Luxemburgism

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devoration1
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Dec 23 2010 05:45
Luxemburgism

I'm interested to know what peoples opinions are concerning what is called 'Luxemburgism'. For the most part, I can't hammer it down as a coherent set of theories or principles. Does there exist a cogent body of organization and theory comparable to Bordigism or Trotskyism within Luxemburg's work? Her organizational activities in real life (I'm not sure about on paper) demonstrate a regretable centrism and wavering, and her economic work is not sturdy enough to stand on its own (in some peoples opinion).

A number of people 'claim' her and her work, organizations which contain healthy working class elements searching for revolutionary positions alongside entrenched leftism in the US say they contain 'Luxemburgists'- such as the Socialist Party USA and if I'm not mistaken Solidarity as well (the latter has published articles by Loren Goldner too). On top of that are small organizations that claim to be Luxemburgist, or Luxemburgist Internationals- Communist Democracy (Luxemburgist) and the International Luxemburgist Network.

The Wikipedia page on Luxemburgism exemplifies the lack of a unified definition of the term (as well as throwing a number of unrelated groups and topics in):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxemburgism

It seems like present day people who sympathize with Luxemburg (but are not marxist communists) or describe themselves as 'Luxemburgist' are sort of anti-authoritarian socialists who see in her legacy a kind of anti-MarxismLeninism (or, keeping all the 'good' things about communism and Marxism and rejecting all the 'bad').

To begin, the two theoretical positions that come to mind immediately are on the national question and economics. Specifically, opposition to the bourgeois concept of 'Right of All Nations to Self-Determination' and what would became 'National Liberationism', and the saturation of markets vs tendency of the rate of profit to fall.

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Dec 23 2010 08:47
devoration1 wrote:
To begin, the two theoretical positions that come to mind immediately are on the national question and economics. Specifically, opposition to the bourgeois concept of 'Right of All Nations to Self-Determination' and what would became 'National Liberationism', and the saturation of markets vs tendency of the rate of profit to fall.

The impression that I get is that the people today who call themselves ' Luxemborgists' don't take either of these positions as a starting point, but instead the 'crtique of Leninism'.

Devrim

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Dec 23 2010 10:33

Yes, this seems to be the case. I posted on the Luxemburgist forum on revleft to ask for opinions about our recent article on Luxemburg's economic theories (IR 142) and have had no response, and in general it's hard to find much on these forums about the accumulation question. I haven't investigated them the national question so much. Still, some of the 'Luxemburgist' posters on revleft seem to have a solid approach on internationalism. But a lot of their stuff is in Spanish so this is mainly just an impression.

LBird
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Dec 23 2010 11:06
devoration1 wrote:
I'm interested to know what peoples opinions are concerning what is called 'Luxemburgism'. For the most part, I can't hammer it down as a coherent set of theories or principles. Does there exist a cogent body of organization and theory...

Perhaps what's attractive about Rosa Luxemburg is the fact that she was a bit confused, that she didn't produce 'a coherent set of theories or principles', that there isn't 'a cogent body of organization and theory'; in fact, she's a bit like the rest of us. She tried to think, to understand, to act, not only in opposition to capitalism, but also to what she thought she saw as the problems with Lenin's ideas and Bolshevik practice; in fact, a bit like the rest of us.

As Devrim alludes, her real strength is her 'anti'-ness - to workers who've been able to develop their own 'anti-ness' to the present exploitative system, this seems to be an attractive quality in others.

devoration1 wrote:
Her organizational activities in real life (I'm not sure about on paper) demonstrate a regretable centrism and wavering, and her economic work is not sturdy enough to stand on its own (in some peoples opinion).

It's because Luxemburg doesn't already have all the answers, that she leaves room for the coming generations to think, to criticise, to disagree, that she's at least as important as Lenin and Trotsky for us in trying to understand the events of the early part of the 20th century.

I'm not a Leninist, Bolshevik or Trotskyist (anymore!), at least in part because of 'Red Rosa'. I'm as confused as she was, and I don't already have the answers. I prefer people (and organisations) that way.

I want to discuss, not to be told. The 'answer' is in the future. It doesn't yet exist, and maybe it never will. It certainly isn't the property of any party.

And I'll possibly end up face-down in a canal for this attitude, too. But whether it'll be the 'Right' or the 'Left' who'll be responsible, who knows....?

Cleishbotham
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Dec 23 2010 11:26

Alf

have not seen your psot on revleft but will check it out but the ICC still has not repsonded to our original critique of Luxemburg's economic theory made in 1974! It is now on the ICT website for any interested.

