The Communistenbond Spartacus and the Councilist Current (1942-1948), II

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Contribution to a history of the revolutionary movement

The Communistenbond Spartacus and the Councilist Current (1942-1948), II

In the first part of this article (in IR 38) devoted to the history of the Dutch Left, we showed the evolution of the Communistenbond Spartacus - coming from a movement situated to the right of Trotskyism in the 1930s towards revolutionary positions. Despite numerous theoretical confusions on such things as the historic period after the Second World War, the nature of the USSR, national liberation struggles etc, between 1942 and 1945 this conferred a heavy political responsibility on it at the international level in the regroupment of revolutionaries in western Europe.

The Communistenbond, conscious of its responsibility as the principal revolutionary organization in Holland, in proclaiming, tin December 45, the necessity for an international party of the prol­etariat as an active factor in the process of the homogenization of class consciousness was, therefore, very far from the openly councilist conceptions which it developed from 1947. Concept­ions which from theoretical regressions led progressively down the path to fully-formed councilism - the rejection of the proletarian experience of the past (notably the Russian Revolution), the abandonment of an idea of political organization, negation of any distinction between communists and proletarians, a tendency to ouvrierism and immediatism, each strike being seen as a "small revolution."

This second part is devoted to analyzing the different stages in the degeneration of the council­ist current (the germs of' which were already contained in the positions of the Communistenbond in 1945) which led to its disappearance in the seventies, leaving today only such epigones as the group Daad en Gedachte connected to the libertarian anti-panty current.

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It was inevitable that the orientation of the Bond towards a centralized organization and the importance attached to theoretical reflection - in the form of debates and of courses of political formation - would not satisfy the more activist elements of the Bond. The latter, grouped round Toon van den Berg maintained the old revolutionary-syndicalist spirit of the NAS. With a strong presence in the proletarian milieu in Rotterdam at the time of the strikes in the port, they had contributed to the construction of a small union - the EVB (Unitary Syndicalist Union) - which was born out of the struggle. It is symptomatic that the Bond - at the time of its Congress on 24-26 December 1945 - agreed to work in the EVB. Denouncing the activity of the organization in the unions, appendages of the state, its position on the unions remained theoretical. In leaving the Bond, Toon van den Berg and those who supported him followed the logic of a ‘tactical' participation in the small independent unions.[1]

The Bond found itself in a phase of reapprop­riation of the political positions of the GIC. Groping in this way, it disengaged itself little by little, in a more or less clear manner, from its own political and theoretical positions.

On the other hand, the centralization which this political work required upset the anarchistic elements of the Bond. It was in relation to the weekly journal Spartacus that a grave conflict developed in the organization. Certain comrades - supported by a part of the final editorship (Elnd-redactic) which was the publications commission - considered that the style of the paper was ‘journalistic'[2]. They wanted the paper to be the product of all the members and not of a political organ. The conflict reached its climax in March 1946 when a cleavage developed between the political commission, of which Stan Poppe was the secretary, and the final publications commission. It was reaffirmed that "the final editors are responsible to the pol­itical commission"[3], for the political choice of articles, but not for their style which remained the concern of the editorship. The political commission defended the prin­ciple of centralism through a collaboration bet­ween the two organs. The final editors believed that its mandate stemmed solely from the gener­al assembly of the members of the Bond. They appealed to the youngsters who wanted the jour­nal to be the expression of everyone, whereas the majority of the political commission, in particular Stan Poppe, defended the principle of a political control of articles by an organ; consequently the publications commission could only be a ‘sub-division' of the political comm­ission. The participation of the members of the publications commission should follow the prin­ciple of ‘workers' democracy' and not the prin­ciple of ‘democratic centralism' which prevailed in the organizations of the ‘old style'[4]. This was not a question of a ‘policy of comprom­ise', which was the accusation of the majority of the editorship and of the members in Amsterdam, but a practical question of cooperation between the two organs depending on the control and the participation of all the members of the Bond.

This confused debate, in which personal antag­onisms and the particularities of the commissions were mixed up, could not but bring to the light of day the question of centralization. The initial blurring of editorial responsibilities was integrated into the political commission and this could only make things worse.

This grave crisis of the Bond expressed itself in the departure of many militants and, far from triumphing, the centralization of the Bond be­came more and more vague during 1946.

But in fact the departure of the least clear elements of the Bond, or the more activist ones, reinforced the political clarity of the Bond which could distinguish itself more clearly from the surrounding political milieu. Thus, in the summer of 1946, those members of the Bond who had voted for the CP in the elections left the organization. The same went for the members of the section in Deventer who had contacted the Trotskyists of the CRM in order to engage in ‘entryism' into the Dutch Communist Party[5].

These crises and departures represented in fact a crisis of growth of the Communistenbond which, in ‘purifying itself' gained in political clar­ity.

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In 1945-46 several theoretical questions were examined, those on which the Bond had remained vague during its period of clandestinity: the Russian, the national and the union questions. Those concerning the workers' councils, the post-war class struggle, barbarism and science, the characterization of the period following the Second World War were tackled in the light of the contribution of Pannekoek.

1) The Russian Question

The nature of the Russian state had not really been tackled by the Bond at its birth. The con­ferences held in 1945 and the publication of a theoretical article on the question permitted the taking up of an unambiguous position[6]. This article, which paid homage to the revolu­tionary defeatism of the MLL Front at the time of the German/Russian war in 1941, noted that "their attitude remained hesitant only regard­ing the Soviet Union." This hesitation was in fact that of the Bond in 1942-44. This was no longer the case in 1945.

Revolutionaries, noted the author of the art­icle, have had enormous difficulties in recognizing the transformation of Soviet Russia into an imperialist state like the others: "One could not and didn't want to believe that the revolu­tionary Russia of 1917 had been transformed into a power similar to the capitalist countries."

It is interesting to note here that the Bond, as opposed to the GIC in the ‘30s, did not define the Russian Revolution as a ‘bourgeois revolu­tion'. It tried to understand the stages in the transformation of revolution into counter-rev­olution. Like the Italian Communist Left (‘Bilan'), it situated the counter-revolutionary process above all at the level of the foreign policy of the Russian state, which marked its integration into the capitalist world. This process unfolded in stages: Rapallo in 1922, the alliance of the Comintern with the Kuomintang in China, the entry of the USSR into the League of Nations in 1929. However, the Bond considered that it was only in 1939 that Russia really be­came imperialist. The definition which is given here of imperialism is purely military and not economic. "Since 1939, it has become clear that Russia has entered a phase of imperialist expan­sion."

However, the Bond shows that the counter-revolu­tionary process is also internal, at the level of internal policy where, "under the direction of Stalin, a state bureaucracy has been cultivated." The class nature of the Russian bureau­cracy is bourgeois: "The dominant bureaucracy fulfills the function of a dominant class which, in its essential goals, corresponds to the role played by the bourgeoisie in the modern capit­alist countries."

It is to be noted here that the Russian bureau­cracy is the bourgeoisie by virtue of its func­tion more than by its nature. It is an agent of state capitalism. Although it is clear throughout the rest of the article that the ‘bureaucracy' is the form which the state bourgeoisie takes in the USSR, the impression given is that we are dealing with a ‘new class'. Indeed, it is affirmed that the bureaucracy has become the ‘dominant class'. This ‘dominant class' was to become - some years later, under the influence of ‘Socialisme ou Barbarie' - for the Bond, ‘a new class'.

