Saturday, May 28, 2011

"The Revolution With Not Be Televised" Songwriter Gil-Scott Heron Passes-Hip-Hop Nation (And Others) Should Mourn

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of a performance of Gil Scott Heron's' The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

Gil Scott-Heron, Spoken-Word Musician, Dies at 62By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: May 27, 2011

Updated: May 28, 2011 at 12:56 PM ET

NEW YORK (AP) — Musician Gil Scott-Heron, who helped lay the groundwork for rap by fusing minimalistic percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry on songs such as "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" but saw his brilliance undermined by a years-long drug addiction, died Friday at age 62.

A friend, Doris C. Nolan, who answered the telephone listed for his Manhattan recording company, said he died in the afternoon at St. Luke's Hospital after becoming sick upon returning from a trip to Europe.

"We're all sort of shattered," she said.

Scott-Heron was known for work that reflected the fury of black America in the post-civil rights era and also spoke to the social and political disparities in the country. His songs often had incendiary titles — "Home is Where the Hatred Is," or "Whitey on the Moon," and through spoken word and song, he tapped the frustration of the masses.

Yet much of his life was also defined by his battle with crack cocaine, which also led to time in jail. In a 2008 interview with New York magazine, he said he had been living with HIV for years, but he still continued to perform and put out music; his last album, which came out this year, was a collaboration with artist Jamie xx, "We're Still Here," a reworking of Scott-Heron's acclaimed "I'm New Here," which was released in 2010.

He was also still smoking crack, as detailed in a New Yorker article last year.

"Ten to fifteen minutes of this, I don't have pain," he said. "I could have had an operation a few years ago, but there was an 8 percent chance of paralysis. I tried the painkillers, but after a couple of weeks I felt like a piece of furniture. It makes you feel like you don't want to do anything. This I can quit anytime I'm ready."

Scott-Heron's influence on rap was such that he sometimes was referred to as the Godfather of Rap, a title he rejected.

"If there was any individual initiative that I was responsible for it might have been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with complete progression and repeating 'hooks,' which made them more like songs than just recitations with percussion," he wrote in the introduction to his 1990 collection of poems, "Now and Then."

He referred to his signature mix of percussion, politics and performed poetry as bluesology or Third World music. But then he said it was simply "black music or black American music."

"Because black Americans are now a tremendously diverse essence of all the places we've come from and the music and rhythms we brought with us," he wrote.

Nevertheless, his influence on generations of rappers has been demonstrated through sampling of his recordings by artists, including Kanye West, who closes out the last track of his latest album with a long excerpt of Scott-Heron's "Who Will Survive in America."

Scott-Heron recorded the song that would make him famous, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," which critiqued mass media, for the album "125th and Lenox" in Harlem in the 1970s. He followed up that recording with more than a dozen albums, initially collaborating with musician Brian Jackson. His most recent album was "I'm New Here," which he began recording in 2007 and was released in 2010.

Throughout his musical career, he took on political issues of his time, including apartheid in South Africa and nuclear arms. He had been shaped by the politics of the 1960s and black literature, especially the Harlem Renaissance.

Scott-Heron was born in Chicago on April 1, 1949. He was raised in Jackson, Tenn., and in New York before attending college at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Before turning to music, he was a novelist, at age 19, with the publication of "The Vulture," a murder mystery.

He also was the author of "The Nigger Factory," a social satire.

The Latest From The “Jobs For Justice” Website-Excluded Workers Congress Convenes International Conference

Click on the headline to link to the Jobs For Justice website.

Excluded Workers Congress Convenes International Conference

By jwjnational, on May 20th, 2011

AFL-CIO President Trumka and Domestic Workers United sing partnership agreement.

On May 10-12 in New York, NY, the Excluded Workers Congress convened its first International Conference to strategize the way forward for workers in sectors unprotected by current US labor laws. With allies from throughout the world, including worker organizations from India and South Africa, the discussion focused on identifying pressure points in global capital where excluded workers could continue to build power. Annanya Bhattacharjee of the Asia Floor Wage campaign lifted up strategies that crossed national borders, lifting the floor for everyone. Pat Horn, of the South African organization StreetNet International, drew similarities between excluded workers in the US and the movement to promote the rights of street vendors in South Africa. And Ashim Roy of the New Trade Union Initiative in India, lifted up the need from stronger coordination across borders, and noted that many of the Indian guestworkers now organized within the National Guestworkers Alliance were members of NTUI back home in India.

Jobs with Justice delegation to the Excluded Worker Congress conference.
In keeping with tradition, the Congress was launched with a bang—with President Trumka joining the opening press conference to sign partnership agreements between the AFL-CIO and the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Guestworkers Alliance. These partnerships indicate the exciting and complex relationship between sectors of the Excluded Workers Congress and allies within the trade union movement—opening the door to improved collaboration, locally and nationally.

Specific strategy sessions were held around the primary campaigns of the Excluded Workers Congress—including the Power Act, which would protect guest workers from employer retaliation if they file a labor complaint, and the minimum wage.

The Excluded Workers Congress will convene again in the fall.

The Latest From The “Jobs For Justice ” Website-Tell Walmart: Intervene Before Labor Activists Are Sentenced to Death

Click on the headline to link to the Jobs For Justice website.

Tell Walmart: Intervene Before Labor Activists Are Sentenced to Death

By jwjnational, on May 18th, 2011

In Bangladesh, the minimum wage for a garment worker is a mere $43 per month. This equals 20 cents an hour– the lowest wage, by far, of any major garment producing country. Walmart is the leading exporter of these garments.

When Bangladeshi workers staged protests demanding a livable wage, factory owners responded with fabricated criminal charges against three labor leaders from the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity: Kalpona Akter, Babul Akhter, and Aminul Islam. These three organizers spent 30 days in jail, where they were threatened and tortured. They are now free on bail; however, the falsified charges against them remain. If convicted, they face possible life imprisonment or even the death penalty.


As the largest buyer of Bangladeshi-made clothing, Walmart has the power to ensure that Bangladeshi garment workers who face poverty wages and abusive conditions can stand up for their rights without risking harassment, imprisonment and torture.

Ask Walmart to tell its suppliers that have instigated false charges against labor leaders that those charges must be dropped; that the officers responsible for torturing these individuals must be held accountable; and that labor rights defenders like the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity must be allowed to operate freely.

Some cases are scheduled to be decided in a 60-day tribunal, which could start any day. Please take action by May 31st!

From The International Communist League's Marxist Bulletin Series- The Second Congress Of The Communist International (1920):Forging a Revolutionary International

The Second Congress (1920):
Forging a Revolutionary International
by Steve Henderson New York, 19 July 1998

I should say right away what I am not going to cover, which is the national and colonial question. Although it was a major topic of discussion and debate at the Second Congress, the underlying assumption of the theses and resolutions on the colonial question was the absence of a proletarian political movement in the colonial world, something which was rapidly changing following World War I. But the implications of this were not yet obvious in 1920. Jim spoke succinctly to the question of permanent revolution at the Bay Area discussion, so I would refer comrades to his remarks [see transcript, pp. 36-37]. In any case, all eyes at this time were still centrally focused on the revolutionary possibilities in Europe and the tasks of the Communist parties there.
The Second Congress of the Comintern was held in July and August of 1920. Soviet Russia had been fighting a civil war for over two years, and was still facing counterrevolutionary armies on three separate fronts. By this time the initial post-war revolutionary wave of 1918-19 was over in Central Europe. Revolutionary upheaval had shaken the defeated imperialist powers, principally the German and Austro-Hungarian empires. But while the kings departed, the bourgeoisie and its armed fist remained. The defeat of proletarian revolution in this period was at bottom due to the political treachery of the Social Democracy and the organizational and political weakness of the small Communist forces.

However, in 1920, at the time of the Congress, there were continuing political crises and outbreaks of tremendous class struggle in Europe. In Germany, the right-wing Kapp Putsch against the SPD government in March of 1920 was defeated through a nationwide general strike, combined with an armed mobilization of the workers. In Italy, 1920 was the year of massive strikes, culminating in the month-long factory occupations in August and September. And as the Second Congress was taking place, the Red Army had just repulsed Pilsudski's forces in the Ukraine and was advancing toward Warsaw—posing the possibility of revolution in Poland and linking up directly with the German proletariat. So, despite the delay of successful revolution, the Comintern anticipated continued revolutionary opportunities. But what were needed were effective Communist parties to take advantage of them.

The First Congress, held in March of 1919, had declared war on the Second International, mobilizing support for the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., soviet power. The manifesto for the First Congress focused on the Soviets as the organs of revolutionary struggle, and much less so on the party as the indispensable instrument for victory. The Second Congress began the fight on this question: giving organizational and political form to the member parties of the International. However, the precondition for building such parties was finishing the split with the reformists and the centrists.
Several mass social-democratic parties, including the Socialist Party in Italy (PSI), the Independent Social-Democratic Party in Germany (USPD), the French Socialist Party, along with a number of others, had withdrawn from the Second International. Under pressure from their leftward-moving members, these parties had been forced to go to Moscow. The PSI had already affiliated; others were looking to do so. But the Comintern had to keep out the reformists and centrists who were simply following their base. The Second Congress affirmed that, unlike the Second International, the Comintern was a democratic-centralist international. Its decisions were binding on national parties, which could not keep reformists within their ranks and continue to function in the same old way. This is where the "21 Conditions" come in, and their purpose was to build this kind of international.