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Dec 23 2010 11:51
Cleishbotham wrote:
have not seen your psot on revleft but will check it out but the ICC still has not repsonded to our original critique of Luxemburg's economic theory made in 1974! It is now on the ICT website for any interested.

I recently visited some relatives and my aunt was complaining that her husband had promised to decorate the living room and had yet to do it. When I enquired when he had promised to do it, thinking it was something recent, she replied in 1967.

To be honest when you get to this point, I wouldn't be two eagerly anticipating either a reply or a newly decorated kitchen.

Devrim

petey
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Dec 23 2010 12:09

now that's procrastination!

LBird wrote:
I'm not a Leninist, Bolshevik or Trotskyist (anymore!), at least in part because of 'Red Rosa'. I'm as confused as she was, and I don't already have the answers. I prefer people (and organisations) that way.

i'm at that spot too personally, even after quite a few years. however, i think the point of a org is to claim to have come to many, if not all, the conclusions. there's an org here in the states i'm sympathetic too but haven't joined because they claim too much.

LBird
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Dec 23 2010 12:31
petey wrote:
...i think the point of a org is to claim to have come to many, if not all, the conclusions.

That's my real problem, mate! I want to find an organisation that wants me to join, to help them to come to some tentative conclusions.

I'm too much work, I fear.

I want the Central Committee to let me immediately organise the 'Anti-CC Faction' - and I demand their help and resources to do it!

I think I'll call my faction the 'Canal Tendency'.

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Dec 23 2010 14:08

Hmmm... I don't think Rosa was that tentative...she was pretty definite about the mass strike, the national question, the economic crisis and the decline of capitalism to name a few. But she was certainly ready to put things into question: Marx on the problem of reproduction, the Bolshevik policy of Red Terror, and so on. And there were areas where she was inconsistent or contradictory, but it's hard to look back and find any revolutionaries who don't fall into that category. This includes us of course, even though we don't know it yet.

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Dec 23 2010 17:07
Quote:
Perhaps what's attractive about Rosa Luxemburg is the fact that she was a bit confused, that she didn't produce 'a coherent set of theories or principles', that there isn't 'a cogent body of organization and theory'; in fact, she's a bit like the rest of us. She tried to think, to understand, to act, not only in opposition to capitalism, but also to what she thought she saw as the problems with Lenin's ideas and Bolshevik practice; in fact, a bit like the rest of us.

I think theres a big gap between an iron CC which is 'omnipresent and omnipotent', and the anti-organizational fringes of councilism- and in both edges and inbetween you can fit Luxemburg. I'm not asking if people who consider themselves Luxemburgists take it to the extreme that within their -ism there is a total worldview and way of life (as some Marxist-Leninists like the RCP do), only that there is a foundation in her work and life legacy to build a way of thinking and/or organization that can be beneficial to the future construction of socialism.

When Devrim says

Quote:
The impression that I get is that the people today who call themselves ' Luxemborgists' don't take either of these positions as a starting point, but instead the 'crtique of Leninism'.

it makes me wonder if there is anything other than the 'Anti-ness' to this kind of 'Luxemburgism', if her political and economic positions figure into it. I'd ask the 'Luxemburgist' members of the groups mentioned in the OP if I knew how to contact them directly.

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Dec 23 2010 17:39
Alf wrote:
a lot of their stuff is in Spanish

I looked at one big Spanish forum and found nothing about her economic positions.

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Dec 23 2010 19:16

noa;

ILN's theoretician, Erir Lerner has a book in which he is trying to understand the current situation of economy in line with Luxemburg's analysis. I think it is online.

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Dec 24 2010 04:55

Luxemburg was a leading light of the 'radical left' wing within the German Social Democratic Party (and the whole Second International) prior to WWI. In the wake of the Russian Revolution of 1905, she wrote her major text on the Mass Strike, in which she emphasized and defended the direct action of the rank and file workers against the organizational bureaucratization, and consequent conservatism and inertia of the party and the trade unions. After this, she had a major debate with Kautsky (then widely regarded as the "pope of Marxism") in the pages of the SPD's leading theoretical review on these questions, classified under the heading of 'mass action'. (It was after this debate that her opponents within the workers' movement accused her of being a "spontaneist".) This was a major milestone in the development of a Marxist revolutionary current within the Second International. It was also at the same time that revolutionary syndicalism was making great strides within the class, in parts of Europe, the US and elsewhere, partly as a result of workers' disaffection with the parliamentary cretinism of the parties and the bureaucratic inertia of the trade unions.

