Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Luxemburg: The Russian Revolution, 1918 Its Relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century


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Violence and the Origin of the State

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

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What is to be done?


The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

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Russian Revolution

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Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
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Man and Socialism in Cuba

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Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism

Rosa Luxemburg, leader of the revolutionary struggles in Germany, was in prison when the Russian Revolution took place. Her analysis of it, written from prison only a few months before she was assassinated by German authorities, has always been recognized as a very important revolutionary statement.

Criticizing the theoreticians who believed that revolutions could only take place in "advanced" countries, in the first chapter, Luxemburg praises the Russian communists and their leadership for accomplishing the "mighty sweep of the revolution in Russia" and "the very first experiment in proletarian dictatorship in world history." "All power exclusively in the hands of the worker and peasant masses, in the hands of the soviets -- this was indeed the only way out of the difficulty into which the revolution had gotten."

She draws an important lesson that once the revolution is ripe, there is no turning back: "In this, the Russian Revolution has but confirmed the basic lesson of every great revolution, the law of its being, which decrees: either the revolution must advance at a rapid, stormy, resolute tempo, break down all barriers with an iron hand and place its goals ever farther ahead, or it is quite soon thrown backward behind its feeble point of departure and suppressed by counter-revolution. To stand still, to mark time on one spot, to be contented with the first goal it happens to reach, is never possible in revolution."

She emphasizes the key role of the revolutionary party: "Thus it is clear that in every revolution only that party capable of seizing the leadership and power which has the courage to issue the appropriate watch-words for driving the revolution ahead, and the courage to draw all the necessary conclusions from the situation ... The party of Lenin was the only one which grasped the mandate and duty of a truly revolutionary party and which, by the slogan -- 'All power in the hands of the proletariat and peasantry' -- insured the continued development of the revolution."

One cannot wait until the majority of the people have already approved the revolution. In contrast to those who would wait for a majority, "...the Bolsheviks solved the famous problem of 'winning a majority of the people' ... The true dialectic of revolutions, however, stands this wisdom of parliamentary moles on its head: not through a majority, but through revolutionary tactics to a majority -- that’s the way the road runs."

In the second and third chapters, she deals with important issues of land reform and nationalism that any revolution will have to face.

Luxemburg demands that the revolution promote representative democracy and in chapter four she criticizes Lenin and Trotsky for having abolished the elected Constituent Assembly immediately after the October Revolution: "To be sure, every democratic institution has its limits and shortcomings, things which it doubtless shares with all other human institutions. But the remedy which Trotsky and Lenin have found, the elimination of democracy as such, is worse than the disease it is supposed to cure; for it stops up the very living source from which alone can come correction of all the innate shortcomings of social institutions. That source is the active, untrammeled, energetic political life of the broadest masses of the people." And in the following chapter she expands her criticism to include the right to vote and freedom of the press.

Dictatorship of the proletariat? Yes, says Luxemburg in her final chapter, "but this dictatorship consists in the manner of applying democracy, not in its elimination, ... this dictatorship must be the work of the class and not of a little leading minority in the name of the class -- that is, it must proceed step by step out of the active participation of the masses; it must be under their direct influence, subjected to the control of complete public activity; it must arise out of the growing political training of the mass of the people."

In summary, Rosa Luxemburg makes a strong case for the principles of a culture of peace: education, democratic participation, transparency and the free flow of information. Without these the Soviet Union fell into the trap of a socialist culture of war which led eventually to its bankruptcy and death.

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Forum on Writings of Rosa Luxemburg on the Discussion Board:

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Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authoritarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Internationalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare


Agent Provocateurs

Communication systems

Psychology for revolutionaries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence

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