In the Steps of Rosa Luxemburg

Selected Writings of Paul Levi

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Edited by David Fernbach

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.

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Cathy Bergin

The legacy of the relationship between African American writers and Communism in the US is a contested one. Bergin argues that in three novels, by seminal mid-century authors (Wright, Himes and Ellison) Communism is not dismissed as incapable of meeting the demands of black political identity but is castigated for its refusal to do so. A detailed focus on the political milieu in which these texts operate challenges many of the presumptions about the ‘inability’ of Communism to comprehend racial oppression, which dominate literary critical approaches to these novels. She draws on the complex formations black political agency presumed and reproduced by American Communism during the Depression.

To the Masses

Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921

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Edited by John Riddell

Debates at world Communism’s 1921 congress reveal Lenin’s International at a moment of crisis. A policy of confrontational initiatives by a resolute minority contends with the perspective of winning majority working-class support on the road to the revolutionary conquest of power. A frank debate among many currents concludes with a classic formulation of Communist strategy and tactics. Thirty-two appendices, many never before published in any language, portray delegates’ behind-the-scenes exchanges. This newly translated treasure of 1,000 pages of source material, available for the first time in English, is supplemented by an analytic introduction, detailed footnotes, a glossary with 430 biographical entries, a chronology, and an index. The final instalment of a 4,500-page series on Communist congresses in Lenin’s time.

The Science and Passion of Communism

Amadeo Bordiga's Selected Writings

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Amadeo Bordiga

Edited by Pietro Basso

Amadeo Bordiga was one of the greatest figures of the Third International.

The Science and Passion of Communism presents the battles of this brilliant Italian communist in the revolutionary cycle of the post-WWI period, through his writings against reformism and war, for Soviet power and internationalism, and then against fascism, on one side, Stalinism and the degeneration of the International, on the other.

Equally important was his sharp critique of triumphant U.S. capitalism in the post-WWII period, and his original re-presentation of Marxist critique of political economy, which includes the capital-nature and capital-species relationships, and the programme of social transformations for the revolution to come.

Without any form of canonization, we can say that Bordiga’s huge workshop is a veritable goldmine, and anyone who decides to enter it will not be disappointed. He will guide you through a series of instructive, energizing and often highly topical excursions into the near and distant past, into the present that he largely foresaw, and into the future that he sketched with devouring passion.

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Evan Smith

British Communism and the Politics of Race explores the role that the Communist Party of Great Britain played within the anti-racism movement in Britain from the 1940s to the 1980s. As one of the first organisations to undertake serious anti-colonial and anti-racist activism within the British labour movement, the CPGB was a pioneering force that campaigned against racial discrimination, popular imperialism and fascist violence in British society.

The book examines the balancing act that the Communist Party negotiated in its anti-racist work, between making appeals to the labour movement to get involved in the fight against racism and working with Britain's ethnic minority communities, who often felt let down by the trade unions and the Labour Party. Transitioning from a class-based outlook to an embrace of the new social movements of the 1960s–70s, the CPGB played an important role in the anti-racist struggle, but by the 1980s, it was eclipsed by more radical and diverse activist organisations.

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Jacob Zumoff

Since the Cold War, most historians have set up an opposition between the “American” and “international” aspects of early American Communism. This book examines the development of the Communist Party in its first decade, from 1919 to 1929. Using the archives of the Communist International, this book, in contrast to previous studies, argues that the International played an important role in the early part of this decade in forcing the party to “Americanise”. Special attention is given to the attempts by the Comintern to orient American Communists on the role of black oppression, and to see the struggle for black liberation and the fight for socialism as inextricably linked. The later sections of the book provide the most detailed account now available of how the Comintern, reflecting the Stalinisation of the Soviet Union, intervened in the American party to ensure the Stalinisation of American Communism.

