Councilism v. Left Communism

181 posts / 0 new
Last post
mikail firtinaci's picture
mikail firtinaci
Offline
Joined: 16-12-06
Jan 23 2013 22:40

For a very interesting discussion on Pannekoek's influence on "Leninism" or Bolsheviks:

"Anton Pannekoek and the Origins of Leninism" H. Schurer

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Jan 23 2013 23:34

"Anton Pannekoek and the Origins of Leninism" H. Schurer

is there a free-be of this in english? Only found Jstor and in non-english langs.

mikail firtinaci's picture
mikail firtinaci
Offline
Joined: 16-12-06
Jan 24 2013 07:18

I have the article in English. I can send it to you if you like. Would you pm me you e-mail address?

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 24 2013 10:03
Android wrote:
Entdinglichung, I agree with your point about it being completely marginal in Germany and many other places too for that matter. I was not trying to make an assertion in the opposite direction.

I was responding to slothjabber.

I have never met German Bordigists but people have told me they exist. Not in the form of a formal group, but an informal network of people, in Hanover for instance.

Christian Riechers was based in Hannover where he lead a research project at university from 1973 up to his too early death in 1993 on the workers movement in Hannover ... there were a few people in Berlin around 1975 who produced the journal "Faden der Zeit" (Sul filo del tempo) ... don't know if the webpage http://www.alter-maulwurf.de/ is run by more than two people ... was (is?) "Communisme ou Civilisation" "Bordigist"?, they produced with a few more groups an irregular journal in the early 1990ies in German

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jul 31 2014 15:57
mikail firtinaci wrote:
Entdinglichung

thanks for the very interesting info. I am actually working on the early comintern/pre-war 2. International left history. And I am pretty convinced that Bremen Left/IKD is actually the closest ally of the Bolsheviks after 1914. Perhaps there is more to that; Bremen/Dutch left and Bolsheviks have more theoretical connections than it is conventionally assumed because obvious reasons; cold war, councilist-liberal-stalinist re-writing of history etc.

the Gruppe Internationale/Spartakusbund was pretty much shaped by the circle around Rosa Luxemburg in the SPD/SDKPiL which had its own theoretical and programmatical framework long before 1914 (among its core "members" were in 1914 Leo Jogiches, Julian Marchlewski, Clara Zetkin, Paul Levi, Franz Mehring, Hermann Duncker, Hugo Eberlein, Ernst Meyer, Wilhelm Pieck (1949-60 president of Eastern Germany), Martha Arendsee, Fritz Ausländer, Heinrich Brandler, Käte Duncker, Otto Gabel, Otto Geithner, August Thalheimer, Bertha Thalheimer, Johannes R. Becher, Edwin Hoernle, Paul Lange, Jacob Walcher, Friedrich Westmeyer and a few more), Liebknecht (who was more a kind of idealistic maverick leftist in the SPD) only joined these circles in Autumn 1914, none of people mentioned above joined the KAPD, most of them who were still alive in the 1920ies ended either on the "right" or the conciliator wing of the KPD or as part of the mainstream of the party, only Geithner joined the left oppositionist Korsch group during the 1920ies, many of those who formed ultra-left opposition groups in the KPD 1924/25 (Schwarz, Katz, Korsch, Schlagewerth, etc.) came only 1920 with the USPD-Left to the KPD and are a "product" of the radicalisation of the USPD after 1918, ... well-known KAPD members like Karl Schröder, August Merges, Arthur Goldstein or Adam Scharrer who came from the Spartakusbund did not play a prominent role in it ... another important impact in the KAPD/AAUE/etc. came in my opinion from radicalized people from the cultural opposition of the pre-1914 period and weren't part of the workers movement: e.g. Reichenbach (he was never in the KPD and came like James Broh directly from the USPD)) and Schwab (and also Korsch and Benjamin) from the Free Students and the German youth movement, others like Pfemfert, Jung, Kanehl and Vogeler and some fellow travelling writers like Hermann-Neisse and Sternheim from the expressionist scene

