“Destined to be caught and bloodily scratched”

Rosa Luxemburg’s Lessons for the Menshevik Republic of Georgia
L. Vachnadze

Reckoning with Rosa Luxemburg’s perspective on the Bolshevik policy of national self-determination in the Caucasus by briefly examining the politics and external affairs of the Democratic Republic of Georgia and the history of revolution-counterrevolution in the nationalism-ridden region. 


Marxists have always had trouble engaging with the discourse around nationalism and national liberation coherently. This stands especially true  today, when any calls for “self-determination” and the like are taken as inalienable caveats of revolutionary socialism that have been and must always be agreed upon by all. But besides sentimental moralism and vague generalizations, many do not have a clear framework from which one can deduce with certainty the necessity of adding such a slogan to a Party program altogether.

The French-Tunisian anti-colonialist, Albert Memmi, compared nationalism to an implement like a hammer – it can be used as a tool to build a house, or as a weapon to murder a person. Similarly, nationalism as a tool directed against colonial and imperial powers to combat national oppression can be ruled as “valid,” but nationalism weaponized as a vehicle of aggression and terror must be condemned. Therefore, there can be no unanimous, uniform and single judgment one can pass that will encompass all national movements, whether they be of the oppressor or the oppressed (even the latter, as we shall demonstrate later, can be used as a tool of aggression on other oppressed ethnicities and the like).

This was the case for Rosa Luxemburg as well, who opined that “national struggle is not always the appropriate form for the struggle for freedom” [1] but there are also “times when such phrases have a very real meaning in the history of the class struggles.” [2] Contrary to the popular “Luxemburgian national nihilism” narrative, she was very much conscious of just how sharply people reacted to national oppression and emphasized that nationalism cannot be alien to the working class:

The working class cannot be indifferent to the most intolerably barbaric oppression, directed as it is against the intellectual and cultural heritage of society. To the credit of mankind, history has universally established that even the most inhumane material oppression is not able to provoke such wrathful, fanatical rebellion and rage as the suppression of intellectual life in general, or as religious or national oppression. But only classes which are revolutionary by virtue of their material social situation are capable of heroic revolt and martyrdom in defense of these intellectual riches.” [3]

During the revolutionary period in Russia, the Social-Democracy (later the Communist movement) was able to put its theoretical approach to the National Question to practice. Endeavouring to inquire how exactly these policies played out historically must serve as a cornerstone of building up a contextual and concrete stance on the National Question in each individual case, just as Luxemburg herself tried to.

One such inquiry I have always wanted to make was investigating the consequences of a “Leninist national policy” in the Caucasus, or more specifically, in Georgia. Besides my personal connection to the country, I believe a historical exploration of the topic in a Georgian context uncovers much more about the character of national sloganeering than one may assume. Moreover, this is one of the most acute examples where Rosa Luxemburg’s critical attitude towards national self-determination proved to be strikingly accurate.

We shall proceed in briefly touching upon Luxemburg’s own stances on the question as well as the general nature of the entire debate and how it has progressed, only to return to Georgia and examine how well Luxemburg’s warnings stood the test of time.

The Self-Determination of Nations and Social Democracy

Marxism has always borne an international character. “Proletarians of all countries, unite!” is the last line of The Communist Manifesto, authored by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It is especially clear from the earlier writings of the duo that they envisioned a communist revolution and the following transformation on a global scale. Without a likewise worldwide revolution that would bring about man as a “world-historical, empirically universal” phenomenon, many scattered communisms, so to speak, would become “home-bred conditions surrounded by superstition”. [4]

The self-determination of nations was rarely a separate slogan or a necessary and sacrosanct point in Social-Democratic programs until the very end of the nineteenth century, as the International Socialist Workers and Trade Union Congress of London (the 4th congress of the Second International) officially affirmed the right of nations to self-determination and opposition to colonialism in 1896. Before this ratification, the said shibboleth was never divorced from contemporary political terrain, Luxemburg calling such declarations “democratic clichés and ideological metaphysics” [5] if not applied concretely and consciously. As Loren Goldner also points out:

