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Encyclopedia > Karl Korsch
Western Philosophy
20th century
Karl Korsch
Name: Karl Korsch
Birth: August 15, 1886 (Todstedt, Germany)
Death: October 21, 1961 (Belmont, Massachusetts, USA)
School/tradition: Marxism
Main interests: politics, sociology
Influences: G.W.F Hegel, Karl Marx
Influenced: The Frankfurt School, Bertolt Brecht

Karl Korsch (August 15, 1886 - October 21, 1961) was a German Marxist theorist. Western philosophy is a modern claim that there is a line of related philosophical thinking, beginning in ancient Greece (Greek philosophy) and the ancient Near East (the Abrahamic religions), that continues to this day. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999... Image File history File links Korsch-karl. ... August 15 is the 227th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (228th in leap years), with 138 days remaining. ... 1886 (MDCCCLXXXVI) is a common year starting on Friday (click on link to calendar) // Events January 18 - Modern field hockey is born with the formation of The Hockey Association in England. ... October 21 is the 294th day of the year (295th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 71 days remaining. ... 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1961 calendar). ...   Settled: 1636 â€“ Incorporated: 1859 Zip Code(s): 02478 â€“ Area Code(s): 617 / 857 Official website: http://www. ... Marxism refers to the philosophy and social theory based on Karl Marxs work on one hand, and to the political practice based on Marxist theory on the other hand (namely, parts of the First International during Marxs time, communist parties and later states). ... Politics is the process by which groups make decisions. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Sociological inquiry. ... Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (August 27, 1770 - November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher born in Stuttgart, Württemberg, in present-day southwest Germany. ... Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818, Trier, Germany – March 14, 1883, London) was a German philosopher, political economist, and revolutionary. ... The Frankfurt School is a school of neo-Marxist social theory, social research, and philosophy. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... August 15 is the 227th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (228th in leap years), with 138 days remaining. ... 1886 (MDCCCLXXXVI) is a common year starting on Friday (click on link to calendar) // Events January 18 - Modern field hockey is born with the formation of The Hockey Association in England. ... October 21 is the 294th day of the year (295th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 71 days remaining. ... 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1961 calendar). ... Marxism is the political practice and social theory based on the works of Karl Marx, a 19th century philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary, along with Friedrich Engels. ...

Contents

Biography

Korsch was born in Tostedt, near Hamburg, to the family of a middle-ranking bank official. Hamburg from above Hamburgs motto: May the posterity endeavour with dignity to conserve the freedom, which the forefathers acquired. ...


He attended universities at Munich, Berlin, Geneva and Jena, studying law, economics and philosophy. He acquired a Doctorate at Jena in 1910. From 1917 to 1933 he was active in leftwing politics in Germany, leaving on the night of the Reichstag fire. After a brief stay in England and Denmark, he and his wife settled in the USA in 1936, teaching at Tulane University, New Orleans, and working at the International Institute for Social Research, New York. Munich: Frauenkirche and Town Hall steeple Munich: St. ... This article is about the capital of Germany. ... Geneva (pronunciation //; French: Genève //, German:   //, Italian: Ginevra) is the second most populous city in Switzerland (after Zürich), and is the most populous city of Romandy (the French-speaking part of Switzerland). ... The Market Square in Jena. ... The Reichstag fire was a pivotal event in the establishment of Nazi Germany. ... New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana, United States of America. ... The Institute for Social Research (German: Institut für Sozialforschung) is a research organization covering topics such as sociology and continental philosophy, best known as the institutional home of the Frankfurt School. ... NY redirects here. ...


He died in Belmont, Massachusetts in 1961.   Settled: 1636 â€“ Incorporated: 1859 Zip Code(s): 02478 â€“ Area Code(s): 617 / 857 Official website: http://www. ...


