Saturday, April 02, 2011

From Spartacist Canada-Students Must Ally With the Working Class

Markin comment:

I have been placing posts that link the current world-wide student struggles over budgets issues, war, democracy, etc. up with the working class struggle. One of the great lessons learned from the 1960s anti-war struggles was just this point. Learn it students, youths, and, yes, old-timey radicals too!

Spartacist Canada No. 168
Spring 2011

Students Must Ally With the Working Class

SYC Speaker at Toronto Holiday Appeal

(Young Spartacus pages)

The following speech was given by comrade Orlando Martin of the Toronto Spartacus Youth Club at the January 28 Holiday Appeal for Class-War Prisoners in Toronto. It has been slightly edited for publication.

There is a video circulating online of one of many instances of state repression during the G20 summit in Toronto. In it, after forcefully grabbing a young protester, a cop demands to search his backpack. The protester, innocently expecting better treatment, says that as a Canadian, he has the right to refuse the search. So the cop simply says, “This ain’t Canada right now.”

What is Canada but a capitalist state and, as such, a dictatorship of the capitalist class against the working class, against the oppressed, and against anybody who dares to oppose capitalism? The G20 events were just one more example of what the Canadian capitalist state really is. The arrest of 1,100 people, the cop violence, the racist abuse of minorities, the singling out of Québécois protesters, the humiliation of women, gays and lesbians as well as the threats of rape perfectly mirror the racism, chauvinist oppression and violence that are integral to capitalist society, here in Canada and in every capitalist country.

Comrade V.I. Lenin, the great leader of the Russian Revolution, explained in The State and Revolution that “the state is a product and a manifestation of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms.” Its aim is the creation of “order,” which legalizes and perpetuates the oppression of one class by another. Against every other so-called Marxist or leftist group that explicitly or implicitly calls to reform the capitalist state, we emphasize that the working class needs to smash it.

A year has gone by since our last Holiday Appeal—another year of police brutality and repression against leftists. Two years ago the cops killed Fredy Villanueva in Montreal. Last year in Toronto, Junior Manon, an 18-year-old Latino youth, was brutally killed after being stopped by cops for a minor traffic offence. As expected, the Ontario Special Investigations Unit has cleared all officers of any wrongdoing. While minority youth are outraged and demand justice, they need to understand that capitalism cannot deliver justice to the working class and oppressed. Calls to jail killer cops, for the community to control the police, or for independent public inquiries, fool the working class into thinking that the capitalist state can be reformed. Even if these calls were realized they would do nothing to end the police violence that is endemic to capitalism. Junior Manon and other victims of racist cop terror will only get justice when the working class overthrows capitalism.

And then there is the brutal police violence against anti-G20 protesters in Toronto last year. What did the left do in response? Jack Layton, speaking of the smashed windows, railed that “the vandalism is criminal and totally unacceptable.” The radical liberal Naomi Klein called on the cops to “do your goddamn job,” which of course means more police brutality. And how about the fake-Marxists? Here is one example: the group Fightback, which claims to be the Marxist voice of labour and youth and also claims that cops are “workers in uniform,” ran an event on June 30 that featured speakers who actually praised the cops!

Let me tell you what we did. A day after the mass arrests, on June 28, we wrote and widely circulated a protest statement that denounced in the strongest terms the brutal police violence unleashed on protesters and defended all victims of state repression, including the anarchists in the Black Bloc, despite political differences (see “Protest Mass Arrests of G20 Protesters!” SC No. 166, Fall 2010). We wrote: “An injury to one is an injury to all! Free all the protesters—Drop the charges!” This is what Marxists do, and what non-sectarian defense work means.

While smashing bank windows and burning police cars are not crimes from the standpoint of the working class, such isolated acts are counterposed to the Marxist fight to mobilize the social power of a class-conscious proletariat to sweep away capitalism. At bottom, anarchism is a form of radical democratic idealism and has proven to be a class-collaborationist obstacle to the liberation of the oppressed.

State repression against G20 leftists was vivid at the University of Toronto campus. During a major raid on the U of T Graduate Student Union building, at least 50 G20 protesters from Quebec were arrested. Last September, political science student and activist Jaroslava Avila was arrested by ten plainclothes cops on campus. These arrests underline the Spartacus Youth Club’s call to get cops off campus and the necessity for young radicals to take up this demand.

What did the left on campus do after the G20 mass arrests? At the annual Clubs Fair, the U of T student bureaucrats allowed cops to have a table as if nothing had happened a few weeks before. What did we do? As soon as we saw this, we made a placard on the spot that read: “The SYC Says: Cops Off Campus!” We went right in front of the tables of the NDP and the reformists, denounced them for their faith in the capitalist state and sloganeered against state repression. The student bureaucrats and Ontario Public Interest Research Group organized a little rally the month after to appeal to the university administration to renounce the cop presence. The reality is that universities under capitalism are class-biased institutions that play a role that serves the interests of capital, not the interests of workers and the oppressed. No appeal to the administration is going to stop the repression of activists on campus. We call to abolish the administration! For student/teacher/worker control of the universities! Free, quality education for all requires the overthrow of capitalism through a workers revolution.

The Spartacus Youth Club also protests the witchhunting, censorship and repeated intimidation of pro-Palestinian students on campuses. Recently, our comrades in Vancouver issued a protest statement against a vicious campaign by Zionists and student bureaucrats to vilify defenders of Palestinians as “terrorists” and “anti-Semites” (see “Down With Anti-Palestinian Witchhunt at UBC!” page 6). Each spring, organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week also face smears of “anti-Semitism.” We say, Defend the Palestinians! Hands off their supporters!

Our message to the youth is to use their fighting spirit to ally with the working class, the only class able to emancipate itself and all the oppressed. Students by themselves cannot change the material conditions that create their oppression but the working class has the objective interest and power to overthrow capitalism.

In order to build the next Bolshevik party that will smash the capitalist state, end racist cop terror and open the road to an egalitarian communist future, we in the Spartacus Youth Club seek to win a new generation of youth to the fight for world socialist revolution. We are the training ground for future revolutionaries. Join us and be part of the struggle!

Even New York Times Columnists Get It- Bob Herbert's Column On Libya- Our Call- Defend Libya Against Imperialist Attacks!

Click on the headline to link to a The New York Times Bob Herbert column on the madness of the American imperialist-led Libya attacks.

Markin comment:

I don't usually post things from the key mouthpiece of the American imperium, The New York Times, at least not for anything other than information but this one sets just the right tone.

Once Again, When Be-Bop Bopped In The Doo Wop Night- “Street Corner Serenade II”- A CD Review

***Once Again, When Be-Bop Bopped In The Doo Wop Night- “Street Corner Serenade II”- A CD Review

Click on the headline to link ot a YouTube film clip of the Harptones performing Life Is But A Dream.

CD Review

The Rock ‘n’ Roll, Era: Street Corner Serenade, Volume II, Time-Life Music, 1992

Sure I have plenty to say, as I mentioned in a review of Volume One of this two volume Street Corner Serenade set, about early rock ‘n’ roll, now called the classic rock period in the musicology hall of fame. And within that say I have spent a little time, not enough, considering its effect on us on the doo-wop branch of the genre. Part of the reason, obviously, is that back in those mid-1950s jail-breakout days I did not (and I do not believe that any other eleven and twelve year olds did either), distinguish between let’s say rockabilly-back-beat drive rock, black-based rock centered on a heavy rhythm and blues backdrop, and the almost instrument-less (or maybe a soft piano or guitar backdrop) group harmonics that drove doo-wop. All I knew was that it was not my parents’ music, not close, and that they got nervous, very nervous, anytime it was played out loud in their presence. Fortunately, some sainted, sanctified, techno-guru developed the iPod of that primitive era, the battery-driven transistor radio. No big deal, technology-wise by today’s standards, but get this, you could place it near your ear and have your own private out loud without parental scuffling in the background. Yes, sainted, sanctified techno-guru. No question.

What doo-wop did though down in our old-time working class neighborhood, and again it was not so much by revelation as by trial and error is allow us to be in tune with the music of our generation without having to spend a lot of money on instruments or a studio or any such. Where the hell would we have gotten the dough for such things when papas were out of work, or were one step away from that dreaded unemployment line, and there was trouble just keeping the wolves from the door? Sure, some kids, some kids like my “home boy” (no, not a term we used at the time) elementary school boyhood friend Billie, William James Bradley, were crazy to put together cover bands with electric guitars (rented occasionally), and dreams. Or maybe go wild with a school piano a la Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, or Fats Domino but those were maniac aficionados. Even Billie though, when the deal went down, especially after hearing Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers on Why Do Fools Fall In Love was mad to do the doo-wop and make his fame and fortune.

The cover art on this compilation shows a group of young black kids, black guys, who look like they are doing their doo wop on some big city street corner. And that makes sense reflecting the New York City-derived birth of doo-wop and that the majority of doo-wop groups that we heard on AM radio were black. But the city, the poor sections of the city, white or black, was not the only place where moneyless guys and gals were harmonizing, hoping, hoping maybe beyond hope to be discovered and make more than just a 1950s musical jail-breakout. Moreover, this cover art also shows, and shows vividly, what a lot of us guys were trying to do-impress girls (and maybe visa-versa for girl doo-woppers but they can tell their own stories).

