The Junius Pamphlet
The voting of war credits in August 1914 was a shattering moment in
the life of individual socialists and of the socialist movement in Europe.
Those who had worked for and wholly believed in the ability of organized
labor to stand against war now saw the major social democratic parties
of Germany, France, and England rush to the defense of their fatherlands.
Worker solidarity had proved an impotent myth. Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919)
had for years warned against the stultifying effects of the overly bureaucratized
German Social Democratic Party and the anti-revolutionary tendencies of
the trade unions that played such a large role in the party's policy decisions.
The abdication of 1914 had proved her right but had also dashed the revolutionary
yearnings of a lifetime. While she was able to construct new hope from
the revolutionary opportunities presented by the war, Luxemburg could not
shake the knowledge that, whatever the outcome, the European working class
would pay the greatest price in blood and suffering. Thrice handicapped
- a woman, a Pole, and a Jew - Luxemburg was the most eloquent voice
of the left wing of German Social Democracy, among the most lucid Marxists of her era, and a constant advocate of radical action. She spent
much of the war in jail, where she wrote and then smuggled out the pamphlet
excerpted below. Published under the name "Junius," perhaps a reference
to Lucius Junius Brutus, a legendary republican hero of ancient Rome, the
pamphlet became the guiding statement for the International Group, which
became the Spartacus League and ultimately the Communist Party of Germany
(January 1, 1919). Luxemburg was instrumental in these developments and,
along with Karl Liebknecht (1871-1919), led the Spartacists until their
assasination by the German government on January 15, 1919.
Note that Chapter 4 of this book is typically not published and is difficult to find. In 2003, MIA added Chapter 4 from the Junius Pamphlet printed by
The Merlin Press, London 1967. There were no copyright notices on this pamphlet.