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All Power to the Councils!: A Documentary History of the German Revolution of 1918-1919by Gabriel Kuhn
Synopses & Reviews
“Gabriel Kuhns excellent volume illuminates a profound global revolutionary moment, in which brilliant ideas and debates lit the sky.”
—Marcus Rediker, author of Villains of all Nations and The Slave Ship
“This remarkable collection, skillfully edited by Gabriel Kuhn, brings to life that most pivotal of revolutions, crackling with the acrid odor of street fighting, insurgent hopes, and ultimately defeat… In an era brimming with anticapitalist aspirations, these pages ring with that still unmet revolutionary promise of a better world: I was, I am, I shall be.”
—Sasha Lilley, author of Capital and Its Discontents and coauthor of Catastrophism
The German Revolution erupted out of the ashes of World War I, triggered by mutinying sailors refusing to be sacrificed in the final carnage of the war. While the Social Democrats grabbed power, radicals across the country rallied to establish a communist society under the slogan "All Power to the Councils!" The Spartacus League launched an uprising in Berlin, council republics were proclaimed in Bremen and Bavaria, and workers' revolts shook numerous German towns. Yet in an act that would tragically shape the course of history, the Social Democratic government crushed the rebellions with the help of right-wing militias, paving the way for the ill-fated Weimar Republic—and ultimately the ascension of the Nazis.
This definitive documentary history collects manifestos, speeches, articles, and letters from the German Revolution—Rosa Luxemburg, the Revolutionary Stewards, and Gustav Landauer amongst others—introduced and annotated by the editor. Many documents, such as the anarchist Erich Mühsam's comprehensive account of the Bavarian Council Republic, are presented here in English for the first time. The volume also includes materials from the Red Ruhr Army that repelled the reactionary Kapp Putsch in 1920 and the communist bandits that roamed Eastern Germany until 1921. All Power to the Councils! provides a dynamic and vivid picture of a time of great hope and devastating betrayal.
“Drawing on newly uncovered material through pioneering archival historical research, Gabriel Kuhns powerful book on the German workers councils movement is essential reading to understanding the way forward for democratic worker control today.”
—Immanuel Ness, Graduate Center for Worker Education, Brooklyn College
“An indispensable resource on a world-historic event.”
—Lucien van der Walt, Rhodes University, South Africa
The global financial crisis has led to a new shop floor militancy. Radical forms of protest and new workers' takeovers have sprung-up all over the globe. In the US, Republic Windows and Doors started production under worker control in January 2013, later that year workers in Greece took over and managed, on their own, a hotel, a hospital, a newspaper, a TV channel and a factory.
The dominant revolutionary left has viewed workers' control as part of a system necessary during a transition to socialism. Yet most socialist and communist parties have neglected to promote workers' control as it challenges the centrality of parties and it is in this spirit that trade unions, operating through the institutional frameworks of government, have held a monopoly over labor history.
Tracing Marx's writings on the Paris Commune through council communism, anarcho-syndicalism, Italian operaismo, and other 'heretical' left currents, this book uncovers the practices and intentions of historical and contemporary autonomous workers' movements that have been largely obscured until now. Addressing the questions of our age: What if there were no factories? What if most workers were individualized and work precarious? Can workers' control still be an option? this collection shows that by bringing permanence and predictability to their workplaces, workers can stabilize their communities through expressions of participatory democracy. And as history has repeatedly shown, workers always already have the capacity to run their enterprises on their own.
The global financial crisis has led to radical forms of social protest and worker takeovers all over the globe. Tracing Marx’s writings on the Paris Commune through council communism, anarcho-syndicalism, Italian operaismo, and other autonomous social movements, this book uncovers the intentions and practices of workers’ struggles that continue in force today. Addressing timely and essential questions, Dario Azzellini shows how bringing permanence and predictability to workplaces can stabilize communities and secure autonomy.
Presenting English translations of manifestos, speeches, articles, and letters from the German Revolution, this is an informative look at early 20th-century Germany. After defeat in World War I and the end of the Kaiserreich, radicals across Germany rallied to a socialist slogan, All Power to the Councils!” Many documents, such as the anarchist Erich Müsams comprehensive account of the Bavarian Council Republic, are made available in English for the first time. Also included are appendices portraying the Red Ruhr Army that repelled reactionary Kapp Putsch in 1920, and the communist bandits that roamed Eastern Germany until 1921. This documentary history provides a dynamic and vivid picture of both an encouraging and tragic time with long-lasting effects for world history.
About the Author
Gabriel Kuhn is the founder of the Alpine Anarchist Productions publishing company. He is the author of Life Under the Jolly Roger, the editor of Living for the Revolution, and the editor and translator of Gustav Landauer: Revolution and Other Writings.
Table of Contents
Notes on contributors
1 Council Democracy, or the End of the Political
2 Contemporary Crisis and Workers’ Control
3 Workers’ Assemblies: New Formations in the Organization of Labor and the Struggle against Capitalism
Elise Danielle Thorburn
4 The Austrian Revolution of 1918-1919 andWorking Class Autonomy
5 Chile: Worker Self-organization and Cordones Industriales under the Allende Government (1970-1973)
6 'Production Control' or 'Factory Soviet'? Workers’ Control in Japan
7 The Factory Commissions in Brazil and the 1964 Coup d’État
Henrique T. Novaes and Maurício S. de Faria
8 Self-management, Workers’ Control and Resistance against Crisis and Neoliberal Counter-reforms in Mexico
9 Collective Self-management and Social Classes: The Case of Enterprises Recovered by Their Workers in Uruguay
10 Self-managing the Commons in Contemporary Greece
Alexandros Kioupkiolis and Theodoros Karyotis
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History and Social Science » Europe » Germany » 1815 to WWI