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4 June 1987
Rosa LuxemburgA Life 
by Elzbieta Ettinger.
Harrap, 286 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 245 54539 5
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... It is only by accident that I am whirling in the maelstrom of history,’ RosaLuxemburg wrote from prison in September 1915; ‘actually I was born to tend geese.’ The subject of this absorbing biography is Luxemburg the goose-girl, the ‘hurt child’ who, according to Elzbieta ...

Love Story

Susan Watkins: Rosa Luxemburg

21 February 2002
Rosa LuxemburgAn Intimate Portrait 
by Mathilde Jacob, translated by Hans Fernbach.
Lawrence and Wishart, 143 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 85315 900 9
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... the notorious Freikorps – forebears of Hitler’s Einsatzgruppen – carte blanche to act against the insurgent crowds. During the weeks of terror that followed, two of the revolutionary leaders, RosaLuxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, went into hiding in Berlin. Betrayed, they were arrested on 15 January 1919, taken to the Freikorps divisional headquarters at the Hotel Eden, interrogated and beaten ...

What more could we want of ourselves!

Jacqueline Rose: Rosa Luxemburg

16 June 2011
The Letters of Rosa​ Luxemburg 
edited by Georg Adler, Peter Hudis and Annelies Laschitza, translated by George Shriver.
Verso, 609 pp., £25, February 2011, 978 1 84467 453 4
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... audience at the London Review Bookshop. An audio recording of the interview can be found here. We live in revolutionary times. I cannot imagine now what it would have been like to be thinking about RosaLuxemburg if the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya had not taken place. I do not know whether it would have been easier or more difficult. But one thing revolutionary moments do is force us to ...
8 March 1990
The Dialectic of Change 
by Boris Kagarlitsky, translated by Rick Simon.
Verso, 393 pp., £29.95, January 1990, 0 86091 258 2
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... has deposed this image in the minds and memories of most democrats, but perhaps it shouldn’t have. Naturally, Kagarlitsky prefers – as who would not? – to stress the buried alternative of RosaLuxemburg, Gramsci and others, but the fact is that these democratic revolutionaries fell victim to the reserve strength of violence and ruthlessness generated by the power of old Europe, whereas ...

Diary

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Andrei Platonov

1 December 2016
... generated, is about building a wonderful new home for the proletariat – but digging the hole for its foundations is as far as it gets. One of the searchers in Chevengur is hopelessly in love with RosaLuxemburg; the other rides Proletarian Strength into a lake and plunges to its depths to find death and his lost father. (The horse survives.) It was the language, melding the colloquial with high ...

From the Outer Edge

Rory Scothorne: ‘Painting Nationalism Red’

6 December 2018
Tom Nairn: ‘Painting Nationalism Red’? 
by Neal Ascherson.
Democratic Left Scotland, 27 pp., £4, February 2018
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... of his earlier ‘socialist nationalism’? Scotland barely figured in ‘The Left against Europe’, and his extensive quotation of figures opposed to nationalism, like Isaac Deutscher and RosaLuxemburg, suggests a brief flirtation with the ‘proletarian internationalism’ he would polemicise against in later years. In ‘Culture and Nationalism’ Nairn expressed his ‘awe’ at Scottish ...
1 May 1980
Logic and Society 
by Jon Elster.
Wiley, 244 pp., £12.65, March 1978, 0 471 99549 5
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Ulysses and the Sirens 
by Jon Elster.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 240 pp., £9.75, May 1979, 0 521 22388 1
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... flashes of a distinct historical and political shrewdness. Logic and Society contains, in the middle of a fairly formal discussion of political possibility, some very suggestive remarks about Lenin, RosaLuxemburg, and the theory of the ‘necessary failure’, in the sense of a failure which is indispensable to the success of the cause. At three or four points in these books, there are hints of an ...

Magic Circles

V.G. Kiernan

4 May 1989
Jewish History: Essays in Honour of Chimen Abramsky 
edited by Ada Rapoport-Albert and Steven Zipperstein.
Peter Halban, 700 pp., £30, January 1989, 1 870015 19 3
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A History of Islamic Societies 
by Ira Lapidus.
Cambridge, 1002 pp., £35, July 1988, 0 521 22552 3
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... and even Tkachev took this line when a tsar’s assassination was followed by pogroms. Jewish activists were themselves divided, and another instructive investigation is of the widening rift between RosaLuxemburg and her group, representing the ‘assimilated’ intellectuals, and the Bund, the organisation of the working masses. We hear again of the Bund in the later 1930s, when ideas from Nazi ...

