Front Page Titles (by Subject) Eduard Bernstein and Imperialism - Literature of Liberty, Summer 1980, vol. 3, No. 2
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Eduard Bernstein and Imperialism - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Summer 1980, vol. 3, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Eduard Bernstein and Imperialism
“A Revisionist Looks at Imperialism: Eduard Bernstein's Critique of Imperialism and Kolonialpolitik, 1900–14.” Central European History 12(September 1979):237–271.
It is difficult to categorize Eduard Bernstein among the various writers who dealt with imperialism and foreign policy in the years prior to the First World War. He was neither indifferent to the importance of foreign policy, nor can he be described as one of those attracted to ideas of social imperialism. His views can best be understood within the context of party faction in the German Social Democratic Party.
The center of the Party was challenged not so much by radicals on the left as from those on the right. Prior to 1914, little writing among party leaders was given over to foreign policy matters. On the question of imperialism, the major influence was that of Karl Kautsky. While his views changed over time, by 1911 Kautsky, along with most centrists had come to believe “that imperialism itself was not a necessary feature of mature capitalism but rather an ephemeral aberration foisted upon capitalism by preindustrial social groups.” Imperialist rivalries would be superceded by a cartelization of world markets. For radicals of the left, such as Rosa Luxemburg and others, imperialism demanded a uniting of the masses for revolution, and many thought its collapse was imminent.
Although Bernstein did not systematize his views on imperialism, he did differentiate between ancient and modern imperialism, and rejected the idea that imperialism was the final stage of some sort of “moribund monopolistic capitalism.” He saw each particular type of imperialism as significant. That of the British, for example, was often defensive, progressive to the colonial peoples, and of a “strongly democratic, libertarian” type. On the other hand, he was very negative about German imperialism, based as it was on an intellectual climate of “super-patriotism,” often anti-British or anti-Russian. It was Germany which disturbed world peace and whose foreign policy was badly in need of some democratic counterforces.
At the same time Bernstein's view of imperialism was linked to notions of Social Darwinism. Colonialism, he believed, involved territorial expansion, permanent settlement, and the transference of a higher civilization, though he conceded it might well lead to certain excesses, such as mistreatment of the natives or retarding economic growth. Bernstein felt that colonies were not a necessity, but might even be an economic burden. He argued that Social Democracy should throw its weight behind German colonial policy in order to improve and upgrade it. While he had many insights into the nature of colonialism and imperialism, taken as a comprehensive whole, his views were not free of inconsistencies and even contradictions.