communists in situ

leberwurst proletariat

The Daemonic: Concept of a Negative Philosophy of Religion (Löwenthal, 1921)


First Published: in Gabe – Herrn Rabbiner Dr. Nobel Zum 50. Geburtstag, J. Kauffmann Verlag Frankfurt a. M. in 1921; Source: Leo Löwenthal Schriften. 5 Bände – Band 5: Philosophische Frühschriften, Suhrkamp Verlag Frankfurt am Main, 1987; Translated from German: P. Alexander Schneider; Redaction and Markup: P. Alexander Schneider, @stadtstaat.

Editors’ NoteDas Dämonische was originally written in 1920 as a seminar paper for Karl Jaspers’ [12] seminary in Heidelberg. It was mainly dedicated to the second chapter “Weltbilder” in Jaspers’ recently released Psychologie der Weltanschauungen. It was not a mere reproduction of Jaspers’ thought but a philosophical treatise with messianic aspiration. The text reveals many features Löwenthal would maintain during his career such as his relationship to Marxism, to Psychoanalysis, and to a messianic interpretation of the religious. He is also concerned with orienting himself after the leading thinkers of his time such as Bloch and Lukács, but also figures such as Husserl, Goethe, Xenokrates, Kierkegaard, Wilhelm Wundt, and even the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury. Löwenthal is one of the founding members of the Frankfurt School and many of the ideas which would later become influential in creating Critical Theory can already be found here making it not just interesting to those studying Löwenthal or negative philosophy of religion, but the history of Western Marxism as a whole.

The text was first published in 1921 in remembrance of Rabbiner Dr. Nobel’s 50th birthday, one of Löwenthal’s most important mentors. The subsequent Suhrkamp publication is entirely based on this and apart from updating some spelling, changing the German quotation marks to French comillas, and adding real italics where the original couldn’t due to technical limitations remains unchanged. Due to this there were no footnotes for the entire text, let alone for quotes. These were most carefully recreated to the best of our abilities; we also added footnotes to explain certain translation decisions and give more insight into the terminology used in the text most likely alien to the average reader. We tried to orientate ourselves with the translations of authors Löwenthal cited to maintain a coherent vocabulary for those familiar with the English translations of the aforementioned works. When this did not work we tried to find good neologisms and did our best to explain these using footnotes.

This translation would not have been possible without @stadtstaat.

This translation is dedicated in loving memory both to Leo Löwenthal and Helmut Dubiel without whom I would have never had the pleasure of reading, yet alone translating this text.

Read the rest of this entry »

Walter Benjamin and the Red Army Faction (Wohlfarth, 2006)


by Irving Wohlfarth, Radical Philosophy 152, 153, 154 (2008-9)

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

Benjamin and the Red Army Faction – is the subject even worth discussing? Its background, or underground, has, it is true, hardly been broached in the secondary literature. Yet both sides claimed that violence was needed to avert disaster; and Benjamin underwrote an ethics which did not shrink from the ‘revolutionary killing of the oppressor’. But a difficult question remains. Does any kind of fuse or trail lead from his words to their deeds? If so, it would mark a striking instance of the general problem: how responsible is a thinker for the fate of his/her ideas? Such questions were hardly foreign to Benjamin. He had, he wrote only a year before Hitler seized power, not yet considered what meaning might be extracted from Nietzsche’s writings ‘in an extreme case’. But who, or what, determines, precisely when such a case obtains? Does the trajectory of the Red Army Faction (which will here henceforth be termed the RAF) raise in retrospect the question of the political meaning that might be wrested, in an extreme case, from Benjamin’s writings – especially since such states of emergency were their common concern?