The Bond shows that there are two classes exist­ing in Russian society, in the capitalist relations of exploitation based on ‘the accumulation of surplus value': the working class and the ‘dominant class'. The existence of state capit­alism - as collective capital - explains the imperialist policy of the Russian state.

"The state itself is here the sole capitalist, excluding all the other autonomous agents of capital; it is the monstrous organization of global capital. Thus, there are on the one hand the wage laborers who constitute the oppressed class; on the other hand the state which exploits the working class and thus basically enlarges itself through the appropriation of the surplus product created by the working class. This is the foundation of Russian society. It is also the source of its imperialist politics."

The distinction made here - implicitly, and not explicitly - between 'ruled' and 'rulers' was a foreshadowing of the future theory of the group 'Socialisme ou Barbarie'[7]. But with the difference that the Communistenbond ‘Spartacus' never abandoned the marxist vision of class antagonisms within capitalist society.

Despite the hesitations in its theoretical anal­ysis, the Bond was very clear about the politic­al consequences which flowed from its theoretic­al analysis. The non-defense of the capitalist USSR was a class frontier between the bourg­eoisie and the proletariat: "To take sides with Russia means to abandon the class frontier bet­ween the workers and capitalism."

The non-defense of the USSR could only be revol­utionary it were accompanied by an appeal to overthrow state capitalism in Russia through the class struggle and the formation of workers' councils: "Only the soviets, the workers' coun­cils - as the autonomous workers' power - can take production in hand, with the goal of pro­ducing for the needs of the working population. The workers must, in Russia also, form the third front. From this point of view Russia is no different from the other countries."

2) The Colonial and National Question

In 1945, the position of the Bond on the colon­ial question was hardly different from that of the MLL Front. At the beginning of a long colon­ial war in Indonesia which went on until its independence in 1949, the Bond pronounced its­elf in favor of the "separation of the Dutch East Indies from Holland." Its position remained ‘Leninist' on the colonial question and it even participated - over a period of some months - in a ‘committee of anti-imperialist struggle' (Anti-imperialistisch Strijd Comite). This committee regrouped the Trotskyists of the CRM, the left socialist group ‘De Vonk' and the Comm­unistenbond until the latter withdrew in Dec­ember 1945. The Bond acknowledged[8] that this committee was nothing but a ‘cartel of organizations'.

The Bond in fact didn't have a theoretical posi­tion on the national and colonial questions. It implicitly took up the positions of the Second Congress of the CI. It affirmed that "the liberation of Indonesia is subordinated to and con­stitutes a sub-division of the class struggle of the world proletariat"[9]. At the same time it showed that the independence of Indonesia was a blind alley for the local proletariat: "there is presently no possibility of a proletarian revolution (in Indonesia)".

Little by little the conception of Pannekoek triumphed. Without really taking a position against the nationalist movements of ‘national liberation', Pannekoek - in his ‘Workers' Coun­cils' - considered that they were being drawn into the clutches of American capital and would carry out an industrialization of the ‘liber­ated' countries. Such was the official position of the Bond in September 1945 with respect to Indonesia.[10] It considered that "the sole path remaining open can be none other than a future industrialization of Indonesia and a fur­ther intensification of work." The decolonization movement was taking place with "the supp­ort of American capital." It translated itself through the installation of a state apparatus "directed against the impoverished population."

The Bond had even more difficulty in theoretic­ally orientating itself vis-a-vis the ‘national question'. The appearance of two currents (one accepting the Baku theses, the other returning to the conceptions of Luxemburg) pushed it to pronounce itself clearly. This is what happened in 1946 in an issue of ‘Spartacus-Wekblad' (n.12, 23 March). In an article devoted to national independence (‘Nationale onafh ankelijkheid') it attacked the Trotskyist position of the RCP which propagated the slogan ‘Detach Indonesia from Holland now!' (Indonesia los von Holland nun!) Such a slogan could only be an appeal for the exploitation of the Indonesian proletarians by other imperialisms:

"'‘Indonesie los von Holland. Nu!'" really means ‘exploitation of the Indonesian proletarians by America, Britain, Australia and/or their own new rulers'; and that in reality must not happen! Against all exploitation, the struggle of the Indonesian masses must arise."

More profoundly, the Bond took over unambiguous­ly the conception of Rosa Luxemburg and rejected any ‘Leninist' slogan of a ‘right of nations to self-determination'. The latter could only be an abandonment of internationalism for the benefit of an imperialist camp:

"to have sympathy for this slogan is to place the working class on the side of one or other of the two rival imperialist giants, just like the slogan ‘for the right of nations to self-determination' in 1914 and that (of the str­uggle) ‘against German fascism' during the Sec­ond World War."

Thus the Bond definitively abandoned the posi­tion which had been its own in 1942. Subsequent­ly, with the independence of countries like China and India, it was preoccupied above all with seeing to what extent ‘independence' was able to lead to a development of the productive forces and therefore objectively favor the com­ing into being of a strong industrial proletar­iat. Implicitly, the Bond posed the question of the ‘bourgeois revolutions' in the third world.

3) The Union Question

While having got rid of the syndicalist tendency of Toon van den Berg, the Communistenbond Spart­acus remained marked until 1949-50 by the old revolutionary syndicalist spirit of the NAS.

During the war, the Bond had participated - with members of the Dutch CP - in the construction of a small secret union, the EVC (Central Unitary Union). Rejecting any kind of union work since its Congress of Christmas 1945, it had nonethe­less sent delegates to the Congress of the EVC on 29 July 1946[11]. But, ‘tactically', the Bond worked in the small ‘independent' unions coming out of certain workers' struggles. Having worked in the EVB union - the origin of which was the transformation of an organism of wor­kers' struggle in Rotterdam into a permanent structure - the Bond defended the idea of ‘fac­tory organizations' created by the workers. These organizations were the ‘nucleus' (Kerne) which would regroup the ‘conscious workers' by ‘locality and enterprise'.[12]

It is evident that the Bond could only ret­urn here to the old conception of the KAPD on the unions and the factory organizations (Betr­iebsorganisationen). But, in contrast to the KAPD, it conducted in parallel a kind of union­ist work under the pressure of workers who nur­tured illusions regarding the formation of ‘really revolutionary unions'. This was also the case in 1948-49 with the formation of the OVB (Independent Union of Factory Organizations). The OVB was in fact a split (provoked in March 1948 by van den Berg) in the EVC in Rotterdam caused by the CP laying its hands on the EVC. Believing that the OVB would be the basis for ‘autonomous factory organizations' the Bond came to recognize later that it was nothing but a ‘small central union'.[13]

This ‘tactic' of the Bond was in contradiction with its theoretical position on the role and function of unions in the ‘semi-totalitarian society' of the western countries. The unions had become organs of the capitalist state:

"... there can be no question of struggling for conditions of work by means of the unions. The unions have become an integral part of capit­alist social order. Their existence and their disappearance are irrevocably linked to the maintenance and to the fall of capitalism. In the future, it will no longer be a question of the working class still trying to take advant­age of the unions. They have become strike­breaker organizations, which are there when the workers go spontaneously on strike and conduct it themselves."[14]

The propaganda of the Bond was therefore an unequivocal denunciation of the unions. The wor­kers would not only be led to conduct their str­uggles against the unions through ‘wildcat strikes' but to understanding that every stru­ggle directed by the unions was a defeat:

"Revolutionary propaganda does not consist in appealing for the transformation of the unions; it consists in clearly showing that the workers' struggle must avoid every kind of union control as being poison to its body. It should be stated clearly that any struggle which the unions succ­eed in taking control of is lost in advance.

