Paul Mattick 1939
Source: Kurasje Archive;
Published: as Chapter V of Anti-Bolshevik Communism, Merlin Press 1978; originally published as "Groups of Council Communists" in The Social Frontier, vol. 5, no. 45, May 1939, pp. 248-253;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden, for marxists.org 2003;
Proofed: and corrected by Geoff Traugh, July 2005.
There can be no doubt that those social forces generally known as the ‘labour movement’ which rose during the last hundred years and, quantitatively, reached their widest expansion shortly before and after the world war, are now definitely on the decline. Though this situation is either happily or reluctantly acknowledged by people concerned with labour questions, realistic explanations of this phenomenon are scarce. Where the labour movement was destroyed by outside forces there remains the problem of how it was eliminated despite the apparent strength that it had acquired in its long period of development. Where it disintegrated of its own accord there remains the question why a new labour movement did not appear, since the social conditions that produce such movements still exist.
Most of the explanations offered fail to convince, because they are offered solely with the purpose of serving the specific, immediate interests of the partisans involved in labour problems, not to mention their limitations in theoretical and empirical knowledge. But worse than a false or inadequate position on the question of responsibility for the present impasse of the labour movement is the resulting inability to formulate courses leading to new independent working class action. There is no dearth of proposals as to how to revive the labour movement; however, the serious investigator cannot help noticing that all such proposals for a ‘new beginning’ are in reality but the restatement and rediscovery of ideas and forms of activity developed with much greater clarity and consistency during the beginnings of the modern labour movement. In refuting the idea of successful application of these rediscovered and – in comparison with later developments – radical principles, it must be considered nor only that these principles must be inadequate, since they were necessarily bound to a quite different stage of development of capitalist society, but that they no longer fit, and can no longer be made to fit, a labour movement which has based its philosophy, forms of organisation and activities for too long a time, and with too much success, on aspirations quite contrary to the content of these earlier principles.
A revival of the old labour movement is not to be expected; that workers’ movement which may be considered new will have to destroy the very features of the old labour movement that were considered its strength. It must avoid its successes, and it cannot aspire merely to a ‘better-than-before’ organisational expression; it must understand all the implications of the present stage of capitalistic development and organise accordingly; it must base its forms of action not on traditional ideas, but on the given possibilities and necessities. To return to the ideals of the past, under the present general social conditions, would only mean an earlier death for the labour movement. Not merely the cowardice of the masters of labour organisations and the labour bureaucracy attached to them brought about the many defeats suffered in recent conflicts with the ruling classes, and determined the outcome of the ‘general’ strike in France, but, more so, a clear or instinctive recognition that the present labour movement cannot operate against capitalistic needs, can in one way or another only serve specific and historically determined capitalistic interests.
Disregarding those organisations and officials who from the beginning conceived their function to be no more than their participation in the distribution of the wealth created by the workers, either by open racketeering or by organising the labour market, this much is obvious: today the leaders of labour as well as the workers themselves are more or less conscious of their inability to operate against capitalism, and the cynicism displayed by so many labour leaders in such practical policies as are still possible, i.e. to ‘sell out’, may be regarded also as the most realistic attitude, derived from a full recognition of a changed situation. The sense of futility predominant in the labour movement of today cannot be dispelled by a more lavish use of radical phraseology, nor by a complete subordination to the ruling classes, as is attempted in many countries where labour leaders clamour for ‘national planning’ and a solution of the social problem within the present conditions of production. On such a basis of action, the old labour movement cannot help copying from the vague proposals of fascistic movements, and as imitators they will have even less success than the originators. Fascism, and the abolition of the present labour movement connected therewith, cannot be arrested with fascistic methods and the adoption of fascistic goals by the labour movement itself.