Theses Against Occultism (Adorno, 1947)


by Theodor Adorno, from Minima Moralia

I. The tendency to occultism is a symptom of regression in consciousness. This has lost the power to think the unconditional and to endure the conditional. Instead of defining both, in their unity and difference, by conceptual labour, it mixes them indiscriminately. The unconditional becomes fact, the conditional an immediate essence. Monotheism is decomposing into a second mythology. “I believe in astrology because I do not believe in God”, one participant in an American socio-psychological investigation answered. Judicious reason, that had elevated itself to the notion of one God, seems ensnared in his fall. Spirit is dissociated into spirits and thereby forfeits the power to recognize that they do not exist. The veiled tendency of society towards disaster lulls its victims in a false revelation, with a hallucinated phenomenon. In vain they hope in its fragmented blatancy to look their total doom in the eye and withstand it. Panic breaks once again, after millennia of enlightenment, over a humanity whose control of nature as control of men far exceeds in horror anything men ever had to fear from nature.

Read the rest of this entry »

Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century (Braverman, 1974)


by Harry Braverman


The transformation of working humanity into a “labor force,” a “factor of production,” an instrument of capital, is an incessant and unending process. The condition is repugnant to the victims, whether their pay is high or low, because it violates human conditions of work; and since the workers are not destroyed as human beings but are simply utilized in inhuman ways, their critical, intelligent, conceptual faculties, no matter how deadened or diminished, always remain in some degree a threat to capital. Moreover, the capitalist mode of production is continually extended to new areas of work, including those freshly created by technological advances and the shift of capital to new industries. It is, in addition, continually being refined and perfected, so that its pressure upon the workers is unceasing. At the same time, the habituation of workers to the capitalist mode of production must be renewed with each generation, all the more so as the generations which grow up under capitalism are not formed within the matrix of work life, but are plunged into work from the outside, so to speak, after a prolonged period of adolescence during which they are held in reserve. The necessity for adjusting the worker to work in its capitalist form, for overcoming natural resistance intensified by swiftly changing technology, antagonistic social relations, and the succession of the generations, does not therefore end with the “scientific organization of labor,” but becomes a permanent feature of capitalist society.

Statistics and Socialism (Paul Mattick, Jr., 2016)


On Otto Neurath

Paul Mattick Jr. (presentation at Anton Pannekoek conference, Amsterdam 2016) PDF

One of the preconditions of the creation of socialism, Otto Neurath wrote in 1925, is that society ‘must know from which conditions it starts at a certain moment and what it can undertake.’ To have such information, ‘above all the labour movement needs a statistics of the conditions of life. Its object should not be to establish total consumption or average consumption—these are of little significance—but the ‘standard of life’ of the main social groups and classes.’[1] Of course, it is not ‘society’ that will create this new order: ‘Socialism in practice … will be brought about by the political victory of the proletariat …’[2] hence ‘Statistics is a tool of the proletarian struggle! An element of the socialist economy, the delight of the advancing victorious proletariat and, not least, a foundation for human solidarity.’[3]

Read the rest of this entry »

Karl Korsch (1886-1961)


“Marxism as an historical phenomenon is a thing of the past. It grew out of the revolutionary class struggles of the first half of the nineteenth century, only to be maintained and re-shaped in the second half of the nineteenth century as the revolutionary ideology of a working class which had not yet regained its revolutionary force. Yet in a more fundamental historical sense, the theory of proletarian revolution, which will develop anew in the next period of history, will be an historical continuation of Marxism. In their revolutionary theory, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels gave the first great summarization of proletarian ideas, in the first revolutionary period of the proletarian class struggle. This theory remains for all time the classical expression of the new revolutionary consciousness of the proletarian class fighting for its own liberation.” – The Crisis of Marxism, 1931

Books (pdfs):

Marxism and Philosophy (1923) – by Karl Korsch

Karl Marx (1938) – by Karl Korsch

Karl Korsch: Revolutionary Theory – edited by Douglas Kellner (1977)

Karl Korsch: A Study in Western Marxism – by Patrick Goode (1979)

Read the rest of this entry »

A Few Clarifications on Anti-Work (Astarian, 2016)


by Bruno Astarian, Dec 2016, hic-salta


The text below is a translation of my post Quelques précisions sur l’anti-travail initially published online by ediciones ineditos . This translation included several errors, some of them having me stating the opposite of what was meant. The translation below has been corrected accordingly, and is thus the only one being valid. 