The ‘wildcat strike' conducted against the unions was the very condition for the formation of proletarian organisms in struggle."

4) The Movement of the Class Struggle and the Councils

The publication of ‘Workers' Councils' in Jan­uary 1946 had been decisive for the orientation of the Bond towards typically ‘councilist' posi­tions. Whereas beforehand the Communistenbond Spartacus had an essentially political vision of the class struggle, it now developed more and more economistic positions. The class struggle was conceived of more as an economic movement than as a process of the growing organization of the proletariat.

Pannekoek's vision of the class struggle insist­ed more on the necessity of a general organization of the class than on the process of the struggle. He affirmed, in fact, that "organization is the vital principle of the working class, the condition of its emancipation."[15] This clear affirmation showed that the concep­tion of council communism of this period was not that of anarchism. Contrary to this current, Pannekoek underlined that the class struggle is less a ‘direct action' than a coming to consciousness concerning the goals of the struggle, and that consciousness precedes action.

"Spiritual development is the most important factor in the coming to power of the proletar­iat. The proletarian revolution is not the pro­duct of brutal, physical force; it is a victory of the spirit ... at the beginning was the deed. But the deed is nothing but the beginning. Each absence of consciousness, each illusion concerning the essential, concerning the goal and concerning the force of the adversary leads to misfortune and a defeat, installing a new enslavement."[16]

It's this consciousness developing in the class which permits the spontaneous outbreak of "wild­cat strikes (illegal or unofficial) as opposed to strikes launched by the unions respecting the rules and regulations." Spontaneity is not the negation of the organization; on the contrary "organization arises spontaneously, immediately."

But neither consciousness nor the organization of the struggle is the goal as such. They express a praxis in which consciousness and organization are embedded in a practical process of the extension of the struggle which leads to the unification of the proletariat:

" ... the wildcat strike, like a prairie fire, engulfs the other factories and embraces an ever greater mass of workers ... The first task to be taken up, the most important one, is to propagate the extension of the strike."

This idea of the extension of the wildcat strike was, however, in contradiction with that of the occupation of the factories propagated by Panne­koek. Pannekoek, like the militants of the Bond, had been very impressed by the phenomenon of the factory occupations during the ‘30s. The act of occupying the factories went down in history as the ‘Polish strike', ever since the Polish min­ers in 1931 had been the first to apply this tactic. This had subsequently spread to Rumania and Hungary, then to Belgium in 1935 and finally to France in 1936.

At this time, while saluting these explosions of the workers' struggles[17] the Italian communist left around Bilan had shown that these occ­upations brought with them a weakening of the workers in the factories, which corresponded to a counter-revolutionary course leading to war. On the other hand, a revolutionary course ex­presses itself essentially through a movement of extension of the struggle culminating with the coming into being of the workers' councils. The appearance of the councils did not necess­arily involve a halt of production and the occ­upation of the factories. On the contrary, in the Russian Revolution the factories continued to function under the control of the factory councils. The movement was not an occupation of the factories but the political and economic domination of production by the councils under the form of daily general assemblies. That's why the transformation in 1920 of the factories of northern Italy into ‘fortresses' by the wor­kers who occupied their places of work expressed a declining revolutionary course. This was the reason why Bordiga so heavily criticized Gramsci who had been the theoretician of the power of the occupied factories.

For the Italian communist left, it was necessary that the workers break the chains tying them to their factories, in order to create a class unity going beyond the narrow framework of the realm of work. On this question, Pannekoek and the Spartacusbond were attached to the factory­ist conceptions of Gramsci in 1920. They consid­ered the struggle in the factories to be an end in itself, considering the task of the workers to be the management of the productive apparatus as the first step towards the conquest of power:

"... in the factory occupations there stands out this future which is based on the clearest consciousness that the factories belong to the wor­kers who together form a harmonious unity, and that the struggle for freedom will reach its conclusion in and through the factories ... here the workers become conscious of their close links with the factory ... it is a productive apparatus which they can put in motion - an org­an which only becomes a living part of society through their work."[18]

Unlike Pannekoek, the Bond had a tendency to pass over in silence the different phases of the class struggle and to confound the immediate struggle (wildcat strikes) with the revolution­ary struggle (the mass strike giving birth to the councils). Each strike committee - regard­less of the historical period and the stage reached by the class struggle - was identified with a workers' council:

"The strike committee comprises delegates from different enterprises. It is therefore referred to as a ‘general strike committee', but could also be called a workers' council."[19]

In contrast, Pannekoek underlined in his ‘Five Theses on the Class Struggle' (1946) that the wildcat strike can only become revolutionary to the extent that it is "a struggle against the power of the state"; in this case "the strike committee should take up the general politi­cal and social functions, that is to say should take up the role of the workers' councils."

In his conception of the councils, Pannekoek was far from approaching anarchist positions, which were subsequently to triumph in the Dutch ‘coun­cilist' movement. Loyal to marxism, he rejected neither class violence against the state nor the notion of the dictatorship of the proletariat. But these should be on no account goals in them­selves; they must be strictly subordinated to the goal of communism: the emancipation of the proletariat made conscious by its struggle, and the principle of action which was workers' demo­cracy. The revolution through the councils is not "a brutal and imbecile force (which) can only destroy." "Revolutions, on the contrary, are new constructions flowing from new forms of organization and of thought. Revolutions are constructive periods in the evolution of human­ity". That's why "if armed action (plays) also a large role in the class struggle", it is at the service of a goal: "not to break skulls, but to open minds." In this sense, the dictatorship of the proletariat is the very liberation of the proletariat in the realization of true workers' democracy:

"The conception of Marx of the dictatorship of the proletariat appears as being identical to the workers' democracy of the organization of the councils."

However, Pannekoek's conception of the democracy of the councils weakened the question of its power in the face of other classes and the state. The councils appear as the reflection of the different opinions of the workers. They are a parliament where different work groups co­exist, but without either executive or legisla­tive powers. They are not an instrument of the power of the proletariat, but an informal ass­embly:

"The councils do not govern; they transmit opinions, intentions, the will of work groups."

Very often in ‘Workers' Councils' an affirmation is followed by an antithesis, to such an extent that it is difficult to make out a coherent line of thought. In the paragraph just quoted, the workers' councils appear to be powerless. Further on, they are defined as organs of power "which will take up political functions" or "whatever they decide ... is put into practice by the workers." Which implies that the councils "establish a new right, a new law."