Yes, truth to tell, it was about impressing girls that drove many of us, Billie included, christ maybe Billie most of all, to mix and match harmonies. And you know you did too (except girls just switch around what I just said). Ya, four or five guys just hanging around the back door of the elementary school on hot summer nights, nothing better to do, no dough to do it, maybe a little feisty because of that, and start up a few tunes. Billie, who actually did have some vocal musical talent, usually sang lead, and the rest of us, well, doo-wopped. What do you think we would do? We knew nothing of keys and pauses, of time, pitch, or reading music we just improvised. (And I kept my changing to teen-ager, slightly off-key, voice on the low.) Whether we did it well or poorly, guess what, as the hot day turned into humid night, and the old sun went down just over the hills, first a couple of girls, then a couple more, and then a whole bevy (nice word, right?) of them came and got kind of swoony and moony. And swoony and moony was just fine. And we all innocent, innocent dream, innocent when we dreamed, make our virginal moves. But, mainly, we doo-wopped in the be-bop mid-1950s night. And a few of the songs in this doo-wop compilation could be heard in that airless night.

The stick outs here on Volume Two which is not quite as good as the first volume overall reflecting, I think, that like in other genres, there were really only so many doo-wop songs that have withstood the test of time: Life Is But A Dream (which with my voice really changing I kept very, very low on), The Harptones; Gloria ( a little louder from me on this one), The Cadillacs; Six Nights A Week (not their best 16 Candles is), The Crests: and, A Kiss From Your Lips, The Flamingos.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Is Women’s History Month-Honor Communist Leader Rosa Luxemburg- The Rose Of The Revolution

Click on the headline to link to the Rosa Luxemburg Internet Archives.

March Is Women’s History Month

Markin comment:

Usually I place the name of the martyred Polish communist revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg, in her correct place of honor along with Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin and German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht when we of the leftist international working class movement honor our historic leaders each January. This year I have decided to, additionally, honor the Rose of the Revolution during Women’s History Month because, although in life she never fought on any woman-limited basis in the class struggle, right this minute we are in need, desperate need of models for today’s women and men to look to. Can there be any better choice? To ask the question is to give the answer. All honor to the memory of the Rose of the Revolution- Rosa Luxemburg.
Rosa Luxemburg
Peace Utopias


First Published: Leipziger Volkzeitung, May 6 and 8, 1911.
Source: This work was reprinted in a shorter form in Die Internationale, January 1926. A translation of the latter piece was made in The Labour Monthly, July 1926, pp.421-428, from which this version is taken. We earnestly would like to print the full copy, instead of this abstract version, which is the best we’ve been able to find hitherto.
Translated: (from the German) ?
Transcription/Markup: Ted Crawford/Brian Baggins.
Copyleft: Luxemburg Internet Archive ( 2004.


WHAT is our task in the question of peace? It does not consist merely in vigorously demonstrating at all times the love of peace of the Social Democrats; but first and foremost our task is to make clear to the masses of people the nature of militarism and sharply and clearly to bring out the differences in principle between the standpoint of the Social Democrats and that of the bourgeois peace enthusiasts.

Wherein does this difference lie? Certainly not merely in the fact that the bourgeois apostles of peace are relying on the influence of fine words, while we do not depend on words alone. Our very points of departure are diametrically opposed: the friends of peace in bourgeois circles believe that world peace and disarmament can be realised within the frame-work of the present social order, whereas we, who base ourselves on the materialistic conception of history and on scientific socialism, are convinced that militarism can only be abolished from the world with the destruction of the capitalist class state. From this follows the mutual opposition of our tactics in propagating the idea of peace. The bourgeois friends of peace are endeavouring – and from their point of view this is perfectly logical and explicable – to invent all sorts of “practical” projects for gradually restraining militarism, and are naturally inclined to consider every outward apparent sign of a tendency toward peace as the genuine article, to take every expression of the ruling diplomacy in this vein at its word, to exaggerate it into a basis for earnest activity. The Social Democrats, on the other hand, must consider it their duty in this matter, just as in all matters of social criticism, to expose the bourgeois attempts to restrain militarism as pitiful half-measures, and the expressions of such sentiments on the part of the governing circles as diplomatic make-believe, and to oppose the bourgeois claims and pretences with the ruthless analysis of capitalist reality.

From this same standpoint the tasks of the Social Democrats with regard to the declarations of the kind made by the British Government can only be to show up the idea of a partial limitation of armaments, in all its impracticability, as a half-measure, and to endeavour to make it clear to the people that militarism is closely linked up with colonial politics, with tariff politics, and with international politics, and that therefore the present Nations, if they really seriously and honestly wish to call a halt on competitive armaments, would have to begin by disarming in the commercial political field, give up colonial predatory campaigns and the international politics of spheres of influence in all parts of the world – in a word, in their foreign as well as in their domestic politics would have to do the exact contrary of everything which the nature of the present politics of a capitalist class state demands. And thus would be clearly explained what constitutes the kernel of the Social Democratic conception, that militarism in both its forms – as war and as armed peace – is a legitimate child, a logical result of capitalism, which can only be overcome with the destruction of capitalism, and that hence whoever honestly desires world peace and liberation from the tremendous burden of armaments must also desire Socialism. Only in this way can real Social Democratic enlightenment and recruiting be carried on in connection with the armaments debate.

This work, however, will be rendered somewhat difficult and the attitude of the Social Democrats will become obscure and vacillating if, by some strange exchange of roles, our Party tries on the contrary to convince the bourgeois State that it can quite well limit armaments and bring about peace and that it can do this from its own standpoint, from that of a capitalist class State.

It has until now been the pride and the firm scientific basis of our Party, that not only the general lines of our programme but also the slogans of our practical everyday policy were not invented out of odds and ends as something desirable, but that in all things we relied on our knowledge of the tendencies of social development and made the objective lines of this development the basis of our attitude. For us the determining factor until now has not been the possibility from the standpoint of the relation of forces within the State, but the possibility from the standpoint of the tendencies of development of society. The limitation of armaments, the retrenchment of militarism, does not coincide with the further development of international capitalism. Only those who believe in the mitigation and blunting of class antagonisms, and in the checking of the economic anarchy of capitalism, can believe in the possibility of these international conflicts allowing themselves to be slackened, to be mitigated and wiped out. For the international antagonisms of the capitalist states are but the complement of class antagonisms, and the world political anarchy but the reverse side of the anarchic system of production of capitalism. Both can grow only together and be overcome only together. “A little order and peace” is, therefore, just as impossible, just as much a petty-bourgeois Utopia, with regard to the capitalist world market as to world politics, and with regard to the limitation of crises as to the limitation of armaments.

Let us cast a glance at the events of the last fifteen years of international development. Where do they show any tendency toward peace, toward disarmament, toward settlement of conflicts by arbitration?

During these fifteen years we had this: in 1895 the war between Japan and China, which is the prelude to the East Asiatic period of imperialism; in 1898 the war between Spain and the United States; in 1899-1902 the British Boer War in South Africa; in 1900 the campaign of the European powers in China; in 1904 the Russo-Japanese War; in 1904-07 the German Herero War in Africa; and then there was also the military intervention of Russia in 1908 in Persia, at the present moment the military intervention of France in Morocco, without mentioning the incessant colonial skirmishes in Asia and in Africa. Hence the bare facts alone show that for fifteen years hardly a year has gone by without some war activity.

But more important still is the after effect of these wars. The war with China was followed in Japan by a military reorganisation which made it possible ten years later to undertake the war against Russia and which made Japan the predominant military power in the Pacific. The Boer War resulted in a military reorganisation of England, the strengthening of her armed forces on land. The war with Spain inspired the United States to reorganise its navy and moved it to enter colonial politics with imperialist interests in Asia, and thus was created the germ of the antagonism of interests between the United States and Japan in the Pacific. The Chinese campaign was accompanied in Germany by a thorough military reorganisation, the great Navy Law of 1900, which marks the beginning of the competition of Germany with England on the sea and the sharpening of the antagonisms between these two nations.

But there is another and extremely important factor besides the social and political awakening of the hinterlands, of the colonies and the “spheres of interest,” to independent life. The revolution in Turkey, in Persia, the revolutionary ferment in China, in India, in Egypt, in Arabia, in Morocco, in Mexico, all these are also starting points of world political antagonisms, tensions, military activities and armaments. It was just during the course of this fifteen years that the points of friction in international politics have increased to an unparalleled degree, a number of new States stepped into active struggle on the international stage, all the Great Powers underwent a thorough military reorganisation. The antagonisms, in consequence of all these events, have reached an acuteness never known before, and the process is going further and further, since on the one hand the ferment in the Orient is increasing from day to day, and on the other every settlement between the military powers unavoidably becomes the starting point for fresh conflicts. The Reval Entente between Russia, Great Britain and France, which Jaurs hailed as a guarantee for world peace, led to the sharpening of the crisis in the Balkans, accelerated the outbreak of the Turkish Revolution, encouraged Russia to military action in Persia and led to a rapprochement between Turkey and Germany which, in its turn, rendered the Anglo-German antagonisms more acute. The Potsdam agreement resulted in the sharpening of the crisis in China and the Russo-Japanese agreement had the same effect.

Therefore, on a mere reckoning with facts, to refuse to realise that these facts give rise to anything rather than a mitigation of the international conflicts, of any sort of disposition toward world peace, is wilfully to close one’s eyes.

In view of all this, how is it possible to speak of tendencies toward peace in bourgeois development which are supposed to neutralise and overcome its tendencies toward war? Wherein are they expressed?

