Karl Kautsky, den ledande socialdemokratiske teoretikern i den andra internationalen, är närmast bortglömd idag. Det är inte så konstigt att socialdemokratin inte vill kännas vid den marxistiske revolutionären, som Kautsky var fram till första världskriget.
För kommunisterna var han den store avfällingen, som tog avstånd från oktoberrevolutionen 1917. Men Kautsky var Lenins läromästare, och "leninismen" går nog inte att förstå om man inte studerar Kautsky. Följande citat ur artikeln "The Intellectuals and the Workers", kunde mycket väl ha varit skriven hans ryske elev:
As an isolated individual, the proletarian is a nonentity. His strength, his progress, his hopes and expectations are entirely derived from organisation, from systematic action in conjunction with his fellows. He feels himself big and strong when he is part of a big and strong organism. The organism is the main thing for him; the individual by comparison means very little. The proletarian fights with the utmost devotion as part of the anonymous mass, without prospect of personal advantage or personal glory, performing his duty in any post assigned to him, with a voluntary discipline which pervades all his feelings and thoughts.
Quite different is the case of the intellectual. He fights not by means of power, but by argument. His weapons are his personal knowledge, his personal ability and his personal convictions. He can attain a position only through his personal abilities. Hence the freest play for these seems to him the prime condition for success. It is only with difficulty that he submits to serving as a part which is subordinate to the whole, and then only from necessity, not from inclination. He recognises the need of discipline only for the masses, not for the select few. And naturally he counts himself among the latter.
I artikeln The “intellectuals” and party principles går han längre och förklarar varför revisionistiska intellektuella bör uteslutas ur det socialdemokratiska partiet.
What the “intellectuals” can bring to the proletariat is solely a superior scientific knowledge. But it is just that which cannot give the elements to one unable to surmount bourgeois narrowness of view. Their intelligence only allows them to graft bourgeois ideas on those of the proletariat, to bring confusion and dispute, and a weakening of the class struggle.