Introduction


In 1920, in the final paragraphs of « “Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder », Lenin pointed out that, once the revolutionary vanguards had been won to the principles of revolutionary Marxism, they still had a long way to go before they would be able to capture and lead the great proletarian masses in their struggle for the power of workers’ councils and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin warned against the simplistic idea of believing that this conquest could be achieved through doctrinal panaceas, “according to stereotyped, mechanically equated and identical tactical rules of struggle“, without considering the differences in national and state situations, between peoples and countries, and he affirmed that the unity of the international tactics of the revolutionary movement did not in any way imply making abstraction from these particularities.

The detailed study of the class struggle and of the situations present in Italy and Germany from 1914 to 1923 allows us to glimpse precisely this: (a) the difficulties encountered in the formation of Communist Parties by a heterogeneous multitude of currents that were drawn by the beacon of the October Revolution 1917; (b) the enormous complexity and variety of historical circumstances that the revolutionary vanguards had to face; and (c), the diversity of problems to which these vanguards had to respond, strategically and tactically, to be able to conquer that determining influence among the working masses which is an indispensable condition of the socialist revolution.

Let us summarize the situation at that time.

Amid the horrors and sufferings endured by the European proletariat during the First World War (1914-1918), the Russian Revolution of October 1917 -led by the Bolshevik Party- proclaimed its determination to end the war, awakening an enormous enthusiasm and a powerful revolutionary upsurge among the working masses.

In 1919, the newly founded Communist International hoped in the short to medium term for the victory of the proletarian revolution in Europe. The struggle of the European proletariat reached its most acute stage, with insurrections and civil wars, in Hungary, Germany and Italy. However, the revolutionary storm of the first post-war period ended with three great failures.

The main objective of this work is to explain how the class struggle developed in those last two countries, and which causes that determined the victory of the bourgeois counterrevolution.

For the first – and, to this day, only – time in history, in October 1917 power was conquered by a proletarian party that was openly anti-capitalist and Marxist.

Marxism has enabled the revolutionary parties of the working class to establish the principles and programs of its emancipation from capitalism. These were first stated in the Manifesto of the Communist Party of Marx and Engels, in 1848, and developed and defended by both of them in the following decades: first in the International Workers’ Association (First International, 1864), and later – after Marx’s death in 1883 – by Engels in the Socialist International founded in 1889.

After the bankruptcy of the Second International in 1914 as a result of the adherence of the vast majority of socialist parties to the imperialist policies of their bourgeoisies, revolutionary Marxism became personified, in its most accomplished form, in the theoretical, programmatic, principled and tactical struggle of the Bolshevik Party (personified above all in the work of Lenin). The victory of the October Revolution 1917 made possible a new reorganization of the proletarian movement around the Third International. The latter was founded on the restored Marxist foundations enunciated at its first three Congresses (1919, 1920 and 1921), integrating the experiences of the imperialist war and that of the Russian Revolution.

Just as the lessons of the Paris Commune defeat (1871) were essential to the victory of October 1917, the lessons of the defeats of the Italian and German proletariat are necessary – though not sufficient – conditions for the preparation of a future victorious revolution. From this point of view, it will be essential to understand the dynamics of the factors which converged centrally to generate those failures. These factors ranged from the political strategies of the ruling classes and the weight of social democracy in the workers’ movement, to the very history of the currents of Western communism which adhered to the Third International and the tactics adopted by the International and its parties in the years 1921-1926.

Although the programmatic and principles formulations of the Communist International were luminous, the tactical question of the relationship of the communist parties with the social-democratic and centrist parties in the area of developed capitalism (Germany, France, Italy, …) generated great polemics and divergences in the communist parties and in the International. We refer to the questions of the United Front, the Workers’ Government and the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government.

These problems played a major role in the history of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and in its October 1923 fiasco, which can be considered posteriori as the culminating defeat of the post-war European revolutionary wave initiated with the October Revolution.

These same questions influenced the political vicissitudes of the Communist Party of Italy (PCdI) during its first two years of existence, and the defeat of the Italian proletariat as the result of the convergent offensive of democracy and fascism.

