Get political! Occupy activists urged to study and learn from revolutionary giants

 Luxemburg, Trotsky and Lenin were among the most perceptive and compelling revolutionaries of the 20th century. Critically engaging with their ideas can enrich today’s struggles for a better world.

Fifty leading figures on the international left, including Ian Angus, John Riddell, Patrick Bond, Paul Le Blanc, China Miéville, Lindsey German, Alex Callinicos, Phil Gasper, Michael Yates, and Sharon Smith have endorsed a Pluto Press campaign urging activists fighting for the 99% to draw inspiration from the lives and writings of three giants of 20th century political change: Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg and VI Lenin.

Paul Le Blanc, author and co-ordinator, outlined the purpose of the Get Political! campaign:

“The Occupy movement and the anti-cuts movement have made a huge impact in a short space of time, but we must build on these successes in order to advance struggles of the future.

“By engaging with the lives and ideas of Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky, activists will find vital analyses and organisational strategies which can help us overcome setbacks and cause a leftward shift of the political mainstream.”

The campaign gives those involved in recent movements such as Occupy the tools and inspiration to continue their struggle to build a fairer world. A campaign website,, offers the following resources:

  • Extensive slide shows detailing the lives of Trotsky, Lenin and Luxemburg and an introduction to Marxism
  • Sample Chapters from three Pluto Press Get Political titles on each the three figures
  • Study plans for each title, ideal for planning reading groups or lectures
  • A widget allowing users to endorse the campaign and spread the word

Get Political statement

Ours is a time of multiple crises generated by global capitalism. It is a time of global resistance, occupation and insurgency. It is a time to connect with the ideas of Rosa Luxemburg, Leon Trotsky and Lenin – a critical-minded engagement with revolutionary resources, based on past revolutionary experience, as we consider future action for social change.

New waves of young activists are compelled to become radical – going to the root of today’s problems, demanding a shift of power in society from the super-wealthy 1% to the increasingly hard-pressed 99%.

It will not be a simple thing to win the battle of democracy, to create a world in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. The problems we face have been more than two centuries in the making.

Millions of people, generation after generation, have engaged in revolutionary struggles for basic human rights and dignity – liberty and justice for all, experiencing defeats and victories, learning and passing on an accumulation of lessons for those who would continue the struggle.

Luxemburg, Trotsky and Lenin were among the most perceptive and compelling revolutionaries of the 20th century. The body of analysis, strategy and tactics to which they contributed was inseparable from the mass struggles of their time.

Critically engaging with their ideas can enrich the thinking and practical activity of those involved in today’s and tomorrow’s struggles for a better world.

A global activist collective – multiple individuals exploring texts on how to understand and change the world, proliferating study groups connecting revolutionary theory with the struggles of today and tomorrow – reaching out to the rest of the 99%, can have a powerful impact for social change.

It is time, in the most revolutionary sense, to get political.

(asterisk – * — for identification purposes only)

