The study of history and the left's decline

Dealing with the present demands not useful myths, writes Mike Macnair, but a real understanding of the past

Chris Cutrone’s two letters responding to my report of the Platypus convention, and my critique of the project, are useful and clarificatory.[1] His presidential address to the Platypus convention posted on his blog is also helpful.[2]

In particular, both the second letter and the address take clearer distance from the so-called ‘anti-“anti-imperialist” left’ than was apparent from earlier material in the Platypus Review. This does not eliminate the question of imperialism as a theoretical problem, or, equally, as a historical problem in relation to the history of the workers’ movement, Marxist theory and the left. But these texts do answer my political concern about this issue in the second of my two articles[3] on the convention. I suggested that Platypus was focussing mainly on the stupidities of ‘anti-imperialism’. That implied placing itself in the morally untenable position of opposing loudly the ‘left’ supporters of the third-world tyrant/reactionary monkeys, while speaking only softly about the ‘left’ supporters of the ‘western’ organ-grinders. Comrade Cutrone’s letter and address partially reassure me on this front.

The theoretical aspect of my criticism of Platypus about the issue of imperialism as an explanation of reformism and nationalism, as opposed to Lukáscian and ‘New Left’ explanations, remains. It is unavoidably linked to the history of the workers’ movement and Marxist theories, as well as to the general history of capitalism and where we stand today - the question of ‘capital’s historical over-ripeness for revolution’, as comrade Cutrone puts it in his second letter.

If the issues are linked, to work through them demands a degree of separation. I will address in turn the questions why understanding the history is important; the problem of how to attempt to understand it; the problem of Peter Nettl’s diagnosis of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in which both Bernstein and Luxemburg are preferable to Bebel and Kautsky, and comrade Cutrone’s diagnosis of this as displaying an issue about the ‘necessary authoritarianism’ of the SPD; and the question of imperialism, as an issue in the pre- World War I socialist movement, and as an issue of the larger history, ‘ripeness for revolution’, and the diagnosis of our own future.

Memory and history

I begin with something which I have referred to before.[4] Memory is indispensable to conscious engagement with the recalcitrant material world. ‘The present’ is a concept without a direct referent: rather, it refers to a presumption, which we have to make every moment we are awake, that the immediate future will be more or less like the immediate past. We therefore constantly predict the future, and act, on the basis of probabilistic inductive inferences from the past. We cannot avoid doing so. Theories, whether in experimental sciences or in observational ones (astronomy, evolutionary biology and history count among observational sciences), are systematised from inductive inferences from the past to the future, not counterposed to them.

From this point of view the study of history is indispensable to politics. In reality, even those bourgeois politicians who deny its significance in public consider in private the historical development of elections, party affiliations and ‘public opinion’. Hence, serious engagement with history would be essential, however successful the left was. To refuse it would either be to refuse all understanding, or to adopt de facto some unexamined history.

There is a subtle difference between this conception and Platypus’s engagement with history and specifically with the history of the movement. Platypus’s engagement with history is intimately connected with its particular conception of the decline of the left.

Thus Ben Blumberg, introducing a 2009 panel on that issue: “[Platypus] was brought together by a shared realisation that the social and cultural theory of Theodor Adorno and other members of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research contained the legacy of the revolutionary Marxism of the antecedent period. This realisation was coupled with another: to claim that Adorno’s theoretical ideas were the legacy of the practical politics of Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky put Platypus at odds in numerous respects with the existing left ... By falsely resolving the problem of theory and practice the left has relinquished the defining feature of its politics and ceased to be the left at all. This has profound effects on the development of the history of capitalism, in which the left traditionally has acted as a transformative catalyst. Because its politics no longer mediate theory and practice, the left has begun to decompose. Following Adorno, Platypus calls this process historical regression” (emphases added).[5]

Or the panel description at the April convention on ‘The Marxism of the Second International radicals’: “How were the Second International radicals, importantly, critics, and not merely advocates, of their own political movement? What is the legacy of these figures today, after the 20th century - as Walter Benjamin said in his 1940 ‘Theses on the philosophy of history’, ‘against the grain’ of their time, reaching beyond it? How did Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky and Lukács contribute to the potential advancement and transformation of Marxism, in and through the crisis of Marxism in the early 20th century? How can we return to these figures productively, today, to learn the lessons of their history?”[6]

These are not histories of the ordinary self-location of politics in the world as it moves. They are attempts at the redemption of a ‘usable past’ on the assumption of a total break in political and theoretical continuity. Platypus is not, of course, unique in this. Many tendencies and many authors try to look back to a ‘true Marxism’, whether this is to be found in Marx without Engels, Marx and Engels without the Second International, the Second International without the Third, the first four congresses of the Third without its later history (mainly Trotskyists), pre-war Trotskyism (Al Richardson and others) or pre-‘Pabloite’ Trotskyism.

