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Reform or Revolution was Rosa Luxembourgs first major political work and one of the most enduring contributions to socialist thought When Rosa Luxembourg arrived in Berlin in 1898 she found the SPD German Social Democratic Party engulfed in a crisis of conscience provoked by Eduard Bernstein Bernstein had spent long years in exile in Switzerland and England as a result of the anti-socialist laws He attacked the very idea of revolutionary upheaval the method the basis of Marxist philosophy and the labor theory of value He concluded that revolution was not necessary that socialism could be achieved by gradual reform of the capitalist system through mechanisms like consumers cooperatives trade unions and the gradual extension of political democracy The SPD he declared should be changed from a party of social revolution into a party of social reforms Rosa Luxembourg entered the growing battle over revisionism by publishing the articles which first appeared in the Leipziger Volkszeitung in September 1898 and in April 1899 she published a second article The two articles together were published in 1900 as Reform or Revolution This was the most penetrating critique of Bernsteins position Can Social Democracy be against social reforms Can it oppose social revolution the transformation of the existing order its final goal to social reforms Certainly not The practical daily struggle for reforms for the amelioration of the condition of the workers within the framework of the existing social order and for democratic institutions offers Social Democracy the only means of engaging in the proletarian class struggle and working in the direction of the final goal the conquest of political power and the suppression of wage labor 1 It was apparent to Rosa Luxembourg that Revisionism was not merely opposed to revolutionary Marxism but to socialism itself Either revisionism is correct concerning the course of capitalist development and therefore the
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