* Drafts & Translations *

The revolutionary movement in Germany (1917-1923)

* * *


Whatever the struggle of the world proletariat, considered in Russia, in Germany or elsewhere, we will invariably get a vision about it -in its more concrete expression in a place and in a given period of time- through the world relation force between the enemy classes.

The revolutionary convulsions, the movements of rupture that the proletariat will show against the society of Capital, will produce vanguards (communist hard cores) which will constitute transition expressions of the general process of these movements. But these vanguards are, in fact, expressions produced by the historic struggle of the proletariat, by its historic party, that is to say by a much larger and more global movement (in time and space) which overcomes them.

This is why we don't start from the specific and particular history of the various communist organizations or groups, but from the highest moments of revolution and counterrevolution, and in these moments, from the clearest ruptures with counterrevolution, and from their organization in force.

Facing each apprehension attempt of the historic movements, many myths emerge which aim to explain the revolutionary defeats. These myths lean on an anti-dialectic method, which sees lab assistants of history standing above the movement and clinically analyzing the processes outside their historic reality, to finally come to sanction the revolutionary confrontation under form of platonic and "plekhanovian" decrees of deficiency: lack of Party, lack of centralization, of internationalization,...

To this incomprehension of the revolution, we oppose the dialectic materialism. We understand history as a contradictory process of revolution and counterrevolution, a process of confrontations, where the development of the centralizing forces of a class pushes, forces and constrained the enemy class to surpass itself in order to tempt to break the adversary, by its own organization in force, by its own centralization (cf. our texts against the ideology of courses). All historic analysis must start from the understanding of the enemy forces.

A. The process leading to the 1918-19 insurrectionary attempt

1. The SPD, the trade-unions and more extensively, the whole of the left-wing bourgeois forces, are determining in the terrorist throwing of the proletariat into war, and in the imposition of social peace and national union. This policy will provoke with the progression of the development of the struggles, a process of rupture with the SPD. This one will then know a directional crisis to which the bourgeoisie will answer by the emergence of left-wing alternatives: the Spartakus League, the "community of work" (becoming later the USPD).

Revolution will express itself as for it, notably by the sudden appearance (already before 1914) of a lot of lefts, and later by the constitution of the ISD; it will also appear through a lot of attempts in order to organize the struggle of the proletariat against war (Internationale Group, Pfemfert and "Die Aktion", Borchardt and "Lichtstrahlen", the clandestine organization of Reichpietsch's Soldiers and Sailors League...), as well as in the organization of worker strikes and sabotages, through among others the Revolutionäre Obleute ("Revolutionary Confidential Men", taken over later by the USPD).

2. Mutinies break out to the front. The German army is subjected to the running fire of the revolutionary defeatism, it is disorganized and defeated.

The bourgeoisie fears a fraternization with the proletarians in struggle in the cities, and tries to organize the demobilization and the smoothly return of the soldiers by researching some political alternative cards: "it is necessary to prevent the disruption from down below by the revolution from above", the military chiefs say, and they propose a government including social-democrats.

Sailors mutiny in Kiel. The proletariat, drawing the lessons of the past, generalize the struggle and create councils to take and occupy the cities (in Hamburg, one occupies war ships, harbours, trade-union houses, barracks,...). One of the highest expressions of this arming process and this will to widen the struggle is the creation, in Berlin, of a division of revolutionary sailors: the Volksmarinedivision which, with the Red Soldiers League, constitutes one of the most organized combative centres of the proletariat.

The proclamation of the Republic and the taking of control of the councils by the SPD and the USPD, will constitute the answer of the bourgeoisie to the proletarian assault against the State.

Organized around the watch-word of dismissal of the imperial government and proclamation of the Republic, the SPD and the USPD will quickly control the councils. This seizure will be denounced by the communists who will leave most of the councils, denouncing these as being the most adequate form to destroy the struggle.

