communists in situ

leberwurst proletariat

The Iliad, or, The Poem of Force (Simone Weil, 1940)

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The Iliad, or, The Poem of Force was written in the summer and fall of 1940, after the fall of France .. It may thus be read as an indirect commentary on that tragic event, which signalized the triumph of the most extreme modern expression of force. It was originally published, under the acrostical pseudonym “Emile Novis,” in the December 1940 and January 1941 issues of the Marseilles literary monthly, Cahiers du Sud. The present translation is by Mary McCarthy. The quotations from Homer were first translated from the French manuscript by Miss McCarthy and then checked and revised by Dwight Macdonald in accordance with the Greek text. “The Iliad” appeared in the November 1945 issue of Politics and was later issued in pamphlet form.

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The true hero, the true subject, the center of the Iliad is force. Force employed by man, force that enslaves man, force before which man’s flesh shrinks away. In this work, at all times, the human spirit is shown as modified by its relations with force, as swept away, blinded by the very force it imagined it could handle, as deformed by the weight of the force it submits to. For those dreamers who considered that force, thanks to progress, would soon be a thing of the past, the Iliad could appear as an historical document; for others, whose powers of recognition are more acute and who perceive force, today as yesterday, at the very center of human history, the Iliad is the purest and the loveliest of mirrors…. [PDF]

See also:

Simone Weil – An Anthology-Penguin Books (2005)

Simone Weil – Oppression and Liberty-Taylor and Francis (2004)

simone weil, the need for roots: prelude to a declaration of duties towards mankind

simone weil, gravity and grace

simone weil, waiting for god

Simone Weil – Lectures on Philosophy (1978)

Russell Jacoby (b. 1945) – Selected Works

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Academic Marxism is hardly the whole of the political Left. Recent symposiums on the Left have stressed that the goals of the past decades have not been met: racism, poverty, discrimination, remain current realities; the 80s will see groups trying to survive in the teeth of government retrenchment and recession. This is undeniable. The struggle to survive cannot be criticized; yet it has little to do with the fate of a political Left. Nor is this an insult. The Left has often confused oppression with revolution; the most oppressed were the most blessed. Yet it belongs to basic Marxism that there is no automatic link between suffering and revolutionary activity. Marx never argued that the working class suffered more than the peasantry. The specific conditions of the working class prompted the hope of revolution. That various socioeconomic groups and minorities are in for a bad deal in the coming years, cannot be doubted. It can be doubted that they will cross the line separating the struggle to eat from the struggle for emancipation. Those who are sound in body and mind will not fight the revolution; those who are mutilated beyond repair cannot: this is the curse which has bewitched the revolutionary project.

The next years will be the era of partial struggles. Groups will enter the political arena to do battle for separate rights and interests: rent control, health care, environment, and so on. It would be arrogant to write any of this off. A wildcat strike to preserve a coffee break which is being eroded away is surely justified. Yet the struggles are fragmentary, local and transitory. The whole is elusive. If the strength of contemporary radicalism is its localism, this is also its weakness. As always the danger is in self-righteousness and self-mystification: the confusion of better garbage collection with revolution. Apart from any ends which are achieved, partial struggles keep alive an arena for political activity and commitment; for many individuals this will be critical — and more: a renaissance of political activity is unthinkable without the participation of individuals. When the conditions change, those who have remained in the daily fray may be able to show the way. To be sure, in the rat race of daily politics they may also forget the way.

– Russell Jacoby, “Crisis of the Left?” (1980)

Books:

Russell Jacoby – The end of utopia_ politics and culture in an age of apathy-Basic Books (2000)

Russell Jacoby – The Last Intellectuals_ American Culture in the Age of Academe, 2nd edition (2000)

Russell Jacoby – The Repression of Psychoanalysis

russell jacoby – dialectic of defeat: contours of western marxism

russell jacoby – picture imperfect: utopian thought for an anti-utopian age

russell jacoby- social amnesia: a critique of contemporary psychology from adler to laing

 

Essays and Reviews:

Real Men Find Real Utopias _ Dissent Magazine

Argument_ Michael Burawoy and Russell Jacoby _ Dissent Magazine

jacoby class symposium

jacoby crisis of the left

jacoby laing cooper and the tension in theory and therapy

jacoby marcuse and the new academics

jacoby narcissism and the crisis of capitalism

jacoby politics of crisis theory II

jacoby postscript to authoritarian state

jacoby reply to slater

jacoby review of adorno

jacoby review of braverman

jacoby review of reich book

jacoby review of slater

jacoby review of the political philosophy of the frankfurt school

jacoby the politics of objectivity

jacoby the politics of subjectivity

jacoby towards a critique of automatic marxism

jacoby what is conformist marxism

jacoby –  Review of Shulamith Firestone – 1971

jacoby -Review of Jay’s Dialectical Imagination – 1974

The Value Form, Reification, and the Consciousness of the Collective Worker (Milchman, 2010)

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Alan Milchman (Mac Intosh) 1940-2021


Internationalist Perspective
Issue 57: Fall/Winter 2010 [PDF]


Marx’s critical theory exposed a mode of production, a civilization, based on value, which he described as a “deranged” or “perverted form” [verrückte Form], in which social relations between persons are inverted and appear as relations between things. It is the abstract labor of the working class that produces and reproduces this deranged form. As Max Horkheimer, in 1937, put it in “Traditional and Critical Theory”: “[H]uman beings reproduce [erneuern], through their own labor, a reality which increasingly enslaves them.”1 It was Georg Lukács, in his essay “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” in the collection History and Class Consciousness (1923), who had first elaborated a theory of reification through which the effects of the value form, that perverted form, and the commodity fetishism that was integral to it, seized hold of society. Lukács’ accomplishment, even before many of Marx’s own vast “economic” manuscripts had been published, was a theoretical breakthrough upon which Marxism as a negative critique of capitalism is still based.

