Essay: On unionism and its revolutionary overcoming

A contribution to a debate between council communists
(Roi Ferreiro, August 17, 2020)

The following essay is a discussion contribution on the (trade- or industrial) union question from the perspective of overcoming the latter’s inherent limitations, which has been proposed in a recently emerging, council communist discussion forum.

Departing from the radicalizing tendencies that openly combated the official trades’ unions during the revolutionary upsurge in Germany 1917-1923, the essay  takes care to reestablish the vision of Marx and Engels on the possibilities and limits of ‘unionism’, both in their own time and in general. It subsequently attempts a terminological clarification, relating the ‘union’ or ‘syndicalist’ types of organizations and struggles to their historical period and respective aims and origins. Based on these preliminary considerations, the essay engages in an  investigation of the limitations and pitfalls in the conceptions, slogans and practices embodied by the K.A.P.D. and the Arbeiter-Unionen, as the most advanced expressions of a workers’ struggle for class autonomy at the time. Limitations and pitfalls that can also be found in more recent manifestations of proletarian struggles since the 1960s, albeit in a profoundly altered political-historical context, engaging very different force relations. A series of reflections is advanced that amount, a.o. to situating the workers’ struggles of the past decades as marked by a decline of ‘unionist’ illusions, and to re-calibrating the question of self-organizing in workers’ struggle. It appears that the old theses defended by the GIC in the 1930s are considered as still of use.

Continue reading “Essay: On unionism and its revolutionary overcoming”

Program of the K.A.P.D., 1924 (Reprint)

Not only is the council movement of 1918 – 1923 dead (beaten to death), council communism is only just a historical reality. However, a new beginning of the revolutionary movement cannot develop in the void of the present incomprehension of the so-called ‘Left’. We want to draw the attention of those who try to enter into the theoretical achievements of the German communist Left to a new edition of the program of the K.A.P.D. (Berlin Tendency) of 1924. In the following we present extracts with some comments. Hopefully they inspire further study and debate. Continue reading “Program of the K.A.P.D., 1924 (Reprint)”

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”