world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of
those who look on and do nothing...
ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but
where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
For the worker committed to justice and
revolutionary change, desks in private spaces are hard to come by. Work is dome in cramped apartments or in a
prison cell. It is done on the run, sometimes underground. For Marxist theorist
and activist Rosa Luxemburg, it is done in spite of the bourgeoisie's interests
in maintaining its relationship to the privileged power because it is the work
that articulates the demands of the poor and working class that, to this day--represents
a subversive activity.
Consequently, when the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) dismissed Rosa Luxemburg's work, the SPD did so because, as Luxemburg documented in "Social Reform or Revolution" and in "Theory and Practice," (The Rosa Luxemburg Reader), its leadership had already begun to "revise" Marxism in such a way as to inform the working class that its demands and strategies for protest were either inappropriate or illogical. It is not inappropriate or illogical for the SPD to endorse an imperialist war, however.
The imperialist war and the SPD leadership's support for it nearly broke Luxemburg. In Germany, conditions for workers and soldiers are grim. Working class families spent 52 percent of their income on food and 33 percent on necessities such as housing, heating, lights and clothing. Whatever was left went to school fees for the children, church, social and intellectual life, health, insurance, debt, and savings" ("Economic and Social Development," Imperial Germany 1871-1918).  By May, 1916, Luxemburg receives word that her friend and comrade Karl Liebknecht has been arrested:: "I tried with all the might of my fist to "free" him [when he was seized] and I pulled at him and at the policemen all the way to the police station, from which I was unceremoniously expelled" (Letter to Clara Zetkin, [Sudende,] May 12, 1916, The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg).  By August 1916, she is on the verge of suicide (The Reader).