Political development

Korsch studied in London between 1912 and 1914, becoming a member of the Fabian Society there. At this time he also married the person who would have lifelong involvement in his theoretical work, Hedda Gagliardi. Korsch's wartime experiences in Germany radicalised him, especially the ferment within the leftwing parties of Germany following the Russian Revolution. Uprisings such as that of the Spartacists in Berlin in January 1919, and the Bavarian Soviet Republic in April 1919, made revolution seem imminent to many in Europe. Korsch focused his studies and writings on working-out a replacement economic system for workers' councils to implement across Germany, published under the title What is Socialization? in March 1919. Korsch joined the German Communist Party in 1920. He became Communist Minister of Justice in the regional Thuringian government in October 1923. The Fabian Society is a British socialist intellectual movement, whose purpose is to advance the socialist cause by reformist, rather than revolutionary, means. ... The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a series of political and social upheavals in Russia, involving first the overthrow of the tsarist autocracy, and then the overthrow of the liberal and moderate-socialist Provisional Government, resulting in the establishment of Soviet power under the control of the Bolshevik party. ... This article is about the Spartacist League which existed in post-First World War Germany. ... The Bavarian Soviet Republic (Bayrische Räterepublik) — also known as the Munich Soviet Republic (Münchner Räterepublik) — was a short-lived revolutionary government in the German state of Bavaria in 1919 that sought to replace the fledgling Weimar Republic in its early days. ... Year 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar). ... The Communist Party of Germany (in German, Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands – KPD) was formed in December of 1918 from the Spartacist League, which originated as a small factional grouping within the Social Democratic Party (SPD) opposed to the First World War on the grounds that it was an imperialist war... Year 1920 (MCMXX) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ...

Part of the Politics series on
Left Communism

Basic concepts
Internationalism
Class Consciousness
Class Struggle
Mass Strike
Workers Council
World Revolution
Communism
Politics is the process by which groups make decisions. ... Left Communism is a term describing a whole range of communist viewpoints which oppose the political ideas of the Bolsheviks from a position which is asserted to be more authentically Marxist and proletarian than the views held by the Communist International after its first two Congresses. ... Image File history File links Sickle. ... International Socialism redirects here. ... Class consciousness is a category of Marxist theory, referring to the self-awareness of a social class, its capacity to act in its own rational interests, or measuring the extent to which an individual is conscious of the historical tasks their class (or class allegiance) sets for them. ... Class struggle is class conflict looked at from a Marxist, libertarian socialist, or anarchist perspective. ... A general strike is a strike action by an entire labour force in a city, region or country. ... A workers council is a council, or deliberative body, composed of working class or proletarian members. ... World revolution is a Marxist concept of a violent overthrow of capitalism that would take place in all countries, although not necessarily simultaneously. ... Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization, based upon common ownership of the means of production. ...


Influential Figures
Marx · Engels
Luxemburg · Rühle
Bordiga · Damen
Gorter . Pannekoek
Pankhurst · Myasnikov
Korsch · Chirik
Mattick · Munis
Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818, Trier, Germany – March 14, 1883, London) was a German philosopher, political economist, and revolutionary. ... Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820, Wuppertal – August 5, 1895, London), a 19th-century German political philosopher, developed communist theory alongside his better-known collaborator, Karl Marx, co-authoring The Communist Manifesto (1848). ... Rosa Luxemburg Rosa Luxemburg (March 5, 1870 or 1871 – January 15, 1919, in Polish Róża Luksemburg) was a Polish-born German Marxist political theorist, socialist philosopher, and revolutionary. ... Otto Rühle (1874 - 1943) was a German Left Communist active in opposition to both the First and Second World Wars, and a founder with along with Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Mehring and others of the group and magazine Internationale, which posed a revolutionary internationalism against a world of... Amadeo Bordiga (1889 - 1970) was a prominent Italian communist. ... Onorato Damen (4 December 1893 - 14 October 1979), was an Italian left communist revolutionary who was first active in the Communist Party of Italy. ... Herman Gorter (born Wormerveer, Netherlands, 1864) was a late 19th century and early 20th century Dutch poet and Socialist. ... Anton Pannekoek Antonie (Anton) Pannekoek (January 2, 1873, Vaassen – April 28, 1960, Wageningen) was a Dutch astronomer and Marxist theorist. ... Sylvia Pankhurst Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst (May 5, 1882 - September 27, 1960) was a campaigner in the suffragette movement in Britain, and a prominent left communist. ... Gavril Ilyich Myasnikov (1889-1945), also transliterated as Gavriil Ilich Miasnikov, was a Russian metalworker from the Urals, who participated in the Revolution of 1905 and became a Bolshevik underground activist in 1906. ... Mark Chirik (1907-1990) born in Russia. ... Paul Mattick (1904-1981): Born in Pomerania in 1904 and raised in Berlin by class conscious parents, Mattick was already at the age of 14 a member of the Spartacists Freie Sozialistische Jugend. ... Grandizo Munis (1912-1989) was a Spanish politician. ...


Prominent Organizations
Communist Workers International
International Communist Party
International Communist Current
International Bureau
The Communist Workers International (German: Kommunistische Arbeiter-Internationale, KAI) or Fourth Categories: ... The Socialist Equality Party is the name of several branches of the Trotskyist International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), the largest being in the United States. ... The International Communist Current is a centralised international left communist organisation with sections throughout the world. ... The International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party is an international tendency whose member organisations identify with the Italian left communist tradition. ...


