The Rosa Luxemburg Myth: A Critique of Luxemburg’s Politics in Poland (1893–1919)

In: Historical Materialism
Eric Blanc Department of Sociology, New York University

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This article challenges widespread uncritical portrayals of Rosa Luxemburg. By examining the politics and practices of Luxemburg and her SDKPiL party in Poland, I show that their commitment to proletarian emancipation was undermined by sectarian and doctrinaire tendencies that contributed to the defeat of Poland’s workers’ revolutions in 1905 and 1918–19. A critical analysis of their approaches to the national question, the Polish Socialist Party, German Social Democracy, and the role of the revolutionary party, undermines the prevailing romanticisation of Luxemburg. I argue that the Polish Socialist Party, Luxemburg’s main political rival, posed a viable Marxist alternative for Poland’s revolutionary movement.

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