Rosa Luxemburg and the Revolution

Clara Figueiredo, untitled, essay Filmes Vencidos_Digitized analog photography, Moscow, 2016


Rosa Luxemburgo is still alive in the memory of millions, and in the growing attention of cultural and political vanguards around the world.

Rosa Luxemburgo, in Polish Róża Luksemburg, was born on March 5, 1871 in a village of Zamość, near Lublin, Poland. From a very young age she was free-spirited and intellectually brilliant. At age 13, she entered a women's secondary school in Warsaw, where she completed her studies and began her socialist political activism. In 1889, aged 18, she fled to Switzerland, avoiding imminent arrest. She stayed there for nine years and attended the University of Zurich along with other socialist militants such as the Russian Anatoli Lunacharsky and Leo Jogiches (her future husband, for over fifteen years). In 1892 she formed in Poland the Social Democratic Party of Russian and Lithuanian Poland (PSP), with Leo Jogiches,[I] and Adolf Warski as the main leaders. In 1893, Rosa Luxemburgo represented the party at the Zurich Congress of the Second International, but two years later, she broke with the PSP and, with Leo Jogiches and Julian Marchlewski, founded the “Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland”, criticizing the party’s nationalism, directed by Józef Pilsudski. Rosa defended that the independence of Poland would only be possible through a revolution in the empires of Germany, Austria and Russia, and that the fight against capitalism was a priority in relation to national independence.

Rosa married, in April 1897, Gustav Lueck, the son of a German friend, in order to gain German citizenship and be able to remain in that country. The false marriage lasted five years, the minimum time established by law. After settling in Berlin, Rosa became a key figure among European socialists, active in the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). She wrote controversial works and defended a position aimed at defending the revolutionary spontaneity of the proletariat, which was manifested, according to her, through mass strikes, as well as workers' councils, and trying to fix the role of the revolutionary party, in polemic with the bureaucracy. union and social democratic politics.

In 1914 Rosa Luxemburg created, within the German Social Democratic Party, together with Karl Liebknecht, Franz Mehring, Rosa Luxemburg, Paul Levi, Ernest Meyer, Franz Mehring, Clara Zetkin, Leo Jogiches and others, the Spartakusbund (Spartacus League), guided by “Guiding Principles” drafted by Rosa. Due to the position against the First World War of the Spartakusbund, Rosa Luxemburg, Liebknecht and other Spartacists were detained until the end of the war, when the government of Max von Baden granted a political amnesty. The League converged with a fraction of the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) in the creation of the KPD (Communist Party of Germany). The government of the social democrat Friedrich Ebert, in January 1919, started to persecute, detain and eliminate the Spartacists, by that time already organized in the KPD. Rosa was murdered by the Frank Corps (Freikorps) of the army, at the behest of the social democratic minister Noske, in January 1919.Leo Jogiches was assassinated in prison on March 10, 1919, a month after the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, which he investigated and publicly denounced as the work of the collusion between Social Democracy and the General Staff of the German Army.

A 100% internationalist militant, Rosa's political activity was developed mainly in Germany and Poland, but, from an early age, she also had Russia at the center of her concerns (Poland, on the other hand, was part of the Empire of the tsars) and was deeply linked to the Russian revolutionaries within the framework of the Socialist International, including critically: “Russian Social Democracy had a unique and unprecedented task in the history of socialism: to create, in an absolutist State, a social-democratic tactic based on the proletarian class struggle”.

Rosa became politically notorious in the international socialist arena with his polemic against revisionism, in the last lustrous of the 1896th century. In the Socialist International, from XNUMX onwards, the current led by Eduard Bernstein gained strength from Germany, which proposed a review of the basic points of Marxism. Bernstein (1850-1932) was the first revisionist of Marxist theory, questioning several theses: the doctrine of historical materialism, considering that there would be other factors, in addition to material/economic ones, that would determine social phenomena; attacked the dialectic for failing to explain changes in complex organisms such as human societies; the theory of value, considering that value comes from the utility of goods, a theory defended by neoclassical economists. He also called into question the inevitability of capitalist concentration and the growing impoverishment of the proletariat. Therefore, he attacked the idea of ​​the historical inevitability of socialism on economic grounds: socialism would arrive sooner or later, but on moral grounds, as it was the most just and supportive political system. And he attacked the idea of ​​the existence of only two social classes, one oppressor and one oppressed, claiming the existence of several interconnected intermediate classes and a national interest superior to them all. As an alternative to the theses he criticized, Bernstein defended the gradual and constant improvement of workers' living conditions (giving them the means to rise to the middle class), had doubts about the need for company nationalization and rejected revolutionary violence.

Defending a “return to Kant”, Bernstein stated, about the dialectical method: “It constitutes what is traitorous in the Marxist doctrine, the snare that lies ahead of all consequent observation of things”. According to Bernstein, the advance of capitalism was not leading to a deepening of class differences; the capitalist system would not enter the successive crises that would destroy it and open the way to socialism, foreseen by Marx; political democracy would allow the workers' parties to achieve all the necessary reforms to ensure the well-being of the workers, without the need for a dictatorship of the proletariat. The conquest of an advanced social legislation for the time, and a considerable level of political freedoms, made progress in the SPD the so-called “revisionists”, who argued that the workers had become full citizens: through the vote they would conquer the majority of the parliament , and through new legislation they would gradually and peacefully reform and overcome capitalism.

Bernstein's views, presented in detail in Theoretical Socialism and Practical Socialism,[ii] however, they did not go much further than confirming the improvement in the economic situation of the metropolitan working class and the more complex character of bourgeois political domination through democratic methods. These ideas were strong within the party, especially among union leaders. In Reform or Social Revolution, published in 1900, Rosa Luxemburgo noted: “If the different currents of practical opportunism are a very natural phenomenon, explainable by the conditions of our struggle and the growth of our movement, Bernstein’s theory is, on the other hand, a no less natural attempt to unite these currents in a theoretical expression that is its own and goes to war with scientific socialism”.[iii]

Kautsky's "orthodox" response to Bernstein exploited his most glaring weaknesses. Rosa Luxemburg, in Reform or Social Revolution?, made a much more forceful critique, exploring intellectual poverty and the petty bourgeois and bureaucratic spirit of revisionism, giving expression to a moral indignation at Bernstein's intellectual self-sufficiency. Bernstein had launched his jabs at "Marxist orthodoxy" in a series of articles published in the Party's theoretical journal, Die Neue Zeit, between 1896 and 1897. Although these articles caused indignation in the left wing of the Party, there was no serious reply and Kautsky, the “leftist” who edited New time, even thanked Bernstein for his “contribution” to the debate. The right wing was emboldened and a revisionist tendency was organized around the paper. Sozialistische Monatshefte (released in January 1897).

The German Social Democratic Party served as a model for the Netherlands, Finland, the Scandinavian countries, Austria, and had a very dynamic organizing model; it was also imposed by discipline and electoral progress; it was capable of accepting Bernstein's reformist current and Rosa Luxemburg's revolutionary current within its ranks, imposing the same discipline on its ranks of militants; the party emerged from illegality with some 100-150 members and grew steadily through the 1890s in both membership and votes. Rapid growth also brought new problems in the form of increasing pressures from bourgeois society. While at the national level they were excluded from all participation in government, at the state level, particularly in the South, the party was invited to support the Liberals in government. This was a deliberate attempt to make the SPD assume responsibility for the functioning of capitalist society, to incorporate the party into the regime after the crackdown against it had failed. In 1905, the SPD had 385 members and 27% of the electorate. The party press had an enormous readership, with 90 newspapers and magazines having a circulation of 1,4 million in 1913. The party and its press had some 3,5 full-time employees, to which must be added more of three thousand union employees.

In Russia, socialist activity was carried out illegally and under strongly repressive conditions. In What to do?, a text from 1902, Lenin exposed the situation of the Russian socialist and labor movement (the revolutionary and combative tendency of the proletariat, the dispersion of socialist groups) and proposed the creation of an organization of revolutionaries PROFESSIONALS, conspiratorial and centralized, which was at the same time a workers' organization, with ample room for internal debate, but with full unity of action, an organization based on democratic centralism. In 1904, Rosa Luxemburgo criticized Leninist “ultracentralism” stating: “It is not based on the discipline inculcated in it by the capitalist State, with the mere transfer of the baton from the hand of the bourgeoisie to that of a social-democratic Central Committee, but by the breaking, by the extinction of this spirit of slavish discipline, that the proletariat can be educated to the new discipline, the voluntary self-discipline of Social Democracy”. Adding that “the ultra-centralism advocated by Lenin seems to us, in all its essence, to be the bearer, not of a positive and creative spirit, but of the sterile spirit of the night watchman. His concern consists, above all, in controlling party activity and not in fertilizing it, in restricting the movement and not in developing it, in harassing it and not in unifying it.

