Authority and Upheaval in Leipzig, 1910-1920: The Story of a Relationship

By Sean Dobson | Go to book overview

chapter 12
REMNANTS OF THE PROLETARIAN WORKS COUNCIL MOVEMENT AND
THE RESURGENCE OF THE LOWER-WHITE-COLLAR COUNCILS:
JUNE–DECEMBER 1919

PART 3 TRACES the reconstitution of the relationship between Leipzig's workers and nonworkers until it achieved a certain stability. By summer 1919 that had not yet come to pass. In the economic realm, though government troops had quashed the general strike, workers, as I discuss below, remained fiercely attached to the Works Council idea, and individual Works Councils remained in existence in nearly all sectors, many of them leading walkouts that threatened to erupt into another general strike. In the political realm, though the government had subdued the various miniature soviet republics, Leninists in the USPD were coming ever closer to taking over their party, an event that would transform it into a revolutionary organization. Considering that the USPD was growing rapidly at the expense of the MSPD during these months, such a development did not bode well for the stability of the new order. But the most serious threat to the status quo was the growing strength of the antidemocratic right. Its increasing power led right-wingers to attempt a coup against the republic only a few months later (I examine this in the next chapter). In short, by summer 1919 the terms of the relationship between workers and Bürger had not yet achieved the kind of firmness that would allow one to conclude that the revolution was over. In this chapter I examine the continuing—albeit diminished—Works Council movement in central Germany, its increasing ideological elaboration, a resurgent drive among lower white collars for greater powers with regard to superiors, and the activities of the political right. In order to make sense of these developments, it will first be necessary to sketch the international and national context in which they unfolded.

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