Thursday, 30 April 2020

Anarkiismo kaj diskonigo de Esperanto en Ĉinio - Anarchism and the spread of Esperanto in China

La disvastiĝo de Esperanto en Ĉinio en la komenca stadio karakteriĝas per strikta ligiĝo kun anarkiismo, kaj pro tio iuj opiniis, ke la idealo de la esperantistoj ja estas anarkiismo.

Anarkiismo formiĝis en Francio kaj Germanio dum la 40-aj jaroj de la 19-a jarcento, kaj aperis Stirne-anarkiismo kaj Proudhom-socialanarkiismo. Poste floris en Rusio la kolektiva anarkiismo de Bakunin, kaj anarki-komunismo kaj anarki-sindikatismo de Kropotkin. La ismoj propagandataj de ili estis diversaj. Krom la scienca socialismo, tiam troviĝis diversspecaj socialismoj. Tiaj ismoj multe influis intelektulojn kaj vicaron de laboristoj. Grupo da ĉinaj studentoj en Japanio kaj Eŭropo, inkluzive de progresemaj junuloj, kiel ekz., Bakin, akceptis la influon de anarkiismo.

La ĉinaj anarkiistoj kombinis la anarkiismon kun Konfucianismo kaj la doktrino de Kang Youwei pri “granda harmonio” kaj “komuna harmonia rondo” de la homaro, kun la revo fondi perfektan socion, en kiu “beboj petolas en la sino de la patrino kaj plenkreskuloj sate ĝuas plezuron, ili vivas sen batalo, sen ĉagreno, sen plendo kaj sen konkuro, nur en ĝojo kaj harmonio tra la mondo”. Tiuj pensoj nature koincidis kun la interna ideo de Esperanto, iniciatita de Zamenhof. D-ro Zamenhof kreis Esperanton por nuligi la diskriminacion kaj malamon inter gentoj kaj rompi la septon inter religioj, kun la celo fondi mondpacon kaj grandan harmonian rondon de la homaro. La ĉinaj anarkiistoj prenis Esperanton kiel miraklan lingvon por fondi idealan socion kaj harmonian rondon de la homaro, opiniante, ke la valoro de Esperanto kuŝas ne nur en restarigo de Ĉinio, sed ankaŭ en interkompreniĝo kaj interligiĝo de nacioj kaj revoluciuloj. Pro tio ili senlace kaj tutanime klopodis disvastigi Esperanton.

Pluraj pioniroj de la ĉina Esperanto-movado en la komenca periodo estis adeptoj de anarkiismo, ekz., Liu Shipei, Zhang Ji, Wu Zhihui, Li Shizeng, Zhang Jingjiang, kaj poste Liu Shifu (Sifo), Ou Shengbai (Sinpak Au), Huang Zunsheng (Wong Kenn) k.a. ili aktive diskonigis Esperanton unuflanke kaj anarkiismon aliflanke. Liu Shipei, Zhang Ji kaj Li Shizeng eldonis eksterlande revuon plenan je anarkiismo. Liu Shifu prenis disvastigon de anarkiismo kiel sian mision por la tuta vivo. Dum la jaroj 1913-1915, li redaktis la revuon Voĉo de la Popolo, kiu servis kiel lia ĉefa batalkampo por diskonigi anarkiismon kaj Esperanton. Kvankam la anarkiismo en Ĉinio estis delonge jam neita de la historio, tamen estas aprobinde, ke la anarkiistoj enkondukis Esperanton en Ĉinion kaj faris energiajn klopodojn por disvastigi la lingvon en Ĉinio.
La Angla Traduko

The initial dissemination of Esperanto is characterised with tight links with anarchism, and for that reason some believed that the ideal of the Esperanto speakers is anarchism.

Anarchism was founded in France and Germany during the 1840s, and appeared as Stirnerian anarchism[1] and Proudhonian social anarchism[2]. Later in Russia flourished the Collectivist Anarchism of Bakunin[3], and Anarchist-communism and anarcho-syndicalism of Kropotkin[4]. The doctrines they propagated were very diverse. Apart for scientific socialism there were many diverse types of socialism at the time[5]. Such isms greatly influenced intellectuals and types of workers. A group of Chinese students in Japan and Europe, including progressive young people like Ba Jin for example accepted the influence of Anarchism.

