The renegade Kautsky

Posted on Jun 3, 2022

I’ve been reading Mike Macnair’s Revolutionary Strategy: Marxism and the challenge of left unity, and it occurred to me there is a whole world out there of ideas and topics that could be helped by more formal analysis, and by that I mean a more rigorous approach to quantify the outcomes of each topic, the parameters that would go in it and the debates that it would spark. As a start, one can take the Erfurt programme and start doing a formal/data science analysis on each constituent part of the programme. I’ve broken down the programme demands into categories and re-organised them so as as to make each demand more specific and explicit. Next to each demand I have included a relevant research question, plus whether or not the demand is currently met in the “broader” west.

As one might expect, the first set of demands is around universal suffrage:

Suffrage demandsResearch questionCurrently in place
Universal, equal, and direct suffrage with secret ballot in all elections, for all citizens of the Reich over the age of twenty, without distinction of sex.What is the ideal voting age?yes
Proportional representation, and, until this is introduced, legal redistribution of electoral districts after every census.What kind of voting system?no
Two-year legislative periods. Holding of elections on a legal holiday.What is the optimal assembly/parliament timespan?no
Compensation for elected representatives.What is the appropriate salary for representatives?yes
Suspension of every restriction on political rights, except in the case of legal incapacity.When is it appropriate to lose these rights?no
Direct legislation by the people through the rights of proposal and rejection.What is the exact mechanism for law introduction/voting?no
Self-determination and self-government of the people in Reich, state, province, and municipality.What is the best subdivision for representation?no

The second group of demands has to do the application and administration of law (vs the process of making laws):

Legal demandsResearch questionCurrently in place
Election by the people of magistrates, who are answerable and liable to them.What should be the mechanism for jury trials?no
Appeal in criminal cases.Not sureyes
Compensation for individuals unjustly accused, imprisoned, or sentenced.When is the appropriate level of compensation?yes
Abolition of capital punishment.Not sureyes
Free administration of justice and free legal assistance.Who sets lawyer fees?no
Administration of the law by judges elected by the people.Should the top of a the legal ladder be elected directly?no

The third group of demands has to do with the right to hold and bear arms.

Military demandsResearch questionCurrently in place
Education of all to bear arms.Who should not have the right to bear arms?no
Militia in the place of the standing army.How are officers to be elected?no
Determination by the popular assembly on questions of war and peace.When, who and how can mobilise the militia?no
Settlement of all international disputes by arbitration.Not sureno

The fourth set of demands is around equality and freedom.

Equality demandsResearch questionCurrently in place
Abolition of all laws that place women at a disadvantage compared with men in matters of public or private law.Should quotas be imposed to counteract historical inequality trends?yes
Abolition of all laws that limit or suppress the free expression of opinion and restrict or suppress the right of association and assembly.Should there be any limits?no
Safeguarding of the freedom of association.What cultural mechanisms should be in place for this right to be exercised in full?yes

The fifth group of demands is around freedom of religion. I think they have been largely achieved in the west.

Religious demandsResearch questionCurrently in place
Declaration that religion is a private matter.What should be our take on proselytising?yes
Abolition of all expenditures from public funds for ecclesiastical and religious purposes.Can they be voted back in?yes
Ecclesiastical and religious communities are to be regarded as private associations that regulate their affairs entirely autonomously.Should they be tax-exempt?yes

The sixth set of demands is around education:

Educational demandsResearch questionCurrently in place
Secularization of schools. Compulsory attendance at the public Volksschule [extended elementary school].How long should compulsory schooling last?yes
Free education, free educational materials, and free meals in the public Volksschulen, as well as at higher educational institutions for those boys and girls considered qualified for further education by virtue of their abilities.What is the role of online courses (and more broadly, automation technology)?no

The seventh set of demands is around health and insurance – note here that these vary widely from country to country, so not clear how to answer the questions.

Social security demandsResearch questionCurrently in place
Free medical care, including midwifery and medicines.What is the upper level of societal resources one should spend on medicine?varies
Free burial.Not sureno
Takeover by the Reich government of the entire system of workers’ insurance, with decisive participation by the workers in its administration.Public insurance, in the forms of pensions and normal house/car insurancevaries

The eighth set of demands is on taxation:

Tax demandsResearch questionCurrently in place
Graduated income and property tax for defraying all public expenditures, to the extent that they are to be paid for by taxation.How much and when to tax?no
Inheritance tax, graduated according to the size of the inheritance and the degree of kinship.What should be the tax on inheritance?no
Abolition of all indirect taxes, customs, and other economic measures that sacrifice the interests of the community to those of a privileged few.Not sureno
Annual voting of taxes.What options should be on the ballot?no

The ninth set of demands is on worker’s rights – notice that “white collar” employees tend to enjoy quite a few of these, but not sure if they are universal:

Worker demandsResearch questionCurrently in place
Fixing of a normal working day not to exceed eight hours.What should be the extent of normal workday?yes
Prohibition of gainful employment for children under the age of fourteen.When should someone start working?yes
Prohibition of night work, except in those industries that require night work for inherent technical reasons or for reasons of public welfare.How do we regulate jobs that need long or unorthodox working hours?no
An uninterrupted rest period of at least thirty-six hours every week for every worker.How many days a week should we work?yes
Prohibition of the truck system.Can you be paid in kind?yes
Supervision of all industrial establishments, investigation and regulation of working conditions in the cities and the countryside by a Reich labor department, district labor bureaus, and chambers of labor. Rigorous industrial hygiene.How to best enforce sane working practices? How about mental health?no
Legal equality of agricultural laborers and domestic servants with industrial workers; abolition of the laws governing domestics.Not sureyes

Overall, there are 36 programmatic demands (if I’ve managed to count them right), the vast majority of which have not been resolved since the programme was first released (in 1891). In future posts I will address each group of demands in more detail, complement the demands and setup adversaries, i.e. what lobby groups would be against them.