EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is excerpted from Red Rosa by Kate Evans and edited by Paul Buhle. Copyright © 2015 by Kate Evans and Paul Buhle. It is reprinted here with the permission of Verso Books.
Mass murder has become a monotonous task, and yet the final solution is not one step nearer. Capitalist rule is caught in its own trap, and cannot ban the spirit it has invoked.
Gone is the first mad delirium. Gone are the patriotic street demonstrations, the singing throngs, the violent mobs. The show is over. The curtain has fallen on trains filled with reservists, as they pull out amid the joyous cries of enthusiastic maidens. We no longer see their laughing faces, smiling cheerily from the train windows upon a war-mad population. Quietly they trot through the streets, with their sacks upon their shoulders. And the public, with a fretful face, goes about its daily task.
Into the disillusioned atmosphere of pale daylight there rings a different chorus; the hoarse croak of the hawks and hyenas of the battlefield. Ten thousand tents, guaranteed according to specifications, 100,000 kilos of bacon, cocoa powder, coffee substitute—cash on immediate delivery. Shrapnel, drills, ammunition bags, marriage bureaus for war widows, leather belts—only serious propositions considered. And the cannon fodder that was loaded onto the trains in August and September is rotting on the battlefields of Belgium and the Vosges, while profits are springing, like weeds, from the fields of the dead.
Business is flourishing upon the ruins. Cities are turned into shambles, whole countries into deserts, villages into cemeteries, nations into beggars, churches into stables; popular rights, treaties, alliances, the holiest words and the highest authorities have been torn into scraps. Hunger revolts in Venetia, in Lisbon, in Moscow, in Singapore; pestilence in Russia; misery and desperation is everywhere.
Shamed, dishonoured, wading in blood and dripping with filth, thus capitalist society stands. Not as we usually see it, playing the roles of righteousness, of order, of ethics—but as a roaring beast, as an orgy of chaos, as a pestilential breath, devastating culture and humanity—so it appears in all its hideous nakedness.
—The Junius Pamphlet. Rosa Luxemburg. Published 1916.