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“Council democratic” movements in the First World War era: a comparative-historical study of the German and Italian cases

Amini, Babak (2021) “Council democratic” movements in the First World War era: a comparative-historical study of the German and Italian cases. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004276

Abstract

Practical engagements with and theoretical reflections on “council democracy” have resurfaced periodically in the past, most notably in the interwar period, in the “long 1960s”, and since the turn of the century. There is a relative gap in the literature to analyze “council democracy” both comparatively, rather than singularly as individual empirical cases or intellectual currents, and as social movements, rather than primarily as theoretical debates or intellectual traditions. This thesis offers a comparative-historical analysis of some of the earliest and most radical instances of “council democratic” movements that developed after the First World War in Germany (1918-1919) and Italy (1919-1920) by looking at the processes that contributed to their emergence and their trajectories, using a strategic-relational approach. It grounds the analysis on a Marxian conception of the formal separation between the “political” and the “economic” spheres as a unique characteristic of capitalist social relation and interprets “council democracy” as a sublation of counter tendencies towards radical democratic control within each of these spheres. Such conception allows the analysis to capture the empirical diversities in the historical manifestations of “council democracy” and illuminates the links between “council democracy” and wider traditions such as radical republicanism and anarcho-syndicalism. In analysing the making of these movements, the study focuses on the particular characteristics of state-led war mobilization in Germany and Italy in contrast to those in France where such movements did not emerge after the war. It sees the militarised corporatist state form under which Germany and Italy were mobilized for the war as contributing directly to the emergence of these types of movements after the war. In exploring the trajectories of these movements, the study looks at the ways in which various organized forces came to shape the devolution of these movements in Germany and Italy in contrast to those in Russia where such movements temporarily “succeeded” in establishing a form of “council democracy”. It sees the organizational capacities of the forces involved, the programmatic vision of the radical demands, and the alliance patterns capable of stabilising the movement into an articulated whole as decisive in the movement trajectories. Aside from the comparative study of the two cases, this study also offers a novel way to study the “council democratic” movements empirically in their historical and theoretical diversities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Babak Amini
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I
D History General and Old World > DD Germany
D History General and Old World > DG Italy
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Archer, Robin
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/4276

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