Strength to Struggle

The bourgeois of France had always come away with everything. Since the revolution of 1789, they had been the only ones to grow rich in periods of prosperity, while the working class had regularly borne the brunt of crises. But the defeat of Napoleon III during the Franco-Prussian War offered an opportunity for a change of course. The prospect of a conservative government that would leave social injustices intact, heaping the burden of the war on the least well-off, triggered a new revolution on 18 March. Adolphe Thiers and his army had little choice but to decamp to Versailles.

To secure democratic legitimacy, the insurgents decided to hold free elections at once. On 26 March, an overwhelming majority of Parisians (190,000 votes against 40,000) approved the motivation for the revolt, and 70 of the 85 elected representatives declared their support for the revolution. On 28 March a large number of citizens gathered in the vicinity of the Hôtel de Ville for festivities celebrating the new assembly, which now officially took the name of the Paris Commune. Although it would survive for no more than 72 days, it was the most important political event in the history of the nineteenth-century workers’ movement, rekindling hope among a population exhausted by months of hardship. Committees and groups sprang up in the popular quarters to lend support to the Commune, and every corner of the metropolis hosted initiatives to express solidarity and to plan the construction of a new world. One of the most widespread sentiments was a desire to share with others. It was not the impetus of a leader or a handful of charismatic figures that gave life to the Commune; its hallmark was its clearly collective dimension. Women and men came together voluntarily to pursue a common project of liberation. Self-government was not seen as a utopia. Self-emancipation was thought of as the essential task.

Two of the first emergency decrees to stem the rampant poverty were a freeze on rent payments and on the selling of items valued below 20 francs in pawn shops. Nine collegial commissions were also supposed to replace the ministries for war, finance, general security, education, subsistence, labour and trade, foreign relations and public service.

On 19 April, three days after further elections to fill 31 seats that became almost immediately vacant, the Commune adopted a Declaration to the French People that contained an “absolute guarantee of individual liberty, freedom of conscience and freedom of labour” as well as “the permanent intervention of citizens in communal affairs”. The conflict between Paris and Versailles, it affirmed, “cannot be ended through illusory compromises”; the people had a right and “obligation to fight and to win!” Even more significant than this text were the concrete actions through which the Communards fought for a total transformation of political power. A set of reforms addressed not only the modalities but the very nature of political administration. The Commune provided for the recall of elected representatives and for control over their actions by means of binding mandates (though this was by no means enough to settle the complex issue of political representation). Magistracies and other public offices were also subject to permanent control and possible recall. The clear aim was to prevent the public sphere from becoming the domain of professional politicians. Policy decisions were not left up to small groups of functionaries, but had to be taken by the people. Armies and police forces would no longer be institutions set apart from the body of society. The separation between state and church was also a sine qua non.

But the vision of political change was not confined to such measures: it went more deeply to the roots. The transfer of power into the hands of the people was needed to drastically reduce bureaucracy. The social sphere should take precedence over the political – as Henri de Saint-Simon had already maintained – so that politics would no longer be a specialized function but become progressively integrated into the activity of civil society. The social body would thus take back functions that had been transferred to the state. To overthrow the existing system of class rule was not sufficient; there had to be an end to class rule as such. All this would have fulfilled the Commune’s vision of the republic as a union of free, truly democratic associations promoting the emancipation of all its components. It would have added up to self-government of the producers.

The Commune held that social reforms were even more crucial than political change. They were the reason for its existence, the barometer of its loyalty to its founding principles, and the key element differentiating it from the previous revolutions.  The Commune passed more than one measure with clear class connotations. Deadlines for debt repayments were postponed by three years. Evictions for non-payment of rent were suspended, and a decree allowed vacant accommodation to be requisitioned for people without a roof over their heads. There were plans to shorten the working day, the widespread practice of imposing specious fines on workers simply as a wage-cutting measure was outlawed on pain of sanctions, and minimum wages were set at a respectable level. As much as possible was done to increase food supplies and to lower prices. Social assistance of various kinds was extended to weaker sections of the population – for example, food banks for abandoned women and children – and discussions were held on how to end the discrimination between legitimate and illegitimate children.

All the Communards sincerely believed that education was an essential factor for individual emancipation and any serious social and political change. School attendance was to become free and compulsory for girls and boys alike, with religiously inspired instruction giving way to secular teaching along rational, scientific lines.  Specially appointed commissions and the pages of the press featured many compelling arguments for investment in female education. To become a genuine “public service”, education had to offer equal opportunities to “children of both sexes”. Moreover, “distinctions on grounds of race, nationality, religion or social position” should be prohibited. Early practical initiatives accompanied such advances in theory, and in more than one arrondissement thousands of working-class children entered school buildings for the first time and received classroom material free of charge.

The Commune also adopted measures of a socialist character. It decreed that workshops abandoned by employers who had fled the city, with guarantees of compensation on their return, should be handed over to cooperative associations of workers. Theatres and museums – open for all without charge – were collectivized.

The Commune was much more than the actions approved by its legislative assembly. It even aspired to redraw urban space, as demonstrated by the decision to demolish the Vendôme Column, considered a monument to barbarism and a reprehensible symbol of war, and to secularize certain places of worship by handing them over for use by the community. There was no place for national discrimination and foreigners enjoyed the same social rights as French people.

Women played an essential role in the critique of the social order. In many cases, they transgressed the norms of bourgeois society and asserted a new identity in opposition to the values of the patriarchal family, moving beyond domestic privacy to engage with the public sphere. The “Women’s Union” was centrally involved in identifying strategic social battles. Women achieved the closure of licensed brothels, won parity for female and male teachers, coined the slogan “equal pay for equal work”, demanded equal rights within marriage and the recognition of free unions, and promoted exclusively female chambers in labour unions. When the military situation worsened in mid-May, with the Versaillais at the gates of Paris, women took up arms and formed a battalion of their own. Many would breathe their last on the barricades.

The Paris Commune was brutally crushed by the armies of Versailles. During the semaine sanglante, the week of blood-letting between 21 and 28 May, a total of 17,000 to 25,000 citizens were slaughtered. A young Arthur Rimbaud described the French capital as “a mournful, almost dead city”. It was the bloodiest massacre in the history of France. The number of prisoners taken was 43,522. One hundred of these received death sentences, following summary trials before courts martial, and another 13,500 were sent to prison or forced labour, or deported to remote areas such as New Caledonia. Passing over the unprecedented violence of the Thiers state, the conservative and liberal press expressed great relief at the restoration of the “natural order”.

And yet, the insurrection in Paris gave strength to workers’ struggles and pushed them in more radical directions. Paris had shown that the aim had to be one of building a society radically different from capitalism. The Commune embodied the idea of social-political change and its practical application. It became synonymous with the very concept of revolution, with an ontological experience of the working class. The Paris Commune changed the consciousness of workers and their collective perception. At a distance of 150 years, its red flag continues to flutter and to remind us that an alternative is always possible.


Joel Wainwright, Rethinking Marxism. A journal of economics, culture and society

The sesquicentennial of the publication of Marx’s first volume of Capital generat- ed renewed interest in his masterwork and resulted in the publication of numer- ous reassessments.

Musto’s (2019) edited volume offers a major contribution to this literature. It was born out of a conference with the same title, organized by Musto and hosted at York University in Toronto in May 2017. Drawing thirty speakers from ten countries, the present collection includes essays from roughly half of the conference presenters. The contributors are Kevin Anderson, Étienne Balibar, Himani Bannerji, Pietro Basso, Mauro Buccheri, Silvia Federici, John Bellamy Foster, Alfonso Iacono, Bob Jessop, Marcello Musto, Bertell Ollman, Leo Panitch, Moishe Postone, William Clare Roberts, Kohei Saito, Gary Teeple, and Richard Wolff. Musto deserves our thanks for encouraging these dis- tinguished scholars to contribute chapters and for curating the collection.

As with most edited volumes, the contributions are uneven in quality and top- icality. But most chapters are genuinely excellent, contributing a thematic reading of Capital, typically in the area of the author’s expertise. So, for instance, the chapter by Silvia Federici discusses wage labor and social reproduction in Capital; John Bellamy Foster summarizes Capital’s ecological critique; Moishe Postone draws on value theory to expose the roots of our current crisis; Richard Wolff offers an exposition on the theory of class in Capital; and so on. Herein lies the volume’s chief strength: it provides concise and relatively accessible intro- ductions to many of Capital’s key themes, written by Marxist scholars who have published specialized volumes on these matters.

Paradoxically, this is also the collection’s major limitation. Seven of the chap- ters are largely unoriginal, by my count, insofar as earlier (and more substantial) treatments of the same arguments have been published by the same authors. There is certainly virtue in publishing these chapters in a volume of this sort; they provide readers with a useful compendium of statements on Capital by im- portant scholars. But for those readers who are already familiar with these writers and their interpretations of Capital, these chapters offer little that is new. Rather than dwelling on these, I will offer brief remarks on two of the book’s most novel and interesting chapters.

Chapter 3, the book’s longest, presents Bob Jessop’s study of Marx’s use of the metaphor of the cell in Capital. A masterful exegesis, Jessop shows how analysis of capitalist social formations was deeply marked by Marx’s study of breakthroughs in cell biology during the 1850s. Jessop asks, why did Marx begin Capital with the commodity? This marks a clear shift from his early notebooks—including those that comprise the Grundrisse of 1857—which began the analysis of capital via money. To answer this question, Jessop examines Marx’s preparatory texts and statements on method (those written before and after Capital) to discern the timing and cause of the shift. Jessop shows that Marx’s study of cell theory between 1857 and 1867 led him to generate—consciously or not—a parallel theory concerning capitalism. To summarize briefly (see Jessop 2019, 66–71): just as all bodies are comprised of cells, the social body of capitalist society is consti- tuted from complex arrangements of the value form, of which the elementary form is the commodity. These commodities are both independent entities and also shaped by the whole of capitalist society, which presents itself as an “immense collection of commodities” (Marx [1867] 1976, 125). Just as cells arise from other cells, commodities are produced from other commodities. Cells persist through a lifetime of metabolic exchanges, which can be modified through cellular differentiation and can form organs and organisms; similarly, as the “cell form” (Zellenform) of capitalist society, commodities result from pro- duction and also modify the circumstances of future production. Under capital- ism, the whole social metabolism that defines human existence on Earth comes to be reorganized by the production and circulation of value through the use of the labor-power commodity. I could go on, but Jessop’s philological treatment of cell theory in Capital is both rigorous and critical, emphasizing the need to avoid naturalizing capital. As Jessop (2019, 74–5) notes: “Whereas cells are the uni- versal basis of organic life and operate through known universal chemical, phys- iological, and metabolic processes, the value form of the commodity as the economic cell-form of the capital relation is historically specific and its laws and tendencies are doubly tendential, in the sense that, they exist only to the extent that the contradiction-rife and crisis-prone capital relation is reproduced in and through social practices that are historically contingent and contested.” Marx’s use of cell theory to explain capitalism was methodological and metaphor- ical, not ontological.

In chapter 9, Kohei Saito reexamines the intellectual relationship between Marx and Engels from an ecological perspective. Since Marx never published any books or pamphlets on nature, after his death Marxists turned to Engels’s writings—particularly his Anti-Dühring (Engels [1878] 1987) and his later manu- scripts in Dialectics of Nature (Engels [1873–1882] 1987)—to interpret ecology. This led to a narrow interpretation of Western Marxism that now “cannot develop a Marxist critique of ecology unless it admits its own earlier one-sided interpreta- tion” (Saito 2019, 167). By focusing on Marx’s later scientific notebooks, Saito cla- rifies Marx’s and Engels’s significant differences regarding their interests in science and views of ecology. Saito provides a powerful interpretation of a change Engels made to a sentence about metabolism written by Marx for the third volume of Capital. This edit consequently emphasizes Engels’s conception of metabolic rift (i.e., “the violation of natural laws of life would lead to a fatal con- sequence for human civilization”) at the expense of “Marx’s metabolic theory, which investigates how the law of value dominant in the social metabolism mod- ifies natural metabolism” (173). Saito implies that this editorial shift was partly mo- tivated by Engels’s rejection of Liebig’s conception of metabolism, Marx’s key source for this concept. More fundamentally, Engels’s ontology emphasizes the in- dependence of nature. Thus, he “was not able to fully recognize that Marx’s the- oretical leap” concerned “the interdependent process between social and natural metabolism,” which explains “how the metabolism between humans and nature is modified and reorganized through the formal and real subsumption of labour under capital” (174). By implication, Marx’s conception of the natural history of the economic forms of society—his stated method in Capital’s preface—was not the same as Engels’s.

Notably, both of these chapters address ecological themes. After decades in which no books about capital and nature won the Deutscher Memorial Prize, three recent winners examine this relation: Andreas Malm’s (2016) Fossil Capital, Kohei Saito’s (2017) Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism, and John Bellamy Foster’s (2020) The Return of Nature. I do not think this reflects a fad. It rather indicates a renais- sance of original research built upon the foundation of Capital. Indeed, I believe that we will one day find in retrospect that much of the most original work in the Marxist tradition today responds to the planetary ecological crisis. Novel thought requires provocation.

Our planetary crisis, generated through the development of capitalist social re- lations, promises ever-greater disruptions and changes in the human relationship with the Earth. I am reminded of the passage from the conclusion of Marx’s ([1867] 1976, 637–8) chapter on machinery, where he notes that the urbanization of hu- manity both concentrates our social capacities yet also “disturbs the metabolic in- teraction between man and the earth … but by destroying the circumstances surrounding that metabolism, which originated in a merely natural and spontane- ous fashion, [capitalist society] compels its systematic restoration as a regulative law of social production, and in a form adequate to the full development of the human race.” To avoid the total destruction of this metabolism, to refashion social existence in a form adequate to social dignity, the analysis provided by Capital remains critical. We are therefore indebted to Musto and this collection of writers for opening new paths through Marx’s text.



Engels, F. (1878) 1987. Anti-Dühring. In vol. 25 of Collected Works, by K. Marx and F. Engels. New York: International Publishers.

Engels, F. (1873–1882) 1987. Dialectics of Nature. In vol. 25 of Collected Works, by K. Marx and Engels. New York: International Publishers.

Foster, J. B. 2020. The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology. New York: Monthly Review.

Jessop, B. 2019. “‘Every Beginning Is Difficult, Holds in All Sciences’: Marx on the Economic Cell Form of Capital and the Analysis of Capitalist Social Formations.” In Marx’s “Capital” After 150 Years: Critique and Alternative to Capitalism, ed. M. Musto, 54–82. New York: Routledge.

Malm, A. 2016. Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming. New York: Verso.

Marx, K. (1867) 1976. Capital. Vol. 1. New York: Penguin.

Musto, M. 2019. Marx’s “Capital” After 150 Years: Critique and Alternative to Capitalism.

New York: Routledge.

Saito, K. 2017. Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy. New York: Monthly Review.

Saito, K. 2019. “Marx and Engels: The Intellectual Relationship Revisited from an Ecological Perspective.” In Marx’s “Capital” After 150 Years: Critique and Alternative to Capitalism, ed. M. Musto, 167–83. New York: Routledge.






法国的资产阶级总是把一切都带走。自1789年革命以来,他们是唯一在繁荣时期致富的人,而工人阶级经常承受危机的冲击。但是,法兰西第三共和国宣告成立将打开新的视野,并提供一个改变路线的机会。1870年9月4日,拿破仑三世在色当战役中战败,被普鲁士人俘虏。次年1月,在巴黎被包围四个月后,法国投降,普鲁士首相俾斯麦(Otto von Bismarck)在停战协议中施加了苛刻的条件。在大量正统派和多数奥尔良派的支持下,法国举行了全国选举,梯也尔(Adolphe Thiers)被选为总统。然而,首都民众的不满比其它任何地方都要强烈,激进的共和派和社会主义力量大获全胜。右翼政府的未来前景将对社会不正义不管不顾,把战争的负担施加在最不富裕的人身上,并寻求解除城市武装,这在3月18日引发了一场新的革命。梯也尔和他的军队别无选择,只能逃到凡尔赛。


为了确保民主的合法性,起义者决定立即举行自由选举。3月26日,绝大多数巴黎人(19万票对4万票)赞同起义的动机,85名当选代表中有70人宣布支持革命。15名“市长党(parti des maires)”(这是由某些区的前领导人组成的群体)温和派代表立即辞职,没有参加公社委员会;不久之后,4名激进派加入了他们。剩下的66名成员代表了许多不同的立场(因为他们的双重政治面貌,所以往往很难区分)。其中有二十几位新雅各宾派共和党人(包括著名的德勒克吕兹和菲利克斯·皮亚特),十几位布朗基的追随者,以及第一国际的17名成员(其中既有支持蒲鲁东的互助主义者,也有与马克思关联的集体主义者,他们之间经常发生争执)和几个独立人士。公社的大多数领导者都是工人或公认的工人阶级代表,14人来自国民自卫军(National Guard)。事实上,正是国民自卫军中央委员会把权力交给了公社——之后的事实证明,这是两个机构之间一系列分歧和冲突的前奏。

3月28日,大批市民聚集在市政厅(Hôtel de Ville)附近庆祝新的集会,该集会现在正式命名为巴黎公社。尽管它只存在了不到72天,但它是19世纪工人运动史上最重要的政治事件,重新点燃了因数月艰难困苦而疲惫不堪的民众的希望。在民众驻地出现了许多委员会和团体,它们向公社提供支持,而且大都市的每一个角落都举办了各种倡议,以表声援,并且谋划建设一个新世界。蒙马特尔区(Montmartre)被洗礼为“自由堡垒”。最普遍的一种情绪就是渴望与他人分享。像路易丝·米雪尔(Louis Michel)这样的激进分子展示了自制精神,维克多·雨果(Victor Hugo)曾这样描述她:“你做了狂热的伟大的灵魂所做的事;……你赞美那些被压迫被践踏的人们。”(引自雨果的诗作《比男人还伟大》)但是,赋予公社生命的不是一位领袖或少数富有魅力的人物;它的标志显然是它的集体维度。男人女人自愿走到一起,追求一项共同的解放事业。自治并不被视为乌托邦。自我解放被认为是最基本的任务。




但是,政治变革的愿景并不局限于这些措施:它深入到根源。为了大幅度减少官僚主义,需要把权力移交到人民手中。社会领域应优先于政治领域(正如圣西门(Henri de Saint-Simon)主张的那样),这样一来,政治就不再是一种专业化的职能,而是逐渐融入市民社会的活动中。因此,社会机构将收回已经移交给国家的职能。仅仅推翻现有的阶级统治体系是不够的;阶级统治必然终结。所有这一切本可以实现公社的共和国理想,即共和国联合了那些自由的、真正民主的协会,它促进其所有组成部分的解放。这就意味着生产者的自治。




公社还采取了具有社会主义性质的措施。有法令规定,逃离城市的雇主遗弃的车间应移交给工人合作协会,并保证在他们返回时能得到补偿。对所有人免费开放的剧院和博物馆都被集体化了,并置于巴黎艺术家联盟(Federation of Parisian Artists)的管理之下,该联合会由精力充沛的激进画家古斯塔夫·库尔贝(Gustave Courbet)主持。大约有300名雕塑家、建筑师、石版工和画家(其中包括爱杜尔·马奈(Édouard Manet))参加了这个团体。“艺术家联盟”把来自歌剧世界的演员和人们聚集在一起。


公社的意义远不止其立法大会所批准的行动。它甚至渴望重新规划城市空间,正如拆除旺多姆圆柱(Vendôme Column)的决定所表明的那样(这根柱子被认为是野蛮的纪念碑和应受谴责的战争象征),并通过将某些宗教场所移交给社区使用而使其世俗化。公社之所以能继续运转下去,要归功于的群众参与的卓越水平和坚实的互助精神。在这种对权威的蔑视中,几乎每个区都出现了革命俱乐部,发挥了显著的作用。俱乐部至少有28人,是自发动员的最有力例证之一。它们每天晚上开放,使市民们有机会在下班后见面,自由讨论社会和政治情况,检查他们的代表取得了什么成就,并提出解决日常问题的不同办法。它们是水平的协会,有利于形成和表达人民主权,以及创造真正的兄弟姐妹情谊,在那里,每个人都陶醉于“我命由我”的空气中。

在这个解放的过程中不容许民族歧视。公社的公民权延伸到所有努力发展公社的人,外国人享有与法国人民一样的社会权利。在公社活动的3000名外国人发挥了突出作用,这体现了平等原则。匈牙利人列奥·弗兰克尔(Leo Frankel)是第一国际成员,他不仅被入选了公社委员会,还担任了劳工“部长”这一关键职位。同样,波兰人雅罗斯瓦夫·东布罗夫斯基(Jaroslaw Dombrowski)和符卢勃列夫斯基(Walery Wroblewski)都是国民自卫军的杰出将领。

妇女虽然仍没有投票权或成为公社委员会成员,但在批判社会秩序方面发挥了重要作用。在许多情况下,她们违反了资产阶级社会的规范,主张一种新的身份,反对父权制家庭的价值观,超越了家庭隐私,参与到公共领域。“保卫巴黎和护理伤员的妇女联盟”的成立在很大程度上归功于第一国际成员伊丽莎白·德密特里耶芙(Elisabeth Dmitrieff)的不懈努力,该联盟在确定战略性的社会斗争方面发挥了核心作用。妇女们关闭了合法的官方妓院,赢得了男女教师的平等待遇,喊出“同工同酬”的口号,要求在婚姻和自由工会中享有平等的权利,并在工会中推进唯一的女性商会。五月中旬,军事形势恶化,凡尔赛的军队就在巴黎的大门口,妇女们拿起武器,组成了自己的一个营。许多人拼死抵抗,在路障前咽下最后一口气。资产阶级的宣传对他们进行了最恶毒的攻击,称她们为“暴烈女(les pétroleuses)”,并指责她们在巷战中放火焚烧城市。



中央当局和地方机构之间的关系问题导致了相当多的混乱,有时会陷入瘫痪。面对战争的紧急情况,面对国民自卫军内部的无纪律和政府的日益无能,儒勒·缪特(Jules Miot)建议按照1793年罗伯斯庇尔的独裁模式,建立一个由五人组成的公共安全委员会,这彻底打破了中央与地方的微妙平衡。该法案于5月1日以45票对23票获得通过。事实证明,这个错误富有戏剧性,它标志着一场新的政治实验的结束,公社分裂为两个对立的集团。第一个集团由新雅各宾派和布朗基派组成,倾向于权力的集中,最终政治维度凌驾于社会维度之上。第二个集团认为社会领域比政治领域更重要,其中包括第一国际的大多数成员。他们认为分权是必要的,并坚持共和国绝不能怀疑政治自由。在欧仁·瓦尔兰(Eugène Varlin)的不懈协调下,第二个集团强烈反对独裁主义倾向,也没有参加公共安全委员会的选举。在它看来,将权力集中在少数人手中,将完全违背公社的建立原则,因为它选出的代表不拥有主权(主权属于人民),而且代表也没有权利把主权割让给一个特定的机构。5月21日,当这个少数人组成的集团再次参加公社委员会的一次会议时,又进行了一次团结队伍的新努力。但已经太迟了。


巴黎公社遭到凡尔赛军队的残酷镇压。在5月21日至28日这个“血腥一周(semaine sanglante)”里,共有17000至25000名市民被屠杀。最后一次战斗是沿着拉雪兹神父公墓(Père Lachaise Cemetery)的围墙进行的。年轻的诗人兰波(Arthur Rimbaud)将法国首都描述为“一座悲伤的、几近死亡的城市”。这是法国历史上最血腥的大屠杀。只有6000人成功逃亡到英国、比利时和瑞士。有43522人成为俘虏。其中100人在经过军事法庭的简单审判后被判处死刑,另外13500人被送进监狱或强迫劳动,或被驱逐到南太平洋的新喀里多尼亚(New Caledonia)等偏远地区。到那里去的一些人与莫克拉尼领导的阿尔及利亚反法殖民武装起义者团结在一起,并与他们共命运。莫克拉尼起义与巴黎公社同时爆发,最终也一样遭到法国军队的镇压,倒在血泊中。

然而,巴黎起义为工人斗争提供了力量,并将他们推向更激进的方向。在它失败的第二天,欧仁·鲍狄埃(Eugène Pottier)写了一首注定会成为工人运动中最著名的颂歌:“这是最后的斗争,团结起来到明天,英特纳雄耐尔就一定要实现!”那段巴黎的岁月告诉我们,目标必须是建立一个与资本主义截然不同的社会。从今以后,即使再逢“樱桃时节(Le Temps des cerises)”(引自公社成员让-巴蒂斯塔·克莱芒(Jean-Baptiste Clément)的一篇著名诗歌的标题),公社的主角们不再回来,巴黎公社也体现了社会政治变革的思想及其实际的应用。它成为革命的代名词,成为工人阶级本体论经验的代名词。马克思在《法兰西内战》中说道,这个“现代无产阶级的先锋队”成功地“使全世界的工人都归属于法国”。巴黎公社改变了工人的意识和他们的集体观念。如今150年过去了,它的红旗仍在飘扬,提醒着我们总有另一种可能的选择。巴黎公社万岁!