In addition, forging real Communist parties meant starting to codify the program and tactics of the International. Simply agreeing with the dictatorship of the proletariat and soviet power was not sufficient in the long run. The Comintern sought to win over as many of the pro-Soviet "Lefts," the syndicalists and anarchists, as possible to an understanding and agreement with the full communist program. The political arguments for this are hammered out in "Left-Wing" Communism, which was written by Lenin a couple of months prior to the Congress, translated into all the major European languages and handed out to every delegate at the Congress. Successfully implementing this perspective would fuse the best of the left wing of Social Democracy with the subjectively revolutionary anarcho-syndicalists on a Leninist basis.

The First Congress, held in March of 1919, had declared war on the Second International, mobilizing support for the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., soviet power. The manifesto for the First Congress focused on the Soviets as the organs of revolutionary struggle, and much less so on the party as the indispensable instrument for victory. The Second Congress began the fight on this question: giving organizational and political form to the member parties of the International. However, the precondition for building such parties was finishing the split with the reformists and the centrists.

Several mass social-democratic parties, including the Socialist Party in Italy (PSI), the Independent Social-Democratic Party in Germany (USPD), the French Socialist Party, along with a number of others, had withdrawn from the Second International. Under pressure from their leftward-moving members, these parties had been forced to go to Moscow. The PSI had already affiliated; others were looking to do so. But the Comintern had to keep out the reformists and centrists who were simply following their base. The Second Congress affirmed that, unlike the Second International, the Comintern was a democratic-centralist international. Its decisions were binding on national parties, which could not keep reformists within their ranks and continue to function in the same old way. This is where the "21 Conditions" come in, and their purpose was to build this kind of international.

In addition, forging real Communist parties meant starting to codify the program and tactics of the International. Simply agreeing with the dictatorship of the proletariat and soviet power was not sufficient in the long run. The Comintern sought to win over as many of the pro-Soviet "Lefts," the syndicalists and anarchists, as possible to an understanding and agreement with the full communist program. The political arguments for this are hammered out in "Left-Wing" Communism, which was written by Lenin a couple of months prior to the Congress, translated into all the major European languages and handed out to every delegate at the Congress. Successfully implementing this perspective would fuse the best of the left wing of Social Democracy with the subjectively revolutionary anarcho-syndicalists on a Leninist basis.

Most comrades have read "Left-Wing" Communism, so I don't want to go through everything, but many of the theses and presentations at the Congress took up and refuted the arguments of the Left Communists and the syndicalists. In his opening speech, Lenin said that compared with the task of rooting out the opportunists, rectification of the errors of the Left Communists would be comparatively easy, because their position of boycotting the trade unions and anti-parliamentarism was a product of the betrayals of the Second International. His antidote was to familiarize communists with the internationally applicable experiences of the Bolshevik Party. Cannon writes about that in The First Ten Years of American Communism and the impact that it had on the American section, for example, the rooting out of a lot of these errors.

But Lenin did not mean this figuratively. If you read the opening paragraph of "Left-Wing" Communism, he talks about the experiences of the Bolshevik Party which are directly applicable to the other countries and the parties of the West. I don't want to repeat every argument, but one thing that really jumps out when you read "Left-Wing" Communism on the arguments of the left is that all of Lenin's opponents, pretty much without exception, invariably resorted to national exceptionalism. From the right, Kautsky portrayed the Bolshevik Revolution as a dictatorial Russian deviation from the civilized norms of European, i.e., German, Marxism. The left communists, who denounced the Social Democracy, nonetheless made a symmetrical argument: that the Bolshevik experience did not apply to Europe because the parliamentarist and reformist trade-union tradition was too strong. Therefore, the Communist parties had to make a complete break from these institutions. This is really an inverted social-democratic worldview. If the working class is that wedded to bourgeois democracy, it writes off a priori the revolutionary-capacity of the European proletariat.

As a revolutionary theory, Left Communism is pretty barren. But Lenin did not simply dismiss the Lefts. They were a significant current within the early Communist movement which had a working-class component. There may have been some petty-bourgeois intellectuals, but they did have a big working-class base at the time. A lot of their impetus really was based on hatred of the class collaboration of the reformist trade-union bureaucrats. If you read about any of the strikes that took place during WWI, you will find they were led from outside the framework of the official unions. That is where you get organizations like the Shop Stewards in Germany, who led the Berlin metal workers strikes, or the Clydeside Workers Committees in the British Isles. There was a basis for looking to go around the- unions and around the official institutions. But by the end of the war, workers were pouring back into the unions, they were becoming the mass organizations of the proletariat and they were forced to carry out some class struggle. So to dismiss them would have left the whole mass base of the workers movement back in the hands of the reformists.

In the appendix to "Left-Wing" Communism, Lenin writes:

"There is reason to fear that the split with the 'Lefts'...will become an international phenomenon... Let that be so. At all events, a split is better than confusion...."
But then he goes on:

"Only, every effort should be made to prevent the split with the 'Lefts' from impeding—or to see that it impedes as little as possible—the necessary amalgamation into a single party, inevitable in the near future, of all participants in the working-class movement who sincerely and conscientiously stand for soviet government and the dictatorship of the proletariat." —V. I. Lenin, "Left-Wing" Communism-An
Infantile Disorder, Collected Works, Vol. 31, pp.
107-108 (Progress Publishers, 1966)

The Comintern at this time was anticipating renewed outbreaks of revolutionary struggle in Europe, and therefore the immediate programmatic questions were still the fight for Soviet power and against bourgeois parliamentarism. Lenin did not want a premature split with the Left Communists and hoped to win over as many as possible.
However, it was much different against the social-patriots and reformists. There wasn't going to be any friendly persuasion: they needed a hard split and a purge, which was the aim of the 21 Conditions. This was not exactly the view of the main leaders of the German and Italian parties, Paul Levi and Giacinto Serrati. They had more or less the opposite perspective: to purge or isolate the Lefts and for unity with the reformists and centrists, which is why they opposed the 21 Conditions at the Congress. Although they ended up voting for them, they sabotaged them in practice. Within the COM intern, they were the major centrist obstacle to the implementation of the perspective of breaking with the reformists.

In the appendices to "Left-Wing" Communism. Lenin deals specifically with Germany and Italy, which both had sizable parties and revolutionary opportunities. Therefore, the role of Levi and Serrate is of no small consequence. Serrati was conciliating an openly reformist wing within the PSI that was hostile to proletarian revolution. While Levi did not have a reformist wing within the KPD, the German Communist Party, he was looking to regroup with the left-social democratic formation, the USPD, on the widest possible basis, without Comintern interference. He later blocked with Serrate in Italy to sabotage the birth of the PCI. Levi was on a trajectory out of the Communist movement at this time and back to Social Democracy, which will figure quite large in the next class. I wanted to go a little into the history of these parties, the German KPD and the Italian PSI, so you know where they were coming from and where they were going, both before and after the Second Congress, and so you can understand why they did what they did at the Congress.

Spartakus and the German Revolution of 1918-19

I want to start with the question of Germany and the German party. As comrades know, the KPD had its origins primarily, but not solely, in the Spartakus-bund of Luxemburg and Liebknecht. They operated as a faction within the USPD, also known as the Independent Socialists, which was formed in April 1917 as a left-pacifist split from the pro-war SPD governmental socialists. It was also explicitly formed to head off the influence of Luxemburg and Liebknecht and the Spartakusbund. The USPD consisted of a right wing led by Karl Kautsky & Co. There was a center composed of left social democrats and centrists, and then there were the Spartacus revolutionaries. As the war dragged on, the Independents attracted thousands of discontented workers and began to rival the SPD's influence over the working class. They were becoming a mass party. The important point about the Independents is that at every critical juncture, the Independents provided the left cover for the SPD to head off socialist revolution.

When the German revolution broke out in early November of 1918, the newly formed Spartakusbund was still inside the USPD. After the Kaiser abdicated, the SPD took over governmental power with the express aim of heading off social revolution. To do that, it proposed that a joint SPD-Independent coalition government rule until a National Assembly could be convened. In other words, the Independents should provide the left cover for an interim so-called "socialist" government that guaranteed continued capitalist rule. The USPD leadership agreed to this.

Workers and soldiers councils were springing up in Berlin and around the country and they had to be convinced of this plan. With the authority of the Independents behind them, the SPD could appeal to working-class unity and got the needed Berlin council approval for this. Meanwhile, Friedrich Ebert, the SPD head of government, had been in secret communication with the German Military Command, working out how to get reliable troops to Berlin to put down the revolution. So, you had the left face, which is the coalition government with the USPD acting as its left wing, and then you have the real deal, which is collaboration with the military high command to put down revolution.

The Spartakusbund and its paper, Die Rote Fahne, fought for most of the right things: arm the workers, disarm the counterrevolution, no support to this coalition government, expose the National Assembly fraud, all power to the councils, expropriate the bourgeoisie. But they remained within the USPD until the eve of the ill-fated Spartakus uprising. Luxemburg had disagreed with Lenin on the need to split from the Social Democrats and form a tightly disciplined revolutionary party. Her perspective was essentially to capture the leadership of the USPD, and she put too much faith in the spontaneous self-organization of the working class. Consequently, in the midst of this revolution, instead of having a Leninist party, you had a not-very-disciplined party still immersed in the left wing of the Social Democracy. The split came way, way too late.

The KPD was formed on 31 December 1918 from a fusion of the Spartakusbund and the International Communists of Germany (IKD), a loose federation of independent Communist groupings based in cities like Bremen, Dresden, Berlin and others. The IKD's principal difference with the Spartakusbund had been opposition to entry into the USPD. And they were absolutely right on that question. But they also had other differences that were not right. The IKD had strong syndicalist leanings, thus they tended to be the center of parliamentary boycotts and for boycotting the trade unions.
The most fiercely debated question at the founding conference of the KPD was whether or not to participate in the National Assembly elections. By this time, the Spartakusbund leadership was arguing for participation, because the whole of the working class was pretty much going along with it, due to the work of the SPD, but they got overwhelmingly outvoted at the founding congress by the membership and its delegates. The arguments of the boycottists varied in motivation—some opposed parliamentary in principle, others for tactical reasons. But what is clear is that a sizable portion of the KPD membership, especially in Berlin, was anticipating imminent proletarian insurrection, even though they had no actual plans to organize it and they weren't organizing it themselves.

