A Book Review by Ph. Bourrinet
The history of the council movement seemed a long outdated history after a myriad of studies in the 1960s and 1970s in both parts of Germany, often under very clear ideological banners: democracy versus dictatorship. After a long historiographical slumber on revolutionary events in Germany; after the so-called “collapse of communism”, important studies on the council movement emerged in 2013 with a volume devoted to the Hamburg Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council. () Axel Weipert’s study, published in Berlin in 2015, is a very notable contribution to the new historiography after the downfall of the (Berlin) wall, this time devoted to the “second revolution”, the second phase of the council movement after the January 1919 workers’ defeat in Berlin. ()
Continue reading “Axel Weipert: The Second Revolution. The Council Movement in Berlin 1919-1920”
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.
Continue reading “The Workers’ Councils in Germany 1918-23 (Part 2/2)”
‘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.
Continue reading “The Workers’ Councils in Germany 1918-23 (Part 1/2)”
The Legacy of 1917 We Can Affirm. By Loren Goldner
The year 1917 is most closely associated with the Russian Revolution, but it is more important to locate that revolution in the global tidal wave of working-class struggle from 1917 to 1921 (continued up to 1927 in China), which forced the end of the first inter-imperialist world war (1914-1918).
Continue reading “On the Extreme Margins of the Centennial of the October Revolution”
An Invitation to a Debate
In a little known text the German revolutionary Jan Appel has pointed out, already in 1927, () that in “The State and Revolution” () Lenin deviates from the positions of Marx and Engels by adopting the reformist idea that “putting the enterprises into the hands of the state” means ‘socialization’. As a consequence, Appel argues, the state cannot “wither away” as envisaged by Marx and Engels, but is bound to “develop into an enormous instrument of oppression as had not yet been seen in any society.” Jan Appel continues by sketching how, after having broken the bourgeois state, all power can remain in the hands of the workers’ councils in economic respect as well. Continue reading “Russian Revolution 1917-2017: What Alternative for State Capitalism?”
An Invitation to a Debate
This year the Russian Revolution of 1917 is ‘memorized’ in articles and documentaries. With the February Revolution the workers and soldiers wanted to put an end to Russia’s participation in World War I. But they only succeeded in putting an end to Tsarism. Because the Provisional Government continued participation in the World War, the workers’ councils seized political power in the October revolution and the Soviet Union came into existence. Continue reading “October Revolution 1917: Does Marxism lead to State Terror against the Working Class?”
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”