In Sir Edward Grey’s declaration and that of the French Parliament? In the “armament weariness” of the bourgeoisie? But the middle and petty bourgeois sections of the bourgeoisie have always been groaning at the burden of militarism, just as they groan at the devastation of free competition, at the economic crises, at the lack of conscience shown in stock exchange speculations, at the terrorism of the cartels and trusts. The tyranny of the trust magnates in America has even called forth a rebellion of broad masses of the people and a wearisome legal procedure against the trusts on the part of the State authorities. Do the Social Democrats interpret this as a symptom of the beginning of the limitation of trust development, or have they not rather a sympathetic shrug of the shoulders for that petty-bourgeois rebellion and a scornful smile for that State campaign? The “dialectic” of the peace tendency of capitalist development, which was supposed to have cut across its war tendency and to have overcome it, simply confirms the old truth that the roses of capitalist profit-making and class domination also have thorns for the bourgeoisie, which it prefers to wear as long as possible round its suffering head, in spite of all pain and woe, rather than get rid of it along with the head on the advice of the Social Democrats.

To explain this to the masses, ruthlessly to scatter all illusions with regard to attempts made at peace on the part of the bourgeoisie and to declare the proletarian revolution as the first and only step toward world peace – that is the task of the Social Democrats with regard to all disarmament trickeries, whether they are invented in Petersburg, London or Berlin.

The Utopianism of the standpoint which expects an era of peace and retrenchment of militarism in the present social order is plainly revealed in the fact that it is having recourse to project making. For it is typical of Utopian strivings that, in order to demonstrate their practicability, they hatch “practical” recipes with the greatest possible details. To this also belongs the project of the “United States of Europe” as a basis for the limitation of international militarism.

“We support all efforts,” said Comrade Ledebour in his speech in the Reichstag on April 3, “which aim at getting rid of the threadbare pretexts for the incessant war armaments. We demand the economic and political union of the European states. I am firmly convinced that, while it is certain to come during the period of Socialism, it can also come to pass before that time, that we will live to see the UNITED STATES OF EUROPE, as confronted at present by the business competition of the United States of America. At least we demand that capitalist society, that capitalist statesmen, in the interests of capitalist development in Europe itself, in order that Europe will later not be completely submerged in world competition, prepare for this union of Europe into the United States of Europe.”

And in the Neue Zeit of April 28, Comrade Kautsky writes:

... For a lasting duration of peace, which banishes the ghost of war forever, there is only one way to-day: the union of the states of European civilisation into a league with a common commercial policy, a league parliament, a league government and a league army – the formation of the United States of Europe. Were this to succeed, then a tremendous step would be achieved. Such a United States would possess such a superiority of forces that without any war they could compel all the other nations which do not voluntarily join them to liquidate their armies and give up their fleets. But in that case all necessity for armaments for the new United States themselves would disappear. They would be in a position not only to relinquish all further armaments, give up the standing army and all aggressive weapons on the sea, which we are demanding to-day, but even give up all means of defence, the militia system itself. Thus the era of permanent peace would surely begin.

Plausible as the idea of the United States of Europe as a peace arrangement may seem to some at first glance, it has on closer examination not the least thing in common with the method of thought and the standpoint of social democracy.

As adherents of the materialist conception of history, we have always adopted the standpoint that the modern States as political structures are not artificial products of a creative phantasy, like, for instance, the Duchy of Warsaw of Napoleonic memory, but historical products of economic development. But what economic foundation lies at the bottom of the idea of a European State Federation? Europe, it is true, is a geographical and, within certain limits, an historical cultural conception. But the idea of Europe as an economic unit contradicts capitalist development in two ways. First of all there exist within Europe among the capitalist States – and will so long as these exist – the most violent struggles of competition and antagonisms, and secondly the European States can no longer get along economically without the non-European countries. As suppliers of foodstuffs, raw materials and wares, also as consumers of the same, the other parts of the world are linked in a thousand ways with Europe. At the present stage of development of the world market and of world economy, the conception of Europe as an isolated economic unit is a sterile concoction of the brain. Europe no more forms a special unit within world economy than does Asia or America.

And if the idea of a European union in the economic sense has long been outstripped, this is no less the case in the political sense.

The times when the centre of gravity of political development and the crystallising agent of capitalist contradictions lay on the European continent, are long gone by. To-day Europe is only a link in the tangled chain of international connections and contradictions. And what is of decisive significance – European antagonisms themselves no longer play their role on the European continent but in all parts of the world and on all the seas.

Only were one suddenly to lose sight of all these happenings and manoeuvres, and to transfer oneself back to the blissful times of the European concert of powers, could one say, for instance, that for forty years we have had uninterrupted peace. This conception, which considers only events on the European continent, does not notice that the very reason why we have had no war in Europe for decades is the fact that international antagonisms have grown infinitely beyond the narrow confines of the European continent, and that European problems and interests are now fought out on the world seas and in the by-corners of Europe.

Hence the “United States of Europe” is an idea which runs directly counter both economically and politically to the course of development, and which takes absolutely no account of the events of the last quarter of a century.

That an idea so little in accord with the tendency of development can fundamentally offer no progressive solution in spite of all radical disguises is confirmed also by the fate of the slogan of the “United States of Europe.” Every time that bourgeois politicians have championed the idea of Europeanism, of the union of European States, it has been with an open or concealed point directed against the “yellow peril,” the “dark continent,” against the “inferior races,” in short, it has always been an imperialist abortion.

And now if we, as Social Democrats, were to try to fill this old skin with fresh and apparently revolutionary wine, then it must be said that the advantages would not be on our side but on that of the bourgeoisie. Things have their own objective logic. And the solution of the European union within the capitalist social order can objectively, in the economic sense, mean only a tariff war with America, and in the political sense only a colonial race war. The Chinese campaign of the united European regiments, with the World Field Marshal Waldersee at the head, and the gospel of the Hun as our standard – that is the actual and not the fantastic, the only possible expression of the “European State Federation” in the present social order.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

*From The Archives-The Struggle To Win The Youth To The Fight For Our Communist Future-Leninism vs. Stalinism On The United Front: What Strategy To Fight Fascism? (1980)

Markin comment:

One of the declared purposes of this space is to draw the lessons of our left-wing past here in America and internationally, especially from the pro-communist wing. To that end I have made commentaries and provided archival works in order to help draw those lessons for today’s left-wing activists to learn, or at least ponder over. More importantly, for the long haul, to help educate today’s youth in the struggle for our common communist future. That is no small task or easy task given the differences of generations; differences of political milieus worked in; differences of social structure to work around; and, increasingly more important, the differences in appreciation of technological advances, and their uses.

There is no question that back in my youth I could have used, desperately used, many of the archival materials available today. When I developed political consciousness very early on, albeit liberal political consciousness, I could have used this material as I knew, I knew deep inside my heart and mind, that a junior Cold War liberal of the American For Democratic Action (ADA) stripe was not the end of my leftward political trajectory. More importantly, I could have used a socialist or communist youth organization to help me articulate the doubts I had about the virtues of liberal capitalism and be recruited to a more left-wing world view. As it was I spent far too long in the throes of the left-liberal/soft social-democratic milieu where I was dying politically. A group like the Young Communist League (W.E.B. Dubois Clubs in those days), the Young People’s Socialist League, or the Young Socialist Alliance representing the youth organizations of the American Communist Party, American Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S.) respectively would have saved much wasted time and energy. I knew they were around but not in my area.

The archival material to be used in this series is weighted heavily toward the youth movements of the early American Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S). For more recent material I have relied on material from the Spartacus Youth Clubs, the youth group of the Spartacist League (U.S.), both because they are more readily available to me and because, and this should give cause for pause, there are not many other non-CP, non-SWP youth groups around. As I gather more material from other youth sources I will place them in this series.

Finally I would like to finish up with the preamble to the Spartacist Youth Club’s What We Fight For statement of purpose:

"The Spartacus Youth Clubs intervene into social struggles armed with the revolutionary internationalist program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. We work to mobilize youth in struggle as partisans of the working class, championing the liberation of black people, women and all the oppressed. The SYCs fight to win youth to the perspective of building the Leninist vanguard party that will lead the working class in socialist revolution, laying the basis for a world free of capitalist exploitation and imperialist slaughter."

This seems to me be somewhere in the right direction for what a Bolshevik youth group should be doing these days; a proving ground to become professional revolutionaries with enough wiggle room to learn from their mistakes, and successes. More later.
Markin comment on this article:

This article is a rather succinct description of the differences between the early Communist International Lenin-Trotsky-derived united front tactic and the later Stalin—derived popular front strategy. In practice, the difference between pushing the international proletarian struggle forward and acting primarily as agents for Stalinized Soviet foreign policy- against revolution, in short. I have, periodically addressed the question of the united front tactic and have placed a number of previous articles from historic sources, and commentaries on those historic sources so I will only address the united front question as it applies to the struggle against fascism. Not because the tactic works differently on that question but rather that it takes added urgency to try to create a united front against our mortal enemies on the streets when they raise their heads.

In the best of situations, of course, a mass communist party with authority in the working class and few social-democratic opponents would not need to use the united front, or its use would not be as pressing. Call the demonstration or other action, bring out your membership, and see who else shows up. And a lot of others will, as the experience of the Bolshevik revolution demonstrated when the deal when down for real. For the rest of us, as a sign of our individual organizational weaknesses (or in a case when there is more than one authoritative working class organization with a mass following) the united front is the supreme tactic to get a mass to come out in defense of their organizations. We now know, if previous generations didn’t know or chose not to know, that is what it comes to.

I, and not I alone, have always argued that we need to “nip the fascists in the bud” whenever they ill-advisedly try to show themselves on the streets for some “celebration.” We have no other recourse than to try to create the united front under the traditional practice of marching separately (under your own banners and with your own propaganda) and striking together (united on this particular issue). As this article argues that is easier said that done with the political consciousness at the level it is (or was, since this is a 1980s article but, if anything, it is even lower these days-particularly on the issues of reliance on the state to "ban the fascists" and on “education” (the debate issue) rather than confrontation. On this question, however, there is nothing to debate, there is no will on the part of the state to break these para-military thugs up and we are left to cobble on own resources for a united front. By any means necessary.
From Young Spartacus, October 1980-Leninism vs. Stalinism On The United Front: What Strategy To Fight Fascism?

