Rubel, Maximilien, 1905-1996

Maximilien Rubel.
Maximilien Rubel.

A short biography of Ukrainian-born French council communist Maximilien Rubel.

Submitted by Steven. on January 16, 2006

Maximilien Rubel
Born 1905 - Chernivtsi, Ukraine, died February 1996 - Paris, France

Maximilien Rubel died in Paris in late February 1996. He had originally arrived in Paris in 1931 to finish his studies in philosophy, sociology and law that he had started in his home town of Czerlowitz, which had been first ruled by the Austro-Hungarians, then by the Romanians, and is now in the Ukraine. He began to frequent radical circles and to express solidarity with the struggle for social emancipation, particularly from 1936 when he gave support to the efforts of the Spanish anarchists during the Civil War and Revolution.

This activity put him in contact with unorthodox Marxists, Anarchists and revolutionary syndicalists. His militant activity began in earnest during the Second World War when he wrote a number of leaflets in German (his mother tongue) distributed among the German forces of occupation by the tiny Revolutionary Proletarian Group in which he was active alongside Roger Bossiere*. The leaflets denounced both Nazism and the Western imperialist powers. He took the double risk in this very dangerous work of being both a Jew and a revolutionary.

A supporter of council communism, he participated in the late forties and the fifties in the activities and the debates of that current, scattered to the four corners of the world by Stalinism, in particular his published correspondence with Anton Pannekoek. He began a critical examination of the work of Marx, and indeed began to produce a Complete Works of Marx. He ferociously denounced both capitalism and what he saw as the false socialism of Leninism. His essay Marx - Theoretician of Anarchism horrified both orthodox Marxists and anarchists. His critique of the Soviet Union and its satellites directed the fire of the Stalinists of the French Communist Party upon him. Unlike others who started out as anti-authoritarian critics of Stalinism, he did not change into a defender of capitalism and Cold War 'anti-communism'.

He had contacts with the libertarian socialists of Socialisme ou Barbarie (who in their turn had a great influence on the British group Solidarity) and the anarchist communists of the excellent magazine Noir et Rouge. He participated in a reading group alongside Ngo Van Xuhat and Jean Malaquais, and was closely allied to Rene Lefeuvre whose Spartacus publishing house brought out a vast series of anarchist, council communist and critical Marxist books and pamphlets. He remained a convinced anti-capitalist and anti-statist right up to his death.

Nick Heath

* The original text here read "Roger Bossiere, still a militant today!" Sadly, Bossiere died on 7 August 2006.