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German Communist Party (KPD)

Communist history debated at ‘Historical Materialism’ London conference

By John Riddell

November 25, 2011 -- http://johnriddell.wordpress.com --The eighth annual conference of Historical Materialism, sponsored by the journal of the same name, held in London November 10–13 , 2011, featured a coordinated stream of papers on the history of the world Marxist movement during the era of the Communist International (Comintern) (1919-43). The 38 presentations in this stream reflected vigorous activity in this field, while also pointing up some research challenges for historians of the workers’ movement.

The conference as a whole marked an important expansion of this event, with some 750 registered participants and more than 400 presentations.

Centre and periphery

The Comintern’s unknown decision on workers’ governments

"Workers of the World, Unite!", by Gustavs Klucis. Produced for the 1922 Fourth Congress of the Communist International.

By John Riddell

August 14, 2011 -- Also available at johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Riddell's permission -- English-language discussion of the Communist International’s 1922 call for workers’ governments has been based on a preliminary draft that was significantly altered before its adoption. Below, probably for the first time in English, is the amended text that the 1922 congress actually adopted.

The call for a workers’ government emerged from German workers’ struggles in 1920 as a way of posing the need for workers’ power in a context where no alternative structure of revolutionary councils, or soviets, yet existed.

When a right-wing coup in March 1920 was countered by an insurrectionary general strike of German workers, the head of the Social Democratic unions, Carl Legien, proposed to resolve the crisis through creation of a government of workers’ parties and trade unions.

R. Palme Dutt's 'Fascism and social revolution'

By Graham Milner

In the present situation in the world, with the intermittent resurgence of fascist and neo-fascist movements in some countries, an avowedly Marxist treatment of the subject of fascism, such as Palme Dutt's Fascism and Social Revolution, deserves the attention of new generations of readers.

Rajani Palme Dutt (1896-1974) was born in England of an Indian father and a Swedish mother.[1] He grew up in a political household, where socialism and Indian independence were familiar subjects of discussion. A brilliant scholar at Oxford University (he took a double first), Dutt was a conscientious objector during the World War I, and was expelled from university in 1917 for disseminating Marxist propaganda.

The German Communist Party and the crisis of 1923

Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebnecht, murdered by the Social Democrat government.

By Graham Milner

The German Communist Party (KPD) was founded in the very heat of revolutionary struggle. One of the party's major problems from the beginning was that it was formed as a separate organisation too late to influence significantly the course of the German Revolution of 1918-19. If there had been in existence at this time a mass revolutionary party along the lines of Lenin's Bolshevik party, then there could well have been a radical reconstruction of German society into a republic of workers' councils. Instead of such an outcome, the stunted bourgeois-democratic regime of Weimar came into being, in which most of the existing state machine, including the army, judiciary and civil service, was preserved intact.[1]

Clara Zetkin’s struggle for the united front

Clara Zetkin (left) with Rosa Luxemburg.

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Listen to John Riddell present a workshop on Clara Zetkin at the US International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2009 conference in Chicago:

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