Democracy and Class Struggle has serious political disagreements with Rosa Luxemburg on the National Question but regard her has a valued revolutionary comrade.
Mao Zedong encouraged largeness of mind amongst communists something the narrow minded sectarians have long forgotten.
We salute her memory in these cold November days has they remind of how the German working class in November 1918 put an end to the First World War - it is the people who make history and nobody represented the people more than Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebneckht in November 1918.
Rosa Luxemburg was born in Poland in 1871 and lived and worked in Germany from 1898. She was an early opponent of the revisionist E. Bernstein, actively opposing the ministerialism of Millerand and the opportunist compromises with bourgeois parties.
Her writings on these questions were collected in 1899 in Social Reform or Revolution? With regard to the split in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Rosa Luxemburg did not accept the Leninist views on the need to construct a proletarian party.
Stalin noted that Luxemburg had declared for the Mensheviks, arguing that the Bolsheviks had tendencies to Blanquism and ultra-centralism.
During the Russian Revolution of 1905-07 she drew closer to the Bolsheviks on many questions of the strategy and tactics of the revolutionary struggle.
Rosa Luxemburg correctly understood the role of the working class as the decisive force of the revolution, recognised the need for an armed uprising against tsarism and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Luxemburg expressed complete agreement with the Bolshevik view that the liberal bourgeoisie was a counter-revolutionary force and that the peasantry constituted a revolutionary class.
Drawing on the experience of the 1905 revolution she supported the greatest possible development of the extra-parliamentary struggle of the masses and stressed the need to use the mass political strike.
For her anti-militarist struggle she was imprisoned during the First World War.
In her major theoretical works on political economy Rosa Luxemburg presented a critique of capitalism and imperialism where the aggressive colonial policies were described; she upheld the view, however, that the accumulation of capital under capitalism was possible through the expansion of the sphere of exploitation of the non-capitalist sectors so that imperialism was defined as the struggle of the capitalist states for the non-capitalist environment.
Accumulation of Capital by Rosa Luxembourg should be read by those of who have not read it has it contains many valuable insights into Imperialism today even though published in 1913.
Despite her important theoretical contribution Rosa Luxemburg deviated from Marxism on a number of questions: to wit, on the denial of the right of national self-determination and an underestimation of the revolutionary potentialities of the peasantry.
From the beginning of the First World War she criticised the imperialist character of the war and the betrayal of the social-democratic leadership.
As a founder and leader of the Spartacus League she authored a number of anti-war tracts.
Luxemburg greeted the October revolution, commended the role of the Bolsheviks while incorrectly evaluating the Bolshevik tactics on the agrarian and national question, and the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly.
Her critiques of Bolshevik tactics have been widely advertised by the spokesmen of U.S. imperialism notwithstanding the fact that she retraced her steps on a number of questions relating to the Bolshevik revolution and made a turn towards Leninism defending the dictatorship of the proletariat and the Soviets in Germany.
Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were among the founders of the Communist Party of Germany which held its constituent congress from 30th December, 1918 to January 1, 1919.
After the suppression of the Berlin workers' uprising of January 1919, the ruling classes organised the brutal killings of the two communists on 15th January 1919. The roots of the murders lay in the secret accommodation reached between the right-wing socialist leader Chancellor Friedrich Ebert and General Groener which was established in November, 1918 'in order to prevent the spread of terroristic Bolshevism in Germany'. Bourgeois and socialist organs competed to hunt down the two revolutionaries. The spy office of the Reichstag Regiment founded by the Social-Democratic Party set a bounty of 100,000 marks on the heads of Liebknecht and Luxemburg.
On the 13th January, 1919 two days before the murders the Social-Democratic Party paper Vorwärts carried a poem calling for the assassination of the two communists.The last verse of this ended:
- Many hundred corpses in a row—
Karl, Radek, Rosa and Co —
Not one of them is there, not one of them is there!
Source: Revolutionary Democracy
First Published: Die Rote Fahne, November 18th, 1918.
The revolution has begun. What is called for now is not jubilation at was has been accomplished, not triumph over the beaten foe, but the strictest self-criticism and iron concentration of energy in order to continue the work we have begun. For our accomplishments are small and the foe has not been beaten.
What has been achieved? The monarchy has been swept away, supreme governing power has been transferred into the hands of the workers’ and soldiers’ representatives. But the monarchy was never the real enemy; it was only a fa¸ade, the frontispiece of imperialism. It was not the Hohenzollerns who unleashed the world war, set the for corners of the globe afire, and brought Germany to the brink of the abyss. The monarchy, like every bourgeois government, was the executive of the ruling classes. The imperialist bourgeoisie, the rule of the capitalist class – this is the criminal who must be held accountable for the genocide.