3. The proletariat tempts to give a quality jump in the programmatical and organizational rupture by the creation of the KPD and the reaffirmation of incompatibility between parliamentarianism and destruction of the State, between syndicalism and revolution.

But the limit of this quality jump expresses itself by the existence, by the side of the communists, of social-democrat forces gathered around their spokeswoman, Rosa Luxemburg. She and her partisans will oppose the revolutionary process of rupture with centrism within the KPD. A long time opposed to the split with the USPD, Luxemburg, Liebknecht, Jogiches, Levi,... will prevent the classist split within the KPD between on the one hand, the communist hard cores working for the preparation of the revolution and advocating to leave the trade-unions, and on the other hand, the centrists recommending the electoral preparation and the collaboration with trade-unions.

The communists will let these former social-democrat leaders occupy the ruling positions of their organization.

B. The insurrectionary tentative of 1918-19

4. The political crisis breaking out, two insurrectionary processes clash and strengthen: one claiming the dictatorship of the proletariat and structuring around the Volksmarinedivision, the other, launched by the USPD, aims to the government overthrow.

5. The clearest fractions of the bourgeoisie manage to understand the role of the Volksmarinedivision and do everything possible to destroy it. The Ebert's government provokes the sailors while suppressing their wages and a military confrontation follows with divisions faithful to the power, which will quickly be defeated by the massive involvement of the proletariat.

Noske starts from this failure to take in hand the free corps formation (corps specifically prepared against the insurrectionary struggle).

6. January 5th, the proletariat rises up in Berlin, asking in the facts for the question of insurrection. The USPD constitutes an insurrectionary committee in order to tempt to reduce the confrontation of the proletariat to the State, into a struggle against the government in place. Liebknecht and the R.O. submit themselves to the instructions of this "insurrectionary" committee, while the centrist forces are at work within the KPD, paralyzing this one in the indecision and procrastination facing the counterrevolution.

Luxemburg and the rest of the Berlin Central, mainly composed of former social-democrat chiefs, are opposed to the insurrection, put forward the "small revolutionary forces" and, facing thousands of proletarians in insurrection, push so the party of revolution to turn into party of workers' democracy and negotiation, throwing the door wide open to the reorganization of the counterrevolution by its "bloody dogs".

7. This policy allows Noske to bring in his free corps in Berlin and to crush the struggles. Under way, he will continue on his strong-arm policy of disarmaming the proletariat while assuming in whole Germany the repression of the revolutionary movements, and this until the end of May 1919.

C. From the Berlin massacre to the Ruhr insurrection

8. In spite of the massacres in Berlin and in whole Germany in 1919, the SPD doesn't succeed in disarming the proletariat. The proletariat's answer to the repression showed, indeed, a more clear-cut rupture towards the SPD, the USPD, the trade-unions... It will materialize by a massive desertion of these bourgeois organizations, by the creation of various workers' associations, by a more marked centralization around its revolutionary program, by the formal creation of classist centralization organs (Unions). The proletariat is centred from then on around the KPD which manages to constitute a formal hard core of reference of the rupture, that is to say a leadership. Within the FAUD and the FVDG, a process of clarification also occurs, making emerge more determined communist groupings.

9. After the defeat of the struggles of 1919, the Levi's tendency, supported by Radek and the Bolsheviks, follows in the continuation to Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and Leo Jogiches, and leads the struggle against the communists inside the KPD.

This struggle aims to empty the program of the KPD of all revolutionary substance, while diverting the antiparliamentarianism towards a question of tactics, while eluding the syndical question around a problem of leadership and while advocating a policy of entryism, while reducing the question of the party at the level of the conception of any bourgeois political party only able to answer to the call for an involvement to a workers' government at a crucial moment of the struggle.

At the second congress in Heidelberg, in October 1919, a takeover by force endorses this program cleaning and practically expels all the KPD's revolutionary elements, ending then the transformation of the "spartakist" organization into a left social-democrat sect, now ready to fully align itself with the Bolsheviks' policy.

