“Believing that he was working out a coherent view consistent with “evolutionary” Marxist principles, Bernstein rarely entertained the thought that he might have irretrievably broken with Marxist doctrine (71). Ultimately, Bernstein formulated three concrete revisionist claims, published in ‘Neue Zeit’ and ‘Vorwärts’ between 1896 and 1899, in both his famous series of articles, entitled “Problems of Socialism”, and in subsequent responses to socialist critics like the Russian emigrés George Plekhanov and Alexander Helphand (“Parvus”), editor of ‘Sächsische Arbeiter-Zeitung (72). First, Bernstein directed the brunt of his argument against the widespread Marxist rhetoric of Bebel’s great “Kladderadatsch” (crac, ndr) – the inevitable and sudden collapse of bourgeois society due to the fundamental contradictions in the capitalist mode of production (73). While he explicitly allowed for the ‘possibility’ of future “political catastrophes” like large-scale wars or sustained civil unrest, Bernstein rejected the Erfurt Program’s economic determinism inherent in the idea of terminal capitalist crises. While there might well be limited crises, empirical evidence suggested that “(we) will have to throw overboard all speculations that such a crisis will bring about the great social upheaval” (74). Suggesting that capitalism was getting better at containing its own contradictions, Bernstein pointed to the stabilizing role of cartels, trusts, modern communication, and the international expansion of the credit system as the main reasons for the unexpected flexibility of late-nineteenth-century capitalism. Second, and counterfactually, he argued that, even if Marx was right in his assertion  that economic crises were to became ever more catastrophic, and that the SPD would gain power under conditions of a capitalist breakdown, the party was not prepared to govern without the bourgeoisie (75). “Social democracy should neither expect nor desire the imminent collapse of the existing economic system… What social democracy should be doing, and doing for a long time to come, is organize the working class politically, train it for democracy, and fight for any and all reforms in the state which are designed to raise the working class and make the state more democratic” (76). Like Engels in his later work, Bernstein focused on the central importance of what might be called the “transition problem” in socialist theory (77). But contrary to Engels, Bernstein turned against the dominant Marxist view that, once the economic conditions had sufficiently “matured”, the transition to a “new society” was, in essence, a political problem that would be solved by a single act of seizure of political power by the proletariat (78). Rather than arguing for the wholesale liquidation of the existing capitalist system, Bernstein opted for “evolution”: its gradual democratization via the extension of political rights. In fact, he believed that “[N]owadays social democracy can do more as an opposition party than it could if it suddenly gained control through some catastrophe (79)”. In his opinion, it was foolish to tell the working class simply to wait for the “right moment” in the development of the mode of production and then, in one blow, seize political power and immediately build the “new socialist society”. Rather, the desired transformation of capitalist society into socialism would prove to be a painfully slow, evolutionary process, to be guided by ethical ideals. No doubt, Bernstein resurrected the old liberal-reformist thesis of “society growing into socialism”, an idea popular with non-Marxist social democrats in the 1860s, but harshly condemned by Engels as “the old image of the unencumbered ‘evolution’ of the existing mess into a socialist society (80). Here, Bernstein obviously disagreed with his late mentor (…)” [Manfred B. Steger, ‘The Quest for Evolutionary Socialism. Eduard Bernstein and social democracy’, Cambridge, 2006] [(71) For example, during the 1903 Dresden Party Conference he admitted to his “heretical views” regarding “certain aspects of Marx’s thought” (Protokoll 1903 Dresden, pp. 391-396); (72) The most important of these essays are translated in MS (*); (73) Bernstein to Kautsky, October 10, 1898, Adler A.; (74) Bernstein, “The Struggle of Social Democracy and Revolution”, in MS, p. 166. For an excellent account of the history of the “breakdown theory” within German social democracy; see Rudolf Walther, “…aber nach der Sündflut kommen wir und nur wir”: “Zusammenbruchtheorie”, Marxismus und politisches Defizit in der SPD, 1890-1914′, Frankfurt / Main: Ullstein, 1981; and F.R. Hansen, ‘The Breakdown of Capitalism: A History of the Idea in Western Marxism, 1883-1983’, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985; (75) Bernstein, “The Conquest of Political Power”, in MS, p. 306; and Bernstein, “Critical Interlude”, in ibid., p. 220. See also, PS, pp. 45, 206; (76) Eduard Bernstein, “The Struggle of the Social Democracy and the Social Revolution: 2: The Theory of Collapse and Colonial Policy”, in MS, p. 169; (77) Bernstein to Kautsky, June 29, 1896, ‘Kautsky Archive’, IISH, DV375; (78) See also Pracht, ‘Parlamentarismus und deutsche Sozialdemokratie, 1867-1914’, p. 240; (79) Ibid., p. 221; (80) Engels to Kautsky, July 29, 1891, MEW 38, p. 125]  [(*) MS: ‘Marxism and Social Democracy: The Revisionist Debate, 1896-1898’, edited by Henry Tudor and J.M. Tudor, Cambridge, 1988]