We publish below a letter Young Spartacus received in June in response to our polemic against the Communist Workers Party (CWP) last May on the strategy to fight fascism and YSp's reply.

June 17, 1980 Los Angeles
Young Spartacus:

I enjoyed your discussion of Dimitrov ["CWP Zigzags Between Third Period' and Popular Front," Young Spartacus No. 82, May 1980] and its particular relevance to the fight against fascist groups in this country. But, if you want to discuss Dimitrov, I think you should complete the discussion.
It is true that his views were presented at the CPSU's 7th Party Congress in 1935. But he only represented one half of a debate! True, it was the winning side, but the alternative position of a "united working class front" of different elements calling for dictatorship of the proletariat (The only real alternative to Dimitrov!) was written by R. Palme Dutt in his Fascism and Socialist Revolution [1934-35]. In this volume he clearly and brilliantly outlines the linkages of the failures of capitalism to inter-imperialist contradictions on one side and the failures of the social democrats on the other. The line which you are taking is diluted Dutt, so why not go read him and draw him into the discussion. Another Marxist discussion from the period which is also very good is Daniel Guerin's Fascism and Big Business. He is stronger than Dutt in explaining how fascist ideology and organization work, but weaker in explaining the causes of fascism within the contradictions of capitalism and imperialism.

Several other points remain, however:
1 By your definitions Dutt was aStalinist. He was the head of the-British CP. How can this be?

2. If you want to clearly present apolitical alternative to the latter day
Dimitrovs, you must work out a few bugs in your line. To begin, you are
correct in criticizing the CWP's [Communist Workers Party] reliance on the
state, but what about your reliance onbourgeois unions and petty-bourgeois
nationalist organizations? The alternative to Dimitrov is not going to liberal organizations, whether labor unions or minority organizations, as an alternative to the large bourgeoisie. This is really an extension of Dimitrov, because you are saying there are some good factions of the bourgeoisie—in the person of union leaders and minority leaders. If you are to make a clean break with Dimitrov, as you suggest, you must make a clean break with the bourgeoisie and their immediate (and politically dependent) representatives.

3. The alternative is to turn directly to people, but not to liberal organizations in which they may have been drawn in.Furthermore, if the basis of this united front from below (qualitatively different
than alliances with petty bourgeois organizations) is simply opposition to
fascism (under some old CP slogan, such as the preservation of democratic
rights) you have also replicated Dimitrov, not repudiated him. The clear
repudiation, again as outlined by Dutt,is to call for a united front from below which is committed to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

In other words, if the basis for the united front is the watering down of a communist line to draw in the good (petty) bourgeoisie—as your organization seems to be doing—you have unwittingly committed the errors which you criticize the CWP of, that is exhuming Dimitrov. It is true they do it deliberately, and you appear to do it unwittingly, but the result is the same.

4. A final point needs to be clarified, and this is the debate between Dimitrov and Dutt which you partially analyzed has already been brought up to the attention of the left. In 1971 PL Magazine carefully followed through
the discussion, and pointed out the long list of theoretical and practical errors generated by the International Communist Movement turning to the Dimitrov formulation and abandoning the concept of the united front from below. How is it that one of the groups you decry as Stalinist figured out what your [organization] recently became aware of nine years earlier and with greater theoretical and practical precision? Is this organization really not Stalinist (and Dutt too for that matter), or does
Stalinism not automatically lead to Dimitrovism?

I realize this is a long letter but I would like your reactions to some of the points I have raised, especially about how your line does not represent a clear break with Dimitrov.

Rick Platkin

Young Spartacus replies: Platkin raises once again (ostensibly from the "left")the question of Stalinism versus Trotskyism on the united front. While his slightly crackpot letter contains a number of historical inaccuracies and political absurdities and could be easily dismissed, it provides an opportunity for Young Spartacus to review the elementary Leninist tactic of the united front. Particularly in the aftermath of our successful anti-fascist mobilizations in Detroit and San Francisco, we are pleased to discuss the history of the united front and its particular application to the American labor movement in the fight against the increasingly visible fascist movement.

Without specifically referring to the April 19 Committee Against Nazis (ANCAN) demonstration in San Francisco, called to combat a threatened "celebration" of Hitler's birthday by the Bay Area fascists, Platkin argues that this mobilization—heavily built and organized by the SL/SYL—was inherently opportunist. He accuses us of "exhuming Dimitrov." The reason? Because in addition to the communist SL/SYL, 35 elected trade-union officials as well as nine local unions endorsed and actively built the ANCAN rally along with a number of community, minority, gay and civil rights organizations. For the first time in decades, a genuine united-front action of socialists and organized labor defended the rights of the working class and oppressed, independent of and against the efforts of the bourgeois state and politicians.

No gang of Nazis went goosestepping into San Francisco's Civic Center to celebrate Hitler's birthday and not because the police canceled their permit or the Board of Supervisors passed resolutions against the little storm-troopers. As the endorsement list for the ANCAN rally steadily grew, the cops announced that they could not guarantee the safety of the Nazi scum. The Nazis failed to show because thousands of unionists, minorities and socialists intended to sweep them off the streets. Ever since the April 19 rally, the fake-lefts have been falling all over themselves to explain away the undeniable success of the ANCAN mobilization.

Based on the simple proposition that a massive mobilization of the labor movement and its allies could stop the Nazis, the ANCAN rally was a victory and a vindication of the Leninist tactic of the united front. In contrast the Maoist-dominated Anti-Klan/Nazi Coalition held a little sectarian rally, which attracted 350, a quarter mile away from the site of the proposed Nazi Hitlerfest. Fundamentally pessimistic about the ability of the working class to turn out in force to stop the brownshirts, the Maoist-dominated coalition turned instead to the strikebreaking Democrats in City Hall. Their "strategy" hinged on pressuring Mayor Feinstein and the Board of Supervisors to revoke the Nazis' permit and pass a resolution condemning the Hitler-lovers. But the Maoists found that there were very few bourgeois politicians interested in building a mass demonstration against fascism. Even after they pledged not to lay a finger on the Nazis, the Anti-Klan/ Nazi Coalition could only dig up one black councilman from Oakland. The opportunists, albeit empty-handed, were a quarter mile away from the action.
Platkin accuses the SL/SYL of "watering down... a communist line to draw in the good (petty) bourgeoisie" ind counterposes turning directly to the 'people." In doing so, he echoes Progressive Labor's (PL) rejection of the united front in Road to Revolution III:

"We reject the concept of a united front with the bosses. We reject the concept of a united front with Trotskyists and the herd of various fakes in the left "We believe in a united front from below that takes the form of a left-center coalition."

—PL, November 1971

Platkin speaks approvingly of the "theoretical and practical precision" of the sometime left-sounding Stalinists of Progressive Labor and is in fact a longtime supporter of their sub-reformist front group, the Committee Against Racism (CAR). It is worth noting that PL also came unglued by the success of the ANCAN demo. Before the April 19 rally PL—true to form—denounced both ANCAN and the Maoist-led splinter coalition as "calls for a pacifist counter-demonstration [which] amount to calling for 'peace to the Nazis'." After the fact, in an article entitled "1500 Protest Against Nazis" (Challenge, 30 April) PL waxed eloquent about the Civic Center rally participants who were "just itching for the Nazis to show their faces," proving that when it's opportune PL will even tail the Trotskyist SL/ S YL. (Naturally, they omit any mention of the SL/SYL's central role in building the ANCAN rally.)

The United Front— A Leninist Tactic

The united front is a tactic employed by the vanguard party to unite the working class for practical action and to win the allegiance of non-communist workers from the reformists, centrists, labor bureaucrats and at times the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois nationalists. We wrote in "On the United Front":

"The UF can only be a reality during periods of social struggle, when the need for sharp class battles makes class unity a burning objective necessity that shakes the ranks of the non-communist workers organizations from their le¬thargy and day-to-day humdrum or¬ganizational parochialism, and places strongly before them the need for class unity that transcends their particular organizations..."

— Young Communist Bulletin No. 3, p. 8

There is a reason that the united front became a central question at the Third Congress of the Communist International in 1922. At the time of the First World Congress in 1919 it was expected that the working-class offensive in the wake of the First World War would lead to the direct overthrow of the bourgeoisie under Communist leadership. The need for the united front tactic flowed from the fact that the majority of workers in most countries had gone through the postwar revolutionary upsurge retaining their allegiance to the reformist leaderships of the trade unions and the social-democratic parties. At the same time, in the wake of the receding revolutionary tide, the bourgeoisie went on the offensive. The capitalist offensive was forcing even the reformist-led organizations into partial and defensive struggles for their lives, simply to maintain the organizational gains and standard of living they had won in the past. This situation placed on the agenda the need for a united workers front.

The Third World Congress had two tasks before it: 1) to cleanse the working class, including the ranks of the Communist parties, of all reformist and centrist elements who did not want to struggle; and 2) to learn the art of struggle, and master revolutionary tactics and strategy. Much of the ideological struggle at the Third Congress was directed against the "Lefts"—those whose revolutionary impatience caused them to lose sight of the most important preparatory and preliminary tasks of the party. The Bolsheviks counseled the young communist "Lefts" at the Congress: "Comrades, we desire not only heroic struggle, we desire first of all victory." Trotsky explained:

"Does the united front extend only to the working masses or does it also include the opportunist leaders? "The very posing of this question is a product of misunderstanding. "If we were able to unite the working masses around our own banner or around our practical immediate slogans, and skip over reformist organizations, whether party or trade union, that would of course be the best thing in the world. But then the very question of the united front would not exist in its present form

"It is possible to see in this a rapprochement with the reformists only
from the standpoint of a journalist who believes that he rids himself of refor¬mism by ritualistically criticizing it without ever leaving his editorial office but who is fearful of clashing with the reformists before the eyes of the working masses and giving the latter an opportunity to appraise the Communist and the reformist on the equal plane of the mass struggle.