The communists are then reorganized through three tendencies:

* a tendency crystallizes around Gorter who refuses this takeover by force and calls for a conference of the party gathering all the tendencies (the revolutionary communists (1) being extensively the majority) to conquer so the party.

* the tendency of Hamburg calls for the constitution of a new party regrouping the left organizations; it puts forward the understanding of the bourgeois role of luxemburgism and the USPD, but its defense of national-bolshevism will discredit it and will bring it quickly in the camp of the counterrevolution.

* the tendency organized around Rühle and Pfemfert in "Die Aktion" which denounce the role of the KPD (Bankruptcy of the KPD).

10. All these organizational modifications are only the reflection of the proletariat's practical attempts to overthrow the State. The confrontation with the State is thus going to carry out a clear demarcation line between pacifism and direct action, between syndicalism and workers' associationism, between parliamentarianism and dictatorship of the proletariat,..., leading sometimes to the organizational rupture, sometimes to classist splits.

Thus, various anarchist, revolutionary syndicalist, anarcho-syndicalist... organizations, are also going to be submitted, in different senses, to the upheaval of the communist movement.

The FVDG comes from a rupture process with the social-democracy (ADGB). Dissolved in 1914, -it was one of the only organizations to refuse the war and the national union, it reconstituted since 1918. From November 1918 to May 1919, a big part of anarcho-syndicalists of the FVDG, regrouped around Roche, will meet up by the sides of the revolutionary elements of the KPD, in order to boycott the elections, to reject pacifism, to destroy in acts the trade-unions and to theorize these actions as the expression of the proletarian movement. Shortly after, Rocker and Kater, following the crushing by Noske of the struggles in May 1919, will give a pacifist orientation to the organization and will thus determine Roche to leave the FVDG in order to come closer to Otto Rühle, with who he will later constitute the AAUD-E.

The FVDG will turn from then on into FAUD(S), created in 1919, the leadership remaining exercised by a group around Rocker. This leadership supported some pacifist positions, was opposed to the bombings and sabotages and defended a frontist position, putting forward the first since 1918, the watch-word of unification with all the centrist tendencies (from the spartakists to the USPD): the political social front. It took position against the movement of March/April 1920 in the Ruhr, against the action of March 1921 (both labelled as putschist), against sabotage actions of trains which brought weapons to the bourgeoisie to put down the revolution in Poland,... It violently sabotaged the communist lefts unification attempts (2).

11. One of the strong points of the proletarian struggle was the more generalized armament in answer to the SPD's calls to lay down arms. Every workers' association was practically centralized by a programmatical recognition of three essential points: denunciation of the social-democrats, claiming of the dictatorship of the proletariat and generalized armament of the class.

12. Considering the inability of the SPD to disarm the proletariat, the bourgeoisie tempts a harder answer. Kapp and his generals get rid of their social-democrat ally and organize a coup.

13. The SPD and the USPD put forward the watch-word of general strike against the coup. The proletariat answers by direct action and the claiming of generalized armament and of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

D. The insurrection in the Ruhr

14. In the Ruhr, where the first fights take place, the Red Army organizes itself spontaneously. The revolutionaries (as Appel and Plättner,...) rush up from various regions of Germany to take part to its constitution, its armament, its fortification through the occupations of barracks and strategic points,... Everywhere, the proletariat disarms the Free Corps and goes gradually from the defensive action to the armed insurrection.

This process of armament and military centralization leads to an occupation of the Ruhr and a generalization of the fights to practically all the regions of Germany. A call is made for the military organization of the proletariat, around organizations from which every supporter of the bourgeois democracy is expelled.

Action committees act thus as revolutionary military leadership and the Red Army goes then into offensive against the Reichswehr which withdraws, and is dispersed; Kapp runs away from Berlin. The insurrection is enlarged to be victorious in all the cities of the Ruhr, from east to west up to the Rhine, controlled at the west bank by the French army.

