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By Patrick Goode

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Extra info for Karl Kautsky: Selected Political Writings

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The fluctuations in the industrial and the political sphere are not only similar but related. Times of prosperity are naturally times in which there is least general social discontent, when the desire to work upwards through one's own effort has the greatest chance of success and the need to question the state lessens. Not only capitalists but also workers regard politics as less important, and economic organisations and enterprises which offer immediate tangible advantages as more important. During a crisis the possibilities of purely economic advancement diminish; the most powerful economic institution, the state, has to provide assistance; it is necessary to seize the state in order to regain lost ground, there is more social discontent, contradictions become more acute and the general tendency is towards political struggle.

Or should we not use it at all? In order to define and analyse specific processes it is absolutely necessary as a concept. When it is a question of distinguishing between a course of social development which does not transcend the given social forms and a course of development which tends towards a higher social order of an entirely different structure, one cannot be content with using the phrase 'social transformation', apart from the fact that no one who is even superficially acquainted with our party literature can have any doubt that social revolution and political insurrection are entirely different concepts.

It is then no wonder that moralists claim that morality has heavenly origins and that it is our animal nature which, tied to the earth, is responsible for the fact that we are condemned to continually worshipping its image longingly from afar, without ever being able to embrace it. Historical materialism brings morality down to earth again from these heavenly heights. We learn to recognise its animal origin and to see how its transformations in human society are conditioned by the transformations which society undergoes as it is driven forward by technical innovation.

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