“The book by Comrade Lenin, one of the most distinguished leaders and activists of the Iskra, in its preparatory campaign before the Russian Congress, is the systematic exposition of the point of view of the ultra-centralist tendency of the Russian party. The conception expressed here in a penetrating and exhaustive way is that of implacable centralism. The vital principle of this centralism consists, on the one hand, in strongly stressing the separation between the organized groups of declared, active revolutionaries and the disorganized milieu – albeit revolutionary and active – that surrounds them. On the other hand, it consists in the strict discipline and direct, decisive and decisive interference of the central authorities in all the vital manifestations of the local party organizations. It is enough to observe that, according to this conception, the Central Committee has, for example, the right to organize all the partial committees of the party and, consequently, also the right to determine the personal composition of each of the Russian local organizations”.[iv] Lenin responded to the criticisms,[v] stating that “what the article by Rosa Luxemburgo, published in Die Neue Zeit, lets the reader know, is not my book, but something else”, and saying: “What I defend throughout the whole book, from the first page to the last, are the elementary principles of any party organization that if you can imagine; (not) one system of organization versus any other”.[vi]To Trotsky's accusation of defending a kind of "Jacobinism" Lenin replied: "The Jacobin indissolubly linked to the organization of the proletariat, which is conscious of its class interests, is precisely the revolutionary social democrat". In the conception of Rosa Luxemburg, on the contrary, “social democracy is not linked to the organization of the working class: it is the movement of the working class”.[vii]

These considerations are little taken into account by several authors, for whom there was a direct link between the What to do? and the later Bolshevik “sectarianism” or “bureaucratism”: “The potential sectarianism that Rosa Luxemburg had noticed in Lenin's conceptions, manifested itself clearly since the revolution of 1905”.[viii] For Ernest Mandel “it is evident that Lenin underestimated in the course of the 1902-1903 debate the dangers for the labor movement that could arise from the fact of constituting a bureaucracy within it”.[ix] Examples of similar analyzes could be multiplied. The Leninist concept of party organization and discipline was especially valuable in disciplining underground socialist committees, whose number was rapidly increasing in Russia, to the leadership of the RSDLP. It was a concept, not a statutory fetish: Lenin accepted, at the 1906 socialist reunification congress, Martov's wording of Article 1o of the party's statutes. However, there was no lack of those who opposed the “democratic spontaneism” of Rosa Luxemburg to the “dictatorial blanquism” of Lenin, with his defense of the centralized and professional party.[X]

The other great debate at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, not at all limited to the socialist sphere, the issue of imperialism and its connection with the laws and tendencies of motion of the capital, had a central protagonist in Rosa Luxemburgo. For Rosa, imperialism was an inescapable necessity of capital, of any capital and not necessarily of monopoly or finance capital, not being specific to a differentiated phase of capitalist development; it was the concrete form that capital adopted to be able to continue its expansion, initiated in its countries of origin and taken, by its own dynamics, to the international level, in which the bases of its own collapse were created: “In this way, capital prepares doubly its overthrow: on the one hand, by expanding at the expense of non-capitalist forms of production, the moment is approaching when all of humanity will effectively consist of workers and capitalists, a situation in which further expansion and, therefore, accumulation , will become impossible. On the other hand, as it advances, it exasperates class antagonisms and international economic and political anarchy to such an extent that it will provoke a rebellion of the world proletariat against its rule long before economic evolution has reached its ultimate consequences: domination absolute and exclusive form of capitalism in the world”.[xi]

Rosa Luxemburgo postulated that capital accumulation, to the extent that it saturated capitalist markets, required the periodic and constant conquest of non-capitalist spaces of expansion: to the extent that these were exhausted, capitalist accumulation would become impossible, a analysis that has been the object of all kinds of criticism, some of them singularly acute: “If supporters of Rosa Luxemburg's theory want to reinforce this theory by alluding to the growing importance of colonial markets; if they refer to the fact that the colonial share in the overall value of England's exports represented in 1904 just over a third, while in 1913 this share was close to 40%, then the argument they sustain in favor of that conception lacks substance. value, and, more than that, with it they achieve the opposite of what they intend to obtain. For these colonial territories really have more and more importance as settlement areas, but only as they become industrialized; that is, to the extent that they abandon their non-capitalist character”.[xii] Rosa, with other assumptions, came to the conclusion of an unavoidable trend towards standardization Valuation of the capitalist world. Remaining in the background were national differences within the world capitalist system, which expressed their uneven and combined development; entire countries were forced to integrate into capitalism in a dependent and associated manner, others imposed themselves as dominant and expropriating nations.[xiii]

Not only Russia, but the whole of Europe and the world were shaken by the Russian revolution of 1905. A new historical era was looming on the horizon: Karl Kautsky could see that “when Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto, the theater of proletarian revolution was limited to western Europe for them. Today it encompasses the whole world”.[xiv]The revolution in Tsarist Russia reignited the debate about reformism and revolution in the international socialist movement. The Russian Revolution of 1905 was the sign that the era of peaceful development of capitalism was coming to an end and it was necessary to prepare the proletariat for the new times – which demanded a new tactic. A left wing of the Socialist International began to slowly form, headed by the Bolsheviks and the left of German Social Democracy. The historical environment and the political phases had characterized the political phases of the Second International: 1) From 1889 to 1895, a period of growth of the European bourgeoisie, with the consequent numerical and organizational expansion of the working class, the idea that gradual change, “ natural”, of society, would lead to the extinction of the social regime of the bourgeoisie; 2) The 1893 crisis was already over in 1895, economic prosperity and rising prices made one think that the bourgeois class would be able to survive for a long time; it was the moment when Bernstein formulated the revisionist theory; 3) The Russian Revolution of 1905 heralded a new revolutionary phase, with radical leaders in Germany (Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg), Holland (Anton Pannekoek), Russia (Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky) and anarcho-syndicalists in France and Italy.

After the 1905 revolution, which also shook Poland, Jogiches and Rosa Luxemburgo, in a marital relationship, moved to Warsaw, where they were arrested, being forced to live in Germany again. They opposed Lenin, who supported the faction of Polish Social Democracy led by Karl Radek. The situation of the Socialist International, its precarious internal balance between reformists, centrists and revolutionaries, became “difficult to sustain, and it began to suffer more and more attacks from the reformist 'right' within the [social democratic] party, which promoted agitation to abandon the revolution completely, and also from a radical left, which believed that social democracy was undergoing a debilitating process of gentrification. From the 1890s onwards, although Marxism seemed to be at the height of its power in Western Europe, it was increasingly divided, both among the party elite and among the mass of its members... right became very difficult to maintain”.[xv] In August 1907, the Stuttgart congress of the Socialist International met, at which the fragile internal anti-reformist and anti-revisionist majority began to break up. The problem of war began to take center stage on the agenda of the labor and socialist movement.

In the same year, 1907, the Hague Peace Conference, organized by several European governments, had completely failed. The German imperial government had rejected proposals to limit the production of armaments made by “democratic” England. English imperialism, dominant in the world, defended through these proposals the status quo ante: bourgeois “pacifism” was the weapon of the exploiters of the world to maintain their domination. The failure of The Hague unleashed furious campaigns in England in favor of the construction of warships, which were soon carried out. Russia, after its defeat by Japan, was out of the fight, but France and England supported Russia, with financial means, to facilitate Minister Stolypin's program of economic reforms; it configured an anticipation of the future confrontation between the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente.

At the Congress of the Socialist International in Stuttgart, the debate on the colonial question was revealing. A sector of German social democracy did not hesitate to designate itself as “social-imperialist”. The thought of this current was reflected in the intervention of the Dutch leader Van Kol, who stated that the anti-colonialism of previous socialist congresses had been of no use, that social democrats should recognize the indisputable existence of colonial empires and present concrete proposals to improve the treatment of indigenous peoples. , the development of its natural resources and their use for the benefit of the entire human race. He asked opponents of colonialism whether their countries were really prepared to do without the colonies' resources. He recalled that Bebel had said that nothing was “bad” in colonial development as such, and he referred to the successes of the Dutch socialists in achieving improvements in the conditions of the indigenous people in the colonies of their mother country.

The congressional commission in charge of the colonial question presented the following position: "Congress does not reject on principle at all times a colonial policy, which under a socialist regime can offer a civilizing influence". Lenin described the position as “monstrous” and, with Rosa Luxemburg, presented an anti-colonialist motion. The result of the vote was a sample of the existing division: the colonialist position was rejected by 128 votes against 108: “In this case, the presence of a negative trait of the European labor movement was marked, a trait that can cause not a little damage to the cause of the proletariat. The vast colonial policy led, in part, the European proletariat to a situation in which it is not their work that maintains the whole society, but the work of the almost totally subjugated natives of the colonies. The English bourgeoisie, for example, obtains more income from the exploitation of hundreds of millions of inhabitants of India and other colonies, than from the English workers. Such conditions create in certain countries a material base, an economic base, to contaminate colonial chauvinism to the proletariat of those countries”.[xvi]

The disagreements manifested in the Socialist International were part of the reasons that led its most important parties to adopt a social-patriotic (in fact pro-imperialist) position in 1914. should be adopted in the face of a war between the powers: “War, when it broke out, should be used as an opportunity for the total destruction of capitalism through world revolution. This insistence corresponded to what had been established in the well-known final paragraph of the Stuttgart resolution adopted in 1907 by the Second International, at the insistence of Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg, and against the initial opposition of the German social democrats, who had only accepted it under pressure. But the nominally accepted policy had never, in reality, been the policy of the constituent parties of the International, and the rise of the International in 1914 effectively put an end to it, as far as the majorities of the main parties of the belligerent countries were concerned.[xvii]

Until 1914 the SPD had grown enormously, both in influence and number of affiliates and in the electoral plan: in the 1912 elections, it reached around 4,3 million votes, 34,8% of the total – 49,3% in the big cities -, and elected the most numerous bench in parliament (110 deputies). On the eve of the war, the SPD had just over one million members, thirty thousand professional staff, ten thousand employees, 203 newspapers with 1,5 million subscribers, dozens of sports and cultural associations, youth movements and the main trade union federation. . The General Confederation of German Workers, under his direction, had three million members. But this impressive force was not put in the political balance to avoid the world war, contrary to the previous decisions of the Socialist International. For the champion of the fight against warmongering in social democracy, Rosa Luxemburg, “wars between capitalist States are in general consequences of their competition on the world market, since each State does not tend only to secure markets, but to acquire new ones, mainly through servitude. of foreign peoples and the conquest of their lands. Wars are favored by nationalist prejudices, which are systematically cultivated in the interests of the ruling classes, in order to distance the proletarian mass from its duties of international solidarity. They are, therefore, of the essence of capitalism, and will only cease with the suppression of the capitalist system”.

Faced with the imminence of war, the congress of the Socialist International was postponed to August 1914, and in practice it never took place: on July 31, the French socialist leader Jean Jaurès was assassinated by a nationalist; on August 3, war broke out. On the 4th of August, to the surprise of many socialists, including Lenin, the German Socialist deputies of the Reichstag voted in favor of releasing war credits. Karl Liebknecht,[xviii] he was the only one to vote against, in the new vote on December 3, 1914. Otto Rühle also voted against, joining Liebknecht, in the vote on March 20, 1915.

