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Today is the 113th anniversary of the death of Wilhelm Liebknecht, founder of the SPD. Here is what the “Great Soviet Encyclopedia of 1979” said about him:
Born Mar. 29, 1826, in Giessen; died Aug. 7, 1900, in Berlin. A prominent figure in the German democratic and labor movement, a disciple and comrade of K. Marx and F. Engels. One of the founders and leaders of the German Social Democratic Party. The son of an official.
Liebknecht was educated in the universities of Berlin, Giessen, and Marburg. He was active in the Revolution of 1848–49 in Germany. After the revolution was defeated he emigrated first to Switzerland and then to Great Britain. During his emigration he became acquainted with Marx and Engels. Under their influence he adopted the ideas of scientific communism. In 1850 he joined the Union of Communists. The proclamation of an amnesty permitted Liebknecht to return to Prussia in 1862. He worked as a correspondent for various democratically oriented German and foreign newspapers. He was involved with the General German Workers’ Association and helped form the opposition to Lassallean leadership within the association. Liebknecht was one of the most ardent propagandists of the revolutionary ideas of the First International. He helped attract German workers to its ranks. In April 1865, Liebknecht was expelled from Berlin and traveled to Leipzig in Saxony, where together with A. Bebel he was active in workers’ societies. In January 1868 he was appointed editor of Demokratisches Wochenblatt, which in December 1868 became the newspaper of the Union of German Workers’ Societies. He worked in close contact with Bebel.
“Bebel,” wrote V. I. Lenin, “found in Liebknecht just what he wanted—living contact with the great work done by Marx in 1848, contact with the party formed at that time, which, though small, was genuinely proletarian, a living representative of Marxist views and Marxist traditions” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 23, p. 365). Counterbalancing the leaders of the Lassalleans, Liebknecht and Bebel criticized the policies of O. Bismarck, who had carried out the unification of Germany by counterrevolutionary means under the aegis of the Prussian Junkers. Striving to unify the country on a democratic basis, Liebknecht tolerated certain mistakes (assuming that the creation of an independent workers’ party was premature, he allied with the South German petit bourgeois democrats, who were calling for a policy of federalism). Liebknecht’s democratic illusions were sharply criticized by Marx and Engels, with whom Liebknecht was in constant communication. In 1868 at the Nuremberg Congress of Workers’ Societies, Liebknecht and Bebel broke organizationally with the bourgeois democratic currents and in 1869 founded in Eisenach the Social Democratic Workers’ Party, which was governed by the revolutionary principles of the First International. Liebknecht was the editor of the central party newspaper, Volksstaat, published in Leipzig.
Liebknecht was a deputy to the North German Reichstag from 1867 to 1870 and to the German Reichstag beginning in 1874 (with interruptions). Following the instructions of Marx and Engels, Liebknecht skillfully used the parliamentary platform to denounce the reactionary foreign and domestic policies of the Prussian Junkers and to attack militarism. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, Liebknecht and Bebel, taking an internationalist position, opposed the annexationist plans of the Junkers and bourgeoisie. He passionately propagandized the idea of solidarity with the Paris Commune of 1871. For their opposition to Germany’s annexation of Alsace and East Lorraine, Liebknecht and Bebel were brought to trial in 1872 by Bismarck’s government, accused of “state treason,” and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. “We congratulate all of you for your speech in court,” Engels wrote to Liebknecht on Apr. 23, 1872, referring to the bold appeal of the accused to the German and international workers’ movement (Marx and Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 33, p. 378).
Liebknecht was instrumental in helping the Eisenachians and Lassalleans come together in 1875. However, in doing this he made considerable concessions to the Lassalleans on questions of principle involving both theory and the party program. The program adopted at the Gotha Social Democratic Unity Congress, which had been principally devised by Liebknecht, was sharply criticized by Marx and Engels. Under the impact of criticism from Marx and Engels, Liebknecht adopted revolutionary positions at decisive moments of the class struggle. During the period when the discriminatory law against socialists was in force (1878–90), Liebknecht was one of the militant leaders of the illegal party. In 1890 he became editor in chief of Vorwärts, the central organ of the Social Democratic Party. He played an active part in disseminating Marxist teachings in Germany.
He was repeatedly imprisoned for revolutionary activities. Liebknecht was one of the organizers of the Second International and a participant in its congresses. He actively opposed militarism.
By Jim Hargreaves
If we are to build a kautskyian mass party, we would obviously need members and the support of the proletariat. So, how do we obtain this? Agitation: agitate inside your union for a rank and file workers union, rather than the bureaucratic, class collaborationist organisation that the majority of unions are today; agitate in your workplace for strikes; agitate on the streets by handing out leaflets and papers; agitate online by making your own site or on Facebook.