Though often attempted, it is impossible to explain the present miserable status of the labour movement as the result of the many ‘betrayals’ at the hands of ‘renegades’, or to the ‘lack of insight’ into the real needs of the working class on the part of its leaders. Nor is it possible to blame specific forms of organisations, or certain philosophical trends, for the many defeats that have occurred. Nor is it possible to explain the decline of the movement by attributing it to ‘national characteristics’ or ‘psychological peculiarities’. The decline of the labour movement is a general decline; all organisations, regardless of their specific forms and attitudes, are thereby affected; and no country and no people have been able to escape this downward trend. No country, watching the destruction of the labour movement in other lands, has been able ‘to draw lessons from their defeats’; no organisation, seeing others collapse, was able ‘to learn to avoid this fate’. The emasculation of all workers’ power in Russia in 1920 was easily copied in Turkey, in Italy, in China, in Germany, in Austria, in Czechoslovakia, in Spain, and now in France, and soon in England. It is true that in each country, because of peculiarities of economic and social development, the destruction of labour organisations capable of functioning as such varied from case to case; however, none can deny that in all these countries the independence of the labour movement was abolished. What still exists there under the name of labour organisation has nothing in common with the labour movement that developed historically, or that, in the more backward countries, was in the process of development, and that was founded to maintain an insuperable opposition to a society divided into powerless workers and exploiters controlling all the economic and the consequent political power. What still exists there in the form of parties, trade and industrial unions, labour fronts and other organisations is so completely integrated within the existing societal form that it is unable to function other than as an instrument of that society.
It is, furthermore, not possible to blame the most important theoretical expression thus far developed in the labour movement – Marxism – for the many shortcomings of the labour movement and for its present destruction. That labour movement which is now passing had very little to do with Marxism. Such a criticism of Marxism can arise only from a lack of all knowledge as to its contents. Nor was Marxism misunderstood; it was rejected by both the labour movement and its critics, and was never taken for what it is: “an undogmatic guide for scientific research and revolutionary action” In both cases, by those who adopted it as a meaningless phrase and by those who fought even this meaningless phrase, it was utilised rather as an instrument to conceal a practice which, on the one hand, confirmed the scientific soundness of Marxian social science, and, on the other hand, was strongly opposed to the corresponding and disturbing reality.
Although developed under the influence of Marxism this declining labour movement now has completely repudiated its revolutionary beginnings, even where its adherence has been merely nominal, and operates on entirely bourgeois grounds. As soon as this fact is recognised, there is no need to look for the reasons of the decline of the labour movement in some vaguely constucted and actually disregarded philosophy; instead, this decline becomes a quite obvious parallel to the decline of capitalism. Bound to an expanding capitalism, totally integrated into the whole of the social fabric, the old labour movement can only stagnate with stagnating capitalism and decline with declining capitalism. It cannot divorce itself from capitalist society, unless it breaks completely with its own past, which is possible only by breaking up the old organisations, as far as they still exist. This possibility, however, is precluded because of the vested interests developed in those organisations. A rebirth of the labour movement is conceivable only as a rebellion of the masses against ‘their’ organisations. Just as the relations of production, to speak in Marxian terms, prevent the further unfolding of the productive forces of society, and are responsible for the present capitalistic decline, so the labour organisations of today prevent the full unfolding of the new proletarian class forces and their attempts at new actions serving the class interests of the workers. These conflicting tendencies between working class interests and the predominant labour organisations were most clearly revealed in Europe, where the capitalist expansion process was arrested and the economic contraction was felt more severely, resulting in fascist forms of control over the population. But in America as well, where the forces of capitalist economy have been less exhausted than in Europe, the old labour leaders are joined by those of the newer, apparently more progressive, labour organisations in supporting a struggling capitalist class to maintain its system even after its social and historical basis has vanished.
It is a paradox only to the superficial observer that the decline of the European labour movement was accompanied by a new spurt in labour organisations in the United States. This situation indicates only the tremendous strength and reserve that capitalism in America still possesses. However, it is also an expression of weakness in American capitalism as compared with that of the more centralised capitalism of European countries. Being both an advantage and a disadvantage, the present American labour situation illustrates merely the attempts to utilise the advantage to help eliminate the disadvantage. The centralisation of all possible economic and political powers in the hands of the State (which, due to the declining economy is impelled to participate in larger internal and external struggles) is still opposed in the United States by powerfully individualistic capitalistic interests rightly fearing they will be victimised by this very process. So arises another paradox, that it is precisely the persisting strength of private capital, capable of counteracting state-capitalist trends and of fighting against the organisation of labour, that is largely responsible for the continued existence of these labour organisations. For the indirect but very forceful support the labour movement has found in those governmental policies which are directed against anarchic, individual, capitalistic procedures in an effort to safeguard the present society, will inevitably serve only the State. The State will then have made profitable use of the labour organisation, not the organisation of the State. The more government fosters the interests of labour, the more labour interests disappear, the more these labour organisations make themselves superfluous. The rise in the American labour movement experienced recently is but a veiled symptom of its decline. As was indicated in the first CIO convention held recently, the organised workers are completely subordinated to the most efficient and centralised union leadership. From this complete emasculation of workers’ initiative within their own organisation to the complete subordination of the whole organisation to the State is only a step. Not only capital, as Marx said, is its own grave digger, but also the labour organisations, where they are not destroyed from without, destroy themselves. They destroy themselves in the very attempt to become powerful forces within the capitalist system. They adopt the methods necessary under capitalistic conditions to grow in importance, and thereby in turn continuously strengthen those forces which will eventually ‘take them over’. There is, therefore, no chance to profit from their efforts, for, in the last analysis, the real powers in society decide what shall remain and what shall be eliminated.
