Obituary: Professor Narihiko Ito (1931 – 2017) Founder and (honorable) Chairman of the International Rosa Luxemburg Society

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Professor Narihiko Ito (1931 – 2017)

Founder and (honorable) Chairman of the International Rosa Luxemburg Society

On 29 November 2017 at the age of 86 Professor Narihiko Ito, the Japanese Rosa Luxemburg and peace researcher, passed away.

Narihiko Ito was born in 1931 in the old imperial capital of Kamakura which was his residence most of his life time. Till his retirement as Emeritus Professor in 2002, he taught as a distinguished professor in the faculty of Social Sciences at the Chuô University in Tokyo. In between he acted as Visiting Professor in places among which particularly notable is the University of Osnabrück (Germany). Since his young days his social, political and scientific engagement has been concentrated on peace and conflict research. Among his numerous international activities what needs to be stressed in this context is that in 2002-2004 he acted as the Co-Chairman of the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan (IC-TA) and in 2004-2005 of the International Criminal Tribunal for Iraq (ICTI).

Among the researchers he obtained international reputation particularly through his sustained activities over three and half decades as the chairman of the International Rosa Luxemburg Society, which was founded in Zürich in 1980 on his initiative. Since then the Society has held many scientific conferences with large international participation in different cities of the world (Beijing, Berlin [2x], Bochum [Germany], Chicago, Guangzhou [China], Hamburg, Moscow, Paris [2x], Seoul, Tampere [Finland], Tokyo [2x], Warsaw, Zürich [2x]) and has, besides, published a series of conference volumes. In the years of the “Cold War” his special concern was to see to it that Rosa Luxemburg researchers from the East and the West could meet and come to an understanding. Further, as a Member of the Advisory Body and as a representative of Japanese social scientists Narihiko Ito has, for many decades, collaborated with the International Conference of Labor and Social History – ITH — in its annual conferences held in Linz.

The list of his publications in Japanese, German and English is long. To name, for example : in Japanese : “Light towards overcoming of Darkness — For Relations between Japan and Korea in the 21st century” (2000); “A History of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution” (2001, Korean translation 2005, German translation 2006); “Peace and Justice in Palestine !” (2002); in German : ‘Rosa Luxemburg “I embrace you, I so much long for you ”. Letters from Prison 1915-1918’ (Bonn 1980, 1984, 1996); “Japan and peaceful reunification of Korea” (Osnabrück, 2002); “The Peace Article of the Japanese Constitution — for a World without War and Militarism” (Münster 2006); with Annelies Laschitza & Ottokar Luban (eds.) “Rosa Luxemburg. Economic and historic-political aspects of her Work” (Berlin 2010); German/English: “Guide to the Thought of Rosa Luxemburg” (Tokyo 2007). In 2011 he was conferred the “Literati Network Award for Excellence 2011” for his essay “Is the national question an aporia for humanity? How to read Rosa Luxemburg’s ‘The national question and autonomy’”, in: Research in Political Economy, 2011/vol. 26.

The major accomplishment of his life has been the struggle for the retention of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which forbids the right to wage war, the working of which the conservative Japanese regime has always tried to strike at. Among other activities he has been involved in intensive activities concerning an understanding with Korea after the end of Japanese colonial rule. On the occasion of the centenary of Japan’s annexation of Korea Narihiko Ito organized a big Congress in Tokyo in 2010 in which more than 1000 persons participated. No such comparable event has taken place in the two Koreas. A decade long friendship tied him in 2009 with the deceased South Korean President Kim Dae-Jong, the initiator of “sunshine politics”. As member of the Steering Committee of the Annual China-Japan Civil meet for Peace in Asia as well as a Rosa Luxemburg researcher since 1986 he has been tied up with the Chinese colleagues towards building up important contacts for reconciliation with China, which was once occupied by Japan.

The other meaningful achievement of his life has been his self-funded work on Rosa Luxemburg and the constant, intensive inspiration that he has provided to international Rosa Luxemburg research through the scholarly network, the International Rosa Luxemburg Society, which he has guided. Thus, he initiated even the last international Rosa Luxemburg conferences in Moscow (2011), Paris (2013) and Seoul (2015) and in 2014 brought out a volume in Japanese comprising the presentations made in these conferences. Despite his impaired health, particularly his eye sight, as its honored chairman his wide contacts with the International Rosa Luxemburg Society continue. Because of this inspiration a wide range of essays, monographs, editions, conference volumes over Rosa Luxemburg has appeared in different parts of the world over the last few years : in Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain, India, South Korea, USA (see: site “Weitere Ankündigungen”).