When Lenin read in Forward, a newspaper of German Social Democracy, which the SDP members of the Reichstag had voted for war credits, he at first refused to believe, claiming that it must be a forgery launched by the German General Staff to discredit socialism (Trotsky's reaction was identical). Most German socialists cast a pall over their internationalist past. In 1914, German social democracy was powerful. With a budget of two million marks, it had more than a million members, after recovering from the strong repression of the German imperial regime. It was the victory of right-wing socialist pragmatism and opportunism, which had manifested itself in previous years: “Since August 4th – stated Rosa Luxemburg – German Social Democracy is a putrefied corpse”. And he concluded by stating that the flag of the bankrupt International should be: “Proletarians of the world, unite in times of peace, and murder each other in times of war”.

With the outbreak of hostilities, showing the dimension of the enemy, Rosa Luxemburgo underlined the “popular” character of the world war: political leaders mobilized the masses through nationalist demagoguery and demonization of their enemies. Lenin, after the capitulation of the main parties of the Socialist International, and in the face of the outbreak of war in August 1914, from the end of that year proclaimed the struggle for a new Workers' International.[xx] In the face of generalized carnage, only a socialist minority did not bow to nationalism and kept up, despite repression, the flag of proletarian internationalism: in France, a handful of unionist militants around Alfred Rosmer; a few in Germany, with the deputy Karl Liebknecht defending the slogan: “The enemy is inside our country”. The submission of each party to the government of its own bourgeoisie entailed the practical disappearance of the Socialist International.

In 1915, in the royal Prussian prison where she was imprisoned for her antimilitarist activities (“in the midst of darkness, I smile at life, as if I knew the magic formula that transforms evil and sadness into clarity and happiness. So I look for a reason for this joy I do not find it and I cannot help laughing at myself. I believe that life itself is the only secret”), Rosa Luxemburg stigmatized the capitulation of German socialism by voting for war credits, in her pamphlet The Crisis of Social Democracy: “National interests are nothing more than a mystification whose objective is to place the popular and working masses at the service of their mortal enemy: imperialism. World peace cannot be preserved by utopian or frankly reactionary plans, such as international tribunals of capitalist diplomats, by diplomatic conventions on “disarmament”, “maritime freedom”, suppression of the right of maritime capture, by “European political alliances”, by “customs unions in Central Europe”, by national buffer states, etc. The socialist proletariat cannot renounce the class struggle and international solidarity, neither in times of peace nor in times of war: that would amount to suicide. (…) The final objective of socialism will only be achieved by the international proletariat if it confronts imperialism in every line, and makes the slogan “war on war” the rule of conduct in its political practice, dedicating all its energy there. and all your courage.”[xx]

However, the labor movement was in fact lagging behind historical deadlines. Lenin, taking up Karl Liebknecht's cry – “the enemy is within our country” – pronounced himself for the defeat of the government itself in the imperialist war. The internationalist reaction did not wait. The first event was with the left wing of the Social Democratic women's organization. On behalf of the Bolshevik women's newspaper, rabotnitsa, Inessa Armand and Alexandra Kollontai wrote to the German social democratic leader Clara Zetkin with a proposal to organize an internationalist women's conference. The conference was held in Bern, Switzerland, in March 1915. Attendance was small (29 delegates from Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Holland, Poland and Russia). Zimmerwald and Kienthal, cities located in neutral Switzerland. In September 1915, Russian socialists (Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Radek), Germans (Ledebour, Hoffmann), French (Blanc, Brizon, Loriot), Italians (Modigliani), Bulgarians like Christian Rakovsky, as well as representatives of the socialist movement from some neutral countries, gathered, energetically denounced the imperialist character of the world war, the betrayal of the “war socialists”, and demanded the practical application of the decisions of the international congresses of the Second International. There were 38 delegates from twelve countries, including those from belligerent nations. Lenin said: “You can accommodate all the internationalists in the world in four stagecoaches.” Rosa was already in prison.

The sufferings caused by the war led to growing discontent, revolt and finally revolution in Russia. The rebellion turned into a revolution in Russia, the fall of the Kaiser and the largely improvised proclamation of the German Republic, imposed themselves on traditional diplomatic reason, provoking contradictory reactions from politicians, military leaders and simple combatants. The head of the German delegation that signed the armistice with the Entente, Mathias Erzberger, was assassinated shortly afterwards by nationalist soldiers. Thus ended the conflict in which seventy million soldiers, including sixty million Europeans, had been mobilized, more than nine million combatants were killed, largely because of technological advances that determined an enormous growth in the lethality of weapons, but without corresponding improvements in protection or mobility for armies or the civilian population.

With the seizure of power by the soviets led by the Bolsheviks, the October Revolution aimed, first of all, at dismantling the agrarian and national bases of the oppressive system built over centuries by tsarist absolutism. On November 15, 1917, two weeks after taking office, the Council of People's Commissars established the right of national self-determination for the peoples of Russia. The Soviet resolution of the national question provoked Rosa Luxemburg's protest: “While Lenin and his companions manifestly hoped, as defenders of the freedom of nations 'up to separation as a State', to make Finland, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, the Baltic countries, the populations of the Caucasus, faithful allies of the Russian Revolution, we are witnessing the opposite spectacle: one after another, these 'nations' used the newly offered freedom to ally themselves, as mortal enemies of the Russian Revolution, to German imperialism and to bring , under its protection, the flag of the counterrevolution for Russia itself”, he criticized – “the illustrious 'right of nations to self-determination' is nothing more than empty petty-bourgeois phraseology, nonsense…”.[xxx]

For Bolshevism, it was a question of making the national movement a link with the world socialist struggle of the working class: the policy put into practice by the revolution (the independence of the nationalities oppressed by the Russian Empire) was not a mere tactical resource (harmful, according to Rosa, to the interests of the revolution) but based on strategic reasons. The principle of nationality, which until the First World War and with a different content (not “ethnic”) was used against empires and dynasties, was now used, with its radically transformed content, against Bolshevism and the prospect of socialist revolution. worldwide.

The Russian civil war was directly responsible for the end of “Soviet multipartyism”, which Lenin had characterized (and longed for) as the “richest path” for the development of proletarian dictatorship, and political multipartyism in general. In November 1917, the Pravda still proclaimed: “We were in agreement and we continue to agree in sharing power with the minority of the soviets, on condition of a loyal and honest obligation of this minority to subordinate itself to the majority and to carry out the program okay by All the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, which consists in taking gradual but firm and constant steps towards socialism”.[xxiii] And Lenin insisted on the “honesty” of the coalition with the representatives of the left Socialist Revolutionary Party, integrated into the Soviet government. The civil war turned the Bolsheviks into a “single party of the state”, after a failed attempt by their initial leftist SR allies on Lenin’s life (although Fanny Kaplan, its author, insisted that she had acted on her own: it was summarily executed) and the murders of Uritsky and the popular Bolshevik orator Volodarsky. The “red terror”, according to Pierre Broué, included “blind reprisals, hostage taking and execution, sometimes prison massacres… a violence that was a response to the white terror, its counterpart. An orgy of blood, indeed. But the victims were incomparably less numerous than those of the civil war”.[xxiii] Until March 1920, the number of victims was officially fixed at 8.620 people; a contemporary observer estimated it at just over ten thousand victims.[xxv]

Rosa Luxemburg's critique of the Russian revolution, written in prison in 1918, has a unique history. The work was first published in 1922 by Paul Levi, who “decided to publish an explosive unpublished text, the manuscript of which he had prudently preserved since September 1918”. Levi, a disciple of Rosa, was one of the main leaders in the early years of the German CP and the Communist International itself. In April 1921 he was excluded from both for breaking discipline, due to the publication of a pamphlet critical of the “March action” (the German CP's unsuccessful insurrectionary attempt in March 1921). The reason for the exclusion was not the content of the criticism (the terms of which were taken up by Lenin himself in his pamphlet Leftism, Childhood Disease of Communism), but the fact that it was published in breach of party solidarity. Expelled, Levi turned to social democracy. It was within this political framework that he published Rosa's manuscript.

In the most recent phase, Rosa Luxemburg's text was used as an argument in favor of the thesis that Stalinism was already contained in the revolution itself: “The Bolsheviks said that the Constituent Assembly, elected before October, no longer represented the people. But if that were true, why not call elections for a new Constituent Assembly? They do not. And what resulted, that is, the suppression of representative democracy and the hollowing out of direct democracy. Rosa Luxemburg criticized all of this in due course.”[xxiv]Rosa Luxemburg did not criticize any of this, for the simple reason that the Constituent Assembly was elected after October 1917 (in November). This did not prevent another author from citing “the polemic between Rosa Luxemburg, on the one hand, and Lenin and Trotsky, on the other, about the preservation of certain democratic institutions under the workers' government”.[xxv] Such a “controversy” exists only in the author's imagination, since Rosa's critical writing was only published three years after his death.

The limitations of the Russian revolution, derived from its isolation, its economic backwardness and the destruction caused by the world war, were visible from its beginning, and motivated Rosa Luxemburg's reflection: “There is no doubt that the thinking heads of the Russian revolution, Lenin and Trotsky took many decisive steps along their thorny path, strewn with pitfalls of all kinds, dominated by great doubts and the most violent inner hesitations; nothing could be further from them than to see the International accept what they did or failed to do under severe coercion, under pressure, in the turmoil and ferment of events, as a sublime model of socialist policy, worthy of blessed admiration and imitation. fervent”.[xxviii]

With regard to the most urgent question, the agrarian question, the land was nationalized immediately; the peasants were called to occupy the large properties and take possession of them, which provoked the protest of Rosa Luxemburg, still in the German prison: “The seizure of land by the peasants, after the summary and lapidary slogan of Lenin and his friends - go and take the lands! – simply led to an abrupt and chaotic passage from large landed property to peasant landed property. Not a social property was created, but a new private property: the large property was divided into medium and small properties, the relatively advanced large farm into small primitive farms that, on a technical level, work with the means of the time of the pharaohs.

