📚 node [[20201229145547 karl_kautsky_as_architect_of_the_october_revolution_jacobin]]
📕 text contributed by @ryan

Karl Kautsky as Architect of the October Revolution | Jacobin


  • Lenin never rejected Kautsky in the leading up to the Revolution

  • Young Lenin had an admiration for Kautsky and paid him compliments

  • Soviet scholars provided extensive bibliographies on Lenin’s works

  • Legend has it that people coming into communism in the 30’s and 40’s thought Kautsky’s first name was “renegade”

  • Lih argues that Kautsky was a central figure in the Russian SDP, and something of a mentor to the Russian communists

    • referenced by Lenin, Bukharin, etc.
  • Lih says that Driving Forces and Prospects of the Russian Revolution was a “charter document for Bolshevism”

  • Lenin stressed “Bolshevik hegemony” over the course of the revolution

  • The Bolsheviks did not expect that a worker-peasant alliance would work out as well as it did after 1917

  • Lih argues that Lenin called Kautsky a “renegade” for abandoning his own principles

  • Lenin and the other Bolsheviks were big fan’s of Kautsky’s Road to Power

  • The Bolsheviks especially liked Kautsky’s rejection of any kind of political “agreements”

  • Selections of Kautsky sound similar to Lenin

    Thus the Bolsheviks came into 1917 with two pieces of Kautsky advice firmly under their belts: enlist the peasantry as a revolutionary ally, and do not deviate from militant anti-agreementism.

  • The Bolsheviks won their power through elections in 1917, and it was once they had state power they were able to consolidate it

  • The Bolsheviks believed that they could attain the power they wanted not through agreements with the bourgeoisie, [[dual power]], coalitions, etc., they felt that a [[worker/peasant alliance]] in state power expressed through the soviets would be their path to victory

  • Lenin believed that the only reason why they were able to pull of October was because they had the support of the vast majority of the worker/soldier/peasant soviet constituency


The Bolsheviks were heavily influenced by the works of Kautsky and felt that he was a crucial Marxist thinker. Kautsky believed that a socialist party should not enter into agreements with the bourgeois state, and that it should gain the trust of the peasantry and fight for their goals as well. These lessons were internalized by the Bolsheviks, who used this formula to achieve state power in October of 1917.

The history of the Russian Revolution is not merely a disagreement between insurrectionary politics and electoralism, as some would put it, but a complicated mix of the two.

Lenin, although a famed critic of Kautsky, learned a lot from him as well, and felt that Kautsky wasn’t being true to his own word in calling him a “renegade”.


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