Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Janet Polasky

Second Advisor

Kurk Dorsey

Third Advisor

Jessica Lepler


The outbreak of World War I tore apart the Second Socialist International (1889-1914) as the forces of nationalism overcame international solidarity. By 1917, the global socialist movement was split between reformist social democracy and revolutionary communism. Before this dramatic schism, tensions between a reformist right, a radical left, and a moderate center defined the contours of social democratic politics. Contemporary to the Second International, imperialism and competition between the great powers represented a global crisis that exploded into a worldwide conflict. While not initially responsible for the schisms that tore apart the Second International, debates over imperialism reflected, reconfigured, and exacerbated existing political and theoretical divisions within social democracy. This paper analyzes these social democratic debates over imperialism between the International Socialist Congress at Stuttgart in 1907 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914 while taking the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) as its model.

Available for download on Sunday, May 18, 2025