Revolutionary Principles and Strategy in the November Revolution: The Case of the USPD

Forthcoming, Kets, G. and J. Muldoon (eds). The German Revolution and Political Theory. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

22 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2018

See all articles by Nicholas Vrousalis

Nicholas Vrousalis

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE); Leiden University - Institute of Political Science

Date Written: November 24, 2018

Abstract

This paper studies the negotiation of the relationship between revolutionary principles and strategy in Germany’s main revolutionary party, the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD), during the febrile early months of the November revolution—early November to late December 1918. One of the major strategic differences within the USPD concerned support for convocation of a national assembly, a policy deemed by some of its members to be incompatible with conciliar power. However, conciliar power turned out to be not only compatible with a national assembly, but in fact to engender it. This process of delegation of power from councils to parliament was not, I will argue, bound to be a concession to the counterrevolution, or an act of political suicide, as some have suggested. Rather, delegation was the only feasible revolutionary strategy during the revolution’s early days. This strategy, which I will call council Erfurtianism, envisaged a parliamentary republic supported by the councils. I will then argue that, although most of the USPD Left never acceded to that strategy, its leaders shared a conception of revolutionary principles with the USPD Right, a conception altogether distinct from that of the Bolsheviks.

Keywords: German revolution, revolutionary shop stewards, Rosa Luxemburg

JEL Classification: N44, P26

Suggested Citation

Vrousalis, Nicholas, Revolutionary Principles and Strategy in the November Revolution: The Case of the USPD (November 24, 2018). Forthcoming, Kets, G. and J. Muldoon (eds). The German Revolution and Political Theory. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3290054

Nicholas Vrousalis (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE)

P.O. Box 1738
EIPE Office, Room H5-23
3000 Dr Rotterdam
Netherlands

Leiden University - Institute of Political Science ( email )

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
PO Box 9555
Leiden, 2300 RB
Netherlands

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
13
Abstract Views
69
PlumX Metrics