The Socialization of Society

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1744 ... January 19, 2019
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One hundred years ago this month, on January 15, 1919, the great revolutionary thinker and anti-war activist, Rosa Luxemburg, was murdered in Berlin by the Freikorps paramilitary group, with her body dumped into the Landwehr Canal. Her comrade in opposition to the Social Democratic Party of Germany support for German involvement in World War 1, and in splitting from the SPD to eventually form the Communist Party of Germany, Karl Liebknecht, was also murdered in the course of the same events. Luxemburg occupies a special place in the traditions of the global left for her powerful political interventions and ceaseless invocation of revolution to break the hammerlock of capitalism on democracy and development, and for her major economic text, The Accumulation of Capital (1913), linking capitalist development to... dispossessions, imperialism and militarism. Her searing critique of capitalist democracy was central to a political strategy that combined an insistence on the capacity for revolt and self-organization of the masses with recognition of the role of the socialist party in education, agitation, and parliamentary representation and struggle in the interests of the working classes. One hundred years on, Luxemburg remains a source of political inspiration and integrity for socialists around the world.

We reprint here her call (published in December 1918) for political control of the state and socialization of the economic system in the midst of the German revolts of 1918-1919. “While we are enlisting fighters for the revolution, we are creating Socialist workers for the future, workers who can become the basis of a new social state... There is still an old world to be overthrown. A new world must be built!”


The Socialization of Society

Rosa Luxemburg

The revolution that has just begun can have but one outcome: realization of Socialism! The working class, in order to accomplish its purpose, must, first of all, secure entire political control of the state. But to the Socialist political power is only a means to an end. It is the instrument with which labour will achieve the complete, fundamental reconstruction of our entire industrial system.

Today all wealth, the largest and most fruitful tracts of land, the mines, the mills and the factories belong to a small group of Junkers and private capitalists. From them the great masses of the labouring class receive a scanty wage in return for long hours of arduous toil, hardly enough for a decent livelihood. The enrichment of a small class of idlers is the purpose and end of present-day society. To give to modern society and to modern production a new impulse and a new purpose – that is the foremost duty of the revolutionary working class.

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