My Revolutionary strategy (2008) argues for an attempt to understand where we are, at the level of the practical political problem of left unity, through understanding the history. But it also precisely argues against the idea that the film of history can be rolled back (p66) or that there is an uncorrupted historical theoretical moment to be found. There are in my view bad mistakes in Marx and Engels, which were amplified in the Second International, and fundamental errors in the views of the first four congresses of the Comintern, and so on; and these have to be addressed with the benefit of hindsight in order to construct a politics for the future.

Equally, the recent experiences of the organised left form, for me, part of the basis on which we are to look for a way forward: like the partial strengths of the post-1945 communist parties as working class organisations in spite of their nationalist, bureaucratic and class-collaborationist politics, or the failures of far-left groups in Portugal in 1974-76, or the partial successes of ‘unitary’ projects like Rifondazione Comunista ending in ultimate failure. None are to be ruled out of consideration by political ‘original sins’ or ‘historical regression’.

Historical method

These different purposes of historical inquiry for politics have implications for differences in the method of historical inquiry. Platypus’s distinction from other forms of search for a redemptive retrieval of the lost past is that (following Benjamin and Adorno) what is sought as a ‘usable past’ is to be a historical myth. To use phrases from Benjamin, “setting alight the sparks of hope in the past”, “the name of Blanqui, whose distant thunder had made the preceding century tremble”, a view of the past which calls forth working class “hate” and “spirit of sacrifice” and makes possible a “leap into the open sky of history”.[7]

There is a strange paradox in using such an approach as a critique of a left whose decline is - as is obvious to most people, Platypus included - predicated ultimately on the shadow of Stalinism and its failure. This is that the historical lineage of the role of myth and the “leap into the open sky of history” in fact runs from the part of the Second International left influenced by Sorel and similar thinkers, through the Bogdanov-Lunacharsky Vperyod faction in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, through the ‘military opposition’ in the Russian Civil War, through elements of the left wings of both majority and minority in the later 1920s Russian Communist Party, to - the adventurism of the first five-year plan and the ‘third period’, high-period Stalinism, and the Maoism of the ‘great leap forward’.[8]

For the argument I have put forward above, in contrast, the purpose of historical inquiry is to grasp the processes of historical change in which we are - unavoidably - embedded in order to make choices between real available options. These political choices are in my view no different in principle from individual choices in everyday life. Memory mistakes and belief in false theories (which are built on inadequately tested claims about the past) can have real and catastrophic implications. My grandmother was lucky not to be run down when, in her 90s, she set out to cycle to town, forgetting that traffic speeds and density on the road passing her house had changed since the 1930s; my mother was less lucky when her belief in treating her ‘neuralgia’ with homeopathy and other ‘alternative remedies’ led to late diagnosis of lymphoma.

The phenomenon in which ‘official communist’ parties in the periphery countries since World War II have believed in strategic alliances with the ‘national bourgeoisie’, ending with the CP massacred or discredited and marginalised, is, I think, no more than errors of the same type scaled up to that of collective decision-making. In this view, Benjamin’s, or Adorno’s, philosophies of history and the search for usable myths make such errors more, not less, likely.

How do we attempt to get a more accurate grasp of the history in which we are embedded, in order to make better choices?

The elementary principles of historical source criticism (assessing biases of the witness, closeness to the event described, consistency of evidence, corroboration, antecedent probability of the narrative, and so on) are originally derived from legal approaches to evidence of recent events used in court, and the same approaches also form a substratum of the assessment of the reliability of observational and experimental evidence in the physical sciences. In the legal context it is clear that certainty is unavailable and the court must act on probabilistic information. Scientific and technical breakthrough was made possible when this was accepted in the physical sciences, in place of the ‘certain’ textual authority of scripture and ancient authors.[9]

In history, which continued to be seen as an art, the breakthrough to source criticism was later and more gradual. Once it had happened, historical inquiry acquired a partially cumulative character, as enquiry in the physical sciences has acquired a definitely cumulative character.