To give an idea of the difficulties: they were essentially a tiny group that was swamped by a huge, volatile membership and periphery. In November in Berlin they had approximately 50 people; on the eve of the uprising and the conference they had approximately 300 in Berlin. Maybe they gained a few more from the fusion, but we are talking of a tiny party that at the same time was leading, in their own name, armed demos of 150,000 and with the shop stewards holding demonstrations of 250,000 workers. This was a tiny party that had a huge periphery. Karl Liebknecht had enormous authority. The perception that insurrection was imminent and possible in Berlin was not totally out of line. One of the main questions was whether it would be isolated.
In response to the KPD conference, the SPD escalated its campaign to criminalize the revolutionaries in the Spartakusbund in preparation for bloody repression. On 29 December, the opening day of the KPD conference, the SPD's bloodhound Noske had deployed outside Berlin a new armed force to be used for counterrevolution. This was the Freikorps: volunteer battalions, initially composed of junior officers and noncoms, who were organized by right-wing officers. They were used for counterrevolution in Germany and also in Poland in the East. Many future Nazis got their start in the Freikorps.

The SPD government provoked the Berlin workers by firing the popular USPD Berlin police chief on 4 January. I won't go into the details, but this led to a semi-spontaneous uprising led by the USPD left wing. The USPD had finally pulled out of the coalition government just beforehand, under pressure from their left wing. The KPD obviously did not have the forces to lead an insurrection on their own. They were tiny and so the Berlin USPD was effectively in charge: that was who was running the show. Luxemburg had sought all along to avoid a premature uprising, as did a number of leaders of the Spartakusbund (she wasn't happy with Liebknecht, who got sucked into it), but once it happened, she urged it forward. She called on the leaders—i.e., the USPD, not the KPD—to quit vacillating and act. But it was futile.

The USPD Lefts' brief commitment to revolution was immediately followed by panic and capitulation. By this time Radek, who had sneaked into Berlin and had been there for the week before, when the uprising had been going on for a couple of days, was urging them to pull back because it obviously wasn't going anywhere. He told them to call an organized retreat, as they did in the July Days

in Russia, except the USPD right-wing national leadership had meanwhile intervened and was beginning negotiations with the SPD government. And the USPD Left was going along with this. So Luxemburg said, if they are negotiating the retreat, why should we take responsibility for it? But that was a big mistake, because what was actually going on was that the SPD was delaying. They were not interested in negotiations and were just waiting for Noske to get the Freikorps ready to march into Berlin. When they did march in, on January 13, there were a lot of Spartakusbund and others still occupying buildings, still carrying guns, which meant that you would be shot. It was a set-up for a massacre and the Freikorps came in and did just that. They crushed the working-class vanguard and killed its revolutionary leaders.

The Spartakusbund leadership had all along been worried, rightly so, about an isolated insurrection in Berlin. But in fact, the Berlin uprising was quickly followed by uprisings in the northern port cities starting in Bremen, followed by Hamburg, Cuxhaven and Wilhelmshaven. In Bremen, the KPD and USPD united to form a municipal soviet and seize power. But following the bloody suppression of Berlin, 3,500 Freikorps troops were then sent to Bremen. It was a repeat of Berlin. A small force of well-armed, ruthless shock troops overwhelmed a vastly larger, but poorly armed, workers militia.

The Freikorps then followed the insurrection and put it down one city at a time—from the northern ports, to the Ruhr, to Halle, to Munich. After the murder of Luxemburg and Liebknecht, Leo Jogiches led the party. He had been the longtime central organizer of the Spartakusbund. With the workers uprisings being suppressed by small military forces repeatedly, Jogiches decided to change tactics and organize a general strike in Berlin. That took place in early March and was fairly effective. Berlin was shut down. Jogiches gave orders not to go over to an armed action, because he didn't want that to bring a response. But the KPD had little control over the situation. Workers took up arms at a certain point anyway. Then the SPD responded by sending over 30,000 Freikorps into Berlin to crush it: 1,500-2,000 revolutionaries were killed in Berlin and about 10,000 wounded. Jogiches himself was captured and murdered in a police station.

By now all of the central leaders of the KPD had been murdered. The party was being hammered by repression, driven underground, and in disarray. The central committee, or Zentrale, had no control over party members outside of Berlin. And there was still the basic political problem of its tangled relations with the USPD which had been a problem from the beginning and continued to be a problem throughout this period.
A lot of comrades may have read the book, The Kings Depart, by Richard Watt. The author has a pretty good description of what was going on: "It was even difficult for the German Communists to put forward a clear-cut program of their own. Against Radek's advice, they had become so entangled with the leftwing of the Independent Socialists and with the various splinters of other revolutionary parties...that nobody knew who was directing whom."
-R. Watt, The Kings Depart, p. 303 (Simon & Schuster, 1970)

I thought that was a fairly succinct political description of the situation and of the problem. This mixing of banners with left social democrats was not unique to Germany. It was one of the lessons that was brought up repeatedly in the discussion and theses of the Second Congress. In Hungary, Bela Kun's Communists formally fused with a much larger social-democratic party to form the soviet government in March of 1919. The fusion was, I believe, the de facto precondition for Bela Kun assuming power, because the Communist Party was quite small. He was in jail at the time and they literally went to the jail and said: here, do you want to head the government? They fused and he took it over.

They made a lot of mistakes in Hungary. For example, the Hungarian soviet unnecessarily provoked opposition from the peasantry, among its many errors. The newly formed CP wasn't much of a communist party in the sense of experience and programmatic agreement. But the first and the biggest mistake was the fusion with left social democrats. When the Hungarian soviet soon came under siege, their social-democratic "comrades" in their own party secretly opened negotiations with the Entente for the ouster of the Communists and to end the soviet "experiment." In the end, they were overthrown by Romanian troops, backed by the French. Bela Kun was forced to resign on 1 August and white terror soon followed. In the neighborhood of 10,000 people were killed. The counterrevolution wiped out the left in Hungary. A similar thing happened in Finland, right after the October Revolution, that of merging the Bolsheviks, or the revolutionaries, in Finland with the social democrats and then getting sold out.

Levi and the KAPD

In Germany, with the older and experienced leaders now either dead or in prison, leadership of the KPD fell to a 36-year-old lawyer and Zentrale member, Paul Levi. He had been in the second tier of leadership of the old Spartakusbund for a long time. According to Franz Borkenau in his book The Communist International, Levi viewed the problem of this period as:

"The party was thoroughly defeated, and that by its own mistakes. It had gone to decisive battles with incredibly small forces. Levi decided to put an end to this, and during all his subsequent career as a communist one of his chief cares was never again to allow a section of the party to involve itself in a fight which was disproportionate to its forces."
—F. Borkenau, World Communist-A History of The Communist International, p. 152 (Ann Arbor Paperbacks, 1962)

Borkenau was an ex-communist renegade. He had been in the KPD from 1921 to 1929, so he had his own ax to grind. But his description, from everything I have read by and about Levi, rings quite true. His policy of caution was no doubt a response to the volatile, undisciplined elements inside the KPD, but it also expressed fundamentally his pessimistic view about the possibilities for revolution in this period.

The real problem was that the KPD had gone into battles effectively relying on the USPD, which was not up to the task and often then panicked and left the KPD holding the bag, which is what they did in Berlin. Another famous case is Munich, where some local USPD leaders light-mindedly declared a soviet and then when it came under attack they cut and ran, leaving the KPD to face the consequences. That was how Levine was murdered after a show trial, executed for defending the soviet against the Freikorps troops. He was the one who said, "We communists are dead men on leave." This was a repeated problem. But that is not exactly the way Levi viewed it. He generalized it into a policy of caution, at all times and in all places, as his later career makes clear.

The KPD, despite its disarray, grew from several thousands of members at its founding conference to over 100,000 almost a year later, which is when you know you are in a revolution. But in the aftermath of the defeated German revolution of 1918-19, Levi orchestrated a split in the KPD at its second conference in October 1919. For those who read Marlow's chronology, you'll know that Levi's motivation was that until the KPD got rid of its ultralefts, it would be impossible to effect regroup-ment with the much larger USPD with its base of trade unionists. But meanwhile, it had been recruiting a lot of workers and a lot of left-wing workers.

Those who opposed participation in the trade unions and parliamentary elections were purged from the party, reducing it in size from 107,000 to 50,000. Radek, who was still there, although he was in prison, had urged Levi to uphold the Comintern policy on the questions of parliamentarism and trade unions but use persuasion with the opposition. Instead, Levi tacked on a rider to his political resolutions expelling everyone who disagreed. A lot of people left who didn't even disagree with the Comintern's positions, but they were just so pissed off at the bureaucratic maneuver. Levi had a seemingly pathological hatred of the anarcho-lefts and he really wanted to get rid of these guys. Consequently, the KPD lost most of its working-class members, and in Berlin it was reduced to several dozen members. It was cut down to nothing.

After the purge, the boycottists formed the KAPD (Communist Workers Party of Germany). The Comintern initially sought to bring the KAPD back into the KPD, but backed off at Levi's insistence. The KAPD was nonetheless invited to the Second Congress and given sympathizer status. In the end, the KAPD leaders chose not to participate in the Second Congress after they had read the draft theses.