p.s. Hermann Weber btw. makes as far as I can remember in his study about the stalinization/bolshevization of the KPD 1923-29 (Die Wandlung des deutschen Kommunismus. Die Stalinisierung der KPD in der Weimarer Republik) the remark, that the Liebknecht and those which he calls "utopian" and "syndicalist" in the original KPD/S had much in common, he btw. blames the Stalinization of the KPD mainly on the newly radicalized/politicized USPD members who merged with the KPD in 1920 and where in his opinion less rooted in a tradition of internal democracy and open debate (partly untrue in my opinion, many new ultra-leftists who raised these questions came also from the USPD)

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 24 2013 13:10
mikail firtinaci wrote:
Entdinglichung

thanks for the very interesting info. I am actually working on the early comintern/pre-war 2. International left history. And I am pretty convinced that Bremen Left/IKD is actually the closest ally of the Bolsheviks after 1914. Perhaps there is more to that; Bremen/Dutch left and Bolsheviks have more theoretical connections than it is conventionally assumed because obvious reasons; cold war, councilist-liberal-stalinist re-writing of history etc.

p.p.s.: another interesting question would be to what extent former KAPD members rejoined the KPD, especially during their pseudo-leftist turns 1924/25 and 1928-33, probably attracted by features in the KPD's official line like "red unions", denunciation of social democrats as "social fascists", rejection of united front politics, campaigns against "Luxemburgism" or the KPD's revolutionist phraseology in general, there were at least a number of more prominent KAPD members who joined/rejoined the KPD: James Broh (1930), Max Hoelz (~ 1927), Karl Jahnke (1921/1930), Karl Plättner (1928), the artist Heinrich Vogeler (1925, died 1942 in Kazachstan, relatively likely that he starved to death) and probably Adam Scharrer (emigrated to the Soviet Union around 1934)

p.p.p.s.: stamps commemorating former KAPD members

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 24 2013 21:26
soyonstout wrote:

No. I'm specifically referring to developments within the Italian Left in exile in France and Belgium (mostly, as well as contact with Paul Kirchoff's Grupo de Trabajadores in Mexico) between the world wars.

Paul Kirchhof, outside the communist left far better known as the anthropologist who created the concept of the cultural area of Mesoamerica

mikail firtinaci's picture
mikail firtinaci
Offline
Joined: 16-12-06
Jan 24 2013 23:16

great comments Entdinglichung! those hints are really appreciated.

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 25 2013 20:12

btw., among academic historians, it is mainly Hans Manfred Bock but also Olaf Ihlau who stress the continuity between Bremer Linke and KAPD focussing much on the influence of Pannekoek ... Bock draws in his Geschichte des „linken Radikalismus“ in Deutschland. Ein Versuch a line of continuity from the Bewegung der Jungen over the KAPD to the anti-authoritarians of the SDS

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 28 2013 12:39

p.s.: there is a new biographical study by an East German historian available about Johann Knief (1880-1919) who was probably the most central figure of the Left in Bremen, haven't read it but seems to be a useful book also pointing on the unique situation in Bremen with a large influence of radicalized school teachers in the local SPD (in the rest of Germany, they were banned from joining) and their approach on the party's educational work

a review in the Brandlerite "Arbeiterpolitik" here: http://www.arbeiterpolitik.de/Zeitungen/PDF/2011/arpo-4-2011.pdf (p. 22-24)

Gerhard Engel: Johann Knief – ein unvollendetes Leben,
Karl Dietz Verlag, Berlin 2011, 457 S.
Geschichte des Kommunismus und Linkssozialismus
Band XV, ISBN 978-3-320-02249-5, EUR 29.80

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 29 2013 11:03
slothjabber wrote:
(even though I don't think De Leon and the the SLP were even in the 2nd Int) with the left of the 3rd Int (because for example Pannekoek was part of both) .

the SLP still was a member in 1914 and intended to attend the planned congress in Vienna which never took place: http://library.fes.de/zweiint/w59b.pdf

slothjabber
Offline
Joined: 1-08-06
Jan 29 2013 12:42

My understanding was they had observer status but not full membership. Seems I was mistaken about that - thanks for putting me straight.