For an episode of its program “Getting Out of Capitalism,” Radio Libertaire asked me to do a presentation on anti-work, based on the pamphlet I published with Echanges et Mouvement in 2005. Upon re-reading it, I realized that there was a need to correct or clarify certain points of view expressed at the time. A few paragraphs in italics are reproduced without any change from the 2005 brochure.


There is some confusion about the notion of anti-work. My brochure, “On the Origins of Anti-Work” (Echanges et Mouvement, 2005), did not escape this fate. The confusion arises from a lack of precision in defining the notion of anti-work. On the one hand, it groups in the same category as anti-work certain behaviors such as a worker’s laziness, when he or she tries normally to do the least amount of work, or a preference for (compensated) unemployment or living on the margin. Such practices of refusal of work, of resistance, are as old as the proletariat itself and do not define modern anti-work. On the other hand, the confusion lies in classifying as anti-work forms of resistance to exploitation that are in actual fact pro-work, e.g. Luddism. I believe that we should save the term anti-work for the struggles of our time (since ’68) which demonstrate that the proletariat is no longer the class that will affirm itself in the revolution as the class of hegemonic labor, nor is it the class that will make work mandatory for everyone or replace the bourgeoisie in managing the economy.

To better understand the specificity of the term anti-work, it has to be placed in a historical perspective. It should be noted that what we are interested in here are struggles in the workplace, against the usual characteristics of the relationship between workers and their means of labor (absenteeism, sabotage, lack of discipline in general).

Read the rest of this entry »

Intercommunalism: The Late Theorizations of Huey P. Newton (Vasquez, 2018)


by Delio Vasquez, Viewpoint, 2018. See also: Intercommunalism by Huey Newton, 1974 [PDF]


On September 5, 1970, Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party (BPP), introduced his theory of intercommunalism at the Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. 1 He later expanded on this theory before an audience at Boston College in November of that year, and then again In February 1971 during a joint talk he gave with psychologist Erik Erikson across several days at Yale University and later in Oakland. 2 Newton’s opening remarks at Yale lasted over an hour but were reduced to about ten pages in the subsequently published In Search of Common Ground3 As a philosophical foundation for his remarks on intercommunalism, that introductory speech included an engagement with the work of Hegel, Marx, Freud, Jung, Kant, Pierce, and James, among others. 4 Portions of the material of this main speech, the subsequent Q&A, and other writings of Newton’s were later combined, recomposed, and expanded upon under the title of “Intercommunalism” in 1974, the same year that he completed his bachelor’s degree and fled temporarily to Cuba. This text had until now been available only through access to the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation Inc. Collection (1968-1994), held in archive in Stanford University’s Special Collections. 5 It is now reproduced here, available to the public at large for the first time, accompanied by this introduction. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Marxism: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Mattick, 1978)

"Iconographic encyclopaedia of science, literature, and art."

by Paul Mattick (1978)

From Marxism: Last Refuge of the Bourgeoisie? by Paul Mattick, edited by Paul Mattick Jr., published by Merlin Press, 1983

In Marx’s conception, changes in people’s social and material conditions will alter their consciousness. This also holds for Marxism and its historical development. Marxism began as a theory of class struggle based on the specific social relations of capitalist production. But while its analysis of the social contradictions inherent in capitalist production has reference to the general trend of capitalist development, the class struggle is a day-to-day affair and adjusts itself to changing social conditions. These adjustments find their reflection in Marxian ideology. The history of capitalism is thus also the history of Marxism.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Comet (W.E.B. Du Bois, 1920)


by W.E.B. Du Bois (1920) Darkwater, Chapter X, PDF

He stood a moment on the steps of the bank, watching the human river that swirled down Broadway. Few noticed him. Few ever noticed him save in a way that stung. He was outside the world—”nothing!” as he said bitterly. Bits of the words of the walkers came to him.

“The comet?”

“The comet——”

Everybody was talking of it. Even the president, as he entered, smiled patronizingly at him, and asked:

“Well, Jim, are you scared?”

“No,” said the messenger shortly.

“I thought we’d journeyed through the comet’s tail once,” broke in the junior clerk affably.