Marx is (just) this side of the source-critical watershed in history: hence the concrete documentation of the second part of Capital Vol 1, hence the critical notes published as Theories of surplus value, hence his elaborate critical notebooks on pre-capitalist property forms, as yet imperfectly published.[10]

The Frankfurt school, in contrast, wanted to step back from this approach to one which philosophised from the standpoint of ‘critique of what is’, but which picked and chose odd snippets of history which would serve its, ultimately moral, purposes. This is evident as much in Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of enlightenment as in Benjamin on the philosophy of history.

It is for these reasons that in my report I characterised many of the papers at the Platypus convention as “neither quite rigorous philosophy nor quite rigorous history”. Watson Ladd in his letter quotes Adorno’s comment in Minima moralia that “The injunction to practise intellectual honesty usually amounts to sabotage of thought.” Comrade Ladd admits that “neither nonsense nor triviality will suffice as modes of thought today”.[11] In my opinion, however, the method in Benjamin, in Dialectic of enlightenment and in Minima moralia, produces precisely occasional interesting aperçus buried in a mass of nonsense and triviality. The idea that this method is counterposed to “obtuse French theory” (ie, postmodernism, Foucaultianism, etc) is illusory: it is, rather, a forebear of the literary theory on offer in today’s academy.

The question of source-critical method then affects the specific issues of history and theory to which I referred in the beginning: Nettl on the SPD, ‘authoritarianism’, imperialism, and ‘ripeness for revolution.’


In the case of Nettl, the issue is that the historian has to be understood as a witness to the research he reports; and it is necessary both to check the report against other witnesses (other historians of the SPD) and, where practically possible, against the primary sources (easier now that so much is online). It is also necessary to evaluate the witness’s biases.

Peter Nettl[12] was a child of Viennese émigrés from fascism, and came to the UK in 1936 at the age of 10. Unlike many émigrés, his father had a subsisting interest in a textile firm in Bradford, and Nettl was therefore privately educated. Called up in 1944, he was in 1945 at the age of 21 commissioned as a major in British intelligence, presumably in order to give him sufficient rank to be taken seriously in the interrogation of German prisoners in Berlin, to which he was immediately assigned.

On demobilisation he went to St John’s College, Oxford and took the ‘accelerated’ degree made available to veterans. He obtained a first class and was immediately offered a teaching job at St John’s and Brasenose College. However, he took only a one-year tutorship. In this period he published The eastern zone and Soviet policy in Germany 1945-50 (Oxford 1950). The book is a conventional early cold war piece.

He then went to work in his father’s textile firm - initially in Bradford, but thereafter as a global travelling salesman. While doing this job, he published a few pretty orthodox papers on issues in economics,[13] and reviews of German Democratic Republic publications for International Affairs. The latter suggests that he may have retained links to the ‘intelligence community’ in this period.[14]

In 1961 he took a visiting fellow position at Nuffield College, Oxford, where he stayed until appointed in 1963 to a lectureship in politics at Leeds University. ‘The SPD as a political model’ dates to 1964, two years before the publication of his biography of Rosa Luxemburg (1966). The latter was followed by Political mobilisation (1967), The Soviet achievement (1967), which reads Soviet history in terms of Weberian modernisation theory, and International systems and the modernisation of societies (1968). In 1968 he was appointed to a professorship in political sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, but died in a plane crash shortly afterwards.

Hanson in his memoir of Nettl describes him as having moved from field to field, and in particular from history (the biography of Luxemburg) to sociology. It is, however, far from clear that the biography of Luxemburg was motivated by a desire to ‘do history’. Nor is it a product of sympathy for the political left or for Marxism, of which there is no evidence in Nettl’s other work.

Rather, ‘The SPD as a political model’ shows a primary motivation to understand the SPD-like aspects of nationalist and revolutionary political parties, in broadly Weberian terms, in connection with ‘decolonisation’ and ‘modernisation’. Behind that lies - it can be guessed - practical questions for British policymakers’ understanding of and relationships with nationalist ‘inheritor parties’ after decolonisation. The biography of Luxemburg was a by-product of these goals, albeit a very large one.

This is, I think, reflected in the fact that reviews by historians (as opposed to political scientists) of both the Luxemburg biography and The Soviet achievement commented that Nettl was quite cavalier in his treatment of those historical facts which appeared to him to be only contingently relevant to the arguments of the books.

