“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”
January 15, 2019 11:49 AM   Subscribe

“Rosa Luxemburg was a shining star of the early socialist movement. As an economist and political theorist, a teacher and public speaker, a comrade and rebel, a revolutionary and martyr of the German Revolution, she was many things to many people. Her legacy today reflects that, stretching across a broad spectrum of the international left.” For the 100th anniversary of her death, ROSA REMIX (PDF) (German) presents essays by contemporary writers on Rosa Luxemburg’s legacy, theories, and how they can be applied today. Kate Evans, writer/artist of RED ROSA (Previously) offers some reflections in her twitter feed.
posted by The Whelk (19 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I am so here for this. Thank you for posting.
posted by nikaspark at 12:31 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Who doesn’t love Rosa Luxemburg? Fascists. And Friedrich Ebert, but same diff.

I love the way a lot of her responses to Lenin were “Eh... that gets a B+; have you thought about...”
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:36 PM on January 15, 2019 [7 favorites]

Great Twitter thread; thank you.
For those who would like a little more background Deutsche Welle and Jacobin.
posted by adamvasco at 12:55 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

Ohhh this is fascinating... partly because, even though she was murdered 100 years ago (today), it's intensely political to this day... the SPD (roughly German Democrats/Labour), like everybody else on the left, would love to claim her legacy, but the slight problem is that the order to murder her might have been given by a member of the SPD... who, in turn, would otherwise be kind of untouchable as a member of the anti-Nazi resistance .. plus AFAIK the only source for this is a right-wing general, whose account is, uh, not universally accepted as fact by historians... But nobody really knows, and the current head of the SPD (Andrea N, something?), recently refused to acknowledge the SPD's (hypothetical) responsibility for any of this...

In summary, early 20th century Germany must have been an interesting place. Also, if I ever get shot, I hope people will argue over it like this a century later.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 12:56 PM on January 15, 2019 [5 favorites]

Thank you, The Whelk 🌹
posted by The Toad at 1:35 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Simon Louvish wrote an interesting alternate history titled The Resurrections, in which Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht live, and lots of things get switched up: Germany goes Communist, Trotsky comes to power in the USSR, Hitler moves to America and becomes a U.S. Senator from Illinois, WWII is mostly between the U.S. and Japan and results in both Tokyo and Los Angeles getting nuked, etc. Out of print, but well worth an interlibrary loan or even getting your own copy used IMO.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:45 PM on January 15, 2019 [7 favorites]

Today Counterfire published Lindsey German's introduction to Tony Cliff's book on Rosa Luxemburg that was a good read also.
Luxemburg was a fierce woman, independent mind, unapologetic in combat and committed fully to all battles in which she engaged. She was one of the first, alongside Sylvia Pankhurst, to take Lenin to task on his strategy in the Russian Revolution (though she was highly excited for the revolution itself, which she experienced in her imprisonment for dissenting against the First World War). Together with her comrade and sister Clara Zetkin she opposed bourgeoisie feminism with its emphasis on legal inequality without acknowledging structural oppressions that underpin it. It is fascinating and crucial for our times to reflect on international socialism at the turn of the century and beyond, when figures such as Eleanor Marx, Zetkin, Luxemburg and Sylvia Pankhurst were considered giants and exemplars of activism, without ever reducing their gender into identity politics or tokenism.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:10 PM on January 15, 2019 [6 favorites]

🌹also a botanist 🌹
posted by runincircles at 5:42 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Anyone so interested may peruse her writings on marxists.org. In my opinion, she was the best writer that the Second International ever produced, if not necessarily the best theorist. It's heartening to see people remembering the centenary of her murder.

Here was Lenin's appraisal of her:
Rosa Luxemburg was mistaken on the question of the independence of Poland; she was mistaken in 1903 in her appraisal of Menshevism; she was mistaken on the theory of the accumulation of capital; she was mistaken in July 1914, when, together with Plekhanov, Vandervelde, Kautsky and others, she advocated unity between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks; she was mistaken in what she wrote in prison in 1918 (she corrected most of these mistakes at the end of 1918 and the beginning of 1919 after she was released). But in spite of her mistakes she was—and remains for us—an eagle. And not only will Communists all over the world cherish her memory, but her biography and her complete works ... will serve as useful manuals for training many generations of Communists all over the world.
(Also, she never said or wrote "Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.")
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:38 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

Rosa Luxemburg was very much Not A Bundist:
[T]he Jewish national distinctness in Russia and Poland is based on the socially backward petite bourgeoisie, on small production, small trade, small-town life, and – let us add parenthetically – on the close relation of the nationality in question to religion. In view of the above, the national distinctness of the Jews, which is supposed to be the basis of non-territorial Jewish autonomy, is manifested not in the form of metropolitan bourgeois culture, but in the form of small-town lack of culture. Obviously any efforts toward “developing Jewish culture” at the initiative of a handful of Yiddish publicists and translators cannot be taken seriously.
I mean, I don't exactly disagree with her, but ouch.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:45 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

(Also, she never said or wrote "Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.")

Rosa Luxemburg's chains
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:00 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Christopher Hitchens wrote a lovely essay on Rosa just before he passed.
posted by beisny at 7:13 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

This came up researching my last post on the mass strike in India but the Kerala based Communist Party Of India is using her image in promotion

“Rosa’s picture is prominently displayed along with those of Karl Marx and Raghavan in the poster for the CMP’s 10th party Congress, scheduled for next month. CMP general secretary C P John said Rosa had never been celebrated among communist parties in India. This is the first time that a communist party in India is celebrating her as an icon.

“Russia and China are not role models for India as they are not democratic countries. But, Rosa Luxemburg is a leader who has grown in a democratic set up. She had been one of the founders of the Communist Party in Germany. Next month, we are observing the centenary of her martyrdom. Now, there is a demand for a progressive Left in Europe. The question before us is whether you are with a democratic communist party or an old Stalinist communist party. The relevance of Rosa emerges in that situation. Hence, we have decided to embrace Rosa as our ideological icon. We do not use Stalin in our party campaign material,”, said John.”
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 AM on January 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

A fine post about a hero of mine.

Also, Red Rosa is really good.
posted by doctornemo at 10:25 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I just ordered a copy of Red Rosa, many thanks for the recommendation! This past year I've been really diving into leftist history and theory for the first time, and I can't wait to learn more about Luxemburg's life.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 11:45 AM on January 16, 2019

For what it's worth, I've heard that Red Rosa makes a large number of distortions with regard to how Rosa lived her everyday life and particularly how she related to her gender, in a way that would never be done for other figures. I've not read it myself though.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 3:54 PM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

But, Rosa Luxemburg is a leader who has grown in a democratic set up.

Neither pre-WWI Poland nor Wilhelmine Germany strike me as particularly democratic...

Red Rosa makes a large number of distortions

Such as? (I've glanced at it and it seems pretty well researched.)

Btw, anyone interested in non-graphic-novel biographies can pick up quality ones by Nettl and Frölich.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 4:58 PM on January 16, 2019

Red Rosa makes a large number of distortions

Is there an article or something I can read about this? When I read the book, I want to make sure it doesn't give me an unrealistic view of her life and her thought.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 8:38 AM on January 17, 2019

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