‘Radencommunisme’ (1938 – 1940)

1938 Editorial: The new journal “Radencommunisme”

Herewith appears the first issue of the new journal “Radencommunisme”, released by council communist working groups. Simultaneously the PIC (1) ceases its publication.

The PIC was in fact a continuation of the work done by the old KAP. (2) Nevertheless its first appearance was an indication that a principal change had occurred in the council communist movement. Until then the KAP had always been a party next to others. Albeit it had different conceptions about the class struggle, like other parties it saw its task in leading the proletariat in its liberation struggle. Its critique of the III. International was a critique of its tactics, not of the principled conceptions and objectives, not of the essence of the worker’s movement itself.

Yet an essential difference between the KAP and other parties existed already. For where the KAP supported the workers’ councils in their struggle against degeneration and destruction, it took a stand for the organs of the workers’ dictatorship, against those of the party dictatorship.

The first appearance of the PIC was a sign that the further consequences of this attitude, taken up in practice, more and more started to permeate the consciousness of the council movement. Thereby a completely new task opened up to the latter: the deepening and propaganda of the principles of the autonomous class movement of the workers and the council dictatorship. The PIC has worked at this task for all the 11 years of its existence. The “Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution” constitute one of the most important results of this work. The critique of the existing workers’ movement thereby assumed a completely different character as well. The latter was now seen as a temporary product of capitalist development, predestined to go down in the revolutionary process. In this way, the question of the constitution of a new workers’ movement was put on the agenda at the same time, which will have to play a positive role in the liberation struggle of the working class.

And precisely this side of our task has become much more important over the past years. The autonomous actions of the workers increase ever more in numbers and in power; and where they do not yet take place – because the workers are not yet sufficiently convinced of their significance, or because the power relations still render them impossible – the consciousness of their necessity is growing with many militant workers nevertheless. On this basis a new movement is already beginning to constitute internationally, that takes up the propaganda of the council views. An international council communist organ, “Klasbatalo”, (3) was founded and has already much contributed to the diffusion of the council communist idea.

If the foundation of the PIC signified the beginning of the principled deepening of the council communist views, now “Radencommunisme” expresses that the council movement, after a long period of searching and probing, can go its way with more self-confidence. Besides the clarification that must be brought to the own circle, external propaganda begins to play an ever more important role.

Whence the constitution of organs like “Proletenstemmen” (4) and “Klasbatalo” that, by the form of their publication or their larger diffusion, are more adapted to propaganda in a broader circle than was the case with the PIC. The theoretical organ now will also take a more definitive shape, and moreover it will henceforth become the joint edition of several council communist working groups in Holland.

Thereby a start has been made for a closer collaboration between the different groupings of the council movement.

It is only a step on the way to the growth of the new workers’ movement, but it inaugurates a new phase, because it is taken at the beginning of a new era in which the council communist theories more and more will become a tangible reality.

Radencommunisme (ed.), August 1938.

Source: Het nieuwe tijdschrift Radencommunisme, in Radencommunisme Vol.1, Issue #1, August 1938 .

Translation and annotations: H.C., November 2021.

Editorial Notes:

1 PIC: Persdienst van de Groep(en) van Internationale Communisten (“Press Service of the Group(s) of International Communist”). According to B.A. Sijes (in: Anton Pannekoek, Herinneringen, Amsterdam 1982) it appeared from 1927 until March 1940 in Dutch language. A German edition appeared from September 1928 to September 1933. An integral new edition of the latter is provided by: zum Rätekommunismus – Pressedienst der internationalen Kommunisten -Holland.

2 KAP: Kommunistische Arbeiderspartij (“Communist Workers’ Party”) in the Netherlands. Founded in 1921 from an internationalist opposition within the Communist Party of Holland (CPH) around “De Rode Vaan”, inspired by Herman Gorter, it was to globally follow a dynamic similar to its German example, the K.A.P.D. (albeit the Netherlands lacked a “Unionen” movement). A detailed analysis is provided in: Ph. Bourrinet, The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900–68), Brill (Leiden, Boston), 2017. ISSN 1570-1522 – Part 2: The Dutch Communist Left and the World-Revolution (1919–27), in particular chapter 5: Gorter, the KAPD and the Foundation of the Communist Workers’ International (1921–27).

3 Klasbatalo: International council communist organ animated by the GIC in Esperanto.

4 Proletenstemmen: Organ of a group with the same name around A. van Agen, which included GIC members, and coauthored  ‘Radencommunisme’ together with the GIC. As indicated here, this publication envisaged a broader readership than the (new) “theoretical organ”. It was distributed on a large scale at dole offices, public meetings and in market places, in Amsterdam and other cities. According to H. Canne Meijer, in correspondence with P. Mattick, the total circulation of both weekly and monthly editions of all council communist groups in the Netherlands amounted to 11,000 copies in one month at the beginning of 1938. Four newspapers would have circulated on a regular basis (Source: B.A. Sijes, ibidem).