“Oh, that was Halley’s,” said the president; “this is a new comet, quite a stranger, they say—wonderful, wonderful! I saw it last night. Oh, by the way, Jim,” turning again to the messenger, “I want you to go down into the lower vaults today.”

The messenger followed the president silently. Of course, they wanted him to go down to the lower vaults. It was too dangerous for more valuable men. He smiled grimly and listened.

“Everything of value has been moved out since the water began to seep in,” said the president; “but we miss two volumes of old records. Suppose you nose around down there,—it isn’t very pleasant, I suppose.”

“Not very,” said the messenger, as he walked out.

“Well, Jim, the tail of the new comet hits us at noon this time,” said the vault clerk, as he passed over the keys; but the messenger passed silently down the stairs. Down he went beneath Broadway, where the dim light filtered through the feet of hurrying men; down to the dark basement beneath; down into the blackness and silence beneath that lowest cavern. Here with his dark lantern he groped in the bowels of the earth, under the world.

Read the rest of this entry »

Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany (Engels, 1851)

by Friedrich Engels (1851-52)


Marx was asked in the summer of 1851 by Charles Anderson Dana, managing editor of the New York Tribune, to write a series of articles on the German Revolution. Founded in 1842 by Horace Greeley, the Tribune was the most influential paper in the United States at the time. These articles were written by Engels at the request of Marx, who was then busy with his economic studies and felt, besides, that he had not yet attained fluency in English. Engels wrote the articles in Manchester, where he was employed, and sent them on to Marx in London to be edited and dispatched to New York. Thus, although Engels must be rightly considered their author, Marx took a big part in the preparation, for in their almost daily correspondence the chief points were discussed thoroughly between them. The articles appeared under Marx’s name, and it was not until much later, when the correspondence between the two life-long collaborators became available, that the true circumstances were revealed. The contributions to the Tribune thus begun continued until 1862, and though Marx himself wrote most of the articles after 1852, Engels continued to help his friend by writing for him important articles on political and military affairs. When Marx’s daughter, Eleanor, wrote the preface to the 1896 edition she was still under the impression that Marx had written the series. [Publisher’s Note to the 1969 edition published in London by Lawrence & Wishart]

Read the rest of this entry »

Obsessions of Berlin (Mattick, 1948)


by Paul Mattick, Partisan Review, Vol.15 No.10, October 1948, pp.1108-1124. [PDF]

As against the terror of the bombs, the actual conquest of Berlin was of lesser significance to its inhabitants. Nevertheless, the artillery tore new holes into the ruins, shot away parts of the surviving buildings, killed many people running for food and water. The spray of machine guns is visible almost on every house, every floor, every apartment door. The tanks ground down the streets and sidewalks. The battle was fought section by section, street by street, house by house. It is said that sixty thousand Russians died in the struggle for Berlin. The estimate may be incorrect, but it reveals the ferocity of the struggle. There are no guesses on the German losses. They lost everything – particularly, however, their illusions about the Russians.

Read the rest of this entry »

The workers’ councils in the theory of the Dutch-German communist left (Bourrinet)


by Phillip Bourrinet (libcom)

To Serge BRICIANER (1923-1997), Council Communist.

Die Arbeiterräte werden einmal das Wesen
Der ganzen Menschheit auf Erden
So als in Blumen in einer grossen Garbe
Das höchste Sonnenlicht zusammen gelesen.
Sie sind das Höchste des Allegemein-Seins
Sie sind das Verwerfen des Alleins-Seins,
Darin jeder Mann, Frau und zartes Kind
Allein sein einzig Ziel, die Menschheit findet.
Die Arbeiterräte sind darum wie das Licht
Sie sind der Friede, die Ruhe und das Heil,
Sie sind die Wahrheit und die Quelle der Wahrheit.
Sie sind die Festigheit im grossen Ganzen
Der Menschheit, die Knotepunkte der Arbeit,
Sie sind das Gluck der Menschheit – sie sind das Licht.
(Herman GORTER, De Arbeidersraad)

The decisive importance of the Workers’ Councils for the New Workers’ Movement, born from the ruins of the First World War, was still noted before the revolutionary wave of 1917-1921, which let grow up these organisations from huge proletarian earthquake in so different countries as Germany, Hungary, Austria and Russia. It is in this last country, where appeared in 1905 the first Workers’ councils, that that last organisation’s form seemed to be the final form of the first Workers’ self-government since the Commune of Paris.

