Paul Mattick, revolutionary Marxist (1904-1981)

I’m not a coun­cil­ist. Of the two ma­jor streams of left-wing com­mun­ism with­in the Third In­ter­na­tion­al, the Ger­man-Dutch cur­rent formed around spon­tan­eous work­ers’ coun­cils and the Itali­an cur­rent formed around or­gan­ic party cent­ral­ism, my pref­er­ence is def­in­itely for the lat­ter. Though most mod­ern left com­mun­ist groups syn­thes­ize ele­ments from each, I con­sider Bor­di­gism far more com­pat­ible with or­tho­dox Trot­sky­ism than coun­cil­ism after 1930. Even more so than Bor­di­gism and Trot­sky­ism, I find Bor­diga and Trot­sky to be closer to one an­oth­er than to any of the ma­jor rep­res­ent­at­ives of coun­cil com­mun­ism.

Nev­er­the­less, I di­gress: By the end of the 1920s, the coun­cil com­mun­ist move­ment led by Ant­on Pan­nekoek, Her­man Gort­er, and Otto Rühle had taken its cri­tique of Bolshev­ism so far that it re­jec­ted the party-form of or­gan­iz­a­tion. Paul Mat­tick only emerged as a prom­in­ent fig­ure with­in this move­ment after this point, dur­ing his ca­reer in the United States. Al­though I do not find his polit­ic­al po­s­i­tions all that com­pel­ling, par­tic­u­larly his anti-Len­in­ism, I find his the­or­et­ic­al work to be of ex­cep­tion­al qual­ity. His short 1959 art­icle on “Na­tion­al­ism and So­cial­ism” de­serves spe­cial men­tion for in­sights like the fol­low­ing:

The second World War and its af­ter­math brought in­de­pend­ence to In­dia and Pakistan, the Chinese Re­volu­tion, the lib­er­a­tion of South­east Asia, and self-de­term­in­a­tion for some na­tions in Africa and the Middle East. Prima facie, this “renais­sance” of na­tion­al­ism con­tra­dicts both Rosa Lux­em­burg’s and Len­in’s po­s­i­tions on the “na­tion­al ques­tion.” Ap­par­ently, the time for na­tion­al eman­cip­a­tion has not come to an end, and ob­vi­ously, the rising tide of anti-im­per­i­al­ism does not serve world-re­volu­tion­ary so­cial­ist ends.

However, what this new na­tion­al­ism ac­tu­ally in­dic­ates are struc­tur­al changes in the cap­it­al­ist world eco­nomy and the end of nine­teenth-cen­tury co­lo­ni­al­ism. The “white man’s bur­den” has be­come an ac­tu­al bur­den in­stead of a bless­ing. The re­turns from co­lo­ni­al rule are dwind­ling while the costs of em­pire are rising. In­di­vidu­als, cor­por­a­tions, and even gov­ern­ments still cer­tainly en­rich them­selves by co­lo­ni­al ex­ploit­a­tion. But this is now primar­ily due to spe­cial con­di­tions — con­cen­trated con­trol of oil-re­sources, the dis­cov­ery of large urani­um de­pos­its, etc. — rather than the gen­er­al abil­ity to op­er­ate prof­it­ably in colon­ies and oth­er de­pend­ent coun­tries. What were once ex­cep­tion­al profit-rates now drop back to the “nor­mal” rate, and where they re­main ex­cep­tion­al, it is in most cases due to a hid­den form of gov­ern­ment sub­sidy. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, co­lo­ni­al­ism no longer pays, so that it is in part the prin­ciple of prof­it­ab­il­ity it­self which calls forth a new ap­proach to im­per­i­al­ist rule.

Mat­tick’s book-length es­say on Marx and Keynes: Lim­its of the Mixed Eco­nomy is also a clas­sic. Whatever their tend­ency, Marx­ists stand to learn a great deal from Mat­tick’s ideas and work. You can down­load some of his books, art­icles, and re­views be­low. Fe­lix Baum’s re­view of Gary Roth’s Marx­ism in a Lost Cen­tury ap­pears un­der­neath. Roth’s bio­graphy of Mat­tick can be down­loaded via Lib­Com.


