Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History


Rob Sewell, Germany: From Revolution to Counter-Revolution, Fortress Books, London 1988, pp.95, £2.50

This is a brief introduction to its subject, wholly derivative and based upon no firsthand research whatsoever. The standard snobbish language about the ‘sects’ and the polemic against Chris Harman’s The Lost Revolution (pp.33-34) show that it was written for internal consumption, to confirm the faithful in their prejudices. The author is blissfully unaware of Broué’s massive contribution, apart from the extensive publication of original source material in Germany.

A number of left wing myths are perpetuated, and even disinterred. Valtin’s Out of the Night is described as an “autobiography” without qualification (p.16) and there is no attempt to understand the positions on the war of both Bernstein (pp.13, 17) and Kautsky (p.10), who are described as having moved from national defence to pacifism without any qualification (cf. M. Salvadori, Karl Kautsky, pp.181ff., 204, etc.). A better proof-reading of the quotations, for example the one from Lenin on p.25, would have made the text more accurate, but not more original.

Al Richardson

Updated by ETOL: 6.7.2003