The difficulties encountered by the Western Communist parties in conducting revolutionary action, the internal divergences and the defeats suffered, generated great tensions in the Communist International. From its Fifth Congress (1924), its leadership attempted to overcome them employing bureaucratic, organizational and disciplinary measures (with the so-called policy of “Bolshevisation” of the Communist parties) which only accentuated their internal crises.

This led to the year 1926 when the crises of the Western Communist parties were combined with the decisive crisis of the Bolshevik Party that lead to the victory of Stalinism with the adoption of the “theory of socialism in one country”, an accurate expression of the process of the ongoing Russian counter-revolution and the degeneration of the International.

It is within this context that the complex polemics of that time on questions of tactics and organization acquire particular relevance. One of the objectives of this work is to highlight the terms, the historical conditioning factors, the assumptions and the scope of these controversies.

In the historical period from 1919 to 1926, October 1923 appears as a turning point in the world revolution. The victory of the German proletariat would have created favourable conditions for reversing the relations of force between the European proletariat and imperialism, for counteracting the counter-revolutionary forces which were agitating in the Russian social underground, and for giving a formidable impulse to the struggle of the international proletariat.

To understand the developments that determined the course of those tremendous and dramatic events, we will have to expose their historical context and give an account of the Italian and German socialist movement, of the class struggle in these two countries, of the processes of founding the communist parties, and of the action of the Communist International.


A central aim of this work is the Marxist critique of the political history of the Communist International focused on the class struggle in Germany and Italy in the period 1914-1923. Although there are works by university historians in Italian and German that provide very useful information on those events, the writings of political criticism on this subject are naturally influenced by the ideological conceptions of their authors1.

If we consider the case of Italy, the political critique of this period was inscribed, either in the official tradition of the PCI related to the trajectory of Stalinism2 and post-Stalinism3, or in the “bordiguist” tradition of the Italian Communist Left, or in a nebula of historians who have re-evaluated, through the work and action of Amadeo Bordiga, his contribution to the revolutionary workers’ movement.

The exponents of the official tradition of the PCI have made a review of its history in the light of its own trajectory from its active participation in the restoration of bourgeois democracy after the Second World War4. Their criticism of the action of this Party in the years 1921-1923, accused of not having put the defense of democracy at the center of its anti-fascist struggle, is biased and disqualified by its adherence to programmatic objectives in open opposition to the first five Congresses of the Communist International.

On the evidence of the historical facts of that period, our work makes clear the lack of viability of the attempts that sought to rely on bourgeois democracy to resist the rise and victory of fascism (Chapters VI, VII and VIII).

Since the 1970s, several authors have published studies on the early years of the PCI, on the Italian Communist Left in general, and in particular on Amadeo Bordiga, the most influential exponent of this current in the 1920s and the maximum leader of the PCI from its foundation in January 1921 to mid-19235.

Most of these studies focus on the analysis of Bordiga’s positions in the context of the controversies within the Italian Social Democracy (until 1920), in the PCI and in the Communist International (from 1919 onwards), and on the alleged or real effects -positive or negative- that his positions may have had on the action of communism in Italy. Although some of them provide useful information for a critical analysis of the history of the International, they are far from giving an exhaustive picture of it because they are mainly limited to dealing with ideological questions.

Few studies provide precise historical information to confront the real consequences that the positions of the Italian Left had in the class struggle6, and these studies are fundamentally focused on Italy or partial aspects of the history of the International.

However, the scope of the trend struggles in the Communist International was not limited to one country, but to particular geo-historical areas, in particular the whole of Western Europe. Therefore, the validity of the positions defended by its antagonistic protagonists must be evaluated within this general context.

In the case of Germany, the reference book on this period has been that of the historian of Trotskyist origin Pierre Broué7. His work, indispensable and of great documentary wealth, exposes in its chapter XLIII the deliberate falsifications of Stalinism on the political history of German communism; and in its final chapters (XLV, XLVI and XLVII) he develops his own critical balance of the latter and of the intervention of the International in Germany from 1920 to 19238.

