Editorial Introduction to Paul Levi, Our Path and What Is the Crime?

in Historical Materialism
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These two key texts of German Communism appear in English for the first time. Paul Levi's Our Path and What Is the Crime? were the response of the KPD leader to the disastrous 'March Action' of 1921. Over two years, Levi had succeeded in building a mass revolutionary party that drew on the traditions of both Luxemburg and Lenin; this was now over-ridden by a stereotyped Bolshevism enforced by the Comintern's emissaries. In the first text, subtitled 'Against Putschism' and written within days of the attempted coup, Levi criticised the attempt to seize power without the majority-backing of the working class, which had decimated the Party's membership. Its publication led to Levi's exclusion from the Party for breach of discipline, even though his critique of the March Action was shared by Lenin. The second text was delivered verbally to the Central Committee, as an unsuccessful appeal against his expulsion, and the transcript gives a unique flavour of the atmosphere in the KPD leadership at this crucial moment.

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