Even those who are most hopeful about Bernstein’s revisionist movement do not claim that he has provided our party with a new theoretical basis, but merely that he has done the necessary groundwork for doing so. So writing the programme anew would also be premature from the point of view of Bernstein and his supporters.
But Adler himself has explained that the new version of the programme is not a concession to Bernstein’s point of view but rather – in as much as this version takes Bernstein’s view into consideration – has arisen from the desire to rule out misunderstandings that a few sentences in the old programme have been subjected as a result of Bernstein’s criticism (Kritizismus).
Such a motive would certainly need to be taken seriously if we had already resolved to revise the programme, but it is not enough of a reason to carry out the revision itself.
Our programmes will always be subject to misunderstandings, not least because they necessarily have to be succinct. Even a theory developed within a fat book will never be able to deal with life exhaustively, it will always have to emphasise significant points and to leave to one side everything that is insignificant and incidental. For life is always more multifaceted than theory, let alone the quintessence of a theory as outlined in the theoretical section of a programme. People who have not completely understood our theory, or who are unable to distinguish between what is essential and what is not, will always mange to misunderstand the theoretical sections of our programmes, regardless of how those passages might be formulated. If we wanted to respond to every misunderstanding that comes up by changing our programme, then we could revise it every year.
And we will also find blemishes year after year. It is not possible to formulate a sentence in a way that nobody objects to. And it often happens that the writer himself will soon think of a wording that is more precise and felicitous. If these are ample reasons for revising our programme, then we will never do anything but revise our programme, and the more we want to make it more beautiful, the more we jeapordise its inner coherence and harmony, its main beautiful feature.
It is precisely such a well-conceived and coherent work of art as the Hainfeld Programme that will most likely suffer in this respect as the result of being revised. I may, by the way, place this programme in such esteem without being guilty of self-adulation, since Hertz is wrong to claim in the ‘Sozialistische Monatshefte’ that the Hainfeld Programme was written by Adler and me. Adler drafted it alone and merely sought my advice when it came to the the final edits. I had nothing to do with it, apart from making a few small remarks and, of course, rejoicing over it. There were thus no compelling reasons to change the Declaration of Principles.
In any case, amending the programme was a difficult and thankless task. Let us see what came out of it. First of all, in order to compare them, we have published the old programme and the draft of the new one side by side.
The Hainfeld Programme:
The Austrian Social Democratic Workers’ Party fights for the emancipation of the people as a whole – without distinction of nation, race and sex – from the chains of economic dependence, for the abolition of their lack of rights and for their elevation from intellectual enslavement. The cause of this disgraceful situation is not to be found in individual political institutions, but in the fact that the means of production are monopolised in the hands of individual owners, which determines and commands the nature of society. The owner of labour power, the working class, thereby becomes the slave of the owner of the means of production, the capitalist class, whose economic and political domination finds expression in the contemporary state. The individual ownership of the means of production, which politically means the class state, means increasing mass poverty and the growing impoverishment of ever broader layers of society.
Through technological expansion and the colossal growth of the productive forces, this form of property proves not only to be superfluous, but this form will also be abolished for the overwhelming majority of society, whilst simultaneously the necessary intellectual and material preconditions for the form of common ownership will be created.
Transferring the means of production into the collective property of the whole of the working people thus not only means the liberation of the working class, but also the fulfilment of a historically necessary development. The bearer of this development can only be the proletariat: class-conscious and organised into a political party. To organise the proletariat politically, to imbue it with consciousness of its condition and its tasks, to make it fit for action both intellectually and physically and to sustain this is therefore the real programme of the Austrian Social-Democratic Workers Party. To bring this about, it will make use of all appropriate methods corresponding to the people’s sense of justice. The party will, and also must, adapt its tactics to the respective conditions, in particular to the behaviour of its enemies.
However, the following general principles will be deployed:
- The Austrian Social-Democratic Worker’s Party is an international party. It condemns the privileges of nations just as it condemns those of birth, possession and ancestry. Because exploitation itself is international, our party declares the battle against exploitation to be international.
- To spread socialist ideas, the party will fully exploit all means of the public press, associations and meetings. It will fight for the abolition of all chains on freedom of expression (the emergency law, the press law, the laws on assembly and association).
- Without deceiving itself in any way about the value of parliamentarism, which is a form of modern class rule, it will strive for, as one of its most important methods of agitation and organisation, for universal, equal and direct suffrage for both sexes to all representative bodies in the Diet, as one of the most important means of agitation and organisation.
