De-centering the Revolution: Class Composition in the Making and Defeat of the Bavarian Council Republic

Schaupp, Simon. (2021) De-centering the Revolution: Class Composition in the Making and Defeat of the Bavarian Council Republic. International Labor and Working-Class History Journal, 100. pp. 1-21.

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In November 1918, the labor movement of Bavaria, Germany, overthrew the monarchist government and, in April 1919, proclaimed a Bavarian Council Republic (BCR). This article analyzes the revolution and its defeat through the lens of class composition theory, thereby suggesting some revisions to the latter. The technical composition of the Bavarian working class fostered the concept of self-management, which lay at the heart of the councils as the organizational form of the revolution. However, it also nurtured authoritarian potentials, which were more in line with-counter revolutionary positions. The article suggests that class composition theory must be expanded by the notion of social composition, taking into account struggles over reproduction and consumption: Inflation, unemployment, food shortages, and disease led to a crisis in material reproduction, which in turn led large parts of the unemployed and of the women's movement to become radical revolutionaries. The article argues to conceptualize the technical and social class composition to be in a dialectical relationship with political composition. It thus emphasizes the role of ideologies of anti-Semitism and anti-feminism, both within the counter-revolution and the revolution itself. While the combination of different struggles for emancipation contributed to the early successes of the revolution, their ideological division was as an important factor in its defeat.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Fachbereich Soziologie > Sozialstrukturanalyse (Nachtwey)
UniBasel Contributors:Schaupp, Simon
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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edoc DOI:
Last Modified:13 Dec 2021 07:56
Deposited On:13 Dec 2021 07:56

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