A Note on the Phrase
This article is the preface to the Red & Black Notes
edition of Simon's article. To read the entire article follow the
link at at the bottom of the page.
The title of this pamphlet Some Thoughts About On-Going
Discussions in Ultra-Left Milieus may cause confusion in some
circles. After all, ever since Lenin's famous pamphlet Left-Wing
Communism: An Infantile Disorder the expression ultra left has
been used as a synonym for sectarianism hiding behind ultra-radical
The charge of ultra-leftism was used against a variety of left
communist (as against the Bolshevik orthodoxy) and
anarcho-syndicalist revolutionaries indiscriminately. Thus despite
quite significant differences the Italian Left and the Dutch-German
Left were attacked as ultra-left. What these groups did have in
common was a rejection of attempts by the Bolsheviks to impose their
model of revolution, as well as strategy and tactics.
Yet this significant disagreement has been overshadowed in recent
years by Leninist organisations who have adopted the term ultra-left
in order to attack each other for such crimes as not supporting
social democratic parties or left union bureaucrats
Never a precise term ultra-left might best be used, not as a
pejorative, but as a catch all expression for those revolutionary
tendencies which have maintained an opposition to both social
democracy and the bewildering variety of Leninist organisations.
Although Leninists are wont to dismiss the ultra -left as tiny
irrelevant sectarians - ironic considering the fortunes of Leninism
in recent years - contrary to received wisdom those accused of being
ultra left at one time represented significant forces, both in German
The Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD) and their factory
organisation, the General Workers League of Germany (AAUD), were
hardly isolated sects. At its founding conference the KAPD was larger
than the official Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and the AAUD had
over 200,000 workers affiliated to it.
By the 1930's the German and Dutch Left Communists, or Council
Communists as they came to be known, were reduced to tiny propaganda
groups. Here the council communists broadened their critique of
parliament and the trade unions as part of the bureaucratisation of
the workers' movement to include so-called vanguard parties. Together
with this conception they saw themselves not as developing an
alternate leadership, but in a much more modest light: to describe
and circulate information about the class struggle and to make
contacts between revolutionaries.
The author of the article which follows this introduction is
a French comrade associated with the network Echanges et Mouvement,
which publishes the bulletin Echanges. Contact information for
the network follows the article.
Thoughts About On-Going Discussions In Ultra-Left Milieus
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