March Is Women’s History Month
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.
From The Archives Of "Women And Revolution"-The Revolutionary Heritage Of Rosa Luxemburg- The Rose Of The Revolution
Click on the headline to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for Rosa Luxemburg-the "Rose Of The Revolution".
March Is Women's History Month
The following is an article from the Sprong 1982 issue of "Women and Revolution" that has some historical interest- for old "new leftists", perhaps. I will be posting more such articles from the back issues of "Women and Revolution" during this Women's History Month.
The Revolutionary Heritage of Rosa Luxemburg
The present situation in Poland cries out for a revolutionary proletarian leadership to cut through the disastrous polarization between a particularly vile and utterly discredited Stalinist bureaucracy and the counterrevolutionary nationalist/clericalist Solidarity "trade union" which lines up with U.S. imperial¬ism's bloodthirsty drive to "roll back Communism" throughout the world. The Trotskyist vanguard which must be forged to defend and extend socialized property in Poland will build on the strong traditions of Polish socialism—the party Proletariat, the SDKPiL, the early Polish Communist Party, ruthlessly purged and finally dissolved by Stalin, and above all the revolutionary heritage of Rosa Luxemburg.
It is striking that all sides in the Polish crisis are united in their silence on Rosa Luxemburg, the greatest proletarian revolutionist in Polish history. Certainly the Stalinist usurpers cannot claim Luxemburg; they have had to obscure and slander her revolutionary example for decades.
Still less will Luxemburg, a woman, a Jew and a communist, find defenders among the fans of Solidarity, a "movement" which embraces virulent anti-Semites and ultra-reactionaries. Solidarity program is openly counterrevolutionary—for private ownership of the land, a bourgeois parliament, a dominant role for the Catholic church in government, for turning the nationalized Polish economy over to the International Monetary Fund, the bankers cartel that starves the Chilean masses. That Solidarity', which openly spurns even the word "socialist," disdains Luxemburg and all she stands for, is fully appropriate.
The social-democratic "left" outside Poland embraces Solidarity and wants therefore to separate itself from Luxemburg. At a February 7 forum in Boston, a Socialist Workers Party (SWP) spokesman solidarized wfth Polish "dissident" Marta Petrusewicz when the latter stated, "The problem with Rosa Luxemburg in Polish minds was that Rosa Luxemburg considered... that the existence of the Polish national being was not an important problem for Polish workers."
It is true that Luxemburg incorrectly opposed the right of Poland to national self-determination, for which Lenin took her to task, pointing out that socialists must support this basic democratic right in order to take it off the agenda and expose the underlying class conflicts which national oppression masks. Her error in his eyes lay in not taking the national question sufficiently into account, thereby rendering more difficult the exposure of nationalism as a mortal enemy of the proletariat. Needless to say it is the height of hypocrisy for the SWP and kindred anti-communists to manipulate Lenin's criticisms of Luxemburg in order to make common cause with the deadly enemies of Leninism, the Pilsudskiite reactionaries who hate everything that Lenin and Luxemburg stood for.
Despite errors on the national question (and other questions), Luxemburg was a communist and in Lenin's phrase "an eagle." Leon Trotsky summed up her historic role with these words:
"We can, with full justification, place our work for the Fourth International under the sign of the'three L's,'that is, not only under the sign of Lenin, but also of Luxemburg and Liebknecht."
—"Luxemburg and the Fourth International," New International, August 1935
The Polish proletariat must recover its revolutionary heritage, the socialist heritage of Rosa Luxemburg, hated by the counterrevolutionaries (and feared by the Stalinists) as a revolutionary leader and martyr. We are reprinting below excerpts from some of Luxemburg's works, which with every word breathe a spirit of militant proletarian internationalism. The first selection, from "The Crisis of Social Democracy" (better known as the "Junius Pamphlet," from her penname), written in prison and published in 1916, indeed "saved the honor of the German proletariat" by condemning the German Social Democratic Party's (SPD) historic betrayal in supporting its "own" bourgeoisie in the first imperialist World War. We reprint also an excerpt from Luxemburg's "Socialism and the Churches" (first published in Cracow in 1905 under the penname "Jozef Chmura") because of its almost eerily appropriate condemnation of attempts by the Catholic church to mislead the workers.
We include the last part of her final work, "Order Reigns in Berlin," written when she and Liebknecht were already in hiding during the bloody of the 1919 Spartakus uprising by the Social Democratic hangmen of the German revolution, Scheidemann and Noske. Luxemburg had opposed the uprising as premature; nonetheless she and Liebknecht took their place in the struggle alongside the best of the German proletariat. Finally, we include as well Karl Liebknecht's final rallying cry, "Trotz Alledem" (In Spite of All). The latter two items are taken from J.P. Nettl's biography Rosa Luxemburg, the former two from Rosa Luxemburg Speaks, Pathfinder Press, 1970.
