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WHEN INSURRECTIONS DIE. Gilles Dauvé

Gilles Dauvé, Quand Meurent les Insurrections. ADEL, Paris, 1998.
This version, translated by Loren Goldner and revised by the author, first published by Antagonism Press, 1999.
“If the Russian Revolution becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for a communist development.”1

This perspective was not realised. The European proletariat missed its rendezvous with a revitalised Russian peasant commune.2

BREST-LITOVSK: 1917 AND 1939

Brest-Litovsk, Poland, December 1917: the Bolsheviks proposed peace without annexations to a Germany intent on taking over a large swath of the old Tsarist empire, stretching from Finland to the Caucasus. But in February 1918, the German soldiers, “proletarians in uniform” though they were, obeyed their officers and resumed the offensive against a soviet Russia as if they were still facing the Tsarist army. No fraternisation occurred, and the revolutionary war advocated by the Bolshevik Left proved impossible. In March, Trotsky had to sign a peace treaty dictated by the Kaiser’s generals. “We’re trading space for time”, as Lenin put it, and in fact, in November, the German defeat turned the treaty into a scrap of paper. Nevertheless, practical proof of the international link-up of the exploited had failed to materialise. A few months later, returning to civilian life with the war’s end, these same proletarians confronted the alliance of the official workers’ movement and the Freikorps. Defeat followed defeat: in Berlin, Bavaria and Hungary in 1919; then the Red Army of the Ruhr in 1920; the March Action in 1921…

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