Most importantly, supplementary volumes of the hitherto unknown works of Rosa Luxemburg are being published under the editorship of Annelies Laschitza and Eckhard Müller (2 volumes, each 900 pages) and Holger Politt is engaged in editing the translations of the Polish works as well. For international Rosa Luxemburg research what is of great importance is the English language project of “The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg” in which two volumes, under the chief editorship of Peter Hudis, have appeared (see: site “Weitere Ankündigungen”) and there is also the Chinese project of bringing out an edition of the complete works. In France too, after publication of three volumes a complete edition of Luxemburg’s works is being worked upon (see: site “Français).

Professor Narihiko Ito has contributed as a prominent motive builder that Rosa Luxemburg’s ideas have not only stayed alive but the circulation of her ideas is being experienced internationally too very widely. His colleagues and friends all over the world will keep his legacy and continue his work.

Prepared by György Széll and Ottokar Luban – Translation into English: Sobhanlal Datta Gupta

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Call for papers: “International Rosa Luxemburg Conference: Rosa Luxemburg and Her Ideas: Engaging the Left and Impacting the World” (26 – 29 April, 2018 – Chicago, USA)

International Rosa Luxemburg Conference
Founded 1980 by Prof. Dr. Narihiko  Ito  (Tokyo)
Rosa Luxemburg and Her Ideas: Engaging the Left and Impacting the World

26 – 29 April, 2018 – Chicago (USA)

Conference Language: English
Rosa Luxemburg dedicated her life to the fight against war, poverty, exploitation and any kind of suppression. Yet today in the age of neo-liberalism, we have the same problems as in the beginning of the 20th century. Luxemburg, a versatile Marxist theoretician, excellent journalist, and effective agitator has left us a body of work that may support and impact on the present left. We invite you to present relevant papers on the life and work of Rosa Luxemburg and her close comrades.

 OrganizerInternational Rosa Luxemburg Society:

– Prof. (pens.) Dr. Sobhanlal Datta Gupta, Kolkata, India,
– Prof. Dr. William A. Pelz, Chicago, Illinois, USA,
– Prof. Dr. Pablo Slavin, Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Co-Sponsor:   Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Office New York:
– Dr. Albert Scharenberg, Co-Director, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, New York, USA
Send paper proposals by 31 December 2017 with abstract of 300-500 words, paper title and short vita to Ottokar Luban, Voluntary Secretary: with a copy to William A. Pelz,   A very limited number of travel grants will be available, please indicate if you would like to apply for one.

Registration [Free]:

Ottokar Luban, Berlin, Germany:



Recent Publications on Rosa Luxemburg and her Group and Party



The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg

Volume 1: Economic Writings I, edited by Peter Hudis, London / New York November 2013, Hardback, 464 pages, ISBN: 9781844679744

Volume II: Economic Writings 2, edited by Peter Hudis and Paul LeBlanc, London / New York 2015, Hardback, 576 pages; ISBN: 9781781688526  

Rosa Luxemburg (1871–1919) is widely regarded as one of the most creative writers of modern socialism and the foremost female theoretician of European radicalism. Her wide-ranging and incisive works, which include studies on capitalism’s inherent drive for global expansion, the relation between spontaneity and organization, and the inseparability of democracy and socialism, have made her a pole of attraction for theorists and activists around the world. Her fiercely independent intellect and uncompromising defense of human liberty speaks more powerfully to our era than to any other.

Volume II contains a new English translation of Luxemburg’s most important book, her theoretical masterpiece, The Accumulation of Capital (1913) as well as her response to its critics. Taken together, they constitute one of the most important Marxist studies of the globalization of capital.

The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg. Edited by Annelies Laschitza, Georg Adler, and Peter Hudis. Translated by George Shriver, Verso Publisher’s House New York / London 2011, ISBN-13:  978-1-84467-453-4

Red Rosa. A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg, written and illustrated by Kate Evans, edited and with an afterword by Paul Buhle, London /Brooklyn, N.Y., 2015. ISBN-13: 978-1-78478-099-9

Sobhanlal Datta Gupta: Rosa Luxemburg, Seribaan Publisher House Kolkata, India, 2015, Part I of the Series “The Socialist Vision and the Silenced Voices of Democracy: New Perspectives”. ISBN: 81-87492-51-1

Clara Zetkin. Letters and Writings. Revolutionary History, New Series, No. 1, Merlin Press London 2015, ISBN 978-0-85036-720-1