The “right of nations to self-determination” was never, as an abstract principle, part of the revolutionary tradition separate from a geopolitical-strategic orientation to the unification of the working class, which is always an international class. Marx supported Irish nationalism against British rule, and Polish nationalism against Russian rule, but opposed Balkan nationalism that might weaken the Ottoman bulwark against Russian expansionism.” [6]

The imperialist epoch, which brought with it endless wars, bloodshed, conquests and annexations was the breaking point when it became urgent to formulate a concrete stance on the self-determination of nationalities and the attitude of the Social-Democracy towards the National and Colonial Questions, even though cries in support or against national liberation from a socialist point of view could already be heard while Marx and Engels were alive (even Engels in a
letter to Karl Kautsky, 7 February 1882, wrote about how the Polish people should not be deterred in trying to create an independent state of their own, no matter what form it would take).

The Second International saw many debates surrounding the subject (especially at the 4th Congress that affirmed the right to self-determination, described to be “the most agitated, the most tumultuous, and the most chaotic of all the congresses of the Second International” by Georges Haupt), as it was the center of Marxist activities at the time. The most distinct voices in these debates were that of Luxemburg, Kautsky, Lenin, Bauer (with his co-ideologue Karl Renner) and a few others. Such a colourful congregation was bound to produce many different approaches and positions on the National Question. Karl Kautsky came out in favor of a right to self-determination, to which Lenin agreed and carried the torch forward after Kautsky was “dethroned” and anathematized. Otto Bauer and Karl Renner, the Austro-Marxists, advocated for National-Cultural autonomy, even though this idea originally took root in Bundism. [6] Both Luxemburg and Lenin harshly condemned this stance as a chauvinistic one and rejected it fully, it being deemed as a “capitulation to bourgeois nationalism.” [8]

However, Lenin wasn’t very consistent on the question of self-determination himself. One problem arises when discussing who has this right, a nation or a class? Lenin seemed to have shifted to the former later in his life, whereas Luxemburg consistently held that it was only the working class who was able to actually and consistently combat national oppression, stating that “only classes which are revolutionary by virtue of their material social situation are capable of heroic revolt and martyrdom in defense of these intellectual riches” [9], condemning the national aspirations of the schlachta [a legally privileged noble class in the Kingdom of Poland – ed.] and the petite bourgeoisie, which differed substantially from that of the proletariat, especially in Poland. Lenin also tiptoed around the idea that support to national struggles should be given in very limited instances, writing that “it is only in isolated and exceptional cases that we can advance and actively support demands conducive to the establishment of a new class state” [10], opposing the independence of Poland against the Polish Socialist Party (a fierce enemy of Rosa Luxemburg’s SDKPiL) on his own terms and condemning the slogan of “complete and unreserved recognition of the right to national self-determination” as “nothing more than one of those bourgeois-democratic phrases.” [11]

At the same time, Lenin can also be seen being such a staunch proponent of self-determination, that he was willing to grant this right in every single case, even if this movement is exploited by and subordinated to imperialist interests:

The fact that the struggle for national liberation against one imperialist power may, under certain circumstances, be utilized by another “Great” Power in its equally imperialist interests should have no more weight in inducing Social Democracy to renounce its recognition of the right of nations to self-determination than the numerous case of the bourgeoisie utilizing republican slogans for the purpose of political deception…” [12]

Lenin was also uncertain on the question of federalism, opposing it at first but then adopting it for the Soviet Union later on, at least in a de jure way. Such inconsistencies cannot be noticed in Luxemburg’s stances. From the very beginning, she was fully committed to internationalism and viewed any national efforts – especially if they were subservient to a power other than Social Democracy – very skeptically, granting her recognition in limited scenarios (e.g. for Armenia) and allowing for likewise limited particularism. Owing to their diverging viewpoints, Luxemburg and Lenin engaged in many polemics on the topic of self-determination.

