Revolution and Counterrevolution in Germany 1919

Talk by Christoph Fringeli
held at Vétomat in Berlin, 14/01/2019

Tomorrow marks one hundred years since two important figures of the early German communist movement were murdered in Berlin: Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. This was in the middle of an attempt to turn the revolution that had forced the Kaiser to abdicate in November, 1918 into a fully socialist one. This attempt, often called the Spartacist Uprising1, was defeated, as were other attempts in other parts of Germany to set up council republics and workers’ democracy.

Liebknecht and Luxemburg were both born in 1871. From around the turn of the century, they were active in the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) as well as the international socialist movement. The SPD was the biggest party in that movement and one of the main players in the Second International. The party originated in 1875 when two previously existing socialist organisations were united. It was heavily influenced by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, even though Marx had formulated a scathing critique of their original program2 .

As the party developed, it became a major force in German politics. Its share of the vote multiplied until it reached 34,8% in 1912, the last election before the First World War. This development was accompanied by an increasing bureaucratisation of the party and a conflict between its revisionist right wing, the orthodox centre, and the revolutionary left wingKarl Liebknecht was the son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, one of the main figures of early social democracy in Germany. Liebknecht joined the SPD in 1900 and practised as a political lawyer. In 1907, he was accused of high treason on the basis of his anti-militaristic writings and spent time in prison.

In those years it was becoming clear that the competition between the imperialist powers of France, Britain, Germany and Russia was intensifying and that the outbreak of a war was looming. The Socialist International, however, still believed that the international solidarity of the workers could prevent it.When the war did break out in 1914, most socialist parties did a u-turn and sided with their national governments, including the SPD. In parliament, the party voted for the war credits needed to finance the military and Kaiser Wilhelm II noted that finally the red veneer had come off the social democrats and they proved to be good Germans after all.
At first, even the radical minority who rejected the war voted for the credits, bowing down to party discipline, but they experienced this as a massive humiliation and perversion of their political beliefs 3 . The day after the vote saw the formation of the Gruppe Internationale with Rosa Luxemburg and Franz Mehring who were joined by Liebknecht and other anti-war socialists. Liebknecht traveled to Belgium to make contact with socialists in other countries in the hope of forging international alliances against the imperialist war.

But the radical left was fairly isolated as the great slaughter began. The biggest socialist party in Europe had given in to nationalism and imperialism, a monstrous event for the left.

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Datacide 18 Record Reviews by Christoph Fringeli

No Name
[Rouge de Colere Live 02]
Rouge de Colere Live is a sub-series of the Toolbox sublabel Rouge de Colere which has over many years produced a (small) number of (mostly) interesting cross-over records somewhere between hardtek, hardcore, breakcore and speedcore, some of which have been reviewed in datacide before (most recently the HFK record in datacide seventeen). The live series somewhat runs parallel to the Acid Night Live series (see elsewhere in this issue), but even so this particular release is a special one. Spread over the double vinyl format in a way so the original live set could be re-created by a DJ – the beginning is on side A, the continuation is on side C, then mix in side B, then finish with side D.
No Name of course first drew attention with releases starting in 1996 on labels such as Anticore and Fischkopf. In the article ‘Bonjour Vitesse’ in datacide one the music she and her sister (who usually releases under the name Mouse) make, was described as “some of the most out-there experimental and visionary records ever made in the context of super-fast hardcore”.
Over the more than 20 years the music itself has retained its specific qualities and intensity and this live set spread over four sides is quite a trip, and while not strictly speaking innovative now, is still very unique and the double red vinyl with picture sleeve is a nice collectible item.

The Mover
Selected Classics (Remastered 2017)
[BOIDAE 002]
KillEKill sublabel BOIDAE surprised some heads with a timely Mover retrospective in 2017; timely in so far that the year 2017 always featured as a mysterious reference to a dark phuture emanating from the early catalogue of the Frankfurt based label group Planet Core Productions, also known as PCP.
PCP were versed in the “art of the record label”, setting up a myriad of conceptual sublabels and while there were a few other musicians involved, Marc Trauner, aka The Mover was the one who contributed the vast bulk under a dizzying number of pseudonyms.
PCP was also central to some international hook-ups. Industrial Strength, the label run by Lenny Dee and Jennifer Williams in the early 1990s, even started their catalogue with a double AA-side 12” featuring The Mover and his alias Mescalinum United, and both tracks are featured on the BOIDAE double album.
Furthermore there are two tracks from the very first Mover 12”s Frontal Sickness Volumes each. From 1991 (PCP 005) and 1992 (PCP 008), Nightflight (Nonstop 2 Kaos) and Into Wasteland, and Astral Demons and Invite the Fear respectively. There’s Final Sickness from Frankfrut Trax Vol.4, there’s Waves of Life from the split EP with Alien Christ, also a Mover pseudonym (PCP 934).
Only one of the tracks is from album Final Sickness (The Emperor Takes Place).
The track order of the digital release – which features two extra tracks – is different than the order on vinyl, most notably in so far that the ferocious We Have Arrived is the opening piece of the digital, while it has been relegated to D1 on vinyl.
Also what seems to be a major omission of the vinyl version is that Over Land & Sea from the momentous Signs of ‘96 12” is only on the digital version. The other digital-only track is a second track, Spirit Slasher, from the much later Tresor album (Frontal Frustration, 2002).
It almost goes without saying that you should pick up this compilation unless you already have a few of the original releases, although by the time this issue of datacide hits the street the vinyl may already be deleted.

