Kautsky, Lenin, and the transition to socialism

Taber, Mike

Date Written:  06/04/2019
Year Published:  2019  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23711

Counterposing Karl Kautsky's perspective of a "democratic road to socialism" as against a supposed Leninist "insurrectionary strategy" presents a false framework for the debate.



While electoral victories can on occasion open the door to revolutionary struggle, there is no example in history where a transition to socialism was successfully achieved entirely through peaceful and electoral means.

Obviously such a peaceful transition would be preferable to revolutionary upheaval. But has there ever been a ruling class in history that has calmly and peacefully surrendered its power? Will the bourgeoisie come shake the proletariat’s hand and say, in chivalrous fashion, "You won fair and square. Here are the keys to our government and to our industries. Good luck." No, I don't think so!

Asserting that the electoral and evolutionary path to socialism is not possible does not in the slightest mean discarding all possibilities and openings that elections and election campaigns can provide to the working class and its parties. But as the examples of Finland, Spain, Chile, and other places show, sowing illusions among working people in a purely "electoral road to socialism" is a recipe for disaster and defeat.
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