By doing this, it will:
A) increase class consciousness
B) lead to others joining you in your agitation
C) increase the numbers of the party, therefore giving it more power, thus giving it more influence in unions, which will give it more influence among the working class as a whole.
With each strike the proletariat will grow in confidence, leading to more strikes and demonstrations, which will boost its confidence even more! We need to agitate for independent working class organisations, not just ones set up by one of the many ‘communist’ parties; we need to agitate for committees to be formed- people’s councils; we need to agitate for the workers running their own factories, and their own lives without the bourgeois state moralistically regulating what we can and can’t do. We need to agitate for freedom and for the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat.
What needs to be formed is something similar to the soviets which were formed in Russia- democratic, independent working class organisation which are suitable of superseding the bourgeois state apparatus.
Our demands are simple: we want those who work to receive the full fruits of their labour; we want to do away with bosses, policemen, soldiers and bureaucrats; we want to run our own lives. We can only do this by overthrowing the bourgeois state and replacing it with the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat.
By Joseph Cox
It is my view that for Christians, the majority of the people in the western world, to be truly Christian, meaning to adhere fully to Jesus’ teachings, they should be communists. Communism is not a system of totalitarian government control, nor is it necessarily atheistic. Communism is the ideal society: there are no states, no classes, no oppression; it is, more or less, a practical utopia in my eyes, one in which Christianity’s teachings actively advocates its followers to work towards. While most communists have been atheists, there is a growing movement of socialist liberation theology, especially in Latin America, that is both fully Christian and socialist.
In the Bible, there is clearly evidence that the early Christians practiced a local system identical to communism. In communism, property is owned by the community as a whole, and is operated on the idea of ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’. In Acts 2:44-45, there is a passage that states, “All that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”
Do I really need to explain further how these characteristics of communism were an inherent part of the early Christian communities? The apostles held all their property in common with each other, with their community, just as communism would. All their goods, such as food and other resources, were distributed based on each person’s needs, not whether they could afford it, which is exactly the way a communist system would get resources distributed. In fact, there is another similar passage in Acts 4 that states, “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”
Now, one of many things I hear Christians who argue that Jesus was not a communist is that, “Hey! Communism wasn’t around until about 1,800 thousand years later!” While that is true, Jesus’ views were very communistic regardless of whether He called it communism or not. Also, He’s omniscient, so he knew quite well what communism is. Putting that aside, Jesus’ contempt for the rich was quite evident in the passage Matthew 19:23-24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ ” Jesus Christ, who is God, believed that the rich could not enter into Heaven. I want you to just think about how strong of a statement that is to make, that for the rich man to enter in God’s Heavenly Kingdom, it will be almost impossible though it would still be possible because God can choose to forgive them for the sin of being rich. If being rich is a sin, which undoubtedly it is because it keeps you out of Heaven, then Jesus is clearly against being rich, which is caused by the class system, which communists aim to abolish. A similar passage also implies Jesus’ contempt for the rich, calling them thieves, in Matthew 21:12–13, which states “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” The Cleansing of the Temple is told in all four of the Gospels, meaning it is of great importance.
“But Jesus can’t possibly be a communist!” conservative so-called Christians state, “Jesus was against violence, and communists want the violent overthrow of capitalism!” Let’s look over another passage of the Bible, Matthew 10:34-39, which states, “‘Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.’ Jesus did NOT come to bring peace to evil. Evil does not deserve peace. Rather, Jesus wants good to fight against evil with all its might. Jesus does not want to let evil live on. To believe that would be to imply He does not care whether or not evil exists, but He does, and He wants us to fight it! Anyone who has read Revelations knows that Jesus will not be merciful to Evil, but will instead fight and win against it.
There is plenty of evidence that true communism, which is NOTHING like Stalinist Russia, Juchist North Korea, nor neo-liberal China, is the way to go for humanity. Jesus would love nothing more to end the class system, which is inherently unjust. All Christians, regardless of denomination, should advocate and fight for communism every day. Communism would end all poverty and all of the problems that are the result of class society, which is what Jesus would want. Working People of All Countries, Unite!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Christian_communism_logo.svg (the picture of the cross and sickle i.e. the symbol of Christian communism at the beginning of the article)
http://www.skeptically.org/bible/id14.html (for the Acts passages of the first body paragraph)
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew%2019:23-19:26&version=NIV (for the eye of a needle passage)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/But_to_bring_a_sword (for the “but to bring a sword” passage)
http://www.turnbacktogod.com/story-jesus-wants-all-of-you-not-just-a-part/ (for the “Jesus Wants You” poster picture at the end of the article).