The three main centres of the insurrection are set up around the action committees of Hagen, Essen and Mülheim (but there exists much more military leaderships!); in Mülheim, the presence of the communist militants expelled from the KPD some months earlier, at the leadership of the action committee is especially strong.

15. The process of exacerbation of the social confrontation is going to lead to a clarification of the role of the various opposing forces.

On one hand, the KPD is going more than ever to constitute the backbone of the counterrevolution and to tempt to bring back in the social-democracy, the process of rupture started up by the proletariat towards this same social-democracy: the KPD is first going to slow down the movement while refusing to support the general strike launched against Kapp, while denouncing as "adventurist" the armament of the proletariat, while calling for staying on a defensive position within factories,... to tempt then to take the lead of the movement through the negotiations around the formation of a "workers'" government.

On another hand, the various communist groupings which are developing in rupture with the centrist expressions, gathers in a community of action, where the communists coming out from the KPD, collaborate in a more or less organized way with elements in rupture with the FAUD. The practical regrouping of the revolutionaries centralizing themselves from the ruptures with all the fractions of social-democracy, breaks once more the social-democrat myth of the separation between "Marxists" and "anarchists".

The KPD will have a global policy against the insurrection. Facing the generalization of the insurrection, the KPD will progressively disarm the movement while submitting it to a policy of negotiation. It will oppose assemblyism to direct action aiming so to bring back the workers to the bosom of democracy. In Chemnitz, Brandler is the caricature of this: he is opposed to the Max Hölz's armed detachments while denouncing him as agitator, he avoids by all means the armament of the proletariat and the widening of the struggle, he advocates some new elections facing the bankruptcy of the bourgeois that the proletariat has just brought down, he calls for the unity at any price with the social-democrats, he submits the direct initiatives of proletarians to the diktat of the big assemblies democracy,...

16. The international bourgeoisie becomes unified against the insurrection of the Ruhr. Even the French State manages to leave aside its particular interests towards its will to occupy the Ruhr, to allow a better unification against the proletariat.

17. The trade-unionist Legien calls for the formation of a workers' government, KPD included. The USPD and the KPD sign the Bielefeld agreements with the SPD. These agreements were centred on the means to succeed in the disarmament of the proletariat. The representatives of the KPD, present at the agreements, accept the idea of a workers' government composed by the three parties (SPD, USPD, KPD). However, they will be disarmed by the leadership of the KPD which will rather pronounce itself in favour of a "loyal opposition" (!) policy, committing to give up to prepare any violent action against the government, in order to create "a bourgeois democracy situation to fight against the capitalism".

18. The Red Army refuses the Bielefeld agreements, but, disorientated by the policy of the KPD, the insurrection rushes headlong into the crushing. The proletarians draw the lessons while denouncing the KPD as party of the Capital. The formation of the KAPD in 1920 was the answer of the proletariat to this process.

19. The birth of the KAPD in April 1920 expressed a programmatical quality jump in the organic centralization, in time and space, of the various communist groups in Germany and of the practice they had assumed until there, while leading direct action to the heart of all the big revolutionary fights since the early war, while tempting to organize a rupture with the bolshevized Third International, while leading internationalist actions aiming to reinforce the proletariat independently of the national frontiers, while assuming organizationally the programmatical ruptures with the various centrist and social-democrat fractions (SPD, USPD, Spartakists, KPD, national-bolshevism, leninism, "revolutionary" confidential men,...), while assuming a leadership of the Unions and other proletarian associations stemming from the struggles,...

Through whole of this experience and this revolutionary practice, the communists within the KAPD could practically affirm their programmatical ruptures (3).


1. About Social-democracy

"This was not an accidental catastrophe but, on the contrary, a logical stage for a movement of which evolution, since the congress of Erfurt, had always tended in this sense." J. Knief in "Arbeiter Politik" - 24th June 1916.