  1. Marx and Keynes: Limits of the Mixed Economy (1969)
  2. Anti-Bolshevik Communism (1978)
  3. Economics, Politics, and the Age of Inflation (1979)
  4. Marxism: Last Refuge of the Bourgeoisie? (1983)


  1. „Amerika vor der Präsidentenwahl“ (1936)
  2. „Nach der Wiederwahl Roosevelts“ (1937)
  3. “The Nonsense of Planning” (1937)
  4. „Wahrsagen und Voraussagen“ (1938)
  5. “Two Men in a Boat: Not to Speak of the Eight Points” (1941)
  6. “How New is the ‘New Order’ of Fascism?” (1941)
  7. “Bolshevism and Stalinism” (1947)
  8. “Obsessions of Berlin” (1948)
  9. “The Uses of Power” (1956)
  10. “Economics of the War Economy” (1956)
  11. “Nationalism and Socialism” (1959)
  12. “Value Theory and Capital Accumulation” (1959)
  13. “Value and Price” (1959)
  14. “Marxism and the New Physics” (1962)
  15. “Capital Formation and Foreign Trade” (1962)
  16. “Dynamics of the Mixed Economy” (1964)


  1. “Review of The Spartacus Uprising and the Crisis of the German Socialist Movement: A Study of the Relation of Political Theory to Party Practice, by Eric Waldman” (1960)
  2. “Review of Aspects of Revolt, by Max Nomad” (1961)
  3. “Review of Politics and Trade Policy, by Joe R. Wilkinson” (1962)
  4. “Review of Karl Marx, by Karl Korsch” (1965)
  5. “Review of Rosa Luxemburg, by JP Nettl” (1967)
  6. “Review of A Reappraisal of Marxian Economics, by Murray Wolfson” (1967)
  7. “Review of The German Revolution of 1918: A Study of German Socialism in War and Revolt, by AJ Ryder” (1968)
  8. “Review of Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des marxschen „Kapital“, by Roman Rosdolsky” (1969)
  9. “Review of The Politics of War and The Roots of American Foreign Policy, by Gabriel Kolko” (1969)
  10. “Review of Marx before Marxism, by David McLellan” (1971)
  11. “Review of The Challenge to US Dominance of International Corporations, by Rainer Hellmann” (1972)
  12. “Review of Radical Political Economy: Capitalism and Socialism from a Marxist-Humanist Perspective, by Howard Sherman” (1973)
  13. “Review of Theories of Value and Distribution since Adam Smith: Ideology and Economic Theory, by Maurice Dobb” (1974)

paul-matticks-apprenticeship-at-siemens paul-mattick-is-bottom-centre-his-mother-to-the-right-top-2nd-from-left-with-baby-top-middle-with-woman-on-bench-possibly-also-two-photos-bottom-left-corner-and-right-corner paul-mattick-is-centre-left-above-centre-with-frieda-right-above-centre-with-unidentified-man-bottom-left-with-frieda-bottom-right-with-frieda-bottom-middle-frieda-alone paul-mattick-perhaps-on-his-1932-tramping-tour-of-southern-united-states family-photo-paul-mattick-is-seated-on-table-with-pipe-to-the-left-is-his-step-son-hans-seated-at-left-is-frieda-seated-at-right-is-step-daughter-renee paul-mattick-in-centre-photo-and-each-photo-on-right-with-walter-auerbach-frieda-appears-at-bottom-left-possibly-at-centre-with-veil-and-top-right-possibly-step-daughter-renee-top-centre-and-bot two-families-sons-and-wives-step-son-hans-with-wife-june-on-top-left-paul-jr-top-middle-and-bottom-right-frieda-top-right-ilse-on-bottom-row-painting-possibly-by-jackie-saltin-paul-an frieda-on-left-bottom-ilse-on-top-left-top-centre-middle-right-centre-with-paul-and-paul-jr-bottom-right-with-unidentified-woman-bottom-centre-with-pauls-mother-step-daughter-renee-wi two-snapshots-of-mattick-center-of-group-with-pipe-and-friends-in-chicago-during-the-1930s-page-from-a-photo-album