A 1980 review essay by Richard Breitman discusses a substantial body of literature on the pre-1914 SPD, which gives sharply different theoretical accounts of the SPD’s evolution: witnesses of similar standing to Nettl - ie, non-Marxist historians and sociologists of politics - who do not corroborate his account.[15]

I will not go into depth on direct confrontation between Nettl’s account and the primary sources, but there is one small significant point. Nettl treats Robert Michels’ Political parties (1911) as an unqualified primary source for SPD practice and for what comrade Cutrone calls “authoritarianism”. But Nettl takes no account whatever of Michels’ political bias: ie, that at the time of writing Michels was a revolutionary syndicalist (after World War I he followed another semi-syndicalist leftist of the pre-war period, Benito Mussolini, into fascism).


Comrade Cutrone writes in his first letter: “I think Macnair avoids ... the issue I was raising about the inherent unavoidable authoritarianism of late 19th century mass (working class) parties that needed to be worked through by later Marxism (unlike circa 1848), and the problems of which Lenin and Luxemburg were aware, unlike the German Social Democratic Party centre (Bebel and Kautsky) and later Stalinism (including Maoism).”

‘Authoritarianism’ is a slippery word. Early citations in the Oxford English Dictionary are from 1879 - “Men who are authoritarian by nature, and cannot imagine that a country should be orderly save under a military despotism”; and 1882 - “Communists of the ‘authoritarian’ type.”[16] The latter, from Karl Blind, fairly clearly draws on Bakunin’s critique of Marx’s alleged ‘authoritarian’ aims.[17]

The first sense of ‘authoritarianism’ means a politics which denies the legitimacy of political dissent and the possibility of the accountability of authorities to those below. It may be military in character, as in the quotation, or clericalist. Modern bourgeois sociologists distinguish authoritarianism in this sense from the (worse) totalitarianism, meaning fascism, Stalinism or sub-Stalinoid nationalist regimes. The real distinction is that ‘totalitarians’ engage in land reform (Mussolini, Mugabe) or job creation schemes at capitalist expense (Hitler), while ‘authoritarians’, like Franco or Pinochet, ‘permit a sphere independent of the state’: ie, the capitalist market.

The second sense of ‘authoritarianism’ means, in Bakuninist hands, a politics which admits any sort of authority or binding collective decisions at all. In liberal-libertarian hands, it means any politics in which decisions for the common good are capable of binding ‘free individuals’, meaning property owners. Non-property owners are left under such a regime with the (perfectly free!) choice of submission or starvation.

Which version does comrade Cutrone mean in relation to the SPD? Nettl means simply that the SPD was not liberal-libertarian: “The English or American notion of limited government, that it might be better to do without certain activities if they involved authoritative regulation or control, was utterly alien.”[18]

If what is meant is that the legitimacy of dissent, and accountability to those below, were rejected, Breitman (cited above) discusses Susanne Miller’s Burgfrieden und Klassenkampf (1974) as showing that the SPD leadership only became authoritarian in this sense in and after 1914: ie, because of the choice to support the Reich in the war. In doing so, it raised up the USPD as an opposition.

Engels, in On authority (1872), offered a critique of the Bakuninist version. Marx, in his unpublished Conspectus of Bakunin’s statism and anarchy (1874), makes similar points.[19] The issue was not therefore one which arose after Marx’s time.

I do not mean to deny that the SPD was substantially bureaucratised before 1914 - though not, as yet, an authoritarianism (sense 1) or ‘totalitarianism’ of the bureaucracy like the Luxemburg-Jogiches-Dzherzhinsky Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, Stalinism or the modern ‘1921 Leninists’ (Stalin fans, Maoists, ‘orthodox’ Trotskyists). Nor do I mean to deny that bureaucratic rule is a real problem facing the workers’ movement and the left.

The problem is, rather, what the alternative to the dictatorship of the bureaucracy is. If it is to be liberalism-libertarianism, we should give up on any alternative to the present-day social order, because ‘It might be better to do without certain activities if they involved authoritative regulation or control’ is no more than an ideology of capitalist society.

If it is to be diluted Bakuninism, as in Sorel, Michels and in an even more diluted form the Luxemburg of The mass strike or the Trotsky of Our political tasks and Results and prospects, we should also give up. In the first place, mass-strikism without permanent party organisation has been repeatedly tried and as repeatedly failed. Secondly, as Bakunin was the first to admit, as Luxemburg and her comrades showed in the SDKPL and mass-strikist groups have shown repeatedly since, the attempt to move the masses into action, as opposed to winning them to a political programme, inexorably demands the ‘invisible dictatorship’, the small and conspiratorial group of illuminati which directs the ‘spontaneous will to revolt’ of the masses.

