Marx and Engels's electoral strategy: The alleged versus the real

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In a recently published collection of interviews with "the most prominent scholars in comparative politics since World War II," Adam Przeworski revealed that his writings from the 1980s on Social Democracy served a political end, that is, to defend it from critics such as Lenin, Trotsky, Lukacs, and Luxemburg. His co-authored book, Paper Stones: A History of Electoral Socialism (1986), still a classic in the sub-field, claims that none other than Frederick Engels sanctioned Social Democracy's quintessential stance, the peaceful or parliamentary road to socialism. A close reading of Paper Stones reveals, however, that it misrepresents-sometimes in quite blatant fashion-the views of not only Engels but Marx as well. This involves the omission of contradictory evidence from many places in the Marx-Engels corpus, the same text, the same page or even the next sentence. Przeworski's reinvention of Marx and Engels duplicates what Edward Bernstein did more than a century ago in his quest to revise their views. Paper Stones excludes evidence that challenges its central finding that the reformist outcome for European Social Democracy was inevitable-a claim, therefore, that can only remain hypothetical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-387
Number of pages21
JournalNew Political Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010


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