Rosa Luxemburg

Theory & Practice

[A polemic against Comrade Kautsky’s theory of the Mass Strike]


Published: Gesammelte Werke, Vol. 2 (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1972, 1974), pp. 344–77, 378–420; they have also been checked against the manner in which they were printed in Die Neue Zeit.
Source: News & Letters, April 1980.
Translated: (from the German) David Wolff.
Transcription/Markup: Ted Crawford/Brian Baggins.
Copyright: © 1980 News & Letters. Printed with Permission from News & Letters.

In this version a number of minor typographical errors have been corrected. Emphasis is given here by italics rather than underlinings. Luxemburg’s notes have been placed in square brackets in the text itself. The translator’s notes have been numbered and placed at the end. All our thanks to News & Letters.

Part 1 [Kautsky’s poor handling of Mass Strike article]
Part 2 [Kautsky disdains Russian revolutionary potential]
Part 3 [Kautsky: the mass strike is incompatible with Germany]
Part 4 [Russian development created the mass strike]
Part 5 [Kautsky’s theory: mass strike is a one-time event]
Part 6 [Prussia: the mass strike arises from the masses]
Postscript: An Attrition or Collision

Introduction by News & Letters

This is the first English translation of Theory and Practice by Rosa Luxemburg. It will give the American public the opportunity to hear Rosa Luxemburg speak for herself in her confrontation with Karl Kautsky on the crucial questions of the General Mass Strike and on the relationship of spontaneity to organization, as well as on the unity of theory and practice. This crucial 1910 debate in German Social Democracy led to Luxemburg’s revolutionary break with Karl Kautsky and foreshadowed the collapse of the Second International at the outbreak of World War I. Also included here are her concluding remarks from "Attrition or Collision" in that continuing debate, where she extended her critique of the opportunism which was corroding the German Social Democracy to an attack on its pusillanimity in the fight against imperialism.

David Wolff, April 1980

Last updated on: 2.12.2008