In the Steps of Rosa Luxemburg: Selected Writings of Paul Levi (Historical Materialism Book Series, Volume 31)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
David Fernbach (ed. & Intro)
Paul Levi remains one of the most interesting and controversial figures in the early history of the Communist movement. As leader of the KPD after the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, he successfully built up a party of a third of a million members, but by 1921 Comintern pressure for ‘Bolshevisation’ forced Levi’s resignation and expulsion. Until his early death in 1930 he remained ‘a revolutionary socialist of the Rosa Luxemburg school’ (Carl von Ossietsky), and was described by Albert Einstein as ‘one of the wisest, most just and courageous persons I have come across’. The first English edition of Levi’s writings fills a long-standing gap in the documents of German Communism.
Mit [Fernbach's] Auswahl der Texte legt der Band [...] einen anderen Schwerpunkt als die auf Deutsch zugängliche Sammlung, .... Zugleich werden so einige Artikel Levis zugänglich, die auf Deutsch – soweit ersichtlich – nur im Original, nicht aber in einem Nachdruck vorliegen. Gerade dieseTexte sind sehr spannend, zeigen sie doch Levi als politischen Denker, der für innerparteiliche Demokratie Stellung bezieht, und sich als scharfsinniger Analytiker der politischen Lage in der Weimarer Republik erweist.
Thilo Scholle, Magazin 188: 65
Seit 1969 hat es in Deutschland keine Edition der Schriften Paul Levis mehr gegeben, weder in der DDR, wo er bis 1983 als Verräter galt, noch im Westen, wo er in Vergessenheit geraten war. Insofern füllt die unlängst erschienene englischsprachige Levi-Ausgabe eine Lücke. [...] Gegenüber der Ausgabe von 1969 hat Fernbach gut ein Viertel der Texte vollständig neu ediert, darunter zwei Artikel zu den Räte-Experimenten in Budapest und München sowie einen Schlüsseltext Levis, das vierzig Seiten umfassende Protokoll seiner Verteidigungsrede vor dem Zentralausschuss der deutschen Kommunisten im Mai 1921. Einleitung und Bibliographie spiegeln weitgehend den aktuellen Stand der historischen Kommunismusforschung wider.
Rolf Wörsdörfer, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 23 May 2012.
With this skillfully edited collection of Levi's speeches and writings, Fernbach, long established as a leading student of Marxism, makes a major contribution to understanding the Left in Europe in the years after WW I.
Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.
Choice, March 2012
Levi’s writings in English [...] allow English-reading socialists to obtain a fuller understanding of the German revolutionary period after the First World War, a period rich in lessons for anti-capitalists today. [...] Brill and David Fernbach have done a service to the left in making them available to the English reader.
Stuart King, in Permanent Revolution, vol. 22 (Winter 2012), pp. 29-34.
Part One: Leading the KPD
Address to the Founding Congress of the KPD
Letter to Lenin (1919)
The Munich Experience: An Opposing View
The Political Situation and the KPD (October 1919)
The Lessons of the Hungarian Revolution
The World-Situation and the German Revolution
The Beginning of the Crisis in the Communist Party and the International
Letter to Loriot
Part Two: The March Action
Our Path: Against Putschism
What Is the Crime? The March Action or Criticising It?
Letter to Lenin (1921)
The Demands of the Kommunistische Arbeitsgemeinschaft
Part Three: The Soviet Question
Letter to Clara Zetkin
Introduction to Rosa Luxemburg’s pamphlet The Russian Revolution
Introduction to Trotsky, The Lessons of October
The Retreat from Leninism
After Ten Years
Approaching the End
Part Four: The German Republic
The Murder of Erzberger
The Needs of the Hour
Why We Are Joining the United Social-Democratic Party
The Assassination of Rathenau
The Situation after Rathenau’s Death
The Reich and the Workers
The Defenders of the Republic
After the Oath
took power. They are no longer the party that gathers social forces and leads them to a goal, but rather the expression of forces that are not proletarian, and whose goal is not socialist. The most vital tendency in Russia was an almost savage nationalism, and, once the powerful economic energies of the country were developed, this nationalism threatened ‘a new and bloody chapter of imperialism for Europe and the world’. ‘For the first time in history, class-sentiment is being wielded as a means
it necessary to say all this? Yes, for the sake of clarity and our future. Is it possible to reproach anyone? No, I do not lift a stone against any person. 3. [This statement of Levi’s may sound surprising, in view of the considerable resonance that the Munich soviet has had for the Left down the years. But confirmation is given by Broué , who dispatches it with a mere three paragraphs (pp. -) in his thousand-page book.] The Political Situation and the KPD (October 1919)* [. . .]
can if the government buildings, banks etc. are occupied. There are, however, two industrial districts that are of vital importance for the state, and that could force it to capitulate after a while: Rhineland-Westphalia and central Germany. As far as Rhineland-Westphalia goes, we have already seen how , Communist voters are outweighed by , Independents and , majority Social Democrats. There can be no talk of a crushing majority here, therefore. The other area is central
today will be incited.’ • Part Two: The March Action And the same speaker went on to say – this was on March, when the action had long since been lost: ‘We must try and achieve a withdrawal in good order, create conﬂicts, incite the security-police, incite all counter-revolutionary elements. If we succeed in creating [! – P.L.] the movement in this way, clashes will take place . . .’ This is certainly something new in the party founded by Rosa Luxemburg; it is a complete break with the
as Noske and Südekum. At the Second Congress of the Comintern in July/August , a delegation from the USPD represented the Party as a whole, though it was made clear to them that only its left wing would be acceptable in the new International. To Levi’s surprise, however, a delegation was also invited from the KAPD, the ‘syndicalists’ whom Levi had expelled the previous year. Lenin had recalled even before the congress how ‘in – the “Left” Bolsheviks on certain occasions . . . carried on