On the other hand, at no stage is there any question of an antagonism between the councils and the new state arising from the revolution. Pannekoek seems implicitly to conceive of the councils as the state, whose task becomes more and more economic since the workers "have made themselves masters of the factories." All of a sudden, the councils cease to be political org­ans and "are transformed ... into organs of pro­duction."[20] From this angle, it is difficult to see in what way Pannekoek's theory of the councils differs from that of the Bolsheviks after 1918.

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Thus, in the space of two years - from 1945 to 1947 - the theoretical conceptions of the Comm­unistenbond Spartacus approached more and more the ‘councilist' theories of the GIC and of Pannekoek, although the latter was by no means a militant of the Bond.[21]

Certainly there were factors at work which ex­plain the brutal contrast between the Bond of 1945 and the Bond of 1947. At first, an influx of militants after May 1945 had given rise to the impression that a period of a revolutionary course was being opened. Inevitably, the Bond believed that the world war would give rise to the revolution. The outbreak of wildcat strikes in Rotterdam in June 1945 directed against the unions strengthened the Bond in these hopes. More profoundly, the organization did not bel­ieve in the possibility of a reconstruction of the world economy. It considered in August 1945 that "the capitalist period of the history of humanity is coming to a close".[22] It was comforted by Pannekoek who wrote "we are today witnessing the beginning of the bankruptcy of capitalism as an economic system".[23]

Soon, with the beginning of the period of recon­struction, the Bond would recognize that neither a revolution nor an economic collapse were to be expected. However, the Bond and Pannekoek still remained convinced of the historic perspective of communism. To be sure, "a large portion of the path towards barbarism had already been covered but the other path, the path leading towards socialism, remains open."[24]

The beginning of the Cold War found the Bond un­decided about the post-war historic course. On one hand it thought - with Pannekoek - that the post-war era would open new markets for American capital, with reconstruction and decolonization plus the war economy. On the other hand it seem­ed that every strike was "a revolution in minia­ture". Even though these strikes unfolded more and more in the context of the confrontation of the two blocs, ‘Spartacus' considered - at that time - that "it's the class struggle which puts a brake on preparations for a third world war."[25]

The awaited revolution didn't arrive, and this in the context of a particularly depressing trajectory for revolutionaries. The moral auth­ority of Pannekoek and Canne-Meyer militated more and more towards a return to the mode of functioning which had prevailed in the old GIC. In the spring of 1947, critiques began to be made of the conception of the party. The old members of the GIC favored a return to the structures of ‘study groups' and ‘work groups'. This return had in fact been proposed in 1946, the Bond having called on Canne-Meyer[26] to take over the editorship of a review in Esper­anto and thus to form an esperantist group. In reality, this amounted to the creation of groups within the Bond. In their intervention, the militants of the Bond had more and more the tendency to conceive of themselves as a sum of individuals at the service of the workers' struggle.

However, the Communistenbond was not isolated - despite the non-revolutionary course which it finally, belatedly recognized.[27] In Holland, the group ‘Socialisme van underop' (Socialism from below) was constituted, part of the ‘councilist' tendency. But it was above all with the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium that the Bond had the closest contacts. In 1945, a group was formed which was very close to the Bond, editing the review ‘Arbeiderswil' (Workers' Will). It was subsequently taken charge of by the ‘Vereni­ging van Radensocialisten' (Association of coun­cil socialists). The group declared itself to be a partisan of ‘power to the workers' councils' and ‘anti-militarism'. In its principle of organizational federalism it came close to anarch­ism.[28]

Such a political environment of localist groups could only push the Bond to withdraw into itself in Holland. However, in 1946, the Bond had gone about making its members familiar with the positions of the Bordigist current, by translating the declaration of principles of the Belgian Fraction of the Communist Left.[29] In July 1946, Canne-Meyer was dispatched to Paris to make contact with different groups, in part­icular ‘Internationalisme'. Theo Maassen sub­sequently followed up this effort to make con­tact with the internationalist milieu in France. It is worth noting that the contact was established through ex-members of the GIC, and not by ex-RSAP people who only had political contact with the group of Vereeken. The product of the council communist movement of the ‘20s and ‘30s, it had already discussed with the ‘Bordigist' current regrouped around the review ‘Bilan'.

In 1947, the Bond remained very open to inter­national discussion and wished to break down the national and linguistic frontiers in which it was enclosed:

"The Bond does not set out to be a specifically Dutch organization. It considers state frontiers - the products of history and of capitalism - to be obstacles to the unity of the international working class."[30]

It is in this spirit that the Communistenbond took the initiative in calling an international conference of revolutionary groups existing in Europe. The conference was held on the 25-26 May 1947 in Brussels. By way of a discussion docu­ment, the Bond wrote a brochure ‘De nieuwe wer­eld' (The new world) which it took the trouble to translate into French.

The holding of the first post-war conference of internationalist groups was based on selection criteria. Without affirming so explicitly, the Bond eliminated the Trotskyist groups for their support for the USSR and their participation in the Resistance. However, they had chosen rather large, somewhat loose criteria for participation at the conference:

"We consider as essential: the rejection of any kind of parliamentarism; the conception that the masses must organize themselves in action, thereby directing their own struggles themselves. At the centre of the discussion, there is also the question of the mass movement, whereas questions such as the new communist (or communitary) economy, the formation of the party or groups, the dictatorship of the proletariat etc can only be considered to be consequences of the previous point. Communism is not a question of the party, but a question of the creation of a mass autonomous movement."[31]

Consequently, the Bond eliminated the Bordig­ist Internationalist PC of Italy which had participated in elections. On the other hand, the Autonomous Federation of Turin was invited (which had left the PCInt over divergences on the parliamentary question) and the French group ‘Internationalisme' which had detached itself from Bordigism. On the rather hand, Belgian and French Bordigist groups were invited which had divergences with the PCInt on the parliamentary and colonial questions.

Apart from these groups, coming from Bordigism or in opposition to it, the Communistenbond had invited informal groups, even individuals rep­resenting no-one but themselves from the anarcho-councilist tendency: from Holland, ‘Soc­ialisme vanonderop'; from Belgium the ‘Vereni­ging van Radensocialisten'; from Switzerland the councilist groups ‘Klassenkampf'; from France the communist-revolutionaries of ‘Prol­etaire'.[32]

The invitation extended to the French Anarchist Federation was strongly criticized by ‘Internat­ionalisme' which was concerned that the criteria for the conference should be rigorous. To under­line the internationalist nature of the conference, the official anarchist movements which had participated in the war in Spain or in the maquis of the Resistance should be eliminated. ‘Internationalisme' determined four criteria of selection of groups participating in the inter­nationalist conference:

-- the rejection of Trotskyism "as a political body situated inside the proletariat";

-- the rejection of the official anarchist curr­ent "on account of the participation of their Spanish comrades in the capitalist government of 1936-38", their participation "under the lab­el of anti-fascism in the imperialist war in Spain" and "in the maquis of the Resistance in France" - so that this current had "no place in a regroupment of the proletariat";

-- in a general manner rejecting all the groups which "have effectively participated in one way or another in the imperialist war of 1939-45";

-- the recognition of the historic significance of October 1917 as "the fundamental criterion of every organization claiming to be part of the proletariat."

