Karl Kautsky

The Social Revolution

Author’s Preface

The following writings owe their existence to the action of a Socialist Reading Circle in Amsterdam, a society largely composed of Academics, who invited me to speak there and in Delft. Among the themes that I suggested was that of Social Revolution. But as the comrades in both cities selected the same theme, and I did not wish to repeat myself, I divided my subject into two essays practically independent from one another, but connected in their general thought, and called it Reform and Revolution and On the Day After the Revolution.

The Society wished to publish these essays and naturally I had no reason to object to this, but in the interest of their circulation I proposed that they be issued by the German Party Publishing House, to which the Holland comrades very gladly agreed.

It is not a stenographic report of the lectures that is here given. I have included many lines of thought, in the writing which would have been too long to have given in the lectures. But in general I have kept within the limits of the lecture and have not sought to make a book of it.

The purpose of the work shows for itself and needs no explanation. It had a special application for Holland in that shortly before my lectures, which took place on the 22d and 24th of April, 1902, the former minister Pierson had made an assertion in a public assemblage, and argued for it, that a proletarian revolution must, for certain necessary reasons, be avoided, my lectures form a direct answer to this. The Minister was, however, so friendly as to attend the second one, where he made industrious notes and did not offer a word against me.

Because of the predominating academic character of the public that attended, aside from local and propagandist reasons, I was led to choose the theme of Social Revolution for the lecture. The Academics are those among us who are least friendly to the idea of revolution, at least in Germany. All things considered, however, the case appeared somewhat different in Holland and the applause of my audience there very pleasantly surprised me. Ms assertions raised scarcely any antagonism, but only approval. I hope that this is not entirely because of international politeness. If not, Marxism has a body of strong representatives among the Academics of Holland.

I can wish nothing better than that my attempt should receive the same approval among German comrades that it has found among those of Holland, and I extend my thanks to the latter for the friendly reception they have given me in a very agreeable duty.


K. Kautsky


Last updated on 28.1.2004