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The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900–68)

‘Neither Lenin nor Trotsky nor Stalin!’ - ‘All Workers Must Think for Themselves!’

Series:

Philippe Bourrinet

The Dutch-German Communist Left, represented by the German KAPD-AAUD, the Dutch KAPN and the Bulgarian Communist Workers Party, separated from the Comintern (1921) on questions like electoralism, trade-unionism, united fronts, the one-party state and anti-proletarian violence. It attracted the ire of Lenin, who wrote his Left Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder against the Linkskommunismus, while Herman Gorter wrote a famous response in his pamphlet Reply to Lenin. The present volume provides the most substantial history to date of this tendency in the twentieth-century Communist movement. It covers how the Communist left, with the KAPD-AAU, denounced 'party communism' and 'state capitalism' in Russia; how the German left survived after 1933 in the shape of the Dutch GIK and Paul Mattick’s councils movement in the USA; and also how the Dutch Communistenbond Spartacus continued to fight after 1942 for the world power of the workers councils, as theorised by Pannekoek in his book Workers’ Councils (1946).

Marx Worldwide

On the Development of the International Discourse on Marx since 1965

Series:

Jan Hoff

In his study Jan Hoff charts the unprecedented global boost that has been experienced by critical Marxism since the mid-1960s. In particular Hoff shows the development of interpretations of Marx’s method; of critical social theory oriented towards Marx's critique of political economy; and of significant disputes concerning the different versions and iterations of the critical project that ultimately culminated in Capital. His book investigates the ‘globalisation’ of Marx debates, the complex network of international theoretical approaches that have been devised between the poles of science and politics, the transfer of theory and the historical development of schools of thought beyond national and linguistic borders.

Marx Worldwide provides an overview of Marx reception in various regions of the world, in which the extra-European process of theory formation receives particular attention; and it shows how, despite the supersession of Marxism in the sense of an all-encompassing worldview, the Marxian aim of providing an explication of the internal connection of economic categories and relations, and thereby of accomplishing the ‘de-mystification’ of the ‘deranged world’ of the economy, is as relevant and as theoretically important as it has ever been.

First published in German by Akademie Verlag as Marx Global. Zur Entwicklung des internationalen Marx-Diskurses seit 1965, Berlin, 2009.

The Authority Dilemma

Eternal Salvation and Authorization in Hobbes’s Leviathan

Marcus Schultz-Bergin

Thomas Hobbes’s attempt to resolve the problem of commanded blasphemy in Leviathan results in a dilemma for his theory. According to what I call the Authority Dilemma, Hobbes is simultaneously committed to subjects being the authors of all that the sovereign does and commands as well as to the sovereign being the sole author of commanded blasphemy, meaning the subjects are not the authors of that command. I review a variety of ways Hobbes and various commentators have attempted to resolve this tension, but ultimately suggest that the tension persists. I spell out the implications of both horns of the authority dilemma: if subjects authorize all actions and commands, then the possibility of commanded blasphemy risks the stability of the commonwealth; if subjects do not authorize all actions and commands, then the commonwealth is not properly unified and thus cannot be stable. Thus, either way, Hobbes fails to establish how individuals can form a stable commonwealth. I conclude with a Hobbesian inspired solution that accepts that subjects authorize all actions and commands, including blasphemy. However, I leverage two recent lines of scholarship – one regarding the inalienable right of self-preservation and the other regarding the fear of eternal damnation – to provide a means for disobedience without the risk of instability.

Hobbes on Felicity

Aristotle, Bacon and Eudaimonia

James J. Hamilton

Thomas Hobbes’s concept of felicity is a re-imagining of the Hellenistic concept of eudaimonia, which is based on the doctrine that people by nature are happy with little. His concept is based instead on an alternative view, that people by nature are never satisfied and it directly challenges the Aristotelian and Hellenistic concepts of eudaimonia. I also will suggest that Hobbes developed it from ideas he found in Aristotle’s Rhetoric as well as in Francis Bacon’s critique of ancient moral philosophy in The Advancement of Learning.