The Promise of a Revolution
Working-Class Politics in the German Revolution: Richard Müller, the Revolutionary Shop Stewards, and the Origins of the Council
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/03/2016
Year Published: 2016
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21376
Book review of Ralf Hoffrogge's Working-Class Politics in the German Revolution: Richard Müller, the Revolutionary Shop Stewards, and the Origins of the Council.
Born in 1880 in the tiny village of Weira in Thuringia, Richard Müller was the fourth of seven children. His parents made a modest living managing an inn and a small farm, but economic pressures and their untimely deaths eventually led to bankruptcy. At age 16, like millions of rural people seeking opportunity in rapidly industrializing Germany, Richard moved to the city to seek factory work.
Trained as a lathe operator in the metals industry, he made his way to Hannover where, at the age of 21, he married. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Berlin where he and his wife Katharina raised two children. In 1906, at age 26, Müller joined the German Metalworkers' Union (DMV) and, at about the same time, the Social Democratic Party.
In the years leading up to August 1914, Müller became an unpaid DMV activist and functionary. An autodidact, he studied the introduction of Frederick Taylor's methods of "scientific management" and published articles about them and how the workers should respond in the DMV press. He also was involved in debates about how union work can be professionalized to best organize workers in the plants.