Surprisingly, Luxemburg’s own position was adopted by a large section of the Bolshevik Party and in 1919, outpowered Lenin on the issue, culminating in the disposal of the slogan of the right of self-determination from the platform of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, only to be reinstated after the issue became less acute. [13] It’s important to note, however – and this is something that has contributed and still contributes to the lasting confusion and irrational distaste around Luxemburg’s stances on the topic – that the Bolsheviks who seemingly followed Luxemburg’s line on self-determination were either unfamiliar with the full extent of her opinions or simply ignored them. For instance, Luxemburg also underlined (the much neglected) policy of safeguarding educational and cultural interests of minority groups through various provisions such as the incorporation of all ethnic groups in broad local self-government and a nation-wide linguistic law. All of these ideas amounted to a limited national-territorial autonomy and were infinitely closer to Lenin’s conception than to the “Luxemburgists” of the Bolshevik party, who frequently discarded this approach of hers. [14] Lenin’s polemics against the “national nihilist” Bolsheviks, one notable example being Kievsky, are taken to be a critique of Luxemburg’s approach on self-determination as well – and mistakenly so, as Lenin himself stresses on some differences Luxemburg and, in this case, Kievsky have on the National Question.

This lets us conclude a few things: first, that rejection of self-determination is not and has never been a uniform stance, just as support for national self-determination can be of many different kinds. Therefore it’s inadequate to equate Luxemburg’s methodology with the general framework of “national nihilism.” Second, the Leninist school of thought started out very inconsistently on the question of national liberation, only clarifying and shifting its positions during and after the First World War. Third, there was no rigid principle or an (explicit) moral judgement from Luxemburg’s side on this question, either for or against (even though she was inclined to go against most of the time), making her position varied and flexible, especially in the modern world. She offers a broad foundation on which we can  build after clearing the path from some errors and miscalculations stemming from various sources of her contemporary epoch.

Georgia and Nationalism

Georgia boasts an incredibly diverse, different and lengthy cultural heritage, which have always been a subject of ruthless defence, ever since the creation of the first centralized and unified Georgian kingdom at the beginning of the 11th century (Georgian formations have existed since the times of the ancient Greeks however, the famous argonaut voyage having Colchis, i.e. Western Georgia as its destination). The cradle of winemaking, the owner of one of world’s 14 unique writing scripts, the author of The Knight in the Panther’s Skin – Georgia can hardly be deemed irrelevant or forgettable.

In a likewise intensity, Georgia has had an extremely difficult past, riddled with invasions, colonizations, slave trade and all atrocities possible in the “old world.” From the Arabs, Perians and Mongols to the Seljuks, Ottomans and Russians, there were only  two centuries, the Georgian golden age (XII–XIII centuries), when the nation wasn’t partially or fully submerged in endless bloodshed and territorial loss. Georgian nationalism however, like most other nationalism, was only born in the 19th century, mainly as a reaction to contemporary Russian colonization – the Russian empire officially annexed Georgia from 1801 until the late 1870s, keeping it under Tsarist yoke until the Russian Revolution gave the nation an opportunity to break free. This nationalism was mainly the child of the local bourgeois intelligentsia (first the Pirveli and then the Meore Dasi), which strove to (re)create a unified Georgia mainly under one language, religion and culture. [15]

But with the introduction of the Mesame Dasi, a group of Georgian Social-Democrats founded in 1892, things got complicated. Georgia, then a part of the Russian Empire, was slowly starting to “awaken,” with the 1902 strikes in Batumi leaving many workers dead and arrested (The Georgian section of the RSDLP, especially Stalin, played a great role in these strikes). [16] The 1905 revolution brought the creation of the Guria Republic – a peasant formation, which demanded autonomy and social equality; Lenin deemed it the “most advanced peasant movement” of the region. [17]

After Tsarism collapsed in Russia and the Kerensky government took over, Transcaucasia (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) declared independence on April 22nd, 1918. But this project crumbled in just a few weeks. Finally, an independent and separate Georgian Republic was announced by the Mensheviks on May 26th, 1918. Both of these events happened under chaotic conditions. Just as Rosa Luxemburg predicted, the watchword of “self-determination” quickly and unfortunately became a bastion of counterrevolution. Upon German troops entering Georgia, Noe Zhordania, the head of the Menshevik cabinet and the first president of the republic, declared:

The German troops which have arrived in Tbilisi have come on the invitation of the government of Georgia itself, and that their task is, with the complete agreement of the said government, to defend the frontiers of the Georgian Democratic Republic.” [18]

History once again vindicated Luxemburg: “out of this addled egg crept the German bayonets,” she wrote about the Bolshevik provisions that would’ve given the imperial powers the ability to erect counterrevolutionary flags all around the struggling, nascent proletarian dictatorship. She understated it really – the German bayonets didn’t creep but marched straight into Georgia unhindered, with governmental consent and gratitude.

But we would be wrong to fault the Georgian people for all this. They were not at all welcoming to the British army, with which the local population in Batumi had a strained relationship. This shows us one more “problematic” side of the self-determination slogan – who really benefits from it and just how much self-determining the masses do themselves. In this case, and many others, it was the petit-bourgeois strata, the intelligentsia and the ruling class in general that seized upon the ability to separate and formalize its own existence as a nation, naturally making this act of “liberation” distant from the actual working classes, who remained just as oppressed materially as before.

In a likewise fashion, it was the ruling class, this time the Menshevik government in alliance with the Entente and the local bourgeoisie, that decided on such affairs. Rosa Luxemburg said as much:

To be sure, in all these cases, it was really not the “people” who engaged in these reactionary policies, but only the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois classes, who – in sharpest opposition to their own proletarian masses – perverted the “national right of self-determination” into an instrument of their counter-revolutionary class politics.” [19]

Georgia became a battlefield of the counterrevolution, with the Ottomans from the South (occupying Batumi, Akhaltsikhe, etc.), the British and Germans from the West, the Whites from the North, all placing their footmen on the ancient land. Seeing the immediate danger, Soviet Government proposed to Georgia an alliance against Denikin. This proposal was categorically rejected by the Georgian government. And what was the official reasoning for this rejection? Nothing but pure vitriol, chauvinism and hatred for the proletarian revolution:

You all know that the Soviet Russia offered us a military alliance. We have refused categorically. For what would such an alliance signify? It would mean breaking our link with Europe, as they [the Soviets] have broken, and turning towards the East, where they now look for their new allies. The West, or the East – this is the question that is posed to us and on this question, we cannot hesitate. We have always chosen and will continue to choose the West, and if the Bolsheviks cling to the East, this is only because the West refused them alliance, refused to recognize them. You can see now, that the paths of Georgia and of Russia have diverged in this as well. Our path leads us to Europe, while Russia moves towards Asia. I know, the enemies will say – you are siding with the imperialists! But I say without hesitation: I’d rather stand with western imperialists than with eastern fanatics! […] And what now, we may see ourselves dragged towards barbarity? No, we shall not go there, even if this path seems to lead more leftwards. On the contrary, we shall tell Soviet Russia: come back to Europe, embrace democracy, become a European nation!” [20]

Indeed, the official response from the Georgian government was a proud alliance with the imperialist powers against the world revolution, which it considered barbaric and “Asian.” Just as Luxemburg had written from prison in 1918, this recently granted self-determination was instantly “converted into a means of bourgeois class rule.” And such was the case in other recently-founded countries of Poland, Ukraine, etc., all of them being used as daggers of imperialist aggression. Retrospectively, the Bolsheviks themselves were forced to admit the erroneous policy, which almost cost them their victory, as a peril to the revolution:

The great imperialist slaughter brought acute changes into this question: all the bourgeois and social-patriotic parties seized hold of national self-determination, but at the wrong end. The warring governments were doing their utmost to adopt this watchword, first in the war with each other, and afterwards in the war against Soviet Russia. German imperialism flirted with the national independence of the Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Letts, Estonians, Finns, and the Caucasian peoples and used the watchwords at first against Tsarism, and subsequently, on a wider scale, against us.” [21]