A com­mun­ist life

Fe­lix Baum
Brooklyn Rail
  Dec. 25, 2015

Along with the re­turn of eco­nom­ic crisis and so­cial struggles around the world, the term “com­mun­ism” — sup­posedly dis­cred­ited once and for all by the ex­per­i­ence of Rus­sia and its satel­lite states in the 20th cen­tury — seems to be en­joy­ing a cer­tain comeback in re­cent years. Con­fer­ences on “the idea of com­mun­ism” at­tract sig­ni­fic­ant crowds, books by pro­fessed com­mun­ists like Alain Ba­di­ou and Sla­voj Žižek find read­ers and grab me­dia at­ten­tion. However, more of­ten than not this (surely lim­ited) comeback does not seem to be driv­en by a genu­ine de­sire to re­trieve the eman­cip­at­ory con­tent the term car­ried in the writ­ings of Karl Marx and like-minded crit­ics, as well as in prac­tic­al move­ments from the 19th cen­tury on­wards. Rather, maîtres-pen­seurs like Ba­di­ou and Žižek prefer to pose as en­fants ter­ribles, de­fend­ing Mao­ism and flirt­ing with Bolshev­ik ter­ror, hence re­af­firm­ing pre­cisely the un­holy tra­di­tions with which a “com­mun­ism” for the 21st cen­tury would have to break.

In his new bio­graphy of Paul Mat­tick, a Ger­man-born work­er who im­mig­rated to the United States in 1926 and later emerged as one of the most im­port­ant rad­ic­al crit­ics of his time, Gary Roth tells the story of a largely for­got­ten cur­rent in the 20th cen­tury that early on made a rup­ture with the stat­ist ca­ri­ca­tures of com­mun­ism to which today’s me­dia-savvy left­ist in­tel­lec­tu­als are still hold­ing fast.1 Not­ing that this story is about “by­gone eras in which a rad­ic­al­ized work­ing class still con­sti­tuted a hope for the fu­ture,” Roth steers clear of mel­an­choly and nos­tal­gia, in­stead seek­ing a jus­ti­fic­a­tion for his work in the more re­cent re­con­fig­ur­a­tion “of the world’s pop­u­la­tion in­to a vast work­ing class that ex­tends in­to the middle classes in the in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries and the pools of un­der­em­ployed ag­ri­cul­tur­al work­ers every­where else.” In fact, though far from con­sti­tut­ing a sus­tained, con­sist­ent as­sault on ex­ist­ing con­di­tions, some re­cent struggles of parts of this class, most not­ably the “move­ment of the squares” that spread from North Africa via Europe to Istan­bul, ex­hib­it cer­tain traits — ho­ri­zont­al self-or­gan­iz­a­tion (or “lead­er­less­ness”), dir­ect mass ac­tion against state forces, a fo­cus on oc­cu­pa­tions — that point much less to the Bolshev­ik-Len­in­ist tra­di­tion than to the one Roth de­scribes, com­monly re­ferred to as coun­cil com­mun­ism, though the re­semb­lances should cer­tainly not be ex­ag­ger­ated.

