Date of Award

Spring 1988

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Marc W Herold


The theoretical conceptions of capitalist economy held by socialists are surprisingly neglected in efforts to explain socialist political practice. Most explanations of politics, including those offered by Marxists themselves, emphasize personal, ideological, etc., factors. By providing a "theoretical economic history" of the mainsteam Marxist labor movement in the years roughly 1860-1930, this study contributes to an inductive justification for the claim that the theory of capitalism implicitly or explicitly held by Marxist politicians is a considerably more important determinant of their political conclusions than is generally admitted.

After a relatively concise treatment of the First and pre-war Second Internationals, in which the general methodological approach will be revealed and some more or less minor errors of interpretation by various analysts will be corrected, attention will shift to the Third International in the years prior to the advent of fascism in Germany. The usefulness of theoretical economic history will be most forcefully evident here, as it will be demonstrated that the politics of the Third International, contrary to most accounts, are not primarily rooted in factional struggles within the Russian party, the general economic/political problems of socialist construction in Soviet Russia, Stalin's personality, etc. Rather, it will be shown that the key transformations of the Third International's political orientation derived from the prevailing theory of capitalism in communist circles.