The contribution of the Dutch Left, or rather of the Dutch-German Left, for the theoretical reflection on the Workers’ councils, is not only a simple recognition of this form of revolutionary praxis of the proletariat on the way of its emancipation. It holds initially in the recognition of the spiritual factor, i.e. factor consciousness, to give life to the struggle’s forms of the proletariat.

Initially, without any philosophy of action, the proletariat should be unable to emancipate itself. The objective factors (those of the crisis), those of organisation (trade unions and party) of leading minorities were not enough. Was absent an essential factor: the factor of the masses, animated by consciousness of its revolutionary aim.

For that the contribution of Dietzgen is fundamental to explain the birth of the Dutch Communist left and the development of the theory of the Workers’ Councils by Pannekoek.

Read the rest of this entry »

Adorno’s politics: Theory and praxis in Germany’s 1960s (Freyenhagen, 2014)


by Fabian Freyenhagen, Philosophy and Social Criticism 2014, Vol. 40(9) 867–893


Theodor W. Adorno inspired much of Germany’s 1960s student movement, but he came increasingly into conflict with this movement about the practical implications of his critical theory. Others – including his friend and colleague Herbert Marcuse – also accused Adorno of a quietism that is politically objectionable and in contradiction with his own theory. In this article, I reconstruct, and partially defend, Adorno’s views on theory and (political) praxis in Germany’s 1960s in 11 theses. His often attacked and maligned stance during the 1960s is based on his analysis of these historical circumstances. Put provocatively, his stance consists in the view that people in the 1960s have tried to change the world, in various ways; the point – at that time – was to interpret it.

See also:

Queen Mab (Shelley, 1813)

A Philosophical Poem (in 9 parts) [PDF]

by Percy B. Shelley

(See also: Ned Ludd & Queen Mab by Peter Linebaugh, 2012)

To Harriet *

Whose is the love that, gleaming through the world,
Wards off the poisonous arrow of its scorn?
      Whose is the warm and partial praise,
      Virtue’s most sweet reward?

Beneath whose looks did my reviving soul
Riper in truth and virtuous daring grow?
      Whose eyes have I gazed fondly on,
      And loved mankind the more?

Harriet! on thine: – thou wert my purer mind;
Thou wert the inspiration of my song;
      Thine are these early wilding flowers,
      Though garlanded by me.

Then press into thy breast this pledge of love;
And know, though time may change and years may roll,
      Each floweret gathered in my heart
      It consecrates to thine.

Read the rest of this entry »

Marx and the Utopian Wilhelm Weitling (1948)


by Hans Mühlestein, Science & Society, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Winter, 1948), pp. 113-129


The most important proletarian representative of “equalitarian communism” in the earlier nineteenth century was undoubtedly the tailor Wilhelm Weitling, who was born in 1808, the illegitimate son of a French officer of the Napoleonic army of occupation and a working girl of Magdeburg. Weitling’s relative historical importance was that, along with Auguste Blanqui, he represented the most active element of the revolutionary tendency of the continental proletariat throughout the first period of his life; that is, until the first communist trial in Zurich, in 1843. At that time he was a leader in that phase of the proletarian movement which developed immediately before the first published works of Marx and Engels. If he has a place in history, it is because he was the first real proletarian (besides the weak Pierre Leroux) who proved to be a revolutionary writer, and the only proletarian who ever built a consistent and complete Utopian system of communism. Etienne Cabet, his contemporary Utopian, had been general procurator of Corsica and advocate at the royal court, and was certainly not a proletarian. 