The abolition of the rule of capitalism, the realization of the social order of socialism – this and nothing less is the historical theme of the present revolution. This is an huge work which cannot be completed in the twinkling of an eye by a few degrees from above; it can be born only of the conscious action of the mass of workers in the cities and in the country, and brought successfully through the maze of difficulties only by the highest intellectual maturity and unflagging idealism of the masses of the people.
The path of the revolution follows clearly from its ends, its method follows from its task. All power in the hands of the working masses, in the hands of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils, protection of the work of revolution against its lurking enemies – this is the guiding principle of all measures to be taken by the revolutionary government.
Every step, every act by the government must, like a compass, point in this directions:
- re-election and improvement of the local workers’ and soldiers’ councils so that the first chaotic and impulsive gestures of their formation are replaced by a conscious process of understanding the goals, tasks and methods of the revolution;
- regularly scheduled meetings of these representatives of the masses and the transfer of real political power from the small committee of the Executive Council into the broader basis of the W. and S. [workers’ and soldiers’] councils;
- immediate convocation of the national council of workers and soldiers in order to establish the proletariat of all Germany as a class, as a compact political power, and to make them the bulwark and impetus of the revolution;
- immediate organization not of the ‘farmers’, but of the agrarian proletariat and smallholders who, as a class, have until now been outside the revolution;
- formation of a proletarian Red Guard for the permanent protection of the revolution, and training of a workers’ militia in order to prepare the whole proletariat to be on guard and all times;
- suppression of the old organs of administration, justice and the army of absolutist militarist police State;
- immediate confiscation of the dynastic property and possessions and of landed property as initial temporary measures to guarantee the people’s food supply, since hunger is the most dangerous ally of the counter-revolution;
- immediate convocation of the World Labour Congress in Germany in order to emphasize clearly and distinctly the socialist and international character of the revolution, for only in the International, in the world revolution of the proletariat, is the future of the German revolution anchored.
- We have mentioned only the first necessary steps. What is the present revolutionary government doing?
- It is leaving the administrative organs of the State intact from top to bottom, in the hands of yesterday’s pillars of Hoherzollern absolutism and tomorrow’s tools of the counter-revolution;
- it is convening the constituent National Assembly, thus creating bourgeois counter-weight to the workers’ and soldiers’ representatives, and, by doing this, is diverting the revolution on to the track of a bourgeois revolution and spiriting away the socialist goals of the revolution;
- it is doing nothing to demolish the continuing power of the capitalist class rule;
- it is doing everything to placate the bourgeoisie, to proclaim the sacrosanctity of private property, to safeguard the inviolability of the distribution of capital;
- it is allowing the active counter-revolution, which is dogging its every step, to go its own way without appealing to the masses, without loudly warning the people against it.
Law! Order! Order! Law! This is the cry resounding from all sides, in all proclamations of the government; this is the joyous echo from all the bourgeois camps. A strident outcry against the bogey of ‘anarchy’ and ‘putschism’ – the well-known infernal music of a bourgeoisie concerned for its fireproof safes, its property and its profits – in the loudest note of the day, and the revolutionary workers’ and soldiers’ government is placidly tolerating this general march to mount an offensive against socialism, indeed it is participating in it in word and deed.
The result of the first week of the revolution is as follows: in the state of the Hoherzollerns, not much has basically changed; the workers’ and soldiers’ government is acting as he deputy of the imperialistic government that has gone bankrupt. All its acts and omissions are governed by fear of the working masses. Even before the revolution has acquired verve and momentum, its only vital force, namely its socialist and proletarian character, will have been spirited away.
Everything is in order. The reactionary state of the civilized world will not become a revolutionary people’s state within twenty-four hours. Soldiers who yesterday, as gendarmes of the reaction, were murdering the revolutionary proletariat in Finland, Russia and Ukraine, and workers who calmly allowed this to happen, have not become in twenty-four hours supporters of socialism or clearly aware of their goals.
The picture of the German revolution corresponds to the inner ripeness of the German situation. The government of the German revolution at its present stage is in the hands of Scheidemann and Ebert, and who in Die Freiheit solemnly swear that one can form a ‘purely socialist government’ with them, thus qualify themselves as the appropriate partners in the firm at this initial provisional stage.
But revolution do not stand still. Their vital law is to advance rapidly, to outgrow themselves. It is already being driven forward by its inner contradictions from this initial stage. The situation can be comprehended as a beginning, as a condition untenable over the long haul. If the counter-revolution is not to gain the upper hand all along the line, the masses must be on their guard.
A beginning has been made. What happens next is not in the hands of the dwarfs who would hold up the course of the revolution, who would put a spoke in the wheel of world history. It is the realization of the ultimate goal of socialism which is on today’s agenda of world history. The German revolution has now hit upon the path illuminated by this star. Step by step, through storm and stress, through battle and torment and misery and victory, it will reach its goal.