Broué’s appraisal is basically summarised in making Paul Leví’s views9 his own and in making him the only leader who would have been able to save Western communism from bankruptcy10, while overwhelming Karl Radek (the International’s representative to the German Communist Party) for not having been able to “give to the KPD cadres what they lacked: a deep political security based on an analysis constantly questioned in the light of the evolution of the situations, continuity in action and determination to defend their opinions, attachment to principles and rejection of dogmatism11.

Broué does not cease to refer to the weaknesses of German communism (torn between an extreme left “expert in the manipulation of the revolutionary phrase” and a right-wing tendency accused of being composed of persons “unable to think for themselves and always with an open ear in the direction of Moscow, from where come opinions which they consider as the laws of the prophets12), as well as to the lack of homogeneity of the International’s leadership itself and its difficulties in guiding the action of the German communists. Unfortunately, Broué concludes by making of major historical questions a matter of men, of names and of organizational dysfunctions, which is strictly unacceptable from the Marxist point of view.

The final bankruptcy of German communism cannot be explained by the deficiencies of one or another of its leaders. If the roles of individuals and organizations can punctually have an important – and even decisive – weight in a precise historical circumstance (as was the case with Lenin’s interventions in the Bolshevik Party in April and October 1917) they alone are incapable of explaining the role of a Party in the class struggle in a historical period such as that of Germany from 1918 to 192313. These deficiencies and failures were the results of the policies of its protagonists. Despite the extent of his work, Broué was unable to identify in the policies of the KPD the causes of the fiasco of the International’s strategy in the German Revolution14. These causes are exposed in Chapters IX, X, and XI of our published work.

A separate place in the historiography is held by Corrado Basile’s writings on the Germany of 192315. This author diagnoses the cause of the failure of the German Revolution in the fact that neither the International nor the German Communist Party has insisted more on the policy of conquering the nationalist and fascist petty-bourgeois masses in the name of defending the national interests of Germany, which had been overwhelmed by the Treaty of Versailles16.

Such an interpretation of the German fiasco is refuted in Chapter X of this work.

Amadeo Bordiga published anonymously in 1964 the first volume of the “Storia della Sinistra Comunista”. His supporters extended this historical narrative in four other volumes17, claiming to cover (to this day) the history of the Communist Left and the Third International until February 1923. The fundamental deficit of these publications has been their apologetic, uncritical and indiscriminate character of everything done, proposed and published by the Communist Party leadership in 1921-1923, and even of everything that refers to the action of Bordiga and his tendency from 1912 to 1921.

The reader will find throughout the work we publish a detailed analysis of the contributions, lacks, deficiencies and errors of this tendency of Western communism during the years 1912-1924.

In addition to their catastrophic consequences on the October 1923 fiasco, the nebulous tactics adopted by the Communist International at its Fourth Congress (United Front, Workers’ Government and Workers’ and Peasants’ Government) have greatly influenced and continue to influence the political positions of the current Trotskyist movements, and have aroused and continue to arouse the most determined opposition from the “infantile” extreme-left communist tendencies (which Lenin called “doctrinaire”).

The detailed analysis of those tactical orientations can be found in Chapters VII and IX of our work.


In the present historical situation, after almost a century of triumphant counter-revolution, the main revolutionary task is to win back sections of the vanguard of the proletariat to the principles and programmatic objectives of revolutionary Marxism. The ultimate purpose of the work published here will be fully achieved if it can contribute to that decantation of vanguard forces, and avoid both the slopes of opportunism (which today flourishes under multiple pseudo-Marxist tendencies) and those of simplistic doctrinarism which is always a false subterfuge against opportunist deviations.

