Born in 1886 of parents with a devout christian dedication, Aldred started out as a boy-preacher. His innate intellectual brilliance, however, soon emancipated him into Freethought, from whence he moved rapidly to marxism. Deceived for a while by the 'marxism' of H.M. Hyndman's social-chauvinist Social Democratic Federation, his grasp of the fundamental principles of marxism finally enabled him to break with the SDF. After an equally brief flirtation with the anarchists grouped around the paper Freedom, his mercurial intellect forced him to split yet again, this time to form the Communist Propaganda Group (CPG). The various local groups which emerged out of the CPG's work suffered under the persecutions heaped upon them on account of their opposition to the First World War. The Central Glasgow group, however, managed to survive and, having fused with the Glasgow Anarchist Group, formed the Anti-Parliamentary Communist Federation. Unlike the Socialist Labour Party or the Socialist Workers' Federation, the APCF did not affiliate to the Communist Party of Great Britain after its formation in 1921. Aldred left the APCF in 1933, and after a split the remnant renamed itself the Workers' Revolutionary League. Aldred organised a Workers' Open Forum which eventually fused with dissident members of the Independent Labour Party to form the united Socialist Movement, and this published a journal, The Word, to which Aldred contributed until his death. A prolific pamphleteer, his writings are worth reading, if only as examples of anti-parliamentary communist thought from a period in which Social Democracy in both its opposite reformist-constitutional and Leninist-revolutionary variants, (the latter having by then degenerated into its openly counter-revolutionary form known as Stalinism), enjoyed a virtually unchallenged hegemony within the 'marxist' Left.
Social Democratic journalist and collaborator with F. Oppenheimer. A supporter of the Bremen "Lefts". Otherwise, very little is known of him.
Block, Maurice (1816-1901)
Bourgeois economist of German-Jewish origin who settled in Paris. He was elected to the Academie and served in the Ministry of Agriculture and Bureau of Statistics. His works include L'Europe Politique et Sociale, Petit Manuel d'Economie Pratique and La Theorie Marxiste de la Monnaie. Quotations from the latter appear in Fundamental Principle of Communist Production and Distribution.
Bohm-Bawerk, Eugen von (1851-1914)
Austrian academic and statesman, a professor at the Universities of Innsbruck and Vienna. He worked in the Ministry of Finance and held cabinet office several times. In association with Menger and von Weiser he was a founder of the Austrian school of economic thought. His best-known work is Karl Marx und der Schluss seines Systems, a reply to which was written by Rudolf Hilferding.
French Socialist economist of "Marxist" leanings akin to German Social Democracy.
Bukharin, Nikolai (1888-1938)
A member of the Russian Social Democratic Party from 1906, he early associated himself with Lenin's Bolshevik faction opposed to Martov's Mensheviks. Considering himself a Left Communist, he opposed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk which ended Germany's intervention on Russian soil at the end of the First World War. During the inter-factional fights within the Bolshevik Party after Lenin's death in 1924, in the course of which Stalin gradually won his position of absolute dictatorial power, Bukharin opportunistically supported Stalin from 1923 to 1928 in his struggle against Trotsky and his "Left Opposition". As soon as that particular battle was won, however, and Bukharin had accordingly outlived his usefulness to Stalin, the latter, displaying much the same ruthless pragmatism as in the convergent struggle against Zinoviev, accused him of "Right deviations" and had him removed from all his important posts. Having capitulated to Stalin and issued the usual mandatory "recantation", he became Editor of the official Soviet Government newspaper Izvestia and also drafted - anonymously - the 1936 Soviet Constitution which, with cruel irony, was to bear his master's name. Stalin's hatred, however, was implacable, and finally, in 1938, he brought this cat and mouse game to an end by ordering the official State Prosecutor, Andrei Vyshinsky, to arraign Bukharin on various "crimes against our Party, our Socialist State and our beloved leader, Comrade Stalin" at one of the great Show Trials. After his inevitable conviction, he was shot in that same year. Bukharin's major works include Historical Materialism and Imperialism and World Economy - the latter even endowed with a laudatory preface by none other then V.I. Lenin !
Dutch Council Communist and leading theoretician of the Group of International Communists of Holland under whose auspices the Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution was first written and published. He is chiefly known for his theoretical work Das Werden der neuen Arbeiterbewegung, in which he advocated a struggle to replace the traditional reformist trades union movement, with its centralised structure of command and bureaucratic methods of organisation, by a system of autonomous industrial groups which would emerge into open activity only as and when issues of struggle arose within a particular establishment, and which then disappeared from public view - though not from clandestine activity - with the resolution, one way or the other, of the dispute which had given it birth. This important contribution on the debate on alternatives to reformist Social Democracy was published in Germany in 1936 by the General Workers' Union of Germany.