It is useful to look at the difference between Levi's attitude and Lenin's attitude to these Lefts. At the time of the split/purge, Lenin immediately wrote the KPD central committee, saying he found it "incredible" that they had expelled the boycottists and proposing that the ECCI, the Executive Committee of the Comintern, mediate the dispute (see V. I. Lenin, "Letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany Regarding the Split," Collected Works, Vol. 30, p. 87). As I said earlier, Lenin still anticipated immediate possibilities for proletarian revolution, which would necessarily be based on winning over not only the left wings of the Social Democracy, but also the fairly large anarcho-syndicalists in Europe. Under those circumstances, you would want to keep the Lefts within your ranks as long as possible and fight with them. While you couldn't keep unreconstructed anarcho-communists in the party indefinitely, if they maintained their positions, they nonetheless held the same positions on soviet power and opposition to bourgeois parliamentarism.
Jim, in the Bay Area discussion, as an analog, and by way of example, said that while we in the Trotskyist movement had no differences with the Oehlerites over the Spanish Civil War (i.e., over the question of proletarian revolution), the differences were over how to build the party in times that are not immediately revolutionary, which is most of the time. So you couldn't tolerate somebody who disagreed on fundamental tactics over a long period of time, but this was a period when you were still looking for fairly immediate proletarian revolution, or possibilities of it.

By August 1921, which was after the Third Congress, after the post-war revolutionary wave had definitively subsided, the CI was making changes in what the tactics and orientation of the parties should be under those conditions. Lenin drew the balance sheet and told the KPD to stop paying so much attention to the now much-smaller KAPD. The KAPD hadn't learned anything in those intervening two years, they were not moving closer to the KPD, and by this time, the KPD was a small mass party of 350,000 and was directly competing with the SPD. It had much bigger fish to fry.
1920 Kapp Putsch

In 1920 the possibility of revolution in Europe was still on the immediate agenda. However, it's apparent that Levi had already written off prospects for revolution—and never saw any prospects again. Levi had expelled most of the ultralefts, cut his party in half, essentially cut Berlin down to nothing. He carried out a massive retrenchment with the view that revolution was off the agenda, and all this occurred four months before the

Kapp Putsch.

The Kapp Putsch was referred to by the Bolsheviks as the German equivalent of the Kornilov affair. Everybody knows that coming out of the failed Kornilov coup attempt in August 1917 was the resurrection of the Soviets and the swing back to the Bolsheviks, leading toward the seizure of power. It didn't turn out that way in Germany. Levi (and most of the left today who bother to comment on these questions) thought the Bolsheviks' assessment was wishful thinking. But the events run counter to this pessimistic view of what was possible at the time. Unfortunately, the KPD proved incapable of taking advantage of the political possibilities.

The KPD, especially after the murders of its central founding cadre, was never able to forge an effective leadership, even in its revolutionary period. It ended up with a leadership that was divided between Lefts (despite Levi's massive purge), who operated on what was later dubbed the theory of the "revolutionary offensive," and cautious Rights (beginning with Levi), who didn't take advantage of revolutionary opportunity. The now much smaller KPD was soon to be tested during the Kapp Putsch, which occurred only a few months before the Second Congress.

On 13 March 1920, a right-wing general named Liittwitz marched into Berlin with Reichswehr-troops and installed a certain Dr. Kapp in power. While the SPD and bourgeois coalition government fled Berlin, the 70-something-year-old SPD head of the trade-union congress, Karl Legien, proclaimed a general strike. The KPD Zentrale in Berlin initially ignored the strike (these are the remaining Lefts) and warned the proletariat to "not lift a finger for the democratic republic" (U. Winkel, "Paul Levi and his Significance for the Communist Movement in Germany," Revolutionary History, Vol. 5, No. 2, Spring 1994, p. 48). That was the "Left" response. By the next day they discovered that the working class and the KPD ranks across the country had wisely ignored their advice and were striking, so they then changed their position.

Levi was in jail at the time and wrote a furious letter to the Zentrale, denouncing them for initially abstaining from the struggle and then for raising slogans advocating a congress of councils (soviets) and world revolution. He argued:

"The council republic comes at the end and not at the beginning.... Demands belong to a strike.... The demands are...the arming of the proletariat for the security of the republic, that is, issuing weapons to the politically organized workers.... A council republic and a council congress are not demands, and one cannot work to attain them."
-ibid., pp. 4849

The full quote also had a lot of ellipses, so maybe Levi advocated further demands that aren't mentioned. But the arming of the proletariat, while a necessary first step, doesn't determine the political aims of the struggle. One of the things that Levi also talked about in this letter was to warn that the strike leadership would betray. Well, the question was: betray what? On their own terms, they didn't betray. They actually waged the strike in defense of the bourgeois republic, which is what Levi demanded of them. Levi makes a lot of valid and scathing criticisms of the Lefts. But the point was that the KPD had to find the political lever for not just the defense of the republic, but to go beyond that to achieve dual power (i.e., Soviets). This was not simply a strike, but a political mobilization of the proletariat, which posed once again the question of power.

Workers councils in several cities revived during the Kapp Putsch and in the struggle against the military coup. The strike paralyzed Germany, and armed workers, including SPD workers, mobilized to defeat the putschists. Localized Soviets existed in the city of Chemnitz, under Heinrich Brandler, and in the Ruhr, where a Ruhr red army was formed. But Legien, with the aid of the USPD right wing (Kautsky and the rest), successfully kept the struggle within the framework of defending, as Levi put it, "the security of the republic." That was the betrayal that needed to be exposed; that was what had to be challenged from the beginning.

When the coup attempt collapsed after four days, victory was proclaimed, and negotiations began over the, formation of a new "socialist" government. It didn't go anywhere. Legien, a committed SPD reformist and social-patriot, wanted to put pressure on the SPD government rightists. He didn't like Noske and wanted to hold the militarists in check a little bit, so he proposed an SPD/USPD coalition government (shades of 1918). The KPD, although small, was nonetheless brought into the negotiations, not because they were going to join the government, but to determine their attitude to such a government, i.e., would they immediately try to overthrow it. Jakob Walcher, a Levi supporter, said the KPD would be a "loyal opposition" to the "socialist" government as long as the bourgeoisie was excluded. He went on:

"...A state of affairs in which political freedom can be enjoyed without restriction, and bourgeois democracy cannot operate as the dictatorship of capital is, from the viewpoint of the development of the proletarian dictatorship, of the utmost importance in further winning the proletarian masses over to the side of communism...."
—quoted in V. I. Lenin, "Left-Wing" Communism-An Infantile Disorder, pp. 109-110
That statement expresses some pretty deep illusions in the Social Democrats and bourgeois democracy. The KPD wasn't in a position to organize the immediate overthrow of this government, but to give credibility to the Social Democrats in that way represented a big right-wing bulge by the Levi wing of the party.

However, Legien's negotiations collapsed not, as anticipated, from KPD threats of a putsch, but from opposition within the USPD itself. A sizable USPD left wing opposed coalition with the SPD, because they remembered the experience of 1918. The SPD then formed a government again with bourgeois parties and proceeded to put down the local Soviets with the same troops that had just tried to overthrow them.

Surrounded by Reichswehr troops, the Chemists soviet, under KPD leader Heinrich Brandler, surrendered without bloodshed. But miners and workers in the Ruhr didn't want to put down their arms. They stayed fighting. The USPD left tried to continue the strike in Berlin in the Ruhr's defense, but the strikers resumed work on the advice of the SPD and USPD right wing. They left them hanging. The Reichswehr troops, which two weeks earlier had been routed by these workers (miners mainly in the Ruhr red army), wanted revenge and made conditions of surrender so difficult that many workers balked. Then the Ruhr was bloodily suppressed and the Communist movement there was shattered for a time.

In the aftermath, the Kapp Putsch became the subject of mutual recriminations between the left Communists, who had initially abstained, and the right Communists, principally Levi, who had tended to go to the right toward the Social Democrats. There was plenty of criticism to be made on both sides. The Comintern expressed its dissatisfaction with the KPD leadership as a whole. Lenin, while not objecting to the operational aspect of the KPD policy regarding the proposed SPD/USPD government, heavily criticized in "Left-Wing" Communism Walcher's statement for sowing illusions in the USPD. Citing the USPD leadership's role during the Kapp Putsch, Lenin described them as: "...sniveling philistine democrats, who become a thousand times more dangerous to the proletariat when they claim to be supporters of Soviet government and of the dictatorship of the proletariat because, in fact, whenever a difficult and dangerous situation arises they are sure to commit treachery...while 'sincerely' believing that they are helping the proletariat!"
-ibid., p. Ill

So, once again, it was the same problem of relying on the left social-democratic leadership.
The USPD and the Twenty-One Conditions

The leftward-moving section of the USPD membership, however, was another matter. During the course of the German revolution, and afterward, the USPD attracted hundreds of thousands of revolutionary-minded workers, who ought to have been in the KPD. Under pressure from them, the USPD had withdrawn from the Second International in December of 1919. The leadership was trying to avoid affiliation with the Third International, and trying to have some halfway meeting, instead calling for a conference of the Comintern and other revolutionary socialist groups. The USPD leadership wanted to dilute the influence of Lenin and the Bolsheviks. The ECCI said no, and instead invited USPD representatives to the Second Congress for negotiations.

