Across Eastern Europe, the war in Ukraine has reinvigorated narratives that present life under Soviet rule as akin to Nazi genocide. It’s bad history — and it indulges the nationalist groups who collaborated with Adolf Hitler.
Adam J Sacks holds an MA and PhD in history from Brown University and an MS in education from the City College of the City University of New York.
The tsarist empire that preceded the revolutions of 1917 is often thought of as a medieval throwback. Yet reactionaries in Russia also pioneered modern methods of counterrevolution, inspiring Europe’s fascist movements.
Hitler’s forces killed almost a million civilians because of their political affiliation — most of them socialists and communists. Yet official commemoration in Germany and beyond rarely grants proper recognition to the Nazi mass murder of worker-militants.
This day in 1945, Nazi Germany finally surrendered. Faced with revisionist attempts to claim the war was a struggle between “twin totalitarianisms,” we should remember the working-class partisans who resisted the fascist violence — and the better world they fought to build.
The myth of our democratic rights is that they were handed down to us from on high by liberals. But the ruling class resisted extending the franchise at every turn — and socialists were the ones who fought them for the right to vote.
Otto von Bismarck built the world’s first welfare state, but his intent was to kill the rising workers’ movement. It’s a reminder that socialists don’t just want to use the welfare state to keep starvation at bay — we want to build the foundation for working-class emancipation.
When birth control was still taboo, early socialists fought to make it accessible to working-class women. Because they knew women’s emancipation is at the heart of the struggle for a better world.
With her challenges to status quo politics and denunciations of elites from the halls of power, AOC is channeling an unlikely source: the early German socialists who founded the world’s first mass democratic-socialist party.
The ruling class never wanted to give workers the right to vote. But early socialists fought them tooth and nail to expand the franchise.
The ultimate aim of socialism is as simple as it is beautiful: the freeing of all people from domination, replacing stunted dreams and alienation with human flourishing and boundless creativity.
The early German socialists fought for the persecuted at home and abroad — convinced that the liberation of workers in Germany was linked to the liberation of oppressed peoples around the globe.
The German Social Democrats built a world of cultural institutions that improved workers’ immediate lives — while organizing for a socialist future.