All Power to the Councils!: A Documentary History of the German Revolution of 1918-1919

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    Gabriel Kuhn

    Publisher: PM Press

    Year: 2012

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 322 pages

    ISBN: 9781604861112

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The German Revolution erupted out of the ashes of World War I, triggered by mutinying sailors refusing to be sacrificed in the final carnage of the war. While the Social Democrats grabbed power, radicals across the country rallied to establish a communist society under the slogan "All Power to the Councils!" The Spartacus League launched an uprising in Berlin, council republics were proclaimed in Bremen and Bavaria, and workers' revolts shook numerous German towns. Yet in an act that would tragically shape the course of history, the Social Democratic government crushed the rebellions with the help of right-wing militias, paving the way for the ill-fated Weimar Republic—and ultimately the ascension of the Nazis.

This definitive documentary history collects manifestos, speeches, articles, and letters from the German Revolution—Rosa Luxemburg, the Revolutionary Stewards, and Gustav Landauer amongst others—introduced and annotated by the editor. Many documents, such as the anarchist Erich Mühsam's comprehensive account of the Bavarian Council Republic, are presented here in English for the first time. The volume also includes materials from the Red Ruhr Army that repelled the reactionary Kapp Putsch in 1920 and the communist bandits that roamed Eastern Germany until 1921. All Power to the Councils! provides a dynamic and vivid picture of a time of great hope and devastating betrayal.

What People Are Saying

“Gabriel Kuhn’s excellent volume illuminates a profound global revolutionary moment, in which brilliant ideas and debates lit the sky.”
—Marcus Rediker, author of Villains of All Nations and The Slave Ship

“This remarkable collection, skillfully edited by Gabriel Kuhn, brings to life that most pivotal of revolutions, crackling with the acrid odor of street fighting, insurgent hopes, and ultimately defeat… In an era brimming with anticapitalist aspirations, these pages ring with that still unmet revolutionary promise of a better world: I was, I am, I shall be.” —Sasha Lilley, author of Capital and Its Discontents and coauthor of Catastrophism

“Drawing on newly uncovered material through pioneering archival historical research, Gabriel Kuhn’s powerful book on the German workers’ councils movement is essential reading to understanding the way forward for democratic worker control today.” —Immanuel Ness, Graduate Center for Worker Education, Brooklyn College

“An indispensable resource on a world-historic event.” —Lucien van der Walt, Rhodes University, South Africa

“The councils of the early 20th century, as they are presented in this volume, were autonomous organs of the working class beyond the traditional parties and unions. They had stepped out of the hidden world of small political groups and represented a mass movement fighting for an all-encompassing council system.” Teo Panther, editor of Alle Macht den Räten: Novemberrevolution 1918

“The German Revolution of 1918–1919 and the following years mark an exceptional period in German history. This collection brings the radical aspirations of the time alive and contains many important lessons for contemporary scholars and activists alike.” Markus Bauer, Free Workers' Union, FAU-IAA

“The struggles of the German working class in the early 20th century are perhaps some of the most bitter and misunderstood in European history, and it is time they were paid more attention.” Richard Parry, author of The Bonnot Gang

About the Author

Gabriel Kuhn (born in Innsbruck, Austria, 1972) lives as an independent author and translator in Stockholm, Sweden. He received a PhD in philosophy from the University of Innsbruck in 1996. His previous publications with PM Press include Life Under the Jolly Roger: Reflections on Golden Age Piracy (2010), Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics (editor, 2010), Gustav Landauer: Revolution and Other Writings (editor/translator, 2010), Erich Muhsam: Liberating Society from the State and Other Writings (editor/translator, 2011) and Soccer vs. the State: Tackling Football and Radical Politics (2011).

Tags: anticapitalism ....... Gabriel Kuhn ....... germany ....... history ....... marxism ....... PM Press ....... Rosa Luxemburg .......