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Correspondence on the German Student Movement: Adorno-Marcuse, 1969

[Image 1. Anti war protests at the University of California, San Diego, 1970. Credits: Fred Lonidier]

FIELD republishes today this 1969 letter exchange between Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse on the German student protest movement. First appearing in the New Left Review in January-February 1999, these letters are too relevant to the present moment to be consigned to the place of memorabilia. In them, we sense the foundational common code of friendship that tied these thinkers together, despite profound theoretical disparities which their words suggest are irreconcilable. Today’s urgency to engage politically with pressing matters such as the cost of human lives for the maintenance of the status quo, the resurgence of neo-fascist rhetoric in the public sphere, and the United States’ military involvement in foreign affairs, make these authors’ exchange as relevant as it was almost four decades ago. Like “Teddy” and Herbert, today’s academics need to reconsider how to reconcile theory with the violence of police brutality, imperialist intervention in remote geographies, and the need for new forms of political contestation. Writing at times of vigorous student protest movements in Germany and California, Adorno and Marcuse exemplified different takes on the political responsibility of scholars, poles that appear still unaltered in today’s multifaceted attack on the autonomy and sustainability of public higher education around the globe. Their conversation is testimony to the propensity of academic labor to forget its inscription in the world and its indebtedness to it. The original New Left Review publication (I: 233, January-February 1999) can be found here: https://newleftreview.org/I/233/theodor-adorno-herbert-marcuse-correspondence-on-the-german-student-movement.

San Diego, November 2016.

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Karl Marx and the Iroquoi (Rosemont, 1989)

by Franklin Rosemont, 1989, in Arsenal: Surrealist Subversion

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There are works that come down to us with question-marks blazing like sawed-off shotguns, scattering here and there and everywhere sparks that illuminate our own restless search for answers. Ralegh’s so-called Cynthia cycle, Sade’s 120 Days, Fourier’s New Amorous World, Lautremont’s Poesies, Lenin’s notes on Hegel, Randolph Bourne’s essay on The State Jacque Vaches War letters, Duchamp’s Green Box, the Samuel Greenberg manuscripts: These are only a few of the extraordinary fragments that have, for many of us, exerted a fascination greater than that of all but a very few “finished” works.

Karl Marx’s Ethnological Notebooks[1] -notes for a major study he never lived to write, have something of the same fugitive ambiguity. These extensively annotated excerpts from works of Lewis Henry Morgan and others are a jigsaw puzzle for which we have to reinvent the missing pieces out of our own research and revery and above all, our own revolutionary activity. Typically although the existence of the notebooks has been know since Marx’s death in 1883, they were published integrally for the first time only eighty-nine years later, and then only in a highly priced edition aimed at specialists. A transcription of text exactly as Marx wrote it- the book presents the reader with all the difficulties of Finnegan’s Wake and more, with its curious mixture of English, German, French, Latin and Greek, and a smattering of words and phrases from many non-European languages, from Ojibwa to Sanskrit. Cryptic shorthand abbreviations, incomplete and run-on sentences, interpolated exclamations, erudite allusions to classical mythology, passing references to contemporary world affairs, generous doses of slang and vulgarity; irony and invective: All these the volume possesses aplenty, and they are not the ingredients of smooth reading. This is not a work of which it can be said, simply, that it was “not prepared by the author for publication”; indeed, it is very far from being even a “rough draft?’ Rather it is the raw substance of a work, a private jumble of jottings intended for no other eyes than Marx’s own-the spontaneous record of his “conversations” with the authors he was reading, with other authors whom they quoted, and, finally and especially, with himself. In view of the fact that Marx’s clearest, most refined texts have provoked so many contradictory interpretations, it is perhaps not so strange that his devoted students, seeking the most effective ways to propagate the message of the Master to the masses, have shied away from these hastily written, disturbingly unrefined and amorphous notes.

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William Morris (1834-1896)

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This is a brief sketch of what I am looking forward to as a Communist: to sum up, it is Freedom from artificial disabilities; the development of each man’s capacities for the benefit of each and all. Abolition of waste by taking care that one man does not get more than he can use, and another less than he needs; consequent condition of general well-being and fulness of life, neither idle and vacant, nor over burdened with toil. All this I believe we can and shall reach directly by insisting on the claim for the communization of the means of production; and that claim will be made by the workers when they are fully convinced of its necessity.”

William Morris Archive / wiki / News from Nowhere [PDF] / William Morris’s Utopianism [PDF]

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Paul Lafargue (1841-1911)

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For the end of the social revolution is to work as little as possible, and to enjoy as much as possible.”

Paul Lafargue (1841-1911), Karl Marx’s son-in-law, was a leading member of the French socialist movement and played an important rôle in the development of the Spanish socialist movement. A close friend of Friedrich Engels in his later years, he wrote and spoke from a fairly orthodox Marxist perspective on a wide-range of topics including women’s rights, anthropology, ethnology, reformism, Millerandism, and economics.

Biography
Bibliography

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

Löwenthal

In Frankfurt School on Religion [PDF]

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. marxists.org

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.

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

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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)

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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.

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

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by Harry Braverman

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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)

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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]

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Karl Korsch (1886-1961)

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“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)


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

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by Bruno Astarian, Dec 2016, hic-salta

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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.

Introduction:

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).

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

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

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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. 

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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.

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The Comet (W.E.B. Du Bois, 1920)

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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.

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

by Friedrich Engels (1851-52)

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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]

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Obsessions of Berlin (Mattick, 1948)

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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.

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

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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.

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