After the Second World War, the Communists’ League “Spartacus” emerged from illegality in the Netherlands as one of the few groups in the world that put forward the struggle of the working class against all imperialist camps, i.e. against fascism, against bourgeois democracy and against Stalinism. They were also opposed to the Trotskyism of the so-called Fourth International, which took part in the Second World War in defense of Russian state capitalism.
The following text from the communist League’s weekly publication ‘Spartacus’ in 1946 shows how the Trotskyists tried to get a grip on the League and how they falsified the history of the latter’s main predecessors, the R.S.A.P., portraying the proletarian internationalists as ultra-radicals. This Trotskyist tactic is still relevant today.
With reference to this first time translation, we have added a concise glossary on the most important organizational expressions of the historical communist Left in the Netherlands.
In ‘A Free Retriever’s Digest’ Vol.2 #1 (February -March 2018) we presented a biographic work on the council communist Willy Huhn (1909 – 1970), together with a concise review (Book Review: “In Search of Rosa’s Heritage”). Subsequently we translated a text expounding Huhn’s view on Lenin: Willy Huhn (1948): ‘Lenin as a Utopian’ (in Vol.2 #2, April – May 2018). In the following we resume our translation series with (the first part of) a more extensive article, in which Huhn compares the ‘Marxist-Leninist’ conception of the communist party and that developed by Marx and Engels, in a polemic that took place in the early 1960s.
Willy Huhn poses the question how far Lenin has “directly taken up the doctrine of Marx and Engels in the question of the Party”, as his adversary put it. Contrary to Dracker’s ahistorical approach, Huhn endeavors to explain how the organizational question arose in the practice of the 1848 bourgeois revolutions. In doing so, he shows that Lenin, in the (supposedly) bourgeois revolution in Russia from the outset of the 20th Century, represented a concept of organization that was substantially different from that of Marx and Engels.
Today more than 150 years have passed since the 1848 bourgeois revolutions; more than 100 years since the proletarian world revolution announced itself in the Red October of 1917, and more than 50 years since Huhn opposed Leninism in this text. The communist minorities again face the question of how to organize themselves to fulfill their function in the workers’ struggle. Huhn’s text advances essential elements for a valid reply, even if it is still deeply influenced by the last years of the counterrevolution at the time.Continue reading “Willy Huhn (1961): On the doctrine of the revolutionary party (1)”
This is the second and last part of the historical summary article by Ph. Bourrinet on the workers’ councils in the proletarian struggles of 1918 -1923. The first part has been published in A Free Retriever’s Digest Vol.2 #6 (December 2018 – January 2019) and can be read on this web blog as well.
‘To think of emancipation’, a century after the global revolutionary wave that began in 1917, is to question the very term emancipation. Who is the subject of this emancipation and who emancipates who, in a struggle that is anything but an ideological game between four walls. This emancipation has its source in the working class (manual and intellectual). It cannot be assimilated to a “struggle of the people”, whose “Cause” would be national and patriotic. ‘To think of emancipation’ in  is to look back at the great proletarian revolutionary insurrections in Russia and Germany and draw lessons from them at the beginning of the third millennium. In doing so, the revolution in Germany from 1918 to 1921 is an essential milestone, since it raised the question of the forms of organization of any revolutionary class struggle: workers councils, workers’ unions, revolutionary factory organizations, factory committees or action committees. Like the Russian Revolution, it raised – albeit to a lesser degree, in the absence of a real takeover of power – the question of socialization of the means of production, and therefore of the abolition of the capitalist system based on profit.
The 3rd, revised Edition in French (June 2018)
Back cover text
The German-Dutch Communist Left, represented by the German KAPD and AAUD, the Dutch KAPN and the Bulgarian Communist Workers Party, separated from the Comintern in September 1921 because of principled disagreements on all important questions: parliamentarism, syndicalism, united fronts, the Bolshevik party-state using anti-proletarian violence (Kronstadt). This radical current had the audacity to assert that it was not the “communist party”, but the workers’ councils that constituted the finally discovered form of the proletarian dictatorship, and thereby of the communist transformation. It attracted the ire of Lenin, who wrote in June 1920 his famous book on left extremism, “Left-wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder, (1) to which Herman Gorter delivered a slashing response in his pamphlet Open letter to comrade Lenin. (2)
The Author’s Introduction to the new Edition (Prepublication)
Despite the theoretical and political renown of Gorter and Pannekoek in the international labor movement, the Communist Left in the Netherlands is the least known of the left currents that emerged within the II. International, and later joined the Communist International. Their exclusion in 1921 from the Komintern wrapped the names that had symbolized the most intransigent internationalism in a veil of oblivion.
Origin and meaning of the ‘Fundamental Principles’
The work Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution (further: Fundamental Principles) of the Group of International Communists (GIC) is an important text of the communist Left on the economic problems of the transition period from capitalism to communism. The GIC describes the relevance of the Fundamental Principles as follows:
“As soon as the rule of the working class has become a fact in an industrialized country, the proletariat is confronted with the task of carrying through the transformation of economic life on new foundations, those of communal labor. The abolition of private property is easily pronounced, it will be the first measure of the political rule of the working class. But that is only a juridical act which aims at providing the legal foundation for the real economic proceeding. The real transformation and the actual revolutionary work then only begins.” (1)
Misunderstandings and anti-critique
In the foregoing, reference has been made to the misunderstandings that have arisen over time due to inadequate translations and summaries of the Fundamental Principles and unfamiliarity with the three preliminary studies. This section introduces the most important of these misunderstandings and corrects them with references to the 1935 version of the Fundamental Principles.
Continue reading “The G.I.C. and the economy of the transition period (2)”