Born in 1904 in­to a work­ing-class Ber­lin fam­ily, Mat­tick found his way to this cur­rent dur­ing the up­heavals at the end of World War I, when he was still a teen­ager. While the in­fam­ous role of the Ger­man So­cial Demo­crat­ic Party (SPD) in that peri­od (in­clud­ing im­plic­a­tion in the murder of their former mem­bers Rosa Lux­em­burg and Karl Lieb­knecht by the right-wing Freikorps) is widely ac­cep­ted as fact today, even by lib­er­al his­tor­i­ans; the fas­cin­at­ing land­scape of work­ers’ rad­ic­al­ism in those years has largely re­mained a top­ic for spe­cial­ists. Even in Ger­many many on the left know next to noth­ing about the KAPD, the Com­mun­ist Work­ers’ Party, that broke off from the re­cently foun­ded Com­mun­ist Party (KPD) as the lat­ter aban­doned its ini­tial po­s­i­tion of ab­stin­ence from elect­or­al polit­ics and the es­tab­lished trade-uni­on move­ment. Rid­ing the wave of pro­let­ari­an un­rest, this party was ini­tially able to draw with it the ma­jor­ity of mem­bers of the KPD, leav­ing a rump or­gan­iz­a­tion that slowly but surely turned in­to a loc­al branch of the vic­tori­ous Bolshev­iks in Rus­sia. Though fas­cin­ated, in the be­gin­ning, not only by Red Oc­to­ber but by the role the Bolshev­iks played in it, the coun­cil com­mun­ists soon took a crit­ic­al dis­tance from the USSR, read­ing events there as the es­tab­lish­ment of a new form of state cap­it­al­ism un­der strict party con­trol. Op­pos­ing work­ers’ self-dir­ec­ted activ­ity to party dic­tat­or­ship, they un­der­stood the coun­cils that first sprang up in Rus­sia in 1905 not as only a form of struggle un­der cap­it­al­ism, but sim­ul­tan­eously as the germ of a new class­less so­ci­ety un­der dir­ect con­trol of the pro­du­cers, and made the “ab­ol­i­tion of the wage-sys­tem” their ral­ly­ing cry.

It was this ba­sic out­look, formed in the heat of struggles that some­times verged on civil war, that would in­form Mat­tick’s activ­it­ies and most soph­ist­ic­ated writ­ings un­til the end of his life. Fol­low­ing Mat­tick through fact­ory strikes and bars, his activ­it­ies as a mil­it­ant of the KAPD youth or­gan­iz­a­tion, and his per­son­al life, Roth provides a col­or­ful pic­ture of the unique mi­lieu en­com­passing the KAPD and the more syn­dic­al­ist Uni­on­en that coun­ted sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand mem­bers in the early twen­ties, as well as av­ant-garde art circles and in­tel­lec­tu­als around journ­als like Die Ak­tion.

With the down­turn of struggles and the rap­id de­cline of the KAPD and the mi­lieu around it, Mat­tick de­cided to leave for the United States in 1926. It was there, in Chica­go, that the second ma­jor epis­ode of prac­tic­al activ­ity in his life un­fol­ded. While he kept writ­ing for what was left of the rad­ic­al press in Ger­many and began read­ing the­ory ser­i­ously, thereby ac­quir­ing in auto­di­dact­ic fash­ion the skills that would later make him an au­thor of out­stand­ing the­or­et­ic­al texts, Mat­tick made links with the In­dus­tri­al Work­ers of the World (IWW) as well as with the so­cial­ist Ger­man émigré com­munity. Again, Roth brings to life a mi­lieu from a by­gone era, a mi­lieu of politi­cized work­ers, their or­gan­iz­a­tions marked by con­stant quar­rels and splits. From 1932 on­wards, Mat­tick, hav­ing lost his fact­ory job at West­ern Elec­tric, par­ti­cip­ated in the un­em­ployed move­ment in Chica­go. He later de­scribed these years as the best of his life, since he was able to live with­in the move­ment full-time. Roth’s de­scrip­tion of this move­ment is in­ter­est­ing to read as a con­trast to the so­cial tran­quil­ity in the United States dur­ing the most re­cent crisis. Though quite lim­ited in com­par­is­on to the so­cial un­rest in Europe after World War I, the rad­ic­al un­em­ployed move­ment in which Mat­tick par­ti­cip­ated was char­ac­ter­ized by forms of dir­ect ac­tion that com­bined ma­ter­i­al self-help and polit­ic­al act­iv­ism:

