The Mass Strike

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(1871 - 1919)
Rosa Luxemburg (German: [ˈʁoːza ˈlʊksəmbʊʁk] (About this soundlisten); Polish: Róża Luksemburg; also Rozalia Luksenburg; 5 March 1871 – 15 January 1919) was a Polish Marxist, philosopher, economist, anti-war activist and revolutionary socialist who became a naturalized German citizen at the age of 28. Successively, she was a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). (From :


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The Mass Strike

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This document contains 8 sections, with 29,876 words or 186,954 characters.

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Written and first published: 1906. Source: The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions by Rosa Luxemburg. Publisher: Marxist Educational Society of Detroit, 1925. Translated: Patrick Lavin. Online Version: Rosa Luxemburg Internet Archive ( 1999. Transcription/Markup: A. Lehrer. Almost all works and pronouncements of international socialism on the subject of the mass strike date from the time before the Russian Revolution [of 1905], the first historical experience on a very large scale with the means of struggle. It is therefore evident that they are, for the most part, out-of-date. Their standpoint is essentially that of Engels who in 1873 wrote as follows in his criticism of the revolutionary blundering of the Bakuninists in Spain: “The general strike, in the Bakuninists’ program, is the lever which will be used for introducing the social revolution. One fine morning all th... (From :

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The first revision of the question of the mass strike which results from the experience of Russia relates to the general conception of the problem. Till the present time the zealous advocates of an “attempt with the mass strike” in Germany of the stamp of Bernstein, Eisner, etc., and also the strongest opponents of such an attempt as represented in the trade-union camp by, for example, Bombelburg, stand when all is said and done, on the same conception, and that is the anarchist one. The apparent polar opposites do not mutually exclude each other but, as always, condition, and at the same time, supplement each other. For the anarchist mode of thought is direct speculation on the “great Kladderadatsch,“ on the social revolution merely as an external and inessential characteristic. According to it, what is essential is the whole abstract, unhistorical view of the mass strike and of all the conditions of the proletarian struggle generally. Fo... (From :

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The mass strike, as it appears for the most part in the discussion in Germany, is a very clear and simply thought out, sharply sketched isolated phenomenon. It is the political mass strike exclusively that is spoken of. What is meant by it is a single grand rising of the industrial proletariat springing from some political motive of the highest importance, and undertaken on the basis of an opportune and mutual understanding on the part of the controlling authorities of the new party and of the trade unions, and carried through in the spirit of party discipline and in perfect order, and in still more perfect order brought to the directing committees as a signal given at the proper time, by which committees the regulation of support, the cost, the sacrifice – in a word, the whole material balance of the mass strike – is exactly determined in advance. Now, when we compare this theoretical scheme with the real mass strike, as it appeared in Russia five years ago,... (From :

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We have attempted in the foregoing to sketch the history of the mass strike in Russia in a few strokes. Even a fleeting glance at this history shows us a picture which in no way resembles that usually formed by discussions in Germany on the mass strike. Instead of the rigid and hollow scheme of an arid political action carried out by the decision of the highest committees and furnished with a plan and panorama, we see a bit of pulsating life of flesh and blood, which cannot be cut out of the large frame of the revolution but is connected with all parts of the revolution by a thousand veins. The mass strike, as the Russian Revolution shows it to us, is such a changeable phenomenon that it reflects all the phases of the political and economic struggle, all stages and factors of the revolution. Its adaptability, its efficiency, the factors of its origin are constantly changing. It suddenly opens new and wide perspectives of the revolution when it appears to have already arri... (From :

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Let us now see how far all these lessons which can be learned from the Russian mass strikes are applicable to Germany. The social and political conditions, the history and status of the labor movement are widely different in Germany and Russia. At first sight the inner law of the Russian mass strikes as sketched above may appear to be solely the product of specifically Russian conditions which need not be taken into account by the German proletariat. Between the political and economic struggle in the Russian Revolution there is a very close internal connection; their unity becomes an actual fact in the period of mass strikes. But is not that simply a result of Russian absolutism? In a state in which every form and expression of the labor movement is forbidden, in which the simplest strike is a political crime, it must logically follow that every economic struggle will become a political one. Further, when, contrariwise, the first outbreak of the political revolution has d... (From :

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In connection with this, the question of organization in relation to the problem of the mass strike in Germany assumes an essentially different aspect. The attitude of many trade-union leaders to this question is generally summed up in the assertion: “We are not yet strong enough to risk such a hazardous trial of strength as a mass strike.” Now this position is so far untenable that it is an insoluble problem to determine the time, in a peaceful fashion by counting heads, when the proletariat are “strong enough” for any struggle. Thirty years ago the German trade-unions had 50,000 members. That was obviously a number with which a mass strike on the above scale was not to be thought of. Fifteen years later the trade-unions were four times as strong, and counted 237,000 members. If, however, the present trade-union leaders had been asked at the time if the organization of the proletariat was then sufficiently ripe for a mass strike, they would assure... (From :

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We have seen that the mass strike in Russia does not represent an artificial product of premeditated tactics on the part of the social democrats, but a natural historical phenomenon on the basis of the present revolution. Now what are the factors which in Russia have brought forth this new phenomenal form of the revolution? The Russian revolution has for first task the abolition of absolutism and the establishment of a modern bourgeois-parliamentary constitutional state. It is exactly the same in form as that which confronted Germany in the March 1848 Revolution, and the Great French Revolution of the end of the eighteenth century. But the condition, the historical milieu, in which these formally analogous revolutions took place, are fundamentally different from those of present-day Russia. The essential difference is that between those bourgeois revolutions in the West, and the current bourgeois revolution in the East, the whole cycle of capitalist development has run it... (From :

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The most important desideratum which is to be hoped for from the German working class in the period of great struggles which will come sooner or later is, after complete resoluteness and consistency of tactics, the utmost capacity for action, and therefore the utmost possible unity of the leading social democratic part of the proletarian masses. Meanwhile the first weak attempts at the preparation of great mass actions have discovered a serious drawback in this connection: the total separation and independence of the two organizations of the labor movement, the social democracy and the trade unions. It is clear on a closer consideration of the mass strikes in Russia as well as of the conditions in Germany itself, that any great mass action, if it is not confined to a mere one-day demonstration, but is intended to be a real fighting action, cannot possibly be thought of as a so-called political mass strike. In such an action in Germany the trade-unions would be implicated... (From :


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