Various Lefts at the Second Congress were upset that the USPD was present at all, because they didn't want to negotiate with another party containing avowed reformists. They didn't get it that the reformists didn't want to be there either and the terms of negotiation were dictated by the CI. The 21 Conditions combined with the Theses and Resolutions of the Second Congress were to provide the political basis to split the USPD, as well as the PSI, French SP, etc., and that is basically what later happened.
Levi, unlike the Lefts and other critics, understood very well what was going on, which is why he opposed the 21 Conditions. He really had a difference over ^ the USPD. Whereas the Comintern looked to split the USPD on a communist basis, he wanted to regroup with pretty much the whole of the USPD (minus the worst reformists). His intervention in the Congress makes it pretty clear. He tells the USPD leadership delegation (two right-wingers and two left-wingers):

"Give us a real political program, so that what is really meant can be seen. Then you will have what the Independents need at this moment. And I am by no means talking about a split, which you love to frighten people with; I am referring to obliging you to tell the masses what you want and what the others want. Developing basic principles in this way, which in my opinion is decisive and significant, is the point where the Communist International must begin. I myself am too much the lawyer not to know how inadequate lawyers' efforts are. And thus I must confess, I am very skeptical about formulating eighteen points.... We do not achieve what the masses are trying to obtain and what the Independents have to this day failed to provide: a clear political program.... "We will continue to make our criticisms along these lines, not for our own sake but for the sake of the masses in the USPD, to whom, no matter how we are criticized, we must say: "Cupid, who loves and torments you, Wants you blissful and purified." —The Communist International in Lenin's Time: Proceedings and Documents of the Second Congress, 1920, Vol. 1, pp. 393-394, (Pathfinder Press, 1991)

Bad poetry aside, Levi was basically telling the USPD leadership: come up with a program and let just us Germans talk. The Comintern was saying: we have a communist program, binding on all national parties, which excludes the reformists; we want to take it to your membership for a vote. That's a big difference—and it's the beginning of Levi's opposition to the CI, especially the Russians, which falls under the purview of the next class.
In the end they did have the split conference in Halle in October 1920. Zinoviev went in with Lozovsky, the head of the Profintern. The USPD reportedly had 800,000 members. Jim and I have a bet over what are the correct figures. He says Shachtman said that they got two-thirds of it. What I have read in Borkenau's book is that they would have gotten about 60 percent of it by the delegate vote, but in the end they got 300,000 out of the 800,000. Three hundred thousand went back into the SPD and 200,000 dropped out. But what is clear is that Levi didn't think he got as much as he could and he didn't really want the Russian Communists there. He thought he could have gotten more without them. So that is Levi and what was going on in Germany going up to the Congress.

Serrati and the PSI

I want to talk now about Italy, because Serrati was the other major player, although Levi also factors into this. The Italian Socialist Party (PSI), which, uniquely among the Social Democracy did not vote war credits in WWI, had affiliated to the COM intern without a split taking place. The PSI had three components. First, there was a Communist left wing led by Amadeo Bordiga, an ultraleft who was for immediately splitting with the reformists and centrists and for an independent communist party. One of his main tactical/programmatic points was parliamentary boycottism. Then there was the larger center wing, which was led by Giacinto Serrati and ran the party apparatus and the press. Finally, there was a small, but very decisive reformist wing based on the trade unions and the parliamentary fraction, with Filippo Turati as the parliamentary leader and D'Aragona as head of the CGL, the trade-union federation.

All three of these factions were represented at the Second Congress. But you won't read any of the Italian reformists' speeches, because they decided that their best course was to lay low, get out of there as soon as they could, and then go home. They weren't going to gain by saying anything.

The catastrophic consequences of unity with the reformists are tragically clear in Italy. It is very blatant. The Italian working class was extremely combative, and heavily influenced by syndicalists and anarchists. Since 1917, there had been political strikes, mass revolts, localized uprisings in cities and villages, mutinies, etc. The country was seething with rebellion. But there was no communist party there to lead this. Instead, you have the PSI and the anarchists and the syndicalists.

The PSI in World War I

I want to go a little bit into the history of the PSI and how they got to that point and what happened just before and after the Congress. When WWI broke out, Italy was neutral, so it wasn't hard for the PSI to oppose the war. But it wasn't Lenin's revolutionary opposition of turning the imperialist war into a civil war. Instead it was pacifist so-called "absolute neutrality." In June of 1914, the anarchists, led by Errico Malatesta, actually rose up in Ancona in anticipation of the war, which was taken as the signal for the PSI to carry out its long-promised threat of a general strike against the war. The PSI directorate, their main leadership body, actually issued a call, but was thereafter paralyzed. One had localized uprisings, mainly led by the anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists. The localized uprisings were suppressed and the CGL, the reformist trade-union federation, soon intervened to call off the strike.

It was clear that Italy would soon enter the war on one side or the other. Benito Mussolini broke from the PSI on the question of war, advocating intervention on the side of the Entente. Mussolini, the future fascist leader, was not a minor figure in the PSI. He was editor of Avanti! the main paper; he had the backing of the PSI youth; and he was the PSI's most well-known spokesman and leader. He led the party. His expulsion, after he came out for intervention in October 1914, was a big shock because he had been known as being in the far-left, anti-militarist wing of the party. But not many people went out with him. The overwhelming majority of the socialist youth and workers remained committed, hard anti-militarists. They were against the war. The young Gramsci, who figures prominently later on, initially echoed Mussolini's arguments and was labeled an interventionist. He dropped out of politics for a year and came back a hard antiwar activist, but his initial response always politically hurt him.

This was when Serrati took over the leadership of the party and became editor of Avanti! When Italy finally did enter the war in May 1915, the PSI altered its position to "neither support nor sabotage." In practice, this removed any obligations from the PSI trade-union leaders in the CGL to actively mobilize working-class opposition to the war in any fashion. The PSI was active in the Zimmerwald movement, but its antiwar stance was largely on paper. They ended up with talk against the war, but in practice it was the same old, same old.

The reformist PSI parliamentarian Turati routinely refused to vote war credits in chambers, but would then visit his top government friends to offer "dignified collaboration" in holding the masses steady to the national cause. Everybody recognized that the PSI had to talk left, because otherwise they would lose everything to the anarcho-syndicalists. It was an accepted reformist practice, to put something radical on paper, but then implement your real program.

The Russian Revolution and the PSI

Life in the factories was practically feudal. During the war, workers were tied to the factories and if you messed up, you went to the front. It was fairly brutal exploitation. The hatred of the workers for the class collaboration of the CGL was growing. Working-class opposition to the war was accelerated greatly by the Russian Revolution. When a Menshevik-SR delegation toured Italy in August of 1917, they were met to their horror by cries of "Viva Lenin!" Serrati organized the Russian tour and he became increasingly associated with Lenin (to his credit, this is prior to the Bolshevik seizure of power). The war question and the class collaboration that was going on in the factories finally began to polarize the PSI, in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution.

The reformists in the party were looking in anticipation of the post-war period to Wilsonian imperialist democracy, while hard Lefts like Bordiga were calling for class struggle against the war to achieve the revolutionary ends of socialism. Serrati was in the center, but increasingly pushed to the left by the fact of the Russian Revolution.
This Russian visit was actually a spark for a blowup in opposition to the war. A week after the Russians visited Turin, a food riot broke out which led to an explosion of factory demonstrations against the war. Turin was the Petrograd of Italy. It had grown enormously during the war. It was where the main Fiat plants were, with an industrial proletariat concentrated in large factories, particularly in auto. The proletariat there came fairly recently from the countryside. It had many of the aspects of the Russian proletariat. They were concentrated in large factories, where there was vicious exploitation, and the profits of these companies were enormous and people knew this.

Pitched battles broke out and the socialist, syndicalism and anarchist workers almost succeeded in taking over the city, in getting to the center of the city. But they were beaten back by machine guns and tanks. The PSI and CGL national leaders rushed into Turin, but gave no effective leadership to the struggle, except to praise the workers' courage and tell them to give up any further "useless violence." Within a week it was over. There were a lot of arrests. A bunch of the people who were arrested were then sent into the army.

Within a few months, the Turin uprising was followed by a huge military defeat at Caporetto. It was massive. I've read 300,000 casualties. There is an area in Italy where, in the mountains, you can still find skulls. The Austrian army just creamed the Italian army and this was also taking place at the time of the October Revolution. It was also when all of these "troublemakers" from Turin were sent into the army. Consequently, there was a huge nationalist backlash over the defeat itself, but also blaming it on the "communist conspiracy," supposedly caused by all of these reds in the army and the antiwar Bolsheviks who had allowed the Austrians to redirect their forces and concentrate their attack on Italy.

Most of the reformists were swept along; Turati essentially committed the PSI to support to the war. But the Italian radicals moved in the opposite direction under the impact of the Russian Revolution. In November of 1917, a clandestine conference took place in Florence which included Amadeo Bordiga, Serrati and his grouping which called itself the "intransigent revolutionaries." From Turin, Antonio Gramsci attended his first national convention. He supported Bordiga there, who called for an immediate uprising. Serrati argued against Bordiga and carried the day. In the end, they simply reaffirmed the "neither support nor sabotage," but added stronger antiwar language. I don't think they could have had a successful uprising at the time, but it does indicate the nature of the split where Serrati is for it on paper, but always has a reason to not be for it in fact.

There was heavy repression at this time. The leftists were being thrown either into jail, after Caporetto, or sent to the front. But eventually the right-wing backlash died down and all the renewed anger among the proletariat and elsewhere came out with even greater force after that blew over. The revolutionary left started to revive.
In September of 1918, toward the end of the war, the PSI held its national conference. This is an example of the routine in the PSI. After all of this, the right wing is supporting the war, the left wing is calling for revolution, there was the uprising in Turin, but at the end there is unity at the conference. All the old wounds between the "maxima lists" (the Serrati wing of revolution on paper) and reformists were patched up and unity once again achieved. Only the conduct in support of the war of the social-patriot Turati was condemned outright, and nothing further happened. The more radical left motions were curbed, and the party committed itself once more to its maximum paper program: the socialization of the means of production and distribution.