The un­em­ployed began to use aban­doned store­fronts for their own pur­poses. Locks were broken, and the stores be­came meet­ing places, with chairs taken from deser­ted movie houses. Mat­tick es­tim­ated that there were some fifty or sixty such loc­ales in Chica­go [ … ]. Mi­meo­graph ma­chines were in­stalled for the pro­duc­tion of leaf­lets and move­ment lit­er­at­ure. Pa­per was con­trib­uted by those still em­ployed, who stole of­fice sup­plies from their work­places. [ … ] Gas lines were tapped without set­ting off the meters [ … ] Make­shift kit­chens were set up in the store­fronts and meals cooked around the clock.

Soon, however, these more rad­ic­al tend­en­cies were out­man­euvered by the un­em­ployed or­gan­iz­a­tions of the big­ger left-wing parties, while the ex­pan­sion of wel­fare and pub­lic em­ploy­ment un­der the Roosevelt ad­min­is­tra­tion led to the even­tu­al ec­lipse of the move­ment as a whole.

To­geth­er with a group of coun­cil com­mun­ists in Chica­go, Mat­tick star­ted pub­lish­ing the journ­al In­ter­na­tion­al Coun­cil Cor­res­pond­ence in 1934, it was later re­named Liv­ing Marx­ism and fi­nally New Es­says. Along with Karl Korsch (a former mem­ber of both the SPD and KPD who al­legedly taught Ber­to­lt Brecht his Marx­ism), Mat­tick con­trib­uted the bulk of the texts. Fo­cus­ing on cur­rent de­vel­op­ments like the Great De­pres­sion and the New Deal, the Span­ish Civil War and the rise of Fas­cism and Nazism in Europe as well as de­bat­ing more gen­er­al the­or­et­ic­al ques­tions, In­ter­na­tion­al Coun­cil Cor­res­pond­ence was a prime ex­ample of in­de­pend­ent so­cial cri­ti­cism with neither aca­dem­ic nor party af­fil­i­ations, pro­duced by a few pre­cari­ous in­tel­lec­tu­als and self-taught the­or­eti­cians like Mat­tick. With nu­mer­ous trans­la­tions of texts by European rad­ic­als, it also served as a bridge between Amer­ica and the old con­tin­ent in an era of heightened im­per­i­al­ist rivalry.2

Dur­ing the same years, Mat­tick had loose and rather dif­fi­cult re­la­tions with the ex­iled Frank­furt In­sti­tute of So­cial Re­search. The In­sti­tute, known primar­ily through its more fam­ous mem­bers Max Horkheimer, Theodor Ad­orno, and Her­bert Mar­cuse, com­mis­sioned him to write an ex­ten­ded ana­lys­is of un­em­ploy­ment and the un­em­ployed move­ment in the United States but then shied away from pub­lish­ing it, pre­sum­ably be­cause it ex­hib­ited more clearly the Marx­ist ori­ent­a­tion the In­sti­tute was now anxious to down­play in or­der not to en­danger its status in the U.S. This lu­cid ana­lys­is was first pub­lished in 1969 by a small Ger­man press and has nev­er been trans­lated in­to Eng­lish. Mat­tick’s re­la­tion­ship to the Frank­furt In­sti­tute dur­ing the war years is among the sub­jects of which a more in-depth dis­cus­sion than the frame­work of a bio­graphy al­lows would have been in­ter­est­ing. While some mem­bers of the In­sti­tute began work­ing for the Of­fice of Stra­tegic Ser­vices, provid­ing ana­lyses of Nazi fas­cism to the Amer­ic­an state ap­par­at­us and thus con­trib­ut­ing to its war ef­fort, Mat­tick be­longed to a tiny minor­ity of rad­ic­als for whom World War II es­sen­tially de­man­ded the same re­jec­tion of all sides as World War I.

