Rosa Luxemburg was first published in 1959. When it was reissued in 1969, Cliff made two small but significant changes. These reflected the way he had revised his position on Leninism and the revolutionary party in the light of the French events of 1968 and the debate on democratic centralism in the International Socialists in the same year. These changes occur on pp.45-46 of the 1980 edition and pp.85-86 of this edition. 
Rosa Luxemburg’s reluctance to form an independent revolutionary party is quite often cited by Stalinists as a grave error and an important cause for the defeat of the German Revolution in 1918. They argue that Lenin was opposed to the revolutionary Left’s adherence to the SPD and continuing association with Kautsky.
There is no truth at all in this legend. Actually, Rosa Luxemburg made a clearer assessment of Kautsky and Co, and broke with them long before Lenin did.
Rosa Luxemburg’s reluctance to form an independent revolutionary party followed her slowness to react to changed circumstances. It was a central factor in the belatedness of building a revolutionary party in Germany. In this, however, she was not alone. Lenin was no quicker to break with Kautsky than Rosa. There is no ground to the Stalinist story according to which Lenin was opposed to the revolutionary Left’s adherence to the SPD and continuing association with Kautsky. Actually, Rosa Luxemburg made a clearer assessment of Kautsky and Co, and broke with them long before Lenin did.
For Marxists, in advanced industrial countries, Lenin’s original position can serve much less as a guide than Rosa Luxemburg’s, notwithstanding her overstatements on the question of spontaneity.
However, whatever the historical circumstances moulding Rosa’s thought regarding organisation, these thoughts showed a great weakness in the German Revolution of 1918-19.
1. This note appears in Tony Cliff, International Struggle and the Marxist Tradition, Selected Works Vol.1, Bookmarks, London 2001, p.113. In the Marxists’ Internet Archive we have archived the two editions separately according to the year of publication, 1959 or 1969.
Last updated on 20.4.2003