"Behind this seemingly revolutionary fear of 'rapprochement' there really lurks a political passivity which seeks to perpetuate an order of things wherein the Communists and the reformists each retain their own rigidly demarcated spheres of influence, their own audiences at meetings, their own press, and all this together creates an illusion of serious political struggle."

—"On the United Front," The First Five Years of the Communist International, Vol. 2

Platkin argues, "If you are to make a clean break with Dimitrov, as you suggest, you must make a clean break with the bourgeoisie and their immediate (and politically dependent) representatives." Why should Trotskyists make a "break" with Dimitrov? Unlike the Stalinists, we never supported his class-collaborationist line in the first place. And what does Dimitrov have to do with the Leninist united front tactic? Nothing! Dimitrov supplied the theoretical justification not for the united front but for class-collaborationist political blocs with the bourgeoisie which came to be known as popular fronts. At the Seventh Congress of the Stalinized Comintern in 1935, (not the CPSU's Seventh Party Congress as Platkin says) Dimitrov was quite explicit:

"Now the toiling masses in a number of capitalist countries are faced with the necessity of making a definite choice, and of making it today, not between proletarian dictatorship and bourgeois democracy, but between bourgeois democracy and fascism."

For Platkin, included in the category of "immediate representatives" of the bourgeoisie are the trade unions. Caught in the stranglehold of the pro-capitalist labor bureaucracy, the trade unions are nonetheless workers organizations. And in the United States, they are the only mass organizations of the proletariat. To insist that revolutionaries never conclude united front blocs for action with the trade unions is simply a recipe for sealing off commu¬nists from the organized working class. We refer our readers to Trotsky's polemic against the sectarian policies of Stalin's "Third Period" in What Next? Trotsky noted that "just as the trade union is the rudimentary form of the united front in the economic struggle, so the soviet is the highest form of the united front under the conditions in which the proletariat enters the epoch of fighting for power." He goes on to argue that "the refusal by the Communist Party to make arrangements and take joint action with other parties within the working class means nothing else but the refusal to create Soviets" (emphasis in original in both quotes).

Moreover, Platkin's attitude toward the unions is totally at variance with the practice of Progressive Labor which he upholds as the real "left" alternative to Dimitrov. In the history of the commu¬nist movement, there are and have been ultra-left and anarchist organizations which refused on principle to work in the unions, but PL is not one of them. Far from a "leftist" policy, PL's left-center coalitionism in the unions has led to the worst kind of sub-reformist economism and support to "lesser evil" bureaucrats in the United Auto Workers, Communications Workers, AFSCME and other unions.

Cloaked in the phraseology of revolutionary intransigence, blanket opposi¬tion to the united front actually represents political passivity, conservatism and a lack of revolutionary will. "No united front with the reformists" is simply an inverted non-aggression pact with the reformists, an implicit agree¬ment not to fight them on their own turf. Far from such a pact, the united front implies a sharpening of the political struggle with the reformist misleaders. For instance, the unions, black organizations, Chicano, Jewish and gay groups all had a vital interest in stopping the fascist filth. The proposal of a concrete joint action to these organizations gave their respective leaderships the choice of either openly opposing the action or appearing on the same platform with the communists. The vanguard party must retain full freedom to criticize its temporary allies in the united front, something that the Spartacist League took full advantage of on April 19. The dual nature of the united front is captured in the slogan, "March separately, strike together," and the party must be ready to break with the reformists and centrists when they become a brake on the struggle.

Such was the case in Detroit on November 10. The SL and militant auto workers attempted to mobilize the powerful UAW to stop a planned Klan march in Detroit, a march called to "celebrate" the Greensboro massacre. Criminally, the UAW tops refused tc put the weight of the Detroit labor movement behind the anti-Klan rally The "liberal" black mayor, Coleman Young, threatened to arrest any demonstrators—Klan or anti-Klan. We were de facto forced into a united front "from below" under these circumstance and took the call for the demonstration directly to the factory gates an working-class neighborhoods. The result was a rally composed of the "hard core" of largely black, advanced workers willing to defy the criminal inaction of the UAW tops and stand up to a hostile city government and the possibil¬ity of arrest. It was critical that the Klan be stopped in the labor/black town of Detroit. And they were stopped despite the sabotage of the union bureaucrats— a victory for the entire working class and oppressed. However, we did not choose to limit the strength of the anti-Klan mobilization, the only such action to occur in the wake of Greensboro, to a hard core of 500. Much more powerful would have been thousands-strong contingents from the unions putting the Klan and City Hall on notice that "The Klan Won't Ride in the Motor City!"

"The United Front from Below"— History of Betrayal

Platkin fails to address the fact that the revolutionary-sounding "united front from below" has a history: it was the policy of the Stalinized Comintern from 1928 to 1935, the "Third Period." Is Platkin really unaware of the results? The triumph of Hitler and the decimation of the German proletariat were a world historic defeat for the working class.
The policies of the "Third Period" followed the cumulative failures of Stalin's 1924-27 policies of conciliating the colonial bourgeoisie and the trade-union reformists abroad as well as the kulaks at home. During this period, Lenin's united front tactic was degraded to an instrument for class collaboration and counterrevolution. In China, Stalin's "united front" with the bourgeois-nationalist Kuomintang (KMT), resulting in the complete liquidation of the Chinese Communist Party, led to the massacre of tens of thousands of Communist and working-class militants in the Shanghai insurrection of 1927 and killed for two decades the possibility of anti-capitalist revolution in China. In Britain, Stalin allied with the British trade-union bureaucrats in the "Anglo-Russian Trade Union Unity Committee." The Comintern did not see this as a temporary alliance with British trade-union leaders but as a long-lasting co¬partnership. This alliance was preserved through the betrayals of the 1926 General Strike and the miners strike, lending the prestige of the Bolshevik Revolution arid Communism to the strikebreaking Trades Union Congress tops.

From these disasters of Stalin's rightist course were born the ultra-left policies of the 'Third Period." In Germany, Stalin proclaimed....(missing part) .. the reformist Social Democratic Party (SPD) to be "social fascist" and thus eliminated any possibility of an SPD-KPD (German Communist Party) united front against Hitler's increasingly strong forces. Of course, it's quite true that SPD was complicit in the murders of Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg. In 1929 the Social Democrat Zoergeibel drowned the KPD May Day march in blood. At every step on Hitler's road to power the reformists capitulated rather than fight.

Trotsky called the Social Democratic bureaucracy the "rottenest portion of putrefying capitalist Europe." But despite the counterrevolutionary be¬trayals of the leadership of the SPD, the Social Democrats still led millions of workers and within certain limits were constrained to reckon with their deluded proletarian constituency as well as with their bourgeois masters. The victory of fascism would mean the annihilation of the organizations of Social Democracy. While the SPD leaders did not want to fight, for the Social Democratic ranks it was a matter of life and death. The KPD's refusal to utilize this contradiction was an act of gross stupidity and treachery. The united front would set class against class, defending the workers' organizations against the stormtroopers and at the same time expose in action the hesitations, vacillations and abhorrence of socialist revolution that lie at the heart of Social Democracy. Trotsky insisted that in the war against fascism the Communists must be ready to conclude practical military alliances with the devil and his grandmother, even with 'Noske and Zoergeibel.

But the Stalinists continued to follow their sectarian-defeatist logic, captured in the slogan "After Hitler—Us." Millions of workers organized in the SPD and KPD were ready and eager to crush the Nazis, but Hitler came to power without a shot being fired because of the policies of the Stalinist "Third Period."

The Popular Front

At the end of 1933, with the triumph of Hitler and the renewed threat of imperialist attack, the panic-stricken Stalinist bureaucracy zigzagged once again. In a desperate search for allies, the Comintern sought to ingratiate itself with the "democratic" imperialist bourgeoisies through calculated contain¬ment of revolutionary proletarian movements in Europe. Where a year before the Stalinists had refused blocs with bourgeois workers parties, they were now prepared to make alliances with the bourgeoisie itself, including participation in capitalist governments. Enter Dimitrov, who provided the justification for these treacherous class-collaborationist political blocs at the expense of proletarian revolution under the catch phrase "the united front against fascism."

Platkin claims that the positions of R. Palme Dutt were the only real alternative to the Dimitrov/Stalin line. From the 1920s through the mid-1960s denounced those who declared the "existing bourgeois dictatorship" to be a "'lesser evil' than the victory of Fascism," but to see this as a polemic against Dimitrov is absurd. The change in the Comintern's line was so abrupt and unevenly implemented that initially even some of the most loyal Stalinist hacks were caught marching out of step. Dutt spoke in favor of Dimitrov's resolution at the Seventh World Congress and was for the first time elected as a candidate member of the Executive Committee of the Comintern. How can Dutt be called a Stalinist? In addition to his grandiloquent praise for Stalin himself ("the genius and will of Stalin, the architect of the rising world of free humanity," etc., etc.) suffice it to say that for 40 years he popularized and promoted every twist and turn of Moscow's line in the pages of Labour Monthly.

There is an organic unity between the methodology of the "Third Period" and the popular front. At bottom both represent a lack of confidence in the proletariat's ability to conquer state power. During the "Third Period" the Stalinists abstained from fighting class collaborationism; with the popular front policy they simply embraced it. The net result was the same.