The Chinese anarchists combined anarchism with Confucianism[6] and the doctrine of Kang Youwei[7] about the "great harmony" and "common harmonious circle" of humanity. With the dream of founding a perfect society in which "Babies mourn in the bosom of the mother and adults are full of pleasure, they live without struggle, without grief, without complaint and without competition, only in joy and harmony throughout the world". These thoughts naturally coincided with the internal idea of Esperanto initiated by Zamenhof. Doctor Zamenhof created Esperanto to nullify discrimination and hate between peoples [ethnic groups] and to break down the partition between religions. With goal to establish world peace and a great harmonious circle of humanity. The Chinese anarchists took Esperanto as a miraculous language for establishing an ideal society and a harmonious circle of humanity. Thinking that the value of Esperanto would lie in the restoration of China, but also in the understanding and interconnections between nations and revolutionaries. For this reason they tried tirelessly and wholeheartedly to spread Esperanto. Several pioneers of the Chinese Esperanto movement in the initial period were followers of Anarchism. For example Liu Shipei, Zhang Ji, Wu Zhihui, Li Shizeng, Zhang Jingjiang, kaj poste Liu Shifu (Sifo), Ou Shengbai (Sinpak Au), Huang Zunsheng (Wong Kenn) etc. They actively spread Esperanto on the one hand, and Anarchism on the other. Liu Shipei, Zhang Ji kaj Li Shizeng published outside the country a magazine full of anarchism. Liu Shifu took the spreading of Anarchism as his mission in life. During the years 1913-15, he edited the magazine Voice of the People, which served as his main battlefield for publishing anarchism and Esperanto. Although anarchism has longed been denied in history, it is nevertheless accepted that the Anarchists introduced the language into China and made energetic efforts to spread the language in China. 

____________________________________________________
1: Max Stirner was a German philosopher most known for his work the Ego and His Own. Though its misleading to say there was a flourishing Stirner influenced Anarchist movement in the 1840s. There are probably more Stirner admirers now than at any time previously.
2: Pierre Joseph-Proudhon was an influential thinker and advocate of workers societies, his ideas did lay the foundation for what became known as Mutualist-socialism.
3: Mikhail Bakunin was a quite famous revolutionary, though his ideas were more popular in Spain, Italy and Switzerland than they were in Russia.
4: Peter Kropotkin is indeed a famous advocate of Anarchist-Communism, though the earliest Anarchist-Communists were probably in France and Italy in the 1850s, with advocates like Joseph Dejacque and Carlo Cafiero.
5: Scientific socialism was how Marx and Engels described their ideas, officially the Communist Party of China is an heir to it, though through many confusing and contradictory layers.
6: Most of the early Chinese Esperantists promoted Anarchist-Communism, and while there was some cross pollination with other Chinese groups including Daoism and reformed Buddhism.
7: Kang Youwei was a Confucian scholar and extremely difficult to summarise in his ideas. He mainly advocated constitutional monarchism but also was one of the earliest public figures to talk about opposing capitalism and the benefits of socialism and communism. Though what he meant by those terms is quite contested. He was also an important influence on many Chinese political activists including many early members of the Communist party, most famously Mao Zedong who dedicated many early articles to Kang Youwei's teachings.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Caetano Assassino! - 1973 Anti-fascist demonstrations in London





The 25th of April is the anniversary of the Carnation revolution, where mutinying soldiers deposed the fascist Estado Novo regime and dismantled Portugal's brutal colonial empire. Fascist Portugal like Fascist Spain was accepted by the democratic west with normal diplomatic status and close economic ties.

In 1973 the dictator Caetano visited London, the visit provoked massive anti-fascist demonstrations in London.



link https://youtu.be/p9UQ8wJE6J8

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Komunumo de Parizo en 1871 - Paris Commune of 1871

Komunumo de Parizo en 1871


Jean-Patrick Annequin : Pensi la Komunumon hodiaŭ


elfrancigis Petro Levi




(Jean-Patrick Annequin, La Châtre, Indre ; "La Commune",
Bulteno de la Asocio de la Amikoj de la Komunumo
de Parizo - 1871
 ; 2006 Automne-Hiver numero 29 ;
elfrancigis Petro Levi.)


