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This 1899 polemic by the famous "Red Rosa" Luxemburg explains why capitalism can never overcome its internal contradictions. An effective refutation of revisionist interpretations of Marxist doctrine, it defines the position of scientific socialism on the issues of social reforms, the state, democracy, and the character of the proletarian revolution. This 1899 polemic by the famous "Red Rosa" Luxemburg explains why capitalism can never overcome its internal contradictions. An effective refutation of revisionist interpretations of Marxist doctrine, it defines the position of scientific socialism on the issues of social reforms, the state, democracy, and the character of the proletarian revolution.


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This 1899 polemic by the famous "Red Rosa" Luxemburg explains why capitalism can never overcome its internal contradictions. An effective refutation of revisionist interpretations of Marxist doctrine, it defines the position of scientific socialism on the issues of social reforms, the state, democracy, and the character of the proletarian revolution. This 1899 polemic by the famous "Red Rosa" Luxemburg explains why capitalism can never overcome its internal contradictions. An effective refutation of revisionist interpretations of Marxist doctrine, it defines the position of scientific socialism on the issues of social reforms, the state, democracy, and the character of the proletarian revolution.

30 review for Reform or Revolution & Other Writings (Books on History, Political & Social Science)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Feral Academic

    If you are not a German revolutionary of the late 19th or early 20th century, this book was not written for you. I forced myself through it because she's one of the few ladies in the left canon. I wouldn't wish her upon someone else, though she is historically important. Humorless, painfully specific, relentlessly straightforward: this might be the least fun I've had reading since my economics textbook. If you are not a German revolutionary of the late 19th or early 20th century, this book was not written for you. I forced myself through it because she's one of the few ladies in the left canon. I wouldn't wish her upon someone else, though she is historically important. Humorless, painfully specific, relentlessly straightforward: this might be the least fun I've had reading since my economics textbook.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Kudlowiez Franch

    It is fascinating to see how much of what Rosa Luxemburg wrote stays relevant to these days. The struggle between reformists and revolutionaries seems fresher than ever as the welfare state became prevalent in post-war Europe which might seem to make the case for Reform, but when analyzed through Rosa's perspective we can see that her point is still right. The situation of the proletariat might have improved but the reformists just play the bourgeoisie's game. The other texts are even more inter It is fascinating to see how much of what Rosa Luxemburg wrote stays relevant to these days. The struggle between reformists and revolutionaries seems fresher than ever as the welfare state became prevalent in post-war Europe which might seem to make the case for Reform, but when analyzed through Rosa's perspective we can see that her point is still right. The situation of the proletariat might have improved but the reformists just play the bourgeoisie's game. The other texts are even more interesting for their predictive power. The way she describes the mass strikes and how the political parties and trade unions should deal with it sounds like a lesson that should've been heard during the Occupy protests, the 2013 protests in Brazil and more recently with the Gilets Jaunes in France. He analysis of the ups and downs of the Russian Revolution also ended up being prophetic for being able to call out when the seeds were sown for problems like the kulakization in the Soviet Union and the ground on which its authoritarianism could grow. But it is also important to read this sober account of the revolution to understand why Lenin and Trotsky took so many of the more controversial measures that were needed during such a troubled time as the end of WWI and the revolution.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    The first essay, Reform or Revolution was so on point. An amazing essay that transcends time and place to perfectly sum up my opposition to Bernie Sanders or Scandinavian-style social democrats today. Fair warning, "Social Democracy" was revolutionary when Rosa was writing and she used the term to describe her own political alignment. The other two essays were less enthralling but still adequate. The end of the Russian Revolution was interesting as she offered apology for Lenin and Trotsky gettin The first essay, Reform or Revolution was so on point. An amazing essay that transcends time and place to perfectly sum up my opposition to Bernie Sanders or Scandinavian-style social democrats today. Fair warning, "Social Democracy" was revolutionary when Rosa was writing and she used the term to describe her own political alignment. The other two essays were less enthralling but still adequate. The end of the Russian Revolution was interesting as she offered apology for Lenin and Trotsky getting a little dictatorial after being subjected to imperialist oppression.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joe Xtarr

    Here are my study notes for Reform or Revolution. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7Hq... Here are my study notes for Reform or Revolution. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7Hq...