“But that's not all: this measure and the chaotic, purely arbitrary way in which it was applied, did not eliminate property differences in the field, but, on the contrary, aggravated them. Although the Bolsheviks recommended that the peasantry form peasant committees, in order to make the appropriation of the lands of the nobility a kind of collective action, it is clear that this general council could change nothing in terms of actual practice and the balance of forces. real in the field. With or without committees, the rich peasants and usurers, who formed the rural bourgeoisie and who hold local power in all Russian villages, were certainly the main beneficiaries of this agrarian revolution. Even without checking it, it is evident to anyone that at the end of this division of lands, economic and social inequalities within the peasantry were not eliminated, but exacerbated, just as class antagonisms were aggravated”.[xxviii]Later events corroborated most of these concerns.

The elections to the Constituent Assembly, which led to the first internal and external crisis of Soviet power, had been an initiative of the Provisional Government, endorsed by the Soviet government. The Bolshevik government, constituted in October 1917, allowed them to take place. The Constituent Assembly was elected and met on January 5, 1918. From its first meeting, it opposed the Bolshevik government, which therefore decided to dissolve it on January 6, with the argument that the Assembly's composition of forces did not correspond with those existing in revolutionary Russia. The Constituent was convened shortly after the seizure of power, but on the basis of the “lists” (chapas) existing before October (which did not take into account, for example, the division of the SR into right and left, the latter in solidarity with the Bolsheviks in the Soviet government). Postponed several times, the elections constituted, for the parties that had supported the Provisional Government, a means to end the “dual power”, through the suppression of Soviet power. The October insurrection cut short these plans.

The convening of the Constituent Assembly was maintained as a means to confer “democratic legitimacy” to Soviet power, which required as a condition that it recognize that power. In Terrorism and Communism, a work written during the civil war in polemic against Kautsky, Trotsky underlined that this had been the function of the Petrograd Duma in the revolutionary year: “In Petersburg, in 1917, we also elected a Commune (the City Duma), on the basis of the same suffrage 'democratic', without restrictions for the bourgeoisie. These elections, right after the boycott of the bourgeois parties, gave us an overwhelming majority. The democratically elected Duma voluntarily submitted to the Petersburg Soviet, that is, it placed the fact of the dictatorship of the proletariat above the 'principle' of universal suffrage; some time later it dissolved, on its own initiative, in favor of one of the sections of the Petersburg soviet. In this way, the Petersburg Soviet – that true father of Soviet power – had a divine grace for it, a formally democratic halo”.

In the elections for the Constituent Assembly, held in January 1918 at the national level, the Bolsheviks were in a minority overall, although they obtained a majority in the industrial districts (424 thousand votes in Petrograd, against 245 thousand for the bourgeois “cadet” party, and 17 a thousand for the Mensheviks) and, above all, supporters of Soviet power remained in the minority in the general election, which objectively created a “dual power” between the soviets and the Constituent Assembly. In The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, Lenin insisted on the superiority of “Soviet democracy” over bourgeois democracy, to justify the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly (soon after it refused to recognize the Soviet government).

After the soviets took power, “during the first week of December 1917 there were some demonstrations in favor of the Constituent Assembly, that is, against the power of the soviets. Irresponsible Red Guards then fired at one of the processions and left some dead. The reaction to this stupid violence was immediate: in twelve hours, the constitution of the Petrograd Soviet was changed; more than a dozen Bolshevik deputies were dismissed and replaced by Mensheviks… Despite this, it took three weeks to calm public resentment and allow the Bolsheviks to reintegrate”.[xxix]Was it a political error on the part of the Bolsheviks to hold the convening of the Constituent Assembly under the conditions described in the decree? In no text do they admit this. The dissolution of the Constituent Assembly had important internal and, above all, external political consequences. The dissolution was supported by the Bolsheviks, Left Socialist Revolutionaries and anarchists. The political damage for the Soviet government, especially internationally, was great: the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly was the great argument of the bourgeois right and European social democracy against communism.

But the criticisms did not just come from the right and reformist social democracy; Rosa Luxemburg also criticized the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and the restrictions on democratic freedoms in general: “In place of the representative bodies resulting from popular general elections, Lenin and Trotsky put the soviets as the only true representation of the working masses. But, smothering political life throughout the country, paralysis is also increasingly affecting life in the soviets. Without general elections, without unlimited freedom of the press and assembly, without free confrontation of opinions, life withers away in any public institution, it becomes an apparent life in which bureaucracy subsists as the only active element. Public life progressively fell asleep, a few dozen leaders, supporters of inexhaustible energy and limitless idealism, direct and govern; among them, the leadership is assured, in reality, by a dozen superior spirits, and the elite of the working class is summoned from time to time for meetings, with the purpose of applauding the speeches of the leaders and unanimously voting on the proposed resolutions: it is because, at bottom, it is a clique that governs – it is a question of a dictatorship, it is true, not the dictatorship of the proletariat, but the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is, a dictatorship in the purely bourgeois sense, in the sense of Jacobin domination (periodicity of the Congresses of the Soviets postponed from three to six months!). And even more: such a state of affairs inevitably engenders a resurgence of savagery in public life: attacks, execution of hostages, etc. It is an objective, all-powerful law, which no party can escape”.[xxx]

Rosa Luxemburgo changed her point of view when she found that, left to its own devices, the Constituent Assembly proved to lack significant popular mobilization power against Soviet power; she “would not have been able to govern in the face of the disorders of the time, dominated by the same parties that had been unable to govern in 1917, deprived of all military and administrative support; she had no program and no constituency willing to fight for her right to govern”;[xxxii] reasons that explain “the fundamental indifference of the Russian people to the fate of the Constituent Assembly”.[xxxi] Rosa criticized the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, not as a defense of the principles of that institute, but as a demonstration of the lack of confidence of the Bolsheviks in the masses, capable, through their pressure, (as happened in the French and English revolutions) of changing the course and the content of that Assembly (“The soviets, as the backbone, plus the Constituent Assembly and universal suffrage”, was Rosa Luxemburg's formula).

For the then “leftist communist” Gyorg Lukács, “Rosa does not emphasize that these changes of direction [in the French and English revolutions] were diabolically similar, in essence, to the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. The revolutionary organizations of the most clearly progressive elements of the revolution (the soldiers' councils of the English army, the Parisian sections) always violently banished the retrograde elements, transforming these parliamentary bodies in accordance with the level of the revolution. In the Russian Revolution there is a transition from these quantitative reinforcements to qualitative change. The Soviets, organizations of the most progressive elements of the revolution, were not content with purging the Constituent Assembly of all elements other than the Bolsheviks and the Left SR, they replaced them. The proletarian (and semi-proletarian) organs of control and achievement of the bourgeois revolution became organs of struggle and government of the victorious proletariat. This is what Rosa ignores in his critique of the replacement of the Constituent Assembly by the soviets: he sees the proletarian revolution in the structural forms of bourgeois revolutions”.[xxxii]

According to Lukács, the soviets had a function that went far beyond, and qualitatively, the immediate political circumstance of the October Revolution, as they made it possible to overcome the abstract notion of “individual”, “collective” and “general interest” of bourgeois democracy, that camouflaged the decisive fact that each of the subjects in society occupies a determined place in the sphere of material production, inserting themselves in a specific place in the class configuration: “The pure democracy of bourgeois society annuls mediation: it immediately links the individual pure and simple, the abstract individual, with the totality of the State, which, in this context, appears in an equally abstract way. Already through this formal character essential to pure democracy, bourgeois society is politically pulverized. Which does not mean a mere advantage for the bourgeoisie, but the decisive assumption of its class domination. Such domination by a minority is socially organized in such a way that the dominant class is concentrated and prepares for unitary and articulated action, while the dominated classes are disorganized and fragmented. The awareness that the councils (of workers and peasants and soldiers) are the state power of the proletariat means the attempt of the proletariat – as the ruling class of the revolution – to react to this process of disorganization”.[xxxv]

The essential lines of Rosa's manuscript had been previously outlined in two articles that Rosa Luxemburgo had written for the Spartacist press, of which only the first was published: as for the second, who convinced Rosa not to publish was… Paul Levi. In the first article, Rosa attacked the right to self-determination of nationalities oppressed by the Tsarist Empire, granted by the Bolshevik government (in which continued the polemic that, in this regard, had opposed it to Lenin before the First World War) and, above all, the peace of Brest-Litovsk between the Soviet government and the German General Staff: “The peace of Brest is a capitulation of the Russian revolutionary proletariat to German imperialism. Lenin and his friends were not mistaken about the facts, nor did they intend to deceive others: they recognized capitulation. But they deluded themselves in the hope of actually escaping the world war by means of a separate peace. They did not realize that Russian capitulation would result in strengthening German imperialist policy, weakening the chances of a revolutionary uprising in Germany.” Rosa did not see in this the consequence of a Bolshevik error, but of the objective situation: “Here is the false logic of the objective situation: every socialist party that comes to power in Russia will be condemned to adopt a wrong tactic as long as it lacks the help of the international proletarian army. , of which it is a part[xxxiv].

