Socialist Reformism is the belief that gradual democratic changes in a society can ultimately change a society's fundamental economic relations and political structures. This belief grew out of opposition to revolutionary socialism, which contends that revolutions are necessary to fundamentally change a society.

Socialist reformism was first put forward by Eduard Bernstein and Karl Kautsky, two leading social democrats. Reformism was quickly targeted by revolutionary socialists, with Rosa Luxemburg condemning Bernstein's "Evolutionary Socialism" in her 1900 essay "Reform or Revolution?". While Luxemburg died in the German Revolution, the reformists soon found themselves contending with the Bolsheviks and their satellite communist parties for the support of the proletariat. After the Bolsheviks won the Russian Civil War and consolidated power in the Soviet Union, they launched a targeted campaign against the Reformist movement by denouncing them as "social fascists." Arthur Koestler, a former member of the Communist Party of Germany, the largest communist party in Western Europe in the interwar period, confessed in The God That Failed that communists aligned with the Soviet Union continued to consider the "social fascist" Social Democratic Party of Germany to be the real enemy in Germany--even after the Nazi Party had usurped power. [Koestler, Arthur. "The God That Failed." Edited by Richard Crossman. Bantam Matrix, Tenth Edition. pp 41-42.]

In modern times, Reformists are seen as centre-left. Some social democratic parties, such as the Canadian NDP and the Social Democratic Party of Germany, are still considered to be reformist.

Reformism in the United Kingdom's Labour Party

The term was applied to elements within the United Kingdom Labour Party in the 1950s and subsequently, on the party's right. Anthony Crosland wrote "The Future of Socialism" (1956) as a personal manifesto arguing for a reformulation of the term. For Crosland, the relevance of nationalization (or public ownership) for socialists was much reduced as a consequence of contemporary full employment, Keynesian management of the economy and reduced capitalist exploitation. In 1960, after the third successive defeat of his party in the 1959 General Election Hugh Gaitskell attempted to reformulate the original wording of Clause IV in the party's constitution, but proved unsuccessful.

Some of the younger followers of Gaitskell, principally Roy Jenkins, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams left the Labour Party in 1981 to found the Social Democratic Party, but the central objective of the Gaitskellites was eventually achieved by Tony Blair in his successful attempt to rewrite Clause IV in 1995.

The use of the term is distinguished from the gradualism associated with Fabianism (the ideology of the Fabian Society), which itself should not be seen as being in parallel with the revisionism associated Bernstein and the German SPD, as originally the Fabians had explicitly rejected Marxism

ee also

Reformist thinkers

* Eduard Bernstein
* Karl Kautsky

Reformist organizations

* The Fabian Society

Reformist ideology

* Social democracy
* Kemalist Ideology
* Neosocialism
* Marxist revisionism

Competing ideologies

* Capitalism
* Communism
* Leninism
* Maoism
* Trotskyism


* Reform movement


External links

* [ reform v. to improve (an existing institution, law, practice, etc) by alteration or by correction of abuses or malpractices; n. a principle, campaign, or measure aimed at achieving such change]
* [ Reform or Revolution? by Rosa Luxemburg (1900)]

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  • reformism — REFORMÍSM s.n. 1. Atitudine politică bazată pe propagarea (propaga) reformelor. 2. Curent politic care preconizează progresul şi schimbările în societate numai pe calea reformelor. – Din fr. réformisme. Trimis de IoanSoleriu, 13.09.2007. Sursa:… …   Dicționar Român

  • reformism — [ri fôr′miz΄əm] n. the practice or advocacy of reform, esp. political or social reform reformist n., adj. * * * re·form·ism (rĭ fôrʹmĭz əm) n. A doctrine or movement of reform.   re·formʹist n. * * * …   Universalium

  • reformism — [ri fôr′miz΄əm] n. the practice or advocacy of reform, esp. political or social reform reformist n., adj …   English World dictionary

  • reformism — [[t]rɪfɔ͟ː(r)mɪzəm[/t]] N UNCOUNT Reformism is the belief that a system or law should be reformed …   English dictionary

  • reformism — reformist ► ADJECTIVE ▪ supporting or advocating gradual reform rather than abolition or revolution. ► NOUN ▪ a supporter or advocate of such a policy. DERIVATIVES reformism noun …   English terms dictionary

  • reformism — noun Date: 1904 a doctrine, policy, or movement of reform • reformist noun or adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • reformism — noun Any of several movements that promote reform …   Wiktionary

  • reformísm — s. n …   Romanian orthography

  • reformism — re·form·ism …   English syllables

  • reformism — /rəˈfɔmɪzəm/ (say ruh fawmizuhm), /ˈrɛfəmɪzəm/ (say refuhmizuhm) noun the policy of bringing about reform within the means and limitations of the existing system of government, usually without radically changing the current political system …   Australian English dictionary

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