Rosa Luxemburg’s Reform or Revolution in the Twenty-first Century

  • Helen C Scott University of Vermont
Keywords: Rosa Luxemburg, revolutionary history, Reform or Revolution, trade unions, critiques of capitalism.

Abstract

Rosa Luxemburg lived in a time and place very unlike our own. She was part of a mass labour movement with revolutionary socialist politics at its core, during a period when world socialist revolution was a tangible prospect. At the start of the 21st century the United States labour movement is at a historic low point, organized socialist politics lacks a mass working class base, and capitalism brings crisis, war, and environmental destruction across the globe. But nonetheless across the United States, labour activists are confronting the corporate union model with class struggle unionism based on rank and file independence and left politics. Luxemburg’s Reform and Revolution, written at a high point of socialist struggle, contains invaluable lessons for this new generation of activists as they confront the political and organizational challenges of the day. Rosa Luxemburg a vécu à un moment et dans un environnement qui ressemblaient très peu aux nôtres. Elle faisait partie d’un mouvement ouvrier de masse au cœur duquel se situait une politique révolutionnaire socialiste, à une époque où la révolution socialiste mondiale était une possibilité réelle. Au début du 21ième siècle, le mouvement ouvrier aux Etats-Unis a attient un niveau bas historique, la classe ouvrière de masse fait défaut aux politiques socialistes structurées et le capitalisme apporte son lot de crises, de guerres et d’atteintes à l’environnement à travers le monde. Néanmoins, partout aux Etats-Unis, les activistes progressistes font face à des syndicats s’organisant comme des entreprises, et proposent un syndicalisme de lutte des classes basé sur l’indépendance de la base et une politique de gauche. La Réforme et La Révolution, de Luxemburg, écrit à l’un des moments forts de la lutte socialiste, contient des leçons d’une immense valeur pour cette nouvelle génération d’activistes déterminée à faire face aux défis politiques et organisationnels d’aujourd’hui.

Author Biography

Helen C Scott, University of Vermont
Helen Scott is an associate professor of English at the University of Vermont, where she teaches postcolonial and women’s studies. She is the editor of The Essential Rosa Luxemburg, published by Haymarket Books in 2008, and co-author with Paul LeBlanc of an anthology of Luxemburg’s writings, Socialism or Barbarism, forthcoming from Pluto Press. She has published articles in Callaloo, International Socialist Review, Journal of Haitian Studies, Postcolonial Text; chapters in several postcolonial and multicultural studies anthologies; and a monograph, Caribbean Women Writers and Globalization: Fictions of Independence (Ashgate, 2006). Originally from Britain, she has lived in the US since 1988. She received her BA from the University of Essex and the PhD from Brown University. She is currently a union delegate for the faculty union at the University of Vermont, United Academics: AFT-AAUP, and is a long time socialist activist in labor and social movements.
Published
2011-02-06
Section
Special Section