British academic writer on socialism and social theory. A member of the Fabian Society, the formative ideological centre of British labour reformism responsible for the theoretical concept of "the inevitability of gradualism" which formed the dominant intellectual trend underlying the Labour Party since its foundation in 1905. He claimed to have been converted to socialism through a study of William Morris's works. Prior to World War I he was an advocate of "Guild Socialism", a heavily anglicised version of syndicalism. A prolific writer, his most important works are his multi-volumed History of Socialism and Self-government in Industry. Cole believed that he knew What Marx Really Meant, which is the actual title of one of his best-known works. Unfortunately for him, all he achieved was to substitute his own rather pedestrian and commonplace speculations for the scientific insight of Marx.
Leading anti-revisionist theoretician, writer and journalist of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. In 1905, he was appointed, along with Rosa Luxemburg, to the editorship of the theoretical journal Vorwarts. By 1915, however he had come under the influence of the leading theoretician of imperialism, Rudolf Hilferding and, in the course of a polemical exchange with Kautsky, he claimed that capitalism was at a relatively youthful stage of its development with a long historical epoch still before it, and that imperialism was an historically progressive stage in that development and an indispensable precondition for socialism. With the onset of World War 1, he undertook a sudden and cataclysmic conversion to social patriotism and became an ardent supporter of the pro-war group around Parvus. His chief works include The Marxist Theory of History, Society and the State (quoted several times in Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution) and Marxism, War and the International.
Faure, Sebastien (1858-1942)
A former Jesuit seminarist, he began his political life as a disciple of Jules Guesde, the leader of the marxist wing of French Social Democracy. Later, however, he became an anarchist writer and publicist. He founded the progressive school "La Ruche" and several anarchist papers, including La Libertaire and Le Quotidien, the latter a daily which managed to run for 300 issues. Unlike many French anarchists, he opposed World War I. He edited the 4-volume L'Encyclopedie Anarchist.
German pro-Bolshevik writer and commentator, the author of many books and pamphlets on the early USSR. He was a member of the Communist Party of Germany, (KPD) until his arrest after the accession to power of the NSDAP. Subsequently, on account of his Jewish extraction, he was one of a number of prisoners released to the USSR in exchange for German communists held in Stalin's Gulags, after which nothing more was heard of him.
Gorter, Herman (1864-1933)
Dutch left-wing poet who began his working life as a teacher of classical languages. He was responsible for new developments in poetic form and founded the literary group The Movement of the Eighties. After extensive reading in German philosophy and Hegel, he finally came to Marx after a prolonged study of Capital. In 1890 he joined the Social Democratic Labour Party of Holland, soon becoming one of its leading theoreticians. He engaged in a lengthy polemic with the opportunist right wing of the Party in his book Marxism and Revisionism, and after joining the marxist group in the Party was expelled in 1909. He thereupon joined forces with other co-expellees to form the Social-Democratic Party of Holland. He was an outspoken opponent of World War I, attacking it in his book Imperialism, Social Democracy and World War in which he also supported the Russian October Revolution. In 1921 he travelled illegally to Russia to participate as a delegate of the Communist Workers' Party of Germany in the 3rd Congress of the Communist International (April 1920). Upon his return to Germany, he launched a polemically effective and tactically astutely conceived critique of Lenin's Left Wing Communism - An Infantile Disorder entitled An Open Letter to Comrade Lenin. An English translation of this was subsequently published in Sylvia Pankhurst's Workers' Dreadnought, (later re-published by the English group, Wildcat, in September 1989). Sadly none of his work is as yet available in an English-language version, and beyond an essay by Guy Aldred there is no published biography in English.
Hilferding, Rudolf (1877-1944)
Leading German Social Democratic theoretician and economist. After World War I he joined the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) from which he opposed Rosa Luxemburg's call for the seizure of power by the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils. He also opposed the affiliation of the USPD to the Communist International, and later he rejoined the SPD. Towards the end of the Weimar era, he was appointed Minister of Finance in the Herman Muller administration of 1928-30. He was chiefly known for his work on advanced capitalism, and his best-known book Finance Capital was looked upon by many as being the equivalent of a forth volume of Marx's Capital. Lenin acknowledged his debt to him as a theoretician of imperialism - thereby inadvertently revealing a great deal of truth concerning his own social democratic leanings. Hilferding for his part described the USSR as a "totalitarian state economy". After 1933 he went into exile in France, and after the capitulation of the French armies and the formation of the Vichy government, Petain handed him over to the Nazis. He died under horrific circumstances in a concentration camp.
