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Born June 11, 1863, in Ediger-am-Mosel; died Dec. 24, 1930, in Berlin. Figure in the German Social Democratic Party; revisionist.
David was a teacher at a Gymnasium until 1894. He joined the Social Democratic Party in 1893, and he was one of the first to advocate an open revision of Marxism on the agrarian question, denying that the economic laws of capitalism operated in agriculture. In his major work, Socialism and Agriculture (1903; Russian translation. 1903 and 1906). David attempted to refute Marx’ theory of the concentration of production in agriculture and to demonstrate the “stability” of small-scale farming and its “superiority” to farming on a large scale. He also defended the so-called law of the diminishing fertility of the soil.
At the Stuttgart Congress of the Second International in 1907. David supported a resolution justifying the colonial policy of imperialism. During World War I he was a social chauvinist. Lenin subjected David’s views to annihilating criticism. David was a deputy to the Reichstag during 1903–18 and 1920–30 and was one of the leaders of the Social Democratic parliamentary faction. In October 1918 he joined the government of Prince Max of Baden under the Kaiser as a junior secretary of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In February 1919 he was the first chairman of the Weimar National Assembly, and he was minister of internal affairs from February 1919 to June 1920. During 1922–27, David was the representative of the central government in Hesse.