During WWI, she was, within the leadership, one of the few open opponents of the party's (and the trade unions') policy of support for the war effort of their ruling class. She strongly supported the Kienthal and Zimmerwald conferences of anti-war internationalists. Her 'radical left' tendency was then quite small, given the huge pressures from the state and the party apparatus in the context of the war. They organized themselves as a fraction within the SPD, calling themselves the "Spartacus League".

When the German (and Dutch) communist left arose at the end of the war, Luxemburg was looked to as a major inspiration for their current. Many of them having come from the 'radical left' wing of the old SPD, they saw themselves as following in her footsteps, even though she broke with the SPD at a late date, only forming the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) after the workers' revolutionary struggles had already broken out. Of course, she was expected by all to be the leading figure within the KPD, but she was murdered only a few weeks after the party's formation. The German left communists who went on to form the KAPD a little over a year after her death continued to see her as a forerunner of them, implacable enemies of vanguardist substitutionism.

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Dec 24 2010 22:00
mikail wrote:
ILN's theoretician, Erir Lerner has a book in which he is trying to understand the current situation of economy in line with Luxemburg's analysis. I think it is online.

I remember. You also said that you didn't agree fully with his analysis. To change topic slightly, concerning Luxemburg's economics there is now active economist Bellofiore and I recently found this blog whose explicit goal it is to try to develop best from both Luxemburg and Grossman, much like the iCc does.

But there is a risk of reinventing the wheel, because many Russian marxists' works dealing with Luxemburg's economics, remain untranslated (to name but the most brilliant, Cholom Dvolaitski , Isaak Dashkovskij and Wolf Evnovich Motylev.). Worse still, the economist V.N. Poznjakov/Pozdnjakov, who from looking at the titles of his articles in PZM (Capitalism and the external market, his review of Grossman's 1929 book, his articles on gold production, socialist primitive accumulation, etc.), might be an even greater theoretician than all these together, but it's literally as if Poz(d)njakov never existed. His name (which annoyingly is spelled sometimes with, sometimes without a 'd') is very common, and so are his initials. All I can find is the footnote referencing him in Rubin's 'essays on theory of value' (Btw, Rubin also wrote 'Essays on marx's theory of money', but it's unpublished), and that Poznjakov edited the translation of A.S. Reuel, Bohm-Bawerk's 'Marx and the closing of his system'.

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Dec 24 2010 09:15

I think it's worth pointing out that Luxemburg wasn't on the far left of the communist movement. At the first congress of the KPD, she was actually closer to the centre and came in for some criticism from the left for conservatism. On the other hand, there was certainly an element of immaturity in the left which had a voluntarist, insurrectionist approach from what I remember.

Leo
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Dec 24 2010 10:19
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I think it's worth pointing out that Luxemburg wasn't on the far left of the communist movement. At the first congress of the KPD, she was actually closer to the centre and came in for some criticism from the left for conservatism.

I think that is only regarding the parliamentary question though, and her position even on that was not exactly one with the center. To Zetkin, she wrote: "But above all, as far as the question of the non participation in the elections is concerned: You enormously overestimate the importance of this decision. There were no ‘Rühlists" present, Rühle was not a leader at the Conference. Our ‘defeat' was only the triumph of a somewhat childish, immature, unswerving radicalism (...) We all decided unanimously not to make of this casus a cabinet question, not to take it tragically. In reality, the question of the National Assembly will be pushed right into the background by the stormy developments, and when things proceed as they are doing, it appears questionable enough if the elections to the National Assembly will even take place." (http://en.internationalism.org/node/2626).

Also in her article titled The National Assembly, she wrote: "Without the conscious will and action of the majority of the proletariat, there can be no socialism. In order to intensify this consciousness, to steel this will, to organize this action, a class organ is necessary: a national council of the urban and rural proletarians.

The convocation of such a representative body of labour in place of the traditional National Assembly of the bourgeois revolutions is in itself an act of the class struggle, a break with the historical past of bourgeois society, a powerful method of arousing the proletarian masses, a first open and abrupt declaration of war against capitalism.

