Massenstreik, Partei und Gewerkschaften (German Edition)
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In her famous treatise, The Accumulation of Capital , she entered into the "crises debate". Her particular contribution was to note that in a "closed" capitalist system, eternal accumulation of capital is impossible as it cannot absorb all the surplus value it produces. By accessing non-capitalist socialist formations, this breakdown could be forestalled. Her dissertation was published by Duncker and Humblot in Leipzig in She was an oddity in Zurich as she was one of the very few women with a doctorate. She plunged immediately into the politics of international Marxism , following in the footsteps of Georgi Plekhanov and Pavel Axelrod.
Luxemburg believed that an independent Poland could arise and exist only through socialist revolutions in Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia. She maintained that the struggle should be against capitalism , not just for Polish independence. Her position of denying a national right of self-determination under socialism provoked a philosophic disagreement with Vladimir Lenin.
Rosa Luxemburg (Luxemburg, Rosa, ) | The Online Books Page
Luxemburg wanted to move to Germany to be at the centre of the party struggle, but she had no way of obtaining permission to remain there indefinitely. They never lived together and they formally divorced five years later. Luxemburg hated the stifling conservatism of Berlin.
She despised Prussian men and resented what she saw as the grip of urban capitalism on social democracy. Between and his conscription in , she was involved in a love affair with Clara's younger son, Kostja Zetkin , to which approximately surviving letters now mostly published bear testimony. Their clear position was that the objectives of liberation for the industrial working class and all minorities could be achieved by revolution only. The recently published Letters of Rosa Luxemburg shed important light on her life in Germany. In his rewriting of Russian events, he placed the blame for the theory of permanent revolution on Luxemburg's shoulders, with faint praise for her attacks on Karl Kautsky which she commenced in According to Gammel, "In her controversial tome of , The Accumulation of Capital , as well as through her work as a co-founder of the radical Spartacus League , Luxemburg helped to shape Germany's young democracy by advancing an international, rather than a nationalist, outlook.
This farsightedness partly explains her remarkable popularity as a socialist icon and its continued resonance in movies, novels and memorials dedicated to her life and oeuvre".
Gammel also notes that for Luxemburg "the revolution was a way of life" and yet that the letters also challenge the stereotype of "Red Rosa" as a ruthless fighter. In , Ruth Fischer and Arkadi Maslow denounced the work as "errors", a derivative work of economic miscalculation known as "spontaneity". When Luxemburg moved to Germany in May , she settled in Berlin.
She was active there in the left- wing of the SPD in which she sharply defined the border between the views of her faction and the revisionism theory of Eduard Bernstein. She attacked him in her brochure Social Reform or Revolution? Luxemburg's rhetorical skill made her a leading spokesperson in denouncing the SPD's reformist parliamentary course.
She argued that the critical difference between capital and labour could only be countered if the proletariat assumed power and effected revolutionary changes in methods of production. She wanted the revisionists ousted from the SPD. That did not occur, but Kautsky's leadership retained a Marxist influence on its programme. From , Luxemburg published analyses of contemporary European socio-economic problems in newspapers. Foreseeing war, she vigorously attacked what she saw as German militarism and imperialism.
However, the SPD leaders refused and she broke with Kautsky in Between and , she was imprisoned for her political activities on three occasions. At the socialist Second International Congress in Stuttgart , her resolution demanding that all European workers' parties should unite in attempting to stop the war was accepted. In , she told a large meeting: "If they think we are going to lift the weapons of murder against our French and other brethren, then we shall shout: "We will not do it! The Reichstag unanimously agreed to financing the war.
The SPD voted in favour of that and agreed to a truce Burgfrieden with the Imperial government, promising to refrain from any strikes during the war.
This led Luxemburg to contemplate suicide as the revisionism she had fought since had triumphed. In response, Luxemburg organised anti-war demonstrations in Frankfurt , calling for conscientious objection to military conscription and the refusal to obey orders. On that account, she was imprisoned for a year for "inciting to disobedience against the authorities' law and order". Shortly after her death, her fame was alluded to by Grigory Zinoviev at the Petrograd Soviet on 18 January as he adjudged her astute assessment of Bolshevism.
