… Which translates into the same old same old corrupt pieces of sh*t in power, regime changes that ultimately mean nothing, usurpers and nothing really changing, just a lot of smoke. Two hands of the same body.
So this morning some fool was reminding me of Benazir Bhutto continuously.
The Role of Women
LENIN’S Revolution in November 1917 was mounted against a rival revolutionary regime that had briefly and provisionally brought democracy to Russia in the revolution of March 1917. Lenin’s social revolution was doomed to confinement in one country after the final defeat of the attempt at revolution in Germany in January 1919.
Women were central to both the original victory in St. Petersburg and the final defeat in Berlin. Women had only slowly gained prominence within the revolutionary tradition; but they had assumed special importance within the German and especially the Russian movement. The March Revolution in St. Petersburg was triggered by a mass demonstration for International Women’s Day. The January upheaval in Berlin was ended by the murder of the only revolutionary personality of the era to rival Lenin in stature: Rosa Luxemburg.
As in Brussels in August 1830, so in St. Petersburg in March 1917 a festive popular event had unintended broader consequences. Just as an operatic performance had triggered a national revolution in 1830, so an essentially apolitical women’s demonstration started the chain of events that led to social revolution in 1917. There is a kind of inner logic in both cases. Romantic operatic melodrama was, as we have seen, a symbol of and stimulus to the visceral cause of national revolution. The women’s cause, on the other hand, was equally linked to the more rationalistic, rival tradition of social revolution.
For a final reprise on the story of revolutionaries without power, it might thus be appropriate to turn to the role of women, a largely powerless social group in nineteenth-century .Europe. Their slow emergence to prominence in the broader revolutionary movement reflects the gradual rise of social over national revolution, the replacement of the Franco-Italian-Polish leadership by the German and Russian movements. Women brought special strengths to these latter movements in non-Catholic Europe-enabling each to become a total subculture capableof surviving repression, cooptation, and isolation by authoritarian governments and hostile societies. Women became p articularly involved in revolutionary events during the aftermath of World War I, producing in Rosa Luxemburg perhaps the most authentically prophetic revolutionary of the early twentieth century.
This discussion of the involvement of women in the revolutionary traditions can only scratch the surface of a complex problem. Necessarily excluded from our consistent focus on ideological innovators and leaders are the great bulk of rank-and-file revolutionaries who happened to be female, and of feminists who were more or less revolutionary. At almost any given point throughout the period under consideration, some women simply shared and echoed the political and economic demands being advanced by men. Others sought to change only the social role of women, who were still confined to fixed and subordinate roles in the patriarchal European family system. The former group more or less passively accepted the agenda set by m ale revolutionaries; the latter group only occasionally and episodically identified with the largely male revolutionary movement.
Our discussion will focus on a third category: innovative feminine
revolutionaries, prophetic women who were both original and important within the revolutionary movement. Such women often brought to the broader movement a special aura of moral superiority, born in part out of their very exclusion from power. Their criticism of European society tended to be especially far-reaching, to point towards a social revolution beyond local perspectives. On occasion, they went even beyond the social dimension altogether to suggest new sexual, cultural, and psychological dimensions for revolutionary thought. Because these are subjects of renewed interest at present and of uncertain significance for the future, this final retrospective look at revolutionary origins will focus on women.
As with so much else, the history of women revolutionaries begins in the turmoil of the French Revolution. Thinkers in the Enlightenment had concentrated largely on the limited question of how education would improve the lot of women.1 The otherwise proto-revolutionary Rousseau was the first in a long line of convinced anti-feminists within the French Left. Women played few leading roles in the American Revolution or in the initial stages of the French. A small group of revolutionary feminists soon appeared in France, however. Olympe de Gouges, “the high priestess of feminism,” 2 drafted (and tried to obtain Marie Antoinette’s sponsorship of) a Declaration of the Rights of Women to supplement the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Mary Wollstonecraft rebuked Burke for rejecting the French Revolution, wrote a Vindication of the Rights of Women, and journeyed excitedly to republican Paris in I792. As the wife of the libertarian anarchist William Godwin and mother of the wife of the romantic atheist poet Shelley, she was a kind of matriarch of the female revolutionary tradition despite her lack of influence in her native England or in Scandinavia, to which she repaired after leaving revolutionary France.3
Bonneville’s Social Circle was almost alone in seeking radical equality for women, largely through its remarkable feminist spokesperson, the Dutch Baroness Etta Palm d’Aelders.4 The only thinker to link a radical social vision with revolutionary ideas about the role of women (and speculation about the polymorphous possibilities of sexual experience) was, as we have seen, a man: the inventor of the word Communism, Restif de la Bretonne.
The dominant spirit of the French revolutionary era was that of Les Revolutions de Paris, advising women to stay home and “knit trousers for our brave sans-cullotes.” 5 “Politically, women at the close of the Revolution were worse off than at the beginning” ; 6 and, in the settlement of ISIS, women gained no new rights except of inheritance and divorce-with the latter soon revoked by Louis XVIII.
The temper and legacy of the Napoleonic era was aggressively masculine. There had been a kind of struggle within France between the feminine world of the salons and the masculine world of the grande armee. Napoleon’s most tenacious internal foes had been women: first the ideologues gathered around the last of the salon mother figures, Mme. Helvetius; and then the liberal romantics gathered around Mme. de Stael.7
The revolutionaries of the Restoration era in continental Europe were exclusively masculine: small bands of junior officers from the Napoleonic wars and male students who banded together in Masonic-type fraternal organizations. Buonarroti, the pioneer of social revolution, broke with this exclusively m ale recruitment pattern of the early national revolutionaries. In exile in Switzerland during the early Restoration, he sought to work through acquaintances who had taken temporary teaching jobs in girls’ schools to recruit women for his trans-national revolutionary organization. He “always found among women greater disinterestedness, devotion and constancy than among men.” 8 His principal aid claimed to have “created among young l adies a real army of republican blue stockings” B in Switzerland. But Buonarroti’s inner revolutionary organization seems never to have admitted women-apparently because of two problems that he identified: the congenital insolence of men (who treat them as “pieces of domestic furniture”) and the inability of women to get along with each other under stress.10 Prati added his own more venal complaint that women in radical meetings were so unattractive as to cause “the most ardent lover of womankind to make an eternal vow of celibacy.”11
In England feminism proved a reformist rather than a revolutionary cause. The movement for women’s suffrage had begun as early as 1818-1 g. The original version of the People’s Charter called for universal adult suffrage, which was only later revised to manhood suffrage.12 English feminism , like American, moved in the bourgeois mainstream in pursuit of the vote and rarely attached itself to socialism as an ideology or to the proletariat as a class.13
In France, however , a truly revolutionary feminism became a major force between the revolutions of 1830 and 1848. The realm of politics and power was still a man’s world, but the advent of women into journalism brought more ranging moral concerns about society as a whole and a new strain of pacifistic internationalism. Women helped extend horizons beyond the often narrow political perspectives of earlier all male conspiracies to broader visions of a transformed humanity.