Rosa Luxemburg proposed no alternative to Bolshevik policy but the German revolutionary uprising. As long as this did not exist, Bolshevism would be facing an impasse. Rosa wrote her critique of the Russian revolution after these articles and, according to Paul Levi, aware of their non-publication: “I write this brochure for you, and if I manage to convince you, the work will not have been in vain”. The writing is, first of all, a passionate defense of the Russian revolution, of Bolshevism and of the revolution in general, against the majority of German social democracy: “The revolution in Russia – the fruit of international development and the agrarian question- cannot be resolved in the limits of bourgeois society (…) The war and the revolution demonstrated, not the immaturity of Russia, but the immaturity of the German proletariat to fulfill its historic mission (…) Counting on the world revolution of the proletariat, the Bolsheviks gave precisely the most brilliant proof his political acumen, his fidelity to principles, the audacity of his policy”.[xxxiv]

Regarding Rosa Luxemburg's criticisms of Bolshevism, Luciano Amodio maintained that “it is true that Rosa opposes the councils (soviets) to the Constituent Assembly. But to what extent can it be admitted that it is she who speaks, and not Spartacism, friends of hers rediscovered in the midst of a pro-Russian and pro-Soviet effervescence? (...) It was on leaving prison, under the pressure of the facts, which led her to recant in a few weeks, that she began to understand that something new had appeared, a kind of new logic and a new idea about the revolution, nothing better, centered on the party and not on the masses”.[xxxviii] Would Rosa Luxemburg have become an “authoritarian socialist” under the effect of the “Bolshevik revolution”? Trotsky referred, a decade later, to "(Rosa's) manuscript on the Soviet revolution, very weak from a theoretical point of view, written in prison, which she never published".[xxxviii]Gyorg Lukács stated that “Rosa subsequently modified her points of view, an alteration noted by comrades Warski and (Clara) Zetkin”.[xxxix]

Trotsky maintained that, after the November 1918 revolution (in Germany), “Rosa came closer day by day to Lenin's ideas about conscious direction and spontaneity: it was certainly this circumstance that prevented her from publishing her work, from the which later was shamefully abused against Bolshevik policy”. According to another author: “Rosa’s essay on the Russian revolution, celebrated today as a prophetic indictment against the Bolsheviks (is more) an exposition of the ideal revolution, written – as Rosa often did – in the form of a critical dialogue, at the time with the October Revolution. Those who have looked to it for a critique of the foundations of the Bolshevik revolution must look elsewhere.”[xl]In fact, polemicizing against the left wing of the German CP, which was in favor of boycotting the elections for the German Constituent Assembly (Rosa defended participation), Rosa implicitly defended the dissolution of the Russian Constituent Assembly: “They forget that something different happened before the dissolution of the National Assembly, the power of the revolutionary proletariat? Do you already have a revolutionary government today, a Lenin-Trotsky government? Russia has had a long revolutionary history before that Germany does not.”[xi]

Rosa's criticisms of the Soviet government's measures centered on: 1) The issue of peace; 2) The agrarian policy, (“land to the peasants”), “an excellent tactic to consolidate the government, but which creates insurmountable difficulties for the subsequent socialist transformation of agriculture”; 3) The national question: the right of nations to self-determination would be nothing more than an empty phrase within the framework of bourgeois society. In practice, Finland, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, the Baltic countries and the Caucasus used this right to ally with German imperialism. The proletariat was not impervious to nationalist ideas. Rosa rejected any compromise that, in the name of immediate needs, would block the full development of the life and political action of the masses; hence it was possible to state that when Rosa “affirms that freedom is always only the freedom of those who think differently, his assertion is not a return to liberalism, but an element, a vital constitutive part of a proletarian public opinion, which does not can limit itself to reproducing and applauding decisions, given programs, established guidelines of thought”.[xliii]

Rosa Luxemburg's political quarrel with Bolshevism had strong roots in the past of debates in the Socialist International. On the other hand, the conclusion with which Rosa ended her essay does not seem circumstantial, but rather strategic: “What is essential and lasting in the policy of the Bolsheviks (...) what remains, its imperishable historical merit, is that by conquering political power and placing the practical problem of the realization of socialism opened the way for the international proletariat and considerably advanced the conflict between capital and labor throughout the world. In Russia, the problem could only be posed, it could not be solved, because can only be solved on an international scale. And, in that sense, the future belongs everywhere to Bolshevism".[xiii]

Rosa's release from prison coincided with the beginning of the German revolution. By the end of 1917, in Germany, there had already been strikes in solidarity with the Russian revolution. In 1918, the proletariat in Russia pinned its hopes on the revolution in Germany, a perspective supported by the massive strikes breaking out in the big German cities: it seemed the prelude to the revolution. The soldiers were war-weary, many deserted while the population in the rear suffered from starvation. The Russian revolution spread the idea of ​​workers' councils, inside the factories or with specifically political functions. The German bellicose defeat meant the end of the Hohenzollern empire, in which the government did not have to answer to the parliament. When, on October 5, 1918, it was announced that Germany was asking for an armistice, the peace movement grew with the speed of an avalanche, there were demonstrations against the war; on the 3rd of November, the Kiel sailors rose up; On November 9, Berlin workers took to the streets and, together with revolutionary soldiers, took over the city: around ten thousand workers' and soldiers' councils were created throughout the country. In November 1918, the mutiny of the Kiel sailors coincided with the decision of the Kaiser's General Staff to call for an armistice. The Kaiser was overthrown by the revolution of the rate, workers' councils, which were, in fact, masters of the situation in the cities. They were generally not elected, but formed on the basis of an agreement between the governing bodies of the two social democratic parties, the “official” and the “independent” (USPD), created during the war in 1917.

In central Germany, in Berlin, in the Rühr basin, the councils controlled, in the first post-war months, production, and strongly limited the power of the capitalists in the companies. A National Congress of Workers' and Soldiers' Councils (Reichskongress der Arbeiterund Soldatenräte), held from December 16 to 21, 1918, was dissolved after the leader of the Social Democratic Party, Friedrich Ebert, convinced him to hand over power to a bourgeois provisional government, ironically called the Council of People's Commissars (Council of People's Deputies), and to which, until December 29, 1918, the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, USPD), centrist and pacifist split of the SPD created in April 1917, which originally included the Spartacus League.

The question of revolutionary leadership was thus more complex than in revolutionary Russia in 1917. This had antecedents: in 1915, in the midst of war and during the duration of the patriotic wave, the Groupe Internationale, with internationalist positions, later called Spartakusbund, but its leader, Rosa Luxemburgo, did not break with the SPD. Her slogan was: "Don't leave the party, change the course of the party". In 1915 Spartacists rejected Lenin's call for a new International at the Zimmerwald Conference. When the USPD emerged, founded by SPD deputies who were expelled from the party for refusing to vote for new war credits, Rosa Luxemburg and the Spartacus League joined this “centrist” organization as a faction. They did this despite the fact that among the most prominent leaders of the USPD were Karl Kautsky, an outspoken opponent of the Soviet revolution, and Eduard Bernstein, the leader of "revisionism." Rosa Luxemburg justified this in an article, declaring that the Spartacus League had not joined the USPD to dissolve into a weakened opposition: “She joined the new party – confident of the ever-increasing aggravation of the social situation and working for it – to push the party forward, to be its encouraging conscience... and to take the leadership of the party”.[xiv]

Rosa Luxemburg severely attacked the communist “Bremen Left” — led by Karl Radek and Paul Frölich — which refused to join the USPD and described the entry of the Spartacists as a waste of time. She denounced her advocacy of an independent communist party as a Kleinküchensystem [“small kitchen system”, in the sense of fragmentation] and wrote: “It is a pity that this system of small kitchens has forgotten the main thing, the objective conditions, which, in the last analysis, are decisive and will be decisive for the action of the masses… It is not enough that a handful of people have the best recipe in their pockets and know how to lead the masses. The thinking of the masses must be freed from the traditions of the last 50 years. This is only possible with a great process of continuous internal self-criticism of the movement as a whole”.

The revolution did not break out in Berlin, the German capital, but on the coast, in Wilhelmshaven. On November 4, 1918, part of the sailors of the fleet rose up. The rebellious sailors were taken to Kiel, where execution by officers awaited them, but this tragic end was averted. Solidarity was expressed, being encouraged by another part of the sailors. They spent three days in discussion, with the workers and the dockers, about what to do. On the third day, thousands of workers joined them in a massive demonstration of strength. It was the beginning of the revolution whose fate was to be decided in Berlin. The troops from the front that had been successfully used to crush the Finnish revolution were already arriving in the capital.

In the German capital, Berlin, on November 9, 1918, more than one hundred thousand workers left the factories at dawn, heading towards the city center. They made stops on the way to drag other workers, and in front of the barracks. The determination was great to try to convince the soldiers. There were signs saying “Brothers, don't shoot!”. The tension was building; the soldiers opened the barracks, helped raise the red flag and accompanied the uprising masses. The world war was indeed over, and the German revolution had begun. With the revolution, and without any resistance, emperor and princes abandoned their thrones. No one raised their voice in defense of the monarchy. On 9 November, Prince von Baden transferred his legal powers to Friedrich Ebert, leader of the SPD. It was hoped that this act would be enough to calm the masses. The next day, a revolutionary government was established under the name of Council of People's Deputies, “Council of People's Commissars”, formed by three members of the SPD and three of the Independent Social Democratic Party, led by Hugo Haase. This council would govern Germany between November 1918 and January 1919.

It was not until December 1918, a month after three USPD leaders joined the provisional government, led by the SPD's right, with Ebert and Philipp Scheidemann, that the Spartacists broke with the USPD, which was no longer needed. At the end of the year, in December, the KPD (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, Communist Party of Germany) was eventually founded by the Spartacus League, the “Bremen Left” and other left organizations. The founding Congress of the Communist Party, held after the split of the Spartacist League from the USPD, was held from December 30, 1918 to January 1, 1919. At this congress, at the urging of Rosa Luxemburg, Paul Levi made a speech defending the participation of the KPD(S) in the elections for the National Constituent Assembly that would write the Weimar Constitution – not because it harbored parliamentary illusions, but to reach the workers with a message that would break with the counterrevolutionary consensus around a bourgeois democratic republic as an alternative to the movement of the workers' councils. Congress rejected this position, condemning itself to political isolation.

Ebert signed a secret agreement with the military high command. It was the end of imperial domination in Germany, but the real battle between the proletariat and capital was still ahead. Despite the fact that the revolution of November 9 was led by the workers, Rosa Luxemburgo called this first phase the “soldiers' revolution”, since the main concern of its main protagonists (soldiers and sailors) had been peace. Once the war was over, the revolution had to face the illusions of the soldiers and workers in the old social democracy. Richard Müller, factory delegate, elected president of the general council of workers and soldiers, confirmed that, at council meetings, many soldiers wanted to lynch any revolutionary who described social democracy as counterrevolutionary. However, the very existence of these bodies, despite being dominated by reformist social democracy, objectively constituted a situation of dual power vis-à-vis the State. Despite the end of the war, the problems did not fail to demand an urgent solution: hunger, inflation, wage reductions, the acceleration of unemployment, became distressing. The new Chancellor of the Reich, Friedrich Ebert,[xlv] he was also named president of the “Council of People's Commissars”, in which the two socialist parties were represented: the “official” (SPD) and the “independent” (USPD). The revolutionary wave was generalized. From that moment on (November 1918), the isolation of the Russian Revolution seemed to have been broken.