  • Mark Abel, Lecturer, School of Humanities, University of Brighton*
  • Dominic Alexander, book review editor, Counterfire*
  • Kieran Allen, author, Marx and the Alternative to Capitalism
  • Ian Angus, editor, Climate and Capitalism
  • Alexander Anievas, ed. board, Historical Materialism*; editor, Marxism and World Politics
  • Gopal Balakrishnan, ed. board, New Left Review*
  • Patrick Bond, Director, Centre for Civil Society (South Africa)*; author, Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation
  • Paul Buhle, co-editor, Encyclopedia of the American Left
  • Alex Callinicos, editor, International Socialism*
  • Kunal Chattopadhyay, Prof. of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University*
  • Terry Conway, Socialist Resistance; ed. board, International Viewpoint*
  • Ted Crawford, ed. board, Revolutionary History*
  • Neil Davidson, ed. board, International Socialism*; author, The Origins of Scottish Nationhood
  • Steve Edwards, ed board, Historical Materialism*
  • Neil Faulkner, Research Fellow, University of Bristol*
  • Des Freedman, co-editor, The Assault on the Universities
  • Phil Gasper, ed. board, International Socialist Review*
  • Lindsey German, author, Sex, Class and Socialism
  • Jane Hardy, Prof. of Political Economy, Univ. of Hertfordshire*, author, Poland’s New Capitalism
  • Al Hart, managing editor, UE News (United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America)*
  • Tom Hickey, Lecturer, Phil. and Pol. Economy, Univ. of Brighton*; author, Democracy: the Long Revolution
  • Dave Hill, Prof./Visiting Prof. of Education at Universities of Middlesex (England), Limerick (Ireland), Athens (Greece)*
  • Brian Jones, actor (“Marx in Soho”), teacher, activist
  • Andy Kilmister, editor Debatte: Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe*
  • Stathis Kouvelakis, author, Philosophy and Revolution
  • Costas Lapavitsas, Prof. of Economics, School of African & Oriental Studies, Univ. of London*
  • Paul Le Blanc, author, A Short History of the US Working Class
  • Esther Leslie, Prof. in Political Aesthetics, Birkbeck University*
  • John Lister, Sr. Lecturer, Health Journalism, Coventry University*
  • Ken Loach, film-maker
  • Michael Löwy, author, Theory of Revolution in the Young Marx; The Marxism of Che Guevara
  • Soma Marik, author, Reinterrogating the Classical Marxist Discourses of Revolutionary Democracy
  • China Miéville, author, The City and the City; Embassytown; etc.
  • Immanuel Ness, editor, Working USA*, and The Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest
  • Bryan Palmer, author, James P. Cannon and the American Revolutionary Left
  • William A. Pelz, Director, Institute of Working Class History*
  • Shalini Puri, Director of Literature, Univ. of Pittsburgh; author, The Post-Colonial Caribbean
  • John Rees, ed. board, Counterfire*; author, The Algebra of Revolution
  • John Riddell, editor, of multi-volume documentary, The Communist International in Lenin’s Time
  • Ingo Schmidt, Academic Coordinator, Labour Studies, Athabasca University (Canada)*
  • Helen C. Scott, Prof. of English, University of Vermont*
  • George Shriver, writer & translator
  • Kostas Skordoulis, Prof. of Physics, Univ. of Athens*; OKDE-Spartakos*
  • Sharon Smith, author, Subterranean Fire
  • Bhaskar Sunkara, Editor, Jacobin*
  • Peter Thomas, ed. board, Historical Materialism*; author, The Gramscian Moment
  • Alan Thornett, veteran trade union activist; author, Militant Years: car workers’ struggles in Britain in the 60s and 70s
  • Achin Vaniak, Prof. of Political Science, Delhi University*, author, Globalization and South Asia
  • Alan Wald, ed. board, Against the Current*
  • Victor Wallis, managing editor, Socialism and Democracy*
  • Susan Weissman, ed. board, Critique*; author, Victor Serge: The Course is Set on Hope
  • Michael Yates, assoc. editor, Monthly Review*; editorial director, Monthly Review Press*
Posted in Books & Reports, Marxist theory

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Jeff White
4 years 7 months ago

“Let the German Government Socialists cry that the rule of the Bolsheviks in Russia is a distorted expression of the dictatorship of the proletariat. If it was or is such, that is only because it is a product of the behavior of the German proletariat, in itself a distorted expression of the socialist class struggle. All of us are subject to the laws of history, and it is only internationally that the socialist order of society can be realized. The Bolsheviks have shown that they are capable of everything that a genuine revolutionary party can contribute within the limits of historical possibilities. They are not supposed to perform miracles. For a model and faultless proletarian revolution in an isolated land, exhausted by world war, strangled by imperialism, betrayed by the international proletariat, would be a miracle.

“What is in order is to distinguish the essential from the non-essential, the kernel from the accidental excrescences in the politics of the Bolsheviks. In the present period, when we face decisive final struggles in all the world, the most important problem of socialism was and is the burning question of our time. It is not a matter of this or that secondary question of tactics, but of the capacity for action of the proletariat, the strength to act, the will to power of socialism as such. In this, Lenin and Trotsky and their friends were the first, those who went ahead as an example to the proletariat of the world; they are still the only ones up to now who can cry with Hutten: “I have dared!”

“This is the essential and enduring in Bolshevik policy. In this sense theirs is the immortal historical service of having marched at the head of the international proletariat with the conquest of political power and the practical placing of the problem of the realization of socialism, and of having advanced mightily the settlement of the score between capital and labor in the entire world. In Russia, the problem could only be posed. It could not be solved in Russia. And in this sense, the future everywhere belongs to -Bolshevism.'”>

– Rosa Luxemburg, The Russian Revolution

4 years 7 months ago

I strongly take issue with the assertion that Trotsky and Lenin were ‘compelling revolutionaries.’ Tell that to the Kronstadt sailors, the Makhnovists, the victims of the Cheka, the subordinated workers, the starving peasants… Rosa is different; she is in my view far more worthy of the term revolutionary.