FFF: Dubcore Volume 12
FFF: The Superpowers
[PRSPCT RVLT 019]/ 24/7 Soundkiller [PRSPCT RVLT024]

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Dale Street: Lions Led by Jackals – Stalinism in the International Brigades

Dale Street:

Lions Led by Jackals – Stalinism in the International Brigades

Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, January 2016, no ISBN]

This 40-page A4 pamphlet published by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty traces the history of the International Brigades by way of sifting through the trove of documents from the Communist International’s archives of the International Brigades, which have recently been made available online. These offer interesting insights into the structure of the Brigades as well as the histories and motivations of those who joined them.

The International Brigades (IB) were troops set up by the Communist International who fought in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) on the side of the Republican forces against the fascist military coup led by General Franco and supported by Italy and Germany. The primary motivation of many members was to “fight fascism”, which showed a high level of individual and collective courage. Many certainly thought that they were, while fighting against fascism, also fighting for communism. They were about to be disappointed. As Street writes, “The goal of the Popular Front [Republican] government, which included representatives of the Spanish Communist Party, was not working-class revolution, but defense of bourgeois power and property relations” […] “Confronted with the greatest working-class insurrection in Europe since the October Revolution, Stalinism sought to demobilise and confine that insurrection to the limits of a “bourgeois-democratic revolution’”. The International Brigades were disbanded by the Republican government in 1938.

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Hedonism och revolution

1.

Så länge som det funnits en tanke på universell befrielse genom kommunistisk revolution, har detta projekt rymt en spänning mellan två tillvägagångssätt – två motsatta positioner, bland människor som, ytligt betraktat, strävar efter samma slutmål.

Å ena sidan finner vi ett synsätt som kan sammanfattas med dessa ord: Endast revolutionen kommer att öppna för ett verkligt lustfyllt liv, och för att nå dit måste vi agera som asketiska kadrer.

Den motsatta sidan menar: Bara genom att utveckla våra lust och följa våra begär kommer revolutionen att öppna sig som en möjlighet.

Om vi blickar tillbaka på det gångna seklets två stora faser av revolutionära kamper (den första kring 1917–23, den andra kring 1967–77, med geografiska variationer), så finner vi genast att det för många revolutionärer varit grundläggande och självklart att hedonism och revolution måste gå hand i hand.

Frågan är nära kopplad till synen på arbete. “Frihetens rike börjar i själva verket först där det arbete som är bestämt av nödtvång och yttre ändamålsenlighet upphör”, skriver Marx i det tredje bandet av Kapitalet. Han lämnar inga tvivel om att frihetens rike alltid måste bygga på nödvändighetens rike, men heller inte om att människans mål måste vara att uppnå största möjliga frihet. Och detta måste inbegripa lönearbetets avskaffande.

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No borders, no fatherland! France – What’s New for the Left? (book review)

Book review: No borders, no fatherland!
France – What’s New for the Left?

(Ni patrie ni frontières, Paris 2017, 454p., no ISBN)

I first came across the journal Ni patrie ni frontières (subtitled: Ni États, ni Eglises – Ni “races”, ni ethnies – Traductions et débats) around 2003/2004 when they published a collection of texts in English by the Dutch group De Fabel van de illegaal, titled Nationalism, Anti-Semitism and the Anti-globalisation Movement (1998-2003). At a time when things were going seriously wrong in the radical Left and especially the wider “anti-globalisation” movement, the brochure was a welcome signal that there were critical voices that were sensitive to the growing overlap of far right and far left anti-imperialist positions, often manifesting themselves as “anti-Zionist”.

I started picking up copies of Ni patrie ni frontières whenever I could find them. The French journal was started in 2002 by Yves Coleman and a fair number of issues appeared in quick succession. Initially published in the form of photocopied and staple-bound A4 editions, they switched to printed softcovers in 2007 with issue 21/22.

The journal presents a wide range of historical texts and contemporary analysis of the pressing questions of the “revolutionary” Left, with views from a spectrum of radical writers and groups ranging from Left Communism to anarchism and Third Camp Trotskyism. Among the writers are Loren Goldner (Insurgent Notes), and the groups the Alliance for Worker’s Liberty, (the German) Wildcat publication, Temps critiques, Movement Communiste, the Worker-Communist Parties of Iran and Iraq, as well as anarchist and left communist classics.

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