These four criteria "cannot but mark the class frontiers separating the proletariat from capitalism." However, the Bond did not withdraw its invitation to ‘Libertaire' (Anarchist Federa­tion) which announced its participation and nev­er turned up. The Bond had to recognize that anti-parliamentarianism and the recognition of the autonomous organization of the masses were vague criteria for selection.

In this sense the international conference could only be a conference establishing contact between new groups which had arisen since 1945 and the internationalist organizations of the avant-garde which the world-wide conflict had condem­ned to remaining isolated in their respective countries. It could not in any way be a new Zimmerwald, as the group ‘Le Proletaire' propos­ed, but a place of political and theoretical confrontation permitting their ‘organic exist­ence' and ‘organic development'.

As ‘Internationlisme' (which had participated very actively in the conference) noted, the international context did not open the possib­ility of a revolutionary course. The conference was located in a period "in which the proletariat had suffered a disastrous defeat, opening a reactionary course throughout the world." It was a question therefore of closing ranks and work­ing towards the creation of a political link­up through discussion, permitting the weaker groups to recover from the devastating effects of the reactionary course.

This was also the view of the ex-GIC members of the Bond. And it was not by chance that it was two old comrades of the GIC (Canne-Meyer and Willem) - and not a single member of the lead­ership of the Bond - who participated at the conference. The ex-RSAP people remained in fact very localist, despite the fact that the Bond had created an ‘International Contact Commiss­ion'.

Generally speaking, there was great distrust between the different groups invited, with many of them afraid of a political confrontation. Thus, neither the French Fraction nor ‘Socialisme van onderop' participated at the conference. Lucian of the Belgian Fraction could only be brought around to participating in the debates through the express demand of Marco of Internationalisme. Finally, only ‘Internationalisme' and the Auton­omous Federation sent an official delegation. As for the ex-elements of the GIC, already in dis­agreement inside the Spartacusbond, they repres­ented no-one but themselves. They nourished a certain suspicion towards ‘Internationalisme' who they accused of "losing itself in intermin­able discussion about the Russian revolution."[33]

Chaired by Willem, Marco of Internationalisme and an old anarcho- communist who had been a mil­itant since the 1890s, the conference revealed a greater community of ideas than could have been supposed:

-- the majority of the groups rejected the theor­ies of Burnham about the ‘society of managers' and the indefinite development of the capitalist system. The historic period was that of "decad­ent capitalism, of permanent crisis, finding in state capitalism its structural and political expression."

-- except for the anarchistic elements present, the council communists were in agreement with the groups coming from Bordigism on the necess­ity for an organization of revolutionaries. How­ever, against their conception in 1945, they saw in the party an assembly of individual carriers of a proletarian science: "the new revolutionary parties are therefore the carriers of or the laboratories of proletarian knowledge." Taking up the conception of Pannekoek on the role of individuals, they affirmed that "there are always individuals who are conscious of these new truths."

-- a majority of participants supported the interventions of Marco of Internationalisme denying that either the Trotskyist or the anarchist current had their place "at a conference of rev­olutionary groups."[34] Only the representative of ‘Proletaire' - a group which was subsequently to evolve towards anarchism - took upon itself to advocate the invitation of non-official or ‘left' tendencies in such currents.

-- the groups present rejected any kind of union or parliamentary ‘tactic'. The silence of the ‘Bordigist' groups in opposition indicated their disagreement with the Italian Bordigist party.

It is significant that this conference - the most important of the immediate post-war per­iod - of internationalist groups brought togeth­er organizations coming from two currents, Bordigism and council communism. This was at once the first and the last attempt towards political confrontation in the post-war period. During the 1930s such an attempt would have been impossible principally because of the greater isolation of these groups and the divergences on the Spanish question. The conference of 1947 permitted ess­entially the establishment of a delimitation - on the question of war and of anti-fascism - from the Trotskyist and anarchist currents. It expressed in a confused manner the common senti­ment that the context of the Cold War had closed a very brief period of two years which had seen the development of new organizations, and had opened a course towards a disintegration of mil­itant forces unless they consciously maintained a minimum of political contact.

This general consciousness was missing from the conference which ended without either practical decisions or common resolutions being adopted. Only the ex-members of the GIC and ‘Internation­alisme' spoke out in favor of holding further conferences. This project proved to be beyond realization, thanks to the departure in August 1947[35] of the greater part of the old GIC members from the Bond. Apart from Theo Maassen, who considered the break to be unjustified, they believed that their divergences were too import­ant to allow them to remain in the Communisten­bond. In fact, the latter had decided to create - artificially - an ‘International Federation of Factory Groups' (IFBK) in the image of the ‘Betriebsorganisationen' of the KAPD.

But the profound cause of the split was the con­tinuation of a militant and organized activity in the workers' struggles. The old members of the GIC were accused by the militants of the Bond of wanting to transform the organization into a ‘club of theoretical studies' and of denying the immediate workers' struggles:

"The point of view of the old comrades (of the GIC) was that - while continuing to propagate ‘production in the hands of the factory organizations', ‘all power to the workers' councils' and ‘for a communist production on the basis of a calculation of the cost of average labor time' - the Spartacusbond didn't have to inter­vene in the workers' struggles as they take place today. The propaganda of the Spartacusbond should be pure in its principles, and if the masses are not interested today this will change when the mass movements become revolutionary."[36]

Through an irony of history, the ex-members of the GIC returned to the same arguments as the tendency of Gorter - the so-called Essen tenden­cy - in the ‘20s, against which the GIC was con­stituted in 1927. Because they defended active intervention in the economic struggles - the position of the Berlin tendency of the KAPD - they could avoid the rapid process of disinteg­ration of the partisans of Gorter. The latter either disappeared politically or evolved - as an organization - towards trotskyist positions and towards left socialist ‘anti-fascism' before finally participating in the Dutch Resistance: Frits Kief, Bram Korper and Barend Luteraan - the leaders of the ‘Gorterist' tendency followed this trajectory.[37]

Constituting in Autumn 1947 a ‘Groep van Raden communisten' (Group of council communists), Canne-Meyer, B. A. Si jes and their partisans pur­sued political activity for a time. They wanted, despite everything, to maintain international contact. With a view towards a conference - which never took place - they edited a ‘Bulletin of Information and of International Discussion' in November 1947, of which just a single number appeared.[38] After having edited two members of ‘Radencommunisme' in 1948, the group disappeared. Canne-Meyer fell into the greatest pessim­ism regarding the revolutionary nature of the proletariat and began to doubt the theoretical value of marxism.[39] Sijes devoted himself entirely to his work as a historian on the ‘Strike of February 1941' before finally part­icipating in an ‘International Committee of Research into Nazi War Crimes' which led him to testify at the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem.[40] Bruun van Albada, who had not followed the old GIC members in the split, ceased militant life soon afterwards in 1948 after being appointed director of the astronomical observatory of Ban­doeng in Indonesia. No longer organized, it did­n't take long until he "no longer had any con­fidence in the working class."[41]

Thus, outside of any organized militant activ­ity most of the militants of the GIC ended up rejecting any kind of militant marxist engage­ment. Only Theo Maassen, who remained in the Bond, maintained his engagement.