With the experience of the struggles in Germany, the communists affirmed the programmatical understanding of an invariance of the essence of social-democracy (and of capital generally speaking) and of the communists' tasks: the revolution must go through the destruction of social-democracy and through the organization of the communists outside and against it.

Through the successive ruptures that the communist hard cores assumed, social-democracy has been unveiled as historic force, much larger than such or such formal organization. It was revealed as impersonal force bound to the adjusting program of the capitalistic exploitation. Its characteristic and its force is to pass the necessary adjusting of the capitalistic system as the program for the proletariat.

All along this historic phase briefly defined and described above, in its daily struggle practice, the proletariat rejected the social-democracy while associating outside and against the SPD and its trade-unions. This rejection is expressed before 1914 by the calls to get organized outside the SPD; it is reflected in the watch-word outside and against the Second International, as well as in the understanding of the SPD as being the backbone of the Capital in Germany; it occurs again in the denunciation of the USPD, and especially of luxemburgism, as radical expressions of social-democracy (cf. Wolfheim's and Laufenberg's criticisms), and at last in the understanding and the rupture with the KPD as becoming a left-wing of social-democracy.

2. About revolutionary parliamentarianism

At all the stages of the struggle, the communists were in confrontation with the revolutionary parliamentarianism:

* in November 1918, the communists recognize the newly created councils as structures subsumed by the centrists who tempt to make new small "between revolutionaries" parliamentary tribunes from them: "... one week of experience was enough to realize that the compromise (with the social-democrat SPD and USPD) is intolerable; the revolutionary and counterrevolutionary currents cannot unify." Otto Rühle and his group, when they leave the Council of Dresden, 16th November 1918.

* in December 1918, the German Communist Party is created and the foundation congress is marked by the majority opposition to the involvement to the elections and to the work in trade-unions.

* in March 1920, the communists oppose the generalization of the armament and of the insurrection to the assemblyism and negotiation orders of Brandler, Levi and Co.

* in April 1920, the KAPD is founded in rupture with the reformist orientations of the KPD, and on basis of a total opposition to parliamentarianism, "revolutionary" or not,...

* in June 1921, militants of the KAPD go to the 3rd congress of the CI with the aim of organizing an opposition there, while starting from the opposition towards the revolutionary parliamentarianism.

The social-democracy presents socialism as the result of an electoral victory and the government occupation by the "Party"; the revolutionary parliamentarianism emerges of this conception while presenting as a rupture with this last. The main postulate of the defenders of this tactics is that the parliament can be used like a tribune to spread the proletarian ideas.

In total rupture with this conception, the communists situated the heart of the social contradiction on this question between, on the one hand, the Party of the reform of Capital, necessarily interested to attract the revolutionaries in the nets of democracy, to drown the communist action in the parliamentary chitchat and the electoral preparation, and, on the other hand, the Party of revolution, which knows this is not while picking holes in the bourgeois tribunes that the proletariat draws near to the historic goal, but well by the organization of direct action and the preparation of the insurrection. The strength of the proletariat strengthens in the practice, by the assumation of the whole organisative process which ensues from this last processes.

In the heart of the debate which opposed revolutionaries and centrists during all these years, there was the problem of the State. It is the understanding of the nature of the State, of the role of the proletariat and its vanguard towards this one (the matter is not about occupying the State, but to destroy it!), that lead the communists to break with the centrist tactics. The parliament is a device of the bourgeois State which it is the duty of the revolution to destroy.

3. About proletarian associationism

In the heat of the revolutionary struggle, the vanguard of the proletariat practically demonstrated that it had appropriated a lot of important programmatical ruptures formulated before, during and after the war by various communist minorities (the "Linksradikalen" in Bremen, the "Tribunists" in Holland, the Borchardt's group in Berlin, the ISD, IKD, etc.).