La Komunumo de Parizo de 1871 estas la referenco en la historio de la laborista movado por la formo de registaro alprenita kaj la estigitaj promesoj. Por realigi la tiel deziratan socian kaj demokratan Respublikon, ĝi elpensis novaĵojn sur la tereno de la laborista demokratio kaj organizado. Oni estas vere konvinkita, ke la principoj proklamitaj de la Komunumo de Parizo estas ankoraŭ hodiaŭ aktualaj - kaj tiaj ili estas pli ol iam ajn -, ĉar ĝia skizo de vere nova, egaleca kaj frateca socio restas konkreta utopio : fundamente estas, ke oni havu klaran konscion de tiuj grandaj principoj, kiuj ne povis koruptiĝi, sed ke oni apliku ilin en la spirito dezirita de la Komunumanoj. Ni restu simple ĉe la du grandaj unuaj urĝaj taskoj, kiujn la Komunumo de Parizo difinis al si.

Unue, instali la rektan demokration. Tiu de la komunumanoj ripozis sur la imperativa kaj nuligebla mandato. Tiu formo de rekta demokratio havas nenion komunan kun ia ajn partoprena demokratio, kiu metas la civitanojn antaŭ falsan agliberecon kaj neniel donas al ili la rimedon denunci la mandatajn perfidojn : ne ekzistas demokratio, krom tiu, kiu kontrolas la povon, kaj la popolo estas la demokratio. Tia estis la senco de la alvoko de la 23a de marto 1871, kiu postulis la emancipon de la laboristoj. Ankoraŭ pli hodiaŭ, la imperativa kaj nuligebla mandato esas necesa kaj ĉia rekta demokratio estas konceptebla nur kun tiu kondiĉo, ke konstante la ricevintoj de mandatoj publike respondas al la demandoj de la donintoj, aŭ pli koncize la demokratio ne bezonas kvalifikon.

Poste disvolvi la laboristan mastrumadon. La Komunumo situis, certe, en la kadro de la naskiĝanta kapitalismo, sed kapitalismo kun bone markitaj karakterizoj, kiu nur estis la bazo de la nuna tutmondiĝinta kapitalismo. La interklasa kontraŭstaro, kiun la membroj de la Unua Internacio tiel bone perceptis, estas tute certe la nuna realo : organizo, kiu havas konstantan, perforteman, senanimstatan klaskonscion, estas ja MEDEF (franca mastra movado).

Nenio povas ligi laboriston al mastro, hieraŭ kiel hodiaŭ, kaj la laborista klaso en la vasta senco de la vorto memkompreneble kontraŭas la "reformojn" volitajn de sinsekvaj registaroj, ne pro nostalgio pri pasinteco aŭ nekapableco evolui (ankaŭ laboristo ja pensas) sed simple ĉar tiuj "reformoj" kontraŭas la interesojn de la laborista klaso kaj detruas fundamentajn sociajn akiritaĵojn : laborista klaso, kiu plu apogas sin sur strikoj (la Internacio komprenis tion) por defendi sian laboron kaj sian rajton, sed kiun jam de jaroj regule perfidas multaj sindikataj responduloj aŭ forlasas politikaj tiel nomataj "progresistaj" gvidistoj. La sindikata tiel politika kiel financa sendependeco estas nepra, ĉar ĉia subordigo pereigus la sindikatismon : la laboristaj federaciaj ĉambroj de 1871 estis la ekzemplo mem de la laborista mobilizo kaj de la sendependeco. La rifuzo de ĉia formo de asocio kapitalo/laboro estis la forta principo de la Internaciistoj kaj Komunumanoj, ĉar tia asocio ĉiam nur havis unu saman finan celon : fari, ke la laboristoj kunmastrumu la kapitalisman profiton. Léo Fränkel (leo frenkel), voĉdonelektita kiel gvidanto de labordelegitaro, asertis dum unu el la multaj kunsidoj de la Komunumo, ke "oni devas apliki ĉian justan socian decidon ... sen la zorgo konsulti la mastrojn". La Komunumanoj ne havis la tempon finstarigi la laboristajn kooperativajn societojn kun funkciado antipoda de la kunmastrumado mastroj/laboristoj, kiun oni nun volus instali. Kio nun okazas en Argentino kaj Brazilo, kun tio, ke la laboristoj okupas fabrikojn kaj refunkciigas ilin, pasiigus la Internaciistojn, kiuj serĉis novan manieron produkti kaj konsumi : la ekzemplo de la specifa funkciado de la fabriko Zanon pri tio estas simbolo. Ni repensu pri la laborista registaro de la Komunumo kaj ĝiaj envojigoj. Kian diferencon prezentas la nuna kunteksto ? Nenian ! Ĉu nun ne plu estas subprematoj kaj subpremantoj, profitantoj, kiuj plu ekspluatas la laboranton ? Pensi la malon estas konduki la laboristan movadon al absoluta senelirejo. La Komunumo certe konsistis el multaj tendencoj, sed la deklaro de la 19a de aprilo 1871 idealigis la komunuman strukturon kiel bazon de la rekta demokratio. Ĝi hodiaŭ estas ankoraŭ pli celkonforma ĉar ĝi estas strukturo de maksimuma proksimeco, sed oni provas malaperigi ĝin pretekste de struktursimpligo : ankaŭ la Federacio de Komunumoj, pri kiu la Komunumanoj tiom revis, estas nia defendinda heredaĵo, kaj ĝi restas tute moderna. Fideleco al la idealoj de la Komunumo neprigas, ke oni portu ilin hodiaŭ tiaj, kiaj ili estis proponitaj en 1871 : ili estas plene aktualaj, realistaj kaj realigeblaj nur se oni pensas kun certeco, ke la kapitalismo kontraŭas la kolektivan feliĉon, sed ke tiu feliĉo plu restas nova ideo.