The SPD, the majority in the workers' councils and supported by the Entente and the German bourgeoisie, was linked in secret to the leadership of the armed forces. By making concessions, such as an eight-hour working day, Ebert's “socialist” government momentarily removed the danger of arming the proletariat, and managed to isolate the communists. When the Constituent Assembly was convened, it was denounced by the communists as an attempt to divert the revolution: “Thus sounds the second point on the agenda of the Assembly of Councils of Workers and Soldiers of the Empire and thus, in reality, the question of cardinal of the revolution, at the present time. Here is the dilemma: either the National Assembly or all power to the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils; either renouncing socialism or the sharpest class struggle, with all the equipment of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. It is an idyllic plan: to implement socialism through parliament, through a resolution adopted by a simple majority! It is a pity that this blue fantasy the color of the sky, coming out of the cuckoo's nest in the clouds, does not even take into account the historical experience of the bourgeois revolution, let alone the uniqueness of the proletarian revolution”, sentenced Rosa Luxemburgo.[xlv]

The first national congress of workers' and soldiers' councils, which met from December 16 to 21, 1918, decided to entrust the government with legislative and executive power until a National Assembly was called. The revolution, however, was taking hold in the country: economic demands had played a secondary role during the November revolution. A second phase would combine economic and political claims; the counterrevolution, however, did not sit idly by but was busy preparing to crush the revolution through provocations. Social Democracy was the brain of these maneuvers, which were based on the illusions of many workers about that party, which they still considered as their own. The state of dissolution of the army made it difficult to use it as an instrument of “white terror”. It was with the aim of assuming this task that the Frank Corps (Freikorps) that would later constitute a backbone of Nazism.

Social democracy justified white terror in the fight against “murderous Spartacists”. At the same time, the main social democratic newspaper, Forward, openly instigated the murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburgo. On the 6th of December, the headquarters of the Spartacist newspaper Rote Fahne (Red Flag) was attacked; and soon after a manifestation of the Spartakusbund was attacked by surprise near the center of the city; there was an attempt to arrest and assassinate Liebknecht. In reaction, there were solidarity demonstrations in Berlin and strikes in heavy industry in Upper Silesia and the Rühr. The second offensive of the counterrevolution was the assault by the division of armed sailors occupying the arsenal in Berlin. These sailors had brought the revolution from the coast to the capital. The mainstream press accused the sailors of being murderers, thieves and “Spartacists”. As soon as the sailors were attacked, numerous workers, and their wives and children, awakened by the noise, spontaneously arrived to support them. Many among them, without any weapons, stood between the soldiers and their targets, the sailors. His courage and persuasion caused the soldiers to lay down their weapons and take those of their officers.

The next day, in Berlin, there was the most massive demonstration since the beginning of the revolution, this time against the SPD. The SPD and military elites realized that direct attacks against symbols of the revolution, such as Karl Liebknecht or the marine division, only strengthened them, as they resulted in reactions of solidarity and protest. This is why the target of the next offensive, in January 1919, was the police chief (mayor) of Berlin, Emil Eichhorn, a left-wing member of the USPD, the “centrist” faction of social democracy. The counter-revolution expected little workers' solidarity with Eichhorn, and a limited proletarian reaction in Berlin could be crushed before it received provincial support. Eichhorn challenged the government's decision to remove him, refusing to obey orders from the Home Secretary, and asserting that his authority could only be questioned by the Workers' and Soldiers' Council.

The leadership of the USPD in Berlin supported this decision and decided to resist, calling the masses to the streets for a demonstration of protest. The Spartacists supported the street action, but defending the general strike and, more importantly, that the army troops should be disarmed and the workers armed. The workers understood that the attack on the mayor was an attack on the revolution: 500 workers demonstrated in Berlin against his resignation: Karl Liebknecht called at that moment to immediately form a revolutionary government (to which Rosa Luxemburg was against). Rote Fahne, the Spartacist organ, now an organ of the KPD, supported the need for new elections in the councils, dominated by the SPD and the USPD, so that the evolution of the workers towards the positions of the left could be reflected in them.

In addition, the newspaper called for the arming of the workers without failing to show that the time for the seizure of power had not yet arrived, as the rest of the country was not as advanced as Berlin. Events accelerated from January 1919: in the Rühr Valley region, the Freikorps they crushed the workers' militias that were trying to enforce the decision of the regional conference of councils to expropriate the mines. Miners in the region would declare a general strike at the end of March, being likewise repressed twenty days later. A republic of councils proclaimed in the city of Bremen on 6 January was defeated after less than a month. Shortly afterwards, a strike movement in central Germany (Halle and Leipzig) was defeated in early March. The revolutionary leaders gathered to give objectives to the mass of workers occupying the streets of Berlin. Attending the meeting were seventy factory delegates (from the left of the USPD and close to the KPD), Karl Liebknecht and Wilhelm Pieck for the KPD, and later some heads of the USPD. They had received reports that some military garrisons expressed willingness to participate in the armed insurrection.

The revolutionary leaders were undecided. Other information came in saying that the big newspapers, and in particular the Forward, had been occupied by the workers. Karl Liebknecht positioned himself in favor of the immediate seizure of power, being criticized by Rosa Luxemburgo. A general strike was voted and there was a large majority in favor of overthrowing the government and maintaining the occupation of the newspapers. In addition, they founded a provisional revolutionary initiative committee. The reports received were soon proven to be false. The KPD leadership was dismayed when it learned of the proposed insurrection, regarded as an adventure. Rosa Luxemburg's warnings against premature insurrection were not understood or heeded. Faced with a premature insurrection, it was thought that one should nevertheless support the working class. Only the seizure of power in Berlin could prevent bloodshed. Although the workers had evolved to the left since 1918 and were increasingly distrustful of social democracy, this did not mean that the political leadership of the workers councils was in the hands of the KPD.

This leadership was mainly in the hands of the USPD, the “left” social democracy. His oscillating policy confused the workers, especially when the “provisional committee” (from which the KPD members had left) started negotiations with the SPD instead of fighting it. Then came the moment awaited by the reaction. White terror attacked with force through artillery, assassinations, acts of violence against workers and soldiers, mistreating women and children, and the systematic hunt against Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, this time under a “socialist” cover. In an SPD newspaper at the time, it read: “The following appeal is made: “Citizen, worker! The homeland is on the brink of chaos. Let's save her! The threat does not come from outside, but from within, from the Spartacus group! Kill your leader! Kill Liebknecht!”

On January 13, 1919, Artur Zickler wrote in the SPD newspaper, Forward: “Hundreds of dead in a row… but Karl, Rosa and Radek are not there”. The war minister of the SPD government, the Social Democrat Gustav Noske, summoned the Frankish Corps to Berlin. Berlin had been in a state of siege since January 9, 1919. Faced with rising inflation, layoffs, massive unemployment, strikes spread throughout the country, particularly in Upper Silesia, the Rhineland, Westphalia and central Germany. . The Rühr region in particular was very combative, with millions of miners and steel workers implicated in strikes and other actions. As strikes raged, revolutionary Berlin was literally fighting for its survival. Rosa and Liebknecht, persecuted, knew that there was nowhere else to run. They constantly changed hiding places; Far-right businessmen offered rewards to anyone who reported their whereabouts. Finally, the Frankish Corps, trained in street combat, restored "order".

In one of her last texts, Rosa Luxemburgo noted: “Order reigns in Berlin! triumphantly proclaims the bourgeois press among us, as well as Ministers Ebert and Noske and the officers of the victorious troops, for whom the petty-bourgeois rabble of Berlin wave their handkerchiefs and shout their hurray. The glory and honor of German arms are safe from world history. Those who fought miserably in Flanders and Argonne can now restore their name through the brilliant victory achieved over three hundred Spartacists who resisted them in the building of the Vorwaerts. The first glorious forays of enemy troops into Belgium and the times of General von Emmich, the immortal victor of Liège, pale in comparison with the exploits of the Reinhardts and their “comrades” in the streets of Berlin. The delegates of the besieged Vorwaerts, sent as parliamentarians to arrange for their surrender, were hacked to pieces by government soldiers, and this happened to such an extent that it was not possible to recognize their corpses. As for the prisoners, they were hung from the walls and murdered in such a way that many of them had their brains outside their skulls. Who still finds, after these facts, any mystery in the shameful defeats inflicted by the French, the English and the Americans on the Germans? Spartakus it is the enemy, and Berlin the battlefield on which only our officers know how to win. Noske, “the worker”, is the general who knows how to organize victory where Luddendorf failed”.[xlv]

On January 15, 1919, Rosa Luxemburgo and Karl Liebknecht were arrested and brutally murdered by the Freikorps, under the orders of the social democratic minister Gustav Noske (Rosa Luxemburgo's body was decapitated and quartered, only to be located weeks later, although doubts and controversies hover over her identification to this day). Rosa, Karl Liebknecht and Wilhelm Pieck had been arrested and taken for questioning at the Adlon Hotel in Berlin: the paramilitaries of the Freikorps they took us from the hotel. Pieck managed to get away; Rosa and Liebknecht were hit on the head with rifle butts and placed in a car. During the journey, the two were shot in the head, Rosa's mutilated body was thrown into the watercourse known as the Territorial Army Canal (Landwehr Canal). The mainstream press, including the Forward of the SPD, reported that Liebknecht had been killed trying to escape, and that Rosa Luxemburgo had been lynched by the mob as she left the Hotel Eden, where she was being held. Social democracy had gone all the way to counterrevolution, paving it in blood. Rosa was only 47 years old.