The ever-ingenious Saint-Simonians led the way by proclaiming that the coming social revolution would be led by a feminine messiah. Disillusioned with the purely political Revolution of 1830 and with their own failure to establish a new society in Paris under “Father Enfantin” in 1832 (“the year of the father”), a large group of Saint-Simonians proclaimed 1833 “the year of the mother,” named themselves les compagnons de la Femme,14 and set off to the East in search of a female saviour. Their leader, Barrault, proclaimed himself the “Saint Peter of the Feminine Messiah” and s aw favorable omens in volcanic eruptions, the appearance of Halley’s Comet, and the death of Napoleon II (presumably the last possible male messiah). Barrault addressed an appeal To jewish Women, hailing them for rejecting the idea of a male messiah and producing instead the “bankers of kings” and “the industrial and political link among peoples.” Against his belief that the Jews might produce the new feminine messiah, another Saint-Simonian argued that India produced more sensuous goddesses and a more truly “androgynous God” than Jewish “male authoritarianism.”15
There was a kernel of deep seriousness in all of this. The idea that androgyny (the state of Adam before the fall) was the only truly liberated human condition had, since Boehme, been a central concept within the occult tradition. The romantic preoccupation with overcoming “alienation” led some beyond the social dimension into questions about the basic, biological alienation of one sex from another. Androgyny appeared both as the goal of humanity and the key to immortality in Enfantin’s last work, La Vie Eternelle of 1861.16
Fourier believed that social renovation required the harmonizing of 12 basic passions and 810 “principal characters” created by their interplay. Even many who did not entertain his kind of fantasies were intrigued by his concept of total liberation and of gratifying the passions in gourmet phalansteries. Emancipation of women from their limited, familial roles was a particularly pleasing aspect of his system; and the term “feminism” was apparently introduced by Fourier17
The Saint-Simonians argued that a man and woman together (le couple pretre) should replace the individual as the basic unit of society to insure both equality between the sexes and sociability within society.18 Building a new type of family was for them a prerequisite for renovating society. With the failure both of the political Revolution of 1830 and of their own mass propaganda campaign of 1831, the radical Saint-Simonians thought that women no less than workers might provide new messages of liberation. Among the feminine converts for creating a new “family” was an orphaned proletarian girl, Suzanne Voilquin, who joined (together with her husband, sister, and brother-in-law) the journal of women workers, La Femme Libre. Because the title lent itself to ridicule, she soon changed it to La Femme de l’Avenir and then La Femme Nouvelle, ou Tribune Libre des Femmes. But these journals failed, as did the journey East in search of a feminine messiah.l9
This voyage to the East may seem in retrospect either a comic fantasy or a pathetic reprise on Napoleon I’s expedition to Egypt. It did, nevertheless, direct Saint-Simonians to the land that eventually built a monument to their belief in reshaping the water routes of the world: the Suez Canal. Moreover, their adventures did lead to a feminine messiah of sorts. For en route to the East, Barrault met and converted to the new Saint-Simonian doctrine a then-obscure twenty-five-year-old second mate on the ship, Giuseppe Garibaldi.20 He was destined to become not only one of the most successful revolutionaries of the century-but one of the most deeply dependent on a woman.
In 1839, after many more ocean voyages and several years of revolutionary freebooting in Uruguay and Brazil, Garibaldi suddenly lost his Italian comrades in a shipwreck and drifted desolately off the coast of Brazil. According to his own testimony, he resolved to find a woman as his only hope, spied through his ship’s telescope a magnificently athletic creole, went ashore to tell her “you must be mine,” and brought her back on board.21 Whatever the exact truth of the story, there is no doubt that Anita, his “Brazilian Amazon,” saved him from ruin. Throughout the next decade she was inseparably at his side even during long horseback rides and hard fighting, until she died in 1849 outside Rome amidst the collapse of the revolutionary republic they had briefly established there.
The newly active women of France in the early nineteenth century were neither revolutionaries nor messiahs: no longer dames but not yet citoyennes. If men had celebrated their revolutionary opposition to the aristocracy sartorially by becoming sans-culottes, some women now also began to defy bourgeois convention by assuming male dress.22 Journals for women slowly moved from fashion and gossip to social satire and reform.
Saint-Simonian feminists disrupted a speech by Robert Owen in Paris in 1837 in a manner foreshadowing later internal protests within the Left against “male chauvinism.” The young woman who denounced the absence of women from Owen’s podium was challenging the identification of radical social reform with the arid rationalism and exclusively masculine organization of Owen’s principal host, Cesar Moreau, founder of the Societe de Statistique Universelle and editor of L’Univers MaQonnique. 23 The most important new aspect of social ferment attributable largely to women was a passion for pacifism and nonviolence. Delphine Gay and George Sand collaborated in a campaign for the abolition “of all violent penalties, and the suppression of wars” in the moderate Christian Journal des Femmes, which began appearing in 1832. Eugenie Niboyet, the editor of several journals for women and a leading feminist in Paris, founded in Lyon the first pacifist periodical: La Paix des Deux Mondes.24
The entrance of women into revolutionary activity was directly related to the emergence of a social revolutionary tradition as a rival to nationalism. However colorful the example of Anita Garibaldi, women played almost no role in the Halo-Polish national revolutionary movements. Of the 5,472 Polish emigres registered in France in 1839, almost all were revolutionary nationalists and less than two hundred were women.25 The most remarkable new prophet of pacifism and anti-nationalism in the pre-1848 period was another Latin American who came closer than Anita Garibaldi to filling the role of a female messiah: Flora Tristan y Moscozo. The daughter of a Peruvian aristocrat allegedly descended from Montezuma and the future grandmother of Gauguin, Tristan was the first to conceive of a truly denationalized class solidarity among the proletariat.26
At the conclusion of the physical and spiritual wanderings amply recited in her Peregrinations of a Pariah, Tristan joined together in the 1840s the causes of women and workers, the two “pariahs” of the modern world.27 After leaving her husband, who had nearly murdered her, and reverting to her maiden name, Tristan went to London. Horrified by its poverty and inhumanity, she called it “the monster city” (La Ville Monstre) .2B She went everywhere, from the House of Lords (whose all male premises she entered disguised as a Turk ) 29 to the famous lunatic asylum of Bedlam, on a visit to which she appears to have acquired her sense of a messianic calling. So Tristan toured France seeking adherents for her projected Union Ouvriere, gained the collaboration of George Sand, and corresponded with German journalists about her idea of a “universal union” of workers.31 She associated the term proletariat not only with the economic category of property-less workers, but also with the moral mission of saving humanity from all its divisions-including those between the sexes. The hero of her truly fantastic socialist novel, Mephis or the Proletarian, was a rich banker who simultaneously comes under the spell of a feminine messiah and declares himself a proletarian.32 Tristan remained florid in fantasy till her death early in 1844. She contended that Christ’s second coming would be far more cheerful than his first, since he would no longer be single but accompanied by a femme-guide.33 She also argued that the three persons of the Trinity should in the coming socialist age be represented as Father, Mother, and Embryo.34
Her last book was written together with the occultist Abbe Constant, as she immersed herself in a bizarre subculture of mystical feminists under the influence of his The Assumption of the Woman.35 The most fantastic were the “fusionists,” who proclaimed the Feast of the Assumption in the year 1838 as the “first day of the year Evadah,” in which a new androgynous species (recombining Eve with Adam, as the name indicates) would begin transforming the Earth. Speaking as le Mapah (the combination of mama and papa), the prolific author of this fanciful cult persisted in his beliefs, later proclaiming 1845 as “the year one of the paraclete.” :H; The Saint-Simonian D’Eichtal argued that the doctrine of the trinity was in reality “une haute formule zooLoGIQUE” for harmonizing all earthly conflict. The “male” white race and the “female” black race were to generate “the new mulatto humanity… still in the cradle .” 37
Flora Tristan contributed to “the emancipation of women” -the subject of her first book and title of her last one.38 But her real importance-and that of the new women journalists of the 1840s generally lay in their infecting the broader socialist movement with distinctive concerns that properly reflect ( in part at least) their sex: a commitment to nonviolence, an internationalist opposition to any purely national revolution, and a special sympathy for the forgotten, “invisible” sufferers of the new industrial society: prisoners, mental patients, and victims of religious and racial discrimination.39 In her last year, she gained ten thousand signatures for her petition to free the blacks.40 Having once been shot by her imperious and incestuous husband, Tristan felt that women had to play a central role in the coming social struggle to preserve nonviolence as “intellectual power succeeds brute force” 41 in human affairs.