Who opposed the Dimitrov/Stalin line which led to bloody defeat for the working class in Spain and headed off a pre-revolutionary situation in France during the 1930s? Only the Trotskyists. To the popular front, the Trotskyists counterposed a working-class united front to smash the fascists. Instead of depending on the republican generals and the police, the Trotskyists called for workers militias based on the trade unions.

This Trotskyist tradition is today embodied in the program of the Spartacist League/SYL. Against the "ban the Klan" reformism of the Stalinists, the revolting defense of "free speech for fascists" of the social democratic SWP, and the episodically substitutionist antics of PL/CAR and the CWP we have successfully fought for labor/black mobilizations to smash the fascist scum. No other left organization in the U.S. can claim to have responded to the Greensboro massacre by mobilizing black and white trade unionists against the KKK as we did in Detroit; nor has anyone but the SL/SYL put forward and implemented the mass mobilization of the organized labor movement against the fascist threat as occurred in the ANCAN demonstration. The basis for Leninist principles and tactics, as proven by the history of the world working class, is what works.
A cattle dealer once drove some bulls to the slaughterhouse. And the butcher came nigh with his sharp knife.

"Let us close ranks and jack up this executioner on our horns," suggested one of the bulls.

"If you please, in what way is the butcher any worse than the dealer who drove us hither with his cudgel?" replied the bulls, who had received their political education in Manuilsky's institute.

"But we shall be able to attend to the dealer as well afterwards!"

"Nothing doing," replied the bulls, firm in their principles, to the counselor. "You are trying to shield our enemies from the left; you are a social-butcher yourself."

And they refused to close ranks.

—from Aesop's Fables

—Leon Trotsky, "What Next? Vital Questions for the German Proletariat," The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany, 1932

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March Is Women’s History Month-Honor Communist Leader Rosa Luxemburg- The Rose Of The Revolution

Click on the headline to link to the Rosa Luxemburg Internet Archives.

March Is Women’s History Month

Markin comment:

Usually I place the name of the martyred Polish communist revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg, in her correct place of honor along with Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin and German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht when we of the leftist international working class movement honor our historic leaders each January. This year I have decided to, additionally, honor the Rose of the Revolution during Women’s History Month because, although in life she never fought on any woman-limited basis in the class struggle, right this minute we are in need, desperate need of models for today’s women and men to look to. Can there be any better choice? To ask the question is to give the answer. All honor to the memory of the Rose of the Revolution- Rosa Luxemburg.
Rosa Luxemburg
The Junius Pamphlet


Chapter 1

The scene has changed fundamentally. The six weeks’ march to Paris has grown into a world drama.[1] Mass slaughter has become the tiresome and monotonous business of the day and the end is no closer. Bourgeois statecraft is held fast in its own vise. The spirits summoned up can no longer be exorcised.

Gone is the euphoria. Gone the patriotic noise in the streets, the chase after the gold-colored automobile, one false telegram after another, the wells poisoned by cholera, the Russian students heaving bombs over every railway bridge in Berlin, the French airplanes over Nuremberg, the spy hunting public running amok in the streets, the swaying crowds in the coffee shops with ear-deafening patriotic songs surging ever higher, whole city neighborhoods transformed into mobs ready to denounce, to mistreat women, to shout hurrah and to induce delirium in themselves by means of wild rumors. Gone, too, is the atmosphere of ritual murder, the Kishinev air where the crossing guard is the only remaining representative of human dignity.[2]

The spectacle is over. German scholars, those “stumbling lemurs,” have been whistled off the stage long ago. The trains full of reservists are no longer accompanied by virgins fainting from pure jubilation. They no longer greet the people from the windows of the train with joyous smiles. Carrying their packs, they quietly trot along the streets where the public goes about its daily business with aggrieved visages.

In the prosaic atmosphere of pale day there sounds a different chorus – the hoarse cries of the vulture and the hyenas of the battlefield. Ten thousand tarpaulins guaranteed up to regulations! A hundred thousand kilos of bacon, cocoa powder, coffee-substitute – c.o.d, immediate delivery! Hand grenades, lathes, cartridge pouches, marriage bureaus for widows of the fallen, leather belts, jobbers for war orders – serious offers only! The cannon fodder loaded onto trains in August and September is moldering in the killing fields of Belgium, the Vosges, and Masurian Lakes where the profits are springing up like weeds. It’s a question of getting the harvest into the barn quickly. Across the ocean stretch thousands of greedy hands to snatch it up.

Business thrives in the ruins. Cities become piles of ruins; villages become cemeteries; countries, deserts; populations are beggared; churches, horse stalls. International law, treaties and alliances, the most sacred words and the highest authority have been torn in shreds. Every sovereign “by the grace of God” is called a rogue and lying scoundrel by his cousin on the other side. Every diplomat is a cunning rascal to his colleagues in the other party. Every government sees every other as dooming its own people and worthy only of universal contempt. There are food riots in Venice, in Lisbon, Moscow, Singapore. There is plague in Russia, and misery and despair everywhere.

Violated, dishonored, wading in blood, dripping filth – there stands bourgeois society. This is it [in reality]. Not all spic and span and moral, with pretense to culture, philosophy, ethics, order, peace, and the rule of law – but the ravening beast, the witches’ sabbath of anarchy, a plague to culture and humanity. Thus it reveals itself in its true, its naked form.

In the midst of this witches’ sabbath a catastrophe of world-historical proportions has happened: International Social Democracy has capitulated. To deceive ourselves about it, to cover it up, would be the most foolish, the most fatal thing the proletariat could do. Marx says: “...the democrat (that is, the petty bourgeois revolutionary) [comes] out of the most shameful defeats as unmarked as he naively went into them; he comes away with the newly gained conviction that he must be victorious, not that he or his party ought to give up the old principles, but that conditions ought to accommodate him.”[3] The modern proletariat comes out of historical tests differently. Its tasks and its errors are both gigantic: no prescription, no schema valid for every case, no infallible leader to show it the path to follow. Historical experience is its only school mistress. Its thorny way to self-emancipation is paved not only with immeasurable suffering but also with countless errors. The aim of its journey – its emancipation depends on this – is whether the proletariat can learn from its own errors. Self-criticism, remorseless, cruel, and going to the core of things is the life’s breath and light of the proletarian movement. The fall of the socialist proletariat in the present world war is unprecedented. It is a misfortune for humanity. But socialism will be lost only if the international proletariat fails to measure the depth of this fall, if it refuses to learn from it.

The last forty-five year period in the development of the modern labor movement now stands in doubt. What we are experiencing in this critique is a closing of accounts for what will soon be half a century of work at our posts. The grave of the Paris Commune ended the first phase of the European labor movement as well as the First International.[4] Since then there began a new phase. In place of spontaneous revolutions, risings, and barricades, after which the proletariat each time fell back into passivity, there began the systematic daily struggle, the exploitation of bourgeois parliamentarianism, mass organizations, the marriage of the economic with the political struggle, and that of socialist ideals with stubborn defense of immediate daily interests. For the first time the polestar of strict scientific teachings lit the way for the proletariat and for its emancipation. Instead of sects, schools, utopias, and isolated experiments in various countries, there arose a uniform, international theoretical basis which bound countries together like the strands of a rope. Marxist knowledge gave the working class of the entire world a compass by which it can make sense of the welter of daily events and by which it can always plot the right course to take to the fixed and final goal.

She who bore, championed, and protected this new method was German Social Democracy. The [Franco-Prussian] War and the defeat of the Paris Commune had shifted the center of gravity for the European workers’ movement to Germany. As France was the classic site of the first phase of proletarian class struggle and Paris the beating, bleeding heart of the European laboring classes of those times, so the German workers became the vanguard of the second phase. By means of countless sacrifices and tireless attention to detail, they have built the strongest organization, the one most worthy of emulation; they created the biggest press, called the most effective means of education and enlightenment into being, gathered the most powerful masses of voters and attained the greatest number of parliamentary mandates. German Social Democracy was considered the purest embodiment of Marxist socialism. She had and laid claim to a special place in the Second International - its instructress and leader.[5]

In his famous 1895 foreword to Marx’s The Class Struggles in France, 1848-1850, Friedrich Engels wrote:

“No matter what happens in other countries, German Social Democracy has a special position and therefore a special task, at least for the time being. The two million voters it sends to the ballot box, and the young men and women who, although non-voters, stand behind them, constitute the most numerous and compact mass, the ‘decisive force’ of the proletarian army.”

German Social Democracy, as the Vienna Arbeiterzeitung wrote on August 5, 1914, was “the jewel of class-conscious proletarian organizations.” In her footsteps trod the increasingly enthusiastic Social Democrats of France, Italy, and Belgium, the labor movements of Holland, Scandinavia, Switzerland, and the United States. The Slavic countries, the Russians, the Social Democrats of the Balkans looked upon [German Social Democracy] with limitless, nearly uncritical, admiration. In the Second International the German “decisive force” played the determining role. At the [international] congresses, in the meetings of the international socialist bureaus, all awaited the opinion of the Germans. Especially in the questions of the struggle against militarism and war, German Social Democracy always took the lead. “For us Germans that is unacceptable” regularly sufficed to decide the orientation of the Second International, which blindly bestowed its confidence upon the admired leadership of the mighty German Social Democracy: the pride of every socialist and the terror of the ruling classes everywhere.

And what did we in Germany experience when the great historical test came? The most precipitous fall, the most violent collapse. Nowhere has the organization of the proletariat been yoked so completely to the service of imperialism. Nowhere is the state of siege borne so docilely.[6] Nowhere is the press so hobbled, public opinion so stifled, the economic and political class struggle of the working class so totally surrendered as in Germany.

