Rosa Luxemburg occupies a complex place in our history partly because there are several different Rosa's one can find scattered across the world; the feminist activist, revolutionary Marxist, economist, journalist, essayist literary and critic all have been picked up in coopted by different movements at different times. While this speaks to her versatility as a thinker, writer and person, it also reflects the fragmented way in which her writing has been collected, edited, translated and published. A pamphlet here, an essay there, a book or 2 and several collections of letters but little effort has been made to present her in a thorough, well organized format. Luckily that is changing with the ongoing efforts to publish the entirety of her output in English translation, the vast majority of it being translated now for the first time by Verso.
Spearheading this project is Peter Hudis and a team of international scholars who are working to collect and translate her work and publish it in a complete collected edition. As of right now they have published a 500-page collection of letters, two volumes of economic writings and a volume of her political writings (all approximately 600 pages) and the series is currently projected to have somewhere between 15 and 20 volumes when complete, although because so much for work is still being discovered in various archives across Europe it may expand beyond that as well. This episode will be a sort of introduction where we discuss the basics of Luxemburg's life, the key themes of her work, and the editorial efforts going on behind the scenes to make this project a reality, but we're hoping to do more episodes exploring each volume in greater depth as they're made available.
Obviously a massive project like this is incredibly time consuming and resource intensive, which is why the people behind it are asking for your help. While some funds have been made available the team is still looking for some extra funding to put towards the translation efforts. The editors are not being paid for the work they do on this; for them it's a labor of love, but the crowdfunding will go to the numerous translators being brought on board. If you are excited and able to help visit the Toledo Translation Fund and contribute to the project.
Peter Hudis is a lifelong activist and is a professor of philosophy and humanities at Oakton Community College. In addition to being the general editor of the Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, he is the author of Marx's Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism and Frantz Fanon: Philosopher of the Barricades. He also wrote a new preface to the reprint of J.P. Nettl's biography of Rosa Luxemburg, reprinted in a single volume by Verso in 2019.