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Political Ideologies In Action: Socialism: The Second International

A guide created for John Hultgren's Political Ideologies in Action: Socialism in the United States (POL4241.01)

Quick Description

The Second International (1889–1916) was an organisation of socialist and labour parties, formed on 14 July 1889 at two simultaneous Paris meetings in which delegations from twenty countries participated. The Second International continued the work of the dissolved First International, though excluding the powerful anarcho-syndicalist movement. While the international had initially declared its opposition to all warfare between European powers, most of the major European parties ultimately chose to support their respective states in World War I. After splitting into pro-Allied, pro-Central Powers, and antimilitarist factions, the international ceased to function. After the war, the remaining factions of the international went on to found the Labour and Socialist International, the International Working Union of Socialist Parties, and the Communist International.

In the wake of Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution, xenophobia and fear of communism reached hysterical proportions in the United States. Late in the afternoon of Friday, January 2, 1920, agents of the U.S. Department of Justice, in a concerted raid on reputedly communist headquarters, began arresting thousands of persons in major cities throughout the United States. In two days, nearly five thousand persons were arrested in such raids; over the next two weeks, some estimates have it, another thousand were seized. The arrests were conducted without regard for due process of law, and the treatment of those who found themselves under arrest was sometimes barbarous. The raids were the climax to a wave of chauvinism, antiradicalism, and anxiety-ridden intolerance known as the Red Scare of 1919-1920.

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Rosa Luxemburg was a leading figure in the left wing of the German Social Democratic Party and played a key role in the founding of the Polish Social Democratic Party and the German Communist Party. An able, indefatigable journalist and writer, she developed a humanistic version of Marxism that emphasized internationalism, mass participation, a dislike of violence, and opposition to gradual reformism.

Eduard Bernstein was a Marxian political theorist, socialist politician, and historian who originated revisionist socialism. Through revisionist socialism, he tried to modify the traditional Marxian prediction of the imminent collapse of capitalism and the subsequent rule of the proletarian class by proposing a theory according to which social-reformist social change would lead to the realization of socialism.