Commander Pabst admitted that he had given the execution orders for Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, but insisted to the end that these were not murders, but executions under martial law, and that the Freikorpswould have acted with full support from Noske.[xlviii] On January 25, 1919 Karl Liebknecht was buried in the Friederichsfelde cemetery, known as the “socialist cemetery in Berlin”, along with 31 more revolutionaries murdered by the soldiers of the social democratic minister. The tomb destined for Rosa Luxemburg was left open because the police had disposed of her body. Another 42 victims of the police terror of 1919-1920 were buried in the same cemetery. Franz Mehring survived these murders by only a few weeks.

“Rosa was active for 20 years in the Polish Social Democracy (SDKPiL) and in the German Social Democracy; she polemicized all her life with Lenin; actively participated in the Russian revolution of 1905; she was the only woman to be a professor of Political Economy at the School of the SPD (German Social Democratic Party); Along with her peers on the left wing of the SPD, she founded the Spartakus League – named after the gladiator of Thracian origin who led a mass revolt in ancient Rome; she spent the entire war in prison, where she wrote lyrical letters to her friends and loves; she got out of prison in November 1918 and became the leader of the German revolution; in late December 1918 she became one of the founders of the KPD (Communist Party of Germany); she was assassinated on January 15, 1919 by paramilitary troops, the Freikorps, precursors of the Nazis. Their killers had light sentences and lived peacefully in Nazi Germany”, summarized Isabel Loureiro.[xlix]

Right after the assassination of the communist leaders, on the 25th of January Gustav Noske proclaimed a state of war in Berlin, without being afraid of the reactions of the proletariat. The SPD actually installed a military dictatorship in the city. The struggle for the immediate continuation of the revolution was defeated. Faced with repression in the Rhineland and Westphalia, the strike regained strength across the country; even military garrisons in the cities of Erfurt and Merseburg explicitly gave their support to the revolutionary workers. At that moment, the strike had reached its peak. The only possibility of moving to a higher stage was for the workers of Berlin to join the strike. On the 25th of February the general strike was complete and the government had fled to the small town of Weimar. After having witnessed the bloody acts of the SPD in Berlin and elsewhere, the workers no longer believed in their calls for peace. The SPD tried to stop the strike in Berlin by all means. The General Council of the Berlin Soviet hesitated. The decision was finally taken by the workers themselves, who sent delegates from the big factories to inform the council that all the factories had already voted to strike. The general strike spread throughout the city. Faced with this situation, the SPD delegates in the workers' and soldiers' council voted in favor of the revolution, against the political line of their party.

The Berlin proletariat rose, however, too late. The strike in central Germany, which had waited so long for a signal from Berlin, was ending. The trauma of January 1919 had been fatal. This was what Rosa Luxemburg feared: “Is it possible to expect a definitive victory for the revolutionary proletariat, in its struggle with the Ebert-Scheidemanns, to accede to a socialist dictatorship? Certainly not, especially if all the factors called upon to decide on the issue are duly considered. The vulnerable point of the revolutionary cause at this moment is the political immaturity of the great mass of soldiers who still allow their officers to send them against their own class brothers. For the rest, the immaturity of the worker-soldier is nothing more than a symptom of the general immaturity in which the German revolution still finds itself. The countryside, which is where most of the soldiers come from, is as much after as before outside the field of influence of the revolution. Berlin is until now, compared to the rest of the country, something like an islet. The revolutionary centers of the province (those in Rhineland, Wasserkant, Brunschwitz, Saxe and Württemberg in particular) are body and soul on the side of the Berlin proletariat, but for the moment they lack direct agreement in action, which is the only one that can provide incomparable effectiveness. to the upsurge and combativeness of the Berlin workers. Furthermore, the economic struggle (which is the origin of veritable volcanic sources from which the revolution feeds) is still at a clearly early stage. From all this it can be clearly deduced that it is unreasonable to count on a decisive victory for the moment”.[l]

The hour of the counterrevolution had arrived. White terror was unleashed across the country, particularly in Berlin. Thousands of revolutionary workers were hunted down and murdered (among them Leo Jogiches, leader of the KPD and ex-husband of Rosa Luxemburg). The German proletarian revolution was faced with a much stronger enemy than in Russia. The SPD contributed greatly to giving the State political strength, as it knew how to take advantage of the trust it still enjoyed within the working class to fight the revolution. In the elections of January 1919, two months after the “November Revolution”, the SPD obtained more than eleven million votes, the USPD two million, while the KPD, persecuted and defeated, did not participate. The government of the “people's commissars” of social democracy was the spearhead of the “Weimar coalition”, which received 76% of the votes: the SPD 37,9%, and the parties of the direct representatives of big capital, the center party and the Democratic Party, 19,7% and 18,5%, respectively. Social democracy had become the axis around which the front of the entire bourgeoisie, including the anti-republican and anti-Semitic German National Party, revolved.

The political positions defended by Rosa Luxemburg before her assassination were continued at the founding congress of the Communist International (CI), held shortly after her death, under her honorary presidency and that of Karl Liebknecht. The inaugural speech of the congress, held in March 1919, was given by Lenin: “By order of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russia, I declare inaugurated the first International Communist Congress. First of all, I ask all those present to honor the memory of the best representatives of the Third International, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburgo, let us stand up”. Debates about the need for a new International were already international before the October Revolution.[li]Rosa had opposed, at the founding congress of the KPD, the founding of the new International, that is, the immediate break with the Socialist International. At the founding congress of the CI, the “independent socialists” of Germany took up the question of the Constituent Assembly in Russia, proposing its unification with the soviets, even declaring that the latter could not and should not be governing bodies (the proposal was qualified as “ stupid” by Lenin), a position that was defeated.

The decision to found the new International was not peaceful either, as the German delegates were opposed to it; the discussion about it had several interventions (only two Russians: Zinoviev and Angélica Balabanova); the motion favorable to the foundation was presented by Rakovsky, Gruber, Grimlund and Rudnyanszky, none of them Russian. In the vote on this matter, the votes were split between “decisive” and advisory”; the favorable vote had five abstentions, those of the German delegates (who were “decisive”), who manifested, in the debate and after it, through their spokesman “Albert” (Hugo Eberlein) that, although they considered the foundation of a new International (and did not vote for it, respecting the mandate of their party) would defend it upon his return to the country, informing his party that he could consider himself a full member of the new International. The decision was received with enthusiasm by those present.

Rosa's text, written in prison, about the October Revolution, had a history as controversial as its author. It was first published in 1922 by Paul Levi, leader of the German Communist Party, who had been expelled from the KPD for having publicly criticized the "March Action" of 1921, a failed insurrectionary attempt carried out by the new leadership of the KPD, pressured by the Communist International (CI). Lenin, disagreeing with the public nature of Levi's criticism of the “revolutionary offensive” advocated by the CI, although not with its content (which he appropriated to defend the policy of the “United Front”) denounced in Levi the “ wanderer who, like a hen amid heaps of rubbish, roams the backyard of the labor movement”. Against Levi the hen, Lenin evoked Krilov's Russian fable: "Eagles are allowed to descend lower than chickens, but chickens will never be able to climb as high as eagles." There followed a list of five mistakes made by Rosa Luxemburgo, the last one present in the text: “She made a mistake in her prison writings of 1918 (by the way, she herself, when she left prison in late 1918 and early 1919, corrected a large part of its errors)".

According to Isabel Loureiro, in a preface to the Brazilian reissue of these writings: “Lenin’s assessment, who had not read Rosa’s text or Levi’s preface, gave rise to the tendency within the KPD to use it as a weapon against the opposing camp. , without investigating what in fact she had said and done. Lenin thus prepared the ground for what, after another failed attempt at insurrection by the KPD in October 1923, was called 'Luxembourgism' – an amalgamation of errors that derived basically from two ideas attributed to Rosa Luxemburg: she would have developed n'The Accumulation of Capital a mechanistic theory of the collapse of capitalism; and would have created a theory of the spontaneity of the masses, thus denying the need for political organization in the struggle for socialism”. Isabel described Lenin's insinuation that, eventually, Rosa could sink as low as a chicken as “malicious”. Lenin, however, complained (vehemently and critically) that the German Communists publish the entire work of Rosa Luxemburg (and Karl Liebknecht).

This work has not yet been published. And it takes too long. The best-known and controversial part (his texts on capital accumulation and imperialism, on the Russian and German revolutions – without forgetting his thesis on the development of capitalism in Poland),[liiii] far from scoffing, it raises ever-increasing debates. In 1968, it was with portraits of Rosa Luxemburg that German students took to the streets and faced repression, again social democratic, in mass marches against the Vietnam War and against the presence of imperialist troops in Germany and Europe. Margarethe Von Trotta made a film about Rosa Luxemburg, with Barbara Sukowa, in the lead role, in 1985, achieving an unusual international success for an openly political and left-wing film. On January 13, 2019, one hundred years after his assassination, and thirty after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a march of seventy thousand people headed to the Friedrichsfelde cemetery, in Berlin, to honor Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. To say, therefore, that Rosa Luxemburg is still alive in the memory of millions, and in the growing attention of cultural and political vanguards around the world, is far from being a demagogic or exaggerated statement.

*Osvaldo Coggiola He is a professor at the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of Contemporary history issues (Book workshop).


[I] Leo Jogiches (1867-1919), called tychko, or Leon Tyszka, was one of the founders of Polish and Lithuanian social democracy. The son of a wealthy merchant, he was born in Vilnius. In 1890, he moved to Switzerland, where he met Rosa Luxemburg, Alexandra Kollontaï, Georgi Plekhanov and Karl Kautsky. In 1892 he founded the Social Democratic Party of Poland, publishing the newspaper Sprawa Robotnicza (The Workers' Cause) in Paris, due to the illegality of the party in his country.

[ii] Edward Bernstein. Evolutionary Socialism. Rio de Janeiro, Zahar, 1964.

[iii] Rosa Luxemburg. Reform or Social Revolution. São Paulo, Popular Expression, 2003.