The word ‘soviet’ is Russian for ‘council’, and these originated during the 1905 revolution in Russia. In 1905, the Russo-Japanese War increased the strain on Russian industrial production, the workers began to strike and rebel. They represented an autonomous workers movement, one that broke free from the government’s control over trade unions. Soviets sprang up throughout the industrial centers of Russia, usually organized on the factory level. The soviets disappeared after the Revolution of 1905, but re-emerged under Socialist leadership during the Revolution of 1917.
After the toppling of the tsar from power, soviets were once again organised under the provisional government to almost keep things together until the constituent assembly was elected.
At the beginning of the February Revolution of 1917, these soviets were under control of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and even the Mensheviks had a larger share of the elected representatives than the Bolsheviks. But as World War I continued, the Russian army met defeat after defeat, and the provisional government proved inadequate at establishing industrial peace, the Bolsheviks began to grow in support. By degrees, the Bolsheviks dominated with a leadership which demanded “all power to the soviets.”
The Bolsheviks promised the proletariat a state run by workers’ councils to overthrow the bourgeoisie’s main political body – the Provisional Government. In October 1917 (this actually happened in November, but the Julian calendar that was used in Russia at the time didn’t account for leap years, so was behind everyone who used the georgian calendar), the Bolsheviks overthrew the provisional government, giving all power to the Soviets. It is important to note that the Soviets were heavily dominated by The Bolsheviks, which meant the Bolsheviks had the support of the vast majority of the proletariat.
With village and factory soviets as a base, there arose a vast pyramid of district, cantonal, county and regional soviets, each with its executive soviet. Over and above these stood the “All-Russian Soviet Congress,” which appointed an “All-Russian Central Executive Committee” of no more than 200 members, which in turn chooses the “Soviet of People’s Commissaries” — the Ministry. Beginning with a minimum of three and maximum of 50 members for smaller communities, the maximum for town soviets was fixed at 1,000 members. The soviet system was seen as an alternative to parliamentary systems for administering republican governments. The deputies were accountable and were able to be recalled by those who elected them.
John Reed (author of ‘Ten days that shook the world’) wrote:
“Until February 1918 anybody could vote for delegates to the Soviets. Even had the bourgeoisie organised and demanded representation in the Soviets, they would have been given it. For example, during the regime of the Provisional Government there was bourgeois representation in the Petrograd Soviet – a delegate of the Union of Professional Men which comprised doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc”.
Leon Trotsky wrote in Terrorism and Communism (1920) that “In Petrograd, in November 1917, we also elected a Commune (Town Council) on the basis of the most “democratic” voting, without limitations for the bourgeoisie. These elections, being boycotted by the bourgeoisie parties, gave us a crushing majority. The “democratically” elected Council voluntarily submitted to the Petrograd Soviet…the Soviet Government placed no obstacle in the way of the bourgeois parties; and if the Cadets, the SRs and the Mensheviks, who had their press which was openly calling for the overthrow of the Soviet Government, boycotted the elections, it was only because at that time they still hoped soon to make an end of us with the help of armed force…If the Petrograd bourgeoisie had not boycotted the municipal elections, its representatives would have entered the Petrograd Council. They would have remained there up to the first Social Revolutionary and Cadet rising, after which…they would probably have been arrested if they did not leave the Council in good time, as at a certain moment did the bourgeois members of the Paris Commune.”
Unfortunately, due to the majority of parties support for the counter revolution, all opposition parties had to be banned. The Left SRs and Left internationalist Mensheviks were allowed to run for the soviets, and many of these people later joined the Bolsheviks, in fact the left SRs entered a coalition with the Bolsheviks from the start of Soviet rule. The ban on opposition parties, as well as general poverty due to a world war, a civil war and the fact that 14 foreign armies had invaded, ultimately lead to the Thermidorian reaction taking over the Bolshevik party, and Stalin and his bureaucratic clique ruled with an iron fist, crushing all autonomous workers organisations.
Capitalism is in a crisis, and the light at the end of a tunnel is an oncoming train. We must seize control of our workplaces, public places and town halls and turn them into forums to decide our collective future. Our workplaces must no longer belong to the few, but to the people who work there; most importantly, we should fight to get representatives of the proletariat into parliament, to increase class consciousness and to gain concessions from the bourgeoise; we must form a SPD-like mass party and form militias. It is only when the majority of the proletariat is class conscious that we can topple the bourgeois state and form soviets and workers committees, because the fruits of our labour should belong to us, not to a small elite.
