one of the currents of opportunism within the Social Democratic movement; it acknowledged revolutionary Marxism only in words. Kautskyism took shape during the historical conditions of World War I and was linked with the name of one of the leaders of the Second International, K. Kautsky. The latter put forth the opportunistic slogan of “civil peace,” which required an abstention from the class struggle during the war and denied the necessity of preparing for the socialist revolution. The advocates of Kautskyism (O. Bauer in Austria; R. MacDonald in Great Britain; A. Thomas in France; and L. Martov, L. Trotsky, and others in Russia) were considered by V. I. Lenin to be “the most dangerous opponents of internationalism” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 49, p. 72).

In economic theory Kautskyism de-emphasized capitalism’s antagonistic contradictions and viewed imperialism as only one particular policy of the industrially developed states, directed at annexing the agrarian countries. The Kautskyists treated politics as separate from economics and ignored the influence of monopolies on the bourgeois state. Such an explanation of the economic essence of imperialism was invoked to conceal the deepening contradictions, the growth of parasitism, and the decay of capitalism. The anti-Marxist theory of “ultraimperial-ism,” advanced by Kautsky and developed by the Kautskyists, ignored the objective laws of the development of capitalism.

The Kautskyists have propagated illusions concerning the supposed transformation of capitalism into some kind of new society lacking the evils that are inherent in it by asserting that capitalism has entered a new phase of its development marked by a curtailment of the competitive struggle, by the growth of monopolies, and by the elimination of conflicts between capitalist countries; that ultraimperialism will replace the struggle between national states with the dominance of internationally unified capital; and that international monopolies are a weapon for peace. The evolution of Kautskyism in right-wing Social Democratic parties has led its leaders in West Germany, Austria, and some Scandinavian countries to a final break with Marxism and to positions of overt anticommunism. The concepts of Kautskyism are directed at a defense of capitalism and a rejection of the class struggle and of socialist revolution.


Lenin, V. I. “Proletarskaia revoliutsiia i renegat Kautskii.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 37.
Lenin, V. I. “Retsenziia Karl Kautsky, ‘Die Agrarfrage.’ “Ibid., vol. 4.
Lenin, V. I. “Opportunizm i krakh II Internatsionala.” Ibid., vol. 27.
Lenin, V. I. “Gosudarstvo i revoliutsiia.” Ibid, vol. 33.
Novye iavleniia v sovremennoi burzhuaznoipolitekonomii, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1962–63. (Translated from German.)