The option which has not really been tried is political ‘civic republicanism’. This means the rejection, not of all subordination to the collective, but of permanent subordination to decision-makers.[20] It means recognition that we have to take binding collective decisions, and that this will involve delegating individuals as leaders/managers, and so on. But, on the other hand, it means insistence that these people are subordinated to the membership (and ultimately the masses) through freedom of information, speech and horizontal communication, and association against the existing leadership. In my opinion - not a CPGB view - it also involves term limits for leaders and managers, etc, at all levels.


In his second letter comrade Cutrone writes: “Moreover, what the Second International radicals meant by ‘imperialism’ was inter-imperialism, not core-periphery relations. The emphasis on the latter was the hallmark of the post-World War II new left and its derangement on the problem of global capital in history.”

This claim is a commonplace from somewhere in the historiography (I have also heard it from Marc Mulholland). The problem is that it cannot really survive confrontation with the primary sources.

In early usage, it is true that ‘imperialism’ did not mean ‘colonialism’, but rather the adoption of imperial styles and titles (Louis Napoleon in 1852, Wilhelm I in 1871, queen Victoria in 1877) and of ‘Napoleonic’ militarism and centralised bureaucracy. ‘Colonialism’ rather attracted the label, ‘colonial policy’, in early SPD and Second International debates.

‘Imperialism’ came to be attached to ‘colonial policy’ through Joseph Chamberlain’s advocacy of colonialism as a solution to ‘the social problem’ under the name of imperialism. Chamberlain’s imperialism was then critiqued in the book of that name by Hobson in 1902, which was rapidly known to the left. Hence, though the SPD debate of 1907-08 was still conducted under the name of ‘colonial policy’, ‘colonial policy’ appears as an aspect of ‘imperialism’ in Hilferding’s Finance capital (1911). And, as I cited in my second article, Hobson’s and Hilferding’s usage is the one found in Lenin and Zinoviev, Bukharin, Trotsky and Gorter’s books on the causes of World War I.

The idea that the Second International was unconcerned with “core-periphery relations” cannot survive any look at the ‘colonial policy’ debates. The whole ‘revisionist debate’ in a sense began with the Bernstein-Bax exchange of 1896-97 about Marxists’ attitude to the colonial expansion of capitalism. Kautsky responded on this specific issue in a three-part series in 1898. The issue flared up again after the SPD’s defeat in the 1907 ‘Hottentot election’ - which was, as its name indicates, fought on the issue of the Reich’s dirty colonial war in what is now Namibia.

If “the Second International radicals” is to include the Lenin of the war and the early Comintern, the claim is manifest nonsense. Since I have cited some of the relevant texts in a reply to Arthur Bough (Letters, May 12), I will not repeat them here.

Before the passage I have just quoted, comrade Cutrone argues in his second letter that “Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky found that the ‘imperialist’ phase of ‘monopoly capital’, and the changing ‘organic composition of capital’ (at a global scale) by the turn of the 20th century had been the product of the successes of the workers’ movement in the core capitalist countries. They found this success to have advanced the crisis of capital. In other words, the social democratic workers’ movement had itself brought about the crisis of capital, or ‘imperialism’ as capitalism’s ‘highest’ or last stage (Lenin): that is, the eve of revolution. Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky thought that the socialist workers’ movement was part of and not extrinsic to the history of capital. This meant, for Luxemburg, that the workers were responsible for the world war and thus historically obligated to bring about socialism and avert barbarism. This was not a merely moral injunction.”

I would be very interested to see real evidence for this proposition as a claim about what Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky wrote - as opposed to what they might have written. My own reading of the texts is that Lenin and Trotsky at least believed that imperialism made possible concessions to (sections of) the working class, rather than that it was required by the offensive of the working class.

I will admit that there is evidence from the political discourse of bourgeois imperialists, like Joseph Chamberlain, that imperialism was needed as a response to the rise of the workers’ movement. The problem is this. The export of capital to colonial possessions and periphery states goes back to Venice and Genoa in the late Middle Ages. The ascendancy of financial capital in Britain long predates the 1870s and is, in fact, a necessity of the rule of the capitalist class as such. The peculiar form of ‘fusion’ of financial and industrial capital which Hilferding identified as a novelty turns out to have remained specific to ‘civil law’ countries and has never reached the ‘Anglosphere’.[21] Extensive welfarism based on the gains of the East India Company goes back to the Dutch Republic.[22] So what is new after the 1870s?


