Marcel Bois: Kommunisten gegen Hitler und Stalin – Die linke Opposition der KPD in der Weimarer Republik – Eine Gesamtdarstellung (Book Review)

Marcel Bois
Kommunisten gegen Hitler und Stalin
Die linke Opposition der KPD in der Weimarer Republik – Eine Gesamtdarstellung
Klartext Verlag, Essen 2014
ISBN 978-3-8375-1282-3

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With this 600 page strong book Marcel Bois offers the first comprehensive overall presentation of the history and sociology of the left opposition of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in the 1920s and early 1930s. The emphasis is on a very detailed and scientifically documented depiction of those groups who left the KPD from the mid-20s onwards in the course of its Stalinisation. These were on the one hand the groups around the former leaders of the party such as Ruth Fischer, Arkadij Maslow and Werner Scholem, who with Hugo Urbahns and others, founded the Leninbund (Lenin-League). On the other hand there were the Entschiedene Linke (Decisive Left) and the Gruppe Kommunistische Politik around Ernst Schwarz and Karl Korsch respectively, as well as The Wedding Opposition and smaller groups like Bolschewistische Einheit (Bolshevik Unity). A bit later, the organisational roots of Trotskyism in Germany also emerged. The Spartakusbund linkskommunistischer Organisationen around Franz Pfemfert had a special position in the milieu of the left oppposition.

The founding conference of the KPD took place at the turn of the year 1918/1919 within two months of the end of World War I. Less than two weeks later, two of its most important leaders, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, were murdered. There were several attempts from this time through 1923 to make the revolution in Germany happen, which all failed. Already in 1919 a back-and-forth started between more ‘left’ or ‘right’ leaning leaderships, and as early as October 1919 a large section of the party’s left were expelled. The issues at stake were the rejection of elections to parliament and the Leninist party concept by the left. In April 1920 this left constituted the Communist Workers Party (Kommunistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, KAPD), and took with them a large part of the membership of the KPD. This marked a decisive historical break in the international communist movement that was echoed in similar processes of regroupment in other countries. Lenin famously targeted the left with his nasty pamphlet “Left-Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder, denouncing its ‘opinion, declamations and angry ejaculations’ as ‘childish’, ‘particularly stupid’, ‘fundamentally wrong’ and amounting ‘to no more than empty phrase-mongering’. In the process he defended participation in parliamentary elections and reactionary unions, and effectively the dictatorship of the party over the dictatorship of the proletariat. The KPD in the meantime ditched the ‘right’ leadership under Paul Levi, who was appalled by the fact that the party had been dragged into the ‘putschist’ adventure of the ‘March Action’ in 1921. Levi then printed the previously unavailable – now famous – text by Rosa Luxemburg in which she severely criticised the Bolsheviks. [Read more →]

Peter Sedgwick: Psycho Politics – Laing, Foucault, Goffman, Szasz and the Future of Mass Psychiatry (Book Review)

Peter Sedgwick
Psycho Politics – Laing, Foucault, Goffman, Szasz and the Future of Mass Psychiatry
Foreword by Helen Spandler, Robert Dellar, Alastair Kemp
Unkant Publishers, London 2015
ISBN 978-0-86104-352-9

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Peter Sedgwick was born in 1934, joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in 1954, left it in the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution two years later, then joined the Socialist Review Group. This small organization, headed by Tony Cliff, later became the International Socialists (IS). Sedgwick became a frequent contributor to their journal, International Socialism. When the organisation took a turn towards Leninist party-building and renamed itself Socialist Workers Party in 1977, Sedgwick left the group. He fiercely opposed this step, calling it a ‘propaganda-act’, a ‘silly fling’ and a fraud.

Sedgwick worked as a psychologist and school teacher before lecturing on politics at the universities of York and Leeds for the last 15 years of his life. He was the eminent translator of the works of communist dissident Victor Serge.

Besides dozens of articles in the press of the IS, Sedgwick’s main work is Psycho Politics – Laing, Foucault, Goffman, Szasz and the Future of Mass Psychiatry. This book was originally published by Pluto Press in 1982 and was an assault on the ideology of the anti-psychiatry movement of the 60s and 70s and its relative hegemony concerning positions towards mental health issues in the radical left at the time.

He sets out to show how these ideas, originally devised in the interest of the ‘mentally ill’, provided ammunition to those on the right with the agenda of dismantling the welfare state, giving them arguments to withhold adequate funding from the mental health institutions and ultimately shifting the responsibility of taking care of the mentally ill back to ‘the community’ or the family. [Read more →]

Datacide 15 Record Reviews by Christoph Fringeli

lustmordthings

Lustmord
Things That Were
[Vinyl on Demand, VOD117]

The first self-titled Lustmord LP appeared originally on Nocturnal Emissions’ Sterile Records in 1981. It is one of the classic releases of a particular phase in British industrial music whose sound is defined by outfits such as S.P.K., Nocturnal Emissions, Bourbonese Qualk and others. It could be said that these and other bands/projects represented a “second wave” after the trailblazers of Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, continuing a grim sound, reflective of the hostile environment of Britain in the late 70s and early 80s.
In 1983 the Sounds-journalist Dave Henderson compiled a nice overview of this scene in the form of The Elephant Table Album, creating a snapshot of that scene as it was already drifting in different directions, be it more dance-oriented strategies or a more dark, ambient noise vein.
Things That Were, released in 2013 by Vinyl on Demand as triple LP box set, collects Lustmord’s material from before that date. The first of the three LPs is a remastered version of the aforementioned first LP, the other two records collect bits from various compilations (including the Elephant Table) as well as several live- or studio-versions and unreleased tracks. This is long before he became well known for his soundtrack-like dark ambient style, with the one exception of the last track of the third record, which anticipates his departure from the rawer and harsher sound of the early years.

