Rosa Luxemburg

In the Storm


Source: Le Socialiste, May 1-8, 1904;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor.

May Day this year stands out particularly because it is being celebrated in the midst of the noises of war. Because of this, its character as a demonstration in favor of world peace has the upper hand this year. But more than ever, in the presence of war, the specifically proletarian demonstration must also be the expression of this idea, that the realization of universal peace cannot be conceived of except as linked to the realization of our socialist final goal.

If the Russo-Japanese War has demonstrated anything, it’s the vanity of the speculations of those “humanitarian” socialists who claim to found world peace on the system of equilibrium of the Double and the Triple Alliances. These panegyrists of military alliances were unable to sufficiently express their enchantment with the period of thirty years of peace in central Europe and, based on this fact, proclaimed with all possible naturalness “peace on the march” and “humanity at peace.” The thunder of the cannons of Port Arthur – which have made the stock exchanges of Europe tremble convulsively – recall to the intelligible voices of these socialist ideologists of bourgeois society that, in their fantasies of European peace, they’d forgotten only one thing: modern colonial politics, which have, as of now, gone beyond the stage of local European conflicts in transporting them to the Great Ocean. The Russo-Japanese War now gives to all an awareness that even war and peace in Europe – its destiny – isn’t decided between the four walls of the European concert, but outside it, in the gigantic maelstrom of world and colonial politics.

And its in this that the real meaning of the current war resides for social-democracy, even if we set aside its immediate effect: the collapse of Russian absolutism. This war brings the gaze of the international proletariat back to the great political and economic connectedness of the world, and violently dissipates in our ranks the particularism, the pettiness of ideas that form in any period of political calm.

The war completely rends all the veils which the bourgeois world – this world of economic, political and social fetishism – constantly wraps us in.

The war destroys the appearance which leads us to believe in peaceful social evolution; in the omnipotence and the untouchability of bourgeois legality; in national exclusivism; in the stability of political conditions; in the conscious direction of politics by these “statesmen” or parties; in the significance capable of shaking up the world of the squabbles in bourgeois parliaments; in parliamentarism as the so-called center of social existence.

War unleashes – at the same time as the reactionary forces of the capitalist world – the generating forces of social revolution which ferment in its depths.

Yes, this time we celebrate May First under a sharp wind, the pace of events in the world strongly speeded up.

Last updated on: 30.11.2008