In America, the cause of women’s rights was also often linked with that of Negro rights and of nonviolence.42 Oberlin College, which pioneered the admission of blacks on an equal basis with whites, also became in 1841 the first to graduate women. The two causes were blended together in a remarkable American contemporary and counterpart of Flora Tristan : Frances Wright. She was the rarest of all phenomena: a dedicated revolutionary in a prosperous, post-revolutionary society.
The daughter of a wealthy Scottish merchant, Frances (Fanny) Wright published in London in 1821, Views of Society and Manners in America, which inspired revolutionaries throughout Europe during the Restoration era and led to an intimate, lifelong contact with the sixty-sevenyear-old Marquis de Lafayette. On their first meeting, he paid tribute to her writings about the American Revolution:
You have made me live those days over again…. We were an army of brothers; we had all things in common, our pleasures, our pains, our money, and our poverty.43
Her hopes mingled with his memories. She moved in for long periods into the room underneath his in his estate at La Grange. America was, in Wright’s words, “our utopia”; 44 and their shared belief in the perfection of the New World formed the basis of a “friendship of no ordinary character” 4″ between them. Repeatedly rumored to be his mistress, she tried in fact to become his adopted daughter. After returning to London , she corresponded with him incessantly (often in cypher) throughout the era of Carbonari intrigues. She accompanied him to America in September 1824, remained with him throughout most of his long, triumphal tour, and returned to France for five years of renewed association in the revolutionary summer of 1830.
A handsome woman nearly six feet tall, Fanny Wright often appeared in white, toga-like attire. She gave her friends names from antiquity (Jeremy Bentham was “Socrates”), and became herself a kind of classical goddess for many young revolutionaries . She acted as comp anion and consoler to the Irish martyr Wolfe Tone in New York, the Italian General Pepe in London, and an unidentified lover known only in her correspondence by the revolutionary pseudonym of Eugene.46 In the second half of the 1820s, Fanny Wright attempted to put into effect a grandiose plan to free the American slaves by integrating blacks into a new type of egalitarian community: new plantations that would be converted into productive Owenite settlements. Working closely with the son of Robert Owen (and attempting to enlist the widow of Shelley) , she set up a pilot multi-racial community first in Nashoba, Tennessee, and then in the main Owenite settlement of New Harmony, Indiana. On July 4, 1828, she became the first woman in the New World to deliver the main address in a large public celebration of this national holiday.47
She became an ardent Jacksonian and moved to Philadelphia amidst the gathering labor turmoil which s aw the establishment of the first labor paper in history, the Mechanics’ Free Press, in 1828. In New York City she founded a radical propaganda society, the Free Enquirers, that celebrated Thomas Paine’s birthday as its major event and established branches in other cities, partly on the Carbonari model.48 Still preoccupied with the racial question, she set off to Haiti with a group of blacks and a radical French printer and educator, Guillaume Sylvain Casimir Phiquepal D’Arusmont, whom she married in 1831 after becoming pregnant.
In 1830, first elated, then soon disillusioned by the July Revolution in France, she concluded that only in America could the final, universal revolution be realized. She saw it as atheistic, egalitarian, and anarchistic. In the final seventeen years of her life after her return to America in 1835, she bought the Cincinnati home of the anarchist Josiah Warren , and championed “the ridden people of the earth” against “the ‘booted and spurred’ riders.” She became increasingly apocalyptical as the radical tide receded in post-Jacksonian America. On the eve of 1848, she predicted that America was on the verge of a new “fourth age” of humanity. Christianity, “the religion of kings” had given way to feudalism, which was replaced in America first by “the Banking and Funding System” and now by a totally secular religion of the people.49 A radical conception of the role of women was central to her revolutionary teaching. She had taken Lafayette in 1824 to hear the pioneer of women’s education, Emma Willard, in Troy, New York; and she was so opposed to the use of the male term “brotherhood” that she changed 490 the classic revolutionary slogan of “liberty, equality, fraternity” into “liberty, equality and altruism.”50 But she made enemies by advocating that children be removed from their parents at the age of two and placed in publicly supported schools that would inculcate egalitarian ideas. Her opposition to the institution of the family and to all organized religion put her at odds even with the radical abolitionists; and her desire rapidly to mix the races into a new, uniformly mulatto population activated racist sentiment. She died largely forgotten in 1852. The milestones in women’s emancipation in the Anglo-American world had passed her by: the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement at the Anti-Slavery Convention in London of June 1840, and the first convention on women’s rights summoned by the Society of Friends in western New York in the summer of 1848.51
It was in Europe, not America or Great Britain, that feminism became linked with revolution.52 Fanny Wright had first been attracted to the revolutionary cause by reading a history of the American Revolution written by an Italian, who had projected onto the American experience his own hopes for Italian national liberation.53 The grande dame of radical feminism in New England, Margaret Fuller of Brook Farm, became a true revolutionary only in Italy, where she was swept into the Revolution of 1 848 after visiting France and George S and in 1847.54 The European upheaval of 1 848-49 produced a host of new feminist journals, many with revolutionary positions. The first women’s daily in France, La Voix des Femmes, appeared in March 1848 as a “socialist and political journal”; and was followed by La Femme Libre, La Republique des Femmes ( which published La Marseillaise des Femmes in its first issue),55 and La Politique des Femmes (a journal of working class women which soon changed its name to L’Opinion des Femmes). A remarkable group of young women demonstrated under the banner Vesuviennes in March, issued a Manifeste des Vesuviennes in April, and proceeded to set up an egalitarian female commune in Belleville, where the original Communist Banquet had been held.56
But women’s liberation was still far away. Ribald journals ridiculed women’s demands,57 and most revolutionaries remained patronizingly indifferent to the ‘lady Vesuviuses.” Delphine Gay complained that the cry “long live the provisional government!” was equated with “long live the provisional ladies!” 58
Women played a leading role throughout the 1840s in glorifying the art forms of ordinary workers and peasants, proclaiming that, in the present era, “the creative role in poetry belongs to the proletariat, to the people.”59 This literary populism which swept through Europe in the 1840s owes its deepest debt to the most influential woman of her age, one of the few who dared wear men’s clothes and adopt a man’s name, George Sand. Almost singlehandedly she turned the serialized novel into seductive socialist propaganda. Beginning with her Spiridon of 1838, written under the influence of Lamennais, she flooded France with a new kind of fiction, which challenged both the historical novel of Stendahl and the realistic novel of Balzac. She purported to depict man not as he was or is, but “as I wish he were, as I believe he shall be” ; 60 and she fired the revolutionary imagination of the 1840s by identifying this ideal with peasant and proletarian in a romantic, almost sensuous manner. But Sand faded away as a revolutionary voice after the failures of 1848. The Second Empire of Napoleon III proved even more aggressively m asculine in spirit than the First Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Women played a major role in the Paris Commune. The forces of the Right, which attacked with special vehemence in their propaganda les petroleuses, the “women incendiaries” who allegedly set fire to Paris, arraigned more than one thousand women in the repression that followed. G1 A first sign that Russian women were to take away the leadership role of revolutionary womanhood from the French may be detected in the dominant role assumed by Russian emigrees in the two principal women’s organizations in the Commune, the Union of Women and the Montmartre Women’s Vigilance Committee.62
