Liebkneckt, Wilhelm

(1826–1900)
   A founder of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and an important figure in the Sec- ond International, Wilhelm Liebknecht was also a close associate of Friedrich Engels and August Bebel. Liebknecht participated in the 1848 revolution in Germany, was imprisoned and spent 12 years in exile in London where he met Karl Marx. He returned to Germany in 1862 where he worked with Ferdinand Lassalle in Berlin until arguments with the Lassalleans led to him moving to Saxony. Here he teamed up with August Bebel to create the League of Working Men Association (LWMA) and the Social Democratic Workers Party (Sozial Demokratische Arbeiterpartei—SDA). At the Gotha Congress of 1875 he helped to unite the SDA and the General Association of German Workers to form a party that in 1891 took the name the German Social Democratic Party (Sozial Demokratische Partei Deutschlands—SPD). In 1889 he helped in the creation of the Second International of which he was an important member for the next decade. Liebknecht put great stress on the importance of democracy, gradual reform, and an open and democratic party rather than an elitist party or dictatorship of the proletariat. He was largely responsible for writing the draft Gotha program for the SPD in 1875 which denounced capitalism and advocated common ownership, international solidarity and proletarian self-reliance, although it was also heavily criticized by Karl Marx.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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