The dialectic whole between theory and reality in Rosa Luxemburg

Delice E.

Critique, vol.43, no.1, pp.37-67, 2015 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 43 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/03017605.2015.1017994
  • Journal Name: Critique
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.37-67
  • Keywords: Dialectics, Mass Strike, Praxis, Revolution, Rosa Luxemburg, Spontaneity
  • Ondokuz Mayıs University Affiliated: Yes


Rosa Luxemburg, who is among the first generation of Marxists, is well-known for her actions in the revolutionary struggle and criticism of the rhetoric of reformists. Yet insistence on seeing her political side prevents us from seeing her authentic philosophical thought. For example, her idea of mass strike is known, but the idea that this will be achieved by a philosophy of praxis that is possible by a dialectic between one's free will, class consciousness and theory of revolution is not taken into account. In addition, she has not written any philosophical text and the intention to develop a theory cannot obviously be seen in her works, which obscures the thesis that she has a unique philosophical insight. If Luxemburg's view of philosophy cannot be seen, the question how she can stand consistently between concepts and the barricades cannot be answered. Luxemburg has embodied a philosophy of praxis as outlined by Marx in his Eleventh thesis. Subjective will, spontaneity of mass strike and theories on social revolution are the developmental steps of this philosophy. Although her philosophical side is related to Marx through Hegel and Enlightenment, she develops a philosophy of revolution that includes the new phenomena of that age into the philosophical debates. For example, Luxemburg reconsiders the right of nations for self-determination, new forms of capitalism, imperialism, war, parties and trade unions in the context of the philosophy of revolution. Luxemburg's amicable discussions with Lenin strengthen the contents of this philosophy. While she grounds the philosophy of revolution she has developed in the experience of the Russian revolution, at the same time she tries to prove that Marxist philosophy of history has been confirmed. Her dialectic that she has received from Marxist dialectics theory is the method of application of both the analysis of criticism and the philosophy of revolution. In this context seeing the dialectics that provides a union of Luxemburg's philosophical thought and her political struggle will also help comprehend how the theory of historical materialism is proven.