Rosa Luxemburg

The Elections to the National Assembly

(December 1918)

First Published: Die Rote Fahne, December 23rd, 1918.
Source: Rosa Luxemburg: Selected Political Writings, edited and introduced by Robert Looker, pp.287-90.
Translated: (from the German) W.D. Graf.
Transcription/Markup: Ted Crawford/Brian Baggins with special thanks to Robert Looker for help with permissions.
Copyright: Random House, 1972, ISBN/ISSN: 0224005960. Printed with the permission of Random House. Luxemburg Internet Archive ( 2004.

Following their splendid ‘victory’ at the Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils,[1] the Ebert crowd believe their master stroke has succeeded against the power of the councils, against the proletarian revolution and socialism.

They are mistaken. The time has come to wipe out this counter-revolutionary plan, to thwart this action of the capitalist defence troops with a revolutionary action of the masses.

Just as we exploited the infamous Prussian three-class franchise to fight against the three-class parliament in the three-class parliament, so we will utilize the elections to the National Assembly to fight against the National Assembly.

Here, of course, the analogy stops. For real advocates of the revolution and of socialism, participation in the National Assembly today can have nothing in common with the customary traditional method of ‘exploiting parliament’ for so-called ‘positive gains’. We will not participate in the National Assembly in order to fall back into the old rut of parliamentarism, nor to apply minor corrective patches and cosmetics to the legislative bills, nor to ‘match forces’, nor to hold a review of our supporters, nor for any other reasons described in the well-known phraseology of the bourgeois-parliamentary treadmill and in the vocabulary of Haase and comrades.

Now we are in the middle of the revolution and the National Assembly is a counter-revolutionary stronghold erected against the revolutionary proletariat. The time has come, then, to assault and demolish this stronghold. The elections, the tribune of the National Assembly, must be utilized to mobilize the masses against the National Assembly and to rally them to the most exacting struggle. Our participation in the elections is necessary not in order to collaborate with the bourgeoisie and its shield-bearers in making laws, but to cast out the bourgeoisie and its shield-bearers from the temple, to storm the fortress of the counter-revolution, and to raise above it the victorious banner of the proletarian revolution.

In order to do this, is a majority in the National Assembly necessary? Only those who subscribe to parliamentary cretinism, who would decide the revolution and socialism with parliamentary majorities, believe this. Not the parliamentary majority in the National Assembly, but the proletarian mass outside, in the factories and on the streets, will decide the fate of the National Assembly.

The gentlemen around Ebert and Haase, the Junkers, capitalists and their hangers-on, would be very well pleased if they could be left to themselves and if the revolutionary proletariat were contented with the role of lookers-on, calmly watching while inside its fate is decided!

Nothing will come of this calculation. However quickly they may have brought their counter-revolutionary work safely under cover – thanks to the Mameluke Congress of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils – it is and remains nevertheless a calculation which overlooks the most vital factor. The vital factor is the proletarian mass, the real bearer of the revolution and its socialist tasks. It, the mass, shall decide on the fate and the outcome of the National Assembly. What happens in, what becomes of, the National Assembly depends upon its own revolutionary activity. The greatest importance therefore attaches to the action outside, which must batter furiously at the gates of the counter-revolutionary parliament. But even the elections themselves and the action of the revolutionary representatives of the mass inside parliament must serve the cause of the revolution. To denounce ruthlessly and loudly all the tricks and dodges of the esteemed assembly, to expose its counter-revolutionary work to the masses at every step, to call upon the masses to decide, to intervene – this is the task of the socialists’ participation in the National Assembly.

The bourgeois gentlemen, with the Ebert government at their head, would use the National Assembly to banish and cripple the class struggle and to avoid taking the revolutionary decision. In defiance of this plan, the class struggle should storm into the National Assembly itself; it should utilize the elections and the deliberations of the National Assembly precisely for the purpose of accelerating the revolutionary decision.

We are approaching turbulent times. Unemployment and economic conflicts will grow relentlessly in the next few weeks and months.

The great confrontation between capital and labour will determine the course of future history and, in its final result, admits of no other decision than the destruction of capitalist rule and the triumph of socialism. This confrontation will see to it that the masses’ revolutionary feeling and activity in the country will grow every day.

According to the plan of the Ebert crowd, the National Assembly will create a dam against this revolutionary deluge. So it must be a question of directing the deluge right into and through the National Assembly to wash the dam away. The electoral action and the floor of this counter-revolutionary parliament should be a means of training, rallying and mobilizing the revolutionary mass, and a stage in the struggle for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

An assault by the masses on the gates of the National Assembly, the clenched fist of the revolutionary proletariat raised from the middle of the assembly and waving the banner upon which glow the fiery letters: All power to the councils – this is our participation in the National Assembly!

Proletarians, Comrades, to work! There is no time to be lost. Today the ruling classes are still exulting at the victorious action of the Ebert government in the Congress ofCouncils; they are waiting and hoping for January 19th [2] as the return of their unhampered class rule. Let them not exult too soon. The Ides of March are not past, not even the Ides of January. The future belongs to the proletarian revolution; everything else must serve its purposes including the elections to the National Assembly.


[1] The Reich Congress of Councils, meeting in Berlin from December 16th, 1918, voted in support of the National Assembly and rejected proposals which would have invested the workers’ councils with supreme power.

[2] The date fixed for elections to the National Assembly.

Last updated on: 17.12.2008