Kautsky, Karl (1864-1938)
Leading theoretician of German Social Democracy and the Second International. A leader of the party faction known as the "Party Centre", he has been considered the leading exponent, if not the founder, of that peculiar brand of pseudo-dialectical determinism which preached adherence to the letter of a dogmatically conceived 'marxism', which then served as an ideological cover for the increasingly class-collaborationist social practice imposed on the SPD by the Party Centre, which dominated the organisational apparatus of the Party and hence the machinery of control over the membership. During World War I, his astute tactical sense compelled him to oppose the extreme social-chauvinist policies of collaboration in the conduct of the war pursued by his former colleagues in the "Centre" and on the extreme right of the Party, and he accordingly became a leader of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany which split from the SPD in 1916 over opposition to the war. After the cessation of hostilities, he rejoined the SPD. He finally abandoned marxism altogether and embraced outright right-wing reformism in his book The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, in which he simultaneously attacked Bolshevism. He was also the author of numerous other - and more worthwhile - books, including The Economic Doctrines of Karl Marx and a history of the Menshevik Republic of Georgia.
Laplace, Pierre Simon (1749-1827)
French mathematician and astronomer, author of Celestial Mechanics (1799-1825). He advanced the hypothesis that the solar system had condensed out of a vast rotating gaseous nebula. (Pears Cyclopedia, 1980-1981, p. B37.)
Lassalle, Ferdinand (1825-64)
German middle-class publicist and lawyer who joined the young German labour movement in its infancy. In 1863 he played a leading role in the formation of the General Association of German Workers. He supported Bismarck's aim of the unification of Germany under Prussian hegemony, and was also an advocate of Bismarckian state-socialism. He was the originator and perhaps the most foremost representative in his day of the tendency responsible for most of opportunistic trends to emerge later in German Social Democracy.
Luxemburg, Rosa (1871-1919)
Born of Polish-Jewish stock, she became a leading figure on the Left of both Polish and German Social Democracy. As a theoretician and teacher, she was for a time permanently engaged in work at the SPD's Central Party School in Berlin, where she acquired a considerable reputation in the period prior to World War I as a writer on theoretical questions relating to history and marxist economics. She was a major critic of the revisionism of Eduard Bernstein et al, as well as of the vacillations and manoeuvres of the group around Karl Kautsky which called itself the "Party Centre". She was a fearless opponent of the war, and both during and after it she joined with Franz Mehring, Leo Jogisches (a fellow Pole) and others in forming the Spartacist League as a centre of revolutionary marxism. In November 1918 she played a leading role at the Founding Congress of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). Among her major works are The Accumulation of Capital and The Russian Revolution. On 15 January 1919, along with Karl Liebknecht, her long-standing comrade and ally on the left of the SPD, co-founder of the Spartacus League and later of the KPD, she was murdered at the command of officers of the counter-revolutionary Freicorps and her body dumped into the Landwehrkanal. Under the former state-socialist regime of the German Democratic Republic, demonstrations showing quotations from her works on banners were banned and participation in them declared a criminal offence.
Mehring, Franz (1846-1919)
A leading German marxist theoretician, historian and literary critic. A member of the Social Democratic Party, he was an outspoken opponent of revisionism and a life-long friend and collaborator of Rosa Luxemburg and Leo Jogisches. He was attacked in the Social Democratic press for his criticism of SPD electoral policies, for which he was removed from the editorial staff of the Party journal New Times. A strong supporter of the Bolsheviks, he loyally applied the decisions of the First and Second Zimmerwald Conferences of September 1915 and April 1916 respectively, and in September 1916 he was arrested for his public stand against World War I. He was the author of many works on philosophy and history, including The Lessing Legend, - a study of the German historical dramatist and father of German literary realism, - A History of German Social Democracy and - his best known work amongst English readers - his classic biography of Karl Marx.
Mises, Ludwig von
A bourgeois economist of the neo-classical Austrian school. His best-known work is Die Gemeinwirtschaft (published in English translation as Economic Calculations in the Socialist Commonwealth, in which he sets out to demonstrate that economic calculation in a socialist society - the term "accounting" would have been more suitable - is impossible in the absence of the market.
The literary pseudonym of Eduard Douwes (1820-87), a Dutch Government official and writer of fiction reflecting colonial themes. He served for many years as a civil servant in Java, and exposed many of the abuses committed by the Dutch colonial regime in his widely read novel Max Havelaar, published in 1860.
Neurath, Otto (1882-1945)
Austrian philosopher, sociologist and economist. In 1919 he was sentenced to a period of imprisonment for his association with the Bavarian Soviet Republic of that year. He organised many conferences on scientific philosophy and edited the International Encyclopedia of Unified Sciences. He also founded the Institute for the Unity of Sciences. His works include Foundations of the Social Sciences, Empirical Sociology and Economic plan and Accounting in Kind.
Social Democratic journalist, commentator and educationalist. A supporter of the Bremen "Lefts" and opponent of both revisionism and the Kautskyian "Party Centre". A frequent contributor to SPD journals and newspapers such as New Times and Forwards.