La Comune di Parigi

Contro un governo intenzionato a far ricadere il prezzo della Guerra Franco-Prussiana sul popolo, il 18 marzo a Parigi scoppiò una nuova rivoluzione.

Gli insorti indissero subito elezioni e il 26 marzo una schiacciante maggioranza approvò le ragioni della rivolta. 70 degli 85 eletti si dichiararono a favore della Comune di Parigi. Anche se resistette soltanto 72 giorni, fu il più importante evento politico della storia del movimento operaio del XIX secolo.

I militanti della Comune si batterono per una trasformazione radicale del potere politico, in particolare contro la professionalizzazione delle cariche pubbliche. Ritennero che il corpo sociale si sarebbe dovuto reimpossessare di funzioni che erano state trasferite allo Stato. Abbattere il dominio di classe esistente non sarebbe stato sufficiente; occorreva estinguere il dominio di classe in quanto tale.

Le riforme sociali vennero ritenute ancora più rilevanti di quelle politiche e avrebbero dovuto evidenziare la differenza con le rivoluzioni del 1789 e del 1848. Nel mezzo di una eroica resistenza agli attacchi delle truppe di Versailles, la Comune prese numerosi provvedimenti che indicarono il cammino per un cambiamento possibile. Si organizzarono progetti per limitare la durata della giornata lavorativa. Si decise che la scuola sarebbe stata resa obbligatoria e gratuita per tutti e che l’insegnamento laico avrebbe sostituito quello di stampo religioso. Si stabilì che le officine abbandonate dai padroni sarebbero state consegnate ad associazioni cooperative di operai e che alle donne sarebbe stata garantita “uguale retribuzione per uguale lavoro”. Anche gli stranieri avrebbero potuto godere degli stessi diritti sociali dei francesi.

La Comune voleva instaurare la democrazia diretta. Si trattava di un progetto ambizioso e di difficile attuazione. La sovranità popolare alla quale ambivano i rivoluzionari implicava una partecipazione del più alto numero possibile di cittadini. Sin dalla fine di marzo, a Parigi si erano sviluppati una miriade di commissioni centrali, sotto-comitati di quartiere, club rivoluzionari e battaglioni di soldati che affiancarono il già complesso duopolio composto dal consiglio della Comune e dal comitato centrale della Guardia Nazionale. Quest’ultimo, infatti, aveva conservato il controllo del potere militare, operando,  spesso, come un vero contropotere del primo. Se l’impegno diretto di un’ampia parte della popolazione costituiva una vitale garanzia democratica, le troppe autorità in campo avevano reso complicato il processo decisionale.

Il problema della relazione tra l’autorità centrale e gli organi locali produsse non pochi cortocircuiti, determinando una situazione caotica. L’equilibrio già precario saltò del tutto quando, dinanzi all’indisciplina presente tra i ranghi della Guardia Nazionale e a una crescente inefficacia dell’azione governativa, venne proposta la creazione di un Comitato di Salute Pubblica di cinque componenti – una soluzione che si ispirava al modello dittatoriale di Robespierre nel 1793. La misura venne approvata, con 45 voti a favore e 23 contrari. Fu un errore drammatico errore che decretò l’inizio della fine di un’esperienza politica inedita e spaccò la Comune in due blocchi contrapposti.

Al primo appartenevano neo-giacobini e blanquisti, propensi alla concentrazione del potere e in favore del primato della dimensione politica su quella sociale. Del secondo facevano parte la maggioranza dei membri dell’Internazionale, per i quali la sfera sociale era più significativa di quella politica. Essi ritenevano necessaria la separazione dei poteri e credevano che la repubblica non dovesse mai mettere in discussione le libertà politiche. Per loro, il potere centralizzato nelle mani di pochi individui era in netto contrasto con i postulati della Comune. I suoi eletti non erano i possessori della sovranità – essa apparteneva al popolo – e non avevano alcun diritto di alienarla.

Un tentativo di ritessere l’unità all’interno della Comune si svolse quando era già troppo tardi. Durante la “settimana di sangue” (21-28 maggio), le armate fedeli a Thiers uccisero tra i 17.000 e i 25.000 cittadini. Fu il massacro più violento della storia della Francia. I prigionieri catturati furono oltre 43.000 e un centinaio di questi subì la condanna a morte, a seguito di processi sommari. In circa 13.500 vennero spediti in carcere o deportati (in numero consistente nella remota Nuova Caledonia). In tutt’Europa, sottacendo la violenza di Stato, la stampa conservatrice accusò i comunardi dei peggiori crimini ed espresse grande sollievo per il ripristino “dell’ordine naturale”.

Eppure, l’insurrezione parigina diede forza alle lotte operaie e le spinse verso posizioni più radicali. All’indomani della sua sconfitta, Pottier scrisse un canto destinato a diventare il più celebre del movimento dei lavoratori: “Uniamoci e domani L’Internazionale sarà il genere umano!” Parigi aveva mostrato che bisognava perseguire l’obiettivo della costruzione di una società radicalmente diversa da quella capitalistica. Da quel momento in poi la Comune divenne sinonimo del concetto stesso di rivoluzione, mutò le coscienze dei lavoratori e la loro percezione collettiva.


On His Birthday, Let’s Celebrate the Old Man Karl Marx

Karl Marx’s work during his final years of life, between 1881 and 1883, is one of the least developed areas in Marx studies. This neglect is partially due to the fact that Marx’s infirmities in his final years kept him from sustaining his regular writing activity — there are virtually no published works from the period.

Absent the milestones that marked Marx’s earlier work, from his early philosophical writings to his later studies of political economy, Marx’s biographers have long regarded his final years as a minor chapter marked by declining health and dwindling intellectual capacities.

However, there is a growing body of research that suggests this is not the full story, and that Marx’s final years might actually be a gold mine filled with new insights into his thought. Largely contained in letters, notebooks, and other “marginalia,” Marx’s late writings portray a man who, far from the received stories of decline, continued to wrestle with his own ideas about capitalism as a global mode of production. As suggested by his late research into so-called “primitive societies,” the nineteenth-century Russian agrarian commune, and the “national question” in European colonies, Marx’s writings from the period actually reveal a mind turning over the real-world implications and complexities of his own thought, particularly as they concerned the expansion of capitalism beyond European borders.

Marx’s late thought is the subject of Marcello Musto’s recently published The Last Years of Karl Marx. There, Musto masterfully weaves together rich biographical detail and a sophisticated engagement with Marx’s mature, oftentimes self-questioning writing.

Jacobin contributing editor Nicolas Allen spoke with Musto about the complexities of studying Marx’s final years of life, and about why some of Marx’s late doubts and misgivings are in fact more useful for us today than some of his more confident early assertions.


NA: The “late Marx” that you write about, roughly covering the final three years of his life in the 1880s, is often treated as an afterthought for Marxists and Marx scholars. Apart from the fact that Marx didn’t publish any major works in his final years, why do you think the period has received considerably less attention?

MM: All the intellectual biographies of Marx published to this day have paid very little attention to the last decade of his life, usually devoting no more than a few pages to his activity after the winding up of the International Working Men’s Association in 1872. Not by chance, these scholars nearly always use the generic title “the last decade” for these (very short) parts of their books. While this limited interest is understandable for scholars like Franz Mehring (1846–1919), Karl Vorländer (1860–1928), and David Riazanov (1870–1938), who wrote their biographies of Marx between two world wars and could only focus on a limited number of unpublished manuscripts, for those who came after that turbulent age, the matter is more complex.

Two of Marx’s best-known writings — the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and The German Ideology (1845–46), both very far from being completed — were published in 1932 and started to circulate only in the second half of the 1940s. As World War II gave way to a sense of profound anguish resulting from the barbarities of Nazism, in a climate where philosophies like existentialism gained popularity, the theme of the condition of the individual in society acquired great prominence and created perfect conditions for a growing interest in Marx’s philosophical ideas, such as alienation and species-being. The biographies of Marx published in this period, just like most of the scholarly volumes that came out from academia, reflected this zeitgeist and gave undue weight to his youthful writings. Many of the books that claimed to introduce the readers to Marx’s thought as a whole, in the 1960s and in the 1970s, were mostly focused on the period 1843–48, when Marx, at the time of the publication of the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), was only thirty years old.

In this context, it was not only that the last decade of Marx’s life was treated as an afterthought, but Capital itself was relegated to a secondary position. The liberal sociologist Raymond Aron perfectly described this attitude in the book D’une Sainte Famille à l’autre: Essais sur les marxismes imaginaires (1969), where he mocked the Parisian Marxists who passed cursorily over Capital, his masterpiece and the fruit of many years’ work, published in 1867, and remained captivated by the obscurity and incompleteness of the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844.

We can say that the myth of the “Young Marx” — fed also by Louis Althusser and by those who argued that Marx’s youth could not be considered part of Marxism — has been one of the main misunderstandings in the history of Marx studies. Marx did not publish any works that he would consider “major” in the first half of the 1840s. For example, one must read Marx’s addresses and resolutions for the International Working Men’s Association if we want to understand his political thought, not the journal articles of 1844 that appeared in the German-French Yearbook. And even if we analyze his incomplete manuscripts, the Grundrisse (1857–58) or the Theories of Surplus-Value (1862–63), these were much more significant for him than the critique of neo-Hegelianism in Germany, “abandoned to the gnawing criticism of the mice” in 1846. The trend of overemphasizing his early writings has not changed much since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The more recent biographies — despite the publication of new manuscripts in the Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA), the historical-critical edition of the complete works of Marx and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) — overlook this period just like before.

Another reason for this neglect is the high complexity of most of the studies conducted by Marx in the final phase of his life. To write about the young student of the Hegelian Left is much easier than trying to get on top of the intricate tangle of multilingual manuscripts and intellectual interests of the early 1880s, and this may have hindered a more rigorous understanding of the important gains achieved by Marx. Wrongly thinking that he had given up the idea of continuing his work and representing the last ten years of his life as “a slow agony,” too many biographers and scholars of Marx have failed to look more deeply into what he actually did during that period.


NA: In the recent film Miss Marx, there’s a scene immediately after Marx’s funeral that shows Friedrich Engels and Eleanor, Marx’s youngest daughter, sifting through papers and manuscripts in Marx’s study. Engels inspects one paper and makes a remark about Marx’s late interest in differential equations and mathematics. The Last Years of Karl Marx seems to give the impression that, in his final years, Marx’s range of interests was particularly broad. Was there any guiding thread holding together this preoccupation with such diverse topics as anthropology, mathematics, ancient history, and gender?

MM: Shortly before his death, Marx asked his daughter Eleanor to remind Engels to “do something” with his unfinished manuscripts. As it is well known, for the twelve years that he survived Marx, Engels undertook the herculean task of sending to print the volumes II and III of Capital on which his friend had worked continuously from the mid-1860s to 1881 but had failed to complete. Other texts written by Engels himself after Marx passed away in 1883 were indirectly fulfilling his will and were strictly related to the investigations he had conducted during the last years of his life. For example, the Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884) was called by its author “the execution of a bequest” and was inspired by Marx’s research in anthropology, in particular by the passages that he copied, in 1881, from Lewis Henry Morgan’s Ancient Society (1877) and by the comments he added to the summaries of this book.

There is not just one guiding thread in Marx’s final years of research. Some of his studies simply arose from recent scientific discoveries on which he wished to remain up to date, or from political events that he considered significant. Marx had already learned before that the general level of emancipation in a society depended on the level of women’s emancipation, but the anthropological studies conducted in the 1880s gave him the opportunity to analyze gender oppression in greater depth. Marx spent much less time on ecological issues than in the previous two decades, but on the other hand, he once again immersed himself in historical themes. Between autumn 1879 and summer 1880, he filled a notebook entitled Notes on Indian History (664–1858), and between autumn 1881 and winter 1882, he worked intensively on the so-called Chronological Extracts, an annotated year-by-year timeline of 550 pages written in an even smaller handwriting than usual. These included summaries of world events, from the first century BC to the Thirty Years’ War in 1648, summarizing their causes and salient features.

It is possible that Marx wanted to test whether his conceptions were well founded in the light of major political, military, economic, and technological developments in the past. In any case, one must keep in mind that, when Marx undertook this work, he was well aware that his frail state of health prevented him from making a final attempt to complete Volume II of Capital. His hope was to make all the necessary corrections to prepare a third German revised edition of Volume I, but in the end, he did not even have the strength to do that.

I would not say that the research he conducted in his final years was wider than usual, however. Perhaps the breadth of his investigations is more evident in this period because they were not conducted in parallel to the writing of any books or significant preparatory manuscripts. But the several thousands of pages of excerpts made by Marx in eight languages, since he was a university student, from works of philosophy, art, history, religion, politics, law, literature, history, political economy, international relations, technology, mathematics, physiology, geology, mineralogy, agronomy, anthropology, chemistry, and physics, testify to his perpetual hunger for knowledge in a very large variety of disciplines. What may be surprising is that Marx was unable to give up this habit even when his physical strength waned considerably. His intellectual curiosity, along with his self-critical spirit, won out over a more focused and “judicious” management of his work.

But these ideas about “what Marx should have done” are usually the fruit of the twisted wish of those who would have liked him to be an individual who did nothing but write Capital — not even to defend himself from the political controversies in which he was embroiled. Even if he once defined himself as “a machine, condemned to devour books and then throw them, in a changed form, on the dunghill of history,” Marx was a human being. His interest in mathematics and differential calculus, for example, started as an intellectual stimulus in his search for a method of social analysis, but became a ludic space, a refuge at moments of great personal difficulty, “an occupation to maintain the quietness of mind,” as he used to say to Engels.


NA: To the extent that there have been studies of Marx’s late writings, they tend to focus on his research into non-European societies. By recognizing as he does that there are paths to development besides the “Western model,” is it fair to say, as some claim, that this was Marx turning over a new leaf, i.e., a “non-Eurocentric” Marx? Or is it more accurate to say that this was Marx’s admission that his work was never intended to be applied without first attending to the concrete reality of different historical societies?

MM: The first and preeminent key to understand the wider variety of geographical interests in Marx’s research, during the last decade of his life, lies in his plan to provide a more ample account of the dynamics of the capitalist mode of production on a global scale. England had been the main field of observation of Capital, Volume I; after its publication, he wanted to expand the socioeconomic investigations for the two volumes of Capital that remained to be written. It was for this reason that he decided to learn Russian in 1870 and was then constantly demanding books and statistics on Russia and the United States. He believed that the analysis of the economic transformations of these countries would have been very useful for an understanding of the possible forms in which capitalism may develop in different periods and contexts. This crucial element is underestimated in the secondary literature on the nowadays trendy subject of “Marx and Eurocentrism.”

Another key question for Marx’s research into non-European societies was whether capitalism was a necessary prerequisite for the birth of communist society and at which level it had to develop internationally. The more pronounced multilinear conception that Marx assumed in his final years led him to look more attentively at the historical specificities and unevenness of economic and political development in different countries and social contexts. Marx became highly skeptical about the transfer of interpretive categories between completely different historical and geographical contexts and, as he wrote, also realized that “events of striking similarity, taking place in different historical contexts, lead to totally disparate results.” This approach certainly increased the difficulties he faced in the already bumpy course of completing the unfinished volumes of Capital and contributed to the slow acceptance that his major work would remain incomplete. But it certainly opened up new revolutionary hopes.

Contrary to what some authors naively believe, Marx did not suddenly discover that he had been Eurocentric and devote his attention to new subjects of study because he felt the need to correct his political views. He had always been a “citizen of the world,” as he used to call himself, and had constantly tried to analyze economic and social changes in their global implications. As it has been already argued, like any other thinker of his level, Marx was aware of the superiority of modern Europe over the other continents of the world, in terms of industrial production and social organization, but he never considered this contingent fact a necessary or permanent factor. And, of course, he was always a fiery enemy of colonialism. These considerations are all too obvious to anyone who has read Marx.


NA: One of the central chapters of The Last Years of Karl Marx deals with Marx’s relationship with Russia. As you show, Marx engaged in a very intense dialogue with different parts of the Russian left, specifically around their reception of the first volume of Capital. What were the main points of those debates?

MM: For many years, Marx had identified Russia as one of the main obstacles to working-class emancipation. He emphasized several times that its sluggish economic development and its despotic political regime helped to make the tsarist empire the advance post of counterrevolution. But in his final years, he began to look rather differently at Russia. He recognized some possible conditions for a major social transformation after the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Russia seemed to Marx more likely to produce a revolution than Britain, where capitalism had created the proportionately largest number of factory workers in the world, but where the labor movement, enjoying better living conditions partly based on colonial exploitation, had grown weaker and undergone the negative influence of trade union reformism.

The dialogues engaged by Marx with Russian revolutionaries were both intellectual and political. In the first half of the 1870s, he acquired familiarity with the principal critical literature on Russian society and devoted special attention to the work of the socialist philosopher Nikolai Chernyshevsky (1828–1889). He believed that a given social phenomenon that had reached a high level of development in the most advanced nations could spread very swiftly among other peoples and rise from a lower level straight to a higher one, passing over the intermediate moments. This gave Marx much food for thought in reconsidering his materialistic conception of history. For a long time, he had been aware that the schema of linear progression through the Asiatic, ancient, feudal, and modern bourgeois modes of production, which he had drawn in the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859), was completely inadequate for an understanding of the movement of history, and that it was indeed advisable to steer clear of any philosophy of history. He could no longer conceive the succession of modes of production in the course of history as a fixed sequence of predefined stages.

Marx also took the opportunity to discuss with militants of various revolutionary tendencies in Russia. He highly regarded the down-to-earth character of the political activity of Russian populism — which at the time was a left-wing, anti-capitalist movement — particularly because it did not resort to senseless ultrarevolutionary flourishes or to counterproductive generalizations. Marx assessed the relevance of the socialist organizations existing in Russia by their pragmatic character, not by declaration of loyalty to his own theories. In fact, he observed that it was often those who claimed to be “Marxists” who were the most doctrinaire. His exposure to the theories and the political activity of Russian Populists — as with the Paris Communards a decade earlier — helped him to be more flexible in analyzing the irruption of revolutionary events and the subjective forces that shaped them. It brought him closer to a true internationalism on a global scale.

The central theme of the dialogues and exchanges that Marx had with many figures of the Russian left was the very complex issue of the development of capitalism, which had crucial political and theoretical implications. The difficulty of this discussion is also evidenced by Marx’s final choice not to send an insightful letter in which he had criticized some misinterpretations of Capital to the journal Otechestvennye Zapiski, or to respond to Vera Zasulich’s “life and death question” about the future of the rural commune (the obshchina) with only a short, cautious missive, and not with a lengthier text that he had passionately written and rewritten through three preparatory drafts.


NA: Marx’s correspondence with Russian socialist Vera Zasulich is the subject of a lot of interest today. There, Marx suggested that the Russian rural commune could potentially appropriate the latest advances of capitalist society — technology, particularly — without having to undergo the social upheavals that were so destructive for the Western European peasantry. Can you explain in a little more detail the thinking that informed Marx’s conclusions?

MM: By a fortuitous coincidence, Zasulich’s letter reached Marx just as his interest in archaic forms of community, already deepened in 1879 through the study of the work of the sociologist Maksim Kovalevsky, was leading him to pay closer attention to the most recent discoveries made by anthropologists of his time. Theory and practice led him to the same place. Drawing on ideas suggested by the anthropologist Morgan, he wrote that capitalism could be replaced by a higher form of the archaic collective production.