No evasions, no ambiguities – the die must be cast. Yesterday parliamentary cretinism was a weakness; today it is an ambiguity; tomorrow it will be a betrayal of socialism." (http://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/11/20.htm)

I think this article sort of implies that had Luxemburg lived further, her position would have changed on the national question. Her position on the trade-unions, while not on the most extreme-left of the German Party, was on the left of the Communist International in general - in fact it was on the left of the current around Bordiga in Italy. Her position on Brest-Litovsk and the Russian question in general was close to that of the Russian left communists, and her position on the peasantry was also a left position. Of course, all this being said, we can not say how she would have evolved.

ernie
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Dec 24 2010 11:25

Fully agree with Waslax about Rosa's importance to the development of Marxism and Left Communism.

Reform and Revolution is a classic text which is as powerful today as it was a hundred years ago.

Also no matter if you agree with her economic analysis or not one can only welcome the comrade's determination to struggle against those seeking to use Marx to justify their concessions towards capitalism.

Even within her economic analysis she was open to accepting that she may have been wrong.

We should also not underestimate the international impact she had. In the 80's I a sold a World Revolution to a old lady from the valleys of South Wales who still remembered hearing of Rosa's death and the shock it generated.

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Dec 26 2010 00:30

Edit;

Wolf Motylev's introduction to Russian 5th edition (1934) of Luxemburg's Accumulation is a sustained and lucid demolishment of her entire theory (including her Introduction to political economy). Interestingly in a footnote near the end Motylev reveals he was an early Luxemburgian (pardon the e-translation):

True, among economist-Communists were some advocates of the theory of accumulation of Rosa Luxemburg, but they are the exception. I consider it necessary to note that two articles about the theory of accumulation of Rosa Luxemburg published by me in 1923-1924, the criticism of its mistakes was inadequate and half-hearted, and the main issues, I essentially sided with her erroneous beliefs. Individual errors in the criticism lyuksemburgianstva were admitted me, and in the preface to the fourth edition of this book [Motylev refers to his introduction in 1931].

This text really changed my mind about Luxemburg (back to my initial hostility). Now I'm opposed to Bellofiore.

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Dec 25 2010 02:48

When doing a search, i was very surprised that Reform and Revolution
didn't get its first English translation until 1939. http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/archive/luxemburg%281939%29.pdf

Perhaps the article is in error.

To link with another thread- state capitialism , it should be noted that Tony Cliff wrote a biography of Luxemburg. It was quite a sympathetic interpretation, particularly upon party organisation, but typically of Trot behaviour , the comments critical of Lenin were deleted from the 2nd edition when it was decided the political situation had shifted and there was no need to distance themselves any longer from Lenin and central committee concepts .

scottydont
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Dec 25 2010 09:55

The people I have personally who actually call themselves Luxemburgists mean either:
1: a vague leftist anti-Leninist politics, or
2: An emphasis on what she stressed in "The Mass Strike": direct action, the critique of bureaucracy, the critique of syndicalism, etc.

I have never really met someone who based their ideology on her writing on "the national question" or on her economic work.

That said, even the ISO (trots) claim her as part of their heritage sometimes...

Spartakus
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Dec 25 2010 16:47

Luxemburgism is not an "anti-ness" nor is it only based on the opposition to nationalism. It is a political current (very small at the moment of course) with its own positions that makes it a current in itself although sharing similarities with other currents like Left communism.

Our positions could be sumarized as below :

1. We don't oppose social reforms to revolution. They are both linked in a dialectical way, the former being an mean (in the class struggle) of the latter. We oppose mere reformism and abstract revolutionaries slogans disconected from reality ;

2. We oppose any top-down structure, both social and organizational. The workers' organizations must be controlled by the base and opened (we thus disagree with Lenin) ;

3. We stand for direct democracy for the organization and the social system we want after revolution ;

4. We see mass strike (as it had been experienced in History) as a tool of struggle. One can define it as a self-managed strke movement uniting economical and political demands and that potentially enable workers to take power directly without leaders. The bulletin of the ILN is btw called "Mass Strike" ;

5. We stand for internationalism and oppose nationalism (even "red") as bourgeois.

I don't see how this can be "centrism" even though one is always the "reformist" or the "extremist" of others.

Eric Lerner's (unfinished) book is available on the Workers' Democracy Network (http://workersdemocracy.org). A recent pamphlet of his is on the website of the International Luxemburgist Network (http://luxemburgism.lautre.net) : it analyses the present crisis with RL's theories. It is called "For a workers' recovery plan"

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Dec 25 2010 17:42

Good that you've joined this discussion, Spartakus. Can you say more about how your current/organisation came to be formed, and when?

