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Rosa Luxemburg: Interview with Luxemburg Scholar and Editor, Peter Hudis

By       Message Dr. Lenore Daniels     Permalink
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"Meanwhile, the preparations go on, the dreamlike rituals are rehearsed, and the whole earth is being set up as an altar for a brunt offering, a monstrous human sacrifice to an imagined god with averted eyes."

"The Unforgettable Fire," Lewis Thomas, Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony

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" It is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot."


"We have tried to make clear to [the workers] that they must continue to go on learning, that they will go on learning all their lives...."

Rosa Luxemburg, (qtd. In JP Nettl, Rosa Luxemburg )

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"Gone is the first mad delirium." The "patriotic street demonstrations," the persecuting of women, the "atmosphere of ritual murder"--all gone. "The show is over," and the "curtain has fallen" and those soldiers returning on trains are no longer laughing. No longer cheerful. "Quietly they trot through the streets, with their sacks upon their shoulders. And the public, with a fretful face, goes about its daily tasks."

And the cannon fodder that was loaded upon the trains in August and September is rotting on the battlefields...while profits are springing, like weeds, from the fields of the dead.

From 1907-08 Balkon Whng
1907-08 Balkon Whng
(Image by rosalux-stiftung)
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1907-08 Balkon Whng by rosalux-stiftung

While cities are in shambles and whole villages turned into cemeteries and whole nations into beggars, and while there is "misery and desperation" everywhere, "business is flourishing upon the ruins."

Shamed, dishonored, wading in blood and dripping with filth, thus capitalist society stands. Not as we usually see it, playing the roles of peace and righteousness, of order, of philosophy, of ethics--but as a roasting beast, as an orgy of anarchy, as a pestilential breath, devastating culture and humanity--so it appears in all its hideous nakedness.

Written in 1916, nearly two years after the start of World War I, these are the words of the revolutionary thinker and activist Rosa Luxemburg, who rightly called attention to the atrocity that is the economic system of capitalism, which we, in 2013, are still grappling with despite our witness today to "its hideous nakedness."

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Capitalism, the economic system that promotes permanent war and austerity, that promotes death and suffering, starvation and desperation, takes hold of our minds. We not only forget the cannon fodder rotting on the battlefields; we not only forget the "beggars" and the "misery"; we forget the "flourishing" of capitalism "wading in blood and dripping with filth."

Where are the "shamed" and "dishonored" capitalists?

Look through your museums, at your park statues, look for them resurrected in your children's textbooks. Read the bestsellers written by contemporary capitalist moguls. Everyone does in order to read about how it is done. How does one follow in the footsteps of the multinational corporate CEO?

The corporate capitalists have learned to throw crumbs toward the masses of the workers and the poor, those settling for trickled down policies, aided in the liberalization process of the once "shamed" and "dishonored."

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Activist, writer, American Modern Literature, Cultural Theory, PhD.

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