This ambiguous statement requires at least two clarifications. First, thanks to what he had learned from Chernyshevsky, Marx argued that Russia could not slavishly repeat all the historical stages of England and other West European countries. In principle, the socialist transformation of the obshchina could happen without a necessary passage through capitalism. But this does not mean that Marx changed his critical judgment of the rural commune in Russia, or that he believed that countries where capitalism was still underdeveloped were closer to revolution than others with a more advanced productive development. He did not suddenly become convinced that the archaic rural communes were a more advanced locus of emancipation for the individual than the social relations existing under capitalism.

Second, his analysis of the possible progressive transformation of the obshchina was not meant to be elevated into a more general model. It was a specific analysis of a particular collective production at a precise historical moment. In other words, Marx revealed the theoretical flexibility and lack of schematism that many Marxists after him failed to demonstrate. At the end of his life, Marx revealed an ever greater theoretical openness, which enabled him to consider other possible roads to socialism that he had never before taken seriously or had previously regarded as unattainable.

Marx’s doubting was replaced by a conviction that capitalism was an inescapable stage for economic development in every country and historical condition. The new interest that reemerges today for the considerations that Marx never sent to Zasulich, and for other similar ideas expressed more clearly in his final years, lies in a conception of postcapitalist society that is poles apart from the equation of socialism with the productive forces — a conception involving nationalist overtones and sympathy with colonialism, which asserted itself within the Second International and social democratic parties. Marx’s ideas also differ profoundly from the supposedly “scientific method” of social analysis preponderant in the Soviet Union and its satellites.


NA: Even though Marx’s health struggles are well known, it’s still painful to read the final chapter of The Last Years of Karl Marx, where you chronicle his deteriorating condition. Intellectual biographies of Marx rightly point out that a full appreciation of Marx needs to connect his life and political activities with his body of thought; but what about this later period, when Marx was largely inactive due to infirmities? As someone writing an intellectual biography, how do you approach that period?

MM: One of the best scholars of Marx ever, Maximilien Rubel (1905–1996), author of the book Karl Marx: essai de biographie intellectuelle (1957), argued that, to be able to write about Marx, one must be a bit of a philosopher, a bit of a historian, a bit of an economist, and a bit of a sociologist at the same time. I would add that, by writing the biography of Marx, one learns a lot about medicine, too. Marx dealt during his entire mature life with a number of health issues. The longest of them was a nasty infection of the skin that accompanied him during the entire writing of Capital and manifested itself in abscesses and serious, debilitating boils on various parts of the body. It was for this reason that, when Marx finished his magnum opus, he wrote: “I hope the bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles until their dying day!”

The last two years of his life were particularly hard. Marx suffered a terrible grief for the loss of his wife and eldest daughter, and he had a chronic bronchitis that developed often into a severe pleurisy. He struggled, in vain, to find the climate that would provide the best conditions for him to get better, and he traveled, all alone, in England, France, and even Algeria, where he embarked on a lengthy period of complicated treatment. The most interesting aspect of this part of Marx’s biography is the sagacity, always accompanied by self-irony, that he demonstrated to deal with the frailty of his body. The letters that he wrote to his daughters and to Engels, when he felt that it was close to the end of the road, make more evident his most intimate side. They reveal the importance of what he called “the microscopic world,” starting with the vital passion that he had for his grandchildren. They include the considerations of a man who has gone through a long and intense existence and has come to evaluate all aspects of it.

Biographers must recount the sufferings of the private sphere, especially when they are relevant to better understand the difficulties underlying the writing of a book, or the reasons why a manuscript remained unfinished. But they must also know where to stop, and must avoid taking an indiscreet look into exclusively private affairs.


NA: So much of Marx’s late thought is contained in letters and notebooks. Should we accord these writings the same status as his more accomplished writings? When you argue that Marx’s writing is “essentially incomplete,” do you have something like this in mind?

MM: Capital remained unfinished because of the grinding poverty in which Marx lived for two decades and because of his constant ill health connected to daily worries. Needless to say, the task he had set himself — to understand the capitalist mode of production in its ideal average and to describe its general tendencies of development — was extraordinarily difficult to achieve. But Capital was not the only project that remained incomplete. Marx’s merciless self-criticism increased the difficulties of more than one of his undertakings, and the large amount of time that he spent on many projects he wanted to publish was due to the extreme rigor to which he subjected all his thinking.

When Marx was young, he was known among his university friends for his meticulousness. There are stories that depict him as somebody who refused to write a sentence if he was unable to prove it in ten different ways. This is why the most prolific young scholar in the Hegelian Left still published less than many of the others. Marx’s belief that his information was insufficient, and his judgments immature, prevented him from publishing writings that remained in the form of outlines or fragments. But this is also why his notes are extremely useful and should be considered an integral part of his oeuvre. Many of his ceaseless labors had extraordinary theoretical consequences for the future.

This does not mean that his incomplete texts can be given the same weight of those that were published. I would distinguish five types of writings: published works, their preparatory manuscripts, journalistic articles, letters, and notebooks of excerpts. But distinctions must also be made within these categories. Some of Marx’s published texts should not be regarded as his final word on the issues at hand. For example, the Manifesto of the Communist Party was considered by Engels and Marx as a historical document from their youth and not as the definitive text in which their main political conceptions were stated. Or it must be kept in mind that political propaganda writings and scientific writings are often not combinable.

Unfortunately, these kinds of errors are very frequent in the secondary literature on Marx. Not to mention the absence of the chronological dimension in many reconstructions of his thought. The texts from the 1840s cannot be quoted indiscriminately alongside those from the 1860s and 1870s, since they do not carry equal weight of scientific knowledge and political experience. Some manuscripts were written by Marx only for himself, while others were actual preparatory materials for books to be published. Some were revised and often updated by Marx, while others were abandoned by him without the possibility of updating them (in this category, there is Volume III of Capital). Some journalistic articles contain considerations that can be considered as a completion of Marx’s works. Others, however, were written quickly in order to raise money to pay the rent. Some letters include Marx’s authentic views on the issues discussed. Others contain only a softened version, because they were addressed to people outside Marx’s circle, with whom it was sometimes necessary to express himself diplomatically.

For all these reasons, it is clear that a good knowledge of Marx’s life is indispensable for a correct understanding of his ideas. Finally, there are the more than two hundred notebooks containing summaries (and sometimes commentaries) of all the most important books read by Marx during the long time span from 1838 to 1882. They are essential for an understanding of the genesis of his theory and of those elements he was unable to develop as he would have wished.

The ideas conceived by Marx during the last years of his life were collected mainly within these notebooks. They are certainly very difficult to read, but they give us access to a very precious treasure: not only the research Marx completed before his death, but also the questions he asked himself. Some of his doubts may be more useful to us today than some of his certainties.


کمون پاریس: بدیل ممکن

بورژوازی فرانسه همیشه با همه چیز کنار آمده بود. آن‌ها از زمان انقلاب 1789 تنها گروهی بودند که در دوره‌های رونق ثروتمند شده بودند‏، درحالی که طبقه‌ی کارگر دائماً سنگ زیرین آسیابِ بحران‌ها محسوب می‌شد.

اما اعلامِ جمهوری سوم افق‌های تازه‌ای را گشود و فرصتی برای تغییر این مسیر فراهم کرد. پروسی‌ها ناپلئون سوم را که در نبردِ سِدان مغلوب شده بود، در 4 سپتامبر 1870 به اسارت گرفتند. اُتو فون بیسمارک در ژانویه‌ی بعد از آن و پس از محاصره‌ی چهار ماهه‌ی پاریس موفق شد فرانسویان را به تسلیم وا دارد و شروط سخت‌گیرانه‌ای را در قرارداد آتش‌بس به آن‌ها تحمیل کرد. انتخاباتی ملی برگزار شد و آدولف تی‌یر [Adolphe Thiers] با حمایت اکثریت بزرگی از لژیتیمیست‌ها و اورلئانیست‌ها به عنوان رئیس قوه‌ی مجریه برگزیده شد. بااین‌حال، در پایتخت که نارضایتی مردمی گسترده‌تر از هر جای دیگر بود، نیروهای سوسیالیست و جمهوری‌خواهان رادیکال برنده‌ی میدان بودند. چشم‌انداز قدرت‌گرفتنِ دولتی دست‌راستی که بی‌اعتنا به‌ بی‌عدالتی اجتماعی بود و سنگینی بار جنگ را بر دوش بی‌نواترین افراد می‌انداخت و مترصدِ خلع‌سلاحِ شهر بود، انقلاب تازه‌ای را در هجدهم مارس باعث شد. تی‌یر و ارتش‌اش چاره‌ای جز پناه بردن به ورسای نداشتند.

مبارزه و حکومت

شورشیان برای تأمین مشروعیت دموکراتیک فوراً تصمیم به برگزاری انتخاباتی آزاد گرفتند. اکثریت قاطع پاریسی‌ها (190.000 در برابر  40.000 رای) انگیزه‌ی شورش را پذیرفتند، و 70 نفر از مجموع 85 نماینده‌ی برگزیده حمایت خود را از انقلاب اعلام کردند. 15 نماینده‌ی میانه‌رو ازحزب شهرداران[parti des maires] که گروهی متشکل از فرمانداران پیشین مناطق مختلف بودند، به‌سرعت استعفا دادند و در شورای کمون شرکت نکردند؛ اندکی بعد هم 4 نفر از رادیکال‌ها به آن‌ها پیوستند. 66 عضو باقی‌مانده ــ که تمیزدادن آن‌ها به‌دلیل وابستگی‌های سیاسی دوگانه‌شان‌ کار ساده‌ای نیست ــ طیف وسیعی از مواضع را نمایندگی می‌کردند. نزدیک به بیست جمهوری‌خواه نوژاکوبنی (از جمله شارل دُلسکلوز [Charles Delescluze ] و فلیکس پیات [Félix Pyat] معروف)، دوازده نفر از طرفداران آگوست بلانکی، هفده نفر از اعضای انجمن بین‌الملل کارگران (هم طرفداران دوسویه‌گرایی [mutualist] پی‌یر ‌ژوزف پرودون و هم جمع‌باوران مرتبط با کارل مارکس که اغلب در تقابل با یکدیگر قرار داشتند) و چندین نماینده‌ی مستقل در میان آن‌ها حضور داشتند. اغلبِ رهبرانِ کمونْ کارگر یا نمایندگانِ سرشناسِ طبقه‌ی کارگر بودند که 14 نفر از آنان از گارد ملی می‌آمدند. درواقع، کمیته‌ی مرکزی همین گارد ملی بود که قدرت را به کمون تفویض کرد ــ واقعه‌ای که معلوم شد، مقدمه‌ای است بر رشته‌ای بلند از عدم‌توافق‌ها و تعارض‌ها میان این دو مجموعه.

عده‌ی زیادی از شهروندان در 28 مارس در اطراف تالار شهر گرد آمدند تا تشکیل این انجمن جدید را، که اینک رسماً نامِ کمون پاریس را گرفته بود، جشن بگیرند. گرچه کمون بیش از 72 روز بقا نیافت، اما مهم‌ترین واقعه‌ی سیاسی در تاریخ جنبش کارگری در سده‌ی نوزدهم محسوب می‌شد که در دل جمعیتی که در نتیجه‌ی ماه‌ها دشواری و مشکلات از پا در آمده بودند، دوباره بذر امید نشاند. کمیته‌ها و گروه‌های فراوانی در محله‌های پرجمعیت سربرآوردند تا به حمایت از کمون بپردازند و هر گوشه‌ی این کلان‌شهر میزبان اقداماتی بود که با هدف بیان هم‌بستگی و برنامه‌ریزی برای ساختن جهانی تازه انجام می‌گرفت. مون‌مارتر غسل‌تعمید داده شد و «دژ آزادی» نام گرفت. یکی از گسترده‌ترین احساسات مردم، خواستِ به اشتراک گذاشتن چیزها با دیگران بود. مبارزانی هم‌چون لوییز میشل [Louise Michel] تجسم این روحیه‌ی ازخودگذشتگی بودند ــ ویکتور هوگو درباره‌ی لوییز میشل می‌نویسد: «او هم‌چون تمامی جان‌های سرکش و بزرگ عمل کرد. … او به ستایش از درهم‌شکستگان و مظلومان پرداخت». اما نیروی رانشگر فلان رهبر یا گروه کم‌‌شماری از چهره‌های کاریزماتیک نبود که به کمون جان بخشید‏؛ صفت بارز آن بُعد آشکارا جمعی‌اش بود. زنان و مردان داوطلبانه گرد هم آمدند تا برنامه‌ی مشترک رهایی را پی بگیرند. خودحکومتی دیگر آرمان‌شهر تلقی نمی‌شد. خودرهایی وظیفه‌ای ضروری محسوب می‌شد.

دگرگونی قدرت سیاسی

دو مورد از نخستین فرمان‌های اضطراری برای مقابله با فقر فراگیر عبارت بودند از تعلیق پرداخت اجاره‌ها (می‌گفتند «مالکیت نیز باید سهم‌ عادلانه‌ی خود را برای ازخودگذشتگی‌ها ادا کند») و نیز تعلیق فروش اشیاء موجود در سمساری‌ها که زیر 20 فرانک قیمت داشتند. هم‌چنین، 9 کمیسیون هم‌رده[1] تشکیل شدند تا جایگزین وزارتخانه‌های جنگ، دارایی، امنیت عمومی، آموزش، معاش، کار و تجارت، روابط خارجی و خدمات عمومی شوند. چندی بعد، نماینده‌ای را به سرپرستی هریک از این بخش‌ها برگزیدند.

کمون در 19 آوریل، سه روز پس از انتخابات‌ دیگری برای تکمیل 31 کُرسی که [نمایندگانشان] تقریباً بی‌درنگ استعفا داده بودند،اعلامیه به مردم فرانسهرا تصویب کرد که در آن به موارد زیر اشاره شده بود؛ «تضمین مطلق آزادی فردی، آزادی اعتقادات و آزادی کار» و هم‌چنین، «مداخله‌ی دائمی شهروندان در امور مشترک». این اعلامیه تأیید کرد که تعارض میان پاریس و ورسای را «نمی‌توان با مصالحه‌هایی متوهمانه پایان بخشید»؛ مردم مُحق و «ملزم به جنگ و پیروزی‌اند!» حتی مهم‌تر از این متن ــ که تا اندازه‌ای مبهم و ناروشن نوشته شده بود تا از ایجاد تنش میان گرایش‌های سیاسی متعدد اجتناب کند ــ کنش‌های مشخص کمونارها بود که در جهت دگرگونی تمام‌عیارِ قدرت سیاسی می‌جنگیدند. مجموعه‌ اصلاحاتی انجام شد تا نه‌تنها کیفیات بلکه خود ماهیتِ نهاد اجرایی سیاسی را تغییر دهد. کمون به‌مدد دستوراتی الزام‌آور می‌توانست نمایندگی افراد برگزیده را لغو کند و مسئول کنترل اعمال آن‌ها باشد (هرچند این روش به‌هیچ‌وجه برای حل‌وفصل موضوع پیچیده‌ی نمایندگی سیاسی کافی نبود). ریاستِ دادگاه‌های هر بخش و سایر مناصب عمومی، که آن‌ها نیز در معرضِ کنترل دائمی و امکان لغو منصب قرار داشتند، هم‌چون گذشته به‌شکلی دلبخواهانه انتخاب نمی‌شدند بلکه در نتیجه‌ی رقابتی آزادانه یا انتخابات برگزیده می‌شدند. هدف آشکار [این اقدامات] جلوگیری از بدل‌شدنِ سپهر عمومی به حوزه‌ی سیاستمداران حرفه‌ای بود. تصمیمات در زمینه‌ی سیاستگذاری برعهده‌ی گروه کوچکی از کارمندان و تکنسین‌ها گذاشته نشد، بلکه می‌بایست از سوی مردم انجام می‌گرفت. نیروهای ارتش و پلیس دیگر نهادهایی جداشده از بدنه‌ی جامعه محسوب نمی‌شدند. جدایی میان دولت و کلیسا نیزشرط ضروریمحسوب می‌شد.

اما چشم‌انداز تغییر سیاسی صرفاً به چنین اقداماتی محدود نبود: بلکه عمیق‌تر بود و به مسائل ریشه‌ای می‌پرداخت. انتقالِ قدرت به دست مردم نیازمند آن بود که بوروکراسی شدیداً کاهش یابد. سپهر اجتماعی می‌بایست بر سپهر سیاسی مقدم می‌شد ــ چنان‌که هانری دو سن‌‌ـ ‌‌سیمون نیز پیشتر باور داشت ــ تا سیاست دیگر کارکردی تخصصی قلمداد نشود بلکه به‌طرزی فزاینده در فعالیت جامعه‌ی مدنی ادغام شود. بنابراین، بدنه‌ی اجتماعی می‌بایست کارکردهایی را که به دولت واگذار کرده بود پس بگیرد. سرنگونی نظام موجودِ حکومت طبقاتی کافی نبود؛ بلکه خودِ حکومت طبقاتی می‌بایست پایان می‌یافت. این‌همه می‌بایست برای برآورده‌ساختن چشم‌انداز کمون از جمهوری بسنده می‌بود، یعنی جمهوری به‌مثابه‌ی اتحادیه‌ای از انجمن‌های آزاد و واقعاً دموکراتیک که نویدبخش رهاییِ تمامی عناصر سازنده‌اش بود. چنین جمهوری‌ای به معنای خودحکمرانیِ تولیدکنندگان بود.

اولویت‌بخشی به اصلاحات اجتماعی

کمون باور داشت که اصلاحات اجتماعی حتی حیاتی‌تر از تغییر سیاسی‌اند. اصلاحات اجتماعی، علت وجود تغییرات سیاسی بودند، نوعی سنجه برای تعیین میزان وفاداری آن‌ها به اصول بنیادین و هم‌چنین، عنصری حیاتی که این انقلاب را از انقلاب‌های پیشین در سال‌های 1789 و 1848 منفک می‌کرد. کمون بیش از یکبار به تصویب اقداماتی پرداخت که دلالت‌های ضمنیِ آشکارا طبقاتی داشتند. سررسید بازپرداخت وام‌ها سه سال عقب افتاد، بی‌آن‌که به بهره‌ی آن‌ها افزوده شود. حکم تخلیه در صورت نپرداختن اجاره به تعلیق درآمد و طی فرمانی این امکان فراهم آمد که افراد بی‌سرپناه برای اقامت در مسکن‌های خالی درخواست دهند. برنامه‌هایی برای کاهش کار روزانه وجود داشت (در ابتدا 10 ساعت در روز که قرار بود در آینده به هشت ساعت برسد)، روال رایج جریمه‌های من‌درآوردیِ کارگران که صرفاً به‌منظور کاهش دستمزدهای آن‌ها انجام می‌گرفت غیرقانونی اعلام شد و تخطی از آن شامل جریمه می‌شد و هم‌چنین، سطح آبرومندی برای حداقل دستمزد تعیین شد. تا جایی که امکان داشت برای افزایش ذخیره‌های غذایی و کاهش قیمت‌ها تلاش کردند. نوبت کار شبانه در نانوایی‌ها ممنوع و برخی قصابی‌های دولتی افتتاح شد. انواع گوناگون کمک‌های اجتماعی برای بخش‌های ضعیف‌تر جمعیت گسترش یافت ــ برای مثال، ایجاد بانک‌های غذا برای زنان و کودکان بی‌سرپرست ــ و بحث‌هایی در رابطه با چگونگی پایان‌دادن به تبعیض میان کودکان مشروع و نامشروع انجام گرفت.

تمامی کمونارها صمیمانه باور داشتند که آموزش عاملی ضروری برای رهایی فردی و هرگونه تغییر اجتماعی و سیاسیِ جدی است. شرکت در مدرسه به‌یکسان برای دختران و پسران رایگان و اجباری شد و دستورات مذهبی جای خود را به آموزش‌های سکولار در امتداد الگوهای منطقی و علمی دادند. کمیسیون‌های انتصابی خاص و صفحات مطبوعات به برجسته‌کردنِ استدلال‌های قانع‌کننده‌ای در رابطه با سرمایه‌گذاری در آموزش زنان پرداختند. آموزش برای آن‌که واقعاً شایسته‌ی نام «خدمات عمومی» باشد، می‌بایست فرصت‌های برابری را برای «کودکان از هر دو جنس» فراهم می‌کرد. علاوه‌براین، «تمایزات مبتنی بر نژاد، ملیت، دین یا جایگاه اجتماعی» می‌بایست ممنوع می‌شدند. چنین دستاوردهایی در عالم نظر، با اقدامات عملی ابتدایی همراه شدند و هزاران نفر از فرزندان طبقه‌ی کارگر، در بیش از یک منطقه از شهر، برای نخستین بار به مدرسه پا گذاشتند و اقلام مربوط به کلاس درس را نیز رایگان دریافت کردند.

کمون هم‌چنین اقداماتی اتخاذ کرد که از خصلتی سوسیالیستی برخوردار بودند. فرمانی صادر کرد تا کارگاه‌های رهاشده از سوی کارفرمایان که از شهر فرار کرده بودند، با تضمین جبران مابه‌ازا در صورت بازگشتن صاحبان، در اختیار انجمن‌های تعاونی کارگران قرار گیرد. تئاترها و موزه‌ها ــ که به صورت رایگان به روی همگان باز بودند ــ اشتراکی شدند و تحت مدیریت فدراسیون هنرمندان پاریسی درآمدند که ریاست آن بر عهده‌ی گوستاو کوربه، نقاش و مبارزِ خستگی‌ناپذیر بود. نزدیک به سیصد مجسمه‌ساز، معمار، سنگ‌نویس و نقاش (که ادوارد مانه نیز در میانشان بود) در این فدراسیون شرکت کردند ــ نمونه‌ای که در تأسیس «فدراسیونِ هنرمندان» نیز پیگیری و موجب شد تا بازیگران و سایر افراد مربوط به حیطه‌ی اُپرا گرد هم بیایند.

تمامی این اقدامات و تمهیدات فقط‌وفقط در بازه‌ی زمانی شگفت‌آورِ 54 روزه انجام شد، آن‌هم در پاریسی که هنوز از عواقب جنگ فرانسه و پروس در لرزه بود. کمون تنها موفق شد که از 29 مارس تا 21 می، در دوران مقاومتی قهرمانانه‌ دربرابر حملات [ارتش] ورسای، به انجام وظایفش بپردازد، امری که به صرف مقادیر قابل‌توجهی انرژی انسانی و منابع مالی نیاز داشت. به دلیل آن‌که کمون از ابزار قهری برخوردار نبود، بسیاری از فرمان‌هایش به‌صورت یک‌دست در کل شهر به کار بسته نمی‌شد. با این‌حال، انگیزه‌ی چشم‌گیری برای تجدیدشکل جامعه از خود به نمایش گذاشت و مسیر تغییر ممکن را به ما نشان داد.

