Bernstein on middle strata

Chris Burford cburford at
Thu Nov 2 01:45:00 MST 1995

Jack Hill has forwarded on 24.10.95 a very valuable analysis of the 
important question of the "middle strata"

I have not been able to digest this is full, but went straight
to the section on Bernstein, who despite being Engels's 
literary executor, has been harshly treated by his critics.

Of the points quoted all seem to be arguably serious and worthy 
of consideration today, except the following:

"Social democracy does not wish to dissolve this society and make
proletarians of all its members. Rather it labors incessantly at
lifting the worker from the social position of the proletarian to
that of a 'bourgeois and thus to make bourgeoisie or citizenship
(The above quotes of Bernstein from Carter's book , Capitalism
Class conflict and the new middle class. Carter cites Peter Gay's
book The dilemma of Democratic Socialism as the source. We have
been unable to get this book as of yet. Although we have read
Evolutionary Socialism, we have not yet looked into  any other
works from Bernstein of this period. )

I would make this comment -

the arkwardness of the translation perhaps conveys a key point
that only the original would illuminate. Just as in the 
translation of Freud, where English readers cannot avoid 
thinking differently when they read of the Ego and not just
das Ich, so we need to be aware in readings from German
that the word burgerlich also has connotations of citizenship.

Thus in 1989 the Civic Rights movement in Eastern Germany
was the "Burgerliche Bewegung".

We do not know whether Bernstein was saying that citizenship
(Burgershaft?) should become universal, and what the context
of this meant to him. It has different resonances to that of 
making bourgoisification universal. Reformist no doubt, but 
not necessarily an act of class treachery.

Does anyone know?

Chris B, London.

PS could these articles by Pete Talbot be put in the archives?

cc mlbooks at
   pt1947 at

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