Related Subjects
Luxemburgism
Council communism
Ultra leftism
Libertarian Marxism
Situationist International
Luxemburgism (also written Luxembourgism) is a specific revolutionary theory within communism, based on the writings of Rosa Luxemburg. ... Council communism is a Radical Left movement originating in Germany and the Netherlands in the 1920s. ... Ultra-leftism is a term used initially to the Ultra Left current of Marxist communism closely related to council communism and left communism and, later, to identify and criticise positions, especially by those within the mainstream historical Marxist parties, to describe a position which is adopted without taking notice of... Libertarian Marxism is a school of Marxism that takes a less authoritarian view of Marxist theory than conventional currents such as Stalinism, Trotskyism, and other forms of Marxism-Leninism, as well as a generally less reformist view than do Social Democrats. ... The Situationist International (SI), an international political and artistic movement, originated in the Italian village of Cosio dArroscia on 28 July 1957 with the fusion of several extremely small artistic tendencies: the Lettrist International, the International movement for an imaginist Bauhaus, and the London Psychogeographical Association. ...


Communism Portal
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Korsch attributed the failure of the German revolution to the lack of ideological preparation and leadership of the working class. Accordingly, he turned his focus to developing workers' organisations into bodies subjectively capable of realizing revolutionary opportunities. In contrast to what seemed to him a materialist fatalism, he thought it would be possible to galvanize workers' organisations into bolder political action if more effort was put into educating workers in the deeper theory of Marxism. This article primarily focuses on the general concepts of matter and existence. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... Marxism refers to the philosophy and social theory based on Karl Marxs work on one hand, and to the political practice based on Marxist theory on the other hand (namely, parts of the First International during Marxs time, communist parties and later states). ...


In his later work, he rejected orthodox Marxism as historically outmoded, wanted to adapt Marxism to a new historical situation, and wrote in his Ten Theses (1950) that "the first step in re-establishing a revolutionary theory and practice consists in breaking with that Marxism which claims to monopolize revolutionary initiative as well as theoretical and practical direction" and that "today, all attempts to re-establish the Marxist doctrine as a whole in its original function as a theory of the working classes social revolution are reactionary utopias."[1] Orthodox Marxism is the term used to describe the version of Marxism which emerged after the death of Karl Marx and acted as the official philosophy of the Second International up to the First World War and of the Third International thereafter. ...


Philosophy

Korsch was especially concerned that Marxist theory was losing its precision and validity - in the words of the day, becoming "vulgarized" - within the upper echelons of the various socialist organizations. His masterwork, Marxism and Philosophy is an attempt to re-establish the historic character of Marxism as the heir to Hegel. It commences with a quote from Lenin's On the Significance of Militant Materialism: "We must organize a systematic study of the Hegelian dialectic from a materialist standpoint." Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel [] (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher born in Stuttgart, Württemberg, in present-day southwest Germany. ... Vladimir Ilyich Lenin ( Russian: Влади́мир Ильи́ч Ле́нин  listen?), original surname Ulyanov (Улья́нов) ( April 22 (April 10 ( O.S.)), 1870 – January 21, 1924), was a...


In Korsch's formulation, Hegel represented at the level of ideas the real, material progressiveness of the bourgeoisie. Alongside the extinction of 'Hegelianism' around 1848, the bourgeoisie lost its claim to that progressive role in society, ceasing to be the universal class. Marx, in taking Hegel and transforming that philosophy into something new, in which the workers would be the progressive class, himself represented the moment at which the revolutionary baton materially passed from bourgeoisie to workers. To Korsch, the central idea of Marxian theory was what he termed "the principle of historical specification". This means to "comprehend all things social in terms of a definite historical epoch". (Korsch, Karl Marx, p. 24) He emphasizes that Marx "deals with all categories of his economic and socio-historical research in that specific form and in that specific connection in which they appear in modern bourgeois society. He does not treat them as eternal categories." (op. cit., p. 29f.) Bourgeoisie (RP [], GA []) refers to a group of people whose social and political opinions are determined primarily by concern for property values and personal appearance of wealth. ... Universal class is a category derived from the philosophy of Hegel, redefined and popularized by Karl Marx. ...


