[OPE-L:2049] Bernstein, Kautsky, and Lenin on "Increasing Misery" [or who has joined the Pickwick Club?]

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu)
Date: Thu Jan 06 2000 - 14:29:02 EST

[ show plain text ]

I just ran across the following "Review" by Lenin of Karl Kautsky,
*Bernstein and the Social-Democratic Programme: A Counter-Critique*,
written end 1899 but only published in 1928, Collected Works, Vol. IV,
Lawrence and Wishart, 1960, p. 201.

     "Bernstein declares that everyone has abandoned Marx's 'theory of
misery' or 'theory of impoverishment.' Kautsky demonstrates that this is
again a distorted exaggeration on the part of opponents of Marx, since
Marx propounded no such theory. He spoke of the growth of poverty,
degradation, etc., indicating at the same time the counteracting tendency
and the real social forces that alone could give rise to this tendency.
Marx's words on the growth of poverty are fully justified by reality:
first, we actually see that capitalism has a tendency to engender and
increase poverty, which acquires tremendous proportions when the
above-mentioned counteracting tendency is absent. Secondly, poverty
grows, not in the physical sense but in the social sense, i.e., in the
sense of the disparity between the increasing level of consumption by the
bourgeoisie and consumption by society as a whole, and the level of the
living standards of the working people. Bernstein waxes ironical over
such a conception of 'poverty,' saying that this is a Pickwickian
conception. In reply Kautsky shows that people like Lassalle, Rodbertus,
and Engels have made a very definite statement to the effect that poverty
must be understand in its social sense, as well as its physical,
sense....Thirdly and lastly, the passage on increasing impoverishment
remains perfectly true in respect of the 'border regions of capitalism',
the border regions being understood both in the geographical sense...and
in the political-economic sense...."

I guess one or two on this list may not agree and may think the Kenneth
Lapides (and perhaps myself) has joined the wrong club (the
Bernstein/Samuelson club being the right [sic] club). But Lenin
intersperses after the second point:

"As you see...it is not such a bad company that gathers at the 'Pickwick


Paul Zarembka, supporting RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY, web site
******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Jan 31 2000 - 07:00:06 EST