Dawn and Decline (Horkheimer, 1934/74)

horkheimer dawn

by Max Horkheimer (1934/74) [PDF]

Dusk: The less stable necessary ideologies are, the more cruel the methods by which they are protected. The degree of zeal and terror with which tottering idols are defended shows how far dusk has already advanced. With the development of large-scale industry, the intelligence of the European masses has grown so greatly that the most sacred possessions must be protected from it. To do this well means to be embarked on a career. Woe to the man who tells the truth in simple terms. There is not only the general, systematicaly engineered brainwashing but the threat of economic ruin, social ostracism, the penitentiary and death to deter reason from attacking the key conceptual techniques of domination. The imperialism of the great European states need not envy the Middle Ages for its stakes. Its symbols are protected by more sophisticated instruments and more fear-inspiring guards than the saints of the medieval church. The enemies of the Inquisition turned that dusk into the dawning of a new day. Nor does the dusk of capitalism have to usher in the night of mankind although today it certainly seems to be threatening it.

The Political Contradictions in Adorno’s Theory (Krahl, 1971)

Originally published in Hans-Jürgen Krahl, Konstitution und Klassenkampf (Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Neue Kritik, 1971), pp. 285-288. English translation by Pat Murray and Ruth Heydebrand: Telos Fall 1974 no. 21, pp. 164-167. See also: Hans-Jürgen Krahl (1943-1970) / Für Krahl (Reinicke, 1973) / Krahl oder Adorno.


Adorno’s intellectual biography, even in its most aesthetic abstractions, is marked by the experience of Fascism. The mode in which this experience is reflected—by deciphering from the works of art the insoluble relation between critique and suffering—constitutes the uncompromising claim to negation, while simultaneously setting limits to it. “Damaged life,” through reflection on fascist domination as generated by the natural economic catastrophes of the capitalist mode of production, is aware of its entanglement in the ideological contradictions of bourgeois individualism, whose irrevocable decay it has understood; at the same time, it cannot disengage from it. Fascist terror produces not only the understanding of the hermetic compulsiveness of highly industrialized societies, it also violates the subjectivity of the theoretician and reinforces the class barriers against his cognitive ability. Adorno expresses this awareness of the process in his “Introduction” to Minima Moralia:

Read the rest of this entry »

The Historicity of Abstractions (Gray, 2012)


by Nick Gray (originally written for SIC Journal in 2012, but never published) PDF

The Historicity of Abstractions: Are the categories ‘use-value’, ‘concrete labour’ and ‘labour as such’ transhistorically operative? [1]

Only totalising theory can interrogate the status of abstractions sufficiently vigorously”[2]

– Richard Gunn


At stake in this enquiry are: our conception of labour[3], of revolution, and social mediation in communism.

In this essay the Marxian categories of concrete labour, use-value, and indeed the category of “labour as such” are interrogated with respect to their historicity. I first briefly state what I take to be the traditional interpretation, and then consider the question from the angle of value-form theory, which establishes the historicity of abstract labour and the form-determination of the capitalist production process. Subsequently I consider the ramifications for the status of the categories of use-value and concrete labour of a critical analysis of the process of (real) hypostatisation within capitalist relations of commodity production and exchange. This is followed by an exegesis of Marx’s 1857 Introduction with regard to the historicity of the two types of abstraction in operation there: general and determinate abstractions. I then close by counterposing two radically opposed conceptions of the post-capitalist status of labour exemplified by Chris Arthur (circa 1978) and Moishe Postone, and argue that the dissolution of capitalist social relations implies that of the categories “concrete labour”, “use-value” and “labour as such”.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Permanent Crisis (Mattick, 1934)

Henryk Grossmann’s Interpretation of Marx’s Theory of Capitalist Accumulation

by Paul Mattick, International Council Correspondence Vol. 1, no. 2, November 1934, pp. 1-20. PDF


According to Marx, the development of the productive forces of society is the motive power of historical development. In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production, and in changing their mode of production, their manner of gaining a living, they change all their social relations. The transformation of the spinning wheel, the hand-loom and blacksmiths sledge, into the self-tending mule, the power-loom and the steam hammer was not only accompanied by a change of the small individual shops of the craftsmen into huge industrial plants employing thousands of workers, but there also came with it the social overturn from feudalism to capitalism; that is, not merely a material revolution, but a cultural revolution as well.

Read the rest of this entry »