One limitation of mine I’m personally ashamed of is knowing only one language. That isn’t particularly unique for an American, but regardless, it’s annoying. In addition to the trouble communicating with half of my family, there is tons of material on individuals, organizations and struggles that have never been translated into English. Google Translate is not sufficient for any real reading of these writings, unfortunately. Maybe one day I’ll have the time, interest and confidence to learn other languages, but until then, the awkward, robotic interpretations of Google Translate will have to do.
A specific topic of interest I’ve had for about a year or so is the German AAUD and AAUD-E. I even made a ‘reader‘ on them. There are a couple translations of their official organizational materials, and a few histories about council communism or the period following the failed German Revolution that talk about them, but these are sort of only scratching the surface, in my opinion. There aren’t any reflections by members, articles from their publications or detailed accounts of their activities.
For a bit of background, the AAUD (Allgemeine Arbeiter-Union Deutschlands/General Workers’ Union of Germany) was the revolutionary union linked to the KAPD (Kommunistische Arbeiter-Partei Deutschlands/Communist Workers’ Party of Germany) in the early 1920s in Germany. The KAPD was a council communist splitoff from the KPD (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands/Communist Party of Germany), which was the Moscow linked and Marxist-Leninist party. During this hectic time, along with an alphabet soup of different revolutionary organizations, there were numerous general strikes, uprisings and Russian Revolution-style workers councils immediately post-World War I, which is generally called the German Revolution by the radical left.
From what I can tell, the AAUD drew a fair amount of inspiration from the North American IWW, and there were some people who were members of both, reflecting the international movement of revolutionaries and immigration at the time. The AAUD, unlike the IWW, apparently did not fight for bread and butter gains. The justification for this was because they believed they were in a revolutionary situation, and demands on wages and conditions were a step backward.
Eventually, some in the AAUD disagreed with its relationship with the KAPD, and split, creating the AAUD-E (Allgemeine Arbeiter-Union Deutschlands-Einheitsorganisation/General Workers’ Union of Germany-Unitary Organization). The AAUD-E aimed to bridge the political-economic separation of labor and thought that was typical of communists of the time (and still is). As the events of the German Revolution and the post-war era drew more distant, the KAPD, AAUD and AAUD-E hemorrhaged massive amounts of members and disintegrated into an even bigger alphabet soup of splits.
I think I’m mostly interested in the AAUD/AAUD-E for geeky radical left reasons. It isn’t clear there are lessons to be drawn from them, and what lessons exist are probably exaggerations. Regardless, it’s still interesting stuff.
Here’s a bunch of stuff I wish to God were in English:
–Pro-IWW leaflet advocating German workers join the AAUD. Circa 1918. Seems to be saying that the AAUD are part of the IWW, either organizationally or in spirit.
–The IWW and the AAUD by Paul Mattick. Written in 1929 for Kampfruf, the publication for (apparently) some AAUD split-off.
-Paul Mattick’s PROGRAMM UND AUFGABEN Die Todeskrise des kapitalistischen Systems und die Aufgaben des Proletariats. Printed by the IWW, it was a program intended to put more Marxist economics into the union.
–Der Wellenbrecher, the newspaper of a section (ship workers?) of one of the AAUD splitoffs.
–A 1927 article signed by the AAUD and KAPD. Something about how a Guardian article on the USSR rearming Germany through the KPD was false, I think.