One final female leader of the French revolutionary tradition arose from the martyrdom of the Paris Commune: Louise Michel. She reasserted with new intensity the characteristic Sand-Tristan themes of internationalism and pacifism. Variously known as la Vierge rouge, la sainte laique, and la fiamme revolutionnaire, 63 she was as inflammatory in speech as she was demure in appearance. Perennially dressed in black with a high white collar, she defended herself eloquently at the trial of communards, endured prison in New Caledonia, and returned to become the uncompromising apostle of the anarcho-syndicalist dream of la grande greve. 64
Michel was one of those leaders who belonged to no party “but to the Revolution as a whole.”65 By the turn of the century she was perhaps the most passionate and outspoken foe of militarism in Europe. Denied a visa by the United States and expelled from Belgium, the very suggestion that she might venture abroad anywhere unleashed a flood of protests and appeals to the Quai d’Orsay.66
She spoke eloquently on questions that revolutionaries usually avoided. After nearly dying early in 1904, she outlined a revolutionary attitude towards death before a large audience in Paris. She lent beauty to revolutionary atheism, describing death as a mere “incorporation into the elements,” a radiation outward from the body of aromas and colors , a return to the simplicity that she remembered in New Caledonia after a typhoon. The complexities of human language would simply disappear; and a simple song “composed by a nihilist” would fill the air and enable one to descend into “the hole of shadows… beating back with one’s arms the walls of an abyss.”67
As if to parody the purity of such faith, the various revolutionary factions in France quarreled bitterly over the right to dispose of her body when she died in Marseilles on January g, 1905. Anarchists vied for her remains with Rochefort, the former revolutionary journalist who had supported her financially even after his turn to reactionary nationalism. Her funeral was the largest popular procession in France since the: 492 burial of Victor Hugo twenty years earlier.us As her body was lowered into the grave, the cry rang out, “Long live the Russian revolution! Long live anarchy!” 69 On the very day of her burial, the Russian Revolution of 1905 had broken out. It was a revolution she had predicted just before her death,70 and was led by a movement in which women played a more central role than they ever had in France.
The example of George Sand helped implant within Russia the revolutionary consciousness that prepared the way for 1905 and 1917. The two greatest writers who participated in the pioneering socialist circles of the 1840s in Russia, Dostoevsky and Saltykov, both considered Sand a le ading force in activating their social consciousness and one of the supreme personalities of the century.71 Had she lived beyond her premature death in 1842, Elena Hahn, a novelist and early advocate of women’s rights, might have been the Russian George Sand.72 Had Konarski’s revolution ary network in western Russia not been destroyed in 1839, the organizer of its special women’s circles, Ewa Felinska, might have become the Russian Flora Tristan.73 Had the Russia of Nicholas I not turned repressive in its later years, it might have imbibed the revolutionary feminism of Suzanne Voilquin and other Saint Simonians who moved from Egypt to Russia in the late 1830s, bringing with them the vague idea that Nefertiti and Cleopatra provided models for the new feminism. 74 Most influential of all in the 1840s was Herzen’s novel in imitation of George S and about an illegitimate Russian girl in which the cause of female liberation was linked to that of liberating the serfs.75
Under the more liberal rule of Alexander II, the role of women and the women’s question became centrally important to the Russian revolutionary tradition. The young seized on the issue of women’s rights in part because of the unusually subordinate position historically assigned to women in Muscovite society. Here also was an issue that directly, emotionally affected university students themselves newly released from the social and doctrinal rigidities of a seminary-based secondary school and anxious to break with the matriarchal dominance and patriarchal discipline of the traditional Russian family. The greatly increased university population of the early 1860s sought a new communal ethic and life-style that would provide both social justice and sexual satisfaction.
Whatever their individual motives, the new generation as a whole adopted women’s rights as perhaps its main social cause during the period between the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 and the discovery of the urban proletariat about a decade later. Chernyshevsky provided an ascetic model of the “new woman” as well as the “new man” in his What is to be done? 76
Mikhailov, who had preceded Chernyskevsky as a martyr in the sixties, made his radical reputation as an apostle of women’s liberation. Influenced by Saint-Simonians whom he visited in Paris, Mikhailov terrified church officials even in distant Siberia with his proposals to “take away the bridle from women.”77 He exemplified the new ethics by living in a menage a trois with Nicholas Shelgunov and his wife (who bore Mikhailov a child), and by accepting guilt as sole author of the proclamation To the Younger Generation-saving the principal author, Shelgunov, from imprisonment.78
Nicholas Mikhailovsky, the most influential populist journalist inside Russia throughout the final third of the nineteenth century, also cut his polemic teeth on this issue. From his first three published articles as a boy of seventeen in 1860 to his laudatory preface of 1860 to John Stuart Mill’s Rights of Women, Mikhailovsky devoted much of his energies to the cause of women.79 Woman’s Herald, printed in St. Petersburg during 1860-68, the last and most radical feminist journal of the 1860s, attracted contributions from influential writers like Lavrov and the novelist Gleb Uspensky, who were to dominate the populist era. Russia in 1860-70 followed England by just a few months in pioneering the admission of women to advanced study in its major universities. H0 Female students proceeded to play a major role in the intensified radical agitation of the early seventies. In Zurich, the major center of Russian study abroad, 103 of the 153 students at the university were women.81 So central to the budding revolutionary movement were the new women’s groups (from the women’s club for logical speech to the Fritschi group, named for their baffled Swiss landlady) 82 that the alarmed Russian government in December 1873, ordered all women students to return from Zurich by the end of the year. The male minority demonstrated their solidarity with the women by returning also; and the women reciprocated by participating in both the movement to the people of 1874 and the subsequent turn to terrorism. Almost every dramatic moment of the I 870s produced the heroic example of a young woman. Vera Zasulich, a typesetter in St. Petersburg, opened the campaign of political terror by shooting the police chief of St. Petersburg in January 1878. When she gained acquittal by her courtroom oratory, she provided a successful model for turning the criminal trial of a would-be assassin into the political trial of the intended victim.