Ralf Hoffrogge, Norman LaPoerte (ed.): Weimar Communism as Mass Movement, 1918 – 1932, Lawrence & Wishart Chadwell Heath, UK, 2017, ISBN 9781910448984



Rosa Luxemburg. Gesammelte Werke. Band 6, 1893 bis 1906, hrsg. von Annelies Laschitza und Eckhard Müller. Karl Dietz Verlag Berlin 2014. 992 Seiten, Hardback. ISBN 978-3-320-02301-0

Rosa Luxemburg: Gesammelte Werke, Bd. 7/1 und 7/2, 1907 bis 1918, hrsg. von Annelies Laschitza und Eckhard Müller, Karl Dietz Verlag Berlin 2017, insges. ca. 1.300 Seiten, Hardback. Bd. 7/1: ISBN 978-3-320-02332-4, Bd. 7/2: ISBN 978-3-320-02333-1

Rosa Luxemburg: Arbeiterrevolution 1905/06. Polnische Texte, hrsg. u. übers. v. Holger Politt, Berlin 2015

Rosa Luxemburg: Nach dem Pogrom. Texte über Antisemitismus, 1910/11, hrsg. und aus dem Polnischen übersetzt von Holger Politt, Potsdam 2014

Rosa Luxemburg: Nationalitätenfrage und Autonomie, hrsg. und übersetzt von Holger Politt, Berlin 2012

Marga Voigt (Hg.): Clara Zetkin. Die Kriegsbriefe (1914 -1918), Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-320-02323-2

Heinz Deutschland (Hg.): Käte und Hermann Duncker. Ein Tagebuch in Briefen (1894 – 1953), incl. USB-Card mit dem vollständigen Briefwechsel, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-320-02314-0

Paul Frölich: Im radikalen Lager. Politische Autobiographie1890 – 1921. Hrsg. von Reiner Tosstorff, Berlin 2013,  Hardcover, ISBN 978-3-86163-147-7

Elisabeth Benz: Ein halbes Leben für die Revolution. Fritz Rück (1895-1959).

Eine politische Biografie, Essen 2014, ISBN 978-3-8375-1293-9

Ulrich Weitz: Der Mann im Schatten – Eduard Fuchs, Sitten-Fuchs, Sozialist, Konspirateur, Sammler, Mäzen, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-320-02299-0



Journal Agone No. 59, 2016
Révolution et démocratie. Actualité de Rosa Luxemburg

SBN : 9782748902297, 20.00 € , Coordination : Éric Sevault & Philippe Olivera

Ce numéro de la revue Agone s’inscrit dans la continuité du travail entrepris par les éditions Agone et le collectif Smolny pour la publication des œuvres complètes de Rosa Luxemburg, dont quatre volumes sont déjà parus. Il reprend la plupart des interventions de la conférence organisée à Paris en octobre 2013 par la Société internationale Rosa Luxemburg.

Sommaire :
Alexeï Gusev: Rosa Luxemburg et la démocratie socialiste. Un jalon essentiel dans l’histoire de la pensée marxiste,
Ottokar Luban: La spontanéité créative des masses selon Rosa Luxemburg,
Michael Löwy: “Le coup de marteau de la révolution” La critique de la démocratie bourgeoise chez Rosa Luxemburg,
Sobhanlal Data Gupta La démocratie révolutionnaire chez Rosa Luxemburg à la lumière de sa correspondance,
Claudie Weil: Les libertés contre les droits : nation et démocratie chez Rosa Luxemburg,
Ben Lewis: Rosa Luxemburg et la République,
David Muhlmann: Du contenu de la démocratie socialiste,
Isabel Loureiro: Une démocratie par l’expérience révolutionnaire. Lukacs, lecteur de Rosa Luxemburg,
Jörg Wollenberg: Rosa Luxemburg et la “liberté de ceux qui pensent autrement”. Le groupe Neuer Weg et l’édition de la Révolution russe à Paris en 1939,
Frigga Haug: Sur les traces de Rosa Luxemburg, pour une démocratie par le bas.