  5. 5 out of 5

    James

    Absolute banger. Genuinely engaging in a way that I find lacking in a lot of classic theory, while still being well reasoned and informative. I didn't necessarily agree with every conclusion reached or point made (especially some of her comments about trade unionism), but in the whole this is exactly what I was looking for. Managed to be both incisive and nuanced, and deal in both more abstract theory and real world implications and compromise. I can't remember the last time I felt this much adm Absolute banger. Genuinely engaging in a way that I find lacking in a lot of classic theory, while still being well reasoned and informative. I didn't necessarily agree with every conclusion reached or point made (especially some of her comments about trade unionism), but in the whole this is exactly what I was looking for. Managed to be both incisive and nuanced, and deal in both more abstract theory and real world implications and compromise. I can't remember the last time I felt this much admiration for an author while reading. I recently got a different collection of Luxemburg's writings and am looking forward to jumping into that too. Regarding individual sections: Paul Buhle's intro was a solid grounding in the context of the book, and I think is a real strength of this collection specifically and why I would recommend this despite there being so many other collections which include at the very least the "main" article of this book. "Reform or Revolution" was a fantastically phrased putdown of reformism. I'm not always the biggest fan of political theory which keeps referring back to an individual, but her commentary on Bernstein here is used to underpin broader points and is easily translatable to modern day DemSocs. Absolutely required reading. "Marxism or Leninism" was an interesting and balanced take, although the one which stuck with me least. "The Mass Strike" was a good insight into her views on the utility of mass strikes, of all of the book this was the one I think was most "mind-expanding" for me, and I definitely got a lot of value from it, if again I had a few disagreements with minor points. Great contextualising of strikes in a more widespread sense than solely the individual changes they bring about. "The Russian Revolution" had some great takes - most notably that speaking with some nuance about how some of the actions of Lenin and Trotsky may be justified and necessary but that doesn't mean that they should be enshrined as theoretic virtues, rather as real-world compromises to adapt to their situations. There was some other stuff I agreed less with on "national self-determination" but could see her point of view. Also, as this is the pamphlet Luxemburg was working on when she was assassinated, you can kind of see her thought process in the areas left in brackets in almost bullet-point form to come back to and flesh out as she completed the rest of the work. It was interesting in that light - although also drives home how much I would have appreciated seeing similar analysis from Luxemburg again a decade or two later. Overall, I cannot praise this work enough. One caveat - I wouldn't necessarily advise this being your first work of leftist political theory, because I think a grounding in the fundamentals at least is necessary to get full value out of the book, but like I say it should be digestible for pretty much anyone anyway.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    4/5 philosophy / political theory not a series collage - adult reading level Reform or Revolution by Rosa Luxemburg is a book containing a number of her most famous writings. Social Reform or Revolution: Luxemburg writes about her opinion on whether leftist ideas could be established through democratic reform or only with a revolution. she does this by criticizing the works of Edward Bernstein and presenting her own ideas on what Bernstein's work states. Leninism or Marxism: in this writing, Luxem 4/5 philosophy / political theory not a series collage - adult reading level Reform or Revolution by Rosa Luxemburg is a book containing a number of her most famous writings. Social Reform or Revolution: Luxemburg writes about her opinion on whether leftist ideas could be established through democratic reform or only with a revolution. she does this by criticizing the works of Edward Bernstein and presenting her own ideas on what Bernstein's work states. Leninism or Marxism: in this writing, Luxemburg discusses her opinion on and the differences between Leninism and Marxism. The Mass Strike, the Political Party, and the Trade Union: in this writing, she writes on the effectiveness and usefulness of The Mass Strike, the Political Party, and the Trade Union by using the real world examples of the mass strikes and protests of pre-revolution Russia. The Russain Revolution: in the last writing Luxemburg explains the lead-up and early parts of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia whilst interjecting her opinions on the matter. I enjoyed reading this because it offered a unique perspective on events of this time as well as presenting many good ideas on philosophy, politics, and economics. if you are interested in left-wing political thought then I would recommend this book to you but it is hard to read and would be very boring to anyone without an interest in it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mackenzie