The final plans for the successful assassination of Tsar Alexander II on March I, 1881, were supervised by a frail twenty-six-year-old blonde, Sophia Perovskaya. Another female conspirator, Gesya Helfman, provided the major human interest of the trial (and gained the only reprieve from the gallows) when it became known that she was pregnant.
A male revolutionary observed that “women are more cruel than we men”;83 and this tended to be true in fantasy as well as in fact. The 494 women’s choral cry of “Death! Death!” provided both the orgiastic musical climax and the murderous message of the mob in the final “revolutionary scene” in the Kromi forest of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. In the atmosphere of reaction under the new Tsar Alexander III , yet another woman named Faith (Russian Vera ) kept alive the revolutionary faith. Vera Figner played the leading role within Russia in preserving for much of the decade a vestige of the old People’s Will organization, her memoirs providing one of the best human chronicles of the movement.84 Maria Oshanina, the third woman veteran (along with Perovskaya and Figner) of the executive committee of the People’s Will, was a leading Jacobin centralizer and major transmitter of conspiratorial ideas to the new revolutionary movements of the 1890s.85
Though often mistresses to the young revolutionaries, women were also often mother figures. Alexandra Weber, for instance, provided maternal care and companionship successively to each of the two rival leaders in the revolutionary emigration of the 1870s: nursing Bakunin in his last years, then serving as the intimate confidante of Lavrov.86 Inside Russia, the illegal press of the original Land and Liberty organization, which defied police detection for four years in the early 1860s was housed in the fiat of an elderly woman nicknamed “Mother of God .” Revolutionaries recalled entering her premises “with the sense of awe experienced by the faithful crossing the threshold of a temple.”87 Such images were not simply a figure of speech; the revolutionary tradition was influenced here by Russian sectarian religion, often centered on a female leader known as a “Mother of God.” Land and Liberty published a special journal for religious dissenters and gave itself the coded designation Akulina, from a female saint whose name was used both by a famous sectarian prophetess and by the flagellant sect that went to the extreme of self-castration.88
Women tended to be more revolutionary than feminist in Russia. They unhesitatingly used femininity for revolutionary purposes- arranging a fictitious marriage to provide conspiratorial cover, hiding a revolver in a muff, stuffing a detonator in a corset.89
The distinctive role of women in the Russian movement was to purify and intensify terror, not to articulate ideas.90 Thus women took the lead in sustaining the terrorist tradition after the destruction of the People’s Will organization (about half of the sentences to life at hard labor in the 1880s were imposed on women)91 and in reviving that tradition in the early twentieth century. One third of the members of the “fighting organization” of 1902-10 , which gave the Socialist Revolutionary party moral and numerical leadership among Russian revolutionaries, were women.92 These women viewed revived revolutionary violence not so much as a calculated political tactic, but rather as an expression of “the urge for moral wholeness.”93 They often displayed an “almost reverent” attitude towards the terroristic act.94 After the Revolution of 1905 , women played leading roles in both the Maximalist pursuit of terrorist raids and plans (often altogether outside the discipline of the Socialist Revolutionary party) and in the deepening self-criticism among terrorists in Siberian prison and exile.95 One key Maximalist, appropriately the great-gr and daughter of a Decembrist, described this process of re-examination in Siberia as an intensification of commitment rather than an examination of tactics. Everything the women had done “was again analyzed from the point of view of its purity.” 96 This passion for purity fueled a growing desire among women revolutionaries to be the one to throw the bomb,97 to be sentenced to death,98 or even to immolate one’s self in prison. As if reverting to the self-burning tradition of the Old Believers (where women too, had played a leading role ),99 women terrorists in the populists .R. tradition used this awesome tactic to express the sincerity of their faith: Sofia Ginsburg in 18go, Maria Vetrova in 1897, and Sofia Khrenkova a village teacher and mother of three, in Igo8.100
Fire was moving from the minds of men to the bodies of women. Their bodies like their faith were usually pure. Both forms of purity were sealed by the heroic act of martyrdom, which lent to the words of women an authority that they could not otherwise easily command in Russian society.
Terrorist women were generally selective, restrained, and even self sacrificial in their use of violence. Evstoliia Rogozinnikova, a twentyone-year-old scholarship student at the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music, apparently used her beautiful figure-heavily perfumed in an elegant black dress-to gain entry into the main prison administration in St. Petersburg, where she shot the director. She was forcibly prevented from carrying out her original intention of blowing up the entire building by detonating the thirteen pounds of high explosives that she had packed into her bodice and used to enhance her bust.101 As she was executed three days later in St. Petersburg, new Joans-of-Arc began to appear in the provinces, lending compelling moral authority to the belief in social revolution during this darkest period of reaction. Sincere young girls repeatedly faced old male judges after assaulting their all-male targets. Yet they continued to win the battle for the hearts and minds of men as well as women not just by their courtroom testimony, but by gladly going to die “as one would to a holiday festivity.”102 A peasant girl terrorist was typical as well as prophetic, when she proclaimed in a Kiev courtroom in 1go8 just before
killing herself that “our death, like a hot flame, will ignite many hearts.”103
Turning from martyrs to leaders, one moves from largely noble Russian women, who were in many ways the purified final embodiment of the Russian intelligentsia,104 to more hardheaded German women who brought organizational and ideological discipline into the revolutionary camp through the Social Democratic movement.
Marx had paid relatively little attention to the revolutionary role, let alone the feminist cause, of women.105 He had envisaged the disappearance of the authoritarian family prior to 1848, and rejected the intense anti-feminism of Proudhon. But he had a Victorian family life himself; and Engels spoke for both of them in saying that the German communists’ effort to emancipate women during the 1848 revolution had produced only a “few blue stockings, some hysteria, a good portion of German family quarrels-but not even one bastard.”106 Though German women revolutionaries never approached the intensity of the Russians ( at least until the female terrorists of the 196os ),107 they did pioneer in founding unions for women,108 and the first of a host of Social Democratic women’s organizations in the mid-1870s.
