Rosa Luxemburg belongs to the proletarian revolution, not to the social democrats!

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During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the “consolation” of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it. Today, the bourgeoisie and the opportunists within the labor movement concur in this doctoring of Marxism”. (Lenin, The State and Revolution, 1917)[1]

January 15 1919, Rosa Luxemburg was assassinated, along with her comrade of combat Karl Liebknecht, by the Freikorps. These soldiers were under the orders of the minister Noske, a member of the SPD (German Social Democratic Party) who declared “If a bloodhound is necessary, then I will be it”! It was the Socialist party in power who orchestrated the bloody repression of the workers’ insurrection in Berlin and assassinated one the greatest figures of the international workers’ movement.

This odious murder was prepared for a long time through a series of slanders against Rosa Luxemburg. “Red Rosa”, “Rosa the incendiary”, “Bloody Rosa”, “Rosa the agent of Tsarism”... no lying attack against her was spared, culminating in the calls for a pogrom at the end of 1918/ beginning 1919, notably at the time of the “bloody week” in Berlin.

But just a few months after her murder, the bourgeoisie and the opportunists in the workers’ movement began to make her into an inoffensive icon so as to canonise her, empty her of revolutionary content, degrade her and take the edge off this trenchant revolutionary. Above all for them Rosa Luxemburg mustn’t remain the militant and exemplary revolutionary that she was; she had to be killed a second time, misrepresented into a sort of pacifist and feminist democrat. This is the real aim, in recent decades, of the work of “remembrance “which aims to “rehabilitate” (that’s to say recuperate) this great fighter for the revolution.

A constant campaign to distort the combat of Luxemburg and Lenin

In the 1930’s in France for example, a whole current developed around Lucien Laurat, which increasingly ceded to the sirens of democracy and ended up arguing that from the very beginning of the “Bolshevik revolution”, the “worm” of Lenin was in the “fruit” of the revolutionary project. This argument logically became the apology for the Republican Army in the war in Spain of 1936-39 and for the dragooning of the working class into the second world butchery under the cover of the fight against fascism. It supported the POUM in Spain and the Trotskyists in the “heroism” of their national resistance. This nauseous democratic propaganda went into paroxysms after the Second World War through people such as Rene Lefeuvre, founder of the Editions Spartacus. The latter, in a collection of texts by Rosa Luxemburg[2], has a purely ideological preface and its 1946 title Marxism against dictatorship (a heading never used by Rosa Luxemburg!) presented this fighter for the revolution as radically hostile to Bolshevism, which is nothing other than a gross lie. In the introduction to the collection, Lefeuvre writes that: “all the great marxist theoreticians of renown: Karl Kautsky, Emile Vandervelde, Rodolphe Hilferding, Karl Renner, Georges Plekhanov – and ourselves in passing – denounced as much as Rosa Luxemburg the totalitarian doctrine of Lenin as absolutely contrary to the principle of marxism”.

Stalin mummified Lenin and perverted his thoughts into a terrifying dogma. “Bloody” Rosa Luxemburg became a sort of saint for democracy. The Stalinist counter-revolution rapidly generated two new putrid and complementary ideologies: attractive “Luxemburgism”  on one side and repellent “Marxism-Leninism” on the other. Really just two faces of the same coin or rather two jaws of the same trap with the same result: reject the “bloodthirsty” Bolsheviks and admire the figure offered by a “pacifist” Rosa, like you admire a lion in a cage.

In Western Germany 1974 (the FRG), they even printed stamps bearing the image of Rosa Luxemburg!

A new campaign against the proletariat and its revolutionary organisations

After the collapse of the eastern bloc and the disappearance of the USSR, this vast ideological campaign was dug up again and amplified so as to feed the so-called “death of communism” zealously decreed by the bourgeoisie with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Official ideology here pursued the greatest lie in history, fraudulently assimilating communism with Stalinism. It is a particularly effective ideological weapon in the hands of the dominant class. Because if since the 1990’s the proletariat has had so many difficulties to see itself as a social force, to develop its consciousness and its organisation, it is really because it is cut off from its past, it’s lost its identity, it doesn’t know where it’s come from or where it’s going. If communism is Stalinism, this horror which has finally failed, then why fight for it? Why study the history of the workers’ movement when it will only lead to the Stalinist catastrophe? It is this logic and this poison that the bourgeoisie wants to put in our heads! And the presentation of Rosa as a pacifist and enemy of Lenin, the “dictator over the proletariat”, the “spiritual father of Stalin”, is one of the blackest chapters in this ignoble propaganda. Whether they are conscious of it or not, those who participate in this sham fight against the working class.

Today on blogs and forums, in bookshops and kiosks, throughout Europe and in the world, a new nauseous campaign has resurfaced in order to again distort the image of the militant Rosa Luxemburg. Thus, from television programmes, Rosa Luxemburg again appears under the sole traits of a “woman” and a “pacifist”. The very-well known and acclaimed paper, Le Monde, published an article in September 2013, written by a certain Jean-Marc Daniel, a professor of ESCP Europe, with the very evocative title: “Rosa Luxemburg, marxist-pacifist”. This association of the words “marxist” and “pacifist” is gob-smacking: for the ruling class the “real marxist” is one who abdicates from the class war, renounces the insurrection and the overthrow of capitalism.

Numerous books have now been published, including children’s literature, where Rosa Luxemburg is again presented as a relentless adversary of the Bolsheviks and of the “dictator” Lenin. Conferences and debate are also organised here and there, as was the case in Paris recently under the aegis of the “Luxemburgist” democratic historians of the group Critique Sociale. Even within the arts, the MAIF prize 2014 was awarded to the sculptor Nicolas Milhe for his project “Rosa Luxemburg”! This is a real ovation for Rosa ... on condition that she is opposed to her comrades in the fight, to the Bolsheviks, to the Russian revolution, in short opposed to revolution. The recuperation of Rosa Luxemburg in order to turn her into an “inoffensive icon” is a vast enterprise of ideological intoxication. It aims to inject the idea that the proletariat must fight to construct... not a global communist society but a “more democratic” society. After the odious propaganda of the Black Book of Communism, it is henceforth this idea of Luxemburg as the enemy of the Bolsheviks which is very seriously and officially taught in school programmes[3].

The stakes for the bourgeoisie today are to convince the most critical and recalcitrant elements that there is no other future than the defence of the democratic bourgeoisie. But behind this distortion there is also the campaign of the recuperation of Rosa Luxemburg by all sorts of democrats, with another unsaid objective, which is to discredit and demonise the real positions of revolutionary organisations.

Olga, November 7 2014

[1]  This magisterial passage by Lenin is also valid for the fate reserved by the bourgeoisie for Jean Jaurès. See, which will be published in English soon.

[2]  “Problems of socialist organisation”(1904), “The masses and the leaders” – (1903), “Freedom of criticism and freedom of science” (1899).




Rosa Luxemburg