Germany was not only the birthplace of Marx and Engels 200 years ago, but also the origin of strong working-class movements. While German socialists became dominant in the 2nd International before 1914, the year 1919 saw the split between Communism and Social Democracy—a political line that divided the country between 1949-1989, when West Germany considered itself a “social market economy” while East Germany built up a soviet-style planned economy. Subsequently, historiography often focused on these cold-war frontlines and overlooked the variety of leftist activism ranging from anarchism to the contributions of German Marxists to the international New Left since 1956.
Capturing this political and organizational variety of the workers’ and left social movements is the primary goal of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung’s current Graduate Class. During this two-day workshop, the agendas and the meaning of these historical actors will be reviewed, starting with a roundtable discussion on Friday evening, co-sponsored by The New School and featuring a keynote by Leo Panitch (York University, Toronto), followed by a panel discussion with Stephanie Luce (CUNY), Stephen Bronner (Rutgers University), and Frank Jacob (Queensboro College). On Saturday Jule Ehms, Richard Stoenescu, Sarah Langwald, David Bebnowski, and Ralf Hoffrogge will present their work on movements, institutions, and individuals of the political left of the 20th century, which went beyond or outside the “classical” traditions of Marxism.
The events are free and open to the public. Please RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, February 23
BEYOND SOCIAL DEMOCRACY AND COMMUNISM
The Left and Labor in Germany and the United States
Welcome: Jonathan Bach (The New School)
Keynote: Leo Panitch (York University, Toronto)
Roundtable Discussion: Stephanie Luce (CUNY); Stephen Bronner (Rutgers University); Frank Jacob (Queensboro College)
Moderator: Albert Scharenberg (RLS–NYC)
(This part of the program is co-organized with the Global Studies Program at The New School.)
Saturday, February 24
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW: LABOR AND THE NEW LEFT
Presentations of the RLS Graduate School
9:30am-10:00am Opening Remarks
Katrin Schäfgen (RLS-Studienwerk), Stefan Berger (Ruhr University Bochum, Germany)
10:00am-12:00pm Unionism and Syndicalism Between 1918-1939 in Germany and the U.S.
Jule Ehms: “The Free Workers’ Union of Germany: Syndicalism During the Weimar Republic”
Richard Stoenescu: “Syndicalist Movements in Germany and the U.S. Between the Two World Wars”
Commentator: Oliver Schmidtke (University of Victoria, Canada)
Chair: Stefan Berger
12:00pm-1:00pm Lunch break
1:00pm-3:00pm Old Left and New Left in West Germany
Sarah Langwald: “From Confrontation to Cooperation: Negotiating Political Justice Against Communists in West Germany, 1949-1968”
David Bebnowski: “Political Discourses and Controversies in West Berlin’s Left-wing Journals, 1959-1989”
Commentator: Mary Nolan (NYU)
Chair: Mario Keßler (Potsdam University, Germany)
3:00pm-4:00pm Labor in Crisis
Ralf Hoffrogge: “Economic Crises and Their Interpretation in British and German Trade Unions: A Comparative Analysis”
Commentator: Axel Fair-Schulz (SUNY Potsdam)
Chair: Maria Starzmann (RLS–NYC)
4:00pm Concluding Remarks
Mario Keßler and Stefanie Ehmsen (RLS–NYC)