The revolutionary experience in Germany produced an exceptional wealth of organization forms and discussions about these forms: territorial and factories organizations, revolutionary syndicalism, councils, unions,... These discussions provoke ruptures with social-democracy. They crystallize, in Germany, the preoccupation of the movement all over the world. The forms of association and organization are the expression of the evolution of the relations of forces. As this, in the practice of the struggle, the proletariat gives itself the organisative forms corresponding to the state of the struggles. In the evolution of the revolutionary movement, the requirements of revolution call for forms adapted to these. The revolution must therefore assume these upheavals for fear of succumbing under the ossified, brought into line forms.

The social-democracy will tempt each time to destroy the process of the proletarian associationism while leading the struggle astray on the defense of the existing organizations. The renewal of leadership doesn't change the nature of an organization, this one doesn't restore; and this is how the communist movement endows itself at each time with new organs.

From there the invariant watch-word emerges: "let's organize outside and against trade-unions". The force of the communist vanguards in Germany was to practically assume this position and to affirm the dictatorship of the proletariat while associating and while getting organized at many levels trying always more to centralize itself, setting up thus new class associations expressing always more the dictatorship of the proletariat.

4. About Luxemburgism

Luxemburgism is a social-democrat ideology using again in a more radical way the Lenin's and Luxemburg's arguments on the necessity of the mass party, of workers' democracy,... The "assembly" looks like the means to affirm the democracy for workers, and the "council", like the finally found form for the revolution, is the new name of the parliament supposed guaranteeing the revolutionary course.

This ideology, stemming from the back surge of the struggles and from militants organized around the GIK between 1926 and 1940, is based on the opposition of form of Luxemburg towards Lenin as well as on the Rosa Luxemburg's sublimated practice after the war triggering off.

It is today repeated by new councillist groups, which want to ignore that the "spartakist" hard core regrouped around Luxemburg and Liebknecht, as well as those who gave it a continuity within the KPD, practically materialized, and at every stage of the struggle, the party of the negotiation against the party of direct action. Each time the proletariat will affirm a quality jump in the confrontation to the bourgeoisie (January 1919 in Berlin, March 1920 in the Ruhr,...) and in the rupture with a level of centralization of its forces dominated by the centrism (rupture with the USPD, rupture with the "right-wing" of the KPD, rupture with the KPD, later,...), these hard cores whose the councillists today praise, constituted the centrist forces which put a break on the rupture, calling to take the dominant ideology within the workers into account, drowning the vanguards just because getting organized "where are the masses", leading thus each time the party of revolution to turn into party of workers' democracy and of negotiation, thus throwing the door wide open to the reorganization of the counterrevolution by its "bloody dogs".

The most "glorious" and the most accomplished demonstrations of the hard cores, that today the councillists are claiming, were among others:

* Rosa Luxemburg's and her partisans' opposition to the revolutionary rupture process with centrism within the KPD, during its foundation: it will prevent the classist split between the communist hard cores working to the preparation of the revolution and advocating the leaving of the trade-unions, and the centrists advocating the electoral preparation and the collaboration with the trade-unions.

* the policy of negotiation and indecision facing the SPD/USPD during the insurrection of January 1919 in Berlin, preparing thus their own martyrdom.

* the affirmation of the process which permitted to empty the KPD of its revolutionary pith, to set it up in driving force of the counterrevolution during the insurrection starting from the Ruhr.

As expression of social-democracy as historic force, Luxemburgism is a particular form of centrism, since it directly starts from the fundamental preoccupations of the revolution to affirm the victory of workers' democracy upon the proletariat.

Luxemburgist ideology is notably based on the vision that the formal organizations are always late towards the proletarian struggle which revolutionizes them and revitalize them during the revolutionary rises. It is therefore in the mass strike, action which goes beyond the organizations, that their putting right is possible.

Luxemburgism therefore advocates the permanent contact with the masses, which may only be done through the organizations regrouping them. In fact, "the worst workers' party is better than no party at all" (Rosa Luxemburg), history being in charge of putting things back in their own place.