Independent Georgia was made possible with the physical, material and diplomatic support of the Entente, with the help of the German rifles and the British soldiers, who stomped around in Adjara as they pleased. The slogan of self-determination was seized upon by the imperial forces, most notably the British General Walker, who flaunted it in the face of the Menshevik cabinet, assuring them that the British empire would stand by their side. The same was true for German militarism: On September 25th, 1918, Noe Zhordania sent a telegram to Von Kress, assuring him: “It is not in our interests to lower the prestige of Germany in the Caucasus.” Thus reluctantly, one must admit the correctness of Luxemburg’s remark, when she declared:

To be sure, without the help of German imperialism, without “the German rifle butts in German fists,” as Kautsky’s Neue Zeit put it, the Lubinskys and other little scoundrels of the Ukraine, the Erichs and Mannerheims of Finland, and the Baltic barons, would never have gotten the better of the socialist masses of the workers in their respective lands. But national separatism was the Trojan horse inside which the German “comrades,” bayonet in hand, made their entrance into all those lands.” [22]

A month after these words were penned, British troops entered Batumi, Georgia, of course with the full consent of the local government. Some Georgian Marxists were aware of these dangers. One such revolutionary, Filipe Makahradze, was on record as an opponent of Lenin’s theory of the right of national self-determination. As someone, who was well known for his internationalism, [23] he saw through this slogan the future issues it would spawn. On the other hand, the Georgian Mensheviks had an idealist theory of nationalities. Zhordania himself stated, that “nation is a moral individual, it has its own ethics, discipline and path, deviating from which dooms it.” [24] This metaphysical concoction was naturally of no practical use, and the chauvinistic Menshevik government exercised oppressive authority over other Georgian minorities. Shockingly (not so much for Luxemburg), an oppressed nation directed its recently gained independence against a part of its own population – the workers as a class and the minorities as a social subgroup. The exploited quickly became the exploiters, crushing uprisings of the Abkhazian and Ossetian peasants, who were supported by the Bolsheviks.

For example, the March 1918 uprisings in Ossetia (North Georgia), which was populated by poor peasants who sympathized with the Bolsheviks, was bloodily squashed by the Menshevik government and its punitive People’s Guard (something which Karl Kautsky ironically called a “tool in service of socialism” during his visit), the latter now being equated with the Georgias in the local peasants’ eyes. Ossetia was refused autonomy, and following similar riots in 1919, the Georgian government outlawed the National Council of South Ossetia, which was mainly dominated by the Bolsheviks. Thus, one oppressed ethnicity – Georgians, who suffered much cultural and social subjugation, now in turn, after gaining national independence, became the oppressor of another, smaller group, heightening ethnic tensions in the region, the consequences of which Georgia suffers from even today.

The Menshevik government did try to ratify some formal provisions with respect to minority populations, but not out of the kindness of its heart – with extreme internal instability, it couldn’t risk a mass revolt and had to give concessions to maintain its own position. The constitution (which was of no use, as it was adopted 4 days before the Bolshevik invasion) officially declared Abkhazia as an autonomous region, even though this couldn’t be seen in practice until after the Sovietization, even then in a distorted form. But the essence of Menshevik policy consisted of blatantly chauvinistic, eurocentric anti-socialism that enforced the interests of the imperialist Entente.


Yet, the most ironic result of the misguided policy of self-determination in the region was that Soviet Russia had no other choice but to eventually reconquest these lands through invasion and violation of the said principle. The Bolsheviks, after granting the right to Georgia to self-determine its own fate, quickly swooped in and neutered this right like it never existed. Grasping the unviability of their own slogan, the Party walked back on its promise in practice.. As per Luxemburg, “the phrases concerning self-determination and the entire nationalist movement, which at present constitute the greatest danger for international socialism, have experienced an extraordinary strengthening from the Russian Revolution.” [25] This is historically true, and Trotsky had to admit as much when reflecting on the Georgian Affair in 1922 while writing “Between Red and White.”