Nor is there any hope that, in recognition of the services given to the exploitative society, the labour organisers and their followers will find their proper reward in a completely state-controlled economic system; for all social changes in the present antagonistic society occur by way of struggle. A harmonising of interests between two different kinds of bureaucracies is possible only in exceptional cases, as in the case of war breaking out before the totalitarian system is completed; otherwise the taking over of the old labour movement by the state system leaves the old leaden in the streets, or brings them to the concentration camps, as was so aptly demonstrated in Germany. Nor could the recognition that such a future is probable cause labour leaders to avoid preparing it, as there is given to the present non-revolutionary labour movement no possibility but to pave the way toward it. The only alternative, revolutionary activity, would exclude all those aspects of labour activity which are hailed as the painfully won victories of a long struggle, and would mean the sacrifice of all those values and activities which today make it worth while to work in labour organisations, and which induce workers to enter them.
If the recent development of so-called ‘economically’ organised labour in America is itself an indication of the general decline of the labour movement of the world, and is tellingly illustrated by John L. Lewis’s recent declaration that his organisation stands ready “to support a war of defence against Germany,” or, in other words, that he and his organisation are ready to fight for the interests of American capitalism, there is not even the necessity of proving the decline of the old labour movement in the United States’ political field. Since specific historical and social factors excluded the growth of a political labour movement of any consequence in America, an American political labour movement cannot decline, since it does not exist. With the exception of a number of spontaneous movements that disappeared as quickly as they arose, what hitherto was experienced in the form of a political labour movement in this country was of no significance. The total absence of class consciousness in the ‘economic’ movements here is so well recognised that it is superfluous to mention this fact again. With the exception of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.), the labour organisations in recent history were always considered as complementary to capitalism – as one of its assets. The objective observer must admit that all the organised and unorganised working masses are still under the sway of capitalism, because there developed with expanding capitalism not a labour movement, but a capitalist movement of labourers.
From the negative position developed here it can easily be seen that the future activity of the working class cannot be denoted as a ‘new beginning’, but merely as a beginning. The century of class fight behind us “developed invaluable theoretical knowledge; it found gallant revolutionary words in defiance of the capitalist claim of being a final social system; it awakened the workers from the hopelessness of misery. But its actual fight was within the confines of capitalism; it was action through the medium of leaders and sought only to place easy masters in the place of hard ones.” The previous history of the labour movement must be regarded only as a prelude to future action. Although there can be no doubt that this prelude has already forecast some of the implications of the coming struggle, nevertheless, it remained only an introduction, not a summary, of what is to follow.
The European labour movement disappeared with so little struggle because its organisation had no forward perspective; they knew or felt that there was no room for them in a socialistic system, and their fear that the class society would disappear was no less than that of other privileged groups. Capable of functioning only under capitalistic conditions, they contemplated with disfavour the end of capitalism; a choice between two ways of dying has never enlivened anyone. The fact that such labour organisations can function only in capitalism explains also their rather curious concepts as to what would constitute a socialist society. Their ‘socialism’ was and is a ‘socialism’ that resembled capitalism; they are ‘progressive’ capitalists rather than socialists. All their theories, from that of the ‘Marxian’ revisionist, Bernstein, to those of a ‘market socialism’ in vogue today are only methods of achieving acquiescence in capitalism.
Therefore it is not surprising that such a clearly discernible state-capitalist system as exists in Russia is generally accepted by them as a completed socialistic system, or as a transitory stage to socialism. Criticism directed against the Russian system considers only the lack of democracy, or an alleged malice or stupidity of its bureaucracy, and concerns itself little or not at all with the fact that the relations of production now existing in Russia do not essentially differ from those of other capitalistic countries, or the fact that the Russian workers have no voice whatever in the productive and social affairs of their country, but are subjected politically and economically to exploitative conditions and individuals like the workers of any other nation. Though the large majority of the Russian workers no longer face individual entrepreneurs in their struggle for existence and better living conditions, their present authorities show that even the old aspiration of the labour movement, the replacement of hard masters with benevolent ones, has not been fulfilled there.
