Who is Karl Kautsky?June 25, 2021
Karl Kautsky (16 October 1854, Bohemia – 17 October 1938, Amsterdam) was a German Marxist, social democracy theorist and leader.
Kautsky, who was born in Prague and studied philosophy and history in Vienna, is one of the most important leaders of the European working class movement. Kautsky, who started his political life in the Austrian Social Democratic Party, eventually distinguished himself among the German social democrats and became the leading “authority” of the movement with the death of Engels in 1895.
Kautsky, who stood against Bernstein, who tried to shift the social democratic movement to bourgeois reformism, and defended the independent identity of the workers’ movement, influenced Lenin, who began to stand out in the Russian Bolshevik revolutionary movement in a number of titles. This effect was seen in the book “What to Do”, which deeply affected the entire workers’ movement, not only in Soviet Russia, but also in the historical sense. However, unlike Lenin, Kautsky ignored the imperialist character of capitalism in this period, and in 1914, made a choice that Lenin called the great betrayal, and took a stand for the war budget of the German bourgeoisie.
Kautsky, who initially supported the 1917 October revolution, later stated that the one-party dictatorship would block the way for the socialist workers’ movement in the world, and that it was necessary to take advantage of all the opportunities of democracy without eliminating it. In 1919, Kaustky published the book “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, in which he examined the Soviet regime. In response to this work, Lenin published his book expressing his opposition to the dictatorship of the proletariat and the Renegade Kautsky.
Kautsky said the following regarding the Bolshevik regime:
He is in a worse position if a dictatorial rather than democratic regime comes to power as the heir of a bankrupt State (the Tsarist empire), because its necessary outcome is civil war. So material resources are wasted by anarchy. Socialist production is only possible where capitalist production has become impossible under the new conditions, if the proletariat has gained experience in self-management through trade unions and city councils, has participated in the administration of the legislature and the executive, and a large number of intellectuals are ready to support new methods with their own services. (Kautsky, Dictatorship of the Proletariat, p:71-72)
Kautsky compared the Paris Commune with the Soviet Regime. In the Paris Commune, which was supported by Marx and Engels, democratic rights such as universal suffrage and freedom of the press were not taken, but due to the scarcity of the working and intellectual class in the USSR, realizing socialism and eventually communism would lead to the abolition of these democratic rights, and socialist ideas from the party because those who did not think like them. and indicated that he would be excluded from power. He pointed out that the worker-peasant dictatorship in the USSR would go to a one-party and one-man dictatorship, contrary to the views of Marx and Engels.
Kautsky stated that, in general, it is possible to realize socialism gradually, in an evolutionist way, with a democratic revolution in general, and that it would not be possible for non-democratic methods to bring the workers and laboring masses to an advanced stage that they were not ready for with a revolution all at once.
He stated that the strike, universal suffrage, social security, trade union struggle, collective bargaining, free press and the participation of workers and laborers in the parliamentary regime in Europe are important gains.