In this paper I analyze the politics of Paul Levi, who became the leader of the German
Communist Party after the deaths of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Levi has for the
most part been neglected in the historiography of the period, but Pierre Broué’s and David
Fernbach’s recent publications in 2006 and 2009 respectively have brought his ideas back into
the spotlight in English. I seek to see how his understanding of politics between 1918-1923 make
him unique in what I argue is his model which laid the groundwork for a “mass party” of
Communism for Europe early on. This model followed Luxemburg’s dream for a Communist
party able to relate to millions of workers, a careful understanding of the role of insurrection in
revolutions, and which would work through a more democratic framework than the one set up by
the Bolsheviks under their specific circumstances. In particular, the early role played by the
Comintern and its relationship to early European Parties was decisive in their failure to lead and
grow early on. By understanding the context of European Socialism at the time and by looking
closely at the period during 1919-1921, I will argue that Paul Levi set the foundation for a mass-
Party in Germany, and that his political theory helps us understand why a revolution did not take
place in Europe after World War I.
Against Putschism: Paul Levi's Politics, the Comintern, and the Problems of a European Revolution 1918-1923.
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