The Biennio Rosso

The discontent and the seething of the masses were not going away. Now, we are heading into the period called the Biennio Rosso, the red two years, 1919 and 1920. In the beginning of 1919, the war was over and the first great strike wave broke out. The syndicalist unions (whose federation is called the USI) were rapidly gaining strength. That is actually one of the reasons that the PSI affiliated to the Comintern in March of 1919. The PSI leaders very much wanted the reflected prestige of the October Revolution. It gave them a left cover for what they weren't doing at home. The popular working-class mood was to "do what the Russians did." There was also some genuine left movement within the PSI, including Serrati. The point is that it didn't go very far. So the PSI directorate voted in March to affiliate to the Comintern, with all the reformists, like Turati and the other guys, opposed, but it carried.

About this time, in the beginning of the red two years, and after the last conference, when the left motions are getting voted down, Bordiga draws some lessons and he is pushing for a split. His new journal, II Soviet, comes out calling for expelling the reformists. In February of 1919, he began developing the themes for boycotting parliament, which initially he conceived of as a tactical, not a principled, question. He began calling for a new party and began to organize nationally a Communist faction within the PSI that would ultimately lead the split in early 1921.

The only other nominally Communist grouping at this time in Italy was developing the factory council movement in Turin. That was around the journal L'Ordine Nuovo. But this politically heterogeneous grouping was only just getting started and the main thing is that it lacked a party political perspective at the time. They were just concentrating on the factory councils. One of its leaders was Antonio Gramsci. The others were Togliatti, who later became a leader of the Communist Party, Tosca and a number of names that are familiar in Italian Communist Party history.

A strike wave was also going on in this same period. The strikers actually won a number of gains from the employers. But the strike wave also led to the increase of fascist activity in response to it. In April of 1919, fascists burned down the offices of Avanti! The PSI's response was to rely on the cops, to simply do nothing. The membership, however, was outraged. And two days later, the anarchist secretary of the syndicalist USI trade unions proposed a "united revolutionary front" of the PSI, CGL, USI, anarchist trade-union federations and the railway unions. But the PSI leaders and the CGL basically turned it down. Some of them were in favor of it, and it was popular among the workers, but the overture was rejected by the leadership, because the CGL had always opposed the syndicalists and the syndicalist unions as simply troublemakers, and Serrati had a very passive view of revolution, which led him to reject any kind of direct or street actions.

The strikes had made short-term economic gains, but workers still could not keep pace with inflation. Food shortages during the summer of 1919 led to widespread protests and localized uprisings, sometimes verging on mini-soviets, either spontaneous or led by anarcho-syndicalists. In some places, the "House of Labor" took over food distribution and the merchants simply gave them the keys. They were taking over somewhat the life of the city. When these actions were often met with brutal repression by the government, the CGL leaders blamed the disturbances on syndicalist "secessionists." These events continued the pattern of reformist hostility to social struggle, which only strengthened the hands of the spontaneist anarcho-syndicalists within the workers movement in Italy. Throughout all this, the PSI was passive, because there was a pact which they had reintroduced—it was the old social-democratic pact—that if it was an economic strike, the CGL ran it, and if it was a political strike, the PSI could take it over. And so all of these strikes were nominally economic, so the CGL reformists were running them and the supposed revolutionaries in the PSI were taking a hands-off attitude. So the PSI didn't play a role in any real way in all of this social protest.

In effect, unity between the "revolutionary intransigents" in the PSI directorate and the reformists in the CGL had been achieved, especially in anticipation of the upcoming election campaign where they expected the PSI to get big returns. They didn't want to get involved in active social struggle and they were preparing for an election campaign.
The next conference is in the fall of 1919. Bordiga's Communist "abstentionist" faction was handily defeated at the October PSI conference. Affiliation to the Comintern was approved by acclamation. Avanti! later received a letter from Lenin, which hailed the adherence of the PSI to the Comintern, supported the decision to take part in the elections, and developed his arguments against the ultralefts. This was taken by Serrati as a justification for the rejection of both Bordiga's policies, not just on the abstentionism regarding parliament, but also for an independent Communist Party, which was another key component of his program. Serrati also thought it justified his opposition to the factory council movement in Turin, which had been starting to grow in this period. The opposition in reality was based on the fact that it was a threat to trade-union control, which was run by the CGL.

The Turin Communists, through their journal, L'Ordine Nuovo, popularized the idea of factory councils, which were based in Turin on existing union structures within the industry. Much of the initial political motivation by Gramsci is not exactly in line with what you read in the Theses on the Trade Union Movement, Factory Committees and Communist International, from the Second Congress. It is vague. Gramsci originally motivated the idea of councils as proletarian training schools essentially for production under communism, which is obviously an inherently Utopian and/or reformist scheme. As they got off the ground in reality, they were quickly viewed as a vehicle to get around the reformist CGL leadership, and a means to draw a broader industrial workforce into political life and social struggle. A lot of the workers in these plants were not in the unions. The metal workers unions and these other unions tended toward the skilled workers. So there was a large component that was cut out of any representation in the unions' political life. The arguments changed over time as Gramsci and others moved toward Leninism and toward a party perspective.

The main union in Turin was the metal workers union, FIOM, which represented, as I said, only a portion of the workforce in the factories. But for these factory councils to grow, the Turin Communists and those active in the council movement had to come to some kind of agreement with the local CGL and FIOM, because they were not going to go very far in opposition to them. So they agreed that councils would not replace the unions and that, while all workers could vote for factory commissars, only union members could run for election, so this kept union leadership intact while giving representation to and drawing in other workers. By October of 1919, a commissar assembly held in Turin represented 32 factories and 50,000 workers.

L'Ordine Nuovo presented itself as a Communist journal adhering to the Third International, but it didn't have a party political perspective initially. It was advocating factory councils in opposition to the party which was supposed to politically guide them. The PSI was siding with the reformist leaders of the CGL, who adamantly opposed the council movement as a threat to their political hegemony. There were a lot of problems with the councils as initially conceived and in practice. Enforcing workers control over production under capitalism is necessarily short-term: either you overthrow capitalism or the capitalists and their state mobilize to reassert control over their factories. Factory councils can be organs of revolutionary struggle only if led by a communist party that deals with the broader political problem of power: especially the question of the state. But that party didn't exist. And the PSI/CGL reformists' hostility served to strengthen the syndicalists within the council movement who glorified the economic struggle on the shop floor, whose grand conception was the "expropriating general strike."

Serrati launched a blistering attack on the Turin council movement as "the realm of aberration," making some valid Marxist criticisms but in the service of reformism, because that is what he was politically blocking with. Bordiga dismissed the councils as a reformist scheme which avoided the central question of political power and the need for a communist party. Most importantly, the Comintern rep in Italy weighed in, raising similar arguments against them. This actually had a big impact on Gramsci, who had conceived of the Russian Revolution as a soviet revolution and he didn't understand the role of the Bolshevik Party in it and the importance of the party, but it started to register after a while.

In the meantime, the council movement itself, beginning in 1920, had about 150,000 workers in Turin organized into it. But the PSI and CGL hostility to it essentially isolated the PSI influence in the councils to Turin. The council movement did not go beyond Turin with the PSI leading it.
Gramsci fought back, writing an article entitled "First: Renew the Party," in January 1920, blasting the PSI leadership for its passivity and for tolerating the stranglehold of the parliamentary reformists and the trade-union officials. In early 1920, there were huge strikes by postal and railway workers which totally passed the PSI by since these were economic, not political, strikes. But the strike wave paralyzed the country. Gramsci argued that as the state neared collapse, the party was abandoning workers to their own devices. That only the anarchists would be the gainers. And, in fact, the syndicalist USI kept growing rapidly: in 1919 it had 300,000. Its growth through 1920 was so rapid that there was talk of 800,000. Outside of Turin, the factory councils were exclusively in the hands of the anarcho-syndicalists.

The crisis in all of this came to a head in April of 1920 in Turin, a couple of months before the Second Congress. The industrialists were preparing to dismantle the council movement. Troops were pouring into Turin in preparation for a lockout, as essentially an army of occupation. A minor incident in one Fiat plant led to a sitdown strike in defense of the council commissars and the council movement. This eventually escalated into a general strike throughout the Piedmont region of northern Italy, the main industrial area where Turin is located, encompassing 500,000 workers and involving four million people.

To succeed in the face of the military occupation, the strike obviously had to extend geographically and in its political scope. But the PSI leadership simply opposed the strike. The Milan edition of Avanti! (edited by Serrati) refused to publish even the strike manifesto of the Turin section. The PSI directorate met at the height of the strike (the meeting was abruptly shifted from Turin to Milan) and refused to authorize the strike's extension beyond Piedmont, effectively isolating it and guaranteeing demoralization and defeat. No one on the PSI directorate supported the strike: the reformists wanted to negotiate with the government to end it and the radicals, the "intransigent revolutionaries" or "maximalists" around Serrati, claimed they needed time to prepare. Bordiga attacked the leadership for its irresolute behavior, but abstained on the PSI directorate motion disavowing Turin and offered the ordinovisti nothing more than programmatic criticism of the council movement. The general strike went down to defeat after eleven days, but that is a long general strike. But it did have a demoralizing effect. It served its purpose for the reformists.