Checking up, it seems that the SLP decided to withdraw from the 2nd Int in 1919 preparatory to joining the 3rd Int.

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Jan 29 2013 14:00
slothjabber wrote:
My understanding was they had observer status but not full membership. Seems I was mistaken about that - thanks for putting me straight.

Checking up, it seems that the SLP decided to withdraw from the 2nd Int in 1919 preparatory to joining the 3rd Int.

The SLP and the 3rd International see: "The SLP & the USSR" http://slp.org/pdf/others/slp_ussr.pdf

SLP NatSec Arnold Peterson to Lenin:
http://www.marxists.org/history/usa/parties/slp/1921/0115-petersen-tolen...

georgestapleton's picture
georgestapleton
Offline
Joined: 4-08-05
Jan 29 2013 17:35
slothjabber wrote:
I think historically the Bordigist ICP was bigger than Battaglia, or the Bilan group and its offspring - so people like Camatte came out of Bordigism, in a similar way perhaps to the Trotskyist groups who broke towards the 'ultra-left' around the time of WWII - 'meso-ultra-left' I think?

But surely since the 1980s the Bordigists proper have been pretty much confined to Italy, haven't they? Sure, people can read Bordiga, but does that really make them 'Bordigist'? The biggest organisations of the Communist Left are the ICC and the ICT, aren't they? Neither of these organisations is 'Bordigist'.

I don't know about this. 1. Some of the groups in italy are actually huge. 2. I don't think membership is the correct way of measuring this. So I think the ICC has almost no influence outside its members. (Most people think they are crazy.) However, if we count a group like Wildcat in the communist left, I think the circulation of their magazine is way higher than anything by the ICC or ICT.

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 29 2013 21:48
georgestapleton wrote:

However, if we count a group like Wildcat in the communist left, I think the circulation of their magazine is way higher than anything by the ICC or ICT.

you mean Wildcat (Germany) ... definitely, their magazine is available in most left-wing bookshops and relatively widely read among the Autonomen, in the anarchist scene, among the more radical layers of the trade union left, among left socialist and trotskyist people, etc. ... but their background is far more in the operaist current ... don't know about the German ICT's (GIS) exact influence but some of their texts are e.g. replicated on popular webpages like Syndikalismus or trend and they do as far as I know have the reputation to be nice people while the IKS/ICC is relatively unknown, many of the people who read their paper do also read Spartakist, Bahamas, Rote Fahne, Watchtower, etc.

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Jan 29 2013 23:13
Entdinglichung wrote:
[...], many of the people who read their paper do also read Spartakist, Bahamas, Rote Fahne, Watchtower, etc.

Didn't know the Jehovas' Witnesses were so big on the German left eek

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 30 2013 07:57

some read their stuff as entertainment which you can get at tube station, markets, etc. for free ... a different story is however that many on the left in Germany and Austria have a lot of respect for Jehovahs' Witnesses due to the persecution they suffered 1933-45 and the solidarity many Witnesses showed in the Concentration Camps towards fellow prisoners

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Jan 30 2013 12:55
Entdinglichung wrote:
some read their stuff as entertainment which you can get at tube station, markets, etc. for free ... a different story is however that many on the left in Germany and Austria have a lot of respect for Jehovahs' Witnesses due to the persecution they suffered 1933-45 and the solidarity many Witnesses showed in the Concentration Camps towards fellow prisoners

Interesting factoid.

arminius's picture
arminius
Offline
Joined: 11-08-06
Jan 31 2013 00:13

From "The Socialist Labor Party and the Internationals"