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They wrote illegal anti-war pamphlets pseudonymously signed Spartacus after the slave-liberating Thracian gladiator who opposed the Romans. The Spartacus League vehemently rejected the SPD's support in the Reichstag for funding the war , and sought to lead Germany's proletariat towards an anti-war general strike. As a result, Luxemburg and Liebknecht were imprisoned in June for two and a half years. Friends smuggled out and illegally published her articles. Among them was The Russian Revolution , criticising the Bolsheviks , presciently warning of their dictatorship.
Nonetheless, she continued to call for a " dictatorship of the proletariat ", albeit not of the one party Bolshevik model. In that context, she wrote the words "Freiheit ist immer die Freiheit des Andersdenkenden " "Freedom is always the freedom of the one who thinks differently" and continues in the same chapter: "The public life of countries with limited freedom is so poverty-stricken, so miserable, so rigid, so unfruitful, precisely because, through the exclusion of democracy, it cuts off the living sources of all spiritual riches and progress".
This followed the German Revolution that began with the Kiel mutiny , when workers' and soldiers' councils seized most of Germany to put an end to World War I and to the monarchy. Luxemburg was freed from prison in Breslau on 8 November , three days before the armistice of 11 November In January , a second revolutionary wave swept Berlin.
On New Year's Day, Luxemburg declared: . Today we can seriously set about destroying capitalism once and for all. Nay, more; not merely are we today in a position to perform this task, nor merely is its performance a duty toward the proletariat, but our solution offers the only means of saving human society from destruction.
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Like Liebknecht, Luxemburg supported the violent putsch attempt. In response to the uprising, German Chancellor and SPD leader Friedrich Ebert ordered the Freikorps to destroy the left-wing revolution, which was crushed by 11 January Luxemburg was knocked down with a rifle butt by the soldier Otto Runge, then shot in the head, either by Lieutenant Kurt Vogel or by Lieutenant Hermann Souchon.
Her body was flung into Berlin's Landwehr Canal. The execution of Luxemburg and Liebknecht inspired a new wave of violence in Berlin and across Germany. Thousands of members of the KPD as well as other revolutionaries and civilians were killed. Finally, the People's Navy Division Volksmarinedivision and workers' and soldiers' councils which had moved to the political left disbanded. Luxemburg was held in high regard by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky , who recognised her revolutionary credentials at the Third International. The last part of the German Revolution saw many instances of armed violence and strikes throughout Germany.
Last to strike was the Bavarian Soviet Republic which was suppressed on 2 May However, Vogel escaped after a brief custody. Pabst and Souchon went unpunished. His account has been neither confirmed nor denied since the case has not been examined by parliament or the courts.
Luxemburg and Liebknecht were buried at the Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery in Berlin, where socialists and communists commemorate them yearly on the second Sunday of January.
Workers councils (notes)
Luxemburg defended Karl Marx 's dialectical materialism and conception of history. Karl Kautsky , the ethical socialist , rejected neo-Kantian arguments in favour of social Darwinism. The proletariat had to be re-organized in and in — as a precondition before they could act. These formed the substantive form of arguments with Luxemburg in , when the two seriously fell out. Kautsky was older than Luxemburg, more cautious and read mass strikes as adventurism.
However, radical qualitative change for the working class would lead Luxemburg into an age of revolution which she thought had arrived.
She was determined to push capitalism to its limits to develop class consciousness. Luxemburg professed a commitment to democracy and the necessity of revolution. Luxemburg's idea of democracy which Stanley Aronowitz calls " generalized democracy in an unarticulated form" represents Luxemburg's greatest break with "mainstream communism" since it effectively diminishes the role of the communist party , but it is in fact very similar to the views of Karl Marx "The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves".
According to Aronowitz, the vagueness of Luxemburgian democracy is one reason for its initial difficulty in gaining widespread support. Luxemburg herself clarified her position on democracy in her writings regarding the Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union. Early on, Luxemburg attacked undemocratic tendencies present in the Russian Revolution: . Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element.
Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule.
Yes, we can go even further: such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalization of public life: attempted assassinations, shooting of hostages, etc. Lenin's speech on discipline and corruption.