FFF/Champa B
The Burial/Jah Jah Dub
[Lickshot 007]
A two-tracker on a stamped white label 10” shows FFF with Champa B in a more quiet, reggae-influenced mode somewhere between Jungle and early Drum’n’Bass. On both sides the beat remains rather steady and there are no surprises or ravetastic elements as you might expect, but it’s not too cheesy either.

Hellfish
Stage Invader/Tek Hater
[Deathchant 75]
Deathchant reaches number 75 with the man Hellfish battling it out on two 45rpm tracks in his familiar style combining some breaks, start-and-stop techniques and EQ-tweaking with the trademark fierce 4 to the floor pounding. Since number 70 all Deathchant releases have been by Hellfish. Perhaps he figured he might as well just put out his own tunes if he can churn them out at this speed to keep the pressing plants busy (and still find time to make releases for PRSPCT). Now none of them provide new revelations, but I don’t think that’s what they’re made for, they seem to be happy to be just solid kicking Deathchant releases.

Liza N’Eliaz/Laurent Hô
[S.O.D.O.M. 001]
S.O.D.O.M. stands for Slaves Of Devil Our Master and was a label run by Armaguet Nad in the late 90s. It never completely stopped, and after some long gaps there were two releases again in recent years, most recently – January 2016 – the number 001. [Read more →]

Datacide 15 News: Neo-Nazis, the National Socialist Underground and the State

Neo-Nazis, the National Socialist Underground and the State

NSUtrio

In datacide twelve, we detailed the scandal surrounding the killing spree of the Neo-Nazi terrorist organisation Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund (National Socialist Underground, NSU) and the involvement of the domestic state security agency Verfassungsschutz (VS). This was followed by an update in datacide thirteen. In the meantime, the court case against Beate Zschäpe (the surviving member of the NSU ‘terror trio’) et. al. has continued. Simultaneously, the various parliamentary fact-finding commissions have been at work supposedly to shed light on the backgrounds of the crimes as well as the role the security services may have played in them.

The court case seemingly took a fundamental turn when Zschäpe decided to make a statement after all. Unsurprisingly, her 53-page statement was designed to exculpate herself from the accusations of complicity in the murders and claimed that she hadn’t been a member of the NSU, which conveniently – since they are both dead – only consisted of Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos.

This was after she had already had her conditions of detention softened because the NSU supposedly no longer existed. Even though her claims were widely seen as lies, the possibility of a much larger membership of the terrorist organisation is barely being investigated.

In the meantime, parliamentarians in the fact-finding commissions experienced that state attorneys and police were generally not very forthcoming with information, blocking effective investigations of the connections and overlap of the domestic security services and the Neo-Nazi scene. The state agencies remain very economical with the truth. This situation is not helped by the fact that five witnesses have died under suspicious circumstances, the first in 2009, the fifth as recently as February 2016. [Read more →]

Die Revolution war für mich ein grosses Abenteuer – Paul Mattick im Gespräch mit Michael Buckmiller (Book Review)

Die Revolution war für mich ein grosses
Abenteuer
Paul Mattick im
Gespräch mit Michael Buckmiller
Edited, introduced and annotated by Christoph Plutte und Marc Geoffroy,
With literary texts by Paul Mattick and an afterword by Michael Buckmiller,
Dissidenten der Arbeiterbewegung IV
Unrast Verlag, Münster, 2013.
ISBN 978-3-89771-520-2

MAttickRevolution001

Towards the end of last year, the fourth volume in the series Dissidents of the Workers Movement from Unrast publishing appeared. The series was started with a certain enthusiasm in 2008/9. Anthologies of the writings of Cajo Brendel, Raya Dunayevskaya, and Christian Riechers were published. All three are well recommended (note that the Dunayevskaya book in this series is a translation from the English), as they feature hard to find and important texts of different currents of anti-Leninist Marxism. Unfortunately, after the first three volumes came out, there was a pause in publication for several years before this fourth edition was finally released.

The new volume differs from the previous ones insofar that it isn’t an anthology of texts, but the transcript of an interview, which Michael Buckmiller conducted with the council communist and crisis theoretician Paul Mattick (1904-81) in 1976, titled The Revolution Was a Big Adventure for Me.
Buckmiller published his dissertation about Karl Korsch in the same year and had been the editor of Korsch’s collected works since 1980. He met Mattick in the context of his research. The extensive interview focuses on Mattick’s biography, which is an anomaly insofar that Mattick mostly put his personality in the background. [Read more →]

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