Author: Daniel Gaido

Abstract

This work is a companion piece to ‘The American Worker’, Karl Kautsky's reply to Werner Sombart's Why Is There No Socialism in the United States? (1906), first published in English in the November 2003 edition of this journal. In August 1909 Kautsky wrote an article on Samuel Gompers, the president of the American Federation of Labor, on the occasion of the latter's first European tour. The article was not only a criticism of Gompers's anti-socialist ‘pure-and-simple’ unionism but also part of an ongoing battle between the revolutionary wing of German Social Democracy and the German trade-union officials. In this critical English edition we provide the historical background to the document as well as an overview of the issues raised by Gompers' visit to Germany, such as the bureaucratisation and increasing conservatism of the union leadership in both Germany and the United States, the role of the General Commission of Free Trade Unions in the abandonment of Marxism by the German Social-Democratic Party and the socialists' attitude toward institutions promoting class collaboration like the National Civic Federation.

In: Historical Materialism
Author: Daniel Gaido

During its first four congresses, held annually under Lenin (1919–22), the Communist International went through two distinct phases: while the first two congresses focused on programmatic and organisational aspects of the break with Social-Democratic parties (such as the ‘Theses on Bourgeois Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat’, adopted by the first congress, and the 21 ‘Conditions of Admission to the Communist International’, adopted by the second), the third congress, meeting after the putsch known as the ‘March Action’ of 1921 in Germany, adopted the slogan ‘To the masses!’, while the fourth codified this new line in the ‘Theses on the Unity of the Proletarian Front’. The arguments put forward by the first two congresses were originally drafted by leaders of the Russian Communist Party, but the initiative for the adoption of the united-front policy came from the German Communist Party under the leadership of Paul Levi. This article explores the historical circumstances that turned the German Communists into the pioneers of the united-front tactic. In the documentary appendix we add English versions of two documents drafted by Levi: the ‘Letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany’ on the Kapp Putsch, dated 16 March 1920, and the kpd’s ‘Open Letter’ of 8 January 1921, which gave rise to the united-front tactic.

In: Historical Materialism
Authors: Lucas Poy and Daniel Gaido

Abstract

Argentine historiography in general, and the history of the Argentine Left in particular, does not receive the attention it deserves in the Anglo-Saxon academic world, due to linguistic and cultural barriers. In this article, we attempt to review for the English-reading public three recent contributions to the history of Marxism in Argentina (Horacio Tarcus’s Marx en la Argentina: Sus primeros lectores obreros, intelectuales y científicos, Hernán Camarero’s A la conquista de la clase obrera: Los comunistas y el mundo del trabajo en la Argentina, 1920-1935 and Osvaldo Coggiola’s Historia del trotskismo en Argentina y América Latina) covering the entire historical spectrum from the early history of Argentine socialism to the history of the PCA and, finally, to the history of local Trotskyism. We attempt to place these works in the context of Argentine historiography and of the political context in which those books were written.

In: Historical Materialism
The theory of imperialism is usually associated with some of the ‘big names’ in the history of European Marxism, such as Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Rudolf Hilferding and Nikolai Bukharin, alongside whom the English Progressive John Hobson is usually mentioned. However, little is known about the development of Marxist theory on this subject besides the books of these figures. This volume assembles for the first time the main documents of the international debate on imperialism that took place in the Second International during the period 1898–1916. It assesses the contributions of the individual participants to the developing theory of imperialism, placing them in the context of contemporary political debates.
The theory of Permanent Revolution has been associated with Leon Trotsky for more than a century since the first Russian Revolution in 1905. Trotsky was the most brilliant proponent of Permanent Revolution but by no means its sole author. The documents in this volume, most of them translated into English for the first time, demonstrate that Trotsky was one of several participants in a debate from 1903-7 that involved numerous leading figures of Russian and European Marxism, including Karl Kautsky, Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Mehring, Parvus and David Ryazanov.

This volume reassembles that debate, assesses it with reference to Marx and Engels, and provides new evidence for interpreting the formative years of Russian revolutionary Marxism.
From Rudolf Hilferding to Isaak Illich Rubin
Responses to Marx's Capital : From Rudolf Hilferding to Isaak Illich Rubin is a collection of primary sources dealing with the reception of the economic works of Karl Marx from the First to the Third International. The documents, translated for the first time from German and Russian, range from the original reviews of the three volumes of Capital and the three volumes of Theories of Surplus Value to the debates between the Marxist economists and the bourgeois academic representatives of the theory of marginal utility and the German historical school. The volume closes with six essays by the prominent economist Isaak I. Rubin, including ‘Essays on Marx's Theory of Money’ and ‘The Dialectical Development of Categories in Marx’s Economic System’.

This article analyses the intellectual and political trajectory of the Pasado y Presente group in Argentina, focusing on its main representative, José María Aricó (1931–91). Although usually described as ‘the Argentine Gramscians’, the ‘Gramscianism’ of the Pasado y Presente group was actually little more than a theoretical cover for its erratic political behaviour, which led them from Stalinism to Guevarism, from Guevarism to Maoism, from Maoism to Montoneros’s branch of Peronism, and from Peronism to Alfonsín’s Radicalism. Politically, their weakest point was that they distanced themselves from Stalinism empirically, because of the popularity of foquism, without undertaking a thorough critique of Stalinism. This made them vulnerable to the subsequent crisis of Stalinism, which they identified with a ‘crisis of Marxism’ sans phrase. What made them historically significant was that they articulated the radicalisation of a whole social layer in Latin America under the impact of the Cuban Revolution, as well as its subsequent deradicalisation and adaptation to bourgeois parliamentary democracy. The article closes with an analysis of Aricó’s intellectual legacy, particularly his well-known book Marx y América Latina (1980).

In: Historical Materialism
Author: Daniel Gaido

Abstract

The origins of the Transitional Programme in Trotsky’s writings have been traced in the secondary literature. Much less attention has been paid to the earlier origins of the Transitional Programme in the debates of the Communist International between its Third and Fourth Congress, and in particular to the contribution of its largest national section outside Russia, the German Communist Party, which had been the origin of the turn to the united-front tactic in 1921. This article attempts to uncover the roots of the Transitional Programme in the debates of the Communist International. This task is important because it shows that the Transitional Programme’s slogans are not sectarian shibboleths, but the result of the collective revolutionary experience of the working class during the period under consideration, from the Bolshevik Revolution to the founding conference of the Fourth International (1917–38).

In: Historical Materialism