El Sennaciulo, februaro 2007



The Paris Commune of 1871,

Thinking about the Commune today 

by Jeanne-Patrick Annequin


The Paris Commune of 1871 is the reference in the labour movement for the formation of a government and the promises it made. To realise the desired social and democratic republic, it created new methods on the terrain of workers democracy and organisation. I am truly convinced that the principle proclamations of the Paris Commune are still relevant today - and that they are more so now than at any other time - because its outline of a truly new egalitarian and fraternal society remain a concrete utopia. Fundamentally it is necessary that we have a clear awareness of those great principles which cannot be corrupted, and apply them in the spirit desired by the Communards. Let's just stick with the two big tasks that the Paris Commune set itself.

Firstly the installation of direct democracy. That of the Communal delegates rested on the imperative and recallable mandate. This form of democracy has nothing in common with any kind of participatory democracy which places before the citizens a false freedom and will not give them the means to denounce mandated betrayals. Democracy does not exist, other than one that controls power, and the people are democracy. That was the meaning of the call on the 23rd of March 1871, which demanded the emancipation of the workers. Still more today, the imperative and recallable mandate is necessary and all direct democracy is conceivable only on condition that the mandated members constantly respond to the questions of the voters, or more precisely, democracy does not need qualification.

Then developing workers management. The Commune is situated certainly in the frame of the birth of capitalism, but capitalism with well marked characteristics which were only the basis of modern global capitalism. The inter class opposition which the members of the first international well percieved, is definitely the present reality. An organisation that has a constant, violent, and disenfranchised class consciousness is the MDEF (French bosses movement).

No one can unite a worker to his boss, yesterday or today, and the working class in the fullest sense of the word of course opposes the "reforms" of successive governments. Not because of nostalgia for past times or an inability to evolve ( a worker also thinks so) but simply because those "reforms" are against the interests of the working class and destroys fundamental social gains. The working class who continue to rely upon strikes (the International understood this) to defend their work and to defend their rights. But which for many years has been betrayed by many union leaders or abandoned by so called "progressive" leaders. For the union as much political and financial independence as possible is necessary because all subordination will destroy syndicalism/trade unionism[1].  The  Federal Chamber of Labour Societies of 1871 were the example of workers self mobilisation and independence. The refusal of all kinds of association between workers and bosses was the strong principle of the internationalists and Communards, because that type of association always has the same final goal. To make the workers collaborate with management for the capitalist profit. Léo Fränkel (Leo Frankel[2]) elected as leader of a workers delegation asserted during one of the many meetings of the Commune that "we have to apply every kind of just social decision without bothering to consult the bosses". The Communards did not have enough time to finish establishing the co-operative societies which functioned as the opposite of the co-management between workers and bosses, which we would like to install now. What is happening now in Argentina and Brazil with workers occupying factories and taking them over would impassion the Internationalists who searched for new methods of production and consumption. The specific example of the Zanon factory[3] is a symbol of this. Let us rethink the working government of the Commune and its pathways. What kinds of differences are in the present context? None! Are there no longer oppressed and oppressors, profiteers who continue to exploit workers? Thinking the opposite is to lead the workers movement to an impasse. The Commune certainly consisted of many tendencies, but the declaration of the 19th of April 1871 idealised the Communal structure as the base of direct democracy. Today it is still more purpose-oriented for it is a structure of maximum closeness, but an attempt is made to remove it on the pretext of structural simplification. Also the Federation of Communes, which the Communards dreamed of is our defensible heritage, and it remains totally modern. Fidelity to the Commune's principles does not require them to be carried out today as they were proposed in 1871. They are fully current, realistic and realisable only if we think that capitalism is against collective happiness, but in that happiness is a new idea.


