Socialist Union

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Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
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Feb 23 2009 10:30
Socialist Union

does anybody know some literature or has some information about the "Socialist Union" (1940ies/50ies, inside the Labour Party) ... Bernhard Reichenbach, a leading Member of the KAPD (Essen Faction after 1922) and later of the council communist "Rote Kämpfer" who went into British exile in 1935 was a (leading?) member of this group

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klas batalo
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Oct 16 2012 18:32

You ever find anything? Would CWO comrades know?

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jura
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Oct 16 2012 18:45

As an aside, I was quite surprised to find out that Bernhard Reichenbach was the older brother of Hans Reichenbach, the famous logical empiricist philosopher of science and a member of the Vienna Circle. (Another VC member, Otto Neurath, was involved in the Bavarian Soviet Republic.)

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Oct 17 2012 07:52

I found only a book of the Socialist Union published by Penguin in 1956, called "twentieth century socialism": basically boring "ethical socialism", definitely not on the left of Labour, the Reichenbachs and Alexander Schwab who was another leading figure of the "Rote Kämpfer" came all from the pre-1914 "German Youth Movement", Hans Reichenbach was in 1918/19 involved in setting up a "soviet of intellectual workers" in Berlin

Harrison
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Oct 17 2012 09:02

i didn't know neurath was involved in the bavarian soviet republic, although i was aware he was a socialist of some variety. neurath established the basis for the isotype system that employed gerd arntz to make all those little symbols. (i believe this is what he is most well remembered for these days)

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Oct 17 2012 10:51

You are right, Harrison (and Arntz, of course, was a council communist). Neurath even did time for his involvment in Bavaria, and from what I've heard it was Max Weber who somehow got him out of jail.

It turns out a lot of members of the Vienna Circle were leftists of some kind. In his intellectual autobiography, published long after he emigrated to the US, Rudolf Carnap (who is usually not regarded as very political) still expresses his belief in the necessity of a planned economy and "world government". The FBI kept a file on him throughout the 1950s.

Entdinglichung, do you know anything about Hans Reichenbach's views in the postwar period? Did he maintain correspondence with his brother Diethard?

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Entdinglichung
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Oct 17 2012 11:59
jura wrote:

Entdinglichung, do you know anything about Hans Reichenbach's views in the postwar period? Did he maintain correspondence with his brother Diethard?

you mean Bernhard? don't know ... Hans was during his student time in Berlin following 1917 close to Karl August Wittfogel

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Oct 17 2012 12:02

Yeah, Bernhard, sorry smile. Well thanks anyway, another interesting piece of information about Wittfogel.

alb
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Oct 26 2012 08:30
Entdinglichung wrote:
I found only a book of the Socialist Union published by Penguin in 1956, called "twentieth century socialism": basically boring "ethical socialism", definitely not on the left of Labour,

There's a review of that book in the August 1956 issue of the Socialist Standard of the SPGB.

From the review, it was advocating the views of "rightwingers" within the Labour Party who wanted it to abandon its paper commitment in Clause Four of its constitution to "total public ownership", arguing that "a Socialist economy is not just a planned economy, but a planned market economy" in which a "private sector" would permanently exist alongside the state sector. ie for a so-called "mixed economy".

The review stated "instead of being concerned with ends the authors are concerned with making capitalism work smoothly", concluding:

Quote:
Looking at the past they identify Socialism with public ownership and Marxism with Russian State Capitalism. With this erroneous outlook this book is worthless from the Socialist point of view, but it may have some value as a guide to making capitalism palatable to workers. It seems to the present writer that the object of the book is simply to get the Labour Party back into powr to pursue its futile policies.

A sad and dishonorable fate for an ex-member of the KAPD. But then Sylvia Pankhurst also ended up in the Labour Party.

I can send you a copy of the review if you want (p.m me a postal address).

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Nov 14 2012 17:04
jura wrote:
Yeah, Bernhard, sorry smile. Well thanks anyway, another interesting piece of information about Wittfogel.

according to http://www.stiftung-aufarbeitung.de/wer-war-wer-in-der-ddr-%2363%3B-1424.html?ID=5442 Wittfogel, the three Reichenbach brothers (the third was the musicologist Herman(n) Reichenbach) and Alexander Schwab were part of a circle of revolutionary students around 1917

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Nov 14 2012 17:07
alb wrote:

A sad and dishonorable fate for an ex-member of the KAPD. But then Sylvia Pankhurst also ended up in the Labour Party.

that's unfortunately the way, most people from leftist/revolutionary orgs beyond SPD & KPD in Germany took after 1945, ... btw., were there any groups linked to the SPGB in Germany before 1933?

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Jan 29 2021 10:00

found an answer to my question, the SU was the successor of the "Socialist Vanguard Group", the British branch of the neokantian "ethical socialist" ISK:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Vanguard_Group#Socialist_Union

Quote:
In 1950, the group was reformed as the Socialist Union, with Flanders as its chair and Hinden as its secretary. It was hoped that this new organisation would work closely with social democrats within the Labour Party, and attract some of them to join. This had some initial success, as Fred Mulley agreed to become its treasurer, and Jim Griffiths served as honorary president, but membership peaked at only 102. In 1956, it published Twentieth Century Socialism, which argued in support of ethical socialism, and had significant influence in the Labour Party. Despite this, it became clear that the group was achieving little and failing to grow, so in 1959 it was dissolved.

scholarly article on SVG and SU: No Friend of Democracy: The Socialist Vanguard Group 1941-50 by R.M. Douglas

Splits and Fusions
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Jan 29 2021 17:46

Pretty sure I have some Socialist Union documents in a 'miscellaneous' box somewhere....

I think they are the reason why the Doncaster based Socialist Union of Dave Douglass called itself Socialist Union (Internationalist) upon learning of the existence of this rightist grouping...