مبارزه‌ی جمعی و فمینیستی

کمون چیزی بیشتر از صرف اقداماتی بود که از سوی انجمن قانون‌گذاری‌اش تصویب می‌شد. کمون حتی انگیزه‌ی بازترسیم فضای شهری را برانگیخت، چنان‌که در تصمیم به تخریبِ ستون میدان واندوم ــ که بنای یادبودِ بربریت و نماد شرم‌آور جنگ تلقی می‌شد ــ و هم‌چنین در غیرمذهبی‌کردن برخی مکان‌های عبادت از طریق واگذاری آن‌ها برای استفاده‌ی اجتماعی دیده می‌شد. موفقیت کمون در ادامه‌ی کارش منوط به سطح خارق‌العاده‌ی مشارکت توده‌ای و روحیه‌ی مستحکمِ یاری‌رسانی متقابل بود. باشگاه‌های انقلابی که تقریباً در تمامی مناطق شهر سربرآورده بودند، نقش مهمی در پیش‌راندن این اقتدار ایفا کردند. دست‌کم 28 باشگاه انقلابی وجود داشت که یکی از گویاترین نمونه‌های بسیج خودانگیخته را نشان می‌دهد. این باشگاه‌ها که عصر هر روز دایر می‌شدند، فرصتی در اختیار شهروندان می‌گذاشتند تا پس از کار با یکدیگر ملاقات کنند و آزادانه به بحث درباره‌ی وضعیت اجتماعی و سیاسی بپردازند و دستاوردهای نمایندگانشان را بررسی کنند و برای حل مسائل روزمره، راهکارهای بدیلی پیشنهاد دهند. باشگاه‌ها انجمن‌هایی افقی بودند که طرفدار شکل‌گیری و بروزِ حاکمیتِ مردمی، و به همان اندازه، خلق فضاهای برادرانه و خواهرانه‌ی واقعی بودند که در آن همگی از امکان تنفس در هوای مدهوش‌کننده‌ی کنترل بر سرنوشت خود برخوردار بودند.

تبعیض ملی در این مسیر رهایی‌‌بخش جایی نداشت. تمامی کسانی که برای تکامل کمون پیکار می‌کردند زیر چتر شهروندی آن قرار می‌گرفتند و خارجی‌ها نیز به همان اندازه‌ی فرانسویان از حقوق اجتماعی مشابه برخوردار بودند. اصل برابری را می‌شد آشکارا در نقشِ برجسته‌ای که 3.000 خارجی فعال در کمون ایفا کردند مشاهده کرد. لئو فرانکل، عضو اهل مجارستان انجمن بین‌الملل کارگران، نه‌تنها در شورای کمون برگزیده شد بلکه به‌عنوان «وزیر» کار نیز ــ که یکی از مناصب اصلی کمون محسوب می‌شد ــ خدمت کرد. هم‌چنین، لهستانی‌هایی مانند یاروسلاو دامبروسکی و والری وِروبلفسکی نیز از ژنرال‌های برجسته‌ و از سران گارد ملی بودند.

هرچند زنان هنوز حق رأی یا انتخاب در شورای کمون را نداشتند اما نقشی اساسی در نقدِ نظم اجتماعی ایفا کردند. آن‌ها در موارد بسیاری با تخطی از هنجارهای جامعه‌ی بورژوایی بر هویت جدیدی در تقابل با ارزش‌های خانواده‌ی پدرسالار پای فشردند و با فرارفتن از فضای خصوصی خانگی در سپهر عمومی درگیر شدند. اتحادیه‌ی زنان برای دفاع از پاریس و مراقبت از زخمیان که خاستگاه آن تا اندازه‌ی زیادی مدیون فعالیت خستگی‌ناپذیر الیزابث دیمیتریِف، نخستین عضو بین‌الملل، بود، عمدتاً درگیرِ شناسایی نبردهای اجتماعیِ راهبردی بود. زنان موفق شدند روسپی‌‌خانه‌های مجاز به ارائه مشروب را تعطیل کنند، برای معلمان زن و مرد حقوق برابری کسب کردند، شعارِ «دستمزد یکسان در ازای کار یکسان» را جا انداختند، خواستار حقوق برابر در ازدواج و به‌رسمیت شناختنِ روابط آزادانه [میان دو جنس] شدند و در اتحادیه‌های کارگری مجالسی منحصر به زنان راه انداختند. هنگامی‌که در میانه‌ی ماه می وضعیت نظامی وخیم‌تر شد و سربازان ورسای به دروازه‌های پاریس رسیده بودند، زنان اسلحه به دست گرفتند و گردان‌هایی مختص به خود شکل دادند. بسیاری از آنان در پشت باریکادها آخرین نفس‌هایشان را کشیدند. تبلیغاتِ بورژوایی آنان را دستمایه‌ی شرورانه‌ترین حملات قرار داد، آنان رابشکه‌های نفت[les pétroleuses] می‌نامید و متهم‌شان می‌کرد که در خلال نبردهای خیابانی شهر را به آتش کشیده‌اند.

مرکزیت‌بخشی یا مرکزیت‌زدایی؟

دموکراسی اصیلی که کمونارها در تلاش برای استقرار آن بودند پروژه‌ای بلندپروازانه و دشوار محسوب می‌شد. حکمرانی مردمی نیازمند مشارکت بیشترین تعداد ممکنِ شهروندان بود. پاریس، از اواخر ماه مارس به بعد، شاهد رشد قارچ‌گونه‌ی کمیسیون‌های مرکزی، کمیته‌های فرعی محلی، باشگاه‌های انقلابی و گردان‌های سربازان بود که شانه‌به‌شانه‌ی انحصار دوجانبه و به‌حدکافی پیچیده‌ی شورای کمون و کمیته‌ی مرکزیِ گارد ملی قرار می‌گرفتند. گارد ملی کنترل نظامی را به‌دست آورده بود و اغلب پادقدرت واقعی برای شورا بود. با این‌که مداخله‌ی مستقیم مردم اصلی حیاتی برای تضمین دموکراسی محسوب می‌شد، وجود قدرت‌های چندگانه فرایند تصمیم‌گیری را مشخصاً دشوار می‌کردند و این به معنای بغرنج‌شدن اجرای فرمان‌ها بود.

مسئله‌ی رابطه میان قدرت مرکزی و بدنه‌های محلی موجب شد در برخی مقاطع وضعیتی آشوب‌وار و تا حدی فلج‌کننده پیش بیاید. بی‌نظمی درون گارد ملی و ناکارآمدی فزاینده‌ی دولتْ در مواجهه با اضطرار جنگ، توازن ظریفی را که تا به آن مقطع حاصل شده بود به‌کلی فروپاشاند و آن‌گاه بود که ژول میو [Jules Miot] پیشنهاد تشکیل کمیته‌ای پنج‌نفره با عنوان کمیته‌ی امنیت عمومی را مطرح کرد، کمیته‌ای که شبیه به مدل دیکتاتوری ماکسیمیلیان روبسپیر در 1793 بود. این اقدام در نخستین روز ماه می با رأی اکثریت 45 نفر در برابر 23 نفر مخالف تصویب شد. این اقدام، خطایی بسیار مهم از آب درآمد که خبر از آغازِ پایانِ تجربه‌ی سیاسی بدیعی می‌داد و کمون را به دو بلوک مخالف تجزیه کرد. نخستین بلوک متشکل از نوژاکوبن‌ها و بلانکیست‌ها بود که متمایل به تمرکز قدرت و، سرانجام، اولویت جنبه‌ی سیاسی بر اجتماعی بودند. دومین بلوک، متشکل از اکثریت اعضای انجمن بین‌الملل کارگران بود که سپهر اجتماعی را مهم‌تر از سپهر سیاسی می‌دانستند. آن‌ها چنین می‌پنداشتند که جدایی قدرت‌ها امری ضروری است و اصرار داشتند که جمهوری هرگز نباید آزادی‌های سیاسی را به چالش بکشد. این بلوک دوم که هماهنگی‌های آن بر عهده‌ی اوژن وارلن [Eugène Varlin] خستگی‌ناپذیر بود، با چرخش اقتدارمدار شدیداً مخالفت کرد و در انتخابات‌های کمیته‌ی امنیت عمومی شرکت نکرد. از منظر آنان، تمرکز قدرت در دستان افرادی اندک، کاملاً در تناقض با انگاره‌های بنیادین کمون قرار می‌گیرد، چراکه نمایندگان برگزیده‌ی کمون واجد قدرت حکمرانی ــ که امری متعلق به مردم محسوب می‌شد ــ نبودند و [متعاقباً] هیچ حقی برای واگذاری چنین قدرتی به یک دستگاه مشخص نداشتند. در 21 می، زمانی که بار دیگر اقلیت در جلسه‌ی شورای کمون شرکت کرد، تلاشی دوباره شد تا میان بدنه اتحاد برقرار شود، اما دیگر برای چنین کاری دیر شده بود.

کمون نام دیگر انقلاب

ارتش ورسای به‌طرز وحشیانه‌ای کمون پاریس را در هم شکست. در خلالهفته‌ی خونینکه از 21 تا 28 می به طول انجامید، در مجموع 17.000 تا 25.000 شهروند سلاخی شدند. آخرین عداوت‌ها در کنار دیوارهای قبرستان پرلاشز به‌وقوع پیوست. آرتور رمبو جوان پایتخت فرانسه را «شهری عزادار و کمابیش مرده» توصیف کرده بود. این واقعه، خونین‌ترین قتل‌عام در تاریخ فرانسه محسوب می‌شد. تنها 6.000 نفر موفق به گریختن و تبعید به انگلستان، بلژیک و سوئیس شدند. شمار زندانیان به 43.522 نفر می‌رسید. صدنفر از آنان، پس از محاکمه‌های کوتاه در دادگاه نظامی، به مرگ محکوم شدند و 13.500 نفر دیگر یا به زندان محکوم شدند، یا به کار اجباری یا تبعید به مناطقی دورافتاده مثل کالدونیای جدید. برخی از انقلابیونی که به آن‌جا تبعید شدند، با رهبران الجزایریِ شورش ضداستعماریِ موکرانی اعلام همبستگی کردند و به سرنوشتی مشابه با آنان دچار شدند؛ این شورش همزمان با کمون آغاز شده بود و سپاهیان فرانسه آن را نیز به خاک و خون کشیدند.

شبحِ کمون موجب تشدیدِ سرکوبِ سوسیالیست‌ها در سرتاسر اروپا شد. مطبوعاتِ محافظه‌کار و لیبرال با نادیده‌گرفتنِ خشونتِ بی‌سابقه‌ی دولت تی‌یر، کمونارها را به بدترین جنایات محکوم کردند و از اعاده‌ی «نظم طبیعی» و قوانین بورژوایی، و هم‌چنین، پیروزیِ «تمدن» بر آنارشی اعلام رضایت و آسودگی‌خاطر کردند. کسانی که جرئت کرده بودند و از اقتدار طبقه‌ی حاکم تخطی و به امتیازاتِ آنان یورش برده بودند، مجازات شدند تا درس عبرتی باشند برای دیگران. بار دیگر با زنان هم‌چون موجوداتی پست‌تر رفتار شد و کارگران را که با گستاخی می‌خواستند حکومت را در دستان پینه‌بسته و کثیف‌شان بگیرند، به جایگاه‌هایی عقب راندند که برای آن‌ها مناسب‌تر دانسته می‌شد.

بااین‌همه، طغیانِ پاریس موجب تقویت مبارزه‌ی کارگران شد و آنان را به مسیری رادیکال‌تر راند. اوژن پوتیه در فردای شکست چنین نوشت که مقدر بود تا کمون به نامدارترین سرودِ جنبش کارگری بدل شود: «به‌هم گردآییم و فردا بین‌الملل طریق بشری خواهد شد». [کمون] پاریس نشان داد که هدف ما می‌بایست ساختن جامعه‌ای باشد عمیقاً متفاوت با سرمایه‌داری. از همین‌رو، حتی اگر برای پیشگامان این جریان (به قول عنوان شعر معروفِ ژان باپتیست کلمنت، یکی از مبارزان کمونار) «زمان بار دادن گیلاس‌ها» هرگز دوباره از راه نرسد، خودِ کمون تجسمِ ایده‌ی تغییر اجتماعی‌ـ‌سیاسی و کاربست عملی آن بود. کمون به معادلی برای مفهوم انقلاب بدل شد که تجربه‌ی هستی‌شناختیِ طبقه‌ی کارگر را دربرداشت. کارل مارکس درجنگ داخلی در فرانسهگفته بود که این «پیشگامان پرولتاریای مدرن» موفق شده بودند که «کارگران جهان را به فرانسه پیوند دهند». کمون پاریس موجب تغییر آگاهی کارگران و ادراک جمعی آنان شد. با فاصله‌ای 150 ساله از این واقعه، پرچم سرخ آن هم‌چنان در آسمان رقصان است تا به ما یادآوری کند که بدیل همواره ممکن است.زنده باد کمون!

* مقاله‌ی حاضر ترجمه‌ای است از ThePossible Alternative of the Paris Communeنوشته‌ی Marcello Musto. مارچلو موستو استاد جامعه‌شناسی دانشگاه یورک در تورنتو است. آثار او را می‌توان در اینوبسایتمشاهده کرد، آثاری که به بیش از بیست زبان مختلف ترجمه شده‌اند.


[1]. collegial commission منظور هر نوع گروه یا کمیسیونی است که در آن اعضا دارای قدرت برابر و یکسان‌اند ـ م.


La alternativa posible de la Comuna de París

Los burgueses siempre lo habían conseguido todo. Desde la revolución de 1789, habían sido los únicos que se habían enriquecido en tiempos de prosperidad, mientras que la clase trabajadora había tenido que soportar regularmente el coste de las crisis.

La proclamación de la Tercera República abrió nuevos escenarios y ofreció la oportunidad de revertir este rumbo. Napoleón III había sido derrotado y capturado por los alemanes, en Sedán, el 4 de septiembre de 1870. En enero un año después se rendía París, que había estado sitiada durante más de cuatro meses, lo que obligó a los franceses a aceptar las condiciones impuestas por Otto von Bismarck. Se produjo un armisticio que permitió la celebración de elecciones y el posterior nombramiento de Adolphe Thiers como jefe del poder ejecutivo, con el apoyo de una amplia mayoría legitimista y orleanista. En la capital, sin embargo, a diferencia del resto del país, la conjunción progresista-republicana tuvo éxito con una abrumadora mayoría y el descontento popular fue más generalizado que en otros lugares. La perspectiva de un ejecutivo que dejase inmutables todas las injusticias sociales, que quería desarmar la ciudad y estaba dispuesto a hacer recaer el precio de la guerra sobre los menos favorecidos, desató la rebelión. El 18 de marzo estalló una nueva revolución; Thiers y su ejército tuvieron que refugiarse en Versalles.

De lucha y de gobierno
Los insurgentes decidieron celebrar inmediatamente elecciones libres, para garantizar la legitimidad democrática de la insurrección. El 26 de marzo, una abrumadora mayoría (190.000 contra 40.000 votos) aprobó las razones de la revuelta y 70 de los 85 miembros electos se declararon a favor de la revolución. Los 15 representantes moderados del llamado “parti de maires” (partido de los alcaldes), grupo formado por ex presidentes de algunos distritos, dimitieron inmediatamente y no se incorporaron al consejo de la comuna. Poco después fueron seguidos por cuatro radicales. Los 66 miembros restantes, que no se distinguían fácilmente por su doble afiliación política, representaban posiciones muy variadas. Entre ellos había una veintena de republicanos neo-jacobinos (incluidos los influyentes Charles Delescluze y Felix Pyat), una docena de prosélitos de Auguste Blanqui, 17 miembros de la Asociación Internacional de Trabajadores (incluidos los mutualistas seguidores de Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, que con frecuencia no estaban de acuerdo con los colectivistas afines a Karl Marx) y un par de independientes. La mayoría de los miembros de la Comuna eran trabajadores o representantes reconocidos de la clase trabajadora. De ellos, 14 procedían de la Guardia Nacional. Fue precisamente el comité central de esta el que depositó el poder en manos de la Comuna, aunque este acto fue el inicio de una larga serie de contradicciones y conflictos entre las dos entidades.

El 28 de marzo, una gran masa de ciudadanos se reunió cerca del Hôtel de Ville y recibió con alegría la inauguración de la nueva asamblea que oficialmente tomó el nombre de la Comuna de París. Aunque solo duró 72 días, fue el evento político más importante en la historia del movimiento obrero del siglo XIX. La Comuna revivió la esperanza de una población agotada por meses de penurias. En los barrios surgieron comités y grupos en apoyo. En cada rincón de la metrópoli se multiplicaron las iniciativas de solidaridad y los planes para la construcción de un mundo nuevo. Montmartre pasó a llamarse “la ciudadela de la libertad”. Uno de los sentimientos predominantes fue el deseo de compartir. Militantes como Louise Michel dieron ejemplo por su espíritu de abnegación. Víctor Hugo escribió sobre ella: “Hiciste lo que hacen las grandes almas locas. Has dado gloria a los que están aplastados y sometidos”. Sin embargo, la Comuna no vivió gracias al impulso de un dirigente o de unas pocas figuras carismáticas. De hecho, su principal característica fue su dimensión claramente colectiva. Mujeres y hombres se ofrecieron voluntarios para un proyecto de liberación común. La autogestión ya no se consideró más una utopía. La auto-emancipación se convirtió en algo esencial.

La transformación del poder político
Entre los primeros decretos de emergencia proclamados para frenar la pobreza desenfrenada estaba el bloqueo del pago de los alquileres (era justo que “la propiedad hiciera su parte de sacrificio”) y la suspensión de la venta de objetos – por un valor no superior a 20 Francos-, depositados en las casas de empeño. También se crearon nueve comisiones colegiadas para reemplazar los ministerios existentes: guerra, finanzas, seguridad general, educación, subsistencia, justicia, trabajo y comercio, relaciones exteriores, y servicios públicos. Posteriormente se nombró un delegado para gestionar cada una de ellas.

El 19 de abril, tres días después de las elecciones parciales tras las cuales fue posible reemplazar los 31 escaños que quedaron vacantes casi de inmediato, la Comuna redactó la Declaración al Pueblo Francés, en la que se aseguraba “la garantía absoluta de la libertad individual, de la libertad de conciencia y la libertad de trabajo” y “la intervención permanente de la ciudadanía en los asuntos comunes”. Se afirmaba que el conflicto entre París y Versalles “no podía terminar con compromisos ilusorios” y que el pueblo tenía “el deber de luchar y vencer”. Mucho más significativos que el contenido de este texto, síntesis un tanto ambigua para evitar tensiones entre las distintas tendencias políticas, fueron los actos concretos a través de los cuales los militantes de la Comuna lucharon por una transformación total del poder político. Iniciaron una serie de reformas que tenían como objetivo cambiar profundamente no solo la forma en que se administraba la política, sino su propia naturaleza. La democracia directa de la Comuna preveía la revocabilidad de los representantes electos y el control de su labor a través de la vinculación de mandatos (medida insuficiente para resolver la compleja cuestión de la representación política). Los magistrados y otros cargos públicos, también sujetos a control permanente y la posibilidad de revocación, no serían designados arbitrariamente, como en el pasado, sino mediante oposición o elecciones transparentes. Había que impedir la profesionalización de la esfera pública. Las decisiones políticas no debían corresponder a pequeños grupos de funcionarios y técnicos, sino ser tomadas por el pueblo. Los ejércitos y las fuerzas policiales ya no serían instituciones separadas del cuerpo de la sociedad. La separación entre Iglesia y Estado era una necesidad indispensable.

Sin embargo, el cambio político no terminaba con la adopción de estas medidas. Debía ir mucho más a la raíz. La burocracia tenía que reducirse drásticamente, transfiriendo el ejercicio del poder a manos del pueblo. El ámbito social tenía que prevalecer sobre el político y este último – como ya había argumentado Henri de Saint-Simon – dejaría de existir como función especializada, ya que sería asimilado progresivamente por las actividades de la sociedad civil. El cuerpo social recuperaría así las funciones que habían sido transferidas al estado. Derribar la dominación de clase existente no era suficiente; había que extinguir el dominio de clase como tal. Todo esto habría permitido la realización del plan diseñado por los comuneros: una república constituida por la unión de asociaciones libres verdaderamente democráticas que se convertirían en impulsoras de la emancipación de todos sus componentes. Era el autogobierno de los productores.

La prioridad de las reformas sociales
La Comuna creía que las reformas sociales eran incluso más relevantes que las transformaciones en el orden político. Representaban su razón de ser, el termómetro con el que medir la fidelidad a los principios para los que había nacido, el elemento de diferenciación definitivo frente a las revoluciones que la habían precedido en 1789 y 1848. La Comuna ratificó varias disposiciones con una clara connotación de clase. La fecha de vencimiento de las deudas se pospuso tres años, sin pago de intereses. Se suspendieron los desahucios por impago de los alquileres y se adoptaron medidas para que las casas desocupadas fueran requisadas a favor de las personas sin hogar. Se hicieron proyectos para limitar la duración de la jornada laboral (de las 10 horas iniciales a las ocho previstas en el futuro), se prohibió, bajo sanción, la práctica generalizada entre los empresarios de imponer multas espurias a los trabajadores con el único propósito de reducir sus salarios. Se decretaron salarios mínimos decentes. Se adoptó la prohibición de la acumulación de múltiples puestos de trabajo y se estableció un límite máximo para los salarios de los cargos públicos. Se hizo todo lo posible para aumentar el suministro de alimentos y reducir los precios. Se prohibió el trabajo nocturno en las panaderías y se abrieron algunas carnicerías municipales. Se implementaron diversas medidas de asistencia social para los más vulnerables, incluido el suministro de alimentos a mujeres y niños abandonados, y se aprobó el fin de la discriminación entre niños legítimos y naturales.

