Third roads and third ways in social democracy: reconciling tensions in European Left Debates, 1848–1934

Ewins, T 2014, Third roads and third ways in social democracy: reconciling tensions in European Left Debates, 1848–1934, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Third roads and third ways in social democracy: reconciling tensions in European Left Debates, 1848–1934
Author(s) Ewins, T
Year 2014
Abstract During the period 1848 to 1934 a number of theorists and intellectual movements stand out as political discourses and practices that might be termed, ‘Third Roads’ or ‘Third Ways. These theorists include Ferdinand Lassalle, Eduard Bernstein, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Kautsky and the Austro-Marxists. However, almost no scholarly work has been undertaken to understand these theorists in relation to each other, as either Third Roads or Third Ways. More broadly, the study of Lassalle, Kautsky and the Austro-Marxists is especially rare; and what study there is of Kautsky in particular tends to adhere to the (overwhelmingly negative) Bolshevist perspective. In this thesis, Third Roads and Third Ways are understood as emerging in relation to the ‘First Ways’, of hegemonic capitalism and an evolving ‘Second Ways’ comprising the relatively hegemonic left-revolutionary discourses of their time. In other words, these approaches developed firstly in relation to each other and, secondly around a series of contentious themes, including, for example, voluntarism/determinism, principle/ pragmatism, and conflict/conciliation.

Generally speaking, Third Roads share the same goals as the relative Second Way, but Third Ways project a different end-goal. For example, it could be said that with Stalinism arising as the hegemonic left-revolutionary discourse (i.e., the Second Way during its time), its real-world objectives were no longer compatible with those that had been adhered to, say, by the likes of Luxemburg. Luxemburg’s position could be conceived as a Third Road before Stalinism, with the ascent of Stalin her position might otherwise be interpreted as having been a more distinct Third Way. The relative standing of Kautsky and of the Austro-Marxists is likewise affected.

This thesis suggests that it is precisely through the ways in which they deal with contested themes that Third Way and Third Road theorists offer a potentially important legacy in our thinking about political contestation. Therefore, one of the central questions of this thesis concerns what responses to different contested ideological themes can provide a basis for arguing that Third Way and Third Road approaches have defensible political and theoretical legacies.

All of the Third Road and Third Way theorists considered here have contributed important legacies with regard to their theoretical innovations and insights – and often in response to the contested themes as noted above – but also with regard to practical contributions to the development of socialist traditions that hitherto have been largely overlooked. They have made important contributions both as political actors and as social theorists. This they have done both in the context of their activism, in their time, and also in the more lasting legacy they have left as a consequence for their many and varied practical and theoretical insights.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Studies
Keyword(s) Social Democracy
Third Ways
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Created: Thu, 18 Jun 2015, 11:31:41 EST by Denise Paciocco
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