At the same time that the Neo-Platonists, like Ficino and Pico de la Mirandola, and the pantheists, whose God was little more than a reverential conception of the universe at large, and the purely worldly humanists, like Celtes and Bebel, were widely diverging each by his own particular path from the ecclesiastical Weltanschauung of the middle ages, Ulrich von Hutten was busy attacking the Curia in his witty Dialogues, in the name of German patriotism.
He refused to identify Social Democracy with the extreme views as to religion and the family advocated by Bebel, and successfully resisted attempts made in 1891 to expel him from the party in consequence of his opinions.
In 1872 Bebel and Liebknecht were condemned to two years imprisonment.
On the other hand, there was a large section, the leader of whom was Herr von Voilmar, who maintained that the social revolution would not come suddenly, as Bebel and the older leaders had taught, but that it would beagradual evolution; they were willing to co-operate with the government in remedial measures by which, within the existing social order, the prosperity and freedom of the working classes might be advanced; their position was very strong, as Vollmar had succeeded in extending Socialism even in the Catholic parts of Bavaria.
In 1904 Count Bulow again found it necessary, in reply to the Socialist leader Bebel, to declare that the German naval armaments were purely defensive.
Bebel denounced this agitation as obviously directed against England; and the government thought it expedient to disavow the action of its too zealous allies.
This nervousness was, in 1903 and 1904, especially evident in the efforts to wea~ken the FrancoRussian alliance by the policy of what Bebel denounced as Germany crawling on her stomach before Russia.
In the elections of 1907, indeed, the Social Democratic party, owing to the unparalleled exertion of the government, had a set-back, its representation in parliament sinking to 43; but at the International Socialist Congress, which met at Stuttgart on the 18th of August, Herr Bebel was able to point oui that, in spite of its defeat at the polls, the Socialist cause had actually gained strength in the country, their total poll having increased from 3,010,771.
FERDINAND AUGUST BEBEL (1840-), German socialist, was born at Cologne on the 22nd of February 1840; he became a turner and worked at Leipzig.
Bismarck afterwards said that this speech of Bebel's was a "ray of light," showing him that Socialism was an enemy to be fought against and crushed; and in 1872 Bebel was accused in Brunswick of preparation for high treason, and condemned to two years' imprisonment in a fortress, and, for insulting the German emperor, to nine months' ordinary imprisonment.
Although the rules of the Social Democratic party do not recognize a leader or president, Bebel subsequently became by far the most influential member of the party.
In the party meetings of 1890 and 1891 his policy was severely attacked, first by the extremists, the "young" Socialists from Berlin, who wished to abandon parliamentary action; against these Bebel won a complete victory.
This conflict of tendencies continued, and Bebel came to be regarded as the chief exponent of the traditional views of the orthodox Marxist party.