[iv]Rosa Luxemburg. Questions on the organization of social democracy. Selected Works. Bogotá, Feather, 1979.

[v] In an article sent to Kautsky to be published in Die Neue Zeit, organ of the German social democracy, being refused, and only made known in 1930 in the USSR.

[vi] VI Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg. Mass Party or Vanguard Party? Sao Paulo, Ched, 1980.Writing in 1907 a preface to the re-edition of his works, Lenin criticized the exegetes of the What to do? that “completely separate this work from its context in a definite historical situation – a definite period and long since outdated by the development of the party”, specifying that “no other organization than that led by Iskra could, in the historical circumstances of Russia in 1900- 1905, having created a social-democratic workers' party like the one that was created… What to do? it is a summary of the Iskra group's organizational tactics and policy in 1901 and 1902. Nothing more than a summary, nothing more and nothing less”. This “tactic” and this “policy”, on the other hand, were not considered original, but an application, in Russian conditions, of the organizational principles of the Second International, in particular of the German SPD, of which the chief of police already said in 1883 German, that “the socialist parties abroad consider him as the example to be imitated in all his aspects” (Georges Haupt. Parti-guide: le rayonnement de la social démocratie allemande. L'Historien et le Mouvement Social. Paris, François Maspéro, 1980).

[vii] Rosa Luxemburg. Questions…, cit. Lenin responded to this argument when he stated that “Trotsky forgot that the party must be only a detachment of the vanguard, the leader of the immense mass of the working class, which as a whole (or almost) works 'under the control and under the direction' of the Party organizations, but who do not, and should not, fully enter the 'Party'”. Party, vanguard and working class were differentiated in Lenin's thought. On Leninist “Jacobinism”, see: Jean P. Joubert. Lenin et le jacobinisme. Cahiers Leon Trotsky no 30, Saint Martin d'Hères, June 1987.

[viii]Paul LeBlanc. Lénine et Rosa Luxemburg sur l'organisation révolutionnaire. Cahiers d'Étude et de Recherche no 14, Paris, 1990.

[ix] Ernest Mandel. The Leninist Theory of Organization. São Paulo, Apart, 1984.

[X]Daniel Guerin. Rosa Luxemburg and Revolutionary Spontaneity. São Paulo, Perspective, 1974.

[xi]Rosa Luxemburg. The Accumulation of Capital. Havana, Social Sciences, 1968.

[xii] Henryk Grossman. Las Leyes de la Accumulación y el Derrumbe del Sistema Capitalista. Mexico, Siglo XXI, 1977.

[xiii] Cf. for much more detailed analyses: Eduardo Barros Mariutti. Rosa Luxemburg: imperialism, overaccumulation and the crisis of capitalism. Marxist Criticism nº 40, São Paulo, April 2015; Manuel Quiroga and Daniel Gaido. debates about The Accumulation of Capital by Rosa Luxemburg. In: Velia Luparello, Manuel Quiroga and Daniel Gaido (eds.).History of International Socialism. Marxist essays, Santiago de Chile, Ariadna Ediciones, 2020.

[xiv] Karl Kautsky. The Path of Power. Sao Paulo, Hucitec, 1979.

[xv] David Priestland. The Red Flag. The history of communism. Sao Paulo, Leya, 2012.

[xvi]VI Lenin. Los Socialistas y la Guerra. Mexico, Editorial America, 1939.

[xvii]GDH Cole. History of Socialist Thought. Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1976, vol. VII.

[xviii]Karl Liebknecht (1871-1919), son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, companion of struggles and personal friend of Marx and Engels, studied law at the Universities of Leipzig and Berlin, concluding his doctorate at the University of Würzburg, in 1897. He opened a law firm and started defending labor causes. In 1900 he joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany. He started to have intense political militancy and founded in 1915, together with Rosa Luxemburgo and other internationalist militants, the Spartacus League, being expelled from the SPD in 1916. The League, together with a left-wing socialist faction, ended up founding the Communist Party of Germany in 1918. On January 15, 1919, after the German Social Democratic government had put a bounty on the heads of “left-wing extremists”, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were assassinated in Berlin by Freikorps of demobilized officers framed by the extreme right, but under the orders of socialist minister Gustav Noske.

[xx] Georges Haupt. Lenin, the Bolsheviks and the IIè Internationale. L'Historien et le Mouvement Social, cit.

[xx] Rosa Luxembourg. The Crisis of Social Democracy. Brussels, La Taupe, 1970.

[xxx] The quoted text was not intended for publication, hence the ease with which its author described Ukrainian nationalism “in Russia completely different from Czech, Polish or Finnish, nothing more than a simple whim, a frivolity of a few dozen small intellectuals -bourgeois, without roots in the economic, political or intellectual situation of the country, without any historical tradition, as Ukraine has never constituted a state or a nation, it has no national culture (sic), except the romantic-reactionary poems of Chevchenko” ( Rosa Luxemburg. the russian revolution. Petrópolis, Voices, 1991).

[xxiii] In: F. Petrenko. Socialism: One-Party and Multi-Party. Moscow, Progress, 1981.

[xxiii]Pierre Broue. Soviet Union. From revolution to collapse. Porto Alegre, UFRGS, 1996.

[xxv] Albert Morizet. Chez Lenin et Trotsky. Paris, Renaissance du Livre, 1922.

[xxiv]Francisco C. Weffort. Why Democracy? São Paulo, Brasiliense, 1984. For a review: Aldo Ramírez [Osvaldo Coggiola] and Rui C. Pimenta. Democracy and Proletarian Revolution. São Paulo, October, 1985.

[xxv]Carlos N. Coutinho. Democracy as a Universal Value. São Paulo, Human Sciences, 1980.

[xxviii] Rosa Luxemburg. the russian revolution, cit.

[xxviii] Rosa Luxemburg. the russian revolution, cit. One could see in this criticism an anticipation of the future conflict of Soviet power with the kulaki (wealthy peasants): the problem was not ignored by the Bolsheviks, who saw the adopted measure as the only possible guarantee of peasant support for the revolution.

[xxix]John Reed. Ten Days That Shook the World. Porto Alegre, L&PM Pocket, 2002.

[xxx] Rosa Luxemburg. the russian revolution, cit.

[xxxii]Martin Malia. Understand the Russian Revolution. Paris, Seuil, 1980.

[xxxi]Alexander Rabinowitch. Les Bolchéviks Prennent le Pouvoir. The Revolution of 1917 to Petrograd. Paris, La Fabrique, 2016.

[xxxii]Gyorg Lukacs. Class History and Conscience. Mexico, Grijalbo, 1970.

[xxxv]Gyorg Lukacs. Lenin. A study on the unity of his thought. Sao Paulo, Boitempo, 2012.

[xxxiv] Rosa Luxemburg. Oeuvres. Vol. II, Paris, François Maspero, 1969.

[xxxiv] Rosa Luxemburg. the russian revolution, cit.

[xxxviii]Luciano Amodio. La révolution bolshevique: l'interpretation de Rosa Luxembourg. Histoire du Marxisme Contemporain, vol. 2, Paris, UGE, 1976.

[xxxviii]Leon Trotsky. Rosa Luxemburg and the IV International. Writings. Tome VII, vol. 1, Bogotá, Pluma.

[xxxix]Gyorg Lukacs. op cit.

[xl]John Peter Nettl. Vie et Oeuvre by Rosa Luxembourg. Paris, Francois Maspero, 1972.

[xi] Rosa Luxemburg. Écrits Politiques 1917-1918. Paris, Francois Maspero, 1978.

[xliii] Oskar Negt. Rosa Luxemburgo and the Renewal of Marxism.In: Eric J. Hobsbawm (ed.), History of Marxism, vol. 3, Rio de Janeiro, Peace and Land, 1984.

[xiii] Rosa Luxemburg. The Russian Revolution, cit.

[xiv] Paul Frölich. Rosa Luxemburg: her Life and Work.London, Victor Gollancz, 1940.

[xlv] Friedrich Ebert (1871-1925), one of Germany's leading social democratic leaders, became involved in politics at a young age as a trade unionist and became General Secretary of the German Social Democratic Party in 1905. After World War I and the fall of the Kaiser, held the positions of Imperial Chancellor (Chancellor of the German Empire) from 9 November 1918 to 11 February 1919, and from President of the empire (President of Germany) from February 1919 to February 1925. He was one of the leaders of the “Weimar Republic”. On March 4, 1925, the Social Democratic Party of Germany created the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, named after the German president who had died a few days earlier. Since 2000, its headquarters have been in Berlin and it has partners in 76 countries.

[xlv] Rosa Luxemburg. National Assembly or government of workers' and soldiers' councils. In:

[xlv] Rosa Luxemburg. The Order Reigns in Berlin [written January 1919].www.

[xlviii] Gustav Noske (1868-1946) was one of the leaders of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, social-chauvinist during the First World War. Between February 1919 and March 1920 he was Minister of War. He was one of the main organizers of the white terror in January-March 1919, called the "Age of Noske". Rosa Luxemburgo and Karl Liebknecht were murdered by soldiers commanded by Waldemar Pabst. The latter, who died in 1970, became an ideologue of Nazism and an arms dealer with Taiwan and Francoist Spain; he wrote in his memoirs: “It is evident that to protect myself and my soldiers I could never have conducted the action without Noske's consent. Only very few people realized why I was never questioned or charged. I have reciprocated the SPD's behavior towards me like a gentleman, with fifty years of silence». Noske, before he died in 1946, still wrote: «At that time I cleaned and swept as quickly as possible».

[xlix] Isabel Loureiro. Rosa Luxemburg's message to the 21st century. Other words, Sao Paulo, October 9, 2017.

[l] Rosa Luxemburg. Écrits Politiques, cit.

[li] Cf. for example: Charles Dumas and Christian Rakovski. Les Socialistes et la Guerre. Discussion entre français socialistes et roumains socialistes. Bucharest, Cercul de Editura Socialista, 1915.

[liiii] Rosa Luxemburg. The Industrial Development of Poland. And other writings about the national problem. Mexico, Past and Present, 1979.

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