*****************************

What proved the split to have been unjustified - according to Theo Maassen - was the evolution of the Bond from the end of 1947 until its Christ­mas conference. This conference marked a decis­ive stage in the history of the Communistenbond Spartacus. The conception of the organization of the GIC triumphed completely and amounted to an abandonment of the positions of 1945 on the party. It was the beginning of an evolution tow­ards a finished councilism, which led finally to the near-disappearance of the Spartacusbond in Holland.

The affirmation of a participation of the Bond on all the economic struggles of the proletariat led to a dissolution of the organization in the struggle. The organization was no longer a critical part of the proletariat but an organism at the service of the workers' struggles: "the Bond and the members of the Bond strive to serve the working class in struggle."[42] The ouvrierist theory triumphed and the communists of the Bond were confounded with the mass of wor­kers in struggle. The distinction made by Marx between communists and proletarians, a distinc­tion taken up by the ‘Theses on the party' of 1945, disappeared:

"The Bond should be an organization of workers who think for themselves, make propaganda them­selves, organize themselves, and are administ­ered by themselves."

However, this evolution towards ouvrierism was not total and the Bond was not afraid to affirm itself as an organization with an indispensable function in the class: "The Bond makes an indis­pensable contribution to the struggle. It is an organization of communists become conscious that the history of every society until now has been the history of class struggle, based on the dev­elopment of the productive forces." Without using the term ‘party', the Bond spoke up for a re­groupment of revolutionary forces at the inter­national level: "The Bond considers it desir­able that the avant-garde with the same orient­ation throughout the world regroup in an inter­national organization."

The organizational measures taken at the confer­ence stood in opposition to this principle of regroupment, which could only be realized if the political and organizational centralization of the Bond were maintained. The Bond ceased to be a centralized organization with statutes and executive organs. It became a federation of work, study and propaganda groups. The local sections (or ‘nuclei') were autonomous, without any other links than that of a ‘work group' specialized in inter-group relations, and the internal bulletin ‘Uit eigen Kring' (In our circle). There were also work groups with functions to fulfill: editorship; correspondence; administra­tion; the editing of ‘De Vlam' of the Bond; international contacts; 'economic activities' linked to the foundation of the International of Factory Groups (IFBK).

This return to the federalist principle of the GIC led to a more and more ‘councilist' politi­cal regression at the theoretical level. A ‘councilism' with two characteristics: the characterization of the historic period since 1914 as an epoch of ‘bourgeois revolutions' in the under-developed countries; the rejection of any revolutionary political organization. This evol­ution took place particularly rapidly during the ‘50s. The affirmation of a theoretical contin­uity with the GIC - documented by the re-edition in 1950 of ‘Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution'[43] signaled the break with the original principles of the Bond of 1945.

During the 1950s, the Bond made a great theoretical effort in publishing the review ‘Daad en Gedachte' (Deed and thought), the edit­ing of which was above all the responsibility of Cajo Brendel, who joined the organization in 1952. Along with Theo Maassen, he contributed to the publication of pamphlets on the insurrection of the East German workers in 1953; on the mun­icipal workers' strike in Amsterdam in 1955; on the strike in Belgium in 1961. Alongside current events pamphlets the Bond published theoretical essays which revealed the growing influence of ‘Socialisme ou Barbarie'.[44]

The influence of this last group - with which political contact was taken up in 1953 and from whom texts were published in ‘Daad en Gedachte' - was no coincidence. The Bond had been the un­conscious precursor of the theory of Castor­iadis concerning ‘modern capitalism' and the opposition ‘rulers/ruled'. But as much as the Bond remained loyal to marxism in reaffirming the opposition between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, it also made concessions to ‘SoB' in defining the Russian ‘bureaucracy' as a ‘new class'. But for the Bond, this class was ‘new' above all in relation to its origins; it took the form of a ‘bureaucracy' which is "part and parcel of the bourgeoisie".[45] However, in associating it with a strata of collective non-owning ‘managers' of the means of prod­uction, the Bond took over the theory of Burn­ham which it had rejected at the conference of 1947. In spite of this, the Bond had been in 1945 the unconscious precursor of this theory, which it had, however, never fully developed. The master became the true ‘follower' of its disciple: ‘Socialisme ou Barbarie'. Like the latter, it slid progressively down the slope which was to lead to its dissolution.

This dislocation had two profound causes:

-- the rejection of any proletarian experience of the past, in particular the Russian experience;

-- the abandonment by the GIC tendency - inside the Bond - of any idea of a political organization.

The Rejection of the Russian Experience

After having tried to understand the causes of the degeneration of the Russian revolution, the Bond ceased to consider it to be proletarian only to see it - just like the GIC - as a ‘bourgeois' revolution. In a letter to Castoria­dis-Chaulieu of 8 November 1953 - which was pub­lished by the Bond[46] - Pannekoek considered that this ‘last bourgeois revolution' had been ‘the work of the Russian workers also'. In this way, the proletarian nature of the revolution was denied (workers' councils, the taking of power in October 1917). Not wanting to see the process of the counter-revolution in Russia (the subordination of the workers' councils to the state, Kronstadt) Pannekoek and the Bond ended up with the idea that the Russian workers had fought for the ‘bourgeois' revolution and thus for their own self-exploitation. If October 1917 meant nothing for the revolutionary movement, it was logical that Pannekoek should affirm that "the proletarian revolution belongs to the fut­ure." In this way, the entire history of the workers' movement ceased to appear as a source of experiences for the proletariat and the point of departure for all theoretical reflection. The entire workers' movement of the 19th century be­came ‘bourgeois' and could only situate itself on the terrain of the ‘bourgeois revolution'.

This theoretical evolution was accompanied by an ever greater immediatism vis-a-vis each workers' strike. The class struggle became an eternal present, without a past - since there was no longer a history of the workers' movement - and without a future - since the Bond refused to consider itself to be an active factor capable of positively influencing the situation of the consciousness of the workers.

The Self-dissolution of the Organization

At the time of the discussion with ‘Socialisme ou Barbarie' the Bond had not renounced the con­ception of organization and of the party. As Theo Maassen wrote: "the avant-garde is a part of the militant class, composed of the most militant workers from all political directions." The organization was conceived of as the total­ity of the groups of the revolutionary milieu. This vague definition of the avant-garde which dissolved the Bond into the totality of existing groups was, however, a sign of life of the original principles of 1945. Although it considered this apparatus, the party, to be dangerous because it has ‘a life of its own' and develops ‘according to its own laws', the Bond still recognized its necessary role: that of being "a force of the class."[47]

But this ‘force of the class' came to disappear in the struggles of the workers in order not to break ‘their unity'. Which came down to saying that the party - and the organization of the Bond in particular - was an invertebrate organ­ism, which should ‘dissolve itself in the struggle'.