In the late seventies, the United States of America armed the opponents of the pro-soviet Afghan government- the mujahideen. Radical Islamists from around the world flocked to join the mujahideen in their American funded war, which were indoctrinated with Islamist texts-printed in America. M-16s, Stinger missiles, CIA agent, etcetera were all sent to the Islamists. Among these men fighting the afghan state was a Saudi Arabian oligarch- Osama Bin Laden. Arming Islamists to fight against people who are anti-American came around to haunt the United States, as the people they had trained, given weapons and explosives to, used them against the US at a later date- namely the US embassy bombings and 9/11.
You would think that the US would’ve abandoned its realpolitik approach on foreign policy, but we have seen that it hasn’t in places like Syria, where they armed the most dedicated opponents of the Assad regime- the Islamists, which have people coming to help them from across the world. Communists must be realistic here- when the rebels are executing Christians and atheists, we must support Assad. Assad, for a middle eastern ruler, is a secular one, does not force women to wear veils, and protects minorities. What’s more, Assad has the support of the majority of the Syrian people, compared to the Islamist rebels. Do not misunderstand me: I support Assad as a progressive force against the Islamists, but ultimately, as a communist, I oppose Assad as an agent of capital.
For the meanwhile, we must support Assad to stop a reactionary government coming to power and further stifling class consciousness ; long term we advocate the toppling of all capitalists from power, the destruction of their state and the means of production and political power being seized by the proletariat. Class consciousness can magically appear in every member of the populace spontaneously- what needs to be done after the crushing of the reactionary threat is the following:
1) Bourgeois democracy must be fought for, as it allows unions which can fight to gain concessions from the bourgeosie and increase the quality of life for proletarians.
2) The people must be trained in how to use guns and must be armed, either by the state or through their own devices.
With each strike the proletariat will gain more and more confidence; with each political gain the proletariat will become more powerful. Any attempt to take this hard earned power and ‘democracy’ away from the proletariat must be resisted, with force if it is required.
This article is from Critical Proletariat, a site which we at the underground hope to be working with in the future. I strongly recommend that you go to the site if you enjoy reading the underground.
By James O. Gibson
As you already know from my previous posts, I think that combating the criticisms of socialism will be a crucial part of building any anti-capitalist movement in our world today. The opponents of socialism will often criticize its practicality, sometimes even branding it as utopian. What these people don’t understand is that Marxism sits very far away from utopianism, Karl Marx was strongly against utopianism. In many respects, Marx was a realist with a very scientific way of approaching the problems that he diagnosed, however there was one thing that made Marx stand out among other thinkers of the time. Karl Marx was open about his passions in regards to class struggle and socialism, and was always transparent about the fact that his passions would influence his work. The critical thinking applied by Marx went far beyond his critique of capitalism, but became a tool of diagnosis for his own analytic frameworks.
If anything, neoliberalism is much more utopian than Marxism ever was, as it relies on the concept of a market equilibrium meeting the social needs of the people. Marx saw that this equilibrium would be unlikely and it almost certainly wouldn’t meet the needs of the majority, as an equilibrium relies of absence of external factors. As we know, our economy is rife with these external factors. Marx saw that within capitalism there are a variety of contradictions, and eventually these contradictions result in crisis. Marxism is more about the critique of capitalism than it is the establishment of a socialist state. That said, his criticisms of capitalism helped create the need for the creation of a socialist movement, and Marx spent a good portion of time in Britain as a journalist trying to raise support for such issues.
Marx recognized the concept that people wouldn’t always act in ways that were intended in a certain system, he also understood that not everybody was a complete rational actor. He draws to phenomena such as fetishism to explain the desires and misconceptions that lead people to make decisions that may not be entirely rational on an underlying level. In a market economy, not everything is as it seems. In Marxism, there is this underlying idea that the market is a mechanic used to exploit- but most working people hadn’t recognized this. Aside from fetishism, Marx was also focused (arguably more greatly) on the flaws of the endless desire to accumulate wealth. Infinite growth can’t be supported in a world with a limited amount of resources and so on.
Understandably, there are breeds of socialism that encourage a certain flare of utopianism, however for the most part – socialism and Marxism are simply the desires to give the working people more equality and empowerment than the current capitalist system gives them. Personally, I recognize the fact that within the socialist system there will be bad eggs who are corrupt and want to abuse the system – however the socialist cause would be to eliminate these counter-revolutionaries. In the period after the Russian revolution, there was a huge divide among the factions involved – an internal dispute that ended with Joseph Stalin succeeding to General Secretary after Lenin’s death. Stalin then conducted a mass-industrialization of the country and implemented policies that created an entirely new ruling class in Russia. It was a failed revolution, but not a failure of socialism.