Bebel, August


Bebel, August
(1840–1913)
   A major figure in the German and European labor movement during the late 1800s and early 1900s, Bebel led both the League of Working Men’s Association (LWMA) and the Social Democratic Workers Party (Sozial Demokratische Arbeiterpartei— SDA), as well as being involved in the First International. He was also an early and significant contributor to the subject of women’s emancipation, writing Women and Socialism in 1883. Born in Cologne, Bebel worked as a joiner and then as a lathe operator before devoting himself full-time to politics. In 1886 he and Wilhelm Liebknecht held a workers congress at Chemnitz which led to the creation of the LWMA, of which he was elected president in 1867. In 1869 he helped to found the SDA and in 1871 he became a member of the new German parliament, the Reichstag, in which he served from 1871 to 1881 and 1883 to 1913. He was sent to prison for two years for treason in 1872 and was again imprisoned in 1886. He also helped to bring together the SDA and General Association of German Workers at Gotha in 1875 to form a party that became the German Social Democratic Party (Sozial Demokratische Partei Deutschlands—SPD) at the Erfurt Congress in 1891. Bebel played a key role in the adoption of an essentially Marxist program by the SPD at the same Congress in Erfurt, and was also involved in the founding of the Second International in1889.
   A committed Marxist, he nevertheless sought a peaceful road to achieving socialism, a theme he pursued as editor of the influential socialist journal Vorwärts, which also condemned militarism and imperialism.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.