Between anarchism and communism: Independent socialists and the attempt for a fourth power in the Bohemian left in 1923–1925

Stanislav Holubec

The presented study first summaries the development of Czech anarchism (independent socialism), or its nationally orientated part before World War I and its becoming mainstream in Czech politics between 1914 and 1918 culminating in a merger with national social party. It further describes the marginalisation of this stream in Bohemian politics in 1918–1923 given the calming of the post‑war situation and the radicalisation of this group, which culminated in its exclusion from the ranks of the socialist party. The main theme of the text is an analysis of the attempt by this group to build its own party entity in 1923–1925. In looking for the cause of the failure of this attempt, I argue that the Czechoslovak political landscape was stabilised, which made it difficult for new parties to form, even though they could rely on several nationally known personalities and several thousand activists. As a result of the radical left‑wing orientation of the independent socialists, they did not aim for social democracy after realizing their failure, but for the ranks of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ), which was close to it mainly because of the Czech anarchists’ admiration for the Bolshevik revolution. In conclusion, I argue that the people representing this stream did not have much success in the Communist Party, because they differed from the members of this party in their rather middle‑class habitus and, as former members of the Socialist Party, they had biographies that were suspicious for the KSČ and they did not gain much respect as it was a group that had been unsuccessful in previous years and was quite small compared to the membership base of the KSČ. The failure of the Czech independent socialists does not deviate from European trends, where the political groups between the Social Democrats and the Communists did not gain a foothold even in other countries in the 1920s and 1930s, because the dilemma of going with Moscow or remaining on the platform of parliamentary democracy did not allow for compromise.

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