Revolutionary Organisations and
Class Consciousness
(Part 7)

6.1 Organizational retreat of the German-Dutch Left

The German-Dutch Left, due to lack of clarity in matters of organization and its weaknesses in the dialectical method during the terrible burden of counter-revolution, began to develop positions that would reject the Marxist approach and to make concessions behind and even did some retreat in the organization positions. International Communist Current explains confusion and mistaken that the German left had by describing its inability to understand the party's role and function in capitalism's decadence period. The question which remains is, Rosa Luxembourg, the most important element in the German Left, had very clear view about the decadence of capitalism and KAPD as well, had clear view about this question. Why the German Left was dissolved before they could complete their tasks?
“The German-Dutch left, during the terrible burden of counter-revolution, made more and more concessions on the role of parity regarding the proletarian political approaches.”[1][Our translation]

”Several serious confusions developed within the German Left.
  1. Because of an incorrect analysis of the Russian revolution as both a bourgeois and a proletarian revolution (1921), and then as a bourgeois revolution, a tendency developed within the KAPD which saw the existence of a political party as the reason for the bourgeois nature of the Russian revolution.

  2. By theorizing the correct refusal to consider itself as a parliamentary party which should take power, a tendency was formed within the IAPD-AAUD around clearly ‘antiparty’ positions. This ‘anti-intellectual’ current was found in the Essen tendency of the KAPD, and then in the League of Council Communists. But the most well-known split with the KAPD-AAUD, at the beginning of the twenties, was the one which formed the AAUD(E) around Otto Ruhle.

  3. As it reject the separate existence of a political party as such, the AAUD(E) advocated the development of organizations that were half way between the party and the councils: the General Workers Union(AAU). Pursuing this analysis to its final conclusions, some elements ended up by splitting and by disbanding themselves on the basis of an anti-organisational analysis. In 1925, Ruhle himself was to give up all organized political activity.”[2]

6.2 Death of Gorter and disappearance of the German and Dutch Left

On the one hand vagueness, ambiguity and confusion of the German-Dutch left and on the other hand the pressure from the degeneration of the Communist International that is the beginning of the counter-revolution, resulted in its disappearance. On September 15, 1927 died Hermann Gorter. With death of Gorter, the most important and influential militant within the German and Dutch left, disappeared on the last force that was able to hold together KAP (Communist Workers Party).

In 1927 was held a series of discussion meeting between members of the Dutch KAP and German revolutionaries about the problems of transition period. These discussion resulted in foundation of the “Groep van Internationale Communisten” (the International Communist Group) GIC. Undoubtedly the International Communist Group (GIC) was the most fruitful group within Dutch councilists. From the 30's the German-Dutch Left disappeared as a revolutionary movement. The remaining elements are left Marxist method and became antiparty heroes.

Another important figure in the German-Dutch left was Pannekoek. Pannekoek was a great revolutionary and played an important role in the German-Dutch Left but then he left the Marxist method and began to establish confusing theories in the working movement. If Gorter died as a representative of the proletariat strength, Pannekoek died as a representative of the proletariat, weakness, confusion and overcome of the counter-revolution.

Pannekoek could continue to defend the revolutionary positions and make an immortal historical service not only to the proletariat and even for humanity. But he decided to leave the Marxist method in its main points, party issue, revolution, etc. He began to disparage, discredit the revolutionaries and the October Revolution. In short, Pannekoek was a great revolutionary who made serious mistakes in the later period of his life

The most important group that played a role from the ruins of the disappearance of the German-Dutch left was GIC. GIC was not a communist group in our view, but the most radical group in the councilist Communism. ICC explains GIC's organizational view below:

"GIC made the definitive end to KAPD's confusion about the unit organizations. Although the GIC was the creator of ‘revolutionary factories Nucleuses’ with the same orientation as ‘working groups’- they would be propaganda organizations at the factories - they made a clear distinction between the central factory’s organizations and revolutionary organizations.”[3][Our translation]

ICC describes the continuation of the GIC's fate as follows:

"GIC's theoretical work was continued by Spartacusbond which arose from a split from the party of Sneevliett 1942. Despite a healthier approach to the revolutionary organization's function - Spartacusbond realized the vital role that the party has to play in the revolution as an active factor in the development of consciousness - and its operation: Spartacusbond had statutes and central organ - so eventually became Spartacusbond dominated by GIC’s the old ideas about the organization. Today, Spartacusbond is dying, and Daad en Gedachte (almost ‘Thought and deed’) who left Spartacusbond 1965 - is a meteorological bulletin on strikes in progress. "[4][Our translation]

Finally, if we were to compare the German-Dutch left with the Italian Left, the German-Dutch Left main problem was their non-mature to understand the revolutionary role in the counter-revolution. Their incompatibility ripe to establish a fraction to defend the revolutionary positions and to draw lessons from the past of the working class’ struggle, which the Italian left, was able to establish such a fraction.