Todos los comuneros creían que la educación era un factor indispensable para la liberación de los individuos, sinceramente convencidos de que representaba el requisito previo de cualquier cambio social y político serio y duradero. Por tanto, animaron múltiples y relevantes debates en torno a las propuestas de reforma del sistema educativo. La escuela sería obligatoria y gratuita para todos, niños y niñas. La enseñanza religiosa sería reemplazada por la enseñanza laica, inspirada en el pensamiento racional y científico, y los costes del culto ya no recaerían en el presupuesto estatal. En las comisiones especialmente creadas y en la prensa se produjeron numerosas tomas de posición destacando cuán fundamental era la decisión de invertir en la educación femenina. Para convertirse verdaderamente en un “servicio público”, la escuela tenía que ofrecer las mismas oportunidades a los “niños de ambos sexos”. Por último, debía prohibir “las distinciones de raza, nacionalidad, fe o posición social”. Los avances de carácter teórico fueron acompañados de las primeras iniciativas prácticas y, en más de un distrito, miles de niños de la clase trabajadora recibieron material didáctico gratuito y entraron, por primera vez, en un edificio escolar.
La Comuna también legisló medidas de carácter socialista. Se decidió que los talleres abandonados por los propietarios que habían huido de la ciudad, a quienes se les garantizó una indemnización a su regreso, serían entregados a asociaciones cooperativas de trabajadores. Los teatros y museos -que estarían abiertos a todos y no serían de pago- fueron colectivizados y confiados a la dirección de quienes se habían adherido a la “Federación de Artistas de París”, presidida por el pintor e incansable militante Gustave Courbet. En él participaron unos 300 escultores, arquitectos, litógrafos y pintores (entre muchos también Édouard Manet). A esta iniciativa le siguió el nacimiento de la “Federación artística” que agrupó a los actores y al mundo de la ópera.

Todas estas acciones y disposiciones se llevaron a cabo sorprendentemente en solo 54 días, en un París todavía atormentado por los efectos de la guerra franco-prusiana. La Comuna sólo pudo funcionar del 29 de marzo al 21 de mayo y, además, en medio de una heroica resistencia a los ataques de Versalles, en una defensa que requería un gran derroche de energía humana y de recursos económicos. Además, dado que la Comuna no tenía ningún medio de coerción, muchas de las decisiones tomadas no se aplicaron de manera uniforme en el amplio territorio de la ciudad. Sin embargo, constituyeron un notable intento de reforma social y señalaron el camino de un posible cambio.

Una lucha colectiva y feminista
La Comuna fue mucho más que las medidas aprobadas por su asamblea legislativa. Incluso aspiró a alterar sustancialmente el espacio urbano, como lo demuestra la decisión de demoler la Columna Vendôme, reputada como un monumento a la barbarie y símbolo reprensible de la guerra, y secularizar algunos lugares de culto, destinando su uso a la comunidad. La Comuna vivió gracias a una extraordinaria participación masiva y un sólido espíritu de ayuda mutua. En este levantamiento contra la autoridad jugaron un papel destacado los clubes revolucionarios, que surgieron con increíble rapidez en casi todos los distritos. Se establecieron 28 y representaron uno de los ejemplos más importantes de la movilización espontánea que acompañó a la Comuna. Abiertos todas las noches, ofrecieron a la ciudadanía la oportunidad de reunirse, después del trabajo, para discutir libremente la situación social y política, verificar lo que habían logrado sus representantes y sugerir alternativas para la solución de los problemas cotidianos. Se trataba de asociaciones horizontales que favorecían la formación y expresión de la soberanía popular, pero también espacios de auténtica hermandad y fraternidad de hombres y mujeres. Eran espacios donde todos podían respirar la embriagadora posibilidad de convertirse en dueños de su propio destino.

En esta vía de emancipación no existía la discriminación nacional. El título de ciudadano de la Comuna estaba garantizado a todos los que trabajaban por su desarrollo y los extranjeros tenían los mismos derechos sociales garantizados que los franceses. Prueba de este principio de igualdad fue el papel predominante que asumieron varios extranjeros (unos 3.000 en total). El húngaro, miembro de la Asociación Internacional de Trabajadores, Léo Frankel, no solo fue uno de los funcionarios electos de la Comuna, sino que también el responsable de la comisión de trabajo, uno de los “ministerios” más importantes de París. Los polacos Jaroslaw Dombrowski y Walery Wroblewski, fueron nombrados generales con mando de la Guardia Nacional y desempeñaron un papel igualmente importante.

En este contexto, las mujeres, aún privadas del derecho al voto y, en consecuencia, también de sentarse entre los representantes del Consejo de la Comuna, jugaron un papel fundamental en la crítica del orden social existente. Transgredieron las normas de la sociedad burguesa y afirmaron su nueva identidad en oposición a los valores de la familia patriarcal. Salieron de la dimensión privada y se ocuparon de la esfera pública. Formaron la “Unión de Mujeres por la Defensa de París y por la Atención a los Heridos” (nacida gracias a la incesante actividad de Élisabeth Dmitrieff, militante de la Asociación Internacional de Trabajadores) y jugaron un papel central en la identificación de batallas sociales estratégicas. Consiguieron el cierre de los burdeles, lograron la igualdad salarial con los maestros varones, acuñaron el lema “a igual trabajo, igual salario”, reclamaron igualdad de derechos en el matrimonio, exigieron el reconocimiento de las uniones libres, promovieron la creación de cámaras sindicales exclusivamente femeninas. Cuando, a mediados de mayo, la situación militar empeoró, cuando las tropas de Versalles llegaron a las puertas de París, las mujeres tomaron las armas e incluso lograron formar su propio batallón. Muchos expiraron su último aliento en las barricadas. La propaganda burguesa las convirtió en objeto de los ataques más despiadados, acusándolas de haber incendiado la ciudad durante los enfrentamientos y atribuyéndolas el despectivo calificativo de “las petroleras”.

¿Centralizar o descentralizar?
La Comuna quería establecer una auténtica democracia. Era un proyecto ambicioso y difícil. La soberanía popular a la que aspiraban los revolucionarios implicaba la participación del mayor número posible de ciudadanos. A finales de marzo, se habían desarrollado en París una miríada de comisiones centrales, subcomités de barrio, clubes revolucionarios y batallones de soldados que flanqueaban el duopolio ya complejo compuesto por el consejo de la Comuna y el comité central de la Guardia Nacional. Este último, de hecho, había conservado el control del poder militar, a menudo operando como un verdadero contrapoder del primero. Si el compromiso directo de una gran parte de la población constituía una garantía democrática vital, la multiplicidad de autoridades sobre el terreno complicaban el proceso de toma de decisiones y hacían tortuoso la aplicación de las ordenanzas.

El problema de la relación entre la autoridad central y los organismos locales produjo no pocos cortocircuitos, lo que resultó en una situación caótica y muchas veces paralizante. El ya precario equilibrio saltó por completo cuando, ante la emergencia de la guerra, la indisciplina presente en las filas de la Guardia Nacional y una creciente ineficacia de la acción gubernamental, Jules Miot propuso la creación de un Comité de Salud Pública de cinco integrantes – una solución inspirada en el modelo dictatorial de Maximilien Robespierre de 1793. La medida fue aprobada el 1 de mayo, por 45 votos a favor y 23 en contra. Fue un error dramático que decretó el principio del fin de una experiencia política sin precedentes y dividió a la Comuna en dos bloques opuestos. A los primeros pertenecían los neo-jacobinos y blanquistas, partidarios de la concentración del poder y, en última instancia, de la primacía de la dimensión política sobre la social. El segundo incluía a la mayoría de los miembros de la Asociación Internacional de Trabajadores, para quienes el ámbito social era más importante que el político. Consideraban necesaria la separación de poderes y creían que la república nunca debía cuestionar las libertades políticas. Coordinados por el infatigable Eugène Varlin, hicieron público su claro rechazo a las derivas autoritarias y no participaron en la elección del Comité de Salud Pública. Para ellos, el poder centralizado en manos de unos pocos individuos contradecía los postulados de la Comuna. Sus cargos electos no eran los poseedores de la soberanía – esta pertenecía al pueblo – y, por tanto, no tenían derecho a enajenarla. El 21 de mayo, cuando la minoría participó nuevamente en una sesión del consejo de la Comuna, se hizo un nuevo intento de restablecer la unidad en su seno. Pero ya era demasiado tarde.

La Comuna, sinónimo de la revolución
La Comuna de París fue reprimida con brutal violencia por los ejércitos de Versalles. Durante la llamada “semana sangrienta” (del 21 al 28 de mayo) fueron muertos entre 17.000 y 25.000 ciudadanos. Los últimos enfrentamientos tuvieron lugar a lo largo del perímetro del cementerio de Père-Lachaise. El joven Arthur Rimbaud describió la capital francesa como una “ciudad dolorosa, casi muerta”. Fue la masacre más violenta de la historia de Francia. Solo 6.000 comuneros lograron escapar y refugiarse en el exilio en Inglaterra, Bélgica y Suiza. Hubo 43.522 prisioneros. Un centenar de ellos fueron condenados a muerte tras juicios sumarísimos de los consejos de guerra, mientras que otros 13.500 fueron enviados a prisión, a trabajos forzados o deportados (en buena parte, especialmente, a la remota Nueva Caledonia). Algunos de ellos se solidarizaron y compartieron la misma suerte que los insurgentes argelinos que habían liderado la revuelta anticolonial de Mokrani, que tuvo lugar al mismo tiempo que la Comuna y que también fue aplastada violentamente por las tropas francesas.

El espectro de la Comuna intensificó la represión anti-socialista en toda Europa. Justificando la violencia estatal sin precedentes ejercida por Thiers, la prensa conservadora y liberal acusó a los comuneros de los peores crímenes y expresó gran alivio por la restauración del “orden natural” y la legalidad burguesa, así como su satisfacción por el triunfo de la “civilización” sobre la “anarquía”. Aquellos que se habían atrevido a cuestionar la autoridad y atacar los privilegios de la clase dominante fueron castigados de manera ejemplar. Las mujeres volvieron a ser consideradas seres inferiores y los trabajadores, con sus manos sucias y llenas de callos, que se habían atrevido a pensar que podían gobernar, fueron devueltos a los lugares que se les reservaba en la sociedad.

Sin embargo, la insurrección parisina dio fuerza a las luchas de los trabajadores y las empujó hacia posiciones más radicales. A raíz de su derrota, Eugène Pottier escribió una canción destinada a convertirse en la más famosa del movimiento obrero. Sus versos dicen: “¡Agrupémonos todos en la lucha final. El género humano es la internacional! (Groupons-nous, et demain, L’Internationale sera le genre humain!). París había demostrado que era necesario perseguir el objetivo de construir una sociedad radicalmente diferente de la capitalista. A partir de ese momento, aunque “El tiempo de las cerezas” nunca llegó para sus protagonistas (según el título de la célebre canción compuesta por el comunero Jean Baptiste Clément), la Comuna encarnó la idea abstracta y el cambio concreto al mismo tiempo. Se convirtió en sinónimo del concepto mismo de revolución, fue una experiencia ontológica de la clase trabajadora. En La guerra civil en Francia, Marx afirmó que esta “vanguardia del proletariado moderno” logró “acercar a los trabajadores de todo el mundo a Francia”. La Comuna de París cambió la conciencia de los trabajadores y su percepción colectiva. Después de 150 años, su bandera roja sigue ondeando y nos recuerda que siempre es posible una alternativa. Vive la Commune!


Orgoglio Rosso a Parigi

I borghesi avevano sempre ottenuto tutto. Sin dalla rivoluzione del 1789, erano stati i soli ad arricchirsi nei periodi di prosperità, mentre la classe lavoratrice aveva dovuto regolarmente sopportare il costo delle crisi.

Bisognava ribaltare questo corso e, all’indomani della cattura di Napoleone III, sconfitto dai tedeschi nel settembre del 1870, e della nomina, cinque mesi più tardi, di Adolphe Thiers a capo del governo, il popolo di Parigi fu animato da un nuovo spirito di lotta. La prospettiva di un esecutivo che avrebbe lasciato immutate le ingiustizie sociali scatenò la ribellione nella capitale francese. Il 18 marzo scoppiò una nuova rivoluzione; Thiers e la sua armata dovettero riparare a Versailles.

Gli insorti decisero di indire subito libere elezioni. Una schiacciante maggioranza (190.000 voti contro 40.000) approvò le ragioni della rivolta e 70 degli 85 eletti si dichiararono a favore della rivoluzione. Il 28 marzo una grande massa di cittadini si riunì nei pressi dell’Hôtel de Ville e salutò festante l’insediamento della nuova assemblea che prese ufficialmente il nome di Comune di Parigi. La popolazione era stremata da mesi di stenti, ma questo evento fece rinascere la speranza. Nei quartieri sorsero club rivoluzionari, comitati e gruppi in sostegno della Comune. In ogni angolo della metropoli, si moltiplicarono iniziative di solidarietà e piani per la costruzione di un mondo nuovo. La parola d’ordine fu condividere. Militanti come Louise Michel funsero da esempio per il loro spirito di abnegazione – Victor Hugo scrisse di lei: “facevi ciò che fanno le grandi anime folli. Glorificavi coloro che vengono schiacciati e sottomessi”. Tuttavia, la Comune non visse grazie all’impulso di un leader o di poche figure carismatiche. La sua principale caratteristica fu la diffusa consapevolezza di aver dato vita a un’inedita impresa collettiva. Donne e uomini si associarono volontariamente per un progetto comune di liberazione. L’autogestione non fu più considerata un’utopia. L’autoemancipazione venne ritenuta imprescindibile.

Tra i primi decreti di emergenza emanati per arginare la dilagante povertà vi furono il blocco del pagamento degli affitti e la sospensione della vendita degli oggetti che si trovavano presso il monte di pietà. Il 19 aprile, la Comune redasse la Dichiarazione al popolo francese, nella quale furono conclamati “la garanzia assoluta della libertà individuale, di coscienza e di lavoro” e “l’intervento permanente dei cittadini nelle vicende comunali”. Venne affermato, inoltre, che il conflitto tra Parigi e Versailles “non poteva terminare con illusori compromessi” e che il popolo aveva “il dovere di lottare e vincere!” Ben più significativi dei contenuti di questo testo furono gli atti concreti attraverso i quali i militanti della Comune si batterono per una trasformazione totale del potere politico. Essi avviarono un insieme di riforme che miravano a mutare profondamente non solo le modalità con le quali la politica veniva amministrata, ma la sua stessa natura.

La democrazia diretta della Comune prevedeva la revocabilità degli eletti. I magistrati e le altre cariche pubbliche non sarebbero stati designati arbitrariamente, come in passato, ma nominati a seguito di concorso o di elezioni trasparenti. Occorreva impedire la professionalizzazione della sfera pubblica. Le decisioni politiche non spettavano a gruppi ristretti di funzionari e tecnici, ma dovevano essere prese dal popolo. Eserciti e forze di polizia non sarebbero più state istituzioni separate dal corpo della società. La separazione tra Stato e chiesa fu reputata una necessità irrinunciabile.
Il cambiamento politico non poteva, però, esaurirsi con l’adozione di queste misure. Doveva intervenire ben più alla radice. Bisognava ridurre drasticamente la burocrazia trasferendo l’esercizio del potere nelle mani del popolo. La sfera sociale doveva prevalere su quella politica e quest’ultima – come aveva già sostenuto Henri de Saint-Simon – non sarebbe più esistita come funzione specializzata, poiché sarebbe stata progressivamente assimilata dalle attività della società civile. Tutto ciò avrebbe consentito la realizzazione del disegno auspicato dai comunardi: una repubblica costituita dall’unione di libere associazioni veramente democratiche che sarebbero divenute promotrici dell’emancipazione di tutte le sue componenti. Era l’autogoverno dei produttori.
Proprio per queste ragioni, la Comune riteneva che le riforme sociali fossero ancor più rilevanti dei rivolgimenti dell’ordine politico. Esse rappresentavano la sua ragion d’essere, il termometro attraverso il quale misurare la fedeltà ai princìpi per i quali era sorta, l’elemento di maggiore distinzione rispetto alle rivoluzioni che l’avevano preceduta. La Comune ratificò più di un provvedimento dal chiaro connotato di classe. Le scadenze dei debiti vennero procrastinate di tre anni e senza il pagamento degli interessi. Gli sfratti per mancato versamento degli affitti vennero sospesi e si dispose che le abitazioni vacanti venissero requisite a favore dei senzatetto. Si organizzarono progetti per limitare la durata della giornata lavorativa e furono stabiliti minimi salariali accettabili. Venne sancita l’interdizione al cumulo di più lavori e fissato un limite massimo agli stipendi di quanti ricoprivano incarichi pubblici. Si fece quanto possibile per aumentare gli approvvigionamenti alimentari e per diminuire i prezzi. Il lavoro notturno nei panifici fu vietato e vennero create alcune macellerie municipali. Furono implementate diverse misure di assistenza sociale per i soggetti più deboli e venne deliberata la fine alla discriminazione esistente tra figli legittimi e naturali.

Tutti i comunardi ritennero che la funzione dell’educazione fosse un fattore indispensabile per la liberazione degli individui e furono consapevoli che essa rappresentava la base per ogni serio e duraturo mutamento sociale e politico. Pertanto, si svilupparono molteplici e rilevanti dibattiti intorno alle proposte di riforma del sistema educativo. La scuola sarebbe stata resa obbligatoria e gratuita per tutte e tutti. L’insegnamento di stampo religioso sarebbe stato sostituito da quello laico e le spese di culto non sarebbero più gravate sul bilancio dello Stato. Nelle apposite commissioni istituite e sugli organi di stampa apparvero numerose prese di posizione che evidenziarono quanto fosse fondamentale la scelta di investire sull’educazione femminile. Per diventare davvero “un servizio pubblico”, la scuola doveva offrire uguali opportunità ai “bambini dei due sessi”. Infine, essa doveva vietare “distinzioni di razza, nazionalità, fede o posizione sociale”. Agli avanzamenti di carattere teorico, si accompagnarono prime iniziative pratiche e, in più di un arrondissement, migliaia di bambini della classe lavoratrice ricevettero gratuitamente i materiali didattici ed entrarono, per la prima volta, in un edificio scolastico. La Comune legiferò anche misure di carattere socialista. Si decise che le officine abbandonate dai padroni fuggiti fuori città sarebbero state consegnate ad associazioni cooperative di operai. Inoltre, i teatri vennero collettivizzati e affidati alla gestione di quanti si erano uniti nella “Federazione degli artisti di Parigi”, presieduta dal pittore Gustave Courbet.

La Comune fu molto più degli atti approvati dalla sua assemblea legislativa. Ambì finanche ad alterare energicamente lo spazio urbano, come dimostra la scelta di distruggere la Colonna Vendôme, ritenuta monumento alla barbarie e riprovevole simbolo della guerra. La Comune visse grazie a una straordinaria partecipazione di massa e a un solido spirito di mutua assistenza. In questo contesto, le donne, pur se ancora private del diritto al voto, svolsero una funzione essenziale per la critica dell’ordine sociale esistente. Trasgredirono le norme della società borghese e affermarono una nuova identità in opposizione ai valori della famiglia patriarcale. Uscirono dalla dimensione privata e si occuparono della sfera pubblica. Costituirono la “Unione delle donne” ed ebbero un ruolo centrale nell’identificazione di battaglie sociali strategiche. Ottennero la chiusura delle case di tolleranza, conseguirono la parità di salario con gli insegnanti maschi, rivendicarono pari diritti nel matrimonio, promossero la nascita di camere sindacali esclusivamente femminili. Quando, alla metà di maggio, la situazione militare volse al peggio, con le truppe di Versailles giunte alle porte di Parigi, le donne presero le armi e riuscirono anche a formare un loro battaglione. In molte esalarono l’ultimo respiro sulle barricate o vennero deportate in Nuova Caledonia dopo processi sommari. Il giovane Arthur Rimbaud descrisse la capitale francese come una “città dolorosa, quasi morta”.

Eppure, la Comune di Parigi incarnò contemporaneamente l’idea astratta e il cambiamento concreto. Divenne sinonimo del concetto stesso di rivoluzione, un’esperienza ontologica della classe proletaria. Mutò le coscienze dei lavoratori e la loro percezione collettiva. A distanza di 150 anni, il suo rosso vessillo continua a sventolare e ci ricorda che un’alternativa è sempre possibile.


Tanti auguri Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg nasceva 150 anni fa. Si sentiva a casa sua «in tutto il mondo, ovunque ci siano nubi e uccelli e lacrime umane», innovò il marxismo e capì che la classe operaia doveva lottare contro la guerra e la militarizzazione della società.

Quando nell’agosto del 1893, al Congresso di Zurigo della Seconda internazionale, dalla presidenza dell’assemblea fu menzionato il suo nome, Rosa Luxemburg si fece spazio senza indugiare tra la platea di delegati e militanti che riempivano la sala stracolma. Era una delle poche donne presenti al consesso, ancora giovanissima, di corporatura minuta e con una deformazione all’anca che la costringeva a zoppicare sin dall’età di cinque anni. Nei presenti, il suo apparire sembrò destare l’impressione di trovarsi dinanzi a una persona fragile.

La questione nazionale
Stupì tutti, invece, quando, dopo essere salita su una sedia, per farsi ascoltare meglio, riuscì ad attirare l’attenzione dell’intero uditorio, sorpreso dall’abilità della sua dialettica e affascinato dall’originalità delle sue tesi. Per la Luxemburg, infatti, la rivendicazione centrale del movimento operaio polacco non doveva essere la costruzione di una Polonia indipendente, come veniva ripetuto all’unanimità. La Polonia era ancora tripartita tra gli imperi tedesco, austro-ungarico e russo; la sua riunificazione risultava di difficile attuazione, mentre ai lavoratori andavano prospettati obiettivi realistici che avrebbero dovuto generare lotte pratiche nel nome di bisogni concreti.

Con un ragionamento che sviluppò negli anni a venire, ammonì quanti enfatizzavano la tematica nazionale, convinta che la retorica del patriottismo sarebbe stata pericolosamente utilizzata per indebolire la lotta di classe e relegare in secondo piano la questione sociale. Alle tante oppressioni patite dal proletariato non occorreva aggiungere anche «l’asservimento alla nazionalità polacca». Per fare fronte a questa insidia, la Luxemburg auspicò la nascita di autogoverni locali e il rafforzamento delle autonomie culturali che, una volta instaurato il modo di produzione socialista, avrebbero fatto da argine al possibile ripresentarsi di rigurgiti sciovinistici e ad altre nuove discriminazioni. Attraverso l’insieme di queste riflessioni, distinse la questione nazionale da quella dello Stato nazione.