_________________________________________________

1: In Esperanto and French and many other languages the word for labour union is Syndicate, which makes it difficult at times to distinguish when a speaker is talking about syndicalism a specific version of labour organising or just trade unions in general. I'm not sure which he means here.
2: Hungarian born social democrat who collaborated for several years with Ferdinand Lassalle in the German states. He was in Paris during the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war and joined the National Guard, he was elected to the Commune on the 26th of March 1871. He survived the Commune and worked in London and the Hapsburg Empire until his death in Paris in 1896.
 3: Argentinian ceramics factory, occupied by its workers during the 2001 financial crisis.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

MY FAVOURITE THINGS - Alan Carter

MY FAVOURITE THINGS
(With due apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein) (And to Coltrane)


Red flags and red guards, professional vanguards, Stalin and Lenin, and rule from the Kremlin, The Central Committee has told me to sing: ‘These are a few of my favourite things.’
Strict iron discipline and militarization, Subject the nation to centralization. Deep in my conscience I hear someone say: ‘When will the state start to wither away?’
When the Tsar falls, Commissar calls, Or I’m feeling sad, I simply remember from March to September Freedom was to . .. Be had

https://libcom.org/files/marx%20a%20radical%20critique.pdf

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Workers councils in the German revolution, an discussion between Rudi Dutschke and Bernhard Reichenbach




Discussion and analysis with a member of the KAPD on the party and its activity.

Workers Councils
in the German Revolution
Introduction

The Kommunistische Arbeiter Party Deutschland (KAPD) originated in a split in the German Communist Party at the second congress in Heidelberg in October 1919. The majority of the Communist party were expelled for their opposition to parliamentary and Trade Union activity, and founded a new party the KAPD.
The interview below is with a founder member of the KAPD, who was active in the German revolution, and is part of the material we plan to us in the [unreadable] a pamphlet on the struggles for WORKERS COUNCILS in the German revolution.

The relevance of the struggle in Germany in 1918-23 has been heightened by the rise of SDS and the recent wave of unofficial strikes in the coal, steel and ship building industries. As in France and Italy the question of workers councils is now being debated.

AN ACTIVIST SPEAKS

This discussion between Rudi Dutschke and Bernhard Reichenbach took place in June 1969.

Rudi: Assuming your analysis of society was valid at the time, where do you locate your failures?

B.R: A valid social analysis is one thing, implementing it in reality is another matter. One should distinguish between the theories of the KAPD and the practise through which it attempted to implement them, although the two are obviously interrelated. Up to 1923 we based ourselves on the revolutionary activity of the working class which was widespread throughout Germany in the wake of the collapse of the Kaiser regime, its political, social, economic and ideological institutions, but from the defeat of the March 1921 and later 1923 insurrections it became evident that whereas during periods of political collapse, and economic misery the working class exhibits independent revolutionary initiative and readiness to sacrifice a lot for the creation of a new social order it does not sustain this type of activity during the prolonged periods between one political/economic crisis to the next.

Rudi: You said you had certain doubts concerning Marx’s theory, could you elaborate?

B.R.: We, who considered ourselves as Marxists at the time, laid too much stress on the “objective conditions” as well as on the role of material misery. We underestimated the role of the individuals, which in certain conditions – can become the decisive factor. I think that Marx’s stress on the main motivation for revolutionary activity is not always and everywhere valid, whereas his sociological insights still are.

Rudi: At the time you acted as an extra parliamentary opposition, do you consider this essential?

B.R.: Yes, because this educates people to act on their own political initiative, independently of any representative.

Rudi: For you at the time, this expressed itself not merely as extra-parliamentary opposition but as anti-parliamentary opposition. Did you consider it essential that the working class should struggle against the parliamentary institutions?