They show also that the disappearance of the individual capitalist alone does not end the capitalist form of exploitation. His transformation into a state official, or his replacement by state officers, still leaves intact the system of exploitation which is peculiar to capitalism. The separation of the workers from the means of production and, with this, class rule, are continued in Russia, with the addition of a highly centralised, single-minded exploitative apparatus that now makes more difficult the struggle of the workers for their objectives, so that Russia reveals itself only as a modified capitalistic development expressed in a new terminology. Attempts at a greater national sufficiency, forced upon Russia, as it has been forced upon all other capitalistic countries, is now celebrated as ‘the building up of socialism in one country’. The disruption of world economy, which explains and allows the forced development of state capitalism in Russia, is now described s ‘a side-by-side existence of two fundamentally different social systems’. However, the optimism of the labour movement seems to increase with each defeat it suffers. The greater progress class differentiation makes in Russia, the more the new ruling class succeeds in suppressing opposition to an increasing and highly celebrated exploitation, the more Russia participates in the capitalist world economy and becomes an imperialistic power among the others, the more socialism is deemed to be fully realised in that country. Just as the labour movement has been able to see socialism marching in capitalist accumulation, it celebrate, now the march toward barbarism as so many steps toward the new society.
However divided the old labour movement may be by disagreements on various topics, on the question of socialism it stands united. Hilferding’s abstract ‘General-Cartel’, Lenin’s admiration for the German war socialism and the German postal service, Kautsky’s eternalisation of the value-price-money economy (desiring to do consciously what in capitalism is performed by blind market laws), Trotsky’s war communism equipped with supply and demand features, and Stalin’s institutional economics – all these concepts have at their base the continuation of the existing conditions of production. As a matter of fact, they are mere reflections of what is actually going on in capitalist society. Indeed, such ‘socialism’ is discussed today by famous bourgeois economists like Pigou, Hayek, Robbins, Keynes, to mention only a few, and has created a considerable literature to which the socialists now turn for their material. Furthermore, bourgeois economists from Marshall to Mitchell, from the neo-classicists to the modern institutionalists, have concerned themselves with the question of how to bring order into the disorderly capitalist system, the trend of their thought paralleling the trend of an ever greater intrusion of the State into competitive society, a process resulting in ‘New Deals’, ‘National-Socialism’, and ‘Bolshevism’, the various names for the different degrees and variations of the centralisation and concentration process of the capitalist system.
It has recently become almost a fad to describe the inconsistencies of the labour movement as a tragic contradiction between means and ends. However, such an inconsistency does not exist. Socialism has not been the desired ‘end’ of the old labour movement; it was merely a term employed to hide an entirely different objective, which was political power within a society based on rulers and ruled for a share in the created surplus value. This was the end that determined the means.
The means-and-ends problem is that of ideology and reality based on class relations in society. However, the problem is artificial because it cannot be solved without dissolving the class relations. It is also meaningless, as it exists only in thought; no such contradiction exists in actuality. The actions of classes and groups may be explained at any time on the basis of the productive relations existing in society. When actions do not correspond to proclaimed ends, it is only because those ends really are not fought for, these apparent ends, instead, reflect a dissatisfaction unable to turn to action, or a desire to conceal the real ends. No class really can act incorrectly, i.e., act in any way at variance with determinant social forces, though it has unlimited possibilities to think incorrectly. Within capitalism’s social production each class depends upon the other; their antagonism is their identity of interests; and so long as this society exists, there can be no choice of action. Only by breaking through the confines of this society is it possible to co-ordinate means and ends deliberately, to establish true unity of theory and practice.
In capitalist society there is only an apparent contradiction between means and ends, the disparity being only a weapon to serve an actual practice not at all out of harmony with the desires involved. One need only to discover the actual end behind the ideological end to smooth out the apparent inconsistency. To use a practical example: if one believes that trade unions are interested in strikes as a method of minimalising profits and increasing wages, as they contend, he will be surprised to discover that when trade unions were apparently most powerful and when the need to increase wages was the greatest, trade unions were more reluctant than ever to use the strike medium in the interest of their goal. The unions turned to means less appropriate to the end aspired to, such as arbitration and governmental regulations. The fact is that wage increase under all conditions is no longer the end of trade unions; they are no longer what they were at their start; their true end is now the maintenance of the organisational apparatus under all conditions; the new means are those tactics most appropriate to this goal. But to disclose their changed character would be to alienate the workers from the organisation. Thus, the mere ideological end becomes a weapon for securing the real end, becomes only an instrument in a quite realistic and well-integrated activity.