Un’esistenza controcorrente
L’episodio del Congresso di Zurigo simboleggia l’intera biografia intellettuale di colei che va annoverata tra i più significativi esponenti del socialismo novecentesco. Nata 150 anni fa, il 5 marzo del 1871, a Zamość, nella Polonia sotto occupazione zarista, Luxemburg trascorse la sua esistenza ai margini, lottando contro numerose avversità e andando sempre controcorrente. Di origini ebraiche, disabile per tutta la vita, all’età di ventisei anni si trasferì in Germania, dove riuscì a ottenere la cittadinanza solo grazie a un matrimonio combinato. Pacifista convinta al tempo della Prima guerra mondiale, venne incarcerata più volte per le sue idee. Fu ardente nemica dell’imperialismo durante una nuova e violenta stagione coloniale. Si batté contro la pena di morte nel mezzo della barbarie. Soprattutto, fu una donna e visse in mondi abitati così esclusivamente da soli uomini. Fu spesso l’unica presenza femminile sia all’Università di Zurigo, dove conseguì il dottorato nel 1897 con una tesi su Lo sviluppo industriale della Polonia, che tra i dirigenti del Partito socialdemocratico tedesco. In quest’ultimo venne nominata prima insegnante donna della scuola centrale di formazione dei quadri – incarico ricoperto tra il 1907 e il 1914, periodo nel quale elaborò il progetto incompiuto di scrivere una Introduzione all’economia politica (1925) e pubblicò L’accumulazione del capitale (1913).

A queste difficoltà si aggiunsero il suo spirito indipendente e la sua autonomia – una virtù spesso penalizzante anche nei partiti politici di sinistra. Con la sua vivida intelligenza, Luxemburg aveva la capacità di elaborare nuove idee e di saperle difendere, senza alcuna timorosa riverenza e, anzi, con una schiettezza disarmante, al cospetto di figure del calibro di August Bebel o Karl Kautsky che avevano avuto il privilegio di formarsi attraverso il contatto diretto con Engels. Il suo fine non fu quello di ripetere le parole di Marx, ma di interpretarle storicamente e, ove necessario, ampliare la sua analisi. Manifestare liberamente la propria opinione ed esercitare il diritto di esprimere posizioni critiche all’interno del partito furono per lei esigenze irrinunciabili. Il partito doveva essere uno spazio dove potevano convivere posizioni diverse, se quanti vi aderivano avevano in comune i suoi principi fondamentali.

Partito, sciopero, rivoluzione
Riuscì a superare i tanti ostacoli incontrati e, in occasione della svolta riformista di Eduard Bernstein e dell’acceso dibattito che ne seguì, divenne figura nota nella principale organizzazione del movimento operaio europeo. Se, nel celebre testo I presupposti del socialismo e i compiti della socialdemocrazia (1897-99), Bernstein aveva invitato il partito a recidere i ponti con il passato e a trasformarsi in una mera forza gradualista, nello scritto Riforma sociale o rivoluzione? (1898-99), la Luxemburg replicò fermamente che, in ogni periodo della storia, «il lavoro di riforma sociale si muove solo nella direzione e per il tempo corrispondenti alla spinta che gli è stata impressa dall’ultima rivoluzione». Quanti ritenevano di riuscire a conseguire nel «pollaio del parlamentarismo borghese» gli stessi cambiamenti che la conquista rivoluzionaria del potere politico avrebbe reso possibile, non avevano scelto una «via più tranquilla e più sicura verso la stessa meta, ma, piuttosto, un’altra meta». Avevano accettato il mondo borghese e la sua ideologia.

Il punto non era migliorare l’ordine sociale esistente, ma costruirne uno del tutto differente. Il ruolo dei sindacati – che potevano strappare ai padroni solo condizioni più favorevoli all’interno del modo di produzione capitalistico – e la Rivoluzione Russa del 1905 le diedero la possibilità di meditare su quali potessero essere i soggetti e le azioni in grado di determinare una trasformazione radicale della società. Nel libro Sciopero generale, partito e sindacati (1906), analizzando i principali avvenimenti succedutisi in vaste aree dell’impero russo, mise in risalto l’importanza fondamentale degli strati più larghi del proletariato, generalmente non organizzati. Per lei erano le masse le vere protagoniste della storia. Osservò che in Russia «l’elemento della spontaneità» (concetto per il quale fu accusata di avere sopravvalutato la coscienza di classe presente nelle masse) era stato rilevante e che, pertanto, il ruolo del partito non doveva essere quello di preparare lo sciopero, ma di mettersi alla «guida politica di tutto il movimento».

Per la Luxemburg, lo sciopero di massa è «il polso vivente della rivoluzione e, al tempo stesso, ne è la più potente ruota motrice». Esso è la vera e propria «forma di manifestazione della lotta proletaria nella rivoluzione». Non è un’azione singola, ma il momento riassuntivo di un lungo periodo di lotta di classe. Non si poteva trascurare, inoltre, che «nella tormenta del periodo rivoluzionario si modifica il proletariato, per cui persino il bene più alto, la vita, per tacere del benessere materiale, possiede un valore minimo in confronto all’ideale di lotta». I lavoratori acquisivano coscienza e maturità. Ciò era testimoniato dagli scioperi di massa in Russia, passati «del tutto inavvertitamente dal terreno economico a quello politico, cosicché era quasi impossibile tracciare una linea di confine tra i due».

Comunismo significa libertà e democrazia
Sul tema delle forme dell’organizzazione politica e, più specificamente, sul ruolo del partito, in quegli anni, Luxemburg fu protagonista di un altro violento contrasto, questa volta con Lenin. Nel testo Un passo avanti, due passi indietro (1904), il leader bolscevico difese le scelte prese al secondo congresso del Partito operaio socialdemocratico russo e concepì il partito come un nucleo compatto di rivoluzionari di professione, un’avanguardia che doveva guidare le masse. Luxemburg obiettò in Problemi di organizzazione della socialdemocrazia russa (1904) che un partito estremamente centralizzato generava una dinamica molto pericolosa: «l’obbedienza cieca dei militanti all’autorità centrale». Il partito doveva sviluppare la partecipazione sociale, non soffocarla, «mantenere vivo il giusto apprezzamento per le forme di lotta». Marx aveva scritto che «ogni passo del movimento reale era più importante di una dozzina di programmi». Luxemburg estese questo postulato e affermò che «i passi falsi che compie un reale movimento operaio sono, sul piano storico, incommensurabilmente più fecondi e più preziosi dell’infallibilità del migliore comitato centrale».

Questa polemica acquisì ancora maggiore rilevanza dopo la rivoluzione sovietica del 1917, alla quale lei offrì il suo appoggio incondizionato. Preoccupata dagli eventi che si susseguivano in Russia (a partire dalle modalità con le quali si cominciò ad affrontare la riforma agraria), la Luxemburg fu la prima, nel campo comunista, a osservare che un «regime di prolungato stato d’assedio» avrebbe esercitato «un’influenza degradante sulla società». Nello scritto postumo La rivoluzione russa (1922 [1918]), ribadì che la missione storica del «proletariato giunto al potere» era quella di «creare una democrazia socialista al posto della democrazia borghese, non di distruggere ogni forma di democrazia». Per lei comunismo significava una «più attiva e libera partecipazione delle masse popolari in una democrazia senza limiti» che non contemplava capi infallibili a guidarle. Un orizzonte politico e sociale veramente diverso sarebbe stato raggiunto soltanto attraverso questo complicato processo e non se l’esercizio della libertà fosse stato «riservato solo ai partigiani del governo e ai membri di un partito unico».

Fu fermamente convinta che «il socialismo, per sua natura, non può essere elargito dall’alto». Esso avrebbe dovuto espandere la democrazia, non ridurla. Affermò che si poteva «decretare ciò che è negativo, la distruzione, ma non ciò che è positivo, la costruzione». Questo era un «terreno vergine» e soltanto «l’esperienza avrebbe potuto correggere e aprire nuove vie». La Lega di Spartaco – nata nel 1914, dopo la rottura con il Partito socialdemocratico tedesco, e divenuta poi Partito comunista tedesco – avrebbe preso il potere solo «mediante la chiara e indubitabile volontà della grande maggioranza delle masse proletarie di tutta la Germania».

Pur praticando opzioni politiche opposte, socialdemocratici e bolscevichi avevano entrambi erroneamente concepito democrazia e rivoluzione come due processi tra loro alternativi. Al contrario, il cuore della teoria politica della Luxemburg era incentrato sulla loro indissolubile unità. Il suo lascito venne schiacciato proprio tra queste due forze: i socialdemocratici, complici del suo brutale assassinio, avvenuto a soli 47 anni per mano delle milizie paramilitari, la combatterono senza esclusione di colpi per gli accenti rivoluzionari delle sue riflessioni, mentre gli stalinisti si guardarono bene dal diffonderne l’eredità a causa del carattere critico e libertario del suo pensiero.

Contro il militarismo, la guerra e l’imperialismo
L’altro cardine dei suoi convincimenti e della sua militanza fu il binomio opposizione alla guerra e agitazione antimilitarista. Su questi temi la Luxemburg fu capace di ammodernare il bagaglio teorico della sinistra e di fare approvare chiaroveggenti risoluzioni ai congressi della Seconda internazionale che, se non fossero state ignorate, avrebbero intralciato i piani orditi dai fautori del primo conflitto bellico mondiale. La funzione degli eserciti, il costante riarmo e il ripetersi delle guerre non dovevano essere intesi solo mediante le categorie classiche dell’Ottocento.

Si trattava, come era stato più volte affermato, di forze che reprimevano le lotte operaie, di strumenti utili agli interessi della reazione e che, inoltre, producevano divisioni nel proletariato, ma essi rispondevano anche a una precisa finalità economica del tempo. Il capitalismo necessitava dell’imperialismo e della guerra, persino in epoca di pace, per accrescere la produzione, così come per conquistare, appena se ne presentavano le condizioni, nuovi mercati nelle periferie coloniali extra-europee. Come dichiarò in L’accumulazione del capitale, «la violenza politica non era che il veicolo del processo economico». A tale affermazione seguì una delle tesi più controverse della sua opera, ovvero che il riarmo fosse indispensabile per fronteggiare l’espansione produttiva del capitalismo.

Era uno scenario molto diverso dalle ottimistiche rappresentazioni dei riformisti e, per descriverlo al meglio, Luxemburg utilizzò uno slogan destinato ad avere grande successo: «Socialismo o barbarie». Spiegò che quest’ultima si sarebbe potuta evitare solo grazie alla lotta consapevole delle masse e, poiché l’opposizione al militarismo richiedeva una forte coscienza politica, fu tra i più convinti sostenitori dello sciopero generale contro la guerra – un’arma che molti a sinistra, Marx compreso, sottovalutarono. Il tema della difesa nazionale doveva essere usato contro i nuovi scenari bellici e la parola d’ordine «guerra alla guerra!» doveva diventare «il punto cruciale della politica proletaria». Come scrisse in La crisi della socialdemocrazia (1916), nota anche con il titolo di Juniusbroschüre, la Seconda internazionale era implosa per non essere riuscita a «realizzare una tattica e un’azione comune del proletariato in tutti i paesi». Pertanto, da quel momento in avanti, il proletariato doveva avere come «scopo principale», anche in tempo di pace, quello di «lottare contro l’imperialismo e di impedire le guerre».

Senza perdere la tenerezza
Cosmopolita, cittadina di «ciò che verrà», disse di sentirsi a casa sua «in tutto il mondo, ovunque ci siano nubi e uccelli e lacrime umane». Appassionata di botanica e amante degli animali, come traspare dalla lettura del suo epistolario, fu una donna di straordinaria sensibilità, che rimase in lei intatta nonostante le amare esperienze riservatele dalla vita. Per la co-fondatrice della Lega di Spartaco la lotta di classe non si esauriva con l’aumento del salario. Luxemburg non volle essere una mera epigona e il suo socialismo non fu mai economicista.

Immersa nei drammi del suo tempo, cercò di innovare il marxismo senza porne in questione le fondamenta. Il suo tentativo è un monito costante per le forze di sinistra, affinché non limitino la loro azione politica al conseguimento di blandi palliativi e non rinuncino all’idea di mutare lo stato di cose esistenti. Il modo in cui visse, la capacità con la quale riuscì a realizzare parallelamente elaborazione teorica e agitazione sociale, sono una lezione straordinaria, inalterata nel tempo, che parla alla nuova generazione di militanti che ha scelto di continuare le tante battaglie da lei intraprese.


Happy 150th Birthday, Rosa Luxemburg

One hundred and fifty years ago today, the Polish Marxist thinker and organizer Rosa Luxemburg was born. She is, without question, one of the towering figures in the entire history of the socialist movement.

In August 1893, when the chair called on her to speak at a session of the Zurich Congress of the Second International, Rosa Luxemburg made her way without hesitation through the crowd of delegates and activists packed into the hall. She was one of the few women present, still in the flush of youth, slight of build, and with a hip deformity that had forced her to limp since the age of five. The first impression she gave to those who saw her was of a frail creature indeed. But then, standing on a chair to make herself better heard, she soon captivated the whole audience with the skill of her reasoning and the originality of her positions.

In her view, the central demand of the Polish workers’ movement should not be an independent Polish state, as many had maintained. Poland was still under tripartite rule, divided between the German, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian empires; its reunification was proving difficult to achieve, and the workers should set their sights on objectives that would generate practical struggles in the name of particular needs.

In a line of argument that she would develop in the years to come, she attacked those who concentrated on national issues and warned that the rhetoric of patriotism would be used to play down class struggle and to push the social question into the background. There was no need to add “subjection to Polish nationality” to all the forms of oppression suffered by the proletariat, she argued.

Against the Current
The intervention at the Zurich Congress symbolized the whole intellectual biography of a woman who should be considered among the most significant exponents of twentieth-century socialism. Born a hundred fifty years ago, on March 5, 1871, in Zamość in Tsarist-occupied Poland, Rosa Luxemburg lived her whole life on the margins, grappling with multiple adversities and always swimming against the current. Of Jewish origin, suffering from a lifelong physical handicap, she moved to Germany at the age of twenty-seven and managed to obtain citizenship there through a marriage of convenience.

Being resolutely pacifist at the outbreak of the First World War, she was imprisoned several times for her ideas. She was a passionate enemy of imperialism during a new and violent period of colonial expansion. She fought against the death penalty in the midst of barbarism. And – a central dimension – she was a woman who lived in worlds inhabited almost exclusively by men.

She was often the only female presence, both at Zurich University, where she obtained a doctorate in 1897 with a thesis entitled The Industrial Development of Poland, and in the leadership of German Social Democracy. The party appointed her as the first woman to teach at its central cadre school — a task she performed in the years between 1907 and 1914, during which she published The Accumulation of Capitalism (1913) and worked on the uncompleted project Introduction to Political Economy (1925).

These difficulties were supplemented by her independent spirit and her autonomy — a virtue that often leads to trouble in left-wing parties too. Displaying a lively intelligence, she had the capacity to develop new ideas and to defend them, without awe and indeed with a disarming candor, before such figures as August Bebel and Karl Kautsky (who had had the formative privilege of direct contact with Engels).

Her aim was not to repeat Marx’s words over again, but to interpret them historically and, when necessary, to build further on them. To voice her own opinion freely and to express critical positions within the party was for her an inalienable right. The party had to be a space where different views could coexist, so long as those who joined it shared its fundamental principles.

Party, Strike, Revolution
Luxemburg successfully overcame the many obstacles facing her, and in the fierce debate following Eduard Bernstein’s reformist turn she became a well-known figure in the foremost organization of the European workers’ movement. Whereas, in his famous text The Preconditions of Socialism and the Tasks of Social Democracy (1897–99), Bernstein had called on the party to burn its bridges with the past and to turn itself into a merely gradualist force, Luxemburg insisted in Social Reform or Revolution? (1898–99) that during every historical period “work for reforms is carried on only in the direction given it by the impetus of the last revolution.”

Those who sought to achieve in the “chicken coop of bourgeois parliamentarism” the changes that the revolutionary conquest of political power would make possible were not choosing “a more tranquil, surer and slower road to the same goal,” but rather “a different goal.” They had accepted the bourgeois world and its ideology.

The point was not to improve the existing social order, but to build a completely different one. The role of the labor unions — which could wrest from the bosses only more favorable conditions within the capitalist mode of production — and the Russian Revolution of 1905 prompted some thoughts on the possible subjects and actions that might bring about a radical transformation of society.

In the book The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Union (1906), which analyzed the main events in vast areas of the Russian Empire, Luxemburg highlighted the key role of the broadest, mostly unorganized, layers of the proletariat. In her eyes, the masses were the true protagonists of history. In Russia the “element of spontaneity” — a concept that led some to accuse her of overestimating the class consciousness of the masses — had been important, and consequently the role of the party should not be to prepare the mass strike but to place itself “at the helm of the movement as a whole.”

For Luxemburg, the mass strike was “the living pulse-beat of the revolution” and, at the same time, “its most powerful driving wheel.” It was the true “mode of movement of the proletarian mass, the phenomenal form of the proletarian struggle in the revolution.” It was not a single isolated action but the summation of a long period of class struggle.

Moreover, it could not be overlooked that “in the storm of the revolutionary period,” the proletariat was transformed in such a way that “even the highest good, life — not to speak of material well-being — ha[d] little value in comparison with the ideals of the struggle.” The workers gained in consciousness and maturity. The mass strikes in Russia had shown how, in such a period, the “ceaseless reciprocal action of the political and economic struggles” was such that the one could pass immediately into the other.

Communism Means Freedom and Democracy
On the question of organizational forms and, more specifically, the role of the party, Luxemburg was involved in another heated dispute during those years, this time with Lenin. In One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (1904), the Bolshevik leader defended the positions adopted at the Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, putting forward a conception of the party as a compact nucleus of professional revolutionaries, a vanguard whose task it was to lead the masses.

Luxemburg, by contrast, in Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy (1904), argued that an extremely centralized party set up a very dangerous dynamic of “blind obedience to the central authority.” The party should not stifle but develop the involvement of society, in order to achieve “the correct historical evaluation of forms of struggle.” Marx once wrote that “every step of the real movement is more important than dozens of programs.” And Luxemburg extended this into the claim that “errors made by a truly revolutionary labor movement are historically infinitely more fruitful and more valuable than the infallibility of the best of all possible central committees.”

This clash acquired still greater importance after the Soviet revolution of 1917, to which she offered her unconditional support. Worried by the events unfolding in Russia (beginning with the ways of tackling the land reform), she was the first in the communist camp to observe that “a prolonged state of emergency” would have a “degrading influence on society.”

In the posthumous text The Russian Revolution (1922 [1918]), she emphasized that the historical mission of the proletariat, in conquering political power, was “to create a socialist democracy to replace bourgeois democracy — not to eliminate democracy altogether.” Communism meant “the most active, unlimited participation of the mass of the people, unlimited democracy,” which did not look to infallible leaders to guide it. A truly different political and social horizon would be reached only through a complex process of this kind, and not if the exercise of freedom was reserved “only for supporters of the government, only for the members of one party.”

Luxemburg was firmly convinced that “socialism, by its nature, cannot be bestowed from above”; it has to expand democracy, not diminish it. She wrote that “the negative, the tearing down, can be decreed; the positive, the building up, cannot.” That was “new territory,” and only “experience” would be “capable of correcting and opening new ways.” The Spartacist League, founded in 1914 after a break with the SPD and later to become the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), explicitly stated that it would never take over governmental power “except in response to the clear, unambiguous will of the great majority of the proletarian mass of all of Germany.”

Though making opposite political choices, both Social Democrats and Bolsheviks wrongly conceived of democracy and revolution as two alternative processes. For Rosa Luxemburg, on the contrary, the core of her political theory was an indissoluble unity of the two. Her legacy has been squeezed on both sides: Social Democrats, complicit in her brutal murder at the age of forty-seven at the hands of right-wing paramilitaries, fought her over the years, with no holds barred for the revolutionary accents of her thought, while Stalinists steered clear of making her ideas better known because of their critical, free-spirited character.

Against Militarism, War, and Imperialism
The other pivotal point of Luxemburg’s political convictions and activism was her twin opposition to war and agitation against militarism. Here she proved capable of updating the theoretical approach of the Left and winning support for clear-sighted resolutions at congresses of the Second International, which, though disregarded, were a thorn in the side of supporters of the First World War.

In her analysis, the function of armies, the nonstop rearmament and the repeated outbreak of wars were not to be understood only in the classical terms of nineteenth-century political thinking. Rather, they were bound up with forces seeking to repress workers’ struggles and served as useful tools for reactionary interests to divide the working class. They also corresponded to a precise economic objective of the age.

Capitalism needed imperialism and war, even in peacetime, in order to increase production, as well as to capture new markets as soon as they presented themselves in the colonial periphery outside Europe. As she wrote in The Accumulation of Capital, “political violence is nothing but a vehicle for the economic process” — a judgment that she followed up with one of the most controversial theses in the book, that rearmament was indispensable to the productive expansion of capitalism.

This picture was a long way from optimistic reformist scenarios, and to sum it up Luxemburg used a formula that would resonate widely in the twentieth century: “socialism or barbarism.” She explained that the second term could be avoided only through self-aware mass struggle and, since anti-militarism required a high level of political consciousness, she was one of the greatest champions of a general strike against war — a weapon that many others, including Marx, underestimated.

She argued that the theme of national defense should be used against new war scenarios and that the “War on War!” slogan should become “the cornerstone of working-class politics.” As she wrote in The Crisis of Social Democracy (1916), also known as The Junius Pamphlet, the Second International had imploded because it failed “to achieve a common tactic and action by the proletariat in all countries.” From then on, the “main goal” of the proletariat should therefore be “fighting imperialism and preventing wars, in peace as in war.”

Without Losing Her Tenderness
Acosmopolitan citizen of “what is to come,” Rosa Luxemburg said she felt at home “all over the world, wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears.” She was passionate about botany and loved animals, and we can see from her letters that she was a woman of great sensitivity, who remained at one with herself despite the bitter experiences that life held for her.

