Socialist leader, editor, and author; born in Berlin 1850. Beginning life as a clerk in a bank, Bernstein's mind became early imbued with socialistic ideas. In 1872 he joined the Social-Democratic party, and in 1878 gave up business to assist in editing, in Switzerland, the party organ, "Die Zukunft," which became afterward "Das Jahrbuch der Sozialen Wissenschaft." When the anti-Socialist law of Bismarck endangered the party's existence, and it became necessary to establish abroad a socialist organ to sustain and direct the young movement, Bernstein was entrusted with the editorship of the new organ, "Der Sozialdemokrat," published at that time in Zurich. When he was expelled from Switzerland and removed to London, the publication of "Der Sozialdemokrat" was also transferred thither (1888), and continued till it became unnecessary, after the downfall of Bismarck and the revocation of the anti-Socialist law in 1890. Since then he has acted as London correspondent of the Berlin "Vorwärts," and has written for the "Neue Zeit," "Sozialistische Monatshefte," and other periodical publications. In England he contributed a number of essays to the "Progressive Review" and "The New Age." Bernstein's sketch of Lassalle—contributed to an edition of his speeches and writings—has been translated into English and edited by him (3 vols., Berlin, 1893) under the title, "Ferdinand Lassalle as a Social Reformer," London, 1893. Bernstein is the author also of "Communistische und Demokratisch-Sozialistische Strömungen Während der Englischen Revolution des 17. Jahrhunderts," published in a collection of essays on the history of Socialism, entitled "Vorläufer des Neueren Sozialismus," Stuttgart, 1895.
The latest of Bernstein's productions, "Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus und die Aufgaben der Sozialdemokratie," Stuttgart, 1899, has roused general controversy throughout Europe. Professor Diehl, though not himself a Socialist, characterizes Bernstein as "one of the most talented, most learned, and clearest adherents of scientific Socialism," which opinion is shared by even the extreme Socialistic opponents of Bernstein—Kautsky and Mehring. Bourdeau regards this book as the most important that has appeared on Socialism since Marx's "Das Kapital." In this book, Bernstein, after havingbeen for more than twenty years a champion of so-called "orthodox" Marxism, comes to the conclusion that many of Marx's views no longer correspond to the facts of modern social phenomena, and must be replaced by others more in consonance with modern society. Of the views peculiar to Marx, he does not place so much value upon the purely economic conception of history; he minimizes the importance of the theory of value, and repudiates the Hegelian dialectic method, though at the same time he claims that he still adheres to the spirit and evolutionary principles of Marx. Bernstein further emphasizes the great importance of cooperative associations, and urges the Socialist party to free itself from revolutionary phraseology and illusory hopes of the immediate downfall of bourgeois society, and to work hand in hand with all the democratic elements that fight for social reforms. Bernstein even concedes that the Social Democracy is practically acting on the proposed lines; but he wants a more consistent policy, as it seems to him that the remains of former conceptions still prevail in the party and hamper the progress of Socialism and the gradual realization of its ideals. In 1901 Bernstein was allowed to return to Germany, and in March, 1902, he was elected to the Reichstag on the Socialist ticket from Breslau, to succeed Dr. Schönlank, deceased.
- K. Kautsky, Bernstein und das Sozialdemokratische Programm, Stuttgart, 1899;
- Protokoll über die Verhandlungen des Parteitages der Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands, Abgehalten zu Hannover vom 9. bis 14. Oktober, 1899, Berlin, 1899, pp. 91-244;
- F. Mehring, Geschichte der Deutschen Sozialdemokratie, Stuttgart, 1898, ii. 355 et seq.;
- The Labor Annual, London, 1900, p. 150;
- J. Bourdeau, La Crise du Socialisme, in Revue des Deux Mondes, clv. 241-264;
- G. Sorel, Les Polémiques sur l'Interprétation du Marxisme, in Revue Internationale de Sociologie, Paris, 1900, viii. 262-284, 348-369;
- A. Labriola, Bernstein et le Socialisme, in La Revue Socialiste, Paris, 1899, xxix. 663-679;
- R. Diehl, in Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik, Jena, 1899, lxxiii. 98-116;
- G. Maier, Eduard Bernstein und die Neueste Bewegung Innerhalb der Sozialdemokratie, in Die Gesellschaft, Leipsic, 1899, ii. 353-361;
- Jew. Chron., Nov. 24, 1899, p. 21.