The cofounder of the German party, August Bebel, produced his theoretical work, Woman and Socialism, in 1879, five years before Engels’s less influential and more theoretical Origin of the Family.109 The German movement received an injection of Russian intensity when its leading woman, Clara Zetkin, visited St. Petersburg as revolutionary unrest was mounting in 1878, became fascinated by the Russian example, and married a Russian. After the repeal of Bismarck’s anti-socialist laws of 1878-90, she founded a special paper for socialist women, Equality (Die Gleichheit), which became an international journal after she cofounded an International Socialist Women’s Congress in 1907. Women were, however, underrepresented in the German party leadership; and at times Zetkin and the Austrian leader Adelheid Popp were the only women leaders to be found in the large German-speaking delegations to the congresses of the Second International . Zetkin’s parallel “Women’s International” collapsed after a final, desperate Women’s Conference against World War I in 1915 at Bern.110 As a friend of Lenin, a Communist, and the oldest member of the Reichstag, Zetkin presided over the penultimate meeting of the last freely elected German parliament before Hitler.111
Meanwhile, Zetkin’s movement had found fulfillment in Russia. Within a year of her Socialist Women’s Congress, the Russians had assembled one thousand women for the First All Russian Congress of Women in 1908.112 When Zetkin designated March 8 International Women’s Day in 1910, the Russians celebrated it with special intensity. The annual demonstration led to repression in 1914 and prevented the launching of the special journal, Rabotnitsa; (The Woman Worker) planned by Lenin’s wife Krupskaia, his sister Anna Elizarova, and his closest female friend, Inessa Armand. The holiday was next celebrated three years later with the demonstration that led to the overthrow of tsarism on March 8, 1917. After the Provisional Government was in turn overthrown by the Bolsheviks, Rabotnitsa was revived, a Second Women’s Congress held in 1917, and a special Women’s Section (Zhenotdel) of the Central Committee established first under Armand then under Kollontai.113 They fought to realize the equality for women that was formally guaranteed by the Soviet Constitution-ex tending the concept with particularly radical effect into the traditionalist societies of Central Asia, using the public ritual of “tearing off the veil” from Muslim women 114 who became the “surrogate proletariat” for an enforced social revolution. 115
But by far the greatest of all women revolutionaries of the early twentieth century was Clara Zetkin’s friend Rosa Luxemburg. She added to Russian and German involvements the passion of her native Polish revolutionary tradition and the prophetic intensity of her Jewish ancestry. She opposed both elitist Bolshevism and reformist Social Democracy. Luxemburg presented for a brief moment at the end of World War I the vision of a revolution big enough to unite Germans and Russians, to resolve the Polish, Jewish, and women’s question all at once. With her death in 1919, the vision faded of a revolution that would be uncompromisingly both international and democratic.
Born to a Jewish merchant family in Russian Poland, Luxemburg was impressed as a fifteen-year-old girl with the working-class agitation in Warsaw that began in the winter of 1885, well before comparable unrest in St. Petersburg. She was briefly connected with the major organizations of revolutionary socialists within Poland, “Proletariat” and “Second Proletariat,” before fleeing to Zurich in 1888.116 In that emigre center of Russian and Polish Marxists, she met her lifelong revolutionary companion and future husband, Leo Jogiches (Tyszka), shortly after he too fled abroad in 18go . He had been a revolutionary leader in Vilnius, where Jewish women had played key roles in beginning Social Democratic organizations within the Russian Empire.ll7 He briefly established contact with Plekhanov’s Liberation of Labor group, then transferred allegiance along with Luxemburg to the Social Democratic party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania. Beginning in 1893, she participated in every congress of the Second International except the final one in 1913, and was in every sense of the word an international figure.
Luxemburg began her lifelong struggle against national parochialism by rejecting the cause of Polish independence, which had been espoused by the larger Polish Socialist party (PPS) founded in 1892. She argued instead for total Polish involvement in the destruction of tsarism.
Her struggle in Poland for a Marxist proletarian party against the populist , peasant-based PPS paralleled the conflict between Marxists and populists in Russia. She internationalized her perspective by expanding her interest to include the struggle of Poles under the Hapsburgs and Hohenzollerns as well as under the Romanovs.ns Her industry abroad made the Polish party an effective pressure group in the Second International, and she became the driving force behind the theoretical journal of the Polish party.119 But she settled in Germany after 1898, and transferred her main energy thereafter into the struggle against Bernstein’s revisionism within the Social Democratic party. Like Lenin, she combined an uncompromising revolutionary faith with great tactical flexibility based on subtle ideological distinctions. She argued that prior to a revolution socialists could and should serve in parliaments that make laws, but never in an executive branch which enforces them. 120 She relied more than Lenin on institutions spontaneously generated by the proletariat, and made the most sustained effort of any leading Marxist to adapt the new Latin ideal of a general strike into a skeptical German Social Democracy.
She invented the term “mass strike,” not as a “crafty device discovered by subtle reasoning,” but as a description of what the complacent Germans might learn from the Russian revolutionary experience of 1 905. l21 For Luxemburg, the mass strike was a new form of proletarian class struggle that had superseded the bourgeois barricades of 1848-49 and even 1870-71. The mass strike was a spontaneously generated phenomenon that was not called into being, and could not be manipulated on its course by any self-proclaimed elite.122 The mass strike unified the political (anti-absolutist) and economic (anti-capitalist) struggles, and progressed necessarily from the demonstrative to the fighting stage. After initial demonstrations had overcome inertia and stimulated political consciousness, fighting would begin spontaneously and usually accidentally. Out of the shared experience of combat, new forms of proletarian politics and culture would emerge. In Luxemburg’s view, the Russian Revolution of 1905 failed because the economic struggle, which had led to nationwide political struggle during the October general strike, relapsed back thereafter into parochial economic conflicts. But since this was the first revolution in which the proletariat had assumed the leading role, she urged the German Social Democrats to regard it “as their own” and to learn from it. Above all, the Russian example showed the “bureaucratised” Germans how a less organized movement can leapfrog over a less active one and how organization can grow out of struggle rather than the other way around.123
Her emphasis on the “spontaneous” leadership of the masses in the revolutionary process put her at odds with Lenin. She had been one of the first to criticize Lenin’s emphasis on the vanguard role of the party as representing “ultra-centralism,” “the sterile spirit of the night watchman,” dictatorship over the masses rather than of the masses.124 She s aw Lenin as guilty of the same “subjectivism” and “Blanquism” that had haunted Russian populism; and she consistently rejected Lenin’s willingness to allot a progressive role to national revolutionary movements in the coming social revolution. In her unfinished study of the Bolshevik Revolution ( written while in prison in Breslau/Wroclaw) Luxemburg insisted that democratic forms be applied immediately under the dictatorship of the proletariat. She censured the reliance on terror and the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly by the Bolsheviks, translating the word democracy into “people’s hegemony” (Volksherrschaft) in an effort to find a vocabulary adequate for her idea,125 Her criticism of terror in 1918 was ultimately the same as her original criticism of party elitism in 1903: that it leads to an atrophy of initiative and a growth of the very bureaucratic rule that revolutions should supplant.126 Parallel criticism of Lenin’s elitism was given a special aura of disinterested purity by the most revered revolutionary woman within Russia, Vera Zasulich, who had moved from populism to Marxism.127
Despite their deep differences and criticisms of each other, Luxemburg resembled Lenin in leading a Left opposition within a prewar Social Democratic p arty, in developing a global vision that provided outward courage and inner serenity, in linking capitalism to imperialism and war, and in seeing national war as inevitably leading to social revolution.