-from the Junius Pamphlet" (1916)
In refuting the existence of the class struggle, the social democracy has denied the very basis of its own existence. What is the very breath of its body, if not the class struggle? What role could it expect to play in the war, once having sacrificed the class struggle, the fundamental principle of its existence? The social democracy has destroyed its mission Its only mission now is to play the role of the gendarme over the working class under a state of military rule… The leaders of the social democracy are convinced that democratic liberties for the working class will come as a reward for its allegiance to the fatherland. But never in the history of the world has an oppressed class received political rights as a reward for service rendered to the ruling classes....
The war has smashed the Second International. Its inadequacy has been demonstrated by its incapacity to place an effective obstacle in the way of the segmentation of its forces behind national boundaries in time of war, and to carry through a common tactic and action by the proletariat in all countries.
In view of the betrayal, by the official representatives of the socialist parties in the principal countries, of the aims and interests of the working class; in view of their passage from the camp of the working-class International to the political camp of the imperialist bourgeoisie; it is vitally necessary for socialism to build a new workers' International, which will take into its own hands the leadership and coordination of the revolutionary class struggle against world imperialism.
To accomplish its historic mission, socialism must be guided by the following principles:
The class struggle against the ruling classes within the boundaries of the bourgeois states, and international solidarity of the workers of all countries, are the two rules of life, inherent in the working class in struggle and of world-historic importance to it for its emancipation. There is no socialism without international proletarian solidarity, and there is no socialism without class struggle. The renunciation by the socialist proletariat, in time of peace as in time of war, of the class struggle and of international solidarity, is equivalent to suicide....
The immediate mission of socialism is the spiritual liberation of the proletariat from the tutelage of the bourgeoisie, which expresses itself through the influence of nationalist ideology. The national sections must agitate in the parliaments and the press, denouncing the empty wordiness of nationalism as an instrument of bourgeois domination. The sole defense of all real national independence is at present the revolutionary class struggle against imperialism. The workers' fatherland, to the defense of which all else must be subordinated, is the socialist International.
— from "Socialism and the Churches" (1905)
The clergy has at its disposal two means to fight social democracy. Where the working-class movement is beginning to win recognition, as is the case in our country (Poland), where the possessing classes still hope to crush it, the clergy fights the socialists by threatening sermons, slandering them and condemning the "covetousness" of the workers. But in the countries where political liberties are established and the workers' party is powerful, as for example in Germany, France, and Holland, there the clergy seeks other means. It hides its real purpose and does not face the workers any more as an open enemy, but as a false friend. Thus you will see the priests organizing the workers and founding "Christian" trade unions. In this way they try to catch the fish in their net, to attract the workers into the trap of these false trade unions, where they teach humility, unlike the organizations of the social democracy which have in view struggle and defense against maltreatment.
When the czarist government finally falls under the blows of the revolutionary proletariat of Poland and Russia, and when political liberty exists in our country, then we shall see the same Archbishop Popiel and the same ecclesiastics who today thunder against the militants, suddenly beginning to organize the workers into "Christian" and "national" associations in order to mislead them. Already we are at the beginning of this underground activity of the "national democracy" which assures the future collaboration with the priests and today helps them to slander the social democrats.
The workers must, therefore, be warned of the danger so that they will not let themselves be taken in, on the morrow of the victory of the revolution, by the honeyed words of those who today from the height of the pulpit, dare to defend the czarist government, which kills the workers, and the repressive apparatus of capital, which is the principal cause of the poverty of the proletariat.
In order to defend themselves against the antagonism of the clergy at the present time, during the revolution, and against their false friendship tomorrow, after the revolution, it is necessary for the workers to organize themselves in the Social Democratic Party.
And here is the answer to all the attacks of the clergy: The social democracy in no way fights against religious beliefs. On the contrary, it demands complete freedom of conscience for every individual and the widest possible toleration for every faith and every opinion. But, from the moment when the priests use the pulpit as a means of political struggle against the working class, the workers must fight against the enemies of their rights and their liberation. For he who defends the exploiters and who helps to prolong this present regime of misery is the mortal enemy of the proletariat, whether he be in a cassock or in the uniform of the police.
— from "Order Reigns in Berlin" (1919)
It was a matter of honour for the revolution to ward off this attack with all its energy, if the counterrevolution was not to be encouraged to further efforts— The revolutions so far have brought us nothing but defeat, but these inevitable defeats are themselves one stepping-stone on top of another to the final victory....
But the leadership has failed. None the less, the leadership can and must be rebuilt by the masses out of the masses… The masses were up to the mark, they have forged this defeat into the chain of those historical battles which are themselves the strength and pride of international Socialism. And that is why a future victory will blossom from this "defeat."
"Order rules in Berlin." You stupid lackeys! Your "order" is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will rear ahead once more and announce to your horror amid the brass of trumpets: be!"
—from Karl Liebknecht's "Trotz Alledem" (1919)
Hold hard. We have not fled. We are not beaten ... for Spartakus—that means fire and spirit, heart and soul, will and deed of the proletarian revolution. For Spartakus—that stands for all the longing for achievement, all the embattled resolution of the class-conscious proletariat... whether or not we shall survive when all is achieved, our programme will live; it will dominate the world of liberated peoples. In spite of all.