The ordeal that followed soon after, known as “the Georgian Affair” was one of the clearest demonstrations of just how disastrous elevating “self-determination” to an immutable principle can be. The 11th division of the Red Army entered Georgia in late February, 1921. Lenin was always very cautious about mistreating Georgia, emphasizing over and over again in private correspondence to give as many concessions as possible, negotiate with the Menshevik government, etc. In order to get Lenin’s consent for an official invasion, Stalin, Ordzhonikidze and Co., the main perpetrators of the Affair, had to deceive him and invent an entire story about how there was a revolt going on in Georgia and that the Bolsheviks had to help in the spirit of internationalism. For instance, in a letter to the revolutionary council of the 11th army, dated February 14, 1921 (just 10 days before the invasion), Lenin refers to “the uprising in Georgia.” In fact, no such thing had taken place – he was simply lied to in order to give his reluctant approval, and he so, signifying in the same letter that “the C.C. is inclined to permit the 11th Army to give active support to the uprising in Georgia and to occupy Tiflis, provided international rules are observed and all members of the 11th Army R.M.C. after a serious examination of all the data, vouch for success.”

Clearly, Lenin was wary of the situation from the start. He wrote to Stalin on April 18-19, 1921 that “we mustn’t do it the “Russian way.” We must do it the “Georgian” way,” recognizing the opportunities that great Russian chauvinism could take from the Affair. Unfortunately for disappointed Lenin, a Georgian himself wreaked havoc on it: Stalin mishandled the entire process from start to finish, concocting a false casus belli and then acting brutally against the unhappy Georgians, most of whom certainly had no wish to be reintegrated again. Frustrated, Lenin wrote in a letter dated March 6, 1923: “I am indignant over Orjonikidze’s rudeness and the connivance of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky.” He soon followed up with The Question of Nationalities or “Autonomization,” where he wrote:

From what I was told by Comrade Dzerzhinsky, who was at the head of the commission sent by the C.C. to “investigate” the Georgian incident, I could only draw the greatest apprehensions. If matters had come to such a pass that Orjonikidze could go to the extreme of applying physical violence, as Comrade Dzerzhinsky informed me, we can imagine what a mess we have got ourselves into. Obviously the whole business of “autonomization” was radically wrong and badly timed. […] I also fear that Comrade Dzerzhinsky, who went to the Caucasus to investigate the “crime” of those “nationalist-socialists”, distinguished himself there by his truly Russian frame of mind (it is common knowledge that people of other nationalities who have become Russified over-do this Russian frame of mind) and that the impartiality of his whole commission was typified well enough by Orgonikidze’s “manhandling”. The Georgian [Stalin] who is neglectful of this aspect of the question, or who carelessly flings about accusations of “nationalist-socialism” (whereas he himself is a real and true “nationalist-socialist”, and even a vulgar Great-Russian bully), violates, in substance, the interests of proletarian class solidarity… The political responsibility for all this truly Great-Russian nationalist campaign must, of course, be laid on Stalin and Dzerzhinsky.” [26]

Lenin summarized the Leninist problems best. The policy went awry. The slogan of self-determination had become a sham. It was abused and neglected, negated by the Party which had granted it in the first place. Soviet Russia, which had recognized Georgia officially not even a year prior, was now forcibly integrating a separate state through bloodshed and terror. In the same piece, Lenin described the policy as “a mere scrap of paper” if enforced as it was. He scrutinized all who had taken part in the Affair, which not only ruined the reputation of the Bolsheviks outside of its borders, but also stirred up conflicts internally, most notably exemplified by the 1924 anti-Soviet August uprising in Georgia – which the authorities had to suppress brutally, murdering 7,000-10,000 Georgians as a response. [27]

Lessons for Today

One example cannot serve as the source of an all-encompassing verdict on the National Question. But this is certainly the entire point. We can go back and forth, showing where the policy of self-determination failed and where it yielded positive results. The only deduction to be made from this for a Marxist is what Luxemburg stressed time and time again:

Dialectic[al] materialism, which is the basis of scientific socialism, has broken once and for all with this type of “eternal” formula. For the historical dialectic has shown that there are