But German Social Democracy was not merely the strongest vanguard troop, it was the thinking head of the International. For this reason, we must begin the analysis, the self-examination process, with its fall. It has the duty to begin the salvation of international socialism, that means unsparing criticism of itself. None of the other parties, none of the other classes of bourgeois society, may look clearly and openly into the mirror of their own errors, their own weaknesses, for the mirror reflects their historical limitations and the historical doom that awaits them. The working class can boldly look truth straight in the face, even the bitterest self-renunciation, for its weaknesses are only confusion. The strict law of history gives back its power, stands guarantee for its final victory.

Unsparing self-criticism is not merely an essential for its existence but the working class’s supreme duty. On our ship we have the most valuable treasures of mankind, and the proletariat is their ordained guardian! And while bourgeois society, shamed and dishonored by the bloody orgy, rushes headlong toward its doom, the international proletariat must and will gather up the golden treasure that, in a moment of weakness and confusion in the chaos of the world war, it has allowed to sink to the ground.

One thing is certain. The world war is a turning point. It is foolish and mad to imagine that we need only survive the war, like a rabbit waiting out the storm under a bush, in order to fall happily back into the old routine once it is over. The world war has altered the conditions of our struggle and, most of all, it has changed us. Not that the basic law of capitalist development, the life-and-death war between capital and labor, will experience any amelioration. But now, in the midst of the war, the masks are falling and the old familiar visages smirk at us. The tempo of development has received a mighty jolt from the eruption of the volcano of imperialism. The violence of the conflicts in the bosom of society, the enormousness of the tasks that tower up before the socialist proletariat – these make everything that has transpired in the history of the workers’ movement seem a pleasant idyll.

Historically, this war was ordained to thrust forward the cause of the proletariat ... It was ordained to drive the German proletariat to the pinnacle of the nation and thereby begin to organize the international and universal conflict between capital and labor for political power within the state.

And did we envision a different role for the working class in the world war? Let us recall how we, only a short while ago, were accustomed to describe the future:

Then comes the catastrophe. Then the great mobilization will take place in Europe; 16-18 million men, the flower of the various nations, armed with the best tools of death, will enter the field as enemies. But, I am convinced, that behind the great mobilization there stands the great havoc. It will not come through our agency, but rather yours. You are driving things to the limit. You are leading us to catastrophe. You will reap what you have sown. The Götterdämmerung of the bourgeois world approaches. Believe it! It is approaching! [All italics are Luxemburg’s.]

Thus spoke our leader, [August] Bebel[7], during the Reichstag debate on the Morocco Crisis.

Imperialism or Socialism?, the official party pamphlet distributed in hundreds of thousands of copies a few years ago, closes with these words:

Thus the struggle against imperialism develops ever more into the decisive struggle between capital and labor. War crises, rising prices, capitalism vs. peace, welfare for all, socialism! Thus is the question stated. History is moving toward great decisions. The proletariat must work unceasingly at its world-historical task, strengthen its organization, the clarity of its understanding. Then come what may, be it that [proletarian] power spares mankind the terrible cruelty of a world war, or be it that the capitalist world sinks into history in the same way as it was born, in blood and violence. [In either case] the historical hour will find the working class prepared – and preparation is everything. [All italics are Luxemburg’s.]

The official Handbook for Social-Democratic Voters (1911), for the last Reichstag election, says on p.42 concerning the expected world war:

Do our rulers and ruling classes expect the peoples to permit this awful thing? Will not a cry of horror, of scorn, of outrage not seize the peoples and cause them to put an end to this murder? Will they not ask: For whom? what’s it all for? Are we mentally disturbed to be treated this way, to allow ourselves to be so treated? He who is calmly convinced of the probability of a great European war can come to no other conclusion than the following: The next European war will be such a desperate gamble as the world has never seen. In all probability it will be the last war.

With speeches and words such as these, our current Reichstag deputies acquired their 110 mandates.

In the summer of 1911, when the Panther made its lunge to Agadir[8] and the noisy agitation of the German imperialists put war in the immediate offing, an international meeting in London accepted the following resolution (August 4, 1911):

The delegates of the German, Spanish, English, Dutch, and French workers’ organizations declare themselves to be ready to oppose any declaration of war with all the means at their disposal. Every represented nation undertakes the obligation, according to the resolutions of national and international congresses, to act against all criminal machinations of the ruling classes.

When, in November 1912, the congress of the International met in the minster at Basel and when the long procession of worker representatives entered the cathedral, everyone present felt a presentiment of the greatness of the coming destiny and a heroic resolve.

The cool, skeptical Victor Adler spoke:

Comrades, the most important thing is that we are here at the common source of our strength, that we can draw from this strength so that each can do in his own country what he can, according to the forms and means that we have, to oppose the crime of war with all the power we possess. And if it can be stopped, if it is really stopped, then we must see to it that it becomes a cornerstone for the end [of bourgeois society]. This is the moving spirit for the whole International. And if murder and arson and pestilence are unleashed throughout civilized Europe – we can only think of this with horror, outrage and indignation churning in our breasts. And we ask ourselves: are we men, are the proletarians of today still sheep that they can be led dumbly to slaughter? ...

And [Jean] Jaurès concluded the reading of the International Bureau’s manifesto against the war with these words:

The International represents all the moral force of the world! And if the tragic hour strikes and we must give ourselves up to it, the consciousness of this will support and strengthen us. We do not merely say “no” but from the depth of our hearts we declare ourselves ready to sacrifice everything.

It was reminiscent of the Oath of Ruetli.[9] The world directed its gaze to the church at Basel where the bell sounded solemnly for the future great battle between the army of labor and the power of capital ...

Even a week before the outbreak of war, on July 26, 1914, German party newspapers wrote:

We are not marionettes. We combat with all our energy a system that makes men into will-less tools of blind circumstance, this capitalism that seeks to transform a Europe thirsting for peace into a steaming slaughterhouse. If destruction has its way, if the united will to peace of the German, the international proletariat, which will make itself known in powerful demonstrations in the coming days, if the world war cannot be fended off, then at least this should be the last war, it should become the G?tterd?mmerung of capitalism. (Frankfurter Volksstimme)

Then on July 30, 1914, the central organ of German Social Democracy stated:

The socialist proletariat rejects any responsibility for the events being brought about by a blinded, a maddened ruling class. Let it be known that a new life shall bloom from the ruins. All responsibility falls to the wielders of power today! It is “to be or not to be!” “World-history is the world-court!”

And then came the unheard of, the unprecedented, the 4th of August 1914.

Did it have to come? An event of this scope is certainly no game of chance. It must have deep and wide-reaching objective causes. These causes can, however, also lie in the errors of the leader of the proletariat, the Social Democrats, in the waning of our fighting spirit, our courage, and loyalty to our convictions. Scientific socialism has taught us to comprehend the objective laws of historical development. Men do not make history according to their own free will. But they make history nonetheless. Proletarian action is dependent upon the degree of maturity in social development. However, social development is not independent of the proletariat but is equally its driving force and cause, its effect and consequence. [Proletarian] action participates in history. And while we can as little skip a stage of historical development as escape our shadow, we can certainly accelerate or retard history.

Socialism is the first popular movement in world history that has set itself the goal of bringing human consciousness, and thereby free will, into play in the social actions of mankind. For this reason, Friedrich Engels designated the final victory of the socialist proletariat a leap of humanity from the animal world into the realm of freedom. This “leap” is also an iron law of history bound to the thousands of seeds of a prior torment-filled and all-too-slow development. But this can never be realized until the development of complex material conditions strikes the incendiary spark of conscious will in the great masses. The victory of socialism will not descend from heaven. It can only be won by a long chain of violent tests of strength between the old and the new powers. The international proletariat under the leadership of the Social Democrats will thereby learn to try to take its history into its own hands; instead of remaining a will-less football, it will take the tiller of social life and become the pilot to the goal of its own history.

Friedrich Engels once said: “Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism.” What does “regression into barbarism” mean to our lofty European civilization? Until now, we have all probably read and repeated these words thoughtlessly, without suspecting their fearsome seriousness. A look around us at this moment shows what the regression of bourgeois society into barbarism means. This world war is a regression into barbarism. The triumph of imperialism leads to the annihilation of civilization. At first, this happens sporadically for the duration of a modern war, but then when the period of unlimited wars begins it progresses toward its inevitable consequences. Today, we face the choice exactly as Friedrich Engels foresaw it a generation ago: either the triumph of imperialism and the collapse of all civilization as in ancient Rome, depopulation, desolation, degeneration – a great cemetery. Or the victory of socialism, that means the conscious active struggle of the international proletariat against imperialism and its method of war. This is a dilemma of world history, an either/or; the scales are wavering before the decision of the class-conscious proletariat. The future of civilization and humanity depends on whether or not the proletariat resolves manfully to throw its revolutionary broadsword into the scales. In this war imperialism has won. Its bloody sword of genocide has brutally tilted the scale toward the abyss of misery. The only compensation for all the misery and all the shame would be if we learn from the war how the proletariat can seize mastery of its own destiny and escape the role of the lackey to the ruling classes.

Dearly bought is the modern working class’s understanding of its historical vocation. Its emancipation as a class is sown with fearful sacrifices, a veritable path to Golgotha. The June days, the sacrifice of the Commune, the martyrs of the Russian Revolution – a dance of bloody shadows without number.[10] All fell on the field of honor. They are, as Marx wrote about the heroes of the Commune, eternally “enshrined in the great heart of the working class.” Now, millions of proletarians of all tongues fall upon the field of dishonor, of fratricide, lacerating themselves while the song of the slave is on their lips. This, too, we are not spared. We are like the Jews that Moses led through the desert. But we are not lost, and we will be victorious if we have not unlearned how to learn. And if the present leaders of the proletariat, the Social Democrats, do not understand how to learn, then they will go under “to make room for people capable of dealing with a new world.”