The pseudonym of Alexander Helphand, editor of the Social Democratic newspaper Saxon Workers' News, frequently used by him and Rosa Luxemburg as a weapon of criticism and debate in the struggle against the revisionists of right and centre. In 1898 he was expelled from Saxony. Moving to Muchen, he there met Troksky and began to work with him. He participated in the 1905 Russian Revolution, for which he was imprisoned. Succeeding in making his escape, he moved first to Germany, then Austria to finally arrive in Turkey. In the course of World War I he acquired a considerable fortune as a result of his commercial acumen in the booming field of military supplies. Politically he took up, perhaps understandably, an extreme pro-war stand and edited the social-chauvinist paper The Bell. Embittered and mentally unbalanced by Germany's defeat, he died in 1924.
A leader of Austrian Social Democracy, he was the son of poor Moravian peasants. As a young man he succeeded in obtaining a post as librarian of the Reichsrat (Council of State). He began to study political law and later became a parliamentary deputy. He supported World War I and opposed the claims to independence of the subject nations and nationalities of the Austrian Empire as a "reactionary utopia". He became Chancellor of the newly-declared Austrian Republic in 1918 and again in 1945.
Roland-Holst, Henriette (1869-1952)
Born in Noordwijk in some obscurity, she started her intellectual life as a poet and, after her marriage to Richard Roland-Holst, a professor of art and friend of William Morris, she soon acquired a national reputation. Both her poetry and her social and political ideas developed under the close influence of Hermann Gorter. She was a close friend of Rosa Luxemburg, and her biography of Luxemburg was published in Zurich in 1937. She joined the Dutch Social Democratic Labour Party in 1897, and participated in the pre-World War I left breakaway known as the Tribunists, after the title of their paper, De Tribune. After the Russian October Revolution she became a communist and later a council communist. In 1924 she founded the short-lived Independent Communist Party. In later life disillusionment and despair at the rise of international fascism forced her into the arms of religion, and this once fine fighter for communist ideas and practice became a Christian Socialist. In old age she devoted herself mainly to literary activity.
Trotsky, Leon (1879-1940)
The son of a Jewish landowner, he first became a Norodnik at an early age and later embraced marxism. In the 1905 revolution, he was invited to take the chair of the Petrograd Soviet because he was held by most of the contending factions to be both neutral and literate! At one time a severe critic of Lenin's international plan for the Bolshevik Party, he became a leading figure of the Menshevik left, and only joined the Bolsheviks in 1917, whereupon he assumed the office of Commissar of War. After Lenin's death in 1924 he became the leader of the Left Opposition, which opposed the ousting of the Bolshevik Old Guard. Composed chiefly of representatives of the professional intelligentsia who had held posts in the old tsarist autocracy, from which Lenin himself had sprung, this at first influential, indeed dominant grouping within the Russian Communist Party (formerly the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party) sought to maintain and reassert its hegemony within the rapidly changing social terrain of Soviet society. In particular, it attempted to oppose the replacement of its members by the new upstart generation of party and state officials which had been spawned as a result of the capitalist development in town and country promoted by the New Economic Policy (NEP), originally initiated under Lenin's leadership not long before his death. The representatives of this new and viciously careerist state-sponsored petit-bourgeois stratum, noted for their proclivity towards heartless chicanery and, where they could get away with it, extreme brutality and cruelty, were recruited primarily from amongst the poor and middle peasantry, but included also some newly-promoted proletarians. As a representative of the Old Guard who refused to reach any accommodation with this new "dirty-necked officialdom", he came into irreconcilable conflict with J.V.Stalin, the representative of this new party and state bureaucracy, who had gained control of the Party's organisational apparatus after Lenin's death. Stalin was instrumental in obtaining first his expulsion from the central committee of the Party, then from the Party itself and finally his exile. From his heavily fortified headquarters in Mexico, Trotsky led the Fourth International as the world organisation of supporters of his theories of revolution, of which the concept of "permanent revolution" is perhaps the most characteristic. His major works include My Life, a History of the Russian Revolution and The Revolution Betrayed, in which he expounded his theory of Soviet society as "a degenerated workers' state". He was finally murdered by an agent of Stalin's GPU in August 1940.
Bolshevik economist of Hungarian origin. Participated in the short-lived Soviet Republic of Hungary of 1919. After the overthrow of the Soviet Republic he went to the USSR, where he became an economic adviser to Stalin. In 1946 he published his only post-war work, The Economic Transformation of Capitalism at the End of the Second World War, in which he argued that the capitalist system was more inherently stable than had been hitherto believed. This led to the closure of the Institute which he headed.
Weber, Max (1864-1920)
German economist and Professor in Social and Economic Sciences at the Universities of Berlin, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Heidelberg and Munchen. He was noted for his work on the relation between capitalism and Protestant ethics. His best-known work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, forms part of greater work on the outlook and influence of various religions.