B.R.: Definitely. You must remember that during 1918 there was an actual revolutionary situation in Germany. Any partaking in parliamentary activity was considered as betrayal, because that parliament, amongst other things, was held responsible for the war. During 1919 almost all the left politics took place within the workers councils, not in the trade unions or parliament. These were consciously, extra and anti-parliamentary institutions. The trouble was that in those councils the Social Democrats were in the majority. This was very much due to their insistence on economistic rather than political, and reformistic rather than revolutionary demands. It is those factors that made us doubt the independent revolutionary initiative of the class. The Social Democrats did not impose their views, their majority reflected the will of the broad mass of workers inside the councils, and that even during such a revolutionary situation.

The conditions in Germany differed considerably from those of Russia. Russia emerged from centuries of autocratic rule and the whole social atmosphere was ripe for a fundamental change of political institutions, a tradition of government by elected representatives. Germany had a tradition of government by elected representatives, in such circumstances it is much harder to accomplish a political revolution because it appears as coercion against democratic representatives. Moreover, after all the years of a Rightist majority in parliament the victory of the Social Democrats appeared as a decisive victory for the left. It is true that the decisive arena of the struggle for political power was within the workers councils but, the reasons mentioned earlier, any action against the elected government was out of the question especially while those in government had a majority inside the councils.

Rudi: How many revolutionary parties existed then?

B.R.: In 1920 there were five parties aspiring to achieve socialism by revolution, all of them defining themselves as Marxist. Apart from this there were various Anarchist groups. The working class was torn by the mutual strife between those organisations and did not exhibit unified action vis-à-vis the Bourgeoisie.

Rudi: What could you tell us about the 1921 insurrection?

B.R.: At the time I was in Russia, as an observer on behalf of the KAPD in the session of the Third International. The German Communist party came out openly against that insurrection whereas our party actively supported it. Lenin declared the insurrection “Adventurist”, yet afterwards Paul Levi, the secretary of the party who was responsible for its policy was dismissed for his failure to support it. He was replaced by Clara Zetkin, who incidentally continued to carry out the political line of Paul Levi. A person was dismissed, the policies remained. Moreover, both Lenin and Trotsky endorsed Zetkins policies.

Rudi: Do you believe that there was any connection between the New Economic Policy of Lenin in 1921 and the policy of the Third International towards the March 1921 insurrection.

B.R.: There was no direct connection. However, one can discern some common underlying factors. The NEP was considered by Lenin as a fortification of the political revolution in Russia; he considered that revolution as a process which had already terminated. The Bolsheviks expected a revolution in Western Europe. This failed to occur. This created an ambiguous relationship between them, as a ruling party and the capitalist regime in Europe; on the one hand they wanted normal inter-state relations which would ensure peaceful borders on the west, on the other hand the revolutionary struggle inside those countries weakened those regimes. Once the disillusion with the revolution in the west sunk in they began to consider the revolutionary movements in the west mainly as an auxiliary tool of Russian foreign politics. This attitude of the Bolshevik politicians towards the revolutionary movements in the west did not start with Stalin, but with Lenin and Trotsky back in 1921.

Rudi: Could you describe the actual activity of the councils vis-à-vis the Unions and parties looked like?

B.R.: Independent councils based on factories rather then trades, as was common earlier, appeared spontaneously all over Germany. This was to a considerable extent a result of the economic chaos. When a factory came to a standstill due to the lack of fuel or raw materials there was no one to turn to help. Government, parties, unions, capitalists could do nothing to solve the basic problems of transportation, raw materials, fuel etc. Resolutions, orders, declarations, even paper money, were of little use. Under such circumstances the factory workers would form a factory council and set out to solve those basic problems by themselves. We of the KAPD believed that the traditional Trade-Unions were an obstacle to the creation of a new society, and that the main thing was to encourage direct action, independent of the unions.
Rudi: Why did the KAPD disband in 1923?

B.R: When the March 1921 insurrection failed, and later also the one in 1923, only a few hundred activists remained in the party. Originally we were a party of industrial militants, with only very few paid functionaries. When the direct activity of the industrial militants died down our party simply ceased to exist. It was not a matter of taking political resolution; when our militant workers ceased to be active all that was left to do was to acknowledge that fact and draw the conclusion. We the younger activists, decided to enter other political parties, simply because this was the only place where we could meet politically minded workers and try to win them over.