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Dec 25 2010 18:28

Luxemburg's centrism and hesitation was most apparent in the debate with the Comintern and within the German workers movement concerning the formation of a German branch of the Party (even during the revolutionary situation Rosa thought it was too soon) and her attachment to the Independants. Her critiques of Leninism and syndicalism would influence the extreme left of Germany and the founding of anti-Party, anti-organizational Councilism. No one is perfect, and all revolutionary leaders and groups make mistakes. I think her writings and action related to the class Party, breaking with Social Democracy (SPD & USPD), etc are evidence of some of her mistakes (though as mentioned elsewhere, since she was murdered during the peak of the revolutionary wave, we don't know where she would have fallen had she lived through the formation of the Communist Left in Western Europe followed by the Left Opposition).

What are the views of the ILN concerning the future international class party? Are these views specifically drawn from Luxemburg, or multiple sources?

I look forward to your future participation in this thread- you're the first Luxemburgist I've communicated with who is a member of a Luxemburgist organization.

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Dec 26 2010 23:46
Devrim wrote:
Cleishbotham wrote:
have not seen your psot on revleft but will check it out but the ICC still has not repsonded to our original critique of Luxemburg's economic theory made in 1974! It is now on the ICT website for any interested.

I recently visited some relatives and my aunt was complaining that her husband had promised to decorate the living room and had yet to do it. When I enquired when he had promised to do it, thinking it was something recent, she replied in 1967.

To be honest when you get to this point, I wouldn't be two eagerly anticipating either a reply or a newly decorated kitchen.

Devrim

ICT has a lot of good articles dealing with The accumulation of capital - could you give a link to the specific text, cleishbotham?

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Dec 27 2010 02:08

This is it:

http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2007-08-13/the-accumulation-of-contradictions-or-the-economic-consequences-of-rosa-luxembur

The Accumulation of Contradictions or the Economic Consequences of Rosa Luxemburg

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Dec 27 2010 23:38

Luxemburg begins as a loyal orthodox Marxist in attacking Bernstein and supporting Kautsky during the 1890 - 1900 revisionism debate.

But in the aftermath of the 1905 Russian revolution and it's contagionary effects in Germany and Western Europe, she breaks with Kautsky and sides, to an extent, with the striking workers - this is the Massenstreik debate. But, given that this is nominally an anarchist forum, let's quote from the first part of her Mass Strike text, entitled "The Russian Revolution, Anarchism and the Mass Strike":

Quote:
Almost all works and pronouncement of international socialism on the subject of the mass strike date from the time before the Russian Revolution [of 1905], the first historical experience on a very large scale with the means of struggle. It is therefore evident that they are, for the most part, out-of-date. Their standpoint is essentially that of Engels who in 1873 wrote as follows in his criticism of the revolutionary blundering of the Bakuninist in Spain:

“The general strike, in the Bakuninists’ program, is the lever which will be used for introducing the social revolution. [...]”

Here we have the reasoning that was characteristic of the attitude of international social democracy towards the mass strike in the following decades. It is based on the anarchist theory of the general strike – that is, the theory of the general strike as a means of inaugurating the social revolution, in contradistinction to the daily political struggle of the working-class – and exhausts itself in the following simple dilemma: either the proletariat as a whole are not yet in possession of the powerful organisation and financial resources required, in which case they cannot carry through the general strike; or they are already sufficiently well organised, in which case they do not need the general strike. This reasoning is so simple and at first glance so irrefutable that, for a quarter of a century, it has rendered excellent service to the modern labour movement as a logical weapon against the anarchist phantom and as a means of carrying out the idea of political struggle to the widest circles of the workers. The enormous strides taken by the labour movement in all capitalist countries during the last twenty-five years are the most convincing evidence of the value of the tactics of political struggle, which were insisted upon by Marx and Engels in opposition to Bakuninism and German social democracy, in its position of vanguard of the entire international labour movement is not in the least the direct product of the consistent and energetic application of these tactics.

and the rest of that first section is likewise an attempt to wrest the tactic of the general strike from it's anarchist associations amongst German SocialDemocracy and the wider workers' movement.

She was centrist in her position between Kautsky and Pannekoek (although the latter was also keen to show his loyalty to orthodoxy by dissing the anarchists). See Radical Chains article which I can't find a link to at this precise moment.

