changes towards socialism should be implemented. The redistribution of incomes in a manner that is gradually more equitable to the proletariat is depicted in a series of charts.
The stark revolutionary upheavals which underpinned the establishment of socialist and communist governments in the 20th century were in contrast to Bernstein’s visions of socialism achieved by democratic and peaceful means. Despite such developments, Bernstein remained an adherent of peace and non-violence in politics until he perished in his native Germany in 1932.