The Essential Rosa Luxemburg: Reform or Revolution and the Mass Strike

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The Essential Rosa Luxemburg: Reform or Revolution and the Mass Strike [Rosa Luxemburg, Helen Scott] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying. This new, authoritative introduction to Rosa Luxemburg's two most important works presents the full text of Reform or Revolution and The Mass Strike, with.

In a word, democracy is indispensable not because it renders superfluous the conquest of political power by the proletariat, but because it renders this conquest of power both necessary and possible. Luxemburg won the debates with Bernstein, but the forces of reformism nonetheless continued to grow in the party. Luxemburg traveled to Russia at great personal danger in order to play a leading role.

In fairly short order the revolution was crushed, and Luxemburg along with Lenin and countless others spent a period in prison. But the momentous events of gave a sense of how much could be achieved from the mass concerted efforts of workers.

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When she was able to return to Germany, Luxemburg went on a speaking tour that brought the lessons to the public, and she distilled these in her book The Mass Strike This work was also an intervention in debates about the trade union movement, and it too speaks to contemporary labor politics. The German trade unions had been going through the same tremendous growth as the party, and as for the SPD, this brought both many successes but also conservatism.

Like the SPD reformists, they feared radical action that could escape their control, rock the boat, and offend the establishment. Luxemburg saw in the Russian revolution of a counter-model. Second, mass strikes achieve more in days than can be accomplished in years or decades of carefully planned union and parliamentary organizing.

The most precious, because lasting, thing in this rapid ebb and flow of the wave is its mental sediment: the intellectual, cultural growth of the proletariat, which proceeds by fits and starts, and which offers an inviolable guarantee of their further irresistible progress in the economic as in the political struggle. Mass Strike, She opposed nations and borders, and argued that workers share bonds of interest and solidarity far greater than anything they have in common with their respective ruling classes. Stemming from this was her rejection of nationalism, chauvinism, racism, and discrimination.

She also saw how imperialism and militarism are integral to capitalism, and campaigned against all forms of imperialism and war. For the proletariat there is not one vital rule, as scientific socialism has hitherto proclaimed, but rather there are two such rules: one for peace and one for war. In peacetime the class struggle applies within each country, and international solidarity vis-a-vis other countries; in wartime it is class solidarity within and the struggle between the workers of the various countries without.

Luxemburg spent most of the war in prison, and her letters from a series of increasingly bleak cells are moving testimony to the human spirit under extreme duress. They show that her revolutionary drive came from great compassion, powers of empathy, and respect for humanity and all life, including animals and the natural world. She always maintained a vision of an alternative and saw the potential in life, even at the bleakest of times.

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Her Junius Pamphlet , written in prison, remains one of the most powerful anti-war statements of all time. Business is flourishing upon the ruins. Cities are turned into shambles, whole countries into deserts, villages into cemeteries, whole nations into beggars, churches into stables; popular rights, treaties, alliances, the holiest words, and the highest authorities have been torn into scraps.

Not as we usually see it, playing the roles of peace and righteousness, of order, of philosophy, of ethics—but as a roaring beast, as an orgy of anarchy, as a pestilential breath, devastating culture and humanity—so it appears in all its hideous nakedness.

The Essential Rosa Luxemburg

Junius Pamphlet, When she was released from prison she threw herself into the German revolution, a tremendous mass movement that ended the war and, with the revolutions underway in Russia and globally, held out the prospect of deep social transformation. She helped to found the German Communist Party and continued to agitate and organize.

Meanwhile the reformist wing of the SPD had come to power, and as Luxemburg predicted in her critique of reformism, the leaders now played a counter-revolutionary role, defending the establishment against the working-class movement. In January the revolution was dealt a massive blow, with the massacre of workers in Berlin on the orders of the Social Democratic government. The vicious Noske Guard, the core of what would grow into fascism, arrested Luxemburg and her close ally Karl Liebknecht.

They were interrogated, beaten, and murdered. But even within this devastating moment, Luxemburg provided future hope.

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The leadership failed. But the leadership can and must be created anew by the masses and out of the masses. The masses are the crucial factor; they are the rock on which the ultimate victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were up to the task.

The Essential Rosa Luxemburg

As this indicates, Luxemburg was to the end a brave revolutionary fighter who stood up to tyranny, and first and foremost, she was an activist, always rooted in working-class struggle. For this she won the lasting respect of the rank and file of the socialist and labor movements. Unlike the right wing of the SPD, who ended up running the system their party was founded to challenge, Luxemburg never became isolated from the ordinary working-class men and women in the broader movement.

Instead, she drew from it and gave it permanent expression in her written work. The current renewed interest in socialism offers the potential to build isolated struggles and connect them to a broader movement. We are also witnessing a resurgence of interest in Rosa Luxemburg, as exemplified by the Verso Complete Works project, which is publishing a wealth of material previously unavailable in English Hudis This is a welcome development, because the legacy of Luxemburg, with its record of victories, losses, mistakes, and profound insights, has an important part to play in the daunting but essential project of social transformation.

The Essential Rosa Luxemburg: Reform or Revolution/The Mass Strike by Rosa Luxemburg

Hudis, Peter, ed. The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg. Luxemburg, Rosa. The Essential Rosa Luxemburg. Chicago: Haymarket. Reform or Revolution. Rosa Luxemburg: Reflections and Writings. Amherst: Humanity Books. Rosa Luxemburg Speaks. New York: Pathfinder Press.

An introduction to Rosa Luxemburg's The Mass Strike

Anderson, eds. The Rosa Luxemburg Reader. New York: Monthly Review Press. Your email address will not be published. Please donate to New Politics to allow us to continue bringing you independent, sharp, and provocative political analysis. You can make a tax-deductible contribution by clicking here. To subscribe, click here.