Reformists

For the Christian theology and churches known as the Reformed faith, see Calvinism.
For the liberal branch of Judaism, see Reform Judaism.

Reformism is the belief that gradual changes through and within existing institutions of a society can ultimately change a society's fundamental economic relations, economic system, and political structures. This belief grew out of opposition to revolutionary socialism, which contends that revolutions are necessary for fundamental structural changes to occur.

History

Socialist reformism, or evolutionary socialism, was first put forward by Eduard Bernstein, a leading social democrat. Reformism was quickly targeted by revolutionary socialists, with Rosa Luxemburg condemning Bernstein's Evolutionary Socialism in her 1900 essay Reform or Revolution?. While Luxemburg died in the German Revolution, the reformists soon found themselves contending with the Bolsheviks and their satellite communist parties for the support of the proletariat.

In 1959, the Godesberg Program (signed at a party convention in the West German capital of Bad Godesberg) marked the shift of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) from a marxist program to a reformist one.

After Josef Stalin consolidated power in the Soviet Union, the Comintern launched a campaign against the Reformist movement by denouncing them as "social fascists". According to The God that Failed by Arthur Koestler, a former member of the Communist Party of Germany, the largest communist party in Western Europe in the Interwar period, communists, aligned with the Soviet Union, continued to consider the "social fascist" Social Democratic Party of Germany to be the real enemy in Germany, even after the Nazi Party had gotten into power.[1]

In modern times, reformists are seen as centre-left. Some social democratic parties, such as the Canadian NDP and the Social Democratic Party of Germany, are still considered to be reformist.

Reformism in the British Labour Party

The term was applied to elements within the British Labour Party in the 1950s and subsequently, on the party's right. Anthony Crosland wrote The Future of Socialism (1956) as a personal manifesto arguing for a reformulation of the term. For Crosland, the relevance of nationalization (or public ownership) for socialists was much reduced as a consequence of contemporary full employment, Keynesian management of the economy and reduced capitalist exploitation. In 1960, after the third successive defeat of his party in the 1959 General Election Hugh Gaitskell attempted to reformulate the original wording of Clause IV in the party's constitution, but proved unsuccessful.

Some of the younger followers of Gaitskell, principally Roy Jenkins, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams left the Labour Party in 1981 to found the Social Democratic Party, but the central objective of the Gaitskellites was eventually achieved by Tony Blair in his successful attempt to rewrite Clause IV in 1995.

The use of the term is distinguished from the gradualism associated with Fabianism (the ideology of the Fabian Society), which itself should not be seen as being in parallel with the revisionism associated Bernstein and the Social Democratic Party of Germany, as originally the Fabians had explicitly rejected Marxism.

See also

References

External links

  • Rosa Luxemburg (1990).
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.