"Contrary to the Italian left who were Able to draw up a more realistic balance sheet of the period, the Germantown left showed itself to be weak and unable to understand what would be the responsibilities of Revolutionaries during the counter-revolution. Unlike their Italian comrades, the Germantown Revolutionaries did not form themselves into a fraction capable of defending with tooth and nail the gains of the past Struggles.

That is why, today, far from expressing and maintaining a clear and coherent continuity with the past revolutionary wave, far from expressing the strength of the Germantown and Dutch left in their critique of the CI, the present-day councilist organizations are an extreme manifestation of all its weaknesses and confusion. "[4][Our translation]

6.3 Rühle and the German-Dutch Left

Rühle, the antiparty hero, which is a source of inspiration for councilists, he saw the party as a huge machine that sought to control the fight from the top down to its last components. Rühle did not have German-Dutch positions and he was excluded by KAPD.

KAPD in Germany and KAP of the Gorter in Holland had nothing in common with Rühle and his tendency in Dresden was excluded from KAPD at the end of 1920. KAPD had nothing in common with half anarchist tendencies who proclaimed that any party was counter revolutionary in nature, that the revolution was not a question of party but a question of education.

7. Organization's view of the Italian Communist left

“The Italian Communist left's strength was its methodology, theoretical and organizational strength, which made it passed the counter-revolution press much better, and in the mean time made it possible to integrate its ‘balance’ in a more global approach. Although their work process was slow but more thorough, they never rejected the basic Marxist achievements.”[6] The ICC
[Our translation]

The German and Dutch Left played an important role in the early 20's against the degeneration of the Communist International, and thus became a pole to defend the revolutionary positions. Unfortunately, after the 20's could not defend the revolutionary positions as a pole and pride to defend Marxism and revolutionary positions against counter-revolution ended with the Italian Communist Left.

The Italian Communist Left worked with to create an international fraction to learn from the proletariat's past history and lay the groundwork for future rises of the working class’ revolutionary struggle. Therefore, their theoretical publication called Bilan (balance sheet) to make a balance sheet of the historical struggle of the proletariat. Lessons from Bilan are extremely important for today's revolutionaries.

"... The Italian Communist Left, not only was loyal to those interests, as opposed to those who spread myths about "socialism in one country", anti-fascism, "popular fronts”, "United Front" and "national liberation struggle", which was prevalent, also saw it as their task to draw lessons from the defeat of the October Revolution of 1917 and Third International degeneration. " [7][Our translation]

A comparison between the German-Dutch left with the Italian left shows that why the German Left was dissolved before it could complete its tasks while the Italian left, thanks to its methodology, could achieve their tasks and provide extremely lessons for later generations of the proletariat.

“The German Left, for comparison purposes, thought it was possible to create a new international, KAI, in 1922, when it rejected the October Revolution and the Comintern as an expression of the bourgeoisie class, the Italian Left tried in a deeper way to examine the defeat of October Revolution.” [Our translation]

From this preference for the Italian Left conclusion that it is necessary for the working class to exercise close control over the state arising after the revolutionary seizure of power. It denounced the Bolsheviks identification with the state, against the working class, as shown in Kronstadt and the war against Mahkno.

Therefore, it is not rejected the October Revolution having once, something that the German Left did and that led them to deny the "old" labour movement history. This meant that the German Left quickly disbanded before it could complete the tasks of the Italian Left had been reached."[8]

In the Italian Communist Left, comrade Bordiga played an important role. The Italian Left with Bordiga rejected the substitution perception and the perception that the class consciousness would have to be injected into the working class from outside. Also, on board understanding of the role of parity and its functionality was with the Italian left's decline, and was a deviation from the Marxist coherence yet he made an immortal historical service to the proletariat.

"The Italian Communist Left current has always, even during 1920, together with Bordiga, rejects the view that consciousness comes to the proletariat from the outside by "bourgeois intellectuals" - in contrast to what councilists asserts, which makes a confusion of “Leninism” and "Bordigism"(Bordigo-Leninism). For Bordiga is the party a part of the class , the party is the result of an organically emerging from the class, in which the program and a militant like to have fused into a single whole. During the 30s Billan always rejected the view by the Communist International Second Congress that defended the Party dictatorship. It was in the Italian left's profound decline after 1945, under the influence of Bordiga, which meant that it went back to the theory of substitutionism, which after 1923 was labelled as "Leninism" “.[9][Our translation]

To Be Continued

M. Jahangiry
24 August 2010

1. The German-Dutch Left is not a branch of anarchism. IR No: 81
2. Communist Organisation & Class Consciousness, page 78
3. The Communist Left in the Netherlands and the question of the party - IR No: 9
4. The organization view of the German and Dutch left IR, No. 12
5. Communist Organisation & Class Consciousness, page 79
6. The Italian Communist Left, 1926-45 - IR No. 48
7. As above
8. As above
9. Marxism versus councilism – IR No. 14