Carlos N. Svidler, June 2019

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This work could not have been carried out and completed in its definitive form without the constant exchanges of ideas held over the last six years with a friend and colleague as Alessandro Mantovani. Our exchanges and discussions, without any concessions, prompted by his acerbic reading, that have led me to clarify and deepen – and even to nuance and modify – my previous points of view. I have here the opportunity to express my deep gratitude to him, in the hope that these exchanges, discussions and readings have not delayed him in his own work.18

My thanks go also to my great friend and comrade, Carlos C., who has followed the progress of this work with great interest and infinite patience, and whose comments, always encouraging, motivated many new questions that I was led to attempt to resolve.

READING GUIDE

Our work follows the chronology of the historical events in Germany and Italy between 1914 and 1923, considering the international context of the time (the First World War, the Russian Revolution, the post-war social and political crisis, and the foundation of the Communist International in 1919).

Chapter I describes the trajectories of the socialist parties in Italy and Germany from the late nineteenth century to 1914, highlighting the classist but not revolutionary nature of these parties. This can explain the reasons for the capitulation of the German Socialist Party in August 1914 (on the occasion of the war credit vote), and the non-revolutionary position of the Italian Socialist Party (with its slogan “Don’t adhere to the war, but don’t sabotage it either”).

Chapter II states

  • the attitude of the various tendencies of Italian socialism towards the war, from the veiled collusion of the reformist current with the war policy to the opposition of the revolutionary current represented mainly – but not exclusively – by Amadeo Bordiga (a current that later played a relevant role in the foundation of the PCI in January 1921), to the pacifist disregard of most of the Socialist Party behind the social-democratic centrism of the Lazzari and Serrati;
  • the international alignments of the first oppositions to the war in the Zimmerwald and Kienthal Conferences, and the delimitation around the Bolsheviks of what will be one of the foundational axes of the Communist International, namely the goal of proletarian revolution as an outcome of the imperialist war (against the reformist perspective of a return to the pre-war status quo);
  • the maturing in Italy of objective revolutionary conditions as a result of the struggles against the war and of the war itself;
  • the different positions adopted by the socialist currents in the face of the October Revolution of 1917; and
  • the prolegomena of a future split in the Socialist Party to found a revolutionary Marxist party.

Chapter III traces

  • the pro-imperialist action of the German Social Democracy during the war;
  • the maturing of the objective revolutionary conditions in the years 1917-1918;
  • the emergence of the first wave of the German Revolution in November-December 1918 with the formation of workers’ councils and the overthrow of the Hohenzollern Monarchy;
  • the counter-revolutionary role played by the Social Democracy at the head of the new Weimar Republic;
  • the late founding of the German Communist Party in January 1919;
  • the mobilisation of the Social Democracy in a united front with the soldiers organised in the Freikorps to crush the resistance of the revolutionary proletariat in blood between January and April 1919 (at the time of the founding of the Third International).

Chapter IV describes the revolutionary struggles in Italy during the so-called Red Biennium (1919-1920), in the trade union field, in the enterprises, in the mobilizations against the high cost of living and the agrarian status quo, while exposing the anti-revolutionary role of reformism and centrism, and the incapacity, both politically and organizationally, of the revolutionary minority tendencies of socialism to stand as an alternative direction to social democratic sabotage.

The final part of this chapter refers to the split in the German Communist Party (KPD) as a result of the bureaucratic expulsion of the “infantile” extreme left, and the repercussions of its positions during the Kapp Putsch, giving rise to the clashes of tendencies characterized by their extreme confusion at the level of principles and methods of action, and which will increase in the following years between the majority centrist current of German communism and an inconsistent “extremist” left.

Chapter V deals with the crucial issue that will be at the epicentre of the Third International’s action in 1920: the selection of the forces that would constitute its national sections, at a time when the attraction of the great working masses by the Russian Revolution and Bolshevism made numerically significant sectors of social-democratic centrism ready to go to Canossa to obtain the “revolutionary unction” of Moscow, provided this did not imply a break with their own past action or with bourgeois democracy and social-democratic reformism.

This chapter is focused on the II Congress of the International, whose Resolutions and Theses explained its programmatic and principled bases, as well as the “filter” represented by the 21 Conditions of Admission. Its final part describes the vicissitudes of the foundation of the PCI from a minority split in the Socialist Party (which implied not only a break with reformism, but also with the majoritarian centrism), and the events that led to the fusion of the KPD with the “left” majority wing of German Social Democratic centrism.

