The Dutch and German Communist Left 1900-68: Neither Lenin Nor Trotsky Nor Stalin! (Historical Materialism)
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The Dutch-German Communist Left, represented by the German KAPD-AAUD, the Dutch KAPN and the Bulgarian Communist Workers Party, separated from the Comintern (1921) on questions like electoralism, trade-unionism, united fronts, the one-party state and anti-proletarian violence. It attracted the ire of Lenin, who wrote his Left Wing Communism, "An Infantile Disorder against the Linkskommunismus," while Herman Gorter wrote a famous response in his pamphlet "Reply to Lenin." The present volume provides the most substantial history to date of this tendency in the twentieth-century Communist movement. It covers how the Communist left, with the KAPD-AAU, denounced 'party communism' and 'state capitalism' in Russia; how the German left survived after 1933 in the shape of the Dutch GIK and Paul Mattick s councils movement in the USA; and also how the Dutch Communistenbond Spartacus continued to fight after 1942 for the world power of the workers councils, as theorised by Pannekoek in his book "Workers Councils" (1946)."
Gorter seems to postpone to the future what was in fact an immediate task. The decapitation of the KPD in 1919, which deprived the party of its best leaders, Luxemburg and Liebknecht, no doubt explained this conception. In fact, in an intuitive way, Gorter developed an idea which was to become that of the whole communist left, including the Italian left, after the Second World War. In the revolutionary parties, in contrast to the First and Second Internationals, there would no longer be great
revolution, Gorter’s evaluation of the Russian Revolution should be treated with caution. According to Gorter, the Bolsheviks should have prevented the formation of peasant Soviets, refused to distribute the land, and to enlist peasants into the Red Army. Once again defending his position on BrestLitovsk, he described the latter as capital democratic’. Finally, he considered that the Russian Revolution had taken “proletarian communist’ measures”, like the formation of the Soviets and the
bureaucracy. It also demanded, and this did not displease the KAPD, that the responsible organs of the Bolshevik Party should be at least two thirds composed of workers. It was based on the Workers’ Opposition. 21 Cf. H. Gorter, Die Kommunistiche Arbeiter Internationale, Berlin 1923: reprint by ‚Kommunismen’, Copenhagen 1972. 22. H. Gorter, “Partei, Klasse und Masse”, in Proletarier, organ of the KAPD no. 4, Berlin March 1921. 23. Since 1920 the KAPD had formed clandestine combat organisations
sympathiser who, privately, financially supported the party through his contributions. This insistence on possible ‘opportunities’ looked like a concession to opportunism. All the more so since the political adversaries of the KAPD claimed that the party had abandoned its anti-parliamentary positions. Hence from July 1927, a strong opposition developed within the KAPD which denounced the policy of ‘small advantages’ which hid behind the ‘neutrality’ of the party leadership in the ‘Schwarz case’.
means spontaneous action, regrouping the active and conscious majority of workers, which implied both their own organisation and discipline. Without giving this organisation a name – the workers’ councils? – Pannekoek emphasised one major fact: the proletariat’s ability to organise itself, in massive struggle outside parliament: “[The mass] was passive, it 75 becomes an active mass, an organism with its own life, cemented and structured by itself, with its own consciousness and its own organs”.