AFAICS she was simply an ortho who had the sense to break from Kautsky's strategy of "actionless waiting" as Pannekoek memorably phrased it. But, although more responsive to the momentum of striking and insurgent German workers, she remained loyal to the orthodox model of the necessity of the party to both articulate proper class consciousness and to seize state power in order to institute state socialism.

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Dec 28 2010 01:25
devoration1 wrote:
This is it:

http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2007-08-13/the-accumulation-of-contradictions-or-the-economic-consequences-of-rosa-luxembur

The Accumulation of Contradictions or the Economic Consequences of Rosa Luxemburg

It's a good demolition of Luxemburg. I don't think the ICC has an answer. Luckily it can always on the Lenin-Bukharin-Grossman explanation of the epoch of crises and revolutions which it holds as a valid alternative.

Wolf Motylev's (45 page) introduction also points out the problems with Luxemburg's (non-marxist) views of e.g. money and of the relation of circulation to production ('idealist'), which strike me as similar to Isaak Rubin. See also the criticism made against Rubin by Mattick. These weaknesses are exactly what Endnotes' essay about value form theory jumps on:

Endnotes wrote:
A major exception to the traditional Marxist neglect of the value-form and fetishism was the Russian economist Isaak Rubin. In path-breaking work in the twenties, he recognised that “[t]he theory of fetishism is, per se, the basis of Marx’s entire economic system and in particular of his theory of value,”6 and that abstract labour as the content of value is not “something to which form adheres from the outside. Rather, through its development, the content itself gives birth to the form which was already latent in the content.”7 But Rubin’s work, suppressed in Russia, remained more or less unknown. For the orthodoxy — “Marxist political economy” — the fact that bourgeois critics saw Marx as essentially a follower of Ricardo was not contested. Rather, he was defended on exactly this basis as having correctly tidied up Ricardo’s recognition of labour as the content of value, and of labour-time as its magnitude — adding only a more or less left-Ricardian theory of exploitation.

.

Quote:
7 Riccardo Bellofiore has pointed out that Rosa Luxemburg was another exception among traditional Marxists in paying close attention to the value-form.

Leaving aside that Rubin's views were extensively (and correctly IMO) criticized by many at the time in journals and books, including by a decist like Isaac Dashkovskij, the suppression of Rubin's work does not give it any more claim to truth than to that of his dissenting fellow colleges. Rubin's Essays on value dates from 1923 - Rubin continued uninterruptedly to do much academic work afterwards. Indeed Dashkovskij was suppressed earlier than Rubin. It might be mentioned that Rubin was a menshevik, just as Luxemburg's views, which Motylev observes, after her death were taking up by social-democrats (who used her revolutionary reputation for their own purposes).

Motylev furthermore attacks Luxemburg's theory because it fails to show how, and even that, capitalism is in the era of decline (the majority of the worldpopulation is peasant and will remain so for a long time to come). Btw, Motylev rightly doesn't attack her for an underconsumptionist theory of crises (here Bellofiore is correct). Motylev charitably believes that had she lived she would have changed her views.

Bellofiore concludes one of his articles:

Quote:
Luxemburg adopts an analytical point of view close to those adopted by old (Wicksell, Schumpeter, Keynes) and contemporary (Schmitt, Parguez, Graziani) authors of the monetary theory of production (see Bellofiore, 1992, 2005).

True, and that is because she, like Rubin, didn't take serious the marxist theory of value as the ICT article shows.
edit; it is also why Zizek can quote Postone during tens of pages and on the next page in his book reject the LTV because Venezuelan oil!

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Dec 28 2010 02:00

The more I read on the ILN site, the more disappointed I am. On the one hand are typical overproduction/underconsumptionist economic explanations for the current crisis, but on the other are typical Trotskyist, Progressive Democrat rhetoric concerning political matters.

Quote:
Tens of millions of jobs are needed to build houses, schools and hospitals, to clean up the Gulf and other environmental disasters, to repair the crumbling infrastructure and to greatly expand essentials services. The only way to create jobs and to end the unemployment crisis is to reverse the flow of wealth from capital to labor, to have governments directly hire millions of workers for massive public works program to fill these social needs, financing this program by taxes on capitalist and corporate wealth. Therefore the demand for a massive public works program, with direct government employment, at prevailing wages must be a central demand of workers today. This is the way—the only way—to provide jobs for all.

http://www.luxemburgism.lautre.net/spip.php?article118

Quote:
But to fight back, we must know what we are fighting for. The working class must arrive at its own solution to the crisis. Coming together, from many different movements—immigrant rights, labor, anti- war, civil rights—and from every region, eventually form all across the world, we have to arrive at a global Workers Recovery Plan that we all can unite around. To do this will take organizing and effort, conferences and discussion at all levels.

http://www.luxemburgism.lautre.net/spip.php?article44

It reminds me of the 'Bill Of Rights Socialism' of the CPUSA, the programs of the SPUSA and Socialist Equality Party, etc. I don't recognize the political legacy of Luxemburg or the political tendencies she was close to in the early 20th century anywhere in their press.

