Monday, January 17, 2005

Rosa Luxemburg: heroine

I need a better reminder calendar to tell me when significant events are (I don't even get to read the paper before the evening: belated New Year resolution - I need to be updating myself on the days events first thing). Currently I find myself tagging on the coat-tails of Mr Cloud, which is not a good thing.

All this is by way of a lead to getting around to a comment on Rosa Luxemburg, murdered January 15 1919. (N.B. beware getting the spelling wrong: Cloud is doing his best to get the spelling Rosa Luxemberg to connect to the always informative Marxists.Org link rather than any nasty fascists).

When I was first finding my political feet, Rosa Luxemburg was quite a heroine of mine (and remains so). It was refreshing to read women talking about other women and their place in society. Her essay on Women's Suffrage and Class Struggle still resonates today: only if all women are free can general emancipation occur. It is not enough for the bourgeois women to be free, or all men to be free: all must have emancipation and suffrage. The working-class woman is a key figure who challenges assumptions precisely because of her work within and beyond the domestic setting. They highlight the contradictions and inequalities of social structures AND the attempts at social change that fail to account for their experiences.

This is something I feel that the Sweepies that I met over the years often misrepresented about Rosa Luxemburg (I don't wish to mark all with the same brush so my qualification that this refers to those I encountered is reinforced in this sentence). There was just too much "come the revolution, sister" and not enough recognition that women presented a particular set of revelations about class struggle that were easily ignored in promoting an essentially MALE working-class revolution.

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