Translating Rosa Luxemburg’s speech – In Defense of Nationality (1900) – thoughts concerning today’s situation
Rosa held the speech to incite the Poles in Poznan against Prussian oppression after the German government had passed a law banning the Polish language from schools in German-occupied Poland.
Education, the intellectual nourishment for life, which they are supposed to absorb in school, will be presented to them in a language that is completely strange and unintelligible to them! Are these not outrageous circumstances? The schools were founded for this purpose, the people send their children to school, so they can absorb the light of science, so they grow into knowledgeable, educated people, for their own benefit and for their country’s joy. In Poznan, however, school will not serve the education of the children, but turn them into spiritual cripples, who do not know their own nationality and language, not to sow the seed of knowledge and civilization, but for the violent spread of German identity.
Luxemburg appeals to parents’ national and religious sentiments, much like modern German identity politics from the Left seek to preserve national “Schutzhaft” as protection against Germanization. Of course, if we assume progress was specifically German, we are doing more honor to the Germans than they deserve and declaring everything “foreign” as “uncivilized,” as needing protection. Likewise, any (wannabe) minorities cannot escape the curses and blessings of our modern times, simply by declaring their disaffection for the society they are.
This is not the first attack of the Prussian authorities on our language and nationality. For more than twenty years, the government has been displacing the Polish language from Poznan’s schools, eliminating the Polish element from public offices and from public life, spending hundreds of millions for “colonization,” i.e. for the Germanization of our regions. It endeavors to forcibly transplant Germans – peasants and tradesmen – to Polish soil, and all that with a tenacity and perseverance that would be worthy of a better cause.
In fact, Hitler later praised “Eastern Settlement” as the new “thing” and denounced “Anglo-Saxon” colonialism outside of Europe. We must not forget, that Poland suffered under direct occupation or puppet regimes for most of its national existence. In peacetime, it still serves Germany as a reservoir for second-class labor. German prosperity is a direct result of Polish misery. Poland is, in a sense, the Mexico of Germany.
Your hair stands up when you think about these attempts, your fist clenches out of desperation, that such things have been happening in broad daylight before the eyes of all Europe and the entire civilized world for decades, and none of the elites speak out, no one pushes back the Germanizing power; the Hakatists laugh at our weakness and quietly continue their work of uprooting Polish identity, as if they were doing the world’s most honorable and righteous work.
The Hakatists were a colonial movement, which aimed to “free” the “German Eastern Marches” (Western Poland) from Poles. The movement’s social base were the petty bourgeoisie: Civil servants, tradespeople, merchants, teachers, landowners. Its leaders were the Prussian aristocracy, the same gang who spawned the Anti-Semite movement, a predecessor to Nazism. Engels gives a straight explanation in his article “On Anti-Semitism.” Just as today, the most racist elements recruit their members from the core of respectable German society.
Little wonder that the return of the Junkers to East Germany coincides with a large wave of modern forms of German xenophobia. The leader of the mysteriously successful anti-immigration party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), Beatrix von Storch, Countess of Oldenburg, is also a campaigner for the “reunification” of Prussian aristocrats with their property, which was nationalized in the GDR.
Her association “Studenten für den Rechtsstaat” (Students for the Rule of Law) pursues the re-feudalization of Germany. We are witnessing a return to medieval property relations. Historical irony: During recent state elections, the Socialist party (LINKE) was publicly pressured to denounce the GDR as a “state without rule of law” as a prerequisite for coalition talks with the Social Democrats (SPD). So while Reds and Pinks haggle over the correct definition of injustice, the AfD is returning the gang behind Hitler to their “homeland.”
“It’s the German’s fault. The Germans are oppressing us.” This is what Polish papers in the Poznan province always write. But is it possible to put at fault the entire German people, 50 million Germans? This would be a great injustice and a great error, which we would suffer most from.
