Rosa Luxemburg

Learning from the three Ls

Published on: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 13:36

Hal Draper

It was once a tradition for revolutionary socialists to mark every January by remembering the life and work of Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. In this 1949 article, the US socialist Hal Draper discusses the relevance of the socialism of “3Ls” for the German working class, then under the yoke of imperialist occupation, and for the American working class facing a war-mongering ruling class.

We socialists are not hero worshippers. But we have our heroes. Socialists are not hero worshippers because the very essence of socialism — far deeper than demands for specific social reforms or

Revolutionary versus “democratic socialism”? A reply to Luke Akehurst on "entryism"

Published on: Wed, 07/09/2016 - 11:21

Sacha Ismail

An October 2015 article by Luke Akehurst, a prominent and combative Labour right winger who recently failed to be elected to the party's NEC, was recently drawn to my attention. The article, published on the LabourList website, was about “entryism”, by which Akehurst means the presence of a revolutionary socialist group like Workers’ Liberty within the Labour Party. It has renewed relevance during the current events.

Akehurst merits a reply because, unusually, he at least makes a nod towards rationally discussing the issues, accepting that terms like “Trotskyist” and “entryism” are commonly

What is German Bolshevism?

Published on: Wed, 18/05/2016 - 11:41

Rosa Luxemburg

The revolution that has just begun can have but one outcome: the realisation of socialism!

The working class, in order to accomplish its purpose, must, first of all, secure entire political control of the state. But to the socialist, political power is only a means to an end. It is the instrument with which labour will achieve the complete, fundamental reconstruction of our entire industrial system.

Today all wealth, the largest and most fruitful tracts of land, the mines, the mills and the factories belong to a small group of Junkers and private capitalists. From them the great masses of

The life and politics of Red Rosa

Published on: Thu, 04/02/2016 - 12:00

Gemma Short

“I have no special place in my heart for the ghetto. I feel at home wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears.”

In her graphic biography of Rosa Luxemburg, Kate Evans skillfully portrays not only the woman of great intellect and fighting spirit, but one of great emotion. Heavily drawing on Luxemburg’s letters as source material, Evans gives us insight into the personal thoughts and struggles that lay behind Rosa Luxemburg′s theories, books and speeches.

Yet Evans does not leave the politics out; it is carefully woven into the biographical content. We see the evolution of Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg describes the First World War

Published on: Tue, 02/12/2014 - 03:20

Rosa Luxemburg

Into the disillusioned atmosphere of pale daylight there rings a different chorus; the hoarse croak of the hawks and hyenas of the battlefield.

Ten thousand tents, guaranteed according to specifications, 100,000 kilos of bacon, cocoa powder, coffee substitute, cash on immediate delivery. Shrapnel, drills, ammunition bags, marriage bureaus for war widows, leather belts, war orders - only serious propositions considered.

And the cannon fodder that was loaded upon the trains in August and September is rotting on the battlefields of Belgium and the Vosges, while profits are springing, like weeds,

IS and Ireland, Czechoslovakia, and the national question (Easter Conference, 1969)

Published on: Tue, 10/06/2014 - 03:44

Introduction (2014)

The following text, part of the discussion on Ireland in IS (now called SWP) in 1968–69, attempted to expound the basic Marxist principles on national questions, as the Trotskyist Tendency (forerunner of AWL) understood them. It was moved at the Easter 1969 conference of the organisation.

The previous August, the Russians and the armies of their satellite states had invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress the liberal Stalinist regime there. For forgotten reasons, our resolution took the form of an amendment to a resolution from the Glasgow branch.

The Trotskyist Tendency, like

One-sided culture

Published on: Wed, 02/04/2014 - 10:54

Discussing why the old Italian socialist movement had failed so badly in and after World War One, Antonio Gramsci saw it as having been dominated an oratorical culture, lacking the theoretical depth for which a stronger stream of written debate would have been needed.

Registering the difficulties facing the internationalists in Germany in World War One, Rosa Luxemburg noted ruefully that her comrade Franz Mehring was interested only in literary efforts, not in getting out onto the streets and into the factories to agitate by word of mouth.

Gramsci was not dismissing speeches, and Rosa

To Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg

Published on: Sun, 23/03/2014 - 16:33

They slew you in their beastly rage.
Because you dared the struggle wage
With tyrants and with traitors too —
The traitors feared and so they slew.
Deluded knaves! Your lifeless tongues
More potent now in martyr songs
Will trumpet forth the truth until,
The very earth will rock and thrill;
And thrones and states will crash and fall —
And labour triumph over all.
* *
So comrades, sleep - your work is done;
Sleep on! The battle will be won.

Imperialism: the historic debate in full daylight

Published on: Sun, 29/12/2013 - 21:56

Between 1898 and World War One, Marxists keenly debated imperialism. For decades almost the only living legacy of that debate was in various interpretations of Lenin's pamphlet of 1916, "Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism".

Whatever the large merits of Lenin's text, to read it in abstraction from the debates of the time and of the previous two decades, which Lenin knew and assumed many readers would know, must impair understanding. Moreover, Lenin's text was mostly read "through" Stalinist renderings, and the Trotskyists of the day had urgent calls on their slight resources which

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