The German leftist intellectual Gustav Landauer, who died 90 years ago, is a fascinating and – from the Czech point of view – rather overlooked figure in the German literature of his time, as well as a significant personality in libertarian thought and its political movement. His intellectual world stems from the socialist thinking and from the sources of historical anarchism of the nineteenth century, especially from the federalism of Proudhon and from the ideas of Bakunin and Kropotkin, but also from the intellectual and spiritual context of the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Landauer’s vision of co-operative socialism, founded on freedom and justice, was not to be put off to some distant time after a long-expected revolutionary breakthrough; it arose instead in the context of a present in which it was assumed that the active combination of individual and community might be realised. Landauer’s theoretical activity culminated in his most significant work The Call to Socialism (1911). The dynamic of his utopian thought arose from the real possibility of socialism at whatever time, if there is sufficient will and endeavour on the part of individuals associated in a community. He put forward a co-operative socialism of the community in which the socialist spirit was constituted by the inner sense of belonging of all individuals voluntarily associating. His conception of socialism did not involve a one-off state, but rather his anarchism presented a continuous revolt against all which stood in the way of the diversity of life. The influence of Landauer’s thought was detectable in a wide range of his contemporaries such as Rudolf Rocker, Erich Mühsam, Martin Buber, Ernst Bloch, and Walter Benjamin. New interest in his thought has arisen from the revival of anarchism in the Sixties, witnessed especially in the new German editions of his works and the numerous monographical contributions.
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