The term ultra-leftism has two overlapping uses. One usage is a generally pejorative term for certain types of positions on the far left that are seen as extreme or intransigent. The term is also used—pejoratively or not—to refer to a particular current of Marxistcommunism, which is closely related to council communism and left communism.
Ultra-left currents within left communism are often subject to criticisms from other factions of the left. The left communist organization International Communist Current refuses to work with leftist groups except other left communists or anarchists. Gilles Dauvé (also known as Jean Barrot), a left communist theorist, argues that all bourgeois regimes should be opposed, and that revolutionaries should not defend liberal democracy against fascism.
The term originated in the 1920s in the German and Dutch workers movements, originally referring to a Marxist current opposed to both Bolshevism and social democracy, and with some affinities with anarchism. The ultra-left is defined particularly by its breed of anti-authoritarian Marxism, which generally involves an opposition to the state and to state socialism, as well as to parliamentary democracy and wage labour. In opposition to Bolshevism, the ultra left generally places heavy emphasis upon the autonomy and self-organisation of the proletariat.
Used pejoratively, ultra-left generally criticizes positions, especially those the mainstream historical Marxist parties, that are adopted without taking notice of the current situation or of the consequences which would result from following a proposed course. The term is used to criticize leftist positions that, for example, overstate the tempo of events, propose initiatives that overestimate the current level of militancy, or which employ a highly militant tone in their propaganda.