Pierre Broue, The German Revolution; Haffner, Failure of a Revolution; and Angress, The Stillborn Revolution
At the end of 1918, as Germany faced military disaster, a popular revolt led to the overthrow of the Kaiser and establishment of a parliamentary republic, led for a while by the German socialists (in coalition). In Russia, the besieged Soviet state placed its hopes for a worldwide socialist revolution on Germany more than any other country, but most leaders of German socialism opposed taking their revolution beyond the reforms of the Weimar Constitution. For the next four years, as the inadequacy of the Weimar Republic was laid bare, fractious German revolutionaries struggled to win workers away from conservative socialism and agitated for and launched several uprisings aimed at the creation of a workers state. From the tragic Spartakus uprising in January 1919 (during which Rosa Luxemburg was murdered) to the almost farcical "German October” in 1923, they fought, but they lost. In the process, the working class was divided and demoralized, the capitalist class went looking for a savior, and the foundations of Nazism were laid. Superficially, events in Germany in 1918 seem similar to the events in Russia the year before. Why was the outcome so different? Are there lessons in this history about strategies and political tactics for socialists today? Members of the Revolutions Study Group at the Marxist Education Project, who have been studying this history for the past nine months, discuss. The Revolutions Study Group (originally at the Brecht Forum) has been meeting since 2009. Individuals have come and gone, but the group has held together, studying in depth a wide range of events including the French Revolution of 1789, the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the Mau-Mau Revolt in Kenya, the Haitian Revolution, the European Revolutions of 1848, the May 1968 movement in France and the Hot Autumn of Italy the following year, the Spanish Civil War, the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the Socialist (2nd) International and European Social Democracy prior to World War I. This September, the group will revisit the Bolshevik Revolution for six weeks around the centenary of that event. In January 1918, plans are to begin a year-long study of the Chinese Revolution from 1910-1949. Anyone interested is invited to join.