This interview provoked some critical comments in the following issue of Solidarity (Aberdeen)

K.a.p.d. and the german revolution
some comments

The interview in the last issue of Aberdeen “Solidarity” with a founder member of the K.A.P.D. threw interesting light on the policy of the Bolsheviks and the K.P.D. during the German Revolution, and also opened the way for a discussion of the reasons for its failure.

However, simply because the K.A.P.D broke away from the K.P.D. Over the latter favourable policy towards participating in Trades Union and Parliamentary activity, it would be wring to automatically assume that it is an organization with which Solidarists should retrospectively identify themselves.

In the first place, as is evident from the interview, the K.A.P.D. held an extremely mechanical conception of the socialist revolution, which was held to be possible only in times of economic collapse and misery. Socialist consciousness is the grumbling of an empty belly. This conception gripped the minds of the most libertarian of those who broke with German Social Democracy, eg, Luxembourg and Pannekoek, who in other respects such as insistence on the rule of Workers Councils and proletarian democracy we would endorse.

Similarly, the K.A.P.D. was permeated with elitist thinking. As Gorter, their leading thinker stated in his “Reply to Lenin”, '...most proletarians are ignoramuses. They repeatedly make mistakes.” From this he concluded that an elite party, based on quality was necessary to educate the masses and expose the reformist leaderships. There was always an ambiguity in the K.A.P.D. over whether they or the Workers Councils should rule, and they never fully identified themselves as the future dictatorship. In this respect, as in others we can possibly see resemblances between the K.A.P.D. and the “Workers Opposition” group in the Bolshevik Party. It is more than an accident that it was a K.A.P.D. member who brought Kollontai's text to the west.

Thirdly, it would be wrong to overestimate the hostility of the K.A.P.D. to the Third Internationl to which they adhered in a special status until they ceased to be a viable force in the German left after 1923 or so. Although Trotsky accused them, in the “First Five Years of the Communist International” of intending to establish a Fourth International, there is no real evidence for this. The K.A.P.D. even, on the instructions of Lenin, or 'advice', got rid of Ruehle, Laufenberg and others who were originally party members, but whose implacable hostility to Bolshevism Lenin could not tolerate.

If we are to look for historical progenitors in the area of ideology, the ideas of Ruhle need to be further examined. Ruehle voted as early as 1915 with Liebknecht against War Credits in the Reichstag, and maintained a consistent anti-war attitude afterwards. Almost alone of the ex-social democrats he broke with elitist thinking, holding the profoundly true idea that if the working class was too weak and stupid to achieve socialism by its own efforts, then no leadership can remedy this- the only alternative is permanent class society.

Similarly, at a time when socialism was held to be nationalisation and planning and a social democrat government, Ruehle developed his ideas on the meaning of socialism in advance of this. In 1924 he said: “ the nationalisation of the means of production which remains the programme of the social democracy as well as the communists, is not socialisation. Through nationalisation it will be possible to attain a strongly centralised State capitalism, which will perhaps have some superiority to private capitalism, but which none the less will be capitalism.”

Ruehle's brilliant critique of the entire Trades Union apparatus, published as the article “On German Trades Union” in Solidarity Scotland Vol.2 No.2. from his book 'From the bourgeois to the proletarian revolutions' (which still awaits translation), is one which all Solidarists would endorse. In it he stated: “The Trades unions … develop into auxiliary organs of capitalist organs of capitalist economic interest, exploitation and profit making. They have become the bourgeoisie's most loyal shield bearer … always and everywhere the unions stood at the side of capital ready to help; a praetorian guard always prepared to carry out the most common and revolting crimes, always against the emancipation and autonomy of the working class”.

As early as 1921, Ruehle, and the federation of factory organizations, AAUD-E (which eventually linked to the Syndicalist International), to which he belonged criticised the bureacratisation of the Russian Revolution and the suppression of the Kronstaft sailors. The refused to participate in the Central German rising of 1821 on the grounds that it was an attempt by the K.P.D. to cover up events in Kronsdadt at the same time.

Ruehle accused the K.A.P.D. of being only distinguishable from the K.P.D. by its rejection of the parliamentary activity, and its subsequent history confirmed his analysis.

Given its basic ideas, and the decline of the revolutionary wave in Germany after 1923, the return of most K.A.P.D. members to the folds of the S.P.D. or K.P.D., or their decline into inactivity was inevitable.

R.M.

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