IMAGE: El Lissitzky, Monument
to Rosa Luxemburg (1919)
The following is a response to some critical remarks made by Reid Kane on his blog, The Luxemburgist, in an entry entitled “Leninism or Luxemburgism?”. Reid was responding in this post to some comments I’d made on a different entry, in which I objected to his opposition of Vladimir Lenin’s articulation of a Marxist politics to that of Rosa Luxemburg. These are, after all, two organizational models that have frequently been held up as antithetical. I asserted that their split had been grossly exaggerated by both Stalinists seeking to discredit Luxemburg’s former colleagues and anti-authoritarian/anti-Bolshevik tendencies in the New Left, who exalt Luxemburg as an heroic “alternative” to Lenin. Reid provides a thoroughgoing, reasoned critique of my objection, maintaining that it is not enough to ignore their differences merely because their disagreements have been blown out of proportion. In this I cannot but agree. The differences between Luxemburg and Lenin cannot simply be glossed over. And so, though this topic has been dealt with countless times by writers on the Left, I feel it is not too much to add my own thoughts on the matter here, in response to Reid’s excellent post.