Chapter VI focuses on the tactical problems that the International and the Communist Parties of Italy and Germany had to face from 1921 onwards, in a situation where the Social Democracy maintained its dominant positions in the workers movement. It deals,

  • first of all, with the inadequacies and errors of approach and orientation committed by the CPDI to confront the converging counter-revolutionary offensives of the democratic State and fascism, as well as the reasons for these deficiencies’ characteristic of the communist Left (which were not only of tactics but also of vision of the revolutionary struggle and of the relationship of the Party with the masses).
  • In second place, the Action of March 1921 and the consequent lack of tactical lucidity of the KPD in front of an offensive of the Weimar government against the proletariat of central Germany, and its further theorization of the theory of the “offensive at any cost” as the basis of the communist tactics.
  • Thirdly, the Third Congress of the International (June-July 1921), at whose headquarters Lenin and Trotsky had to explain to the Western communists the fundamentals of revolutionary tactics, particularly in a situation where the Communist Parties had a minority influence among the masses.
  • And, fourthly, the beginning of the attempts of the Executive Committee of the International (ECCI) to achieve the fusion of the PCI with the Socialist Party in case the latter expelled the openly reformist current (attempts that were decisively rejected by the PCI leadership, giving rise to the so-called “Italian question”, which would last until 1924).

Chapter VII concerns

  • the political turnaround started by the ECCI in December 1921 with the adoption of the tactic – enthusiastically supported by the KPD mainstream, and decisively rejected by the PCI leadership – of the “United Front” (UF) of the communist parties with the political leaderships of social democracy, as an attempt to achieve – in the middle of an international offensive of the bourgeoisie against the working masses – the conquest of a dominant influence in the proletariat, going to the extreme of considering the possibility that some social-democratic governments could run a length of the revolutionary road and, in that case, be supported by the communist parties;
  • the polemics in the International in favour or against the UF tactic promoted by the ECCI;
  • and the Theses on tactics which were approved by the PCI in March 1922, in open opposition to the International’s orientations, Theses which – against the bourgeois offensives – promoted the so-called “union united front”.

Chapter VIII deals with

  • the class war in Italy in 1922, to its culmination represented by the armed struggle on the occasion of the August General Strike, and the final defeat of the workers’ movement at the hands of the alliance of state forces and the armed fascist bands;
  • the capitulation of Italian social democratic centrism to the openly defeatist action of reformism;
  • of the failure of the tactical approaches of the PCI leadership to oppose a proletarian front of struggle to the bourgeois offensive;
  • of the fascist conquest of power; and
  • of the characterization of the historical trajectory of the Italian Communist Left (1914-1922).

Chapter IX exposes

  • the situation of political, social and economic crisis rampant in Germany during 1922 as a result (a) of the impositions and war reparations demanded by the victorious countries, and (b) of the policy of the German bourgeoisie;
  • the rise of ultra-nationalist German movements;
  • the development of the Fourth Congress of the International, and in particular the discussions on the Theses adopted on the tactic of promoting social-democratic “workers’ governments” or of coalition with communist participation in the context of the bourgeois-democratic state institutions, governments which would constitute a supposed transitional stage between the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the dictatorship of the proletariat, thus giving a strong impulse to the centrist deviations of the communist movement;
  • the rough confrontation between the ECCI and the Italian Party leadership on the “Italian question” due to the latter’s opposition to any fusion with factions of socialism.