Partly, this stance seems lo­gic­al. As Roth re­counts:

Un­der the ban­ner of anti-fas­cism, the Com­mun­ist Party em­braced Roosevelt and the New Deal, egged for­ward the coun­try’s eco­nom­ic and mil­it­ary policies, and found a new audi­ence among in­tel­lec­tu­als and pro­fes­sion­als for whom Rus­sia offered a means to ap­pre­ci­ate the ac­com­plish­ments of state plan­ning. The more pat­ri­ot­ic the party be­came, the more mem­bers it at­trac­ted.

Partly, however, it seems to have been based on prob­lem­at­ic no­tions like that of a gen­er­al tend­ency to­wards the au­thor­it­ari­an state, a gen­er­al in­com­pat­ib­il­ity of cap­it­al­ism and demo­cracy, lead­ing to the idea that the out­come of the war made no dif­fer­ence. “If Hitler wins, it is true,” Mat­tick wrote in the Winter 1941 is­sue of Liv­ing Marx­ism, “there will be no peace, no so­cial­ism, no civil­iz­a­tion, but only the pre­par­a­tion for great­er battles to come, for fu­ture de­struc­tion. But if the ‘demo­cra­cies’ win, the situ­ation will not be dif­fer­ent.” This lev­el­ing later ex­ten­ded to an equa­tion of the Nazi sys­tem of con­cen­tra­tion camps with the Al­lies’ policy in oc­cu­pied Ger­many. Un­der the im­pres­sion of re­ports from friends and fam­ily in Ger­many about a dra­mat­ic lack of food (and re­fer­ring to the con­cen­tra­tion camp Ber­gen-Belsen), Mat­tick wrote in a let­ter in 1947: “If the Ger­mans re­duced a minor­ity to a Belsen-diet; the Al­lies have suc­ceeded in put­ting al­most the whole pop­u­la­tion on a diet be­low Belsen.”

At the same time, it must be said, the dis­cus­sion of war and fas­cism in Liv­ing Marx­ism and New Es­says was highly soph­ist­ic­ated; the journ­al provided one of the few places where in­de­pend­ent minds could try to come to terms with a deeply troub­ling and un­known situ­ation. Korsch, for ex­ample, noted that the World War I-era slo­gan “Down with the im­per­i­al­ist war!” had “lost all of its former re­volu­tion­ary force at the present time, when it fits in so per­fectly with the tend­en­cies of the bour­geois ap­peas­ers and isol­a­tion­ists,” while the slo­gan “De­feat of one’s own coun­try!” had be­come “a prac­tic­al policy of that sub­stan­tial part of the rul­ing class in vari­ous European coun­tries that pre­ferred the vic­tory of fas­cism to the loss of its eco­nom­ic and polit­ic­al su­prem­acy.” At the same time, the some­what tri­umphal­ist note on which Korsch’s piece ended — “Not Great Bri­tain, not ‘demo­cracy,’ but the pro­let­ari­an class is the world cham­pi­on in the re­volu­tion­ary fight of hu­man­ity against the scourge of fas­cism” — turned out to be wish­ful think­ing. It is far bey­ond the scope of this re­view to delve deep­er in­to these mat­ters. But in the sec­tions de­voted to them, Roth, who seems to share Mat­tick’s per­spect­ives without ex­cep­tion, in my view fails to un­fold the prob­lem at hand.

