Socialist democracy from Rosa Luxemburg to today’s movements


Peter Hudis talks with Azade Raisdana

Thirty years after the fall and after the financial and corona crises, how do you view and assess the situation of the socialist or communist movement in general? We see in all countries a growing interest in the works of Marx and socialism, especially among the younger generations. Are we witnessing a new wave of rebirth of socialism after the fall – a fitting historical moment that brings back Marx and Marxist socialism?

In your article “What is Democratic Socialism? What is socialist democracy?“, you begin by saying that “recent years have witnessed an explosion of interest in socialist theory and practice – and in particular in democratic socialism.” Explain to our viewers the facts and evidence on which you made such an assessment? Has Marxist socialism or democratic socialism turned into the dominant trend in our movement or is it on the way to becoming the What is the difference between democratic socialism and social democracy?

From Marx’s point of view, what is the difference between “socialist democracy” and “liberal democracy”? Is there a common point, or are they simply two opposite poles or incompatible extremes?

We want to follow the footprint of democratic socialism after the October Revolution of 1917. You are one of the editors of Rosa Luxemburg works collected in English by Verso. Is Rosa’s Book russian revolution a milestone for the revival of Marxist socialism or democratic socialism, especially the chapters that belong to its acerbic criticism of the Bolsheviks (Lenin and Trotsky) for suppressing political freedoms and democracy after the October Revolution?

Some on the left claim that Rosa, after being released from prison and confronted with the realities of the German revolution, resumed her criticism of the Bolsheviks for their violation of political freedoms and democracy. Is there evidence for such claims?

Some refer to Rosa’s articles “Constituent Assembly or Council Government? on December 17, 1918 and “Elections to the National Assemblyon December 23, 1918 as an undeniable fact that Rosa resumed her criticism of the Bolsheviks for dispersing the Constituent Assembly after the October Revolution. They claim that this evidence proves that after a victorious socialist revolution, council government or the workers’ state need not be democratically confirmed by the constituent assembly as an expression of the free will of the majority to constitute a new political order! They also argue that the Constituent Assembly is nothing but a bourgeois parliament which is the crux of the bourgeois order of liberal democracy, just the opposite pole of worker or council democracy!

Recent years have seen a growing interest in the Constituent Assembly in many countries. The last case is Chile, under the strong pressure of mass protests, elections for a Constitutional Assembly were held in May 2021. Is this interest in the radical and combative left a sign of a growing interest in socialism Marxist or democratic socialism?

Peter Hudis is a professor of humanities and philosophy at Oakton Community College and author of The Marxian concept of an alternative to capitalism, Frantz Fanon: Philosopher of the Barricades, among others. He is also editor of volume I of The Complete Works or Rosa Luxemburg: Economic Writings 1 and co-edited volume II, Economic Writings 2 (with Paul LeBlanc). He is the general editor of The Complete Works of Luxembourga planned collection of 16 volumes.


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