" "The Russian Situation"
Nowhere is the Socialist Labor Party's prescience
more conclusively demonstrated than in the accompanying
article on "The Russian Situation," by Arnold
Petersen, the Party's National Secretary since I9I4.
The article was written a few weeks after the
October Revolution and was published in the WEEKLY
PEOPLE, Nov. 24, I917. As the author later explained
(WEEKLY PEOPI.E, Jan. I9, I924), it was intended
only as "a brief and sketchy outline of the Russian Bolshevik
Revolution." But its immediate effect was to
produce widespread discussion. Well-grounded Marxists,
conceding the facts, agreed that the reasoning and
conclusions were sound. They welcomed the article 'as
a timely and scientific appraisal of a great historic
event.'
Sentimentalists, however, who were carried away
by the flood of emotionalism proceeding from Russia,
and the former SP-ites and ex-Wobblies who were to
become America's burlesque bolsheviki, assailed the
National Secretary and falsely accused him of "condemning"
the Russian Revolution and the Russian revolutionists.
But time and events have given ample vindication.
"Brief and sketchy" though the article is, it applies the
basic touchstones and reaches fundamental conclusions
that are unassailable.
-Eric Hass
Editor, WEEKLY PEOPLE
*
(WEEKLY PEOPLE, November 24, 1917)
Events in Russia furnish one of the most profound
lessons in Socialist teaching and tactics. Up-to-date Socialism
declares:
I. Socialism is not possible until-
(a) Capitalism has developed to a point where all
the essential forces of production have been developed,
centralized and coordinated, and--
(b) The exploited proletariat has divested itself
of the notion that the interests of the two main classes
in society are identical, and that this system of production
is God-ordained and the only possible one.
2. Socialism is not possible, even in a highly developed
capitalist country, until the working class organizes
as a class into industrial unions (in contradistinction
to the existing craft unions), for the express
purpose of overthrowing the existing order, supplanting
the political State by the industrial representative councils
of the workers. ("The government of persons is
replaced by the administration of things .."-Engels.)
Political organization of the workers is indispensable
in this process.
RUSSIA IN 1917
Applying this test to Russia, several facts leap into
prominence. In the first place, Russia as a whole is
woefully behind in capitalist development. By far the
majority of the population is composed of peasants, a
large number of whom are illiterate, -and wholly ignorant
as regards the object of the labor movement
and the nature of the social revolution. Consequently,
not only is the material groundwork for Socialism
lacking, but the human element-a class-conscious proletariat-
is largely absent.
Last, but not least, the industrial proletariat is not
-so far as we are able to learn-organized in industrial
unions, the condition sine qua non of the Socialist
Republic.
THE BOLSHEVIK PARADOX
The revolutionary element now in control in Russia
(the Bolsheviki) - though a comparatively small
minority - is aggressive and up to a certain point
clear, i.e., so far as the relation between the capitalist
class and the proletariat is concerned. But the very
clearness of their vision is under the circumstances the
very cause of their weakness. This sounds paradoxical,
but bearing in mind the condition outlined in the foregoing,
it must be clear that at the present time their
social program has not a ghost of a chance of success.
Yet, they cannot honestly subscribe to the program of
the Kerensky element - seeing that this element, whatever
its protestations, and possibly good intentions -
is bent on a war "to the finish," at the same time allying
itself with the interests of the bourgeoisie. So long as
the Bolshevik [element] was in oppositon it was doing
excellent agitational work. Now that it is in power it
faces failure. The day of its victory was the day of its
defeat.
Russia presents one of the saddest spectacles in
human history. Here is a high-spirited, noble race
caught betwixt a stunted growth at home and an overdeveloped
capitalism abroad. If it continues fighting,
the young democracy may be strangled, as war and
democracy in the present circumstances are incompatible.
If it ceases fighting against Germany, the Allies
may turn against it, thus compelling it to fight for and
together with the detestable German autocracy; that is,
going from bad to worse.
The hope of Russia lies in an early general peace.
But even then the fruits of the Russian Revolution can
only be gathered if social revolution takes place in the
leading capitalist countries of the world, ending this
miserable system of production, and establishing the
Socialist Cooperative Commonwealth. For, while it is
true that Russia cannot take the lead in social revolution
and establish Socialism as an example for the world
to follow, it can and will follow suit when social revolution
has succeeded in the leading capitalist countries ..
WISHFUL REASONING
There are those who believe that Socialism can be
established in Russia now, despite its backward economic
development, and the argument advanced is that
every country need not necessarily go through all the
phases of capitalist development. A parallel is sought
in biology by the exponents of this idea. They say that
it is no more necessary for a country to go through this
development than it is for a child to pass through all
the stages of the development of the human race.
It is extremely dangerous to reason by analogy,
especially when analogies are sought between the biological
and the social struggles. Those anti-Socialists
who attempted to justify the jungle conditions of society
by the "survival of the fittest" struggle in nature
came seriously to grief ..
Though it is true that not every country need necessarily
go through all the phases of capitalist development;
that admission does not mean that Russia can
independently leap the chasm of its present mixture of
primitive communism and retarded industrialism into
the Socialist Republic. But with the rest of the world
organized into industrial commonwealths, commonwealths
where the ownership of the means of production,
etc., is actually vested in the producers, it is altogether
reasonable to suppose that countries such as
Russia may finish their economic development under a
general world regime of Socialism, and with the aid
of the workers in the various countries. To suppose
that Russia can independently and separately lead the
world in Socialism is to suppose that the tail can wag
the dog.
SOCIALISM Is HOPE OF HUMANITY
Pathetic as is the spectacle of Russia at present,
and hopeless as the cause of the Bolsheviki may be at
present, there is no cause for despair either over Russia
or over Socialism. Socialism must be, will be the next
step in social organization, unless the world is to recede
into barbarism and absolute despotism. And thinking
people refuse to believe that possible.
Capitalism holds nothing in store for the masses
except renewed and intensified misery and exploitation,
and a recurrence of the awful worldwide slaughter.
The civilized mind recoils at this ghastly spectacle.
Unless the past is a monstrous joke, the race will
set about to build that new society, which the soul of
Russia is so passionately yearning for. And upon the
working class devolves the tremendous task. Industrial
organization of the working class is the absolutely in-
dispensable groundwork for this society. The Socialist
Labor Party points the way.
The dawn of tomorrow, red with the blood spilt
in this war, to use an expression of Brandes', will bring
the fulfillment of the dream of New Russia. Let us
meanwhile labor hard and wait. "

