Review: German scholar's view of Dunayevskaya's Luxemburg
by Annelies Laschitza
ROSA LUXEMBURG, FRAUENBEFEIUNG UND MARX’ PHILOSOPHIE
DER REVOLUTION by Raya Dunayevskaya. German translation from the English by
Thomas Laugstien. Preface by Frigga Haug. Hamburg: Argument Verlag, 1998. 215
The author wrote this critical philosophical work mainly
with regard to the unexplored feminist dimension of Rosa Luxemburg. She also
puts special emphasis on the connection with and the conflicts between the
women's movement, the workers' movement, and worldwide immigration. In addition,
she wants to clarify aspects of Marx's late work that have not been considered
with regard to the role of women.
LEARNING FOR FEMINISTS
Frigga Haug read the entire book [ROSA LUXEMBURG,
WOMEN’S LIBERATION AND MARX’S PHILOSOPHY OF REVOLUTION] at one sitting when
it appeared in the USA in 1982. In her preface, she explains her enthusiasm:
1. There is the significance of the author herself. Raya
Dunayevskaya (1910-87) was born a Jew in Ukraine, emigrated as a child with her
family to the U.S., where she lived first in the Jewish and later in the
African-American ghetto. At age 13 she joined a revolutionary group. In the
following years, she became a strong supporter of the American Negro Labor
Expelled by the Communist Party in 1928 due to
"deviation," she turned to the Trotskyists. In 1937-38, she was
Trotsky's Russian-language secretary. In 1939, she broke with him at the time of
the Hitler-Stalin Pact. She is the founder of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S.
2. Rosa Luxemburg is very strongly connected to the
women's movement and the dynamic thought of Marx. 3. Haug urges feminists to
learn--from Luxemburg's stance, from her way of analyzing problems, from her
politics--for their own politics: "To continue Luxemburg's legacy--this is
the message of the greater part of the book, in which she works out and presents
very carefully the problematics of masses and leadership, of direct democracy,
as well as of the relationship between rationality and intuition, and between
reason and spontaneity." (p. 5).
4. Also of importance were the author's anti-economistic
approach to Marx, questions from the women's movement, and the ongoing struggles
of the Third World.
LUXEMBURG, WOMEN'S LIBERATION, MARX
The book is divided into three parts: 1. Rosa Luxemburg
as a theorist, activist, and internationalist; 2. the women's liberation
movement as revolutionary force and reason; 3. Karl Marx, from a critic of
Hegel, to the author of CAPITAL, to the theorist of permanent revolution. This
third part became somewhat independent inasmuch as it directs the reader's
interest to the development of Dunayevskaya's own school of thought,
There is an active group, which is still working around
Dunayevskaya's archive in Chicago, publishes a newspaper, appears at
conventions, and maintains contacts all over the world. Thus, for example, the
participants in the  International Rosa Luxemburg Society meeting in
Chicago were guests and interlocutors of the colleagues of the Raya Dunayevskaya
Memorial Foundation on Wabash Avenue.
The translation into German was made from the new
edition of the book published in 1991. It appeared, with the additions made by
the author in 1983, as a "challenge to the post-Marx Marxists."
Unfortunately the preface by Adrienne Rich, an active figure in the new women's
movement, was not included in the present publication.
"How would it feel to be free and truly
human?" (p. 7) It is this question, asked by Adrienne Rich, Raya
Dunayevskaya, and Rosa Luxemburg, that makes the book worth reading even decades
after its appearance.
As far as the biographical aspects and the history of
Social Democracy are concerned, it is based on the literature of the 1950s and
1960s (Peter Nettl and Carl E. Schorske). In her preface, Frigga Haug makes the
somewhat misleading remark that Rosa Luxemburg was covered under a cloak of
silence in Germany in 1982.
(Translated by Heinz D. Osterle)
This review was published in the journal BEITRAGE ZUR GESCHICHTE DER ARBEITERBEWEGUNG [CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE HISTORY OF THE WORKERS’ MOVEMENT], Vol. 42:3 (2000). A noted Luxemburg scholar, Laschitza was an editor of Luxemburg's collected writings and letters in the former East Germany. In 1996, her book IM LEBENSRAUSCG, TRATZ ALLEDEM ROSA LUXEMBURG: EINE BIOGRAPHIE [IN THE ECSTASY OF LIFE, ROSA LUXEMBURG DESPITE EVERYTHING: A BIOGRAPHY] appeared. An English translation of Frigga Haug's preface was published in NEWS & LETTERS, December 1998.
Published by News and Letters Committees