Chapter X deals with

  • the accelerated emergence of revolutionary conditions in Germany in 1923 as a result of the invasion of the Ruhr by the French and Belgian armed forces; of hyperinflation exacerbating all political and social antagonisms; of centrifugal state forces that were shaking Bavaria and the Ruhr; of the exacerbation of ultra-nationalist tendencies; and of the loss of influence of social democracy in favor of the communist movement;
  • the chronic crisis of the KPD between the right-wing majority which had centred all the Party’s activity on the search for a political and governmental alliance with “left-wing” social democracy, and an irresponsible communist Left in favour of the “theory of the offensive” at all costs;
  • the adoption of a philo-nationalist policy promoted in Germany by the Directions of the International and the KPD;
  • the great pre-revolutionary mobilizations of the German proletariat of June-August 1923;
  • the late recognition by the Bolshevik leadership of the existence of an objectively revolutionary situation in Germany;
  • the imposition by the ECCI of the organization of a workers’ insurrection from the end of August 1923;
  • the political approach to the insurrection based on the defence of the social-democratic “workers’ governments” with communist participation in Saxony and Thuringia; and
  • the inexorable chain of circumstances that led to the collapse of the whole political-insurrectional approach of the German Revolution, causing the bankruptcy of the tactical orientations of the UF and the Workers Government of the International.

Chapter XI critically details the different analyses of the causes of the October 1923 fiasco, analyses supported by the right and left tendencies of the KPD, by the President of the International (Zinoviev), by Trotsky and, finally, by the Italian Communist Left.

The Final Chapter of the Work (XII)

  • describes the dramatic organizational situation of the PCI as a consequence of the repressive action of the State;
  • details the umpteenth failure of the ECCI to achieve the fusion of the PCI with the Socialist Party;
  • It deals with the development and content of the Fifth Congress of the International (1924), the expression of the political, tactical and organizational shifts of the ECCI and of its desperate and nebulous attempts – in the context of the tendencies in the Bolshevik Party itself – to palliate the disastrous consequences of the Fourth Congress, of the fiasco of October 1923 and of the confusion in which the national sections of the Comintern were immersed;
  • details and evaluates the terms of the polemics between Bordiga and the ECCI during the 5th Congress; and
  • concludes by quickly pointing out the milestones of the counter-revolutionary trajectory of the Stalinized International of the 1930s, which would end with its formal dissolution in 1943, during the world war.

Notas

1 Every political critique must necessarily be made based on clearly established programmatic objectives and principles. Ours refers to the basic positions stated by the International in its first three congresses.

2 This so-called “critical historiography”, fed with historical falsehoods, has followed the ignominious path of those who adhered to Stalinism. In Italy, its most notorious exponent has been Palmiro Togliatti, Secretary General of the Italian Party since 1927 [cf. Togliatti, “Il partito comunista italiano”, 1958]. The representatives of this movement went so far as to accuse the revolutionaries who had led the founding of the PCI and were fighting against Stalinist degeneration of being agents of Fascism and Nazism.

3 In the more “objective” and academic version by Paolo Spriano [“Storia del Partito comunista italiano – Da Bordiga a Gramsci”, Giulio Einaudi editore, 1967] and by Andreina de Clementi [“Amadeo Bordiga”, Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi, 1971]. Spriano himself, official historian of the PCI since the 1950s, was a member of its Central Committee from 1972.

4 Togliatti was named minister in General Badoglio’s government in 1944, and in 1945 he was vice-prime minister in the government of the Christian Democrat De Gasperi. During the Spanish civil war, Togliatti participated in it as the highest official of the Stalinized International, and therefore he had an active responsibility in the repression of the Spanish revolutionary proletariat by the bourgeois democracy supported by the international Stalinism.

5 Cf. Giorgio Galli, “Storia del Partito comunista italiano”, 1958, ed. Schwarz; Franco Livorsi, “Amadeo Bordiga”, (Editori Riuniti, 1976) and Claudio Natoli, “La Terza Internazionale e il fascismo”, (Editori Riuniti, 1982). In the 1990s, another series of authors published works on Bordiga (cf. “Amadeo Bordiga nella storia del comunismo”, Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1999, curated by Luigi Cortesi, with contributions by Luigi Gerosa, Alexander Höbel and Antonio Ca’Zorzi, among others). In 1996, the Fondazione Amadeo Bordiga started the publication of the Complete Writings of Bordiga of the period 1911-1926, with prefaces by Luigi Gerosa. In 2014, Corrado Basile & Alesandro Leni published a voluminous work: “Amadeo Bordiga Politico (Dalle lotte proletarie del primo dopoguerra alla fine degli anni Sessanta)”, Edizione Colibri.