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devoration1
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Dec 28 2010 19:11

Statement of agreement (list of programmatic principles) to which someone would need to agree to to join:

Quote:
1. Luxemburg’s conception of the democratic self-organization of the working class is vital today as an alternative to the Leninist notion of a vanguard of professional revolutionaries, separate from the working class and itself guided by a centralized body of experienced leaders. We reject all such top-down, hierarchical organizations, because such hierarchy only mirrors the separation under class society of those who decide from those who work. It can never overturn such a society. Only organizations that are democratic and give the power to make decisions to the workers themselves can help to organize a new society in which all decisions are made democratically, and power is in the hands of the many, not the few.

Lenin's view of party membership:

Quote:
the case on the question of Paragraph 1 of the Rules. Two proposals were before the Congress. Lenin’s resolution ran: ‘A member of the RSDLP is one who accepts its programme and supports the Party both financially and by personal participation in one of the Party organisations.’ Martov’s proposal ran: ‘A member of the RSDLP is one who accepts its programme, supports the Party financially and renders it regular personal assistance under the direction of one of its organisations.’

http://www.marxists.org/history/international/social-democracy/rsdlp/1903/foreword.htm

His 'What Is To Be Done?' describes the need for an educated, militant, dedicated membership in the class party. The caricature presented in your first point in the statement of agreement is not only inaccurate, it is more in line with the 'anti-authoritarian' American Left than the legacy of Luxemburg (who participated in a revolutionary faction and class party of dedicated, educated, militant cadre- the Spartakists and KPD).

Quote:
The democratic organization and unification of the working class arises out of workers’ collective action in mass strikes, as Luxemburg first showed a century ago. The process of self-organization and mass transformation of consciousness that she described has been demonstrated repeatedly in the mass strikes of 1918, 1936, 1968 and many other years, up to the present. It is through this process, not just through electoral or labor-union action, that the workers can form themselves into a class capable of leading society.

Unionism and electoralism are considered progressive instruments of working class rule and developers of class consciousness by the ILN?

Quote:
It's a good demolition of Luxemburg. I don't think the ICC has an answer. Luckily it can always on the Lenin-Bukharin-Grossman explanation of the epoch of crises and revolutions which it holds as a valid alternative.

There are several articles on their site replying to the gist of the anti-underconsumptionist article linked to earlier-

Quote:
Historical materialism and a mode of production's entry into decadence
In the belief that it is making good use of the marxist method, the IBRP has found, in the councilist Paul Mattick, the "material bases" for the opening up of capitalism's period of decadence. Unfortunately for the IBRP, if the marxist method - historical and dialectical materialism - could be summed up as looking for an economic explanation for every single phenomenon in capitalism, then, as Engels said, "the application of the theory to any period of history would be easier than the solution of a simple equation of the first degree."[13]. What the IBRP quite simply forgets here is that marxism is not just a materialist method of analysis but also a historical and dialectical one. So what does history tell us about a mode of production's entry into decadence on the economic level?

History tells us that no period of decadence has begun with an economic crisis! There is nothing surprising in this because a system at its apogee is in its period of greatest prosperity. The first manifestations of decadence can therefore only appear in a very weak manner at this level; they appear above all in other areas and on other levels. Thus, for example, before plunging into endless crises on the material level, Roman decadence first of all expressed itself in the halting of its geographical expansion in the second century AD, by the first military defeats at the edges of the Roman empire during the third century, as well as by the first simultaneous outbreak of slave revolts all over the colonies. Similarly, before getting stuck in economic crises, famines, plague and the Hundred Years War, the first signs of the decadence of the feudal mode of production appeared in the end of the land clearances for new estates in the last third of the 13th century.

In both these cases, economic crises as products of blockages in the substructure only developed well after the entry into decadence. The passage from ascendance to decadence of a mode of production on the economic level can be compared to the changing of the tides: at its highest point, the sea seems to be at its most powerful and its retreat is almost imperceptible. But when contradictions in the economic underpinnings begin to gnaw away at society at a deep level, it is the superstructural manifestations which appear first.

