25 May 2020

Ben Lewis

Kautsky on Democracy and Republicanism (2020) | buy

Karl Kautsky was the leading theoretician of the German Social Democratic Party and one of the most prominent public intellectuals of his time. However, during the twentieth century a constellation of historical factors ensured that his ideas were either gradually consigned to near oblivion or downright reviled. Not only has his political thought been dismissed in non-Marxist historical and political discourse, but his ideas are equally discredited in Marxist circles.

This book aims to rekindle interest in Kautsky’s ideas by exploring his democratic-republican understanding of state and society. These essential works from different points in his career demonstrates how Kautsky’s republican thought was positively influenced by Marx and Engels―especially in relation to the lessons they drew from the experience of the Paris Commune.


Head to Head in Halle (2011) | buy

“We are on the field of battle. The audience in the hall is divided in two sections: it is as if a knife has cut them sharply in two. Two parties are present.” Grigory Zinoviev’s description of the Halle congress of the Independent Social Democrats (USPD) in October 1920. Would the USDP and its 700,000 members opt for the Third International or attempt to stay a halfway house floating uneasily between communism and official social democracy? The Halle congress would decide.

‘World revolution and the Third International’ | Read online
Grigory Zinoviev’s speech to the pivotal Halle Congress of the Independent Social Democratic party of Germany on October 20 1920. To commemorate the centenary of Zinoviev’s speech we publish it in English online for the first time.


Kautsky on Colonialism (2013) | buy

With a critical introduction by Mike Macnair.

The approach of the majority of the left on imperialism is drawn from Lenin’s ‘Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism’ and the conclusions drawn from this by the Communist International: ie unequivocal hostility to imperialist wars and critical support for nationalism in the subordinated countries, even where this takes unattractive forms, like Ba’athism or Islamism. A small minority has criticised this line as anti-democratic or even pro-fascist, arguing either for support for the “War on terror” or for non-opposition to it. Both sides of this argument rest on a myth: that in the past there was a non-imperialist capitalism.

The origins of this myth can be traced back to Karl Kautsky’s 1898 articles on colonialism. This book publishes these with an introduction exploring the articles and their legacy. The aim is to expose the rotten foundations of the myth and to help the left escape from the political traps of both pro-nationalist “anti-imperialism” and Yankee-philiac “anti-anti-imperialism”.

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