6 This is the case of the books written by Claudio Natoli and Basile-Leni. The first is centred on the question of fascism. Concerning respect to Basile-Leni’s book, we have very critical appraisals of the statements and evaluations contained in it.

7 “Révolution en Allemagne (1917-1923)”, les Éditions de Minuit, 1971.

8 When we refer here to “German communism”, we are alluding fundamentally to the currents that adhered to the Communist International. The detailed study of the communist tendencies that broke with the Comintern in 1920-1921 and were related to the KAPD and German “Councilism” (or “Council-Comunism”) is beyond the scope of this work. For a presentation of these tendencies, see Gilles Dauvé & Denis Authier, “The Communist Left in Germany 1918-1921” [https://libcom.org/files/Dauve-Authier-Communist%20left%20in%20Germany.A4.pdf].

9 Paul Levi was a Spartacist leader expelled by the International in April 1921. Levi will join the Social Democracy immediately afterwards.

10 “However, from 1918 to 1921, Paul Levi had been the only non-Russian communist leader whose intransigence and political insight had made him a potential interlocutor capable of arguing on an equal level with Russian leaders, and no one would fill the vacuum created by his exclusion. He was the only one who set out in political terms the problem of communism after the victorious Russian revolution: how to graft the lively transplant of the 1917 upswing and the power of the councils onto the old tree with deep and solid roots in the Western workers’ movement. After him, there will no longer be in front of the Russians anything but plagiarizers or parrots, as he himself said, only men who doubt and remain silent, resigned in advance to making mistakes. As a living organism, the Communism of 1918-1921 had many nuances, and Levi embodied a German coloration. To oppose Levi to communism during this period (…) means to deny Paul Levi his true historical dimension: that of a lost opportunity” [Ibidem, p.845]. Broué goes so far as to expose Levi’s argument about the fiasco of the German Revolution without expressing any objection to it [Ibidem, pp.860-862].

11 Ibidem, p.855.

12 With these assertions, Broué made his own Paul Levi’s criticisms of the International and the German Party.

13 Chris Harman’s book on the German Revolution is an interesting summary of Broué’s book. But his “explanation” of the failure of German communism is essentially the same as that of his mentor. “La révolution allemande (1918-1923)”, Éditions La Fabrique, 2015, pp.368-369.

14 Ibidem, p.863 and pp.826-832. 26 years later, in his encyclopedic “Histoire de l’Internationale Communiste (1919-1943)” (Fayard, 1997, pp.344-345), to explain the fiasco of October 1923 Broué wanted to “set aside the track of personal deficiencies”, to concentrate on a series of arguments that can be summarized in a poor appreciation of the situation by the Communists, which is tantamount to ignoring both the political approach to the insurrection planned by the International and the propaganda and agitation of the German Party during at least the two years preceding the failed insurrectionary attempt.

15 Cf. his Introduction to the collection of writings by Victor Serge: “Germania 1923 (La Mancata Rivoluzione)”, ed. Graphos, 2003, and “Il ‘fiasco’ del 1923 in Germania”.

16 «The real political causes of the “fiasco” in Germany must be searched for – and we have anticipated this on several occasions – within the workers’ limits of the line followed by the KPD and by the International itself. (…) It was on [the ground of the recognition of a national question in Germany raised by the French occupation of the Ruhr] that the communists could pass over the “grand coalition” [made up of social-democratic and bourgeois parties], of the right and the extreme right, of the army and the police, giving the objective of the conquest of power a dimension appropriate to the participation of the majority of the population, that is, in addition to the proletariat, of the middle classes». (Basile dixit)

17 Vol. 2, 1972 – Vol. 3, 1986 – Vol. 4, 1997 – Vol. 5, 2017. Edizioni Il Programma Comunista, Milano.

18 It is clear that as the author I am the only one responsible for the opinions and statements made in this work.

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