This conception was the consequence of the workerist and immediatist vision of Dutch councilism. The proletariat in its entirety seemed to it to be the sole political avant-garde, the ‘teacher' of the ‘councilist' militants, which in reality were defined as a ‘rear-guard'. The identification between conscious communist and combative worker led to an identification with the immediate consciousness of the workers. The militant worker in a political organization no longer has to raise the consciousness of the workers in struggle, but negates himself in placing himself at the level of the immediate and still confused consciousness of the mass of the workers:

"It is essential that the socialist or commun­ist of our epoch conform to and identify with the workers in struggle."[48]

This conception was defended particularly by Theo Maassen, Cajo Brendel and Jaap Meulenkamp. This led to a split in December 1964 in the Bond. The tendency which had consequently def­ended the anti-organization conception of the GIC became a review: ‘Daad en Gedachte'. This dislocation[49] of the Bond had in fact been prepared by the abandonment of everything which could symbolize the existence of a political organization. At the end of the ‘50s, the Communistenbond Spartacus had become the ‘Spartacusbond'. The rejection of the term 'communist' signified the abandonment of a political continuity with the old ‘council communist' movement. The increasingly family-like atmosphere in the Bond, with the word ‘comrade' being banished and replaced by ‘friend', was no longer that of a political body regrouping individuals on the basis of the common acceptance of the same vision and the same collective discipline.

From now on, there were two ‘councilist' ‘organizations' in Holland. One of them - the Spartac­usbond - after having experienced a certain lease of life after 1968, being open to inter­national confrontation with other groups, ended up disappearing at the end of the ‘70s. Opening itself up to the youngest and most impatient ele­ments, immersed in the struggle of the ‘Kraak­ers' (squatters) in Amsterdam, it dissolved itself into a leftist populism before finally ceasing publication of the review ‘Spartacus'.[50]

‘Daad en Gedachte', on the other hand, survived in the form of a monthly review. Dominated by the personality of Cajo Brendel after the death of Theo Maassen, the review is the point of convergence for anarchistic elements. The ‘Daad en Gedachte' tendency has gone to the limit of the ‘councilist' logic in rejecting the workers' movement of the 19th century as ‘bourgeois' and cutting itself off from any revolutionary trad­ition, in particular that of the KAPD, a trad­ition which appeared to it to be too much marked by ‘the spirit of the party.'

But above all, ‘Daad en Gedachte' has progress­ively detached itself from the real tradition of the GIC at the theoretical level. It is above all an information bulletin about strikes, wher­eas the reviews of the GIC were true theoretical and political reviews.

This rupture with the true traditions of council communism led progressively towards the terrain of third worldism, characteristic of leftist groups.

"... the struggles of the colonial peoples have made a contribution to the revolutionary movement. The fact that badly armed peasant popula­tions have been able to face up to the enormous force of modern imperialism has shaken the myth of the invincibility of the military, technolo­gical and scientific power of the west. Their struggle has also shown to millions of people the brutality and racism of capitalism and has led many people - especially youngsters and students - to enter the struggle against their own regime."[51]

It is striking to note here how, as for the Fourth International and Bordigism, the struggle which stems from the proletariat of industrial Europe is understood as the product of ‘national liberation struggles'. They appear as a by-prod­uct of students in revolt, if they are not den­ied as such.

Such a theory is not surprising. In taking up the theory of ‘Socialisme ou Barbarie' of a society divided not by class antagonisms but by the revolts of the ‘ruled' against the ‘rulers', the ‘councilist' current could only conceive of his­tory as a succession of revolts of social categ­ories and classes. The marxist theory of council communism of the ‘30s was followed by the Comm­unistenbond of the ‘40s retreating in face of the conceptions of anarchism.[52]

Today in Holland, council communism has disapp­eared as a real current. It has left behind num­erically very weak ‘councilist' tendencies - such as ‘Daad en Gedachte' - which have prog­ressively linked themselves to the anti-party libertarian current.

At the international level, after the Second World War, the ‘council communist' current was only maintained by individuals such as Mattick, who remained loyal to revolutionary marxism. If groups - claiming to represent ‘Rate-Kommun­ismus' - have appeared in other countries, such as Germany and France, these have had very diff­erent foundations that those of the Communisten­bond Spartacus.

Chardin



[1] On Toon van den Berg (1904-1977) see the article of the Spartacusbond: "Spartacus" no. 2, February-March 1978.

[2] "Uit eigen kring" no. 2, March 1946: Nota van de politike commissie" (Notes of the political committee).

[3] See UEK no. 2, March 1946, idem.

[4] At the same time as the question of centralization arose, a cleavage appeared between "academic" elements and militants who were more in favor of propaganda. The latter, such as Johan van Dinkel, denounced the danger for the Bond becoming a "club of theoretical studies". See UEK no. 2 March 1946, "Waar staat de Communistenbond? Theoretisch studie club or wordende Party?" (What is the Communistenbond? Theoretical study club or party in the making?)

[5] See the circular of 17 August 1946 contain­ing the minutes of the national political commi­ssion of July 14. There are interventions of Stan Poppe, Bertus Nansink, van Albada, Jan Vas­tenhoew and Theo Maassen on the state of the organization.

[6] "Maandblad Spartacus" No 12, December 1945: "Het russische imperialisme en de revolutionaire arbeiders" (Russian imperialism and the revolu­tionary workers).

[7] The group "Socialisme au Barbarie", a split from Trotskyism, published its first number in 1949. Its motor force was C. Castoriadis (Chaulieu or Cardan). Above all the sub-products of "Socialisme ou Barbarie" - ICO, and the "Liaisons" of Henri Simon - pushed the theory of "rulers/ruled", "order givers/order takers" to its conclusion.

[8] The Conference of the Bond of 27 and 28 October 1945. See UEK No 6, December 1945.

[9] Report of a member of the political commiss­ion on the Indonesian question in UEK no 6, Dec ‘45

[10] "Maandblad Spartacus" No 9, September 1945: "Nederland - Indonesie".

[11] Decision of the political commission, July 14, 1946. See circular of August 27 with the minutes of the meeting of the central organ.

[12] "Spartacus" (Weekblad) No 23, June 7 1947: "Het wezen der revolutionaire bedrijfsorganis­atie" (The nature of the revolutionary factory organization).

[13] In 1951, some members of the Bond considered that the OVB was none other than an "old union" with which it should have nothing to do. This was the point of view of view of "Spartacus" in 1978 which defined the OVB as "a small central union". Consult the article "Toon van den Berg" (No 2, February-March). The debate on the nature of the OVB is to be found in "Uit eigen kring" no 17, July 22, 1951.

[14] "De nieuwe Wereld" April 1947, translated into bad French f o the Conference of 1947 and published as a brochure "Le monde nouveau".

[15] "The workers councils", chapter "Direct Action".

[16] "The workers councils", chapter "Thought and Action".

[17] See "la Gauche Communiste d' Italie", chapter 4.

[18] "The Workers Councils" chapter 3, "The occupation of the factories".

[19] See "le nouveau monde" (The new world) 1947, p. 12. The Bond, like Pannekoek, had a tendency to consider strike committees to be permanent organs, which continue after the struggle. Pannekoek appeals for the formation - after the strike - of small independent unions "intermedi­ary forms ... regrouping, , after a large scale strike, the nucleus of the best militants in a single union. Wherever a strike breaks out spontaneously, this union will be present with its organizers and its experienced propagan­dists." ("Les conseils ouvriers", p. 157).

