‘Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution’ (G.I.C.,1935)

The first complete German and English editions

Habent sua fata libelli.”
(Books have their fates.)

The G.I.C. may be known to many for its main work, which first appeared in Germany in 1930 in the press of the A.A.U.D. Only few, however, are aware of the subsequent two revised and supplemented editions in Dutch language, in which the group has integrated its replies to contemporary criticisms from diverse quarters. The second one appeared in 1935 and would be the final version redacted by the group.

Despite a certain revival of interest in the council communist current at the end of the 1960s and during the first half of the 1970s, the G.I.C.’s main work would hardly find recognition among internationalist political milieus, and certainly not in its most developed version.

Two brand new publications at hand at last present the first complete translations of this final version in both German and English languages. The editor has focused on assuring an accurate text edition that is faithful to the original, and has largely abstained from interpretations or commentary, except for a succinct foreword.

We warmly recommend our readers to familiarize themselves with this fully developed version, which takes up the approach of Marx and Engels in the light of the dire defeats of the worker’s struggles in the initially successful October revolution in Russia, that ended in the disaster of Stalinist counter-revolution, and of the contemporary proletarian uprisings in Central and Western Europe that were defeated by both the (social-) democratic and the fascist varieties of bourgeois counter-revolution in addition.

H.C., March 5, 2020

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An answer to “Questions without answers”

Anti-critique of a leftist book review of

The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900-1968)

The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900-1968)

In Vol. 1#2 (Try-out issue, May 2017) of this Digest, we briefly presented this elaborate work of political history in its first English translation, that has appeared with Brill (Leiden/Boston) in 2016. This was followed by the introduction of a review on Libcom titled “Council communism or councilism? – The period of transition”.

Since, we have had occasion to present its 3rd, revised Edition in French (June 2018) in Vol. 2#4 (August- September 2018) and on pages of this blog, in a more extensive way.

Unfortunately, serious reviews of this important work, in either language, and notably by adherents of the communist Left, or of proletarian internationalism in a broad sense, are very rare. When we discovered a rather extensive review of the English edition in a bourgeois left-wing, Trotskyist, periodical appearing in the Netherlands, our curiosity was raised. What follows is the result of a considerate examination.

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Willy Huhn (1961): On the doctrine of the revolutionary party (3)

In this last part of his article, Huhn develops on the reasons for the scission  from the ‘League of Communists’ by a minority (the “Willich-Schapper fraction”), as it became increasingly clear that a resurgence of the 1848 uprisings was out of the question. At the hand of the writings of Marx and Engels, both from this episode and from their later reviews, he demonstrates their conception of the purpose and possibilities of a revolutionary organization, which ultimately led them to dissolve the ‘League’ and take their distance.

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Willy Huhn (1961): On the doctrine of the revolutionary party (2)

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 Dracker puts it. Contrary to the latter’s a-historical 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 almost 60 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.

In this second part of our translation Huhn continues his demonstration on the role of communist minorities at the hand of two speeches addressed to the Communists’ League by its central authority in the Spring of 1850 in view of reorganizing the League after the defeat of the 1848 democratic uprisings throughout Europe, with the expectation of a new upsurge soon to come.

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Spartacus and Trotskyism (1946)

Introduction

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.

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Willy Huhn (1961): On the doctrine of the revolutionary party (1)

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 almost 60 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)”

The Workers’ Councils in Germany 1918-23 (Part 2/2)

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.

 

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The Workers’ Councils in Germany 1918-23 (Part 1/2)

 

Introduction

‘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 [2018] 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.

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Book Presentation: The German-Dutch Communist Left from its Origins to 1968

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)

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A political History of the German-Dutch communist Left (Preface)

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.

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