Spartacus Review

Volume 57: 26th February, 2012

German History

Title: Revolution and Other Writings

Author: Gustav Landauer

Publisher: Merlin Press

Price: £19.99

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: Gustav Landauer

Category: German History

"Landauer is the most important agitator of the radical and revolutionary movement in the entire country." This is how Gustav Landauer is described in a German police file from 1893. Twenty-six years later, Landauer would die at the hands of reactionary soldiers who overthrew the Bavarian Council Republic, a three-week attempt to realize libertarian socialism amidst the turmoil of post-World War I Germany. It was the last chapter in the life of an activist, writer, and mystic who Paul Avrich calls "the most influential German anarchist intellectual of the twentieth century." This is the first comprehensive collection of Landauer writings in English. It includes one of his major works, Revolution, thirty additional essays and articles, and a selection of correspondence. The texts cover Landauer's entire political biography, from his early anarchism of the 1890s to his philosophical reflections at the turn of the century, the subsequent establishment of the Socialist Bund, his tireless agitation against the war, and the final days among the revolutionaries in Munich. Additional chapters collect Landauer's articles on radical politics in the US and Mexico, and illustrate the scope of his writing with texts on corporate capital, language, education, and Judaism. The book includes an extensive introduction, commentary, and bibliographical information, compiled by the editor and translator Gabriel Kuhn as well as a preface by Richard Day.

Title: Liberating Society from the State

Author: Erich Mühsam

Publisher: Merlin Press

Price: £17.21

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: Erich Mühsam

Category: German History

Erich Mühsam (1878-1934), poet, bohemian, and revolutionary, was born into a middle-class Jewish family, he challenged the conventions of bourgeois society at the turn of the 19th century, and engaged in heated debates on the rights of women and homosexuals. A primary instigator of the ill-fated Bavarian Council Republic in 1919, he worked to keep radical and libertarian thinking alive during the Weimar Republic. Arrested four weeks after Hitler's ascension to power, he spent the last sixteen months of his life in detention and was murdered in the Oranienburg Concentration Camp in July 1934. Mühsam wrote poetry, plays, essays, articles, and diaries. His work unites a burning desire for individual liberation with anarcho-communist convictions, and bohemian strains with syndicalist tendencies. The body of his writings is immense, yet hardly any English translations exist. This collection presents not only Liberating the State from Society: What is Communist Anarchism?, Mühsam's main political pamphlet and one of the key texts in the history of German anarchism, but also some of his best-known poems, unbending defenses of political prisoners, passionate calls for solidarity with the lumpenproletariat, recollections of the utopian community of Monte Verità, debates on the rights of homosexuals and women, excerpts from his journals, and essays contemplating German politics and anarchist theory as much as Jewish identity and the role of intellectuals in the class struggle. An appendix documents the fate of Zenzl Mühsam, who, after her husband's death, escaped to the Soviet Union where she spent twenty years in Gulag camps.