Critiques of Rosa Luxemburg

1914, Lenin: The Right of Nations to Self-Determination: “Practicality” In The National Question

Russian Revolutionary, critical of Luxemburg on the need for a dictatorship of the party of the proletariat, wrote in debate on the question of self-determination: “In her quest for ‘practicality’ Rosa Luxemburg has lost sight of the principal practical task both of the Great-Russian proletariat and of the proletariat of other nationalities: that of day-by-day agitation and propaganda against all state and national privileges, and for the right, the equal right of all nations, to their national state.”

1923, Georg Lukács: The Marxism of Rosa Luxemburg

Hungarian, once the Commissar for Culture and Education in Hungary’s short-lived Socialist experiment in 1919. Lukács provides a broad overview of Luxemburg’s main theoretical contributions and organisational struggles, “Rosa Luxemburg perceived at a very early stage that the organisation is much more likely to be the effect than the cause of the revolutionary process, just as the proletariat can constitute itself as a class only in and through revolution.”

1946, Raya Dunayevskaya: Luxemburg’s Theory of Accumulation. How it Differed with Marx & Lenin

1959–69, Tony Cliff: Rosa Luxemburg

Palestinian, critiqued the Soviet Union as a form of “bureaucratic state capitalism”, wrote in praise of Luxemburg’s insight: “Rosa Luxemburg’s conception of the structure of the revolutionary organisations – that they should be built, from below up, on a consistently democratic basis ” fits the needs of the workers’ movement in the advanced countries much more closely than Lenin’s conception of 1902-04 which was copied and given an added bureaucratic twist by the Stalinists the world over.”

1978, Paul Mattick: Rosa Luxemburg in Retrospect

Once a German Spartacist, and a young contemporary of Luxemburg, his critique 60 years after her death summarizes: “Despite some false notions, with respect to theory and some illusions regarding socialist practice, her revolutionary impulse yielded the essential elements required for a socialist revolution: an unwavering internationalism and the principle of the self-determination of the working class within its organizations and within society.”

Last updated on 30 April 2023