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Yellow socialism

From Academic Kids

Yellow socialism was the name applied to a form of revisionist socialism which became prominent in the early twentieth century prior to World War I, as an alternative to Marxism (sometimes called "red socialism"). Yellow socialists rejected class struggle, the general strike and revolutionary socialism in general.

The term "yellow socialism" was coined by a former member of the French Socialist Party, Pierre Biétry, in 1904 when he founded the "Fédération Nationale des Jaunes de France" (National Federation of Yellows), a right wing socialist group that rejected Marxism, class struggle and labour militancy. Over the next two decades revolutionary socialists would deride all revisionists as "yellow socialists" whether they accepted the label for themselves or not.

In the United States, yellow socialism was associated with the business unionism of Samuel Gompers (and thus described as "yellow unionism").

Yellow socialists and yellow unionists were criticised by more radical socialists for their concessions to nationalism and occasional engagement in chauvinism such as opposition to immigration (for supposedly flooding the labour market and reducing wages or denying jobs to native-born citizens), and sometimes even racism or anti-Semitism.

In Europe, during World War I, yellow socialism became associated with the social democratic parties who supported their own states in the war rather than taking an internationalist position against the conflict.

However, the "Berne International" (or "Two-and-a-half International") which met at Zimmerwald in 1915 was also described by Lenin as "yellow socialist", despite its opposition to the war, for its rejection of revolutionary socialism. After the war, the term "yellow socialism" fell into disuse, and the yellow socialists were absorbed into the larger post-war social democratic movement. Over time, the social democrats evolved towards their modern form, and many of the views held by the yellow socialists disappeared from the movement.

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