arminius's picture
arminius
Offline
Joined: 11-08-06
Jan 31 2013 00:15

I tried "quoting" Syndicalist's post # 104 above, but for some reason it (obviously) didn't take. Apologies.

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 31 2013 09:27

the Weekly People article from shows some similarities to stageist concepts of Kautsky, the Mensheviks, etc. ... first capitalism has to be fully developed, only than socialism is possible (in the DeLeonite case of cause with out the class-collaborationist tendency) ... I prefer those approaches which do not stick to this mechanistic viewpoint about modes of productions

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jul 1 2013 09:47

another article in German about the relationship between Luxemburg and the Bremen left from the "Brandlerite" journal "Arbeiterstimme": http://www.arbeiterstimme.org/arsti_177.pdf (pp 19-29), pointing out that their opinions on inner-party and council democracy where pretty similar albeit the closer relations of the later with Radek, Bucharin and also Lenin. The article says, that Luxemburg critizised the soft spot the daily of the SPD in Bremen had for syndicalist and temporarily broke with them in 1912 because of their defense of Radek (whom Luxemburg despised both politically but especially personally), the article also says that after the disintegration of the Bremen left into different orgs after 1919, all of its successors still held Luxemburg in high regard

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 13 2016 11:03
Entdinglichung wrote:
mikail firtinaci wrote:
Entdinglichung

thanks for the very interesting info. I am actually working on the early comintern/pre-war 2. International left history. And I am pretty convinced that Bremen Left/IKD is actually the closest ally of the Bolsheviks after 1914. Perhaps there is more to that; Bremen/Dutch left and Bolsheviks have more theoretical connections than it is conventionally assumed because obvious reasons; cold war, councilist-liberal-stalinist re-writing of history etc.