    Actual review a few paragraphs down, but first: anyone who accuses Rosa of being "dry" or "boring" clearly does not have a proper appreciation for her ability to deliver slick turn-of-the-20th-century burns: "Bernstein asks if there is more or less of socialism in a labour protective law, we can assure him that, in the best of labour protective laws, there is no more 'socialism' than in a municipal ordinance regulating the cleaning of streets or the lighting of street lamps." (To Lenin) "Let us sp Actual review a few paragraphs down, but first: anyone who accuses Rosa of being "dry" or "boring" clearly does not have a proper appreciation for her ability to deliver slick turn-of-the-20th-century burns: "Bernstein asks if there is more or less of socialism in a labour protective law, we can assure him that, in the best of labour protective laws, there is no more 'socialism' than in a municipal ordinance regulating the cleaning of streets or the lighting of street lamps." (To Lenin) "Let us speak plainly. Historically, the errors committed by a truly revolutionary movement are infinitely more fruitful than the infallibility of the cleverest Central Committee." (Review) This book is a collection of four essays/pamphlets by Rosa, presented in chronological order. They all pair quite well together, particularly as three of them give us a view into Rosa's perspective of the Russian Revolution at several different points in time. There is a reason Rosa is beloved by nearly every branch of Marxism (find another author both Marxist-Leninists and Anarchists praise). She's surprisingly easy to follow (for her time), sharply intelligent, and fierce in her critiques. One paragraph reviews of each essay: "Reform of Revolution" This might be my favorite old school leftist text. Rosa covers some of the basics of Marxism, while systematically explaining why socialism will never occur through the processes of reform or parliamentarianism. Additionally, she addresses how developments to capitalism (such as shareholding companies and credit) will not save it. Yet, at the same time, she professes the importance of democracy an the need for the proletariat to seek power through every means available. Whether her assessment of capitalism's inevitable collapse (*raises fist and screams at the sky* "KEYNES!!!") is as irrefutable in hindsight as it appeared to be contemporaneously is up for debate, but this is still one I recommend to any leftist or radical. "Marxism or Leninism" Written prior to the full-on victory of the Bolsheviks, Rosa makes arguments she'll ultimately expand on in "The Mass Strike" regarding the leadership of a revolutionary movement. She is critical of Lenin's vanguard strategy, raising concerns about vulnerability to bad actors. Depending on your view of one of a number of various USSR party leaders (be it Stalin, Khrushchev, or Gorbachev), her predictions arguably came true. Granted, the SPD ultimately supporting WWI and Rosa's death might have also proved Lenin right, as well. It's an interesting look at one side of the debates between two intellectual heavyweights. "The Mass Strike" This is the foundational text for the dialectic between revolutionary organization and spontaneity. Rosa uses the Russian Revolution as a case study in how revolutionary action comes about, finding that while the Party participated as leaders and help set things in motion, but their guidance was like herding cats. Most of the revolutionary action -often consisting of, as the title suggests, mass strikes- was unplanned and took place over the course of decades. The revolutionary situation already existed, and some event sparked the strike in a particular city or region. Her insights into the workings and character of proletariat movements (as opposed to Bourgeois revolutions and coups) is unparalleled. While she might have been speaking to a certain audience, I think most of what she writes is still relevant for radicals today. "The Russian Revolution" A look back at the eponymous event, though tragically left partially unfinished by her murder. Her ultimate thesis is "everything Lenin et. al. did makes sense, but they shouldn't try to claim it is the only way to have a revolution." She backs this up both through practical (the Russian Party's promotion of nationalism) and theoretical (the Bolshevik's abandonment of democracy) arguments. Not everything lands -and I loathe the concept of the lumpenproletariat, which she discusses for a full section- which is partially due to her being imprisoned while writing this an not having full access to information (such as the timing of elections, which she gets wrong and based a substantial argument on) and partially due to its unfinished state. As I mentioned earlier, this is a fitting inclusion alongside the prior to essays, showing her ability to analyze the Russian Revolution after its (arguable) completion.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nate Gutman

    Required reading for any leftist. Luxemburg brilliantly breaks down the problem of attempting to realize socialism within bourgeois democracy, and her additional essays concerning the Soviet Union are equally balanced and enlightening.

  9. 5 out of 5

    El Hefe

    Great ideas, difficult read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mr.

    Rosa Luxemburg weighed in definitively at a very young age on the question of reform or revolution in this important text, and forever demolished the perspective of Socialism via reform. By deconstructing Bernstein's work, Luxumberg reveals how reformism fails to address the inherent contradictions of capitalism in the way Marx has shown. Consequently, reformism fails to penetrate at the true nature of capital, and is unable to overturn it. Social revolution is the only way to Socialism, for the Rosa Luxemburg weighed in definitively at a very young age on the question of reform or revolution in this important text, and forever demolished the perspective of Socialism via reform. By deconstructing Bernstein's work, Luxumberg reveals how reformism fails to address the inherent contradictions of capitalism in the way Marx has shown. Consequently, reformism fails to penetrate at the true nature of capital, and is unable to overturn it. Social revolution is the only way to Socialism, for the means of production themselves must be transferred to the working class for economic justice to be achieved. Although Luxemburg made some incorrect assessments of the Bolsheviks and her own SDP, her insightful political texts such as Reform or Revolution and The Mass Strike will continue to be important for workers of the world.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daithi Coombes

    Explains perfectly what is wrong with our current form of capitalism, the destruction of union abilities, and our lack of democracy. And it was written in 1890!! The language is very easy to understand, but she does use Marxian economic confusing language here and there. Excellent mathematical prove against the social democracy movement. She does contradict herself slightly (very slightly), for instance, she give's out about social democracies teleological foundation for not being scientific, the Explains perfectly what is wrong with our current form of capitalism, the destruction of union abilities, and our lack of democracy. And it was written in 1890!! The language is very easy to understand, but she does use Marxian economic confusing language here and there. Excellent mathematical prove against the social democracy movement. She does contradict herself slightly (very slightly), for instance, she give's out about social democracies teleological foundation for not being scientific, then goes on to use the teleological libertarian theories. But this would be my only one criticism.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    This is a great collection of Luxemburg's writings. When you take account of the history that came after she died it's amazing just how prescient she was. This is a great collection of Luxemburg's writings. When you take account of the history that came after she died it's amazing just how prescient she was.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  14. 5 out of 5

    Constantinos Kalogeropoulos

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mehdi

  16. 5 out of 5

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  17. 4 out of 5

    Carolina Tenca

  18. 4 out of 5

    Reem Alharbi

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linartas

  20. 5 out of 5

    George Jordan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Douglas

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Morrison

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alex Mendes

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Ulloa

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matt Reid

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christian

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mark Weiss

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kenya Elliott

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pritam Chattopadhyay

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tohid

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