As we go to press on 15 January 2019, it is exactly the 100th anniversary of the murder of the Polish¬German revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg. She was killed by a right-wing militia operating under the Social¬Democratic government which was heading off the German workers’ revolution.
We have a pamphlet in production on Luxemburg and the German revolution. Readers can also find a good summary of Luxemburg’s political work in two articles, from 1935 and 1938, by Max Shachtman.
Moishe Postone, a Marxist academic at the University of Chicago who died in 2018, skewered antisemitism as an addled, "pseudo-emancipatory" form of anticapitalism, which blames the evils on capitalism not on its structures but on shadowy plots by "the Jews".
Rosa Luxemburg considered her most important contribution to be her book, The Accumulation of Capital, published in 1913.
The legacy of the Polish-German revolutionary socialist leader who was murdered by a right-wing militia operating under the aegis of a Social Democratic government just over 100 years ago has come down to us through a haze of sentimental misrepresentation and selective republishing, but now can and should be reconsidered.
In 1919 Glasgow was in the grip of a general strike. Although the strike began with the limited demand of a cut in the working week, it raised - as general strikes do by their very nature - the question of power in society.
The strike leaders saw the strike purely in terms of a fight for the 40 hour week, but the press treated it as a threat to the capitalist order of society itself. And for once the press was right.
1919 was a year of turmoil all over Europe. In the confusion following the break up of three great empires in World War I — the Russian, Turkish and Austrian empires — the working class began to assert itself. In Russia the young Bolshevik republic was fighting for its life. In Bavaria and Hungary short-lived Soviet Republics were established, and in Vienna and Berlin there were socialist uprisings.
S: I can see four main sorts of possible outcomes to be considered from Trump’s economic jousting.
One: it may reshape some deals, like NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement] to the USA’s advantage or imagined advantage, but after a flurry relations in the world markets will settle down much as before.
Two: By generally shaking up trade relations, and putting pressure on some of China’s protectionist policies, economic life around the world may settle after the jousting into a more “globalised” form, more subject to world-market rules.
Why should Marxists want to narrow our appeal to 'the workers', enrolling people from other classes only to the extent that they rally behind the working class? Why not seek a broader unity of 'ordinary people'?
Originally published in Workers' Liberty magazine, January 2001. By Chris Reynolds
The pivot of Marx's critique of political economy is the concept of abstract labour, or universal social labour - labour as the expenditure under standard conditions of a quotient of average labour-power. Abstract labour, according to Marx, is the substance of value.