Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rosa Luxemburg & Marxist theory

Rosa Luxemburg: Barbarism and the Collapse of Capitalism

Norman Geras

‘Capitalism, by mightily furthering the development of the productive forces, and in virtue of its inherent contradictions, . . . provide(s) an excellent soil for the historical progress of society towards new economic and social forms.’ Rosa Luxemburg [1].

‘No medicinal herbs can grow in the dirt of capitalist society which can help cure capitalist anarchy.’ Rosa Luxemburg. [2]

‘In her work we see how the last flowering of capitalism is transformed into a ghastly dance of death.’ Georg Lukacs. [3]

Amongst the misconceptions by which Rosa Luxemburg’s thought has been deformed, the most widespread and tenacious is, without doubt, that which attributes to her a thesis going variously under the names of determinism, fatalism and spontaneism. [4] Any one of a number of her real or alleged views can be cited as the manifestation or consequence of this thesis: her emphasis on mass spontaneity; her underestimation of the importance of organization and of leadership; her belief that class consciousness is the simple and direct product of the class struggle of the masses. But what is generally regarded as its ultimate source and cited as definitive proof of its existence is her theory of capitalist breakdown, according to which the contradictions of capitalism must lead, eventually, but also automatically and inevitably, to its complete collapse. Now, there are problems about the very meaning of this