In another new low, Chris Trotter tries to do a hatchet job on one of the great socialist figures -  Rosa Luxemburg. He fails. How low can David Cunliffe's chief cheerleader go? 

Presently right wing political leaders like Labour's Ed Miliband in the UK and Labour's David Cunliffe here in New Zealand, are attempting to resurrect a conservative brand of social democracy as an 'alternative model' to run capitalism. But it is a model that will, at best, merely smooth out some of the rough edges of the 'free market' but will not overcome it.

It largely involves some tinkering with the neoliberal settings but doesn't constitute a challenge to the neoliberal order. Indeed in New Zealand Labour has already made it clear that will not challenge the free market fundamentals. The appointment of market technocrat David Parker as finance spokesperson has reinforced that message.

The image of David Cunliffe waving a red flag while he storms the bastions of power and privilege are pure fantasies promoted by Cunliffe cheerleaders like Chris Trotter and Martyn Bradbury.

In these days where an emancipatory social and political vision has been reduced to the implementation of a capital gains tax, Rosa Luxemburg's powerful critique of reformist politics is increasingly relevant. She stands resolute, as John Moore might say, against the politics of low expectations.

During her lifetime Rosa Luxemburg, one of the great revolutionary socialists of the twentieth century, clashed with the conservative leaders of the German Social Democratic Party.

Luxemburg strongly opposed the idea - promoted by Eduard Bernstein - that  capitalism could be reformed out of existence through parliament.

Her essay Social Reform or Social Revolution was published in 1900 in response to Bernstein’s book, The Preconditions of Socialism and the Tasks of Social Democracy. She argued that rather than being a peaceful method for achieving socialism, reformism might limit the effects of exploitation but could never overcome it.

In his reply to John Moore, Chris Trotter fails to even approach Luxemburg's powerful arguments.

It might be political cowardice and, then again, it might be because history has proven Luxemburg to be right and Bernstein completely wrong. After all the social democratic parties of Eduard Bernstein rather than bringing about socialism have ultimately surrendered to the demands of capitalism. They have been instrumental in stripping away the living conditions and the political rights of ordinary people all around the world.

So instead Trotter tries to do a hatchet job on Luxemburg herself. For those who think that working class politics matter, this is deeply insulting. For Trotter, its just another day of helping to prop up the status quo. What a guy.

According to Trotter, Rosa Luxemburg - like John Moore apparently - was so impatient for revolution that it blinded her to political reality. Chris, all decked out in his Bob the Builder outfit, takes his little plastic hammer to the mountain called Rosa Luxemburg and just looks ridiculous.

This is what Chris Trotter's politics have been reduced to. He's in the media most days of the week, performing for his political masters, stoking up anti-socialist sentiment on a regular basis, sharing a laugh or two with his mates like Mike Hosking and Mathew Hooton.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing and it certainly  is the case with Chris Trotter. He completely misunderstands Luxemburg's viewpoint. Perhaps he's not even aware of it, such is his anti-socialist bigotry.

For Rosa Luxemburg, revolution was not just one political act, the seizure of political power, but of all the acts which prepare for the construction of a socialist society. She wrote:

'..the socialist order is not some sort of poetic ideal society, thought out in advance, which may be reached by various paths in various more or less imaginative ways. Rather, socialism is simply the historical tendency of the class struggle of the proletariat in the capitalist society against the rule of the bourgeoisie'

This is not the view of a woman who was 'impatient' for revolution as Trotter claims.

Incidentally this view explains why socialism cannot be created from the top down, but demands a democratic working class movement.

Wrote Luxemburg:

'Socialism will not and cannot be created by decrees; nor can it be established by any government, however socialistic. Socialism must be created by the masses, by every proletarian. Where the chains of capitalism are forged, there they must be broken. Only that is socialism, and only thus can socialism be created.'

But, again, if you believe the lies of Trotter, Luxemburg's vision is one where democracy plays little or no part at all! It is also deeply ironic that while Trotter preaches 'democracy' to John Moore and myself, his limited vision of society is one that is run 'top down' by anti-working class organisations like the Labour Party!

Luxemburg comprehensively demolished the idea that bureaucratic centralised organisations such as the Social Democratic Party or the trade unions could transform society through reforms. Perhaps Trotter should read some Luxemburg instead of making a fool of himself all over the internet.

I think Rosa, if she was alive today, would find Trotter's attack on her not only amusing but also irrelevant. This is because it won't be people like Chris Trotter and others of his ilk who will bring about real change. Indeed, they are obstacles in the way of change.

In the end only a politics created by ordinary people can stop capitalism destroying the world. As Rosa Luxemburg wrote socialism depends on the working class because 'only the working class, through its own activity, can make the word flesh.'


  1. Well all I can say is... I agree!

    Just recently I saw Trotter do great dis-service to the entire history of Anarchism/Anarchi-syndicalism and their cotnributions to workers movements, he pulled out a terrible selective history from some two events in the USA for the pure purpose of making the image of the black-bomber threat to public order as to blame for all the repressions of organised labor that followed.

    This was all in response to someone in a comment thread with an idle comment, it was rather like Trotter was just waiting to do it.

    Typical parliamentary servant politics. Enough of that noise!


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