Revolutions: Reform or Revolution?

Monday, October 7, 2013 - 7:30pm
The Brecht Forum @ The Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn

October 7th, 2013 7:30 PM
Reform or Revolution? Working-Class Politics in Europe from the Defeat of the Paris Commune to the 1914 Outbreak of World War I – Part 1
John Dudley, Rust Gilbert, Michael Lardner, Branden Rippey, Thomas Smith & David Worley

This class will provide an invaluable background for the study of the worldwide workers radicalization beginning toward the end of World War I whose greatest success was the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Russian Revolution will be the Revolutions Study Group’s focus in the fall of 2014.

This is an ongoing study group, participants can join at any time. Each term takes on a specific facet of anti-capitalist and often socialist revolutionary dynamics. Previous studies have included the French Revolution, The Haitian Revolution, France and Italy in the 1968 period, the Mau Mau uprising of the 1950s, The civil war in Spain, and the Mexican Revolution.

In the fall of 2013 and winter or 2014, the group will study the near-universal growth of the left in Europe. Socialist Parties, Social-Democracy, Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism, and the principal debates within and between these groups whose organizational successes in the years leading up to World War I forced them to take up previously unresolved questions of tactics and strategy.

The question of whether and under what circumstances it would be possible to ally with “progressive” sections of capitalist parties, how parties should organize and present themselves to masses of people when revolution is not on the agenda, the use of the mass strike and how to fight a rising tide of imperialism and right-wing reaction will all be covered.

In particular we will study why so many leaders of the European workers movements — Social Democratic (Kautsky), Anarchist (Kropotkin) and Anarcho-Syndicalist (Jouheux) allied in August of 1914 with their Nationalistic war governments direction that led to the unprecedented bloodbath of WWI. And we will investigate what policies could have strengthened the revolutionary and anti-imperialist left wings in the political battles against the reformists in their movements and organizations. In hindsight, can we see how these political battles anticipated the crisis of August 1914? We will also analyze the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the different currents within it. There will be particular focus on reading and discussing source documents from these movements in the years 1907-1914.

For more information, contact the Brecht Forum at or the Revolutions Study Group at

Sliding scale: $95-$125
Frtee for Brecht Forum Subscribers