The ideas that had been set forth by Marx in the communist manifesto had an influence on many of the future communist and socialist thinkers such as Clara Zetkin, Vladimir Lenin, and Clara Zetkin. These individuals had different ideologies in relation to the Marxist perspective. Despite all that, they had some shared principles that are in line with what had first been established by Marx.
Some of the common perspectives that were shared among all of them was accepting the interpretation of Marx about the “the history of class struggles,” Marx had a belief that class struggles might become the key to progress, and the effect of this was the establishment of socialism.
They also believed that there was a widening division that was not close to ending between bourgeoisie who are referred to a capital class who were the owners of the various means of production as well as the proletariat who were referred to a class of workers that were mainly subjugated by many capitalists that were in existence. They also accepted that proletariat era as a class that was ruling was an occurrence that could not have evaded in the history of human beings. The only disagreement in place was how the main future would pass in the coming days.
Despite the common perspectives, the three individuals Clara Zetkin, Vladimir Lenin, and Clara Zetkin, had different perspectives. Edward Bernstein had a belief on the evolutionary socialism, Clara Zetkin is attributed for making various development that was political, and held that ladies are not supposed to fight on their own behalf. Lenin had a belief that people could only engage in the creation of the trade unions’ consciousness.
Edward Bernstein argued that the revolutionary notion of class war whereby those in the working call would engage in overthrowing the establishment is not a good idea for everyone, and this was not the best platform for pushing on issues that are related to politics. Such realities had made socialism to be associated with revolution. This paves the way for democrats such as Beinstein, who advocated for the use of democratic systems to foster change.
Bernstein did not follow the radicalism by Marx but still held on the fact that the socialist values were true. He argued that “I set myself against the notion that we have to expect a collapse of the bourgeois economy shortly,” He did not advocate for the obliteration of economic systems. He is quick to note that the middle-income individuals are very crucial for the economy but were never considered by Marx. He also argues that one of the best ways of achieving a society that was socialist was through swaying those in the middle class to accept the socialist idea, and the use of democracy was a better approach.
Clara zetkin mainly focused on socialism and feminism. As many socialist ideas developed in Europe, another idea that seemed to a threat to the norms in society was feminism. Clara was a renowned socialist and feminist in Germany. She sought to reduce the gap between the two perspectives. His main argument was that the goals of socialists were similar to the feminist goals, and through the achievement of the rights of the proletariat women class, then they would achieve their own rights. “The work of our trade unions to enlighten, train, and organize wage-earning women is not smaller nor less important than what the S.D.P. (Social Democratic Party of Germany) has done to induce women to join in political struggles of the working class.”
Clara opposes the inclusion of the women in capitalism since it is not based on equality. Zetkin could see the future of her sex as a phenomenon that could not be distinguished from societal fate. She saw socialism as a means of obtaining freedom. To support the idea that the socialist and feminist goals are similar, she argued that “Socialist women strongly oppose the bourgeois women’s righters’ credo that the women of all classes must gather into an unpolitical, neutral movement striving exclusively for women’s rights.”
While Eduard and Clara made an attempt to achieve socialist goals that were revisionist through means that were not revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin was quite different. He was a leader in the social democratic party of Russia. He did face a resistance that was very harsh against all the social movements. Lenin had a belief that the only best way of obtaining a democratic path that would lead to socialism was betraying the vision by Marx. He sought to make use of revolutions. He came with a socialist organization that was very strong in which a revolution could be achieved.
Lenin had a belief that workers who were in the category of the proletarian class were not in an ability to overcome the establishments through themselves but through professional revolutionaries that were well trained on how they could combat political police. His belief was quite different from that of Marx. Marx saw that all the revolution actions were coming from the working class that was proletarian. On the other hand, Lenin had a belief that a revolutionary body that was separate, which did wage then war courtesy of the proletariats.
Marx focused on the practical manner in which he would fulfill the prophecy set out by Marx in relation to the socialists’ utopia that had been laid out by “The Communist Manifesto” He had presented his ideas way before soviet revolution that occurred in Russia. He said in a prophetic manner that “Give us an organization of revolutionaries, and we shall overturn the whole of Russia!”
In summary, similarities and differences can easily be seen. One of the notable differences is that Eduard and Clara made an attempt of achieving socialist goals that were revisionist through means that were not revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin advocated for the use of revolutions. Clara is seen to be in support of women’s rights. She is against the inclusion of women in the capitalist class. On the contrary, Bernstein did not support economic systems destruction.
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Lenin, Vladimir Ilʹich, and Todd Chretien. State and revolution. Haymarket Books, 2015.
Ostrowski, Marius S. Eduard Bernstein on Social Democracy and International Politics: Essays and Other Writings. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
Taylor, Barbara. “19 Socialist Feminism: Utopian or Scientific?.” People’s History and Socialist Theory (Routledge Revivals) (2016): 158.