Next Chapter >>

[1] Six weeks was the time allotted for victory on the Western Front by the Schlieffen Plan. The general staff was forced to scrap the plan in October 1914, as the war of movement swiftly evolved into grinding trench warfare.

[2] For three days in April 1903, Kishinev, the provincial capital of Bessarabia in the Russian Empire, was the scene of an anti-Jewish riot. According to an official report, more than fifty Jews were killed and over five hundred injured; hundreds of homes and shops were plundered and vandalized. Local authorities supported antisemitic organizations and deliberately maximized the carnage by holding back on the use of force to reestablish order. Luxemburg here uses the reference to the Kishinev pogrom and to “ritual murder” – the medieval belief that Jews used the blood of Christians, usually children, for ritual purposes – as the nadir of civilization.

[3] Quoting Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852).

[4] At the close of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, besieged Paris revolted against the regular French government (sitting in Bordeaux). For ten weeks representatives of the working class, organized as the Commune, ruled “the capital of Europe” with an efficiency and fairness that surprised and disturbed the propertied classes all over Europe. Recouping its forces, the elected French government retook Paris in street-by-street fighting marked by wanton atrocities and destruction of property on both sides. The First International, founded with the collaboration of Karl Marx in 1864, was falsely accused of fomenting the Commune, but defended it agaisnt the attacks of Reaction (cf. Marx’s The Civil War in France). Its true purpose was to unite working class parties in pursuit of the revolutionary goals first outlined in the Communist Manifesto (1848). But after the defeat of the Commune, doctrinal divisions and factionalism paralyzed the organization which met for the last time in Philadelphia in 1874.

[5] The successor to the First International, the Second took form in 1889 and coordinated most of the Social Democratic parties of Europe from its central offices in Brussels. World War I destroyed the viability of the organization, although it continued to function as the voice of moderate socialists as opposed to the more radical communist parties arrayed in Lenin’s Third International or Comintern (1919-43).

[6] With mobilization at the outbreak of the war, the role of the civilian sector in Germany shrank continually. The country was divided into defense sectors and commanding generals within these took over all the functions of government; they could suspend civil rights, arrest individuals under the guise of protective custody, and exercize considerable powers of censorship. Thus they were able to stifle dissent and particularly to restrict news of the military failures.

[7] August Bebel (1840-1913), an authentic worker, singlehandedly organized the Marxist branch of the German labor movement in the 1860s and then guided it until his death. The Second Morocco Crisis of 1911 aroused fears of imminent European war. The crisis resolution entailed Germany’s recognition of a French protectorate in exchange for a large, relatively worthless strip of French Equatorial Africa. While Britain strongly supported its French ally, Germany had had to back down when its own allies showed clear unwillingness to go to war on behalf of overseas interests. Nationalists at home regarded the outcome as a humiliation, further proof that the Kaiser’s government was incapable of directing the drive for world power. Leftists saw the crisis as ominous proof of the intentions of militarists and imperialists.

[8] Sending the German gunboat, Panther, to Agadir, a port in Morocco, was the Kaiser’s way of announcing his intention of protecting German interests. The symbolic attempt to preempt French designs on erecting a protectorate over Morocco was seen as a provocation and helped the conflict in interest escalate into a full-blown crisis.

[9] According to legend, Wilhelm Tell and representatives of three Swiss cantons met at Ruetli in 1307 to pledge resistance against Austrian tyranny, the traditional foundation of Swiss freedom.

[10] In June 1848, four months after the revolutionary overthrow of the Orleanist monarchy in France, the conservative bourgeoisie regained control of Paris amid street-fighting and great bloodshed. The defeat of the Parisian communards in June 1871 by regular French forces was accompanied by mass executions and later deportations. The Russian revolution referred to by Luxemburg took place in 1905. Briefly, workers’ soviets (councils) controlled St. Petersburg and Moscow, but Tsarist forces were able to quell the revolutionaries and reestablish a somewhat modified autocracy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

March Is Women’s History Month-Honor Communist Leader Rosa Luxemburg- The Rose Of The Revolution

Click on the headline to link to the Rosa Luxemburg Internet Archives.

March Is Women’s History Month

Markin comment:

Usually I place the name of the martyred Polish communist revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg, in her correct place of honor along with Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin and German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht when we of the leftist international working class movement honor our historic leaders each January. This year I have decided to, additionally, honor the Rose of the Revolution during Women’s History Month because, although in life she never fought on any woman-limited basis in the class struggle, right this minute we are in need, desperate need of models for today’s women and men to look to. Can there be any better choice? To ask the question is to give the answer. All honor to the memory of the Rose of the Revolution- Rosa Luxemburg.
Rosa Luxemburg
Marxist Theory and the Proletariat


Written: 1903.
First Published: Vorwärts (Berlin), No.64, 14 March 1903, Karl Marx.
Source: On the Twentieth Anniversary of Marx’s Death first appeared in English in the December 1941 issue of Fourth International, p.319. The extract starts with the 6th paragraph (excluding the quote at the start) and can be found Gesammelte Werke, pp.369-377, this extract being pp.370-372. The full article is in the German Rosa Luxemburg archive. As always, we far prefer to have the full version online instead of an abstract, so translators are wanted to translate the rest of this document!
Translated: [...]
Transcription/Markup: Ted Crawford/Brian Baggins.
Public Domain: Luxemburg Internet Archive 2005. This work is completely free.


In his article on Feuerbach, Engels formulated the essence of philosophy as its attempt to answer the eternal quest of the relationship between thinking and being, the problem of human consciousness in an objective material world. If we transfer these concepts of being and thinking from the abstract world of nature and individual speculation, i.e., from spheres where philosophers by profession operate, into the sphere of social life, then the same thing can in a certain sense be said about socialism that Engels said about philosophy. From ancient times socialism has been the search, the groping for ways and means to harmonize being with thinking, that is to say, to harmonize historical forms of life with social consciousness.

Marx together with his friend Engels was destined to discover the solution to this problem over which men had racked their brains for centuries. Marx discovered that history of all previous societies was in the last analysis the history of the relations of production and distribution in these societies, and that the development of these relations under the rule of private property manifests itself in the sphere of political and social institutions in the form of the class struggle; and by this discovery Marx laid bare the most important motive force in history. At the same time an explanation was discovered for the necessary disharmony in all societies existing up to now between consciousness and existence, between the desires of mankind and the social reality, between intentions and results.

Thus, thanks to the ideas of Karl Marx, men learned the first time the secret of their own social progress. Over and above this, the discovery of the laws of capitalist development likewise pointed out the road along which society is moving – from the spontaneous and unconscious stages during which men made history in the same manner as bees construct their hives, to the conscious, creative and genuinely human historical stage, that stage when the will of society and social reality shall for the first time be harmoniously correlated with each other, when the actions of the social man will for the first time produce precisely the results he will desire.

In Engels’ words, this final “leap from the animal kingdom into the domain of human freedom” will be achieved for society as a whole only with the accomplishment of the socialist overturn; but this is already being accomplished within framework of the existing order through the social-democratic policies. With the Ariadne thread of Marx’s teachings in its hands, the workers’ party is today the only party which, from the historical point of view, is conscious of what it is doing; and by virtue of this is doing precisely that which it desires. This is the whole secret of the power of social-democracy (revolutionary Marxism was known by this name in Rosa’s time – Editor).

The bourgeois world has long been astonished by the extraordinary, insuperable and constant growth of the social-democracy. Now and then, isolated senile or infantile naive minds are to be found, who, being blinded by the extraordinary moral successes of our politics, advise the bourgeoisie to take us as an “example” and to drink deeply of the mysterious wisdom and idealism of the social-democracy. They are incapable of understanding that what is a source of life and vigor, a fountain of youth, for the developing working class is for the bourgeois parties – mortal poison.

And indeed what is it that gives us moral strength, courageously and laughingly to undergo and free ourselves from the cruellest repressions, such as the current twenty-year law against the socialists? Is it perhaps the stubbornness of paupers seeking petty improvements in their material conditions? The modern proletariat is not a shopkeeper, not a petty bourgeois ready to become a hero for the sake of miserable day-to-day comforts. The lack of idealism, the sober narrowness of the English trade unions demonstrates how little capable of creating a high moral upsurge among the proletariat is the mere calculation for petty material boons.

Is it perhaps the ascetic stoicism of a sect like that among the early Christians – a stoicism which flares all the more brightly the more it is persecuted? The modern proletariat, as the heir and foster-child of bourgeois society, is far too much a born materialist, far too much an individual of flesh and blood and healthy instincts to draw its strength and devotion to ideas, in accordance with the morale of slaves, from sufferings alone.

Or, finally, is it perhaps the “justice” of the cause for which we are fighting that makes us unconquerable? The cause of the Chartists and of the followers of Weitling, the cause of the utopian socialist doctrines was no less “just” than our cause. Nevertheless all these doctrines were shattered against the obstacles of modern society.

If, contrary to all the efforts of our enemies, the modern labor movement marches triumphantly forward, its head raised high, then it owes this first and foremost to its calm understanding of the lawfulness of objective historical development, its understanding that “capitalist society with the inevitability of a natural process creates its own negation, namely, the expropriation of the expropriators, the socialist overturn.” In this, its understanding, the labor movement sees a reliable guarantee of its final victory. And from this same source it draws not only its ability to surge forward but also its patience; not only strength for action, but also the courage to stand firm and to endure.