Reform or Revolution


Author: Rosa Luxemburg

Introduction by Brinda Karat

9789380118246 | HB | pp. 105 | 2015 | LeftWord Books

Reform and Revolution is a powerful argument for Revolution and an overturning of the capitalist economy in favor of a socialist system of economics.

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What is the final aim of Marxist politics, asked Rosa Luxemburg. To improve the conditions of life under capitalism or to overthrow capitalist social relations and found a just order?

German Socialism in the late 19th century was torn on this question, with Eduard Bernstein the influential advocate for the centrality of reforms. This view was known as “revisionism” — the revision of Marxism downwards from revolution to reformism. Luxemburg argued, in this influential pamphlet, that Bernstein’s revisionism would liquidate Marxist politics. She based her critique of Bernstein on her close reading of Marx and of the social dynamic of capitalism.

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Rosa Luxemburg




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About the Author

Rosa Luxemburg (1871–1919) was a brilliant Marxist theoretician, internationalist, revolutionary, and partisan in the struggles of the working class. She was successively a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD). In 1915, after the SPD supported German involvement in World War I, she and Karl Liebknecht co-founded the anti-war Spartakusbund (“Spartacus League”) which eventually became the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). With the crushing of the Spartacist uprising of January 1919, Luxemburg and Liebknecht were captured and killed.

Brinda Karat is a member of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). She was the General Secretary of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) (1993–2004), and a member of the Rajya Sabha (2005–2011). She is the author of Survival and Emancipation: Notes from Indian Women’s Struggles (New Delhi 2005).


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