During the period of reaction between the ebbing of the revolutionary tide in Russia in 1906 and the outbreak of World War I, both Lenin and Luxemburg sought to fortify the ideological fervor of their respective parties with major new theoretical writings. Luxemburg sought to use not merely journalism, but also the p arty school at Berlin as a vehicle for attacking the more cautious and doctrinaire wing of the party and for radicalizing future party leaders. This technique was adopted first by the “left Bolsheviks” under Bogdanov at Capri (1909) and Bologna (November 1910 through March 1911) and then by Lenin at Longjumeau outside Paris in the summer of 1911.128 Luxemburg also preceded Lenin in making a Marxist analysis of imperialism, and she paralleled Lenin in her radical boycott of World War I. Her famed “Junius brochure,” written in prison in 1915, rejected the key argument used by the German Social Democrats to rationalize their support of the war effort : that it was a defensive war against the Russian peril.129 She insisted that no isolated defensive war was possible for major powers in the age of imperialism. The Russian proletariat, she said, was now at the forefront of revolution, and not merely part of the reactionary monolith that it had seemed to Marx at the time of the 1848 revolution and to most German Social Democrats ever since. In the war, Luxemburg s aw new possibilities for revolution. When she was released from prison and arrived in Berlin on November 10, 1918, the day before the final armistice, she plunged into a delirium of activity designed to realize a social revolution in Germany.
Her ill-fated attempt at revolution played back in reprise many of the basic themes and symbols of the revolutionary tradition. Even her choice of revolutionary pseudonyms betrayed an unconscious harkening back to origins. From Junius (originally used by the Strasbourgeois Jewish revolutionary Frey in P aris during the great French Revolution), she moved to the Gracchus of Babeuf, on to the Spartacus adopted by the original German progenitor of revolutionism, Adam Weishaupt. Her Spartacus League adopted in December 1918 the label Communist, to which Restif had invented and Lenin revived. “I don’t have time to think about what will happen to me,” she wrote Clara Zetkin, adding in French-as if reverting to the basic language of the tradition itself C’est la revolution.l30 She denounced the liberals as “little Lafayettes” in a final article 131 before moving to direct the revolution through a daily journal bearing the classical label of social revolution: Red Flag (Rote Fahne). She also planned on a theoretical weekly to bear a title describing its scope, Die Internationale.
Hers was a revolution of the young. At the founding conference of her new Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (Spartakusbund) late in December, her husband was the only delegate (out of 127 from 56 localities) over the age of fifty.132 Hers was a movement led by journalistic intellectuals. One of its few victories was the occupation of the Wolff telegraphic bureau in Berlin-the heart of the same communications system that had so fascinated Marx when he first came in contact with its extremity in Brussels.
Luxemburg was too penetrating an analyst of society not to realize that there was no hope for immediate revolution; and she argued against the illusions of her principal corevolutionary Karl Liebknecht. Since, however, she was committed to a mass-based general strike and to a revolutionary struggle against the national assembly, she saw no alternative but to join the disorganized struggle that ensued in January. Her Spartacists combatted armed forces that were returning from the front and attempting to establish the authority of the national assembly and of the more conservative Social Democrats. A general strike attracted mass participation, and led to a brief seizure of centers of transportation and communication. But Luxemburg lacked both Lenin’s organization and his ability to translate strategic vision into concrete battle plans. The revolutionary Spartacists and their allies were soon shot down and Luxemburg was killed together with Liebknecht on the night of January 15 .
Hitler’s National Socialism was to be the final gargoyle of masculine revolutionary nationalism. Luxemburg’s uncompromising socialist internationalism was its polar opposite: the culmination of the anti-nationalist, antimilitarist tradition among women revolutionaries. Her implacable opposition to any participation in World War I had been echoed in Russia by the leading radical feminist Alexandra Kollontai, who joined Lenin’s Bolshevik party in 1915 largely because of his opposition to the war. Like Luxemburg and Zasulich, Kollontai identified revolution with the spontaneity of working-class initiative rather than the elite Leninist party. She outlived the others and became a member of the Workers’ Opposition after serving as the first commissar for public welfare following the Bolshevik Revolution.133
That revolution was the first to proclaim equal rights for women. Krupskaia, Zetkin, and others joined Kollontai in claiming universal significance for this aspect of the new order. Increasingly, however, the revolution in power seemed to provide more the obligation to perform old types of work than the opportunity to build a new type of society. Despite formal gains for women in CIVIC and occupational equality, the founding mothers, no less than the founding fathers, saw their hopes disappointed. l34 The Soviet state relied on precisely that combination of terror and bureaucracy that Luxemburg had feared. Rosa Luxemburg had brought to the revolutionary tradition a special womanly fullness of sensibility largely absent from the GermanoRussian period of revolutionary history. Indeed, she brought back something of the expressive humanism of the earlier Halo-Polish period into the arid puritanism of the Social Democratic tradition, which both Lenin and his barren coworker and wife, Krupskaia, epitomized. Luxemburg had expressed the special, universal criticism of society that women of unusual ability and sensitivity like Wright and Tristan had voiced before. She breathed inspiration into the grim Social Democratic movement often through a network of other women: Louise Kautsky, with whom she remained an intimate friend even after breaking with Kautsky in 1910; 135 Clara Zetkin, the early foe of revisionism and intimate correspondent of her last years; and Sophie Liebknecht, to whom she addressed inspiring letters from prison in her last years. She was never a feminist, sharing unashamedly in the distinctively feminine experiences of being a companion and cook.136 But she brought to the revolutionary movement a warmth of engagement without self-indulgence that was generally foreign to male revolutionaries in the nineteenth century-let alone to the dull functionaries of the twentieth.
Rosa Luxemburg stood in a prophetic line of revolutionary women who renounced both home and country in search of the promised land. The list stretches from Etta Palm, a Dutch woman in Paris; through Flora Tristan, a Peruvian in Lyon ; to Saint-Simonians in Egypt; to Frances Wright, the Scottish wife of a Frenchman on the American frontier; to Russians in Switzerland, on to this Polish-Jewish leader who sought to replicate the Russian Revolution in Germany.
