This space is dedicated to the proposition that we need to know the history of the struggles on the left and of earlier progressive movements here and world-wide. If we can learn from the mistakes made in the past (as well as what went right) we can move forward in the future to create a more just and equitable society. We will be reviewing books, CDs, and movies we believe everyone needs to read, hear and look at as well as making commentary from time to time. Greg Green, site manager
Friday, January 03, 2014
THE THREE L’S-LENIN, LUXEMBURG, LIEBKNECHT-Honor The Historic
Leader Of The German Spartacists-Karl Liebknecht
EVERY JANUARY WE HONOR LENIN OF
RUSSIA, ROSA LUXEMBURG OF POLAND, AND KARL LIEBKNECHT OF GERMANY AS THREE
LEADERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL WORKING CLASS MOVEMENT.
Karl Liebknecht Thumbnail Biography
The son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, one of the founders of the SPD,
Karl Liebknecht trained to be a lawyer and defended many Social Democrats in
political trials. He was also a leading figure in the socialist youth movement
and thus became a leading figure in the struggle against militarism.
As a deputy in the Reichstag he was one of the first SPD
representatives to break party discipline and vote against war credits in
December 1914. He became a figurehead for the struggle against the war. His
opposition was so successful that his parliamentary immunity was removed and he
Freed by the November revolution he immediately threw himself
into the struggle and became with Rosa Luxemburg one of the founders of the new
Communist Party (KPD). Along with Luxemburg he was murdered by military
officers with the tacit approval of the leaders of the SPD after the
suppression of the so-called “Spartacist Uprising” in January 1919.
Liebknecht- A Model Anti-Warrior
comment was written in 2006 but the main points hold true today:
I recently (2006) received a comment from someone whom
I took earnestly to be perplexed by a section of a commentary that I had
written where I stated that the minimum necessary for any anti-war politician
was to vote against the Iraq war budget in a principled manner. Not the way
former Democratic presidential candidate Massachusetts Senator John Kerry’s
(and others) dipsy-doodled votes for and against various war budgetary requests
in 2004. And certainly not the other variations on this theme performed
recently by aspiring Democratic presidential candidates Senators Obama and
Clinton in the lead-up to 2008. Nor, for that matter, the way of those who
oppose the Iraq war budget but have no problems if those funds were diverted to
wars in Afghanistan, Iran , North Korea, China or their favorite ‘evil state’ of
the month. What really drew the commenter up short was that I stated this was
only the beginning political wisdom and then proceeded to explain that even
that would not be enough to render the politician political support if his or
her other politics were weak.The
commenter then plaintively begged me to describe what politician would qualify
for such support. Although I have noted elsewhere that some politicians,
Democratic Congressman James McGovern of Massachusetts and presidential
candidate Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich stand out from the pack, the
real anti-war hero on principle we should look at is long dead-Karl Liebknecht,
the German Social-Democratic leader from World War I. Wherever anyone fights
against unjust wars Liebknecht’s spirit hovers over those efforts.
…I do not believe we are lacking in physical
courage. What has declined is political courage, and this seems in irreversible
decline on the part of parliamentary politicians. That said, I want to finish
up with a woefully inadequate political appreciation of Karl Liebknecht, member
of the German Social Democratic faction in the Reichstag in the early 1900’s.
Karl was also a son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, friend of Karl Marx and founder of
the German Social Democratic Party in the 1860’s. On August 4, 1914, at the
start of World War I the German Social Democratic Party voted YES on the war
budget of the Kaiser against all its previous historic positions on German
militarism. This vote was rightly seen as a betrayal of socialist principles.
Due to a policy of parliamentary solidarity Karl Liebknecht also voted for this
budget, or at least felt he had to go along with his faction. Shortly
thereafter, he broke ranks and voted NO against the war appropriations. As
pointed out below Karl Liebknecht did much more than that to oppose the German
side in the First World War. THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS THE KIND OF POLITICAN I CAN
SUPPORT. AS FOR THE REST- HOLD THEIR FEET TO THE FIRE.
One of the problems with being the son of a famous
politician is that as founder of the early German Social Democratic Party
Wilhelm Liebknecht's son much was expected of Karl, especially on the question
of leading the German working class against German militarism. Wilhelm had done
a prison term (with August Bebel) for opposition to the Franco-Prussian War. As
for Karl I have always admired that famous picture of him walking across the
Potsdam Plaza in uniform, subject to imprisonment after loss of his
parliamentary immunity, with briefcase under arm ready to go in and do battle
with the parliamentary cretins of the Social Democratic Party over support for
the war budget. (THIS PICTURE CAN BE GOOGLED) That is the kind of leadership
cadre we desperately need now. REMEMBER HIS FAMOUS SLOGANS- "HE MAIN ENEMY IS
AT HOME’-‘NOT ONE PENNY, NOT ONE PERSON (updated by writer) FOR THE WAR."
Wilhelm would have been proud.