For the cofounder of the Spartacist League, the class struggle was not just a question of wage increases. She did not wish to be a mere epigone and her socialism was never economistic. Immersed in the dramas of her time, she sought to modernize Marxism without calling its foundations into question. Her efforts in this direction are a constant warning to the Left that it should not limit its political activity to bland palliatives and give up trying to change the existing state of things.

The way in which she lived, and her success in wedding theoretical elaboration with social agitation, still stands as a beacon to the new generation of militants who have chosen to take up the many battles she waged.


Per Rosa Luxemburg

Quan, a l’agost de 1893, al Congrés de Zuric de la Segona Internacional, la presidència de l’assemblea va cridar el seu nom, Rosa Luxemburg es va obrir pas de pressa entre el públic de delegats i militants que omplia de gom a gom la sala.

Era una de les poques dones presents a l’assemblea, encara molt jove, de talla petita  i amb una deformació al maluc que l’obligava a caminar coixa des de l’edat de cinc anys. La seva aparició semblava suscitar entre els presents la sensació de tenir al davant una persona més aviat fràgil.

La qüestió nacional a Polònia
Però tothom va quedar sorprès quan, després de pujar a una cadira per fer-se sentir millor, va aconseguir atreure l’atenció de tots els assistents per l’habilitat de la seva dialèctica i l’originalitat de les seves tesis, que els va fascinar. En efecte, per a Rosa Luxemburg, l’objectiu central del moviment obrer polonès no havia de ser la construcció d’una Polònia independent, com es repetia de forma unànime. Polònia encara era tripartida entre els imperis alemany, austrohongarès i rus; l’assoliment de la seva reunificació es presentava com una fita força difícil i llunyana, i en canvi calia proposar a la classe treballadora objectius realistes, que haurien de generar lluites pràctiques en nom de necessitats concretes.

Amb un raonament que desenvoluparia en els anys següents, va polemitzar amb aquells que emfatitzaven el tema nacional, des del convenciment que la retòrica del patriotisme s’utilitzaria perillosament per debilitar la lluita de classes i relegar la qüestió social a un segon pla. A les moltes opressions que patia el proletariat, no calia afegir-hi «la subjugació a la nacionalitat polonesa». Per fer front a aquest parany, Luxemburg proposava la implementació d’autogoverns locals i el reforç de les autonomies culturals que, un cop instaurat el mode de producció socialista, actuarien com a barrera contra la possible reaparició de manifestacions de xovinisme i d’altres noves discriminacions. A través del conjunt d’aquestes reflexions, va distingir la qüestió nacional de la de l’estat nació.

Una existència contracorrent
L’episodi del Congrés de Zuric simbolitza tota la biografia intel·lectual de la que hom considera un dels exponents més significatius del socialisme del segle XX. Nascuda fa 150 anys, el 5 de març de 1871, a Zamość, a la Polònia oprimida per l’ocupació tsarista, Luxemburg va passar la seva vida als marges, lluitant contra nombroses adversitats i anant sempre a contracorrent. D’origen jueu, discapacitada de per vida, als vint-i-sis anys es va traslladar a Alemanya, on només va poder obtenir la ciutadania mitjançant un matrimoni de conveniència. Pacifista convençuda a l’època de la Primera Guerra Mundial, va ser empresonada diverses vegades per les seves idees. Va ser una enemiga ardent de l’imperialisme durant una nova i violenta etapa colonial. Va lluitar contra la pena de mort enmig de la barbàrie. Sobretot, va ser una dona que va viure en mons habitats gairebé exclusivament per homes. Sovint va ser l’única presència femenina tant a la Universitat de Zuric, on es va doctorar el 1897 amb una tesi sobre El desenvolupament industrial de Polònia, com a la direcció del Partit Socialdemòcrata Alemany. En aquest partit va ser la primera mestra de l’escola central per a la formació de quadres, càrrec que va ocupar entre 1907 i 1914, període en què va elaborar el projecte inacabat d’escriure una Introducció a l’economia política (1925) i va publicar L’acumulació del capital ( 1913).

A aquestes dificultats s’hi van sumar el seu esperit independent i la seva autonomia —una virtut que no sol ser gaire apreciada tampoc en els partits polítics d’esquerres. Amb la seva viva intel·ligència, Luxemburg tenia la capacitat de desenvolupar noves idees i de saber defensar-les, sense cap temor reverencial, ans al contrari, amb una franquesa desarmant, en presència de figures del nivell d’August Bebel o Karl Kautsky, que havien tingut el privilegi de formar-se a través del contacte directe amb Engels. El seu objectiu mai va ser repetir les paraules de Marx, sinó interpretar-les històricament i, en cas escaient, ampliar-ne l’anàlisi. L’expressió lliure de la seva opinió i l’exercici del dret a manifestar posicions crítiques dins del partit van ser per a ella exigències irrenunciables. El partit havia de ser un espai on poguessin conviure diferents posicions, si els que s’hi integraven compartien els seus principis fonamentals.

Partit, vaga, revolució
Va superar els nombrosos obstacles amb els quals es va trobar i, en el marc del gir reformista d’Eduard Bernstein i del debat acalorat que en va seguir, va esdevenir una figura coneguda en la principal organització del moviment obrer europeu. Si, en el famós text Les premisses del socialisme i les tasques de la socialdemocràcia (1897-99), Bernstein havia convidat el partit a trencar amb el passat i a transformar-se en una simple força reformista, en l’escrit Reforma o Revolució? (1898-99), Luxemburg va respondre amb fermesa que, en tots els períodes de la història, «el treball de reforma social només es mou en la direcció i durant el temps determinats per l’impuls que li hagi estat donat per la darrera revolució». Aquells que creien poder aconseguir en el «galliner del parlamentarisme burgès» els mateixos canvis que hauria aportat la conquesta revolucionària del poder polític, no havien escollit un «camí més tranquil i segur cap al mateix objectiu, sinó un altre objectiu». Havien acceptat el món burgès i la seva ideologia.

La qüestió no era millorar l’ordre social existent, sinó construir-ne un de completament diferent. El paper dels sindicats —que només podien arrencar a les patronals condicions més favorables dins del mode de producció capitalista— i la Revolució Russa de 1905 li van donar l’oportunitat de meditar sobre quins podrien ser els subjectes i les accions capaços de provocar una transformació radical de la societat. En el seu llibre Vaga general, partit i sindicats (1906), tot analitzant els principals esdeveniments que s’havien produït arreu de l’Imperi rus, va destacar la importància fonamental dels sectors més amplis del proletariat, generalment no organitzats. Per a ella, les masses eren les autèntiques protagonistes de la història. Va observar que a Rússia «l’element de l’espontaneïtat» (concepte pel qual va ser acusada d’haver sobreestimat la consciència de classe present a les masses) havia estat rellevant i que, per tant, el paper del partit no hauria d’haver estat la preparació de la vaga, sinó el d’assumir la «direcció política de tot el moviment».

Per a Luxemburg, la vaga de masses és «el pols viu de la revolució, i al mateix temps el seu motor més poderós». És la veritable «forma de manifestació de la lluita proletària en la revolució». No és una acció aïllada, sinó la culminació d’un llarg període de lluita de classes. No es podia tampoc passar per alt que «en la tempesta del període revolucionari, el proletariat canvia, de manera que fins i tot el bé més preuat, la vida, i per descomptat el benestar material, tenen un valor ínfim en comparació amb l’ideal de lluita». Els treballadors adquirien consciència i maduresa. N’eren la prova les vagues massives a Rússia, que havien passat «del terreny econòmic al polític de forma gairebé natural, de manera que era gairebé impossible traçar una línia de separació entre els dos».

Comunisme significa llibertat i democràcia
Pel que fa a les formes de l’organització política i, més concretament, al paper del partit, en aquells anys Luxemburg va protagonitzar una nova encesa polèmica, aquest cop amb Lenin. En el text Un pas endavant, dos passos enrere (1904), el líder bolxevic defensava els acords adoptats pel segon congrés del Partit Obrer Socialdemòcrata de Rússia i concebia el partit com un nucli compacte de revolucionaris professionals, una avantguarda que havia de dirigir les masses. Luxemburg va objectar en Problemes d’organització de la socialdemocràcia russa (1904) que un partit extremadament centralitzat generava una dinàmica molt perillosa: «l’obediència cega dels militants a l’autoritat central». El partit havia de desenvolupar la participació social, no ofegar-la, «mantenir viva la correcta consideració per les formes de lluita». Marx havia escrit que «cada passa del moviment real era més important que una dotzena de programes». Luxemburg va ampliar aquest postulat i va afirmar que «els passos en fals d’un moviment obrer real són, a nivell històric, incommensurablement més fructífers i preciosos que la infal·libilitat del millor comitè central».

Aquesta controvèrsia va adquirir encara més rellevància després de la revolució soviètica de 1917, a la qual va oferir el seu suport incondicional. Preocupada pels esdeveniments que s’anaven produint a Rússia (començant per les modalitats amb què es va abordar la reforma agrària), Luxemburg va ser la primera, en el camp comunista, a observar que un «règim d’estat de setge prolongat» acabaria afectant «de forma degradant la societat». En el seu text pòstum La revolució russa (1922 [1918]), va reiterar que la missió històrica del «proletariat que ha assolit el poder» era la de «crear una democràcia socialista en lloc de la democràcia burgesa, no de destruir totes les formes de democràcia». Per a ella, comunisme significava una «participació més activa i lliure de les masses populars en una democràcia sense límits» que no preveia la presència de líders infal·libles que les guiessin. Un horitzó polític i social realment diferent només podria assolir-se mitjançant un procés complex, i no reservant l’exercici de la llibertat «només als partidaris del govern i als membres d’un partit únic».

Estava fermament convençuda que «el socialisme, per la seva naturalesa, no es pot concedir des de dalt». El socialisme hauria d’ampliar la democràcia, no restringir-la. Va afirmar que es podria «decretar allò que és negatiu, la destrucció, però no el que és positiu, la construcció». Aquest era un «terreny verge» i només «l’experiència podria corregir i obrir nous camins». La Lliga Espartaquista —nascuda l’any 1914, després de la ruptura amb el Partit Socialdemòcrata Alemany, i que més tard passaria a ser el Partit Comunista Alemany— només prendria el poder «per la voluntat clara i inqüestionable de la gran majoria de les masses proletàries de tota Alemanya».

Tot i practicar opcions polítiques oposades, socialdemòcrates i bolxevics havien ambdós concebut erròniament la democràcia i la revolució com dos processos diferenciats o alternatius l’un a l’altre. Per contra, el cor de la teoria política de Luxemburg es centrava en la seva unitat indissoluble. El seu llegat va quedar esclafat entre aquestes dues forces: els socialdemòcrates, còmplices del seu brutal assassinat, quan tenia només 47 anys, a mans de milícies paramilitars, la van combatre sense pietat pels continguts revolucionaris de les seves reflexions, mentre els estalinistes procurarien curosament silenciar el seu llegat a causa del caràcter crític i llibertari del seu pensament.

Contra el militarisme, la guerra i l’imperialisme
L’altra pedra angular de les seves conviccions i la seva militància va ser la combinació d’oposició a la guerra i activisme antimilitarista. Sobre aquestes qüestions, Luxemburg va ser capaç de modernitzar el bagatge teòric de l’esquerra i de fer adoptar resolucions clarividents als congressos de la Segona Internacional que, de no haver estat ignorades, haurien obstaculitzat els plans elaborats pels fautors de la primera guerra mundial. La funció dels exèrcits, el rearmament constant i la repetició de guerres no s’havien d’interpretar només a la llum de les categories clàssiques del segle XIX. Es tractava, com ja s’havia afirmat reiteradament, de forces que reprimien les lluites obreres, eines útils per als interessos de la reacció i que, a més, produïen divisions en el proletariat, però que també responien a un concret propòsit econòmic de l’època. El capitalisme necessitava l’imperialisme i la guerra, fins i tot en temps de pau, per incrementar  la producció, així com per conquerir, tan bon punt les condicions hi fossin favorables, nous mercats en les perifèries colonials extra europees. Tal com va declarar a L’acumulació del capital, «la violència política no és altra cosa que el vehicle del procés econòmic». Aquesta afirmació va ser seguida per una de les tesis més controvertides de la seva obra: que el rearmament era indispensable per afrontar l’expansió productiva del capitalisme.

Era un escenari molt diferent de les representacions optimistes dels reformistes i, per descriure-ho millor, Luxemburg va encunyar un eslògan que tindria un èxit enorme: «socialisme o barbàrie». La barbàrie, va explicar, només es podria evitar mitjançant la lluita conscient de les masses i, atès que l’oposició al militarisme requeria una forta consciència política, es posicionà entre els més ferms partidaris de la vaga general contra la guerra —una arma que molts sectors i exponents de l’esquerra, Marx inclòs, van subestimar. El tema de la defensa nacional s’havia d’utilitzar contra els nous escenaris bèl·lics i l’eslògan «guerra a la guerra!» havia de situar-se «al cor de la política proletària». Com va escriure a La crisi de la socialdemocràcia (1916), també coneguda com a Juniusbroschüre, la Segona Internacional havia fallit per no haver sabut «implementar una tàctica i una acció comunes del proletariat a tots els països». Per tant, a partir d’aquell moment, el proletariat havia de tenir com a «propòsit principal», fins i tot en temps de pau, «lluitar contra l’imperialisme i impedir les guerres».

Sense perdre la tendresa
Cosmopolita, ciutadana «d’allò que vindrà», va dir que se sentia com a casa «arreu del món, allà on hi hagi núvols i ocells i llàgrimes humanes». Apassionada de botànica i amant dels animals, com es desprèn de la lectura del seu epistolari, era una dona d’una sensibilitat extraordinària, que va mantenir intacta malgrat les amargues experiències que la vida li va reservar. Per a la cofundadora de la Lliga Espartaquista, la lluita de classes no acabava amb les pujades salarials. Luxemburg no volia ser un simple epígon i el seu socialisme mai no va ser economicista.

Immersa en els drames de la seva època, va intentar innovar el marxisme sense qüestionar-ne els fonaments. El seu intent és un constant toc d’alerta per a les forces d’esquerra, perquè no limitin la seva acció política a la consecució de pobres pal·liatius i no renunciïn a la idea de canviar l’estat de coses existent. La seva manera de viure, la seva capacitat de realitzar paral·lelament elaboració teòrica i activisme social, són una lliçó extraordinària, inalterada al llarg del temps, que parla a la nova generació de militants que han decidit continuar les moltes batalles que ella havia emprès.


Untuk Rosa Luxemburg, Untuk 150 Tahun Kelahirannya

Ketika diminta berbicara di Kongres Internasional Kedua di Zurich pada Agustus 1893, Rosa Luxemburg, salah satu dari sedikit perempuan yang hadir, berjalan melintasi kerumunan utusan dan aktivis yang memadati aula.

Wajahnya masih belia. Tubuhnya mungil. Masalah di pinggang membuat jalannya pincang sejak usia lima tahun.

Tapi, segala kesan ringkih itu lekas lenyap. Ia sengaja berdiri di atas kursi agar suaranya terdengar. Para hadirin tersihir, terpesona dengan kecakapan bernalar dan orisinalitas pendapat Rosa.

Isu Kebangsaan Polandia
Pada mulanya adalah Polandia.

Dalam pandangan Rosa, pembentukan negara Polandia merdeka tak perlu dijunjung sebagai cita-cita utama gerakan buruh Polandia. Tanah airnya itu masih dikuasai tiga pihak; dibagi oleh kekaisaran Jerman, Austro-Hongaria, dan Rusia. Penyatuan kembali muskil dicapai; sudah semestinya kaum buruh fokus pada agenda-agenda pendorong perjuangan praktis guna memenuhi kebutuhan-kebutuhan khusus.

Lewat corak argumen yang kelak dikembangkan beberapa tahun kemudian, Rosa menyerang siapapun yang menitikberatkan isu-isu kebangsaan. Ia mengingatkan betapa retorika patriotisme bisa digunakan untuk mengerdilkan perjuangan kelas dan mengalihkan perhatian dari isu-isu sosial yang ada. Tak usahlah menuntut proletariat agar “tunduk pada ide kebangsaan Polandia” di tengah berbagai penindasan lain yang mendera mereka—begitulah kira-kira pesannya. Untuk menghindari jebakan ini, Rosa bercita-cita mengembangkan pemerintahan lokal mandiri beserta penguatan otonomi di ranah budaya yang mampu meredam kebangkitan chauvinisme dan berbagai bentuk diskriminasi ketika corak produksi sosialis kelak ditegakkan. Inti dari seluruh refleksi Rosa ini perlunya membedakan isu kebangsaan dan isu negara-bangsa.

Melawan Arus
Argumen di Kongres Zurich adalah pintu masuk menuju kehidupan intelektual Rosa Luxemburg, seorang perempuan yang sudah sepantasnya dianggap salah satu eksponen terpenting sosialisme abad keduapuluh. Lahir 150 tahun silam, tepatnya pada 5 Maret 1871, di Zamość, bagian dari Polandia yang diokupasi Tsar, Rosa menjalani seluruh hidupnya di pinggiran, bergulat dengan begitu banyak situasi serba pelik dan selalu melawan arus. Lahir dari keluarga Yahudi, Rosa bergelut dengan keterbatasan fisik sepanjang hayatnya. Ia pindah ke Jerman pada usia 27 tahun dan menjadi warga negara Jerman lewat pernikahan yang tak didasari cinta. Sebagai seorang pasifis yang gigih selama Perang Dunia I, ia beberapa kali masuk bui karena pemikirannya. Ia sungguh-sungguh memusuhi imperialisme di tengah zaman baru ekspansi kolonial yang penuh kekerasan. Ia berjuang menghapus hukuman mati di tengah merajalelanya barbarisme.

Aspek lain yang tak kalah penting: ia seorang perempuan di lingkungan yang hampir seutuhnya dihuni laki-laki. Rosa seringkali menjadi satu-satunya perempuan, baik di Universitas Zurich—di mana ia meraih gelar doktor pada 1897 dengan tesis bertajuk Perkembangan Industri di Polandia—maupun di jajaran pimpinan Partai Demokrasi Sosial Jerman (SPD). Partai merekrut Rosa sebagai perempuan pengajar pertama di sekolah kader. Kerja itu diembannya sejak 1907 hingga 1914, ketika ia menerbitkan Akumulasi Kapital (1913) dan menggarap proyek yang tak selesai, Pengantar Ekonomi Politik (1925).

Tantangan-tantangan ini mengiringi jiwa Rosa yang merdeka dan mandiri—suatu keutamaan sikap yang tak jarang pula menciptakan masalah di partai-partai kiri. Dengan kecerdasan memikat, Rosa mampu mengembangkan gagasan-gagasan baru dan berani mempertahankannya  di hadapan August Bebel dan Karl Kautsky—dua orang yang mendapat kemewahan akses langsung ke Engels). Segala olah pikir dan debat tak ia lakukan untuk membeo Marx, alih-alih menafsirkannya secara historis dan mengembangkan gagasan-gagasan Marx lebih jauh ketika diperlukan. Bagi Rosa, kemerdekaan berpendapat dan mengambil posisi kritis di dalam partai adalah hak yang tidak dapat diganggu gugat. Partai wajib menjadi rumah bagi beragam pandangan, selama para penghuninya menyepakati prinsip-prinsip dasar yang sama.

Partai, aksi mogok, revolusi
Rosa Luxemburg sukses mengatasi banyak rintangan yang dihadapinya. Dalam perdebatan keras setelah Eduard Bernstein mengambil jalan reformis, nama Rosa kian besar di antara organisasi-organisasi terdepan gerakan buruh Eropa.

Dalam teks yang kini tersohor, Syarat-Syarat Sosialisme dan Tugas-Tugas Demokrasi Sosial (1897-99), Bernstein menyerukan agar partai meninggalkan masa lalu dan berubah menjadi kekuatan yang mampu mendorong perubahan secara gradual. Rosa mengambil posisi berlawanan. Dalam Reformasi Sosial atau Revolusi? (1898-99), ia menyatakan bahwa  dalam setiap periode sejarah “agenda-agenda reformis diterapkan hanya dengan arahan dari revolusi sebelumnya”. Ada perubahan-perubahan yang hanya dimungkinkan oleh perebutan kekuasaan dengan jalan revolusi. Namun, lanjutnya, beberapa orang malah mengais-ngais cita-cita perubahan itu di “kandang ayam parlementarisme borjuis”. Bagi Rosa, orang-orang ini tidak sedang memilih “jalan yang lebih tenang, pasti, dan perlahan menuju tujuan yang sama.” Mereka memilih “tujuan yang berbeda,” merangkul dunia borjuis beserta ideologinya.

Tentu, tujuan yang harus dikejar bukanlah memperbaiki tatanan sosial yang ada, tetapi membangun sesuatu yang sepenuhnya berbeda. Peran serikat buruh—yang hanya mampu menuntut kondisi kerja yang lebih baik tanpa meninggalkan corak produksi kapitalis—dan pecahnya Revolusi Rusia 1905 memicu beberapa gagasan seputar pelaku dan tindakan yang dapat mewujudkan perubahan radikal dalam masyarakat. Dalam Pemogokan Massal, Partai, dan Serikat Buruh (1906) yang menelaah peristiwa-peristiwa besar di Imperium Rusia, Luxemburg menyoroti peran kunci lapisan-lapisan terluas kaum proletar yang mayoritasnya tak terorganisir. Di mata Rosa, massa adalah aktor protagonis sejarah yang sesungguhnya. Di Rusia, “elemen spontanitas”—sebuah konsep yang membuat beberapa tokoh menuduh Rosa terlalu optimis menilai kesadaran kelas massa—senantiasa penting. Konsekuensinya, partai berperan bukan untuk menyiapkan aksi pemogokan massal, alih-alih  menempatkan diri “sebagai nakhkoda gerakan secara keseluruhan,”

Bagi Rosa, pemogokan massal adalah “denyut nadi revolusi” sekaligus “kemudi terkuatnya.” Pemogokan massal adalah “corak khas pergerakan massa proletar, bentuk fenomenal dari perjuangan proletar dalam revolusi.” Pemogokan massal bukan aksi tunggal yang terisolir, melainkan rangkuman dari periode panjang perjuangan kelas. Lebih jauh, kita tidak bisa mengabaikan bahwa “dalam badai zaman revolusi,” kaum proletar ditransformasikan sedemikian rupa sehingga “bahkan kehidupan terbaik—dengan kata lain, kesejahteraan materiil—bernilai kecil jika dibandingkan dengan cita-cita perjuangan tersebut.” Pada titik itu buruh meraih kesadaran dan kedewasaan. Aksi-aksi mogok massal di Rusia telah menunjukkan betapa dalam periode bergemuruh itu “perjuangan-perjuangan ekonomi dan politik saling berbalas tanpa henti” sampai-sampai sulit dikenali perbedaannya.

