Democratic Socialism

  • Massimo Salvadori
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


The socialist dilemma in relation to democracy and the present division between antagonistic democratic and authoritarian wings have their origin (as noted in the Introduction) in the dual soul of nineteenth-century socialism. In the socialist ideological scheme, collectivism will make for uniformity of views, thus ending tensions and creating a permanently peaceful society. Socialists maintained that only in capitalistic societies did liberty make for diversity, and political liberty for divisions within the national community. For a majority of socialists before 1917, to be a democrat meant making use of what was derisively called bourgeois liberty and taking advantage of a nonviolent method to seize power in the state. It did not mean permanently accepting ideological and political pluralism and the equality of different tendencies. It did not mean abandoning the aspiration toward uniformity, which was to result inevitably from the replacement of capitalism with collectivism. This was the position of Ferdinand Lassalle (1825–1863), accepted in the 1870’s and later by many prominent Marxist thinkers, the most authoritative of whom for several decades was Karl Kautsky (1854–1938). Before 1917 few socialists faced the fact that, whatever the economic structure, political and intellectual liberty is likely to make for diversity; that the advocacy of these two basic concepts of liberalism cannot be dissociated from the search for institutions enabling diverse tendencies to coexist peacefully.


Trade Union Private Property Social Democracy Public Ownership Labour Party 
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Sources and Acknowledgments

  1. Fabian Essays, George Bernard Shaw (George Allen & Unwin, London 1948, and Humanities Press, Inc., New York).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • Massimo Salvadori

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