Comrade Cutrone says that “the problem of ‘imperialism’ has been a symptom of capital’s historical over-ripeness for revolution, at least since 1914-19, if not significantly long before”. Though “capital’s historical over-ripeness for revolution” is orthodox Trotskyism from the Transitional programme, it has two problems in this context. The first is that if it is to describe ‘symptoms’, those of imperialism, which go all the way back to the creation of the first proto-bourgeois and bourgeois states, the idea of ‘ripeness’ loses all meaning.

The second is, of course, that Marx’s conception of ‘ripeness’ is - in outline - that “No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed” (preface to A contribution to the critique of political economy). And, as I said in my second article, both Moshé Machover and István Mészáros have given us strong reasons to suppose that from this point of view global capitalism was not “over-ripe for revolution” at the beginning of the 20th century. To this point comrade Cutrone has not responded.

If so, however, the argument that we are to explain the recent difficulties of the left and the workers’ movement by capital’s “historical over-ripeness for revolution” falls to the ground - even if this “over-ripeness” were to consist in imperialism as a response to the rise of the workers’ movement. Rather, we should understand ourselves as in a historical situation which is in a sense akin to that of bourgeois revolutionaries between the failure of the project of the city-state in the signorie of the late Middle Ages and the breakthrough of the Dutch and English revolutions. Stalinism is used endlessly as a stick to beat us, just as the propagandists of the early modern monarchies (like Shakespeare) told endless stories of the disorder and corruption of Italian politics.

What we need in this situation is not a useful myth of the past to inspire the spirit of revolt: it is a real understanding of the past in order to make real choices about options in the future.


  1. Weekly Worker May 19, May 26.
  2. chriscutrone.platypus1917.org
  3. ‘No need for party?’, May 12; ‘Theoretical dead end’, May 19.
  4. ‘Teleology, predictability and modes of production’ Weekly Worker January 27.
  5. platypus1917.org/2009/11/18/the-decline-of-the-left-in-the-20th-century-introduction
  6. convention2011.platypus1917.org/saturday-schedule
  7. www.marxists.org/reference/archive/benjamin/1940/history.htm
  8. D Priestland Stalinism and the politics of mobilisation Oxford 2007.
  9. B Shapiro A culture of fact New York 2000.
  10. K Anderson Marx at the margins Chicago 2010, appendix.
  11. Letters, May 19.
  12. What follows is partly from the memoir by AH Hanson in TJ Nossiter, AH Hanson, S Rokkan (ed) Imagination and precision in the social sciences: essays in memory of Peter Nettl (London 1972) pp1-12 and partly inferences from this narrative and from Nettl’s published work.
  13. For example, ‘A note on entrepreneurial behaviour’ (1957), 24 Review of Economic Studies 87-94 finishes with the “distorting” effect of high taxation on entrepreneurial motivations.
  14. A genealogy website reports a completely unsubstantiated and implausible rumour that at the time of his death he was working for Mossad (freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~prohel/names/misc/bauer1.html). The rumour could reflect a garbled version of links to the British ‘intelligence community’. For an ex-officer of British military intelligence working as an international salesman, links to British intelligence are positively likely.
  15. ‘Negative integration and parliamentary politics: literature on German social democracy, 1890-1933’, 13 Central European History pp175-97.
  16. www.oed.com, quoting Daily News June 28 1879; Contemporary Review September 1882, p459 (Karl Blind, ‘The radical and revolutionary parties of Europe’, part 1). A search on ‘Karl Blind’ on MIA will display Blind’s antagonistic relations to Marx at the time of writing.
  17. See D Adam, ‘Marx, Bakunin, and the question of authoritarianism’: libcom.org/library/marx-bakunin-question-authoritarianism
  18. Past and Present No30, p58.
  19. www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1872/10/authority.htm; www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1874/04/bakunin-notes.htm
  20. Theoretical analysis in P Pettit Republicanism (Oxford 1997); on the relationship of this theory to Marxism, my ‘Republicanism and Marxism’ Weekly Worker May 29 2003.
  21. Hillel Ticktin has argued that it is, in fact, a feature of early capitalism: ‘Towards a theory of finance capital, part 2’ (1986) Critique No17, 1-15, especially 9-15.
  22. J de Vries, A van der Woude The first modern economy Cambridge1997.