Friday, November 18, 2011

Luxemburg: Tragedy, passion and an iron core of Bolshevism

This morning I finished Sally Campbell's new Rebel's Guide to Rosa Luxemburg. The latest in Bookmarks' series, it is also (in this comrade's opinion) the best. This is due in no small part to Campbell's ability to explain complex ideas simply and straightforwardly, without falling into the trap of oversimplifying them.

The other reason this short book is a must read at the moment is Luxemburg herself. In the real Marxist tradition, Luxemburg often stands slightly apart. I am the first to admit that Luxembrug's legacy is not as important as that of Lenin and Trotsky. But the reality is that the drama of her life, the storm of her epoch and her resolute orientation on the emancipatory struggles of the proletariat contains a wealth of lessons for socialists today. Her writings on the Mass Strike are still the seminal text on this subject, as is her Reform or Revolution polemic.

For revolutionaries today, the German experience between 1912 and 1923 has a lot to teach us. As we move into an epoch of mass strikes, with an almost continuous war and a ruling class offensive of staggering proportions - the successes, the audacity, the defeats and the shortcomings of Luxemburg and her comrades are crucial lessons that can guide our conrete action today.

To finish, I want to reproduce a quote of Luxemburg from Campell's book:

"This madness will not stop, and this bloody nightmare of hell will not cease until the workers of the world wake up from their durnken sleep, clasp each other's hands in brotherhood and drown the hoarse cry of the capitalist hyenas with the mighty cry of labour "Proletarians of all countries, unite!"

No comments:

Post a Comment