- If, within the framework of the modern form of economic order, the reduction of working-class living standards and its growing impoverishment are to be offset to some extent, then consistent and honest labour-protection legislation (most extensive restrictions on working hours, the abolition of child labour etc.) must be fought for and their implementation must be overseen by the workers themselves. Thus we must also fight for the unrestricted freedom of assembly for workers in specialist unions.
- Free, obligatory and non-denominational primary and secondary education, as well as free access to higher education, is absolutely necessary to the future interests of the working class; the necessary precondition of this is the separation of church and state, the declaration of religion to be a private affair.
- The cause of the constant danger of war is the standing army, the growing burden of which alienates the people from its cultural tasks. It is therefore necessary to fight for the replacement of the standing army by arming the people.
- The Social-Democratic Workers Party will give its view on all important political and economical questions, represent the class interests of the proletariat at all times, always and energetically oppose the obfuscation of class differences and using the workers for the benefit of the ruling parties.
- We demand the removal of all indirect taxes and the introduction of a single direct, progressive income tax. The poorer they are, the more that indirect taxes adversely affect the population, as they are placed on life’s necessities. They are a means of exploiting and deceiving the working people.
The New Draft
Austrian Social Democracy fights for the emancipation of the people as a whole – without distinction of nation, race and sex – from the chains of economic dependence, of their lack of rights and of their intellectual enslavement. The cause of the state of things today is not to be found in individual political institutions, but in the fact that the means of production are monopolised in the hands of individual owners, which determines and commands the nature of society. The owner of labour power, the working class, thereby becomes increasingly dependent on the owner of the means of production, including the land, of the large land-owning and capitalist class, whose economic and political domination finds expression in the contemporary state.
Technological expansion, the growing concentration of production and of ownership, the amalgamation of all economic power in the hands of the capitalist and groups of capitalists expropriates more and more circles of previously independent small business owners and directly or indirectly makes them dependent on the capitalists by transforming them into wage workers or employees, with the small farmers being turned into debt slaves. The living standards of ever larger sections of the population are therefore increasingly contrasted by the rapidly expanding productivity of their own labour and the expansion of wealth that they themselves have created. This development is accelerated and exacerbated by the crises caused by the capitalist mode of production that bring unemployment and poverty in their wake.
But the more that capitalist development causes the ranks of the proletariat to swell, the more the proletariat will be compelled and empowered to take up the struggle against it. The proletariat becomes aware of the fact that the displacement of piece production also renders individual ownership increasingly superfluous and harmful, that simultaneously the necessary intellectual and material preconditions for new forms of cooperative production and common ownership will have to be created and that transferring the means of production into the collective property of the people as a whole must be the aim of the struggle for the liberation of the working class.
The bearer of this development can only be the proletariat: class-conscious and organised into a political party. To organise the proletariat politically, to imbue it with consciousness of its condition and its tasks, to make it fit for action both intellectually and physically and to sustain this is therefore the real programme of the Austrian Social Democracy. To bring this about, it will make use of all appropriate methods corresponding to the people’s sense of justice.
Austrian Social Democracy will always represent the class interests of the proletariat in all political and economic questions, always energetically oppose the concealment or obfuscation of class differences, as well as exploiting the workers for the benefit of the ruling parties.
Austrian Social Democracy is an international party. It condemns and fights against the privileges of nations just as it does those of birth, possession and ancestry. Because exploitation itself is international, our party declares the battle against exploitation to be international. It condemns and fights against all restrictions on freedom of expression, as well as the paternalism of the Church and state in every form. It fights for legal protection of the living standards of the working classes and fights for the proletariat to exert the influence on all areas of public life that it is due.
Comparing the two drafts, we immediately notice that the name of the party is to be changed. “Social Democracy” is to replace “Social Democratic Workers’ Party.” This has obviously only been done for the sake of brevity. No one can claim that the proletarian character of Social Democracy in Austria is now less evident than before.
And the fact that the programme no longer speaks of Social Democracy in Austria but Austrian Social Democracy has obviously been done in order to get rid of a clumsiness. But it is precisely the former term that is most characteristic. It testifies how, for the Social Democracy of Austria, this country is a geographical concept, the framework in which it is condemned to operate, but also how it does not consider itself to be the Social Democracy of a particular people as do – for instance – the German, French or English parties.
There is an Austrian state – strictly speaking there is not even that, merely an Austro-Hungarian monarchy – but there is no Austrian people, but only peoples in Austria. And so in Austria there is not an Austrian, but a German, Czech, Polish etc. Social Democracy, which together form the Social Democracy of Austria. This peculiar situation is far more readily apparent when the Declaration of Principles speaks of Social Democracy in Austria than when it speaks of Austrian Social Democracy.