Jew, Pole, woman, academic and member of the German parliament. Rosa Luxemburg had many of identities (but we can assume the most “valuable” got her the job). Here she defends her people against her people and upholds proletarian internationalism. In today’s Germany, too, Germans are often blamed for the racism of their government. I am not sure wheter or not we can draw a line between people and their elected rulers.
But like Luxemburg, I see “Anti-German” sentiment as a tool of the elites. The “Anti-Germans” are the (fashion) elite of the left-wing movement. Their Pro-Israel stance is not just a break with all socialist politics since 1948, but also with the majority of Germany’s “Muslim” population. They are not Anti-German, but Anti-Muslim and not fundamentally anti-religious, but ethnocentric. Of course, some “Professionals of Color” also use German-bashing to build a profile, while their employers, clients and colleagues are mostly Germans.
In the following excerpt, I just replaced Hakatism with “Sarrazism” and “Polish” with “immigrant.” “Sarrazism” is a modern form of Hakatism spearheaded by the Social Democratic Party (SPD).
Both in their press and in the national and district parliaments, almost all German parties are either outright benevolent towards Sarrazism or react with cold indifference to the suppression of immigrant identity. At best, they bother to quietly grumble against these phenomena, which should cause any righteous person to throw lightning bolts! The Conservatives and the Liberals, the parties of the large estate owners and industrial millionaires, grind their teeth over the immigrants and give lively applause to all Germanization assaults. The “free thinkers” of various shades, the agents of commerce and finance, partly give spiritual support to the extermination of immigrant identity and partly – to save their honor, after all they are free thinkers! – grumble about Sarrazism in this or that minor newspaper.
Luxemburg goes on to decry the Catholic Zentrum party, to which the Poles clung “like a drunkard to a lamp-post.” As the strongest party in the German parliament, it cared little about either Catholics or Poles, and more about the interests of its aristocratic members, some of whom were also Poles.
The situation is no different today. Most members of parliament are highly educated – lawyers, teachers, doctors – the immigrants more so than the Germans, because they usually have to work twice as hard. Hardly any laborers by training sit in parliament, but the majority of the (immigrant) population are workers. Which class can expect their interests to be represented? What can a few lawyers do for the oppressed masses?
How can you expect that these “Catholic” aristocrats care about the oppressed Polish people, when they themselves live off the injustice they perpetrate against these people? How can these Zentrum aristocrats ensure that a Polish child can pray in its mother tongue, while they keep these Polish people in such misery that they have neither bread nor clothing for their children?
The wealth gap tends to be larger within national minorities than within the majority population. I.e., Poles in the German Empire were either very rich or very poor, the same went for Jews, and today applies to many non-EU immigrants. The upper classes are “absorbed” into German society. They become “Germans,” because they do jobs that Germans do. Someone within the regular German labor market cannot trust someone outside of it.
During Luxemburg’s times, all laborers were outside of the legal labor market – they could be fired at a day’s notice and had few rights valid in court. We cannot underestimate the effect of industrial labor becoming “legal” on the mentality of the German industrial worker. The labor conflict in Europe we must overcome today for any kind of alliance is the difference between legal and illegal workers.
The defense of Catholicism is just a faded business sign for the Zentrum, a hollow phrase. Finally it has surfaced, that a party consisting of magnates, counts and industrial millionaires cannot be a defender of the poor and downtrodden. In earlier times, the Zentrum members were enemies of the German government and friends of the people, today they are friends of the government and enemies of the people. Our Polish people should finally understand this and stop clinging to the door handle of the Catholic party for old times’ sake. The old times are over.
Religion is again the mobilizer of choice. West Germany always was a theocracy of sorts, ruled by a Christian fundamentalist party, the CDU. The CDU is the descendant of said Zentrum party, and now unites both confessions. The once very severe split between Northern Protestants and Southern Catholics is long healed.
It makes good sense, that the backlash against this German Christian Supremacy among non-Christians is also a religious one. In addition to their nationality, most young immigrants learn to identify by their religion. What good will it do? Ask Rosa:
Protestants, Catholics, or Jews – to us they are all the same, like the Prussian government, which is dismantling our nationality.
