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New book on ‘Council Communism’ August 20, 2007

Posted by franklittle in Left Libertarianism, Libertarianism, Marxism.

Thought this might be of interest to some of our regulars considering the comments on the BICO and SP threads dealing with Marxism, Leninism and the role of democracy and the party in such.

According to an IRSP email bulletin an organisation called Red and Black Publishers in the US has published a book entitled ‘Non-Leninist Marxism’ (Available on Amazon), including the works of Dutch Marxists Hermann Gorter and Anton Pannekoek, the English Left Communist Sylvia Pankhurst, and the German Council Communist Otto Ruehl. I’ll be honest. It’s not my cup of tea and I’d only vaguely heard of ‘Council Communism’ prior to this but I thought some of our Marxist scholars might be curious. Lengthy excerpt from the review follows:

“The book begins  with Gorter’s excellent, systematic refutation of Lenin’s Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder, which was penned against the Council Communist tendency and includes Gorter’s essay on why a Communist Workers’ International was needed.

“The one weakness of the book is its selections by Anton Pannekoek, perhaps the greatest astronomer ever produced by the Netherlands and one of the most intelligent exponents of Council Communist. It offers his 1908 article on The Labour Movement and Socialism, which while a worthwhile critique of the reformist tendencies of the trade unions pales besides his master work, The Workers’ Councils, which is not offerred here. Likewise, Pannekoek’s 1918 article, The German Revolution: First Stage, is well worth reading, but his book Lenin As Philosopher would have been a more welcome (if much longer)

“Sylvia Pankhurst is represented by her seven-part article Communism and Its Tactics, which provides a wonderful breath of fresh air amidst the meager politics of reform that passes for Marxism today.

“The book concludes with two pieces by the all too rarely seen German Council Communist leader, Otto Ruhle. The first of these is his The Revolution is Not a Party Affair, which provides an excellent critique of the party as the means for working class revolutionary organizing and then finishes with his powerful Report From Moscow, which is precisely that–a report to the German Communist Workers’ Party regarding his trip to Moscow to attend the third Congress of the Third International, which marked the KAPD’s break from the Comintern in defense of a revolutionary vs. a opportunist line to be pursued in Western Europe. ”

It is believed that 20th Century Fox are bidding for the movie rights.

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