p.p.s.: another interesting question would be to what extent former KAPD members rejoined the KPD, especially during their pseudo-leftist turns 1924/25 and 1928-33, probably attracted by features in the KPD's official line like "red unions", denunciation of social democrats as "social fascists", rejection of united front politics, campaigns against "Luxemburgism" or the KPD's revolutionist phraseology in general, there were at least a number of more prominent KAPD members who joined/rejoined the KPD: James Broh (1930), Max Hoelz (~ 1927), Karl Jahnke (1921/1930), Karl Plättner (1928), the artist Heinrich Vogeler (1925, died 1942 in Kazachstan, relatively likely that he starved to death) and probably Adam Scharrer (emigrated to the Soviet Union around 1934)

reading Stefan Heinz's interesting study about the Einheitsverband der Metallarbeiter Berlins (EVMB) at the moment, the EVMB was one of the red unions of the KPD which emerged 1930 (and became independent in 1933 before being finally smashed by the Nazis in 1935), according to Heinz, around 10% of the inner core of the EVMB were people who only left the KAPD or the AAUD at that time (= people who stayed in these orgs after they imploded after 1921 from mass organizations into small and marginal groups) which in a way confirms further that the highly stalinized KPD and its fronts were attractive to some genuine ultra-leftists after the KPD adopted an ultra-revolutionist phraseology

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 6 2016 14:33

just to add that the "ultra-left turn" of the KPD attracted also some anarchists like Herbert Wehner (who became a leading SPD politician after 1945) or Paul Albrecht (whose methods of carrying out the agrarian reform in his area in East Germany where considered too radical)

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 7 2016 16:09

James Broh's defection from the AAUE to the KPD in 1930 had most likely professional reasons, he worked as a defense lawyer for the KPD's Red Aid and couldn't afford to loose this part of his income when the Red Aid became tighter controlled by the KPD

Anarcho
Offline
Joined: 22-10-06
Jan 9 2016 16:13
Paulappaul wrote:
Anarchists leach off of ancient philosophers, who didn't even call themselves Anarchists, let alone know the word.

What nonsense is this? Who are these "ancient philosophers" anarchist "leach off" who did not call themselves anarchists? If anarchist do quote dead people, they usually go for Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Goldman, Malatesta, etc. who all certainly knew what anarchism was -- and the word.

What is the difference between "left-communism" and council communism?

Well, "left-communists" generally seem fine with party dictatorship -- Bordiga springs to mind, but the left-communists of the Bolshevik Party certainly did so as did the so-called "Workers Opposition":

Were any of the Bolshevik oppositions a real alternative?

They also seem to fetishise centralisation to an even more silly degree than your usual Leninist.

Council Communists are much better and saw through the Leninist illusions the "left-communists" subscribe to very early -- even came to question the party.

As some one mentioned above, this is a good summary: More Lenin or less Lenin?

Which raises an interesting question -- why the hell are "left-communists" here on a libertarian site? They are definitely not libertarian. I can see why council communists and other marxists should be welcome, I fail to see much benefit of the authoritarian -- and frankly space-cadet -- politics being aired here by "left-communists".

slothjabber
Offline
Joined: 1-08-06
Jan 9 2016 16:27
Anarcho wrote:
...
What is the difference between "left-communism" and council communism?

Well, "left-communists" generally seem fine with party dictatorship -- Bordiga springs to mind, but the left-communists of the Bolshevik Party certainly did so as did the so-called "Workers Opposition":
...

Except the majority of Left Communists now do not see the role of the organisation of revolutionaries as being to take power.

jura's picture
jura
Offline
Joined: 25-07-08
Jan 9 2016 16:42

...and "left communism" is a historical term which at the time included "council communists".

Spikymike
Offline
Joined: 6-01-07
Jan 9 2016 17:02

Anarcho arrives to dispute a couple of points from earlier on this thread 6+ years later!!

Burgers
Offline
Joined: 20-08-14
Jan 13 2016 09:42

Most left communists don't consider themselves Bordigists either.