Rosa Luxemburg was not just a prophet of revolution-of its failure in Germany 137 and its deformation in Russia-but an embodiment of revolutionary simplicity. Beyond all the words written by this most articulate of all revolutionary journalists,138 lay a simple faith beyond reason-in transnational, proletarian perfectibility; in violent struggle as a creative process and prerequisite to victory; and in those original myths of the revolutionary tradition: in an unfinished revolution and a perfect natural order.
The essential vision that she affirmed in her life and validated by her death is perhaps best contained in her description of the simple perfection she once found on primitive Corsica. Islands had provided the perennial locus of utopia, from the imagination of Thomas More to the reality of Sand on Majorca or Garibaldi on Caprera. Luxemburg described Corsica, where Buonarroti and Urbain had found inspiration, as an ideal alternative “to the Europe of today,” a place to satisfy that deep desire of revolutionaries to oprostit’sia: to simplify things. Writing from prison to Sophie Liebknecht, Luxemburg recalled recovering “the silence 502 of the beginning of the world” amidst the rustic purity, and finding the archetypical unspoiled “people” in a poor peasant family that passed silently by “precisely in harmony with the landscape.” She felt inspired “to fall on my knees as I always feel compelled to do before some spectacle of finished beauty.”139 She proposed to Liebknecht that the two women journey together to Corsica for a kind of pilgrimage of renewal, reviving the original metaphor of the revolution as rising sun: We must go there and… cover the whole island on foot, sleeping each night in a new lodging place, greeting each morning along the way the rising of the sun.140
But Luxemburg went instead from prison to a martyr’s death with Liebknecht’s husband. She reaffirmed her faith in the ultimate victory of revolution in her last written words, which returned to the older, messianic metaphors of her Judaic heritage:
The revolution will “raise itself up again, clashing,” and… proclaim to the sound of trumpets: I was, I am, I shall be.141 Such a passionate life and dramatic death left behind not just a legend but a kind of haunting presence. When social revolutionaries finally came to power in Germany, not spontaneously after World War I but via the Russian army after World War II, the Stalinist regime in East Germany tried in vain to represent itself as the vindication of her hopes. 142 She had written shortly before her death that true victory lay “not at the beginning but at the end of revolution .”143 The suspicion grew that that victory-and her revolution-was perhaps still to come.
Some have seen posthumous vindication of her vision in the revived invocation of her name during the late 1960s and the early 1970s: by French and Italian student radicals, by female German terrorists, or by admirers of new anti-imperialist movements in the third world and the cultural revolution in Mao’s China.141 But Luxemburg was a Eurocentric believer in the spontaneous leadership of the modern industrial proletariat. She may have found her most authentic reincarnation within the proletariat in her native Poland. Only there had her memory been deeply and continuously honored within a Soviet-dominated Communist party. In December 1970, the Polish working classes spontaneously rose in a mass strike against bureaucratic despotism unguided by any external political or intellectual elites in a move that surprised both East and West. The strike produced in Poland the first forcible change of political leadership by direct proletarian action in Europe since 1917.
The unexpected overthrow of Gomulka seemed a poetic vindication of Rosa Luxemburg. The strike began in Szczecin on the border area between the Polish and German worlds where she had spent much of her life. It brought down a man who had just succeeded in expelling almost the last of Luxemburg’s fellow Jews from that region in which they had historically suffered so much. It was almost as if Rosa Luxemburg had returned like the Dybbuk in a Jewish mystery play to take over the body of a Polish worker and avenge the repudiated heritage of Gomulka’s Jewish wife .
Could the revolutionary faith remain active at all within the neDauthoritarian, post-revolutionary bureaucracies of Eastern Europe in the late twentieth century? If that faith does survive or revive in those lands where Rosa Luxemburg lived and died, it seems likely to be moved by her ghost stalking the stalags of Stalinism and the dachas of its directors. To them, she can speak of forgotten dreams-reminding them that a Jewish woman once argued that Poles should unite with Russians for their common good; that Germans would benefit from revolution in Russia; and that social revolution would directly abolish both the national identities and the authoritarian controls that repress the creativity of working people themselves.
It’s the sensuous female, the goddess-like or holy woman, passionate in nature and voice who is ultimately wanted, especially from the East. Even more convenient if she likes White men. Having a social conscience is a default necessary characteristic.
Like I’ve said all my life and still say: NO.
Any yes you might ever get out of me will not undo those NO’s.
I’m not interested in game playing, in revolutions, in the status quo etc. Oh I care, just I have a different vantage point, I have real senses. When you pretend to ‘help’ people you’re really continuing the parry between ‘light’ and ‘dark’ and faux ‘good’ and ‘evil’ which is all just protocol.
I’m not goddess-like, even you believe I am the Goddess, and others believe I’m at least from the Goddess hence you’re desperate to be to breed with me or at least have some recognizable connection. The thing is though, you have no status to begin with. Your bonds/links/connections/status mean nothing except stupid signs/agreements between yourselves and the masses who would like to be part of the gang if the opportunity came up.
The South American woman most recently shown to me for me to be, whilst she was listening to me ‘singing’ on the radio (and all on a boat) with a Prince/Soldier conveniently modelled on the looks I find attractive and with a name from my past.
Opera is supposed to be false entertainment not real life.
Stop trying to make the Daughter into the Mother (like with Doretta and Magda like Magdalene) in every way in every level in reality/fictional reality so that one becomes the other, affects the other, merge and hide your machinations. Becoming the dream doesn’t make a damned difference when the effects are the same, nothing gets better, exactly how you want it.
I don’t need to listen to offers before rejecting them, you’ve already been judged. You made your own noose.
She and I represent many, All. I am both the fallen and the divine, the worst and the best, the weakest and the strongest, the most vulnerable and the most protected, and hence I became the most exposed and most shielded. A mind that wanders, travels through worlds and befriends many, overcoming differences and understanding the mutual pain and wishes, able to communicate. A body that doesn’t give up, that endures. I became the new a long time ago but stayed old at the same time. The future became the past, the collective consciousness open to me and me to it. And yet I remained individual whilst connected, a living representation. I salute the dead, the lost, the living and the others. That makes me a candidate but you rubbed your hands with glee to find out I had real access/real ‘lineage’ unlike your offspring and amalgamations (I keep telling you the godsoul/spirit isn’t inherited or invoked so you’d settle for basic format connections like marriage or parenthood but that means nothing too, relations/ships mean nothing when it comes to your evil, yep Evil.) You should be careful what you wish for, what I have access to has no more patience, no more tolerance, no forgiving nor forgetting and They don’t want you at all. I am from the tree, the tree that is far and wide, beyond borders, beyond time, and it will not tolerate you; the children, the ‘schoolmasters’ ‘watchers’ ‘guardians’ ‘architects’ (i.e. workers who gave themselves airs and graces to lord it up over the planet on all levels), the false ‘creators’. I’m not afraid of what’s in the sky nor here in your face if you can sense enough. You are.