Nevertheless, the ends-and-means problem excited the old labour movement considerably and explains in part why the real character of that movement was recognised so slowly and why illusions flourished as to the possibilities of reforming it. The most important attempt to revolutionise the old labour movement was made when the Russian revolution of 1905 had interrupted the everyday business in which the labour movement was then engaged and the question of an actual social change came to the fore again. But even here, in its apparent opposition, the old labour movement revealed its innate capitalistic character. Lenin’s serious attempts to solve the problem of power led him straight back into the camp of the bourgeois revolutionists. This resulted not only from the backward Russian conditions, but also from the theoretical development of Western socialism, which had only further emphasised the bourgeois character it had inherited from earlier revolutions. The capitalist nature of the labour movement also appeared in its economic theory, which, following the trend in bourgeois economics, viewed the problems of society more and more as a question of distribution, as a market problem. Even the revolutionary onslaught of Rosa Luxemburg in her Akkumulation des Kapitals against the ‘revisionists’ was still an argument on the level established by her antagonists. She, too, deduced the limitations of the capitalist society mainly from its inability, because of limited markets, to realise the surplus value. Not the sphere of production, but the sphere of circulation seemed of predominant importance, determining the life and death of capitalism.
However, from the pre-war left (which included Luxemburg, Liebknecht, Pannekoek and Gorter), coupled with the actual struggles of workers in mass strikes in the East as well as the West, there arose a movement during the war which continued for a few years as a truly anti-capitalistic trend and found its organisational expression in various anti-parliamentarian and anti-trade union groups in a number of countries. In its beginnings and despite all its inconsistencies, this movement was from the outset strictly opposed to the whole of capitalism, as well as to the whole of the labour movement that was a part of the system. Recognising that the assumption of power by a party meant only a change of exploiters, it proclaimed that society must be controlled directly by the workers themselves. The old slogans of abolition of the classes, abolition of the wage system, abolition of capital production, ceased to be slogans and became the immediate ends of the new organisations. Not a new ruling group in society, willing to act ‘for the workers’ and, with this power, able to act against them, was their aim, but the direct control by the workers over the means of production through an organisation of production securing this control . These groups refused to distinguish between the different parties and trade unions, but saw in them remains of a past stage of struggles within the capitalist society. They were no longer interested in bringing new life to the old organisations, but in making known the need for organisations not only of entirely different character – class organisation capable of changing society, but capable also of organising the new society in such manner as to make exploitation impossible.
What remains of this movement, as far as it found permanent organisational expression, exists today under the name of Groups of Council Communists. They consider themselves Marxist and with that, internationalists. Recognising that all problems of today are international problems, they refuse to think in nationalistic terms, contending that all special national considerations serve only capitalistic competitive needs. In their own interests the workers must develop the forces of production further, a condition which presupposes a consequent internationalism. However, this position does not overlook national peculiarities and therefore does not lead to attempts to pursue identical policies in different countries. Each national group must base its activities on an understanding of its surroundings, without interference from any other group, though the exchange of experiences is expected to lead to co-ordinated activities wherever possible. These groups are Marxist because there has not as yet developed a social science superior to that originated by Marx, and because the Marxian principles of scientific research still are the most realistic and allow incorporation of new experiences growing out of continuing capitalistic development. Marxism is not conceived as a closed system, but as the present state of a growing social science capable of serving as a theory of the practical class struggle of the workers.