In any case, World War II, un­like the pre­vi­ous one, did not end with ma­jor so­cial up­heavals. In the post-war peri­od, Mat­tick mostly ab­stained from polit­ic­al activ­ity, tem­por­ar­ily re­treat­ing with his wife Ilse and his son Paul to a quiet coun­try life in Ver­mont. However, it was dur­ing this second half of his life when he fi­nally emerged as one of the ma­jor thinkers of so­cial eman­cip­a­tion in­spired by Marx, pre­cisely by re­ject­ing pretty much all of the vari­et­ies of aca­dem­ic or party-af­fil­i­ated Marx­ism of the time. Most im­port­antly, Mat­tick took up crisis the­ory, a strand in Marx’s thought highly un­fash­ion­able dur­ing the so-called Golden Years after WWII, when even most Marx­ists be­lieved that state man­age­ment of the eco­nomy had even­tu­ally ac­com­plished the cre­ation of an ever­last­ingly “af­flu­ent so­ci­ety” by neut­ral­iz­ing cap­it­al­ism’s tend­ency to­wards crisis. Mat­tick’s main work Marx and Keynes, pub­lished in 1969, dis­pelled such no­tions some years be­fore their un­ten­ab­il­ity be­came glar­ingly ob­vi­ous, and even­tu­ally se­cured him a broad­er read­er­ship. Hav­ing chron­icled (some­times in slightly tir­ing de­tail) Mat­ticks’s dif­fi­culties to get his texts pub­lished, Roth de­scribes his late suc­cess, most not­ably in West­ern Europe, where some parts of the New Left who had no in­clin­a­tion to go down neo-Bolshev­ik or Maoist dead-ends de­veloped a real Mat­tick-mania for a few years. Events like the May ’68 in Par­is and the pro­longed autonom­ous work­ers’ struggles in Italy provided a fer­tile ground for a re­dis­cov­ery of the coun­cil-com­mun­ist tra­di­tion of which Mat­tick was one of the few liv­ing ex­po­nents.

By fol­low­ing Mat­tick through this “lost cen­tury,” Roth provides a rich ac­count of a rad­ic­al tra­di­tion which, after a cer­tain renais­sance in the six­ties and sev­en­ties, has today again fallen in­to ob­li­vi­on. The form of bio­graphy nat­ur­ally pre­cludes a de­tailed, in-depth en­gage­ment with the polit­ic­al and the­or­et­ic­al is­sues at stake. Roth ex­pli­citly states that he does not want to em­phas­ize Mat­tick’s the­or­et­ic­al work be­cause he sees “little reas­on to sum­mar­ize work that is best read in the ori­gin­al” (and of which sig­ni­fic­ant parts can be found on the in­ter­net today.) Still, in some cases the con­tours and con­tem­por­ary sig­ni­fic­ance of this the­ory could have been made clear­er, while cer­tain bio­graph­ic­al de­tails seem rather dis­pens­able. For read­ers who will feel in­spired to dig deep­er in­to Mat­tick’s writ­ings and those of his fel­lows, the strengths of the book by far out­weigh this short­com­ing.


1 Gary Roth, Marx­ism in a Lost Cen­tury. A Bio­graphy of Paul Mat­tick (Leiden and Bo­ston: Brill, 2015).
2 Green­wood Press re­pub­lished the three journ­als in their en­tirety in 1970 in a six-volume edi­tion which today is un­for­tu­nately out of print; the next Oc­cupy move­ment in the United States should seize the headquar­ters of Green­wood Press (130 Cre­mona Drive, Santa Bar­bara, CA 93117) and force the com­pany to re­pub­lish this edi­tion to be dis­trib­uted freely to act­iv­ists in dire need of crit­ic­al the­ory. Al­tern­at­ively, if no such move­ment ma­ter­i­al­izes, someone should make these ex­cel­lent texts avail­able on the web.

2 thoughts on “Paul Mattick, revolutionary Marxist (1904-1981)

  1. “I con­sider Bor­di­gism far more com­pat­ible with or­tho­dox Trot­skyism than coun­cil­ism after 1930. Even more so than Bor­di­gism and Trot­sky­ism, I find Bor­diga and Trot­sky to be closer to one an­oth­er than to any of the ma­jor rep­res­ent­at­ives of coun­cil com­mun­ism.”
    My thoughts exactly. I always considered Trotsky and Bordiga to be essentially similar in their tactical and strategical views and attitudes. Of course, being more on the gramscian side of the spectrum this is to me a reason of critique rather than applause…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s