Revolutionary Organisations and
Class Consciousness
(Part 5)

3.2.2 The view of Mass Party within the working class

“The experience of history strengthens this idea. Thus, while the Bolsheviks showed a bitter determination to organise outside the current of the old Social Democracy – and so threw all their weight into the progress of the revolution – the left of the German Social Democracy hesitated to cut rapidly the umbilical cord attaching it to a corpse, and in doing so put a brake on the historical course of the world revolution.” The ICC [1]

Rosa Luxemburg was and still is a source of inspiration to revolutionaries and proletarian political organizations. She was one of those who correctly stated that class consciousness is a product of working class self-struggle and should not be injected outside, even though she had doubts. She understood the development of capitalism. Capitalism has gone to its decadence period, regardless of her explanation of the crisis mechanism of capitalist decadence, the view made sense, especially the phenomenon of imperialism while she had understood the development of capitalism and also how this understanding had influenced her organization's views.

“Rosa Luxemburg and the German revolutionaries of severing completely the umbilical cord which tied them to Social Democracy. It is true that Luxemburg was the first to break from the doctrines of Kautsky. When, after 1910 she accused him of opening the floodgates to opportunism she was not supported by any Russian Social Democrat, and most notably not by Lenin, who found her accusations ‘exaggerated’. However it was Lenin and not Rosa who urged most clearly and most rapidly for an organizational split from the most opportunist elements of the Russian Social Democratic Party: the Mensheviks. Luxemburg and Kautsky were, in contrast, in agreement for once since both criticised this ‘splitting’ policy and called for the reunification of Russian Social Democracy.”[2]

Rosa Luxemburg defended the idea that the revolutionary organization is a product of the working class, but her view of the revolutionary organization (or party) was not entirely correct. Even if she had understood the great period of capitalist decadence, yet she got caught in social democracy as the ideal time for the rise of capitalism period. For her party loses, its significance, and that's why she despises the importance of the Party Central Committee.

“Up until events forced the creation of the German Communist Party in 1919 (KPD) Luxemburg remained hesitant. She hesitated to leave the Social Democratic Party (SPD); she hesitated to form a separate organization which, at first, ran the risk of being a minority organisation; she retreated before Lenin’s persistent desire to create a new Communist International… What imprisoned Luxemburg and made her hesitate was her general conception of mass revolutionary action and the consequences of this for the role of the party.

This militant, who had passed through the school of Social Democracy, developed such an unconditional attachment to the mass character of the revolutionary movement that, for her, the party had to adapt itself to anything which bore this character. Because of her attachment to the Social Democratic vision of the mass party, Luxemburg was reluctant to go in advance of the movement. She hesitated to leave an organization in which the ‘mass’ of workers still had confidence. Even after the overt and definitive demise of the SPD and the IInd International in 1914 Luxemburg continued to reiterate that it was for the mass movement to overcome opportunism; revolutionaries could not accelerate this movement.

For her the “errors” committed by a truly revolutionary workers’ movement are historically more fruitful and more precious than the infallibility of the finest central committee. (Organisational Questions of Social Democracy)” [3]

In fact, Rosas ambiguities or her incorrect understanding of the revolutionary organization's role and functionality, this is perfectly logical result of her doubts about the proletariat class consciousness. Organizational problems are essentially political problems. When it is not necessary that the proletariat class consciousness must be developed and deepened, and should only be generalized, then the consequence is that the organization loses its significance.

“Luxemburg never came to understand the fact that the collective character of revolutionary activity is something which grows and develops. The homogenization of proletarian consciousness is not made once and for all.” [4]

And the ICC continues:

”Thus the party cannot “skip a period in our historical development” and make up for the consciousness of the “great mass”. But does this class consciousness always appear as the widest majority movement? In 1916, when Rosa Luxemburg wrote these line, could the Social Democracy, which had dragged the proletariat into the war, be said to express the class consciousness? And yet the great majority of the proletariat continued to have illusions in this organisation. Was this a sign of maturity and political consciousness?” [5]

An important question is, how the German Social Democrats did mobilized the proletariat into a world war, when the German Social Democracy was one of those most experienced parties in the Second International. A key factor was the Spartakists and headed by Rosa Luxemburg have problems to understand the revolutionary organization's role and the functionality of the capitalist decadence during that period. Consequently, they hesitated to break with social democracy and stayed with the social democracy. The consequence was that they poisoned the working class and ultimately betrayed the proletariat and joins the campaign of the bourgeoisie.

“Thus, in January 1918, the first great strikes to break out under the impact of the Russian revolution were consciously held back and misled into bourgeois legality – in other words, to their death – by the Social Democratic Party. Confronted with these maneuvers (which, moreover, were generalized throughout Europe), the Spartakists, the left wing, which had not yet broken with had not yet broken with Social Democracy, REMAINED COMPLETELY IMPOTENT.” [6]

The result of spartakisternas hesitation to break with the German Social Democrats became a tragedy. The proletariat was mobilized for the bloodshed and slaughter in the First World War. Thereafter, blood hounds killed two of the proletariat's most important players. This led the proletariat move to more and more into political confusion and depression. One of the most important factors in the German revolution was defeated spartakisternas (and the lead Rosa Luxemburg) hesitation to break with social democracy and establish a communist party as the Bolsheviks. Their mistake was a major obstacle to the revolutionary wave and a world revolution.

“Still later, the Spartakists came to realize that their hesitations had been a dangerous error, and were to form an independent political party. This is why the Communist Party – the KPD (Spartakus) – was at last created in December 1918. Sadly, its birth came late, and in January 1919 the Communist Party was still shot through with the same fear of decisive intervention, the same eternal wranglings before any action could take place, the same lack of direction and of any clear political perspective.” [7]

And the ICC continues:

“In Germany then, all the work of propaganda and political agitation on a clear programmatic and organisational basis was completely lacking. Later on, the KPD was to continue on its opportunist path, and merege, in December 1920, with the ‘left’ of the Social Democracy, the VKPD. This hazy attitude provoked a reaction of the healthiest elements of the political vanguard and their organization in an independent party, the KAPD. Sadly this reaction came too late – ie in April 1920. The world revolution was already on a more difficult footing, and was to struggle through defeat after defeat to its final extinction in 1927. The revolutionaries had failed in their task – they had not organized early enough.” [8]

3.2.3 The example of Poland and the absence of the revolutionary organization

In the early 1980s, when the Polish proletariat, started to rise their voice. By observing their movement it was so obvious proletarians want to get rid of the current conditions. They made history by having so many demonstrations and raising their voices. The class struggle is swept in Poland and would ring the bell for the death of capitalism. However, in the end, we see how Lech Valens stooped and kissed the pope's hand, and as we know the Pope is a sign of capital's ideology.

There are two important factors for the proletariat's defeat in Poland:
  • First. The class struggle was isolated within the national. Although there was class struggle on a smaller scale in the other countries, unfortunately it did not spread to the other nations.

  • Second. The absence of the revolutionary organization that needed to develop and deepen class consciousness. Furthermore, the lack of political leadership who can provide a true direction to the proletariat. The lessons that have been learned that Proletariat defeat in Poland is a confirmation of the necessity of class consciousness would be developed in a dynamic process in order to be succeeded.

To Be Continued

M. Jahangiry
25 February 2010

1. Communist Organisation & Class Consciousness, page 98
2. As above, page 57
3. As above, page 58
4. As above, page 59
5. As above, page 99
6. As above, page 100
7. As above, page 101
8. As above, page 103