Luxemburgism, with the leftist argument to be where are the workers, fights against the communist ruptures and aim to re-frame its hard cores in social-democracy while preventing their real centralization around a revolutionary program.

5. About some current myths

Concerning the lessons of the revolutionary and counterrevolutionary movement in Germany, we see emerging in the centrist ideology a lot of mythical and idealist explanations trying to explain the revolutionary defeat by the lack of centralization of the struggle (what is always true!) while particularly denouncing the movement for its supposed federalism, and for the vanguard's anti-partitism...

Although there are always deficiencies at a time where the revolution doesn't yet impose its absolute dictatorship against the bourgeoisie; for us, one of the highest moments of the revolution/counterrevolution confrontation happened in Germany, and the big force of the revolution, contrary to the big centrist tales about the supposed federalism of the revolutionaries in Germany, has precisely shown:

A/ in a permanent process of rupture with the bourgeois organizations (SPD, USPD, ADGB,...) and much more specifically, with organizations stemming from the proletariat in its struggle, and brought into line by the bourgeoisie (KPD, FVDG, FAUD, councils...).

B/ the continuous research and creation of programmatico-organizational centralization levels every time higher.

The force of the counterrevolution marked its paroxysm in the recuperation of the KPD by the centrism, its fast and violent integration in the bourgeois State and its constitution as backbone of the counterrevolution, assuming in depth its function of struggle-breaker during the highest moment of the revolutionary offensive, that is to say during the generalization of the insurrectionary movement of March 1920 started from the Ruhr and central Germany. The communist answer to the destruction of revolution by the KPD, asserted itself one month later, as reaction of our class' life in the revolutionary forces centralization around a new organization: the KAPD.


The communists in Germany always had the reputation for being antipartitists, anti-centralists, anti-formalistics. This fairy tale is only a creation of social-democracy in its effort to be self-glorifying under all its expressions: Leninist, bordiguist, councillist,...

The central problem was the role to play by the minorities towards the destruction of the State. For the centrism in its Leninist version, the destruction occurs thanks to propaganda and education that the Party would bring through parliamentarianist, frontist, syndicalist,... tactics; the dictatorship of the proletariat, as for it, is dissolved in workers' governments! This leads to the theorizing of the mass Party.

To this falsification of their objectives and their methods, the communists opposed the program of the revolution: the bourgeois State is destroyed in the process of the revolutionary struggles of the proletariat. During this process, the proletariat is brought to create its own organs, to build its power, and the communists' task is to constitute themselves into a party to lead this process. This party is a hard core cemented by the struggle around the program of revolution, it is produced by the struggle, for the struggle. It is by this practical affirmation of a force organized around clear principles guiding the disruption of the whole world, that the leadership of the revolution is due to the communist party.

In the rupture with the counterrevolution, the communists in Germany place themselves outside and against the bourgeois polarization between (democratic) centralism and federalism. This process of rejection, rich of negation, already draws the fundamental orientations of the programmatical bases of the organic centralism. The communist minorities in Germany asserted with force their centralization around the communist program and their organization into a party, whose ruling action has such a centrifugal force that each member has the tendency to represent and to reproduce the totality.

In the same way, the organization of the proletariat into a Party is understood as being directly worldwide (all the organisative efforts of the communists in Germany were called "internationalist"). The International cannot be the addition of various national parties. The CI is considered like an effort of proletarian internationalism aiming to the destruction of the world State, but its degeneration didn't prevent the communists to denounce the resurgence of social-democracy within it. The KAPD will send out several delegations in Moscow in order to tempt to stop the course followed by the CI; they will organize thereafter a rupture with the International, eaten into by the centrism, while tempting to organize an opposition ready to assume the constitution of a new international force, first inside, then outside and against what they denounced as a more and more reformist organization ("Your tactics is still the one of the Second International!" - H. Gorter).


