What does the entire history of socialism and of all modern revolutions show us? The first spark of class struggle in Europe, the revolt of the silk weavers in Lyon in 1831, ended with a heavy defeat; the Chartist movement in Britain ended in defeat; the uprising of the Parisian proletariat in the June days of 1848 ended with a crushing defeat; and the Paris commune ended with a terrible defeat. The whole road of socialism – so far as revolutionary struggles are concerned – is paved with nothing but thunderous defeats. Yet, at the same time, history marches inexorably, step by step, toward final victory! Where would we be today without those “defeats,” from which we draw historical experience, understanding, power and idealism? Today, as we advance into the final battle of the proletarian class war, we stand on the foundation of those very defeats; and we can do without any of them, because each one contributes to our strength and understanding.
The revolutionary struggle is the very antithesis of the parliamentary struggle. In Germany, for four decades we had nothing but parliamentary “victories.” We practically walked from victory to victory. And when faced with the great historical test of August 4, 1914, the result was the devastating political and moral defeat, an outrageous debacle and rot without parallel. To date, revolutions have given us nothing but defeats. Yet these unavoidable defeats pile up guarantee upon guarantee of the future final victory.
There is but one condition. The question of why each defeat occurred must be answered. Did it occur because the forward-storming combative energy of the masses collided with the barrier of unripe historical conditions, or was it that indecision, vacillation, and internal frailty crippled the revolutionary impulse itself?
Classic examples of both cases are the February revolution in France on the one hand and the March revolution in Germany on the other. The courage of the Parisian proletariat in the year 1848 has become a fountain of energy for the class struggle of the entire international proletariat. The deplorable events of the German March revolution of the same year have weighed down the whole development of modern Germany like a ball and chain. In the particular history of official German Social Democracy, they have reverberated right up into the most recent developments in the German revolution and on into the dramatic crisis we have just experienced.
How does the defeat of “Spartacus week” appear in the light of the above historical question? Was it a case of raging, uncontrollable revolutionary energy colliding with an insufficiently ripe situation, or was it a case of weak and indecisive action?
Both! The crisis had a dual nature. The contradiction between the powerful, decisive, aggressive offensive of the Berlin masses on the one hand and the indecisive, half-hearted vacillation of the Berlin leadership on the other is the mark of this latest episode. The leadership failed. But a new leadership can and must be created by the masses and from the masses. The masses are the crucial factor. They are the rock on which the ultimate victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were up to the challenge, and out of this “defeat” they have forged a link in the chain of historic defeats, which is the pride and strength of international socialism. That is why future victories will spring from this “defeat.”
“Order prevails in Berlin!” You foolish lackeys! Your “order” is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will “rise up again, clashing its weapons,” and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing:
I was, I am, I shall be!
– Rosa Luxemburg in her essay “Die Ordnung herrscht in Berlin” (“Order Prevails in Berlin”) written in the midst of a successful counterrevolution (Berlin: January 14, 1919). It was published the same day in Die Rote Fahne (“The Red Flag”), the paper Luxemburg co-founded (November 9, 1918) with Karl Liebknecht, the more radical son of the founder of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD). The paper was originally an organ of the Spartakusbund (“Spartacus League”), co-founded by Luxemburg and Liebknecht in rejection of the SPD members who voted in the Reichstag to embrace Germany’s imperial war in 1914. Shortly thereafter (City Council reception hall, Berlin: December 30, 1918 – January 1, 1919) the Spartacus League became the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (“Communist Party of Germany”, KPD) at a conference which Liebknecht opened (“The crisis of the USPD”) and Luxemburg engaged (“Our Program and the Political Situation”). In January, a small group of workers seized control of several streets in the newspaper quarter, precipitating embrace by the KPD and a general strike in which half a million workers occupied parts of Berlin. The strike was suppressed by hired Freikorps (“Free Corps”), paramilitaries freshly armed with defeat from WWI, who captured and murdered Luxemburg and Liebknecht the next day (Berlin: January 15, 1919).
“Die Revolution sagt ich bin, ich war, ich werde sein.”
(“The Revolution says I am, I was, I shall be.”)
– (allegedly) Hector “Sabu” Monsegur in the last tweet on @anonymouSabu‘s account, (March 5, 2012 5:57pm CST). The next day, the FBI announced his capture along with five other Anons whom he is alleged to have directly implicated.