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Edited by Dobrota Pucherova and Robert Gafrik

This collective monograph analyzes post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe through the paradigm of postcoloniality. Based on the assumption that both Western and Soviet imperialism emerged from European modernity, the book is a contribution to the development of a global postcolonial discourse based on a more extensive and nuanced geohistorical comparativism. It suggests that the inclusion of East-Central Europe in European identity might help resolve postcolonialism’s difficulties in coming to terms with both postcolonial and neo-colonial dimensions of contemporary Europe. Analyzing post-communist identity reconstructions under the impact of transformative political, economic and cultural experiences such as changes in perception of time and space (landscapes, cityscapes), migration and displacement, collective memory and trauma, objectifying gaze, cultural self-colonization, and language as a form of power, the book facilitates a mutually productive dialogue between postcolonialism and post-communism. Together the studies map the rich terrain of contemporary East-Central European creative writing and visual art, the latter highlighted through accompanying illustrations.

The Totalitarian Paradigm after the End of Communism

Towards a Theoretical Reassessment

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Edited by Achim Siegel

Concepts of totalitarianism have undergone an academic revival in recent years, particularly since the breakdown of communist systems in Europe in 1989-91: the totalitarian paradigm, so it seems to many scholars today, had been discarded prematurely in the heat of the Cold War. The demise of communism as a social system is, however, not only an important cause of the recurring attractiveness of the totalitarian paradigm, but provides at the same time new evidence and, correspondingly, new problems of explanation for all approaches in communist studies and totalitarianism theory in particular.
This book contains articles by philosophers, social scientists and historians who reassess the validity of the totalitarian approach in the light of the recent historical developments in Eastern Europe. A first group of authors focus on the analytical usefulness and explanatory power of classic concepts of totalitarianism after having observed the failed reforms of the Gorbachev-era and the collapse of Europe's communist systems in 1989-91. In these contributions the totalitarian paradigm is contrasted with other approaches with respect to cognitive power as well as normative implications. In the second group of contributions the focus is on the reassessment of methodological and theoretical problems of the classic concepts of totalitarianism. The authors attempt to reinterpret the classic concepts so as to meet the objections which have been put forward against those concepts during the last decades.
The study thereby traces some of the intellectual roots of the totalitarian paradigm that precede the outbreak of the Cold War, such as the work of Sigmund Neumann and Franz Borkenau. It also focuses on the most famous authors in the field: Hannah Arendt and Carl Joachim Friedrich. In addition it discusses theorists of totalitarianism like Juan Linz, whose contributions to totalitarianism theory have too often been overlooked.

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Reiner Tosstorff

The 'Red International of Labour Unions' (RILU, Russian abbreviation Profintern) was a central instrument for the spreading of international communism during the inter-war period. This comprehensive and scholarly history of the organisation, based on extensive research in the former communist archives in Moscow and East Berlin, sheds significant light on the international trade union movement of the period.

Tosstorff shows how the RILU began as a revolutionary alliance of syndicalists and communists in defiance of the social democratic International Federation of Trade Unions. His text presents a full account of the organisation’s main stages: the decline of the revolutionary wave after World War One, after which many syndicalists left, and others were integrated into the communist parties; the continuation of the RILU as an international communist apparatus; and its dissolution in 1936–7 as part of communism's popular front policy.

First published in German as Profintern: Die Rote Gewerkschaftsinternationale 1920-1937 by Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn, in 2004.

In the Vale of Tears

On Marxism and Theology, V

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Roland Boer

In the Vale of Tears brings to a culmination the project for a renewed and enlivened debate over the interaction between Marxism and religion. It does so by offering the author's own response to that tradition. It simultaneously draws upon the rich insights of a significant number of Western Marxists and strikes out on its own. Thus, it argues for the crucial role of political myth on the Left; explores the political ambivalence at the heart of Christianity; challenges the bent among many on the Left to favour the unexpected rupture of kairós as a key to revolution; is highly suspicious of the ideological and class alignments of ethics; offers a thorough reassessment of the role of fetishism in the Marxist tradition; and broaches the question of death, unavoidable for any Marxist engagement with religion. While the book is the conclusion to the five-volume series, The Criticism of Heaven and Earth, it also stands alone as a distinct intervention in some burning issues of our time.

Winner of the 2014 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize.