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

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.

Continue reading “The Workers’ Councils in Germany 1918-23 (Part 1)”

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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)

Continue reading “Book Presentation: The German-Dutch Communist Left from its Origins to 1968”

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.

Continue reading “A political History of the German-Dutch communist Left (Preface)”

The impact of the Russian revolution in Germany 1914 – 1918

Presentation at the ‘internationalist week’ in Toulouse, 3 – 11 November 2017 (Revised version)

 

“Old mole History, you have bravely worked! At this moment the slogan, the call resounds again over the international, the German proletariat, that only the great hour of a worldwide turning point can bring: imperialism or socialism! War or revolution! There is no third!”

(Rosa Luxemburg, “Der alte Maulwurf”, Spartakusbriefe No. 5, May 1917)

“Doubt is out of the question. We are on the threshold of a world proletarian revolution.”

(Lenin, “The crisis has matured”, October 20 (7), 1917 in the newspaper Rabochy Put – “The Workers’ Path” – No. 20)

On August 4th, 1914, German Social-Democracy – considered the jewel of the organization of the conscious proletariat” (1) – capitulates without condition by subjecting itself with body and soul to its bourgeoisie. It votes unanimously for the war credits. Opposed to this vote, Karl Liebknecht was obliged to side with it by discipline, which he very quickly will consider as “a grave error” on his part. Only on December 2nd, 1914, he publicly votes against. He is disavowed by all SPD deputies, including the so-called left around Ledebour and Hoffmann who would form the USPD in 1917.   Continue reading “The impact of the Russian revolution in Germany 1914 – 1918”

Internationalist Marxism or Islamist Nationalism?

The Dutch Left and Islamism (Barend Luteraan, Henk Sneevliet, Tan Malaka)

The following article is an excerpt from the chapter on the colonial question in the forthcoming re-edition of the History of the German-Dutch Communist Left (1990) by Philippe Bourrinet. Publication of this revised and aug­mented edition in French language is foreseen by the Editions ‘Moto Proprio’ in the course of next Spring. A Free Retriever’s Digest will certainly come back to this important work of historiography on the internationalist communist Left in due time.  Continue reading “Internationalist Marxism or Islamist Nationalism?”

On the Bookshelves: ‘Envers et contre tout’

From the Left Opposition to the Foundation of the ‘Union Communiste’ (France, 1924 – 1939)

Presentation by the Author

Presenting a work is always hazardous. This work was, at its beginning, about writing the history of the Left Opposition in a period in which the international revolution had been defeated in 1921 – 1923, a defeat that has been continued by the eradication of the revolutionaries in Russia and everywhere else in the world, including China.

Our historical saga concludes with the birth of the ‘Union Communiste’ (“Communist Union”) who represents the bundling in France of the internationalist communists.

Well, this book can be read from a different angle: how has the bourgeoisie arrived at defeating the working class morally and physically in order to take it into the Second imperialist war?  Continue reading “On the Bookshelves: ‘Envers et contre tout’”

Topic: Marx and the Question of the State

Max Hempel (1927) or: Marx and Engels versus Lenin’s ‘State and Revolution’

Jan Appel’s critique from 1927 of the ‘Bolshevik’ regime in Russia and Lenin’s ‘State and Revolution’ has been republished in an annotated edition in German on the web site “Left Wing” Communism – an infantile Disorder? Likewise a re-edition of its adoption by the G.I.C. from 1932 has seen the light of day in Dutch. These documents refute the myth that the historical German-Dutch communist left was virtually bereft of a realist appreciation of the question of the state, as propelled by quite some partisans of ‘the party’ and others in the internationalist milieu. Continue reading “Topic: Marx and the Question of the State”