Korsch's stance had ramifications which were unpalatable to the official Communist Party structure - not least, casting the Party's own ideological weaknesses as the only material explanation for the failure of the revolution. Published in 1923, Marxism and Philosophy was strongly opposed by Party faithful and other leftwing opinionmakers, including Karl Kautsky and Grigory Zinoviev. Zinoviev famously said of Korsch and his fellow critic Georg Lukács, "If we get a few more of these Professors spinning out their theories, we shall be lost". Over the subsequent five years, the German Communist Party gradually purged all such dissenting voices. Korsch survived within a current known as the Resolute Lefts, until his expulsion in April 1926. He remained a communist deputy to the Reichstag. Karl Kautsky (October 18, 1854 - October 17, 1938) was a leading theoretician of social democracy. ... Grigory Zinoviev Grigory Yevseevich Zinoviev (Григо́рий Евсе́евич Зино́вьев, alternative transliteration Grigorii Ovseyevish Zinoviev, real name Ovsel Gershon Aronov Radomyslsky (Радомысльский), also known as Hirsch Apfelbaum, primary revolutionary pseudonym Grigory, privately Grisha), (September 23 [September 11, Old Style], 1883 - August 25, 1936) was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a Soviet Communist politician. ... Georg Lukács (April 13, 1885 – June 4, 1971) was a Hungarian Marxist philosopher and literary critic in the tradition of Western Marxism. ...


Influence

Korsch's critique was not accepted into official communist theory. It remained the property of communist dissenters and academics for several decades. Within those currents, particularly in Germany, Britain, Hungary and Italy, his influence varies from group to group, but became more significant with the brief revival of revolutionary politics in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Korsch taught and befriended Bertolt Brecht, the Marxian playwright, who said he picked Korsch to instruct him in Marxism due to his independence from the Communist Party. He also instructed Felix Weil, the founder of the Institute for Social Research, from which the highly influential Frankfurt School was to emerge. Indirect 'disciples' include Franz Jakubowski and Sidney Hook, a former student, before his rejection of Marxism. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Felix Weil (1898-1975) was a founding member and the original financial provider for the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. ... The Institute for Social Research (German: Institut für Sozialforschung) is a research organization covering topics such as sociology and continental philosophy, best known as the institutional home of the Frankfurt School. ... Max Horkheimer (front left), Theodor Adorno (front right), and Jürgen Habermas in the background, right, in 1965 at Heidelberg The Frankfurt School is a school of neo-Marxist social theory (which is more akin to anarchism than communism), social research, and philosophy. ... Franz Jakubowski (1912 - 1970) was a Marxist theorist. ... Sidney Hook (December 20, 1902–July 12, 1989) was a prominent New York intellectual and philosopher who championed pragmatism. ...


Works

  • Three essays on Marxism, introduction by Paul Breines, New York : Monthly Review Press, 1971 (This contains the essays Why I am a Marxist, Introduction to Capital and Leading Principles of Marxism: a Restatement).
  • Marxism and philosophy, London :NLB 1972
  • Ten Theses on Marxism Today, at http://www.marxists.org/archive/korsch/1950/ten-theses.htm.
  • Karl Marx (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1938)

A Gesamtausgabe (Complete Works) in German is edited by Offizin Verlag, Hanover, Germany.


External links

  • Karl Korsch Archive from Libertarian Communist Library

A number of works plus a biography, interview with his widow, and a photograph:

Commentary on Korsch's life and contribution, from the perspective of a British SWP activist:

  • http://www.dkrenton.co.uk/korsch.html

Commentary of Paul Mattick, a friend of Korsch Paul Mattick (1904-1981): Born in Pomerania in 1904 and raised in Berlin by class conscious parents, Mattick was already at the age of 14 a member of the Spartacists Freie Sozialistische Jugend. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Karl Korsch's challenge to Marxism (1385 words)
Karl Korsch was faced with dilemmas which have troubled the left ever since, and he attempted as honestly as he could to map out a path for the rebirth of libertarian socialism.
Korsch was critical of other figures on the left such as Leon Trotsky, who argued that the Soviet Union could be rescue by a process of reform without revolution.
Karl Korsch's most important practical contribution was to argue that Marxism (or by implication any movement of working-class revolt) contained only a negative character.
Karl Korsch (2329 words)
Karl Korsch (1886-1961), who is today being rediscovered by the "new left," was one of the major theoreticians of left communism.
His opposition to this orthodoxy turned Korsch's attention to the Fabian's concern with the preparation of individuals for socialism through education and to the syndicalists' stress on the conscious activity of the workers as the basis both of the revolution and the management of a socialist economy.
According to Mattick, Korsch always had a critical attitude to the emerging Russian state but in the early period of the Russian revolution, when all the forces of reaction were arrayed against it, he believed that a revolutionary had to support it.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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