So far the main functions of these organisations consisted of critique. However, this critique is no longer directed against the capitalism that existed at the time of Marx. It includes a critique of that transformation of capitalism which appears under the name of ‘socialism’. Critique and propaganda are the only practical activities possible today, and their apparent fruitlessness only reflects an apparent non-revolutionary situation. The decline of the old labour movement, involving the difficulty and even impossibility of bringing forth a new one, is a lamentable prospect only for the old labour movement; it is neither hailed nor bewailed by the Groups of Council Communists, but simply recognised as a fact. The latter recognise also that the disappearance of the organised labour movement changes nothing of the social class structure; that the class struggle must continue, and will be forced to operate on the basis of given possibilities. “A class in which the revolutionary interests of society are concentrated, so soon as it has risen up, finds directly in its own situation the content and the material of its revolutionary activity: foes to be laid low; measures (dictated by the needs of the struggle) to be taken; the consequences of its own deeds to drive it on. It makes no theoretical inquiries into its own task.” Even a fascist society cannot end class struggles – the fascist workers will be forced to change the relations of production. However, there is actually no such thing as a fascist society just as there is no such thing as a democratic society. Both are only different stages of the same society, neither higher nor lower, but simply different, as a result of shifts of class forces within the capitalist society which have their basis in a number of economic contradictions.
The Groups of Council Communists recognise also that no real social change is possible under present conditions unless the anti-capitalistic forces grow stronger than the pro-capitalist forces, and that it is impossible to organise anti-capitalistic forces of such a strength within capitalistic relations. From the analysis of present-day society and from a study of previous class struggles it concludes that spontaneous actions of dissatisfied masses will, in the process of their rebellion, create their own organisations, and that these organisations, arising out of the social conditions, alone can end the present social arrangement. The question of organisation as discussed today is regarded as a superfluous question, as the enterprises, public works, relief stations, armies in the coming war, are sufficient organisations to allow for mass action-organisations which cannot be eliminated regardless of what character capitalist society may assume.
As an organisational frame for the new society is proposed a council organisation based on industry and the productive process, and the adoption of the social average labour time as a measurement for production, reproduction and distribution in so far as measurements are necessary to secure economic equality despite the existing division of labour. This society, it is believed, will be able to plan its production according to the needs and the enjoyment desired by the people.
The Groups further realise, as already stated, that such a society can function only with the direct participation of the workers in all decisions necessary; its concept of socialism is unrealisable on the basis of a separation between workers and organisers. The Groups do not claim to be acting for the workers, but consider themselves as those members of the working class who have, for one reason or another, recognised evolutionary trends towards capitalism’s downfall, and who attempt to co-ordinate the present activities of the workers to that end. They know that they are no more than propaganda groups, able only to suggest necessary courses of action, but unable to perform them in the ‘interest of the class’. This the class has to do itself. The present functions of the Groups, though related to the perspectives of the future, attempt to base themselves entirely on the present needs of the workers. On all occasions, they try to foster self-initiative and self-action of the workers. The Groups participate wherever possible in any action of the working population, not proposing a separate programme, but adopting the programme of those workers and endeavouring to increase the direct participation of those workers, in all decisions. They demonstrate in word and deed that the labour movement must foster its own interests exclusively; that society as a whole cannot truly exist until classes are abolished; that the workers, considering nothing but their specific, most immediate interests, must and do attack all the other classes and interests of the exploitative society; that they can do no wrong as long as they do what helps them economically and socially; that this is possible only as long as they do this themselves; that they must begin to solve their affairs today and so prepare themselves to solve the even more urgent problems of the morrow.
1. See Economic Planning and Labour Plans (Paris: International Federation of Trade Unions, 1936).
2. See Karl Marx by Karl Korsch. A re-statement of the most important principles and contents of Marx’s social science. (New York, John Wiley, 1938.)
3. J. Harper, “General Remarks on the Question of Organisation”, Living Marxism, November, 1938, p 153.
4. ‘Left’, or workers’ communist organisations, trace their earliest beginnings to the left opposition developing in the Socialist and Communist parties before, during and shortly after the war, Their concepts of direct workers’ control assumed real significance with the coming of ‘soviets’ in the Russian Revolution, the shop stewards in England during the war, and the workers’ factory delegates in Germany during the war, and the workers’ and soldiers’ councils after the war. These groups were expelled from the Communist International in 1920. Lenin’s pamphlet, Left Wing Communism An Infantile Disorder (1920), was written to destroy the influence of these groups in western Europe. These groups considered the Bolshevik policies counter-revolutionary as regards the class interests of the international working class, and it was defeated by this counter-revolution which combined with the reformist movement and the capitalist class proper to destroy the first beginnings of a radical movement directed against all forms of capitalism. What still remains of this movement today are small groups in America, Germany, Holland, France and Belgium unable to do more than propaganda work influencing extremely small groups of workers.
5. Karl Marx, The Class Struggles in France, 1848-50.