Historical


Editors note: This is Anton Pannekoek's interesting reveiw of a book penned by two rather famous National Bolsheviks. The latter, Fritz Wolffheim, was actually a member of the KAPD before being expelled for nationalism the same year that this reveiw was published. Whatever his flaws, Wolffheim died tragically in Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1942, as he was Jewish. For these reasons and more, readers might find this an interesting piece. 


Pannekoek wrote this text as an active part of the Bremer Linke in the middle of the November Revolution in Germany. Workers' councils had sprung up everywhere, and inside and outside the councils the question was whether the councils should hand over power, as Social Democracy wanted, or keep it in their own hands, following the example of Bolshevik October Revolution in Russia1. The Bremer Linke, like the Bolsheviks, were convinced that the revolution could take a proletarian path only if an active minority of the working class within the councils radicalised the class as a whole. That is why they had been the first in Germany to form a communist party. On 16 December 1918, two days after Pannekoek's article appeared, the councils' congress handed over power to the government. However, this did not end the German revolution; until 1923, an active minority continued to fight for all power to the workers' councils.


The print should be read as a text. The various figures function as words: 'worker,' 'nurse,' 'officer.' The image is architectural, functioning as a building with floors. The floors - three in number - are expressions of levels in social power. Whoever is highest in the image has the most authority in society. But unlike, say, the print The Third Reich, Barrack Occupation depicts the social hierarchy in a shocked state. The bottom “layer” is no longer content with the place it has been assigned. Workers revolt, they push up from the lower level, arm themselves (center left), are already present at the highest levels. 


I would like to try to find out how the question of causality stands. It seems to me that this word often refers to two different things. And therein may also lie the reason for the difference of opinion. In our ordinary lives, we call a cause that which precedes: a stone or block falls down; then we see or hear the splash in the water; then we say that the falling of the stone is the cause of the splash. The rain is the cause of the soil getting wet and the weather conditions growing the plant; the sunshine is the cause of the wall getting hot. It is this relationship between the earlier cause and the subsequent effect, I think, that governs your conception. 


This interview, recently transcribed from an Italian documentary, is truly one of a kind. New and experienced readers alike should enjoy the succinct and rich details of the life of Paul Mattick, straight from their source. In an effort to stay true to the original work, a very small number of edits have been made for an improved reading experience.