Survivors

Jonathan Steinberg

18 December 1986
Strangers in their own Land: Young Jews in Germany and Austria Today 
by Peter Sichrovsky and Thomas Keneally.
Tauris, 177 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 1 85043 033 0
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Remnants: The Last Jews of Poland 
by Malgorzata Niezabitowska and Tomasz Tomaszewski, translated by William Brand and Hanna Dobosiewicz.
Friendly Press, 272 pp., £25, September 1986, 0 914919 05 9
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The Jews in Poland 
edited by Chimen Abramsky, Maciej Jachimczyk and Antony Polonsky.
Blackwell, 264 pp., £29.50, September 1986, 0 631 14857 4
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... Who were their allies: Poles or Ukrainians? Nationalists or Socialists? After 1917, as we know, many Jews took leading roles in the Bolshevik Revolution and other radical movements. Trotsky, Parvus, RosaLuxemburg, Kurt Eisner, Bela Kun came to stand for the ‘Jew Commie’ and, as Dr Datner explains to Niezabitowska, thereby proved to their Polish neighbours that they were ‘aliens’ after all ...

Diary

J.P. Stern: This great wall has fallen down

7 December 1989
... fell down. For seven days we have prayed in this church, and now this great wall has fallen down.’ The old story conveyed a better message to the people than did the assorted ideologies from RosaLuxemburg through Herbert Marcuse to Jürgen Habermas. Deep worries remain. Is all this not bound to lead to demands for the reunification of the two Germanies? When Chancellor Kohl declaimed, Wir sind ein ...
18 August 1994
Thinking Green! Essays on Environmentalism, Feminism and Non-Violence 
by Petra Kelly.
Parallax, 168 pp., £15, April 1994, 0 938077 62 7
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... have been. You would never know from this book that Germany has a bad history, that violence is the apple-pie of German politics; and that the greatest women of the German Left this century – RosaLuxemburg, Ulrike Meinhof and Petra Kelly – all died by violence. Petra Karin Lehmann was born on 29 November 1947, in the little town of Günzburg on the Danube in Bavaria, at that time in the American zone ...

Weimarama

Richard J. Evans

8 November 1990
Male Fantasies Vol. I: Women, Floods, Bodies, History 
by Klaus Theweleit, translated by Chris Turner, Erica Carter and Stephen Conway.
Polity, 517 pp., £35, May 1987, 0 7456 0382 3
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Male Fantasies Vol. II: Male Bodies: Psychoanalysing the White Terror 
by Klaus Theweleit, translated by Chris Turner, Erica Carter and Stephen Conway.
Polity, 507 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 7456 0556 7
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... as one writer called it, or, in another writer’s rather different assessment, their ‘cold and merciless will to destruction’. It was not fear that lay behind the brutal killing of RosaLuxemburg and Karl Liebknecht or the assassination of leading republican politicians like Erzberger and Rathenau. It is Theweleit’s achievement, which appears even more striking now than it did a decade or ...

Diary

Tariq Ali: In Cochabamba

21 June 2007
... from Cuba in bad times: ‘Socialism or Death.’ It’s a truly awful message. When I pointed out to one of Chávez’s aides how threatening this sounds, he explained that the president was in RosaLuxemburg mode. What he really meant was ‘Socialism or Barbarism.’ I’m not convinced. Chávez seemed to be slightly subdued and I wondered whether the audience he was really addressing wasn’t ...

The Positions He Takes

John Barrell: Hitchens on Paine

30 November 2006
Thomas Paine’s ‘Rights of Man’: A Biography 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Atlantic, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2006, 1 84354 513 6
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... Marie Antoinette, he notes, ‘was not equalled until the hysterical tributes’ to Princess Diana – and both died in Paris. Burke predicted that the French Revolution would end in despotism, and RosaLuxemburg predicted the same of the Russian Revolution. But wait: they have more in common than that. Luxemburg’s favourite pseudonym was ‘Junius’, which, intriguingly enough, was also the ...
6 January 1994
In the Heat of the Struggle: Twenty-Five Years of ‘Socialist Worker’ 
by Paul Foot.
Bookmarks, 288 pp., £12.50, November 1993, 0 906224 94 2
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Why You Should Join the Socialists 
by Paul Foot.
Bookmarks, 70 pp., £1.90, November 1993, 0 906224 80 2
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... fair, I knew enough to join the Labour Club as a candidate member of The Group – an open conspiracy which scorned to conceal its aims, objects and analyses. The essential precepts descended from Luxemburg rather than Lenin. They consisted of three or four central tenets. These were that, contrary to the babble of smart-asses like Crosland, Britain was still a class society in every sense of the term ...

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