From this experience, Gramsci concluded that it was necessary to purge the reformists from the PSI. In its aftermath, he wrote an article "For a Renewal of the Socialist Party" in May and sent a report to the ECCI in June 1920, denouncing the role of the reformists and Serrati. The article is specifically cited at the Second Congress, where Lenin said: We agree with it. There were no delegates from Turin. All the factions at the Second Congress, including Bordiga, were hostile to the Turin group. They could use a lot of its syndicalist leanings or some of its more reformist arguments against it. It should be noted that by this time Gramsci's views had changed. He was retroactively emphasizing the need for a revolutionary party and downplaying the role of the syndicalists in the factory councils. But all of his conclusions regarding the need to break with the reformists were absolutely valid and that is what Lenin agreed with. He did not know the Turin grouping exactly, but he agreed with the article.

As should be clear, Serrati didn't want to break with the reformists because he essentially shared their non-revolutionary outlook. At the Second Congress he argued that only individual reformists should be expelled when they break discipline. He didn't want to purge the reformist wing of the party, which was politically identifiable (the "socialist concentration" faction). And he repeatedly cited Condition 16, pleading for consideration of special Italian conditions to justify his position. Although he voted for the theses, his interpretation effectively nullified their intent.

As delegates returned from the Second Congress, red and black flags flew all across Italy. Serrati was still in Moscow and didn't get back until much later. When the rest returned, there were 500,000 workers occupying the factories.

Now we come to the PSI betrayal on an even grander scale in response to the factory occupations in August and September. On August 21, the reformist leadership of the FIOM, the metal workers union, in Milan called a work slowdown over economic demands. They were trying to keep pace with inflation. These were bad economic times, so they were thinking that if they just walked out, they would be locked out. The workers were told that, in the event of an employer lockout, they should occupy the factories and run them. This was not a sitdown strike. They ran the factories. It quickly spread to Turin and other cities, and went beyond just the metal workers. Outside of Turin the vast majority of the factory occupation movement was led by the syndicalists, who were for spreading the strike as much as possible, but whose central aim was the "expropriating general strike."

The reformist leadership of the FIOM was banking on the intervention of the liberal government of Giolitti to pressure the employers for a settlement. When this didn't happen immediately, they handed control of the strike over to the CGL. About this time, peasants in southern Sicily and Lucania also began occupying the unworked lands of the large estates. Returned soldiers, veterans committees of peasants, were taking over areas of land. So there was a potential for widespread explosions throughout central Italy.
There were obviously a number of problems with the factory occupations. You can't take state power by staying in the factories. There was also a lot of factory parochialism, so that you did not have a generalized militia in a city but instead had individual factory militias. Production was similarly organized around each factory, although they eventually tried to coordinate production on a broader basis. But the unresolved problem remained one of overthrowing centralized capitalist power: banking, communication, transportation and, most fundamentally, the army and the state. This required a communist party at the head of Soviets.

Government troops were mobilized throughout this period. They were occupying the centers of the cities and the key installations, but they were not throwing workers out of the factories. They were held in check to be used as a last resort. But they were an ever-present threat. From what little I've read, Turin probably came the closest to forming a city-wide soviet. But any further political development toward that was cut off by the CGL/PSI in mid-September.

So what were the Italian Communists in the PSI doing during all this? Some key leaders were still in Moscow as the strike began, but that wasn't the real problem. In the Communist stronghold of Turin, the "council communists" around L'Ordine Nuovo over the summer had broken apart into different political factions in disarray and isolation following the demoralizing defeat of the April general strike. The syndicalist-influenced Communist "abstentionists" adhered to Bordiga's faction. The Communist "electionists," which included figures like Togliatti (the future Stalinist leader of the PCI) and Terracini, opposed parliamentary boycottism and an immediate split. Gramsci formed a tiny group (less than 20) called the "communist education group." During the critical period in August-September, the various Communist factions in the PSI were all—for different reasons—ineffective in combating the reformist obstacles in the CGL and PSI. Despite the Comintern's warning in late August, they either ignored the reformist national leadership of the party and unions or at the critical juncture acquiesced to it.

By early September Italy was obviously heading toward a crisis, so the CGL leadership called an emergency union conference convened jointly with the PSI national leadership in Milan. They called in the representatives from Turin on September 9 for a preliminary discussion, because Turin was the vanguard. These were the guys that they had left hanging a couple of months earlier. The CGL leadership interrogated them: Are you prepared to start the insurrection? Togliatti, representing the left-wing Turin PSI section, replied:

"We want to know what your objectives are. You cannot count on an action launched by Turin alone. We will not attack on our own. It demands a simultaneous action in the countryside. Above all, it demands action on a national scale. We want assurance on this point. Otherwise we will not commit our -proletariat."
—J. Cammett, Antonio Gramsci and the Origins of Italian Communism, p. 119 (Stanford University Press, 1967)

These were all valid concerns, and they had been badly burned in April. But to even discuss insurrectionary strategy with committed reformists and demand assurances of support was to play into their charade. It meant conceding defeat in advance. The CGL and PSI reformists got the answer they expected and wanted.

The official meeting occurred on September 10 and 11, operating strictly within the terms of the Pact of Alliance. The reformist head of the CGL union federation, D'Aragona, who was a delegate at the Second Congress, put forward a motion to broaden the scope of the occupations to other industries—which was simply an acknowledgement of what was already happening—and called for union control of industry. This was a reformist demand to set up some kind of commission after the occupation ended, a joint union/employer/government corporatist scheme.

Members of the PSI national directorate put forward a motion for the PSI to take over the struggle and called for the traditional "socialization of the means of production and exchange." Several days earlier the PSI directorate, in response to the peasant mobilizations and the spreading factory occupations, had similarly verbally threatened revolution in a public manifesto. But their bluff was quickly called by the reformists. D'Aragona offered to turn the whole movement over to the PSI national leadership, if they wanted to assume command. (It was like British prime minister Lloyd George in 1919 asking the reformist trade-union leaders, who were threatening a national strike, if they wanted to accept governmental power, knowing they would refuse.) Faced with this, the PSI national secretary Gennari, who was one of Serrati's main lieutenants, then insisted that the CGL first poll its representatives about the question of revolution! A vote of mainly reformist trade-union leaders on the question of revolution is itself a renunciation of it, but the results are still illuminating. Spreading the occupations (CGL position) only outpolled "revolution" (immediate socialization) by 591,000 to 409,000—relying on the more conservative agricultural workers unions and the abstention of FIOM with its 93,000 votes. Gennari then declared:

"The pact of alliance [between the CGL and PSI] states that for all questions of a political character the Party directorate may assume the responsibility for the direction of the movement.... At this moment, the Party directorate does not intend to avail itself of this privilege."
— G. William, Proletarian Order, p. 258 (Pluto Press, 1975)

Terracini, a Turin Communist "electionist" also present at this meeting, later told the Comintern, "When the comrades who led the CGL submitted their resignations, the party leadership could neither replace them nor hope to replace them. It was Dugoni, D'Aragona, Buozzi who led the CGL; they were at all times the representatives of the masses" (G. William, ibid., p. 258). While centrists like Gennari openly refused leadership with a visible sigh of relief, leading Communists by their silence again conceded the reformists' hold over the working class without a fight. If nothing else, they could have loudly warned the proletariat of the inevitable betrayal being prepared by the reformists and centrists. Instead, that was left to the syndicalists. It would have also made the Communists' later fight against the Serrati faction at the Livorno split conference clearer to the proletarian masses in the PSI.

Of the other Communist groupings, Bordiga's faction regularly denounced the reformists, but during September their journal II Soviet never once mentioned the factory occupations in its editorials! Gramsci remained in Turin. Although he posed the need for an "urban soviet," he also initially claimed that the CGL call for union control of industry vindicated the factory council movement. He did not denounce the CGL/PSI political demobilization in Milan until later in September when the results were obvious. As for the syndicalists, the USI immediately denounced the decision in Milan, but they could only advocate more militancy in extending the "expropriating general strike."

It was not as if, had they won the vote, the PSI leadership would have been capable of leading a proletarian revolution. But this was their formal statement of opposition to proletarian revolution. This broke the back of the occupations. That was when the head of government, Giolitti, came back into the scene. He had figured that he could ride out the occupations and rely on the CGL. This was the clear signal that the PSI and all of the main people would go for a deal. So he strong-armed the industrialists a little bit for some concessions. They gave the CGL leaders an economic package, like they did in May of 1968 in France: seal the deal and you can always change it later, and inflation will take care of wage increases anyway. And, consequently, workers did accept the deal, which was put in terms of a victory. It was enough on an economic level that they didn't feel totally sold out.

On August 27 (even prior to the generalized occupations), the ECCI had sent a letter to the PSI asserting "in Italy there are at hand all the most important conditions for a genuinely popular, great proletarian revolution." It predicted that the Entente would not be able to "send its troops against the Italian working class"—a threat always invoked by the reformists. Warning against putsches, the ECCI went on to state that the Comintern was "equally opposed to the proletarian party turning itself into a fire brigade that puts out the flame of revolution when that flame is breaking through every crevice in capitalist society" (J. Cammett, ibid., p. 119). The ECCI didn't get detailed news until September 21, by which time the contract with FIOM was already being ratified and people were starting to end the occupations by September 25.

On September 22, the ECCI sent another message declaring to Italian workers that, to avoid defeat, the occupation must "cover the whole of Italy with councils of workers', peasants', soldiers', and sailors' deputies" and drive out the reformists, culminating in the taking of state power (J. Cammett, ibid., p. 119). But it was too late and there was no communist party to do it.

