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Labor Action, 27 January 1947


Lenin, Liebknecht, Luxemburg:

Three Titans of the Socialist Revolution


From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 4, 27 January 1947, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


On this page we are commemorating three of the titans of twentieth century history – V.I. Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. This month it is 28 years since Luxemburg and Liebknecht were murdered In Germany by henchmen of the Social Democracy during the wave of revolutionary fervor which swept the European working class after the Russian Revolution; and, as has been customary in our press, we seise this occasion to commemorate the memories of these master builders of the socialist movement.

The name of Lenin is well known in this country. Probably the most impressive human figure of our century, Lenin has by now become inseparably linked with the first successful working class revolution in the world. But Lenin was not only the leader of the Russian Revolution – tremendous achievement though that was; he was also a major thinker in the socialist movement who contributed writings and conceptions of lasting validity. And he was a man so passionately and fully devoted to the cause of human liberation that he has become a symbol of the entire movement.

Though Luxemburg and Liebknecht are not as well known in America, except to active revolutionary socialists, there is every reason why they should be.

Rosa Luxemburg is a unique figure not only In modern but in world history. She was a woman of powerful intellect who entered into intellectual combat with the impressive socialist theoreticians of her day and showed that her ability was second to none. In her own way, she championed the revolutionary conceptions in Poland and Germany which Lenin championed in Russia against those reformist socialists who were beginning to make of socialism a form of polite liberalism. She was the active leader of the left wing of the German movement, went to jail during the First World War because of her anti-imperialist convictions, was a leader of the tragic Spartacist revolt in post-war Germany and was killed by gunmen in the hire of the German capitalists and their wretched accomplices, the Social Democrats.

Linked with Rosa’s name is that of Karl Liebknecht. Though not as eminent a theoretician as either Lenin or Luxemburg, he was one of the most beloved and fearless of that heroic generation of revolutionists who reached their bloom during and after the First World War. Liebknecht was a man of warmth and had a superb ability to maintain contact with the masses of people. He is especially remembered for his stirring anti-war speeches in Germany during the first imperialist war, for which he suffered imprisonment. The human aspirations, which form the groundwork of the socialist cause were expressed in this revolutionist’s life, also cut short by the same thugs who murdered Luxemburg.

They were of the heroic generation, these three. There were others with them: Trotsky, Rakovsky, Bukharin, and many, many others. In the succeeding years of Stalinist counter-revolution and reaction, many of this generation were murdered, others had their memories besmirched and still others their names taken in vain. For who can doubt that such incorruptible revolutionary and democratic socialists as these three would have viewed with hatred and horror the totalitarian monster of Stalinism which has dealt so many death blows to the cause of socialist revolution?

Yet in the minds and hearts of all revolutionary socialists there is the keen memory of Lenin, Liebknecht and Luxemburg. In our work to build a socialist society, in our desire to study the experiences and writings of our predecessors and in our passion to rebel against injustice, we feel that we are continuing along the paths which they cleared. No human work could be more vital.

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