1. We only agree with the terminology "left communists" used to designate the revolutionary forces stemming from the period 1917-23, as historic denomination, as historic materialization of a rupture with the social-democracy. Those designated by the counterrevolution as "left" communist are, mostly, the real and only real communists of this period. They don't have programmatically -and in spite of the common terminology imposed by the revisionist history-, any things in common with those they were, in fact, continually opposing to all along their fight.

The fact that Lenin -and behind him other red-painted social-democrats, other speech "communists"-, persisted to denounce the communists as "infantile sicks", as "anarchists", as "leftists", as "anti-partitists",..., is only the demonstration of the demarcation that growed every time clearer between the Bolsheviks' counterrevolutionary policy and the revolutionary expressions which continued to fight against the current of the centrism.

Lenin for himself, while he stood in a process of practical rupture with the social-democracy of which he stemmed from, while reaffirming in April 1917 the revolutionary theses of the proletariat, was found himself accused of being an "anarchist" and a new "Bakunin".

The "communist" definition, as Marx said, is not determined by what a militant says from himself, but well by what he makes, that is to say therefore by his real communist action.

The "left" communism doesn't exist no more than the "right" or "centre" communism. Communism can be defined in and by the revolutionary practice of men who fights for the destruction of the State, and stand therefore on the point of view of the destruction of the Army, the Nations, the organs of capitalistic management, Capital and Work, etc.

This is not innocently that the left-wing of the social-democrats put so much determination to denounce as "infantile", "sick" and "agitator", those who were opposed to their policy of reconstruction and management of the State, those who advocated the revolutionary war against the peace agreements with the bourgeoisie, those who fought against the entryism in the trade-unions and the revolutionary parliamentarianism. The social-democrats -and we speak here in historic and not forrmal terms, in terms of the forces which apart from their denomination practically assumes the reform of the world!- intended so to appropriate for their own, the "communist" title (without other word), because it was the surest way, at a time where the revolution was on the agenda, to protect themselves of all who would denounce their practice of reconstruction of the State as counterrevolutionary.

And as they could not deny the revolutionary character ("the good intentions", they would say!) of the actions of those who were opposed to them, they attributed to the communist militants the "left" adjective, to designate them as "sick" as well as to stand on a political line, where no qualitative rupture does appear, not even in the terminology.

In our texts, we sometimes use pleonasms as "revolutionary communist", "internationalist communists" or even this distortion expressed by "left communist", whereas we don't accept the terminology of our enemies. It is because the weight of history rewritten by the stalinists and other right- or left-wing bourgeois, is, like all ideology, a force which materialized all along these seven decades of counterrevolution. We must resort to such rough tricks of language to distinguish ourselves from all those -and they are numerous!- who have thus violently looted our flags.

2. This short part about the syndicalist, anarchist and other organizations, only to point out the method and the framework to give for a wider research, that is to say the formalistic nonattachment to denominations or origins often confused of these organizations. Our analysis starts from what the revolutionary practice within, and sometimes against these organizations, determined as rupture between revolution and counterrevolution. It is probably the part of our work about the revolution in Germany, for which we don't yet reached a sufficient level of homogenization.

3. We are aware that there is here a development missing around the rupture points formulated by the militants who were centralized around the KAPD: this organization constituted politically the clearest workers' association during all this period. As real internationalists, the militants of the KAPD carried all their efforts on the organization of actions putting up the development of the revolution at the international level; they also tempted to organize the "lefts" within and against the erring ways of the Third International in order to organize, when the impossibility to fight further on this ground appeared, a consequent rupture with the CI.

On the other hand, the work at the sources (newspapers of the KAPD, etc.) about the discussions within the KAPD, between Rühle, Gorter, Roche, Appel, etc. should allow us to deepen, then to homogenize our understanding of the ruptures which occurred within the KAPD.



Dictatorship of the Proletariat for the Abolition of Wage Labour

Central review in English of the Internationalist Communist Group (ICG)