The same goes for capitalism: before appearing on the economic and quantitative level, decadence found expression as a qualitative phenomenon at the social, political and ideological level, through the exacerbation of conflicts within the ruling class, leading to the First World War, by the state taking control of the economy for the needs of war, through the betrayal of social democracy and the passing of the unions into the camp of capital, through the eruption of a proletariat that demonstrated its capacity to overthrow the domination of the bourgeoisie and through the introduction of the first measures aimed at the social containment of the working class.

It is thus quite logical and fully coherent with historical materialism that capitalism's entry into decadence did not express itself first of all through an economic crisis. The events which took place at this point did not yet fully express all the characteristics of its phase of decadence; they were an exacerbation of the dynamics that belonged to its ascendant period, in a context which was in the process of profound modification. It was only later on, when the blockages at the substructural level had done their work, that the economic crises now began to fully unfold. The causes of decadence and of the First World War are not to be found in a certain rate of profit or an economic crisis that was nowhere to be seen in 1913 (see below) but in a totality of economic and political causes, as explained in International Review n°67.[14] The prosperity of capitalism during the Belle Epoque was fully recognised by the revolutionary movement at the time of the Communist International (1919-28). At its First Congress, in the Report on the World Situation written by Trotsky, the CI noted that "the two decades preceding the war were a period of particularly powerful capitalist growth".

. . .

The same is true if we examine the evolution of the rate of profit, which is the variable taken into account by all those who make this question the key to understanding all the economic laws of capitalism. The graphs for the USA and France which we reproduce below also show that there is no confirmation of the theory of Mattick and the IBRP. In France, neither the level, nor the evolution of the rate of profit can in any way explain the outbreak of the First World War since the rate had been on the rise since 1896 and had been rising even more sharply from 1910 on! Nor can the rate of profit explain the USA's entry into the 1914-18 war: oscillating around 15% since 1895, it was on the rise after 1914 and reached 16% at the time the US entered the war in March-April 1917! Neither the level, nor the rate of profit on the eve of the First World War are able to explain the outbreak of the war or capitalism's entry into its phase of decadence.

http://en.internationalism.org/ir/128/cwo-falling-rate-of-profit

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Noa Rodman
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Dec 29 2010 13:19

I agree with your response to ocelot, but that long quote you give is irrelevant and confirms one of the problems diagnosed already in 1974:

"In reply to this we have heard nothing from either of the avowedly Luxemburgist groups, the ICC or PIC. The former have attempted to disguise their theoretical nakedness by equating the growth of statification in the twentieth century with that of decadent societies in all epochs (see their pamphlet The Decadence of Capitalism p.8 and p.12), so that in a thirty-three page pamphlet we are not offered a single economic reason for the appearance of this “striking manifestation."

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devoration1
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Dec 29 2010 20:59

The above article debates the tendency of the rate of profit to fall as the basis for capitalist crisis and the driving force behind the 2 imperialist world wars and the Great Depression- arguing instead that the rate of profit did not fall in the main actors (belligerents) of WWI or WWII. The closing of the world market and the saturation of this market are posed as the genuine reasons for capitalist decadence and the driving force behind the two inter-imperialist world wars- to re-divide the world market and spheres of influence. As far as theoretical nakedness, I see it more in the ICT article- the supposed continuity with Marx is given as a shield with which to cover the 'tendency of the rate of profit to fall' from criticism or alteration (doing so is hinted at as being blasphemous, sacreligious, etc).
Ex.

Quote:
The method by which Marxist economic enquiry is carried out is by making valid abstractions from capitalist reality, but Luxemburg’s abstraction is invalid as it fails to take into account the essential nature of the world she is supposed to be describing. This is because Luxemburg’s method is not Marxist. She gives notice of this when she says that “desire” to accumulate is not enough, there also has to be an increase in “effective demand” (see page 131 of The Accumulation of Capital) for commodities. “Desire” is a strange enough piece of subjectivism for a Marxist but the search for “effective demand” puts Luxemburg in a new camp — that of the Keynesians.

I haven't seen any articles so far from the ILN that argue against the rate of profit argument in favor of Luxemburg's saturation of markets theory-so the ICT is partially correct that some of the Luxemburgists have not engaged in this debate so far. Though a quick read through their press will show that the saturation of markets and much of 'The Accumulation of Capital' is present in the ILN's analysis- so Luxemburg's economic theories are alive and well.