A panel organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 19, 2011, at Left Forum, Pace University.
Over 90 years ago, Rosa Luxemburg was killed in the failed German Revolution of 1918-19. Yet the controversy surrounding the politics of her final years still smolders. Was she a critic of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution, democratic advocate of spontaneity âfrom below?â Or, was she an orthodox Marxist, proponent of revolution through the determined political leadership of labor and other social-reform movements? Perhaps it's time that the matter is reposed. If Luxemburg still speaks to us, it is not in abstract lessons torn from history, but, as Walter Benjamin put it, by her struggle in and âagainst the grainâ of history. Luxemburg wrote that âSocialism is the first popular movement in world history that has set itself the goal of bringing human consciousness, and thereby free will, into play in the social actions of mankind.â How might we yet learn from Luxemburg's example? Why must we remember her attempt to realize socialism; what might be the consequences of forgetting?