Komunisme adalah Kemerdekaan dan Demokrasi
Rosa Luxemburg sempat terlibat perdebatan sengit lainnya terkait bentuk organisasi dan peran partai—kali ini dengan Lenin. Dalam Selangkah Maju, Dua Langkah Mundur (1904), sang pemimpin Bolshevik mempertahankan posisi-posisi yang disepakati dalam Kongres Kedua Partai Buruh Demokrasi Sosial Rusia, yaitu konsep tentang partai sebagai organisasi inti yang ketat, yang terdiri atas kaum revolusioner profesional, sebuah organisasi garda depan yang bertugas memimpin massa. Rosa Luxemburg mengambil posisi sebaliknya. Dalam Hal-Ihwal Organisasi dalam Gerakan Demokrasi Sosial Rusia (1904), ia bersikukuh bahwa partai yang terpusat secara ekstrem sejatinya membuka jalan menuju dinamika yang berbahaya, yaitu “ketaatan buta pada otoritas pusat.” Bagi Rosa, partai tidak boleh menghalangi keterlibatan masyarakat, tapi justru harus mengembangkannya, demi mencapai “pembelajaran historis yang tepat mengenai bentuk-bentuk perjuangan.” Marx pernah menulis bahwa “setiap langkah dari gerakan yang riil jauh lebih penting daripada puluhan program.” Rosa Luxemburg menambahkannya: “Kesalahan-kesalahan yang pernah dibuat oleh gerakan buruh revolusioner secara historis jauh lebih bermanfaat ketimbang ketakbersalahan seluruh komite sentral terbaik yang mungkin ada”.

Cekcok ini bahkan semakin relevan setelah Revolusi 1917. Rosa mendukung revolusi Bolshevik  sepenuh hati. Namun, karena gelisah menyaksikan peristiwa-peristiwa yang bergulir di Rusia (dimulai dari cara-cara Bolshevik menangani reforma agraria), Rosa menjadi orang pertama di kubu komunis yang sadar bahwa “keadaan darurat yang diperpanjang” akan membawa “pengaruh buruk pada masyarakat.” Dalam karya anumertanya Revolusi Rusia (1922 [1918]), ia menekankah bahwa dengan merebut kekuasaan politik, kaum proletar menjalankan misi historis: “menciptakan tatanan demokrasi sosialis untuk menggantikan demokrasi borjuis—bukan menghabisi demokrasi.” Baginya, komunisme berarti “demokrasi tanpa batas, dengan partisipasi paling aktif dan tanpa batas dari massa rakyat.” Corak demokrasi seperti ini tak butuh panduan dari para pemimpin yang tak bisa salah. Sebuah cakrawala sosial dan politik yang sungguh berbeda hanya bisa disaksikan melalui proses rumit semacam ini, bukan dalam kondisi di mana kebebasan hanya diperuntukkan bagi “pendukung pemerintah, bagi para anggota satu-satunya partai.”

Rosa Luxemburg meyakini betul bahwa secara hakiki “sosialisme  tidak dapat dipaksakan dari atas”; sosialisme harus memperluas demokrasi, bukan meredupkannya. Bagi Rosa, tindakan untuk “membongkar [tatanan lama]” bisa dilakukan lewat dektrit. Namun, tindakan positif seperti membangun [tatatan baru] tak bisa dilakukan melalui dekrit. Hanya “teritori baru” dan “pengalaman” semata yang akan “sanggup mengoreksi dan membuka pelbagai jalan baru.” Liga Spartakus, yang ia didirikan pada 1914 setelah  perpecahan dalam tubuh SPD dan belakangan menjadi Partai Komunis Jerman (KPD), secara eksplisit menyatakan tidak akan pernah mengambilalih kekuasaan negara “kecuali sebagai respons atas kehendak yang jelas dan bulat dari mayoritas kaum proletar seantero Jerman..

Meski berlawanan secara politik, baik kelompok Sosial-Demokrat maupun Bolshevik sama-sama keliru memahami demokrasi dan revolusi sebagai dua proses yang terpisah. Sebaliknya, bagi Rosa Luxemburg, demokrasi dan revolusi tak terpisahkan—dan itulah inti dari teori politik yang digagasnya. Kelak warisan Rosa pun dihimpit oleh kedua kubu. Kaum Sosial-Demokrat—yang punya peran dalam pembunuhan Luxemburg di tangan paramiliter sayap kanan—menyangkal Rosa selama bertahun-tahun dan menolak aspek revolusioner dari pemikirannya. Di sisi lain, kubu Stalinis tidak tak mau mempopulerkan ide-ide Rosa karena karakternya yang kritis dan berjiwa merdeka.

Melawan militerisme, perang dan imperialisme
Sumbu lain dalam iman politik dan aktivisme Rosa adalah perlawanannya terhadap perang dan militerisme. Di sini ia terbukti mampu memperbarui pendekatan teoritis kaum Kiri dan memenangkan dukungan untuk berbagai keputusan penting di kongres-kongres Internasional Kedua—dan sayangnya, karena itu pula Rosa dianggap duri dalam daging oleh para pendukung Perang Dunia I.

Dalam analisis Rosa, fungsi tentara, penambahan senjata, dan perang-perang baru yang terus meletus tak cukup dipahami lewat pemikiran politik abad ke-19. Perang dan militerisme berkaitan erat dengan kekuatan-kekuatan yang hendak merepresi perjuangan kaum buruh. Perang dan militerisme berfungsi sebagai alat bagi kepentingan kubu reaksioner untuk memecah-belah kelas pekerja. Perang dan militerisme berkaitan erat dengan agenda ekonomi di era itu: kapitalisme membutuhkan imperialisme dan perang bahkan di masa damai untuk menggenjot produksi, sekaligus merebut pasar-pasar baru di tanah jajahan di luar Eropa.

“Kekerasan politik,” tulis Rosa dalam Akumulasi Kapital, “adalah wahana bagi proses ekonomi.” Argumen ini ia dedah lagi dalam sebuah tesis paling kontroversial dalam Akumulasi Kapital: penambahan senjata tak tergantikan perannya bagi ekspansi kapitalisme.

Gambaran ini amat jauh dari skenario-skenario optimistik yang diusung kaum reformis. Luxemburg meringkasnya dalam slogan yang terus bergema sepanjang abad ke-20: “sosialisme atau barbarisme”. Barbarisme, menurut Rosa, bisa dihindari hanya dengan perjuangan massa yang sadar posisi. Karena perjuangan anti-militerisme menuntut kesadaran politik tingkat tinggi, Rosa menjadi salah satu pendukung terdepan aksi-aksi pemogokan massal guna melawan perang—strategi yang diremehkan oleh banyak tokoh, termasuk Marx. Rosa berpendapat bahwa jargon-jargon pertahanan nasional bahkan bisa dipakai untuk melawan skenario-skenario perang teranyar; bahwa slogan “Perang melawan perang!” harusnya menjadi “batu penjuru politik kelas pekerja.” Dalam Krisis Demokrasi Sosial (1916)—yang juga dikenal sebagai Pamflet Junius—ia menulis bahwa Internasional Kedua bubar karena gagal “menyepakati taktik dan aksi bersama kaum proletar di semua negara.” Dari situ, “tujuan utama” kaum proletar seharusnya diarahkan untuk “memerangi imperialisme dan mencegah perang, pada masa damai atau perang.”

Kelembutan Abadi
Rosa Luxemburg adalah seorang kosmopolit dari masa depan.  Ia mengaku kerasan “di seluruh pojok dunia, di mana pun ada awan dan burung dan air mata manusia.” Ia penggila botani dan sangat mencintai hewan. Surat-surat Rosa ditulis oleh seorang perempuan yang memiliki kepekaan luar biasa, dengan jati dirinya yang tetap utuh di tengah sederet pengalaman pahit. Bagi salah satu pendiri Liga Spartakus ini, perjuangan kelas bukan hanya soal kenaikan upah. Ia tak mau menjadi pembebek. Sosialismenya tidak pernah ekonomistik. Rosa yang bergumul dengan gejolak zaman berusaha memodernisasi Marxisme tanpa menggoyahkan fondasi-fondasinya. Dalam hal ini, kerja-kerja Rosa adalah memo yang senantiasa relevan bagi kaum Kiri bahwa mereka seharusnya tidak membatasi aktivitas politik pada upaya-upaya reformis, bahwa mereka tak seharusnya meninggalkan cita-cita untuk mengubah rupa dunia hari ini.

Hayat dan karya Rosa—yang berhasil mengawinkan agitasi dan telaah teoritis—menawarkan pelajaran yang tak lekang oleh waktu kepada generasi baru militan, kepada mereka yang sudah memilih untuk terlibat dengan segala pergumulan yang telah dilalui Rosa.


Por Rosa Luxemburgo

Quando o seu nome foi mencionado, em agosto de 1893, para a presidência da assembleia, no Congresso da Segunda Internacional em Zurique, Rosa Luxemburgo ocupou o seu lugar sem demora, face ao público de delegados e militantes que enchia o abarrotado salão.

Era uma das poucas mulheres presentes na assembleia, ainda muito jovem, de estatura pequena e com uma deformação na anca que a obrigava a coxear desde os cinco anos. A sua aparência pareceu despertar entre os presentes a impressão de estar face a uma pessoa frágil.

A questão nacional

Sem dúvida, surpreendeu toda a gente quando, depois de subir a uma cadeira para se fazer ouvir melhor, conseguiu chamar a atenção de todo o público, surpreendido com a mestria da sua dialética e fascinado com a originalidade das suas teses.

Para Luxemburgo, de facto, a reivindicação central do movimento operário polaco não deveria ser a construção de uma Polónia independente, como se vinha repetindo unanimemente. A Polónia continuava dividida em três, entre os impérios alemão, austro-húngaro e russo; a sua reunificação era difícil de alcançar mas dever-se-ia apresentar objetivos realistas aos trabalhadores que pudessem gerar lutas práticas em nome de necessidades concretas.

Com um raciocínio que desenvolveu nos anos seguintes, admoestou quem enfatizava o tema nacional, convencida de que a retórica do patriotismo seria utilizada de forma perigosa para debilitar a luta de classes e relegar a questão social para segundo plano. Às muitas opressões sofridas pelo proletariado, não era necessário acrescentar “a sua escravatura à nacionalidade polaca”. Para fazer frente a este obstáculo, Luxemburgo esperava que nascessem auto-governos locais e o fortalecimento da autonomia cultural que, uma vez estabelecido o modo de produção socialista, atuariam como uma barreira para o possível ressurgimento de regurgitações chauvinistas e outras novas discriminações. Através destas reflexões, diferenciou a questão nacional da do Estado nacional.

Uma existência a contra-corrente

O episódio do Congresso de Zurique simboliza toda a biografia intelectual daquela que foi um dos expoentes mais significativos do socialismo do século XX. Nascida há 150 anos, a cinco de março de 1871, em Zamość, na Polónia sob ocupação tzarista, Luxemburgo passou toda a sua vida nas margens, lutando contra numerosas adversidades e sempre a contra-corrente. De origem judaica, com uma disfunção permanente, mudou-se aos 26 anos para a Alemanha, onde apenas conseguiu obter a cidadania através de um casamento combinado.

Pacifista convicta na época da Primeira Guerra Mundial, foi encarcerada várias vezes por causa das suas ideias. Foi uma inimiga ardente do imperialismo numa nova e violenta época colonial. Lutou contra a pena de morte no meio da barbárie. Sobretudo, era mulher e viveu em mundos habitados exclusivamente por homens. Amiúde era a única presença feminina tanto na Universidade de Zurique, onde obteve o seu doutoramento em 1897 com uma tese sobre o desenvolvimento industrial da Polónia, como entre os líderes do Partido Social-Democrata Alemão. Foi a primeira mulher a ser professora da escola central para a formação de quadros do partido, cargo ocupou entre 1907 e 1914, período durante o qual elaborou o projeto que deixou por concluir de escrever uma Introdução à Economia Política (1925) e publicou A Acumulação do Capital (1913).

A estas dificuldades somava-se o seu espírito independente e a sua autonomia, virtude que frequentemente penaliza, até nos partidos políticos de esquerda. Com a sua viva inteligência, Luxemburgo teve a capacidade de elaborar novas ideias e da saber defendê-las, sem reverências submissas e, de facto, com uma franqueza desarmante, em presença de figuras do calibre de August Bebel ou de Karl Kautsky, que tinham tido o privilégio de se formar em contacto direto com Engels. O seu objetivo não era repetir as palavras de Marx mas interpretá-las historicamente e, quando fosse necessário, desenvolver a sua análise. Expressar livremente a sua opinião e exercer o direito a expressar posições críticas dentro do partido eram requisitos indispensáveis para ela. O partido tinha de ser um espaço onde pudessem conviver diferentes posições, sempre que os seus filiados compartilhassem os seus princípios fundamentais.

Partido, greve, revolução

Conseguiu superar os numerosos obstáculos que foi encontrando e, devido à viragem reformista de Eduard Bernstein e ao acalorado debate que se seguiu, converteu-se numa figura conhecida na principal organização do movimento operário europeu. Se no famoso texto Os pressupostos do socialismo e as tarefas da social-democracia (1897-99), Bernstein tinha convidado o partido a romper as pontes com o passado e a transformar-se em mera força gradualista, no escrito Reforma Social ou Revolução? (1898-99), Luxemburgo respondeu com firmeza que, em todos os períodos da historia, “a obra de reforma social move-se apenas na direção e durante o tempo que corresponde ao empurrão que lhe deu a última revolução”. Aqueles que acreditavam que podiam conseguir no “galinheiro do parlamentarismo burguês” as mesmas mudanças que a conquista revolucionária do poder político teria tornado possíveis, não tinha escolhido “um caminho mais tranquilo e seguro em direção ao mesmo objetivo, mas outro caminho diferente”. Tinham aceitado o mundo burguês e a sua ideologia.

Não se tratava de melhorar a ordem social existente, mas de construir uma completamente diferente. O papel dos sindicatos – que apenas podiam arrancar aos patrões condições mais favoráveis dentro do modo de produção capitalista – e a Revolução Russa de 1905 deram-lhe a oportunidade de meditar sobre quais podiam ser os sujeitos e as ações capazes de produzir uma transformação radical da sociedade. No seu livro Greve Geral, Partido e Sindicatos (1906), ao analisar os principais acontecimentos que tiveram lugar em vastas áreas do Império Russo, enfatizou a importância fundamental dos estratos mais amplos do proletariado, geralmente desorganizados. Para ela, as massas eram as verdadeiras protagonistas da história. Observou que na Rússia “o elemento da espontaneidade” (conceito pelo qual é acusada de ter sobrestimado a consciência de classe presente nas massas) tinha sido relevante e, portanto, o papel do partido não devia ser preparar a greve mas sim tomar a “direção política de todo o movimento”.

Para Luxemburgo, a greve de massas é “o pulsar vivo da revolução e, ao mesmo tempo, a sua roda motriz mais potente”. É a verdadeira “forma de manifestação da luta proletária na revolução”. Não é uma ação única, mas o momento decisivo de um longo período de luta de classes. Para além disso, não se pode esquecer que “na agitação do período revolucionário, o proletariado muda, de forma que até o bem mais elevado, a vida, para não dizer o bem-estar material, tem um valor mínimo em comparação com o ideal pelo qual se luta”. Os trabalhadores adquiriam consciência e maturidade. Assim o testemunhavam as greves de massas na Rússia que “sem dar-se conta passaram do terreno económico ao político, de maneira que era quase impossível traçar uma linha divisória entre os dois”.

Comunismo significa liberdade e democracia

No tema das formas de organização política e, mais especificamente, do papel do partido, por essa altura, Luxemburgo foi protagonista de outro conflito violento, desta vez com Lenine. No texto Um passo à frente, dois atrás (1904), o líder bolchevique defendeu as decisões tomadas no segundo congresso do Partido Operário Social-Democrata Russo e concebeu o partido como o núcleo compacto de revolucionários profissionais, uma vanguarda que devia liderar as massas. Luxemburgo objetou a esta ideia, em Problemas organizativos da Social-Democracia Russa (1904), que um partido centralizado de forma extremada gerava uma dinâmica muito perigosa: “a obediência cega dos militantes à autoridade central”. O partido devia desenvolver a participação social, não reprimi-la, “manter viva a apreciação justa das formas de luta”. Marx escreveu que “cada passo do movimento real é mais importante do que uma dezena de programas”. Luxemburgo ampliou este postulado e afirmou que “os passos em falso do movimento operário real são, historicamente, incomensuravelmente mais frutíferos e mais preciosos do que a infalibilidade do melhor comité central”.

Esta controvérsia adquiriu ainda maior importância depois da revolução soviética de 1917, à qual Luxemburgo deu o seu apoio incondicional. Preocupada pelos acontecimentos russos (a partir da forma como se iniciou a reforma agrária), Luxemburgo foi a primeira, no campo comunista, a observar que “um regime de estado de sítio prolongado” tinha exercido “uma influência degradante na sociedade”. No seu artigo póstumo A Revolução Russa (1918), reiterou que a missão histórica do “proletariado que chegou ao poder” é “criar uma democracia socialista no lugar da democracia burguesa, não destruir toda a forma de democracia”.

Para ela, o comunismo significava “uma participação mais ativa e mais livre das massas populares numa democracia sem limites” que não contava com líderes infalíveis que as guiassem. Um horizonte político e social verdadeiramente diferente apenas podia ser alcançado através deste complicado processo e sem que o exercício da liberdade estivesse “reservado exclusivamente aos partidários do governo e aos membros de um partido único”.

Estava firmemente convencida de que “o socialismo, pela sua natureza, não se pode decretar a partir de cima”. Este era “território virgem” e apenas “a partir da experiência se poderia corrigir e abrir novos caminhos”. A Liga Espartaquista – nascida em 1914, depois da ruptura com o Partido Social-Democrata Alemão, que logo se iria converter em Partido Comunista Alemão – apenas tomaria o poder “medidante a vontade clara e inquestionável da grande maioria das massas proletárias de toda a Alemanha”.

A partir da prática de opções políticas opostas, os social-democratas e os bolcheviques tinham concebido erroneamente a democracia e a revolução como dois processos mutuamente alternativos. Pelo contrário, o coração da teoria política de Luxemburgo centrou-se na sua unidade indissolúvel. O seu legado ficou esmagado precisamente entre estas duas forças: os social-democratas, cúmplices do seu brutal assassinato, ocorrido aos 47 às mãos das milícias paramilitares, combateram-na sem piedade devido ao tom revolucionário das suas reflexões; enquanto os estalinistas não difundiram o seu legado devido ao carácter crítico e libertário do seu pensamento.

Contra o militarismo, a guerra e o imperialismo

A outra pedra angular das suas convicções e militância foi a combinação da oposição à guerra com a agitação antimilitarista. Nestes temas, Luxemburgo pôde modernizar a bagagem teórica da esquerda e fazer com que nos congressos da Segunda Internacional fossem aprovadas resoluções clarividentes que, se não tivessem sido ignoradas, teriam entorpecido os planos tramados pelos partidários da Primeira Guerra Mundial.

A função dos exércitos, o constante rearmamento e a repetição de guerras que não deviam ser entendidas apenas mediante as categorias clássicas do século XIX. Tratava-se, como se tinha afirmado repetidamente, de forças que reprimiam as lutas operárias, ferramentas úteis para os interesses da reação e que, para além disso, produziam divisões no proletariado, mas que também respondiam a uma finalidade económica precisa da época. O capitalismo necessitava do imperialismo e da guerra, até em tempos de paz, para aumentar a produção, bem como para conquistar, enquanto as condições fossem adequadas, novos mercados nas periferias coloniais fora da Europa. Como escreveu em A Acumulação do Capital, “a violência política é apenas o veículo do processo económico”. A esta afirmação seguiu-se uma das teses mais controversas da sua obra, a saber, que o rearmamento era fundamental para lidar com a expansão produtiva do capitalismo.

Era um cenário muito diferente das representações otimistas dos reformistas e, para descrevê-lo melhor, Luxemburgo utilizou um slogan destinado a ter muito êxito: “socialismo ou barbárie”. Explicou que esta apenas podia evitar-se graças à luta consciente das massas e, dado que a oposição ao militarismo requeria uma forte consciência política, estava entre os mais acérrimos partidários da greve geral contra a guerra – uma arma que muitos na esquerda, Marx incluído, tinham subestimado. O tema da defesa nacional devia ser utilizado contra os novos cenários bélicos e o lema “guerra contra a guerra” converter-se-ia no “núcleo da política proletária”.

Como escreveu em A crise da social-democracia (1916), também conhecido como Juniusbroschüre, a Segunda Internacional tinha implodido por não poder “levar a cabo uma tática e uma ação comum do proletariado em todos os países”. Assim, a partir desse momento, o proletariado devia ter como “objetivo principal”, mesmo em tempos de paz, “lutar contra o imperialismo e prevenir as guerras”.

Sem perder a ternura

Cosmopolita, cidadã “do que virá”, assegurou sentir-se como em casa “em todo o mundo, onde quer que haja nuvens e pássaros e lágrimas humanas”. Apaixonada da botânica e amante dos animais, como se depreende da leitura da sua correspondência, foi uma mulher de extraordinária sensibilidade, que conservou intacta apesar das amargas experiências que a vida lhe reservou. Para a co-fundadora da Liga Espartaquista, a luta de classes não acabava com o aumento dos salários. Luxemburgo não queria ser um mero epígono e o seu socialismo nunca foi economicista.

Imersa nos dramas do seu tempo, procurou inovar o marxismo sem questionar os seus fundamentos. A sua tentativa é uma advertência constante para as forças da esquerda para que não limitem a sua ação política à consecução de paliativos suaves e não renunciem às ideias de mudar o estado de coisas existente. A forma como viveu, a habilidade com a qual conseguiu levar a cabo em paralelo a sua elaboração teórica e a agitação social, são uma lição extraordinária, inalterada pelo tempo, que fala a uma nova geração de militantes que optou por continuar as múltiplas batalhas que Luxemburgo empreendeu.