Germany and the world revolution, 1918-23. ICC public meeting, 24/11/18

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Alf
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Oct 11 2018 14:55
Germany and the world revolution, 1918-23. ICC public meeting, 24/11/18

International Communist Current

[b]Public Meeting

Germany and the world revolution, 1918-23
[/b]
2pm-6pm, November 24th, May Day Rooms, 88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y, 1DH

On November 4 1918 the sailors of Kiel on the Baltic coast mutinied, refusing the order to engage in yet another futile naval battle. Faced with the threat of brutal repression against the sailors, the workers of Kiel responded with a massive strike movement. Within days armed workers’ and soldiers’ councils were springing up all over Germany. This revolt spelt the end of the imperialist slaughter: the bourgeoisies of the world, who had been at each others’ throats for four long years, now united to face a bigger threat: the extension of the proletarian revolution from Russia to the most industrialised countries in Europe. In December the revolutionary groups who had opposed the war came together to form the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), which stood for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the political power of the councils.

Germany was to be the theatre of a whole series of major class confrontations for the next five years. But the great hope that a Soviet Germany would break the isolation of the proletarian fortress in Russia was never to materialise. The German workers faced a far more sophisticated ruling class than their Russian comrades, a bourgeoisie that showed itself to be highly skilled in diverting the revolution towards false goals and in defeating the centres of proletarian resistance one by one.

Thus as soon as the threat of revolution took shape, the bourgeoisie understood the need to jettison the Kaiser, bring the war to an end, and call on the loyal services of the “workers’ party”, the German Social Democracy, the majority of which had already come to the aid of the ruling class by throwing its energies into the national war effort. The social democrats still enjoyed the confidence of a large part of the German working class and they were able to act inside the councils with the aim of persuading them to hand over power to the newly “democratic” capitalist state. But the bourgeoisie also understood the need to provoke premature uprisings by different sections of the working class – a strategy employed with tragic results in Berlin in January 1919, which resulted in the massacre of thousands of workers and revolutionaries, including Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

The defeat of the revolution in Germany, and the stemming of the revolutionary tide in numerous other countries, was to have catastrophic consequences for humanity: the degeneration and demise of the revolution in Russia, the rise of Stalinism and Nazism, the march towards the second imperialist world war.
A century later, the German revolution has almost been written out of history. It is still in the interests of our rulers to present the revolution in Russia as a purely Russian affair and to pretend that the world revolution was and is an idle dream. And yet the revolution in Germany showed that it was indeed a possibility, despite its failure. It is up to us to draw its principal lessons for future revolutionary movements of the working class, and this will be the main focus of the meeting.

Spikymike
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Oct 12 2018 11:47

And prior to this meeting in the same month is a meeting on the same theme advertised by the CWO/ICT here;
www.leftcom.org/en/adverts/2018-11-17/london-cwo-meeting
The events in Germany during this period and their relationship to the Russian revolution and the fate of both are of historic importance and not just for left communists. Ever since however there have been continuing debates in terms of 'lessons', learnt or not, between those influenced more or less by either the 'German' or 'Italian' Left currents. Given the substantial changes in the development of capitalism since that time perhaps there are new 'lessons to be learnt' different to those which previously divided the left communists of the past? The tiny left communist groups that re-emerged post 1968 have lead a somewhat fractious existence since then with groups and individuals splitting and reforming despite a few ill-fated attempts at co-operation. One group which was part of that same era did however make a contribution of some value in defense of the German Communist Left under the title ''Consciousness: Class and Party'' here, https://libcom.org/library/communist-bulletin-issue-09-autumn-1985 if in the rather heated and sectarian tones of relations between groups common then, and perhaps less evident today?. The CBG are no more now and the ICC and CWO can claim the test of time I suppose but that doesn't in itself prove their correctness on all these issues. The two groups could of course have co-operated in a joint London meeting, even inviting perhaps a third point of view from within the wider milieu, but perhaps that was expecting too much.
I'm not in London for these meetings but others might glean something from them if approached in a critical manner with some prior knowledge.

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Alf
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Oct 12 2018 16:38

I was going to post an ad for the CWO meeting as well. We did in fact propose a common meeting and still think it would have been the best solution. The CWO can explain why it decided to maintain its original plan. But CWO comrades have said they will attend the ICC meeting, and we will also attend theirs.

One of the key issues at the meetings will be the question of the party. Those who already identify with the communist left will have an important level of agreement with the proposition that the defeat of the German revolution demonstrates the need for a unified communist political organisation, for the construction of a new International, however distant that may seem. But within this general level of agreement there are many aspects of this issue that remain controversial. And those who reject the notion of the party altogether should come and put forward their own arguments.