[20] "The workers councils" chapter: "The workers revolution".

[21] Pannekoek only had individual contact with the old members of the GIC: Canne-Meyer, BA Si jes.

[22] "Maandblad Spartacus" No 8 August 1945: "Het zieke Kapitalisme" (Sick Capitalism)

[23] "The Workers Councils" p419 French edition. This affirmation of a collapse of capitalism was in contradiction with another thesis of the "work­ers councils" according to which capitalism ex­periences with decolonization a new upsurge: "Once it has integrated into its own domain the hundreds of millions of people who are crowded onto the fertile plains of China and India, the essential task of capitalism will have been accomplished". (p194) . This last idea cannot but re­call the theses of Bordiga on "youthful capital­ism."

[24] "Maandblad Spartacus" No 8, August 1945 op cit.

[25] "Spartacus" (Weekblad) No 22, May 31, 1947: "Nog twe jaren" (Two more years).

[26] The Bond had made Canne-Meyer responsible for the publication of an esperantist review: "Klas­batale". There was another attempt in 1951 to edit "Spartacus" in Esperanto. The fixation on this language, a fad of intellectuals, explains the lack of effort made by the Bond to publish its texts in English, German and French.

[27] The 1950 preface to "Grondbeginse len der communistische productie en distributie" speaks of a "definitely not revolutionary situation"; it does not use the concept of counter-revolution to define the period. This preface has two concerns:

a) to examine the world wide tendency towards state capitalism and its different expressions: in Russia the state directing the economy, in the USA the monopolies seizing hold of the state;

b) affirming the necessity of the immediate econ­omic struggle as the basis of "new experiences" carrying the germs of a "new period".

[28] The "provisional statutes of the Vereniging van Radensocialisten" was published in April 1947 in "Uit eign kring" No 5.

[29] The translation and commentaries of the nucl­eus in Leiden on the "Draft program of the Bel­gian fraction" are to be found in the circular bulletin of April 27, 1946.

[30] "Uit eigen kring", bulletin of the Christmas Conference 1947.

[31] Quoted by "Spartakus" No 1, October 1947: "Die internationale Versammlung in Brussel, Pfin­gsten 1947". "Spartakus" was the organ of the RKD linked to the French group "Le Proletaire" (Revolutionary-Communists).

[32] Minutes of the Conference in the issue of "Spartakus" already quoted, and in "International­isme" No 23, June 15 1947: "Letter of the GCF to the Communistenbond ‘Spartacus'"; "An Internation­conference of revolutionary groups"; "Rectificat­ions" in No 24, July 15 1947.

[33] Account of a journey to make contact with the French RKD and "Internationalism" in August 1946. See "Uit eigen kring" No 4, April 1947.

[34] Quotes from the report of the Congress, "Internationalism" No 23.

[35] Circular letter of August 10 1947: "De splij­ting in de Communistenbond ‘Spartacus' op zontag 3 augus tus 1947" Quoted by Fri is Kool in "Die Linke gegen die Parteiherrschaft", 1970 p 626.

[36] "Uit eigen kring", special number, December 1947: "De plaats van Spartacus in de klassen‑ strijd" (The place of Spartacus in the class struggle).

[37] Frits Kief, after having been secretary of the KAPN from 1930 to 1932, founded along with Korper the group "De Arbeiderssraad" which evolved progressively towards Trotskyist and anti-fascist positions. During the war Frits Kief participated in the Dutch resistance, becoming a member of the "labor Party" after the war before ending up singing the song of "Yugoslavian Socialism". Bram Korper and his nephew returned to the CP. As for the Barend Luteran (1878-1970) who - more than the already sick Gorter - had been the founder of the KAPN, he followed the same route as Frits Kief.

[38] The technical preparation for this conference (Bulletins) was taken charge of by the "Groep va Raden-Communisten". In a letter written in October 1947, "Internationalisme" points out that a future conference could no longer be held "on a simple basis of affections" and must reject dilletantism in discussion.

[39] On the evolution of Canne-Meyer see his text from the 1950s "Socialism Lost" in IR 37.

[40] B.A. Sijes (1908-1981) however, contributed during the 60s and 70s to the council communist movement in taking charge of the prefaces and the re-edition of the works of Pannekoek. The edition of the "Memoirs" is the last part of this work.

[41] B. van Albada (1912-1972), while ceasing to be a militant, translated with his wife, "Lenin as Philosopher" into Dutch.

[42] This quotation and the following are extracts from "Uit eigen kring", special number, December 1947. "Sparatcus. Eugen werk, organisatie en propaganda".

[43] The "Principles" had been written in prison, in the 20s, by Jan Appel. They had been proofed and adapted by Canne-Meyer. Jan Appel wrote - according to the Spartacusbond in its preface of 1972 - along with Sijes and Canne-Meyer in 1946 the study: "De economische grondslagen van de radenmaatschappij" (The economic foundations of the council society). It doesn't appear as if Jan Appel became a member of the Bond in 1945. He was in disagreement with the ex-members of the GIC and with the Bond who refused to engage in revolutionary work towards the German Army. Other reasons (personal tensions) are given for his separation from a militant and political work which he wanted to engage in.

[44] The pamphlets mentioned and the review "Daad en Gedachte" can be ordered from the following address: Schouw 48-11, Lelystad, Holland.

[45] A pamphlet edited by Theo Maasen in 1961 "Van Beria tet Zjoekof" - Social-economische achter grond van de destalinisate". Translation in French "L'arriere-fond de la destalinisation" in Cahiers du communism des conseils" May 1971.

[46] See "A correspondence between A. Pannekoek and P. Chalieu" with an introduction by Cajo Brendel in "Chaiers du communism des conseils" no. 8 May 1971.

[47] Quotes from a letter of Theo Maasen to "Socialisme ou Barbarie". Published in the no. 18, January-March 1956 under the title "Once more on the question of the party."

[48] Quotes from the pamphlet "Van Beria tot Zjoekof".

[49] Meulenkamp left the Bond in 1964. Cajo Brendel and Theo Maasen, with two of their comrades, were excluded in December. The separation was not a "soft" one: the Bond recuperated the equipment and the pamphlets which belonged to it, even though the latter had been written by Brendel and Maasen. Jaap Meulenkamp referred to "Stalinist metnods" in "Brief van Jaap aan Radencommunisme" in "Iniatief tot een bijeenkomst van revolutionaire groepen", bulletin of January 20 1981. Subsequently, Daad en Gedachte, despite the invitations of the Bond, refused to sit "at the same table" at conferences and meetings such as that of January 1981.

[50] See the articles in the International Review on the Dutch Left - nos 2, 9, 16 and 17.

[51] Cajo Brendel: "Theses on the Chinese Revolution". the quotation is taken from the introduction to the English translation in 1971 by the Solidarity group of Abederdeen.

[52] A summary of the anarchist conceptions of Daad en Gendachte" is to be found in the bulletin of January 20 1981 in relation to a conference of diverse groups, in which the ICC and several individuals who represented themselves participated. "Kanttekeningen van Daad en Gedachte" (Marginal notes of Daad en Gedachte). Daad en Gedachte did not participate at the conference as a group but in an individual capacity.