Quickly growing opposition among Turin Communists, to the results of the Milan meeting and subsequent sellout (including bitter criticism of their own leaders' role in Milan) led to increasing demands for a final break with the reformists. The somewhat belated recognition of the magnitude of the lost revolutionary opportunity led Gramsci and many "electionist" Communists from Turin to join Bordiga's faction, despite their differences, to wage the fight to establish a Communist Party at the Livorno Congress a few months later. Their main obstacle was Serrati who, even after this betrayal, alibied the reformists.

I wanted to make a point about Levi again, because he had a hand in Italy later on. He was interviewed in Avanti! around mid-September. Levi argued that even if the time was not ripe for establishing a soviet republic, it was for the creation of Soviets as a dual power. He continued: "It is my firm belief that the party runs the risk of succumbing to general inertia if, at this moment, it does not seize the reins of the movement, master events and become a motor force" (G. William, ibid., p. 269). Now, that is all true, but there is nothing on the reformist obstacles, and then he later made a bloc with Serrati who continued to sanction this betrayal. That tells you where Levi was coming from. He could make the correct formal criticisms, but he was blocking with the centrists, who protected the reformists.
The defeat of the factory occupations led immediately to the explosive growth of fascism. The bourgeoisie didn't quite trust their state and so there was a massive explosion of fascist growth. The Livorno party congress that was originally planned for Florence in December of 1920 had to be postponed to January 15 and moved to Livorno because of the growing fascist menace in Florence. The small Communist Party that emerged from the Livorno Congress—the majority stayed with Serrati in the PSI—immediately faced growing fascist terror. The betrayal of the PSI/CGL in 1920 led fairly directly, to the rise of Mussolini.

The newly formed PCI opposed the united-front policy from 1921 to 1923. They were in opposition to it, and the basic reason was that they hated the PSI and the CQL so much that they just couldn't stomach the idea. They were actually the first proponents of "social fascism" in some way. The hatred for the reformists was intense, understandably so.

The defeat in Italy also roughly coincided with the Red Army defeat in Poland. Remember the Red Army was marching toward Poland and it was defeated in a battle which the bourgeoisie had named the "Miracle on the Vistula." Poland was important for a whole number of reasons. It set the tenor for the Second Congress, because it looked as though they would win in Warsaw and it appeared that it might pose the possibility of hooking up with Germany. In spite of the problems with the sections in Europe, they might get a beachhead there.

The defeat in Poland also had an impact in Europe. For example, regarding the USPD, one thing that I read was that the KPD got less out of the USPD split in the wake of the defeat of Warsaw. It was demoralizing for left-wing German workers, because it looked like the prospects for German revolution might be put off further. But even more, it also had a demoralizing impact in Russia.

The question of Poland was crucial. The bourgeoisie greatly feared the Bolsheviks gaining a common border with Germany. It was their worst nightmare, the Bolsheviks getting into Poland, spreading communism into Europe. This is a quotation Marlow found from Lord D'Abernon, the British ambassador in Berlin:

"If Charles Martel had not checked the Saracen conquest at the Battle of Tours, the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught at the schools of Oxford, and her pupils might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet. Had Pilsudski and Weygand failed to arrest the triumphant advance of the Soviet Army at the Battle of Warsaw, not only would Christianity have experienced a dangerous reverse, but the very existence of western civilization would have been imperiled. The Battle of Tours saved our ancestors from the Yoke of the Koran; it is probable that the Battle of Warsaw saved Central, and parts of Western Europe from a more subversive danger—the fanatical tyranny of the Soviet."
— quoted in N. Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, Vol. 2, pp. 399401 (Columbia University Press, 1984)
The defeat in Poland was not a small thing. When you read Lenin's subsequent address to the Central Committee, the felt isolation of Soviet Russia is really striking. The Bolshevik Party was trying to create its own revolutionary opportunities, probing Europe with bayonets. And I have to assume that the evident incapacity of the European parties was no doubt equally demoralizing. So that in the reading there is a mention of the pacifism of Die Rote Fahne. There are a lot of criticisms of the German leadership. At the Second Congress, Levi, who thought it was inconceivable that there would be an uprising in response to the Red Army in Poland, said:

"And if the Red Army, in its battle against the White army of Poland, approaches Germany's borders, it will hear from the other side, over the bayonets, a cry of the German proletariat, the cry.’Long live Soviet Russia!'"
— The Communist International in Lenin's Time: Proceedings and Documents of the Second Congress, 1920, Vol. 2, p. 783 (Pathfinder Press, 1991)

One commentator observed that a shout, then, was all that Levi would concede to the Russians by way of a promise. These are the sorts of problems the Bolsheviks were dealing with in trying to build parties in the West. Emily made the point in a class— and it has been in Spartacist—that we normally think of 1923 as one of the key turning points in the degeneration of the Soviet Union. But actually Poland in 1920 had an impact on those within the Bolshevik Party who were inclined to think that revolution in the West was becoming unrealistic and, therefore, they would have to go it alone.

But Lenin continued to fight to transform those parties, in spite of all this, into genuine Communist Parties, as the Third Congress will demonstrate. That is really the high point of the Congresses, giving the fully fleshed out organizational and political forms. So we should try to learn from those. The Second Congress tried to give the lessons to the Lefts and, generally, give some tactics and program to the parties of the world. But the main thing is that they had to split with the reformists. That was the overriding task. Then, having split with them, you could have united fronts with them a year later.

I have not included the summary after discussion from the original document in this post.

Reading List for Educationals on the Comintern

II. The Second Congress: Forging a Revolutionary International

Trotsky, "On the Coming Congress of the Comintern," 22 July 1920, FFYCI, Vol. 1, pp. 84-94

Comintern, "Theses on the Conditions of Admission to the Communist International," 6 August 1920,

Theses, Resolutions and Manifestos of the First Four Congresses of the Third International (hereafter FFC), pp. 92-97, (Ink Links/Humanities Press 1980)

Note: Lenin's CW contains 20 theses in Vol. 31, pp. 206-212 (dated 20 July). Lenin, "Theses on the Fundamental Tasks of the Second Congress of the Communist International,"
4 July 1920, CW, Vol. 31, pp. 184-201

Lenin, "Speech on the Role of the Communist Party," 23 July 1920, CW, Vol. 31, pp. 235-239 Lenin, "Preliminary Draft Theses on the National and the Colonial Questions," 5 June 1920, CW, Vol. 31,
pp. 144-151

Lenin, "Preliminary Draft Theses on the Agrarian Question," June 1920, CW, Vol. 31, pp. 152-164 Comintern, "Theses on the Communist Parties and Parliamentarism,!' Second Congress of the Communist International, Vol. 2, pp. 49-59 (New Park, 1977)

Comintern, "Theses on the conditions under which Workers Soviets may be
formed," ibid., pp. 273-276

Comintern, "Theses on the Trade Union Movement, Factory Committees and the Third International," ibid.
pp. 277-285

Comintern, "Theses on the Agrarian Question," ibid., pp. 286-295

Trotsky, "Manifesto of the Second World Congress," 7 August 1920, FFYCI, Vol. 1, pp. 102-133 Lenin, "Political Report of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) to the Ninth

Conference of the R.C.P.(B.)," 22 September 1920, in In Defence of the Russian Revolution: A Selection of Bolshevik Writings, 1917-1923, pp. 138-153 (Porcupine Press, 1995) Trotsky, "On the Policy of the KAPD," 24 November 1920, FFYCI, Vol. 1, pp. 137-152

Additional Readings:

Lenin, "Left-Wing" Communism—An Infantile Disorder, April-May 1920, CW, Vol. 31, pp. 21-117 Roy, M.N., "Supplementary Theses on the National and Colonial Question," included in the Fourth Session, 25 July 1920, Second Congress of the Communist International, Vol. 1, pp. 109-131 (New Park, 1977)

The Latest From The “Private Bradley Manning Support Network” Website-Rally at Fort Leavenworth for Bradley Manning!

Click on the headline to link to the Private Bradley Manning Support Network website.

Rally at Fort Leavenworth for Bradley Manning!

Rally to protest the indefinite detention of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning.

Saturday, June 4 ~ Leavenworth, Kansas

11:30 am – Gather
at Bob Dougherty Memorial Park, N 2nd St. and Kickapoo St. (map). Unrestricted street parking is available around the park. Toilets will be available as well.

Noon – Rally

1:00 pm – March
to the intersection of Metropolitan Ave. and N 7th St. (map), six blocks north-west of the rally.

2:00 pm – Vigil (until 3:00 pm) along Metropolitan Ave, primarily at N 4th St. and N 7th St. (N 7th St. is the main entrance to Fort Leavenworth. The military stockade, where Bradley is held, is deep inside the base. The federal prison, which is visible from Metropolitan Ave., is a few blocks west at N 13th St.)

3:30 pm – Organizers meeting
Back at Bob Dougherty Memorial Park (subject to change). Hosted by Bradley Manning Support Network, Courage to Resist, and Veterans for Peace organizers, a discussion regarding future regional and national efforts in support of Bradley Manning.

Please do not bring any weapons, alcohol, or illegal drugs, to our gathering.

For more information, see below, check this page, or call Courage to Resist at 510-488-3559

Facebook event page and contact information of local activists:, contact(at)

Local activists have secured a meeting room at the Super 8 motel (303 Montana Court, Leavenworth) for folks to check in as they arrive Friday afternoon and Saturday from 8am to 10 am.

The Super 8 motel (303 Montana Court, Leavenworth) is one housing option. The special event rate for June 3rd and June 4th is $59.99 per room, for up four persons per room. However, most rooms are currently booked with a few smoking rooms remaining.

Commander’s Inn (1118 N 6th Street, Leavenworth, phone: 913-651-5800) on Metropolitan is also recommended for lodging.

Camping is available at the city park on the riverfront. For additional camping information, please contact local activists at: contact(at)