Is it not becoming for the German bourgeoisie that it can situate thousands of its sonnies in gainful positions in [Poland]? All this would be lost, would stay in Polish hands, if not the necessity to Germanize the Poles had been invented. So long live the dear “German fatherland,” which again served as a dairy cow, and go for the Poles!
This is very similar to the current Germanization campaign. Countless jobs for social workers, teachers, engineers, doctors, restaurant owners and “experts” have been created in German inner cities. Of course all went to the “most qualified” candidates – and most of those were Germans or non-white academics.
And the same German magnates, who want to erase every trace of Polish identity in Prussia, the “sweet fatherland” always on their tongues, order Polish farm hands by the thousands from Poland, because they are cheaper and dumber, because they are easy to fool and do not scorn the whip. So, if exterminating Polish identity pays, long live Hakatism! But if the spread of Polish identity is necessary for the estate, welcome stupid Polish servant! As long as profits flow!
Contrary to the dominant story, immigration is not a new phenomenon in Germany. Immigrants formed a major part of the workforce – even under Hitler. There was never a time in recent German history where labor was really German. The ones who baked the cake weren’t those who ate it.
Chauvinist schizophrenia towards immigrants prevails in modern Germany. Both post-war Germanies imported foreign workers by the trainwagon to supply German industry with labor and cultivated hate in the native population against the “wage cutters.”
Our Polish delegates sit like mummies in national and subnational parliaments; they have achieved neither power, nor influence, nor respect. […] The Social Democrats defend the Polish identity much more vigorously, although so far there is not a single Pole among them. Their influence made it possible that someone who declares in court, that he does not speak the German language sufficiently, must receive an official interpreter. Every year they reproach the government, because the children in Upper Silesia have no schools!
This destroys all hope for identity politics, where minorities represent themselves as minorities. Anyone with an issue must ally with the masses, not ask for a few more members of “their” minority in cushy seats. And yes, majority politics is preferable to token representation.
Basically, they belong to exactly the same kind of people as the German nobility and the German capitalists; they are equal. Although the Germans favor the Hakatists and the Poles allegedly defend their identity, the band of greed is stronger than national hate. Like the Germans, the main concern the Polish agrarians and industrialists have for the “fatherland” is how to best exploit the people working for them.
About the German oppressors, these “People’s Partisans” like to invent as much as possible, but to hear some bitter truths about their own Polish oppressors and exploiters is not according to their taste. They are afraid that the people might smarten up and therefore want to keep them on a leash with the help of the priests.
The next statement by a Catholic clergyman could come from any major religion in modern Germany:
“[…]I address you, be vigilant and pray so you may not be tempted, because outbursts and pain will serve the enemy of our souls, who offers alluring phrases to tempt you into overthrowing the divine and social order.”
And like the Catholics, modern Islamists, Rastas or other idiots claim that humans consist only of a cultural identity, i.e. “cultural hegemony” is their only problem. It is an old ruse, and all too often do I hear white leftists trying to lure “minorities” into it. As if your skin color or you hair cover were your only problem – that would be an easy life:
Does the Polish industrialist or landowner pay the Polish worker one bit better than a German one? Does not the Polish textile manufacturer ruin the Polish tradesman or the Polish seamstress just like the German one? They equal each other like two drops of water, whether they end in “-berg” or “-ski” – there is not the slightest difference in their relationship to the Polish working class.
Therefore our bourgeoisie and our nobility compete to convince us that nothing oppresses us but Germanization, that we have no enemies but the Hakatists. This is nothing but a maneuver, a policy to throw sand into the eyes of the working people, to divert its attention solely to the German enemies and to distract it from the enemies in its own house. These “leaders” of the people want the people to only think of their language and their Catholic religion, but not about their empty stomachs; to only fight the Hakatists, not against the exploitation by its own parasites, against oppression in the shape of politics, tariffs and the military.