Projet de Collectif Smolny – Éditions Agone
OEuvres complètes der Rosa Luxemburg

 – Tome I : Introduction à l’économie politique, Préface de Louis Jnover
[Octobre 2009]
– Tome II : Ã l’école du socialisme Postface de Michael Kraetke
[Octobre 2012]
– Tome III : Le Socialisme en France ( 1898 – 1912) Préface de Jean-Numa Ducange )
[Octobre 2013
– Tome IV : La brochure de Junius, la guerre et l’lnternationale ( 1907 – 1916 )
[Octobre 2014]
 – L’accumulation du capital [2017]
– La Pologne et la Question nationale [2018]
– Colonialisme, militarisme et impérialisme [2019]
–  Correspondance complete, premier tome 2017

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‘The World Holiday of the Proletariat’; Rosa Luxemburg on May Day

Source: ‘The World Holiday of the Proletariat’; Rosa Luxemburg on May Day

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On This Day: 13 January 1919: The ‘Spartacist Rising’ ends in failure… but for Rosa Luxemburg the resulting order is nothing but a ‘House of Cards’


Vorwarts Building after rising- 11 Jan 1919- IISGAnti-Spartakist Flyer- 11 Jan 1919- DHM

(The ‘Vorwarts’ newspaper building after being re-taken by government forces- 11 Jan 1919 (International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam) and an anti-Spartacist flyer from the same date (Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM), Berlin)

Over the weekend of 11- 12 January, government forces regained control of Berlin from the armed revolutonary forces led by the Independent Socialists, Communists and Revolutionary Shop Stewards.

Berlins Befreiung von Spartacus- Berlin Lokal-Anzeiger- 12 Jan 1919- DHMVorwarts is Taken! leaflet- 12 Jan 1919- DHM

(‘Berlin’s Liberation from Spartakus’ Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, 12 Jan 1919 (DHM) and ‘Vorwarts is taken!’ leaflet from same day (DHM))

By Sunday 12 January, it was clear that the ‘rising’ (as the victorious government labelled it) had failed. Hundreds lay dead and the leaders of the demonstrations and armed revolutionaries were either imprisoned, dead or in hiding.

The leaders of the fledgling Communist Party, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, refused to flee Berlin to a safer city and went underground, moving from house to house around Berlin to avoid capture by the…

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On This Day: 10 January 1919: The Spartacist Rising



By Friday 10 January 1919, it had become clear to most of those involved that the demonstrations, strikes and armed struggle known as the ‘Spartacist Rising’, against the Ebert-Scheidemann was failing.  The government had gained the upper hand in Berlin, the ‘Vorwarts’ building was re-taken and a front-page announced the success of the government ‘Offensive Against Spartacus’.

The ‘Freikorps’, under the command of Defence Minister Gustav Noske, were beating the armed revolutionaries back and re-taking the city. Meanwhile, the ‘Revolutionary Committee’ of the Communists, Independent Socialists and Revolutionary Shop Stewards was disintegrating. That evening, the Communist leadership announced that they were ending all joint actions with the Shop Stewards, and effectively withdrew from the struggle. On the  ground though, fierce fighting between armed workers and government forces continued.

(Source: Ottokar Luban, ‘Rosa at a Loss’:

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‘Actually, Rosa Luxemburg Was Not a Self-Hating Jew’ – Tablet magazine

Contrary to what is widely believed, the Polish-Jewish anti-war activist was first and foremost a humanist, and both a victim and active opponent of anti-Semitism

By Rory Castle Jones

Joseph Telushkin’s article, “Black Lives Matter and Self-Hating Jews,” published on Tablet yesterday, put forth a long-held claim that Polish-Jewish-German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg was the archetypal “self-hating Jew.” I take issue here with the characterization of Luxemburg as a self-hating Jew and dispute much of the evidence provided by Telushkin.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Was Rosa Luxemburg a self-hating Jew?

A Response to Joseph Telushkin in Tablet magazine and Wesley Pruden in The Washington Times

by Dr Rory Castle Jones

Untitled1 Untitled2

The two articles in question, in Tablet and The Washington Times

Yesterday, a piece by Joseph Telushkin appeared in the online magazine Tablet entitled ‘Black Lives Matter and Self-Hating Jews’, followed by an opinion piece in The Washington Times by Wesley Pruden with the title ‘The endless war against the Jews’. Both put forth the long-established claim that the Polish-Jewish-German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) was the archetypal “self-hating Jew”. The Times piece was headed by a large photograph of Luxemburg. Although both articles were about the Black Lives Matter movement and Jews who support it, I take issue here with the characterisation of Luxemburg as a self-hating Jew and dispute much of the evidence provided by Telushkin, which is then repeated by Pruden.

In Telushkin’s piece, he begins by describing Luxemburg (whose surname is unfortunately misspelt) as “one of the most famous” self-hating Jews. It is true that Luxemburg has often been labelled as such (from her opponents in the Jewish Bund in the Russian Empire onwards), but the accusation itself is utterly false. Telushkin writes:

“when approached to denounce anti-Jewish pogroms, [Luxemburg] responded with this heartwarming declaration:  “Why do you come to me with your special Jewish sorrows?… I cannot find a special corner in my heart for the ghetto. I feel at home in the entire world wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears.”

This is incorrect. The letter quoted is Luxemburg’s 16 February 1917 letter to her friend, the German-Jewish socialist and feminist Mathilde Wurm (1874-1935), written by Luxemburg in her prison cell during the First World War. Wurm had recommended that Luxemburg read the seventeenth-century Jewish philosopher Spinoza and had apparently written of the “special suffering of the Jews”. Luxemburg, who raised in a religious Jewish home in Warsaw which was nevertheless strongly acculturated into Polish culture and influenced by the Haskala (Jewish Enlightenment), rejected the idea that Jewish suffering was any more (or less) worthy of sympathy than other human suffering. A fuller quote from her letter to Wurm is:

“Above all one must at all times live as a complete human being […] read only the good ones, not such kitsch as the “Spinoza novel” which you sent me. What do you want with this theme of the “special suffering of the Jews”? I am just as much concerned with the poor victims on the rubber plantations of Putumayo, the Blacks in Africa with whose corpses the Europeans play catch […] they resound with me so strongly that I have no special place in my heart for the ghetto. I feel at home in the entire world, wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears.”

Luxemburg was certainly not responding to a request to “denounce anti-Jewish pogroms” as Telushkin claims. Rather, she was expressing her strongly held internationalism and humanism. In reality, Luxemburg was the victim of anti-Semitic attacks throughout her life in both Poland and Germany. She campaigned against anti-Semitism consistently and the party she led, the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL) was in the vanguard of opposition to anti-Semitism in the Russian Empire. This has been documented by the Polish scholar Wiktor Marzec in a number of articles and in my own published articles and doctoral research.

Telushkin also claims that Luxemburg was “indifferent” to the death of her mother and quotes a letter from her father:

“An eagle soars so high he loses sight of the earth below… I shall not burden you any more with my letters.”

Telushkin presumably takes this from Elżbieta Ettinger’s 1987 biography of Luxemburg, which dramatised and rather distorted Luxemburg’s familial relations. In fact, Luxemburg was devastated by her mother’s death, as is clear from numerous letters to and from her closest family and friends. Furthermore, Luxemburg’s mother died in September 1897 and the letter from Luxemburg’s father which Telushkin quotes is from April 1900 and had nothing to do with Luxemburg’s late mother. In fact, it reflected the sadness of an elderly dying man at not being able to see his daughter in his final years. This single letter has unfortunately been misused to present a totally false picture of the relationship between Luxemburg and her father. In reality, she personally nursed him during his final illness and he was immensely proud of his daughter’s achievements. Luxemburg maintained very close relations with all of her family, some of whom remained within the official Jewish community and some of whom left it.

Telushkin is correct in saying that Lenin wrote of Luxemburg as an “eagle”. What he misses is the complexity of the political relationship and ideological differences between Luxemburg and Lenin, which have been the subject of much scholarly attention and discussion. Telushkin then moves straight on to Stalin, implying a link between Luxemburg the anti-Semitic and murderous tyrant. In fact, Stalin purged the Communist movement of ‘Luxemburgian’ ideas, dismissed her democratic socialism, and ruthlessly persecuted and murdered her family, friends and comrades.

I will leave the comments about Marx as a self-hating Jew to others.

The late Professor Robert Wistrich, the eminent scholar of anti-Semitism and Jewish self-hatred, wrote as long ago as 1977 that Luxemburg “does not appear to have suffered from the obvious symptoms of self-hatred”. Nevertheless, the image of Luxemburg as the archetypal ‘self-hating Jew’ remains commonplace. Whatever the rights and wrongs of using this term, it is unfortunate that distortions about Rosa Luxemburg’s Jewish identity remain widespread. Rosa Luxemburg was both a victim and active opponent of anti-Semitism. Her witnessing of the terrible Warsaw pogrom of 1881 as a ten year old schoolgirl was in fact a major factor in her political awakening. Such accusations as those put forth by Telushkin and repeated by Pruden must now be challenged in the light of new research, scholarship and understanding of Luxemburg’s Jewish identity.

Dr Rory Castle Jones was awarded a PhD for his thesis ‘A Study of the Identity, Family, and Background of Rosa Luxemburg 1871-1919’ by Swansea University in 2016. He has written a number of articles on the subject, is a member of the Advisory Board of The International Rosa Luxemburg Society, and is is co-editing the fourth volume of The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg.


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