Impossibilism


Impossibilism

Impossibilism is an interpretation of Marxism. It emphasizes the limited value of reforms in overturning capitalism and insists on revolutionary political action as the only reliable method of bringing about socialism.

The concept - though not the specific term - was introduced and heavily influenced by the American Marxist thinker Daniel De Leon, on the basis of theory that De Leon generated before his interest in syndicalism began (see De Leonism). It came to be focused especially on the question of whether socialists should take part in government under capitalism. At the Paris Congress of the Second International, in 1900, those who favoured entry into government, with all the implied compromises, called themselves Possibilists, while those who opposed participation became known as Impossibilists.

Impossibilism was particularly popular in British Columbia in the early 20th century, through the influence of E.T. Kingsley. It is also the basis of the theory and practice of the oldest British Marxist party, the Socialist Party of Great Britain, which was founded in 1904.


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