What is the main point of social-democracy, what makes its historical value? It is not only the trade-unions, the social struggle, the affirmation of Marxism. It is precisely the conception that the ideology has to be synthesized by individuals.
What we have here is the basis permitting the concept of “thought” to be affirmed by Mao Zedong and Gonzalo in the second part of the 20th century.
To understand this, we must take a look at What is to be done?, published in 1902. In this classic work of Marxism, Lenin talks about Kautsky's conception, explaining that it is correct:
“To supplement what has been said above, we shall quote the following profoundly true and important words of Karl. Kautsky on the new draft programme of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party:
“Many of our revisionist critics believe that Marx asserted that economic development and the class struggle create, not only the conditions for socialist production, but also, and directly, the consciousness [K. K.’s italics] of its necessity.
And these critics assert that England, the country most highly developed capitalistically, is more remote than any other from this consciousness Judging by the draft, one might assume that this allegedly orthodox Marxist view, which is thus refuted, was shared by the committee that drafted the Austrian programme.
In the draft programme it is stated: ‘The more capitalist development increases the numbers of the proletariat, the more the proletariat is compelled and becomes fit to fight against capitalism.
The proletariat becomes conscious of the possibility and of the necessity for socialism.’ In this connection socialist consciousness appears to be a necessary and direct result of the proletarian class struggle.
But this is absolutely untrue.
Of course, socialism, as a doctrine, has its roots in modern economic relationships just as the class struggle of the proletariat has, and, like the latter, emerges from the struggle against the capitalist-created poverty and misery of the masses.
But socialism and the class struggle arise side by side and not one out of the other; each arises under different conditions.
Modern socialist consciousness can arise only on the basis of profound scientific knowledge. Indeed, modern economic science is as much a condition for socialist production as, say, modern technology, and the proletariat can create neither the one nor the other, no matter how much it may desire to do so; both arise out of the modern social process.
The vehicle of science is not the proletariat, but the bourgeois intelligentsia [K. K.’s italics]: it was in the minds of individual members of this stratum that modern socialism originated, and it was they who communicated it to the more intellectually developed proletarians who, in their turn, introduce it into the proletarian class struggle where conditions allow that to be done.
Thus, socialist consciousness is something carried into the proletarian class struggle from outside [von Aussen Hineingetragenes] and not something that arose within it spontaneously [urwüchsig]. Accordingly, the old Hainfeld programme quite rightly stated that the task of Social-Democracy is to imbue the proletariat (literally: saturate the proletariat) with the consciousness of its position and the consciousness of its task.
There would be no need for this if consciousness arose of itself from the class struggle.
The new draft copied this proposition from the old programme, and attached it to the proposition mentioned above. But this completely broke the line of thought...”
Since there can be no talk of an independent ideology formulated by the working masses themselves in the process of their movement, the only choice is — either bourgeois or socialist ideology.
There is no middle course (for mankind has not created a “third” ideology, and, moreover, in a society torn by class antagonisms there can never be a non-class or an above-class ideology).
Hence, to belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology.
There is much talk of spontaneity. But the spontaneous development of the working-class movement leads to its subordination to bourgeois ideology, to its development along the lines of the Credo programme; for the spontaneous working-class movement is trade-unionism, is Nur-Gewerkschaftlerei, and trade unionism means the ideological enslavement of the workers by the bourgeoisie.
Hence, our task, the task of Social-Democracy, is to combat spontaneity, to divert the working-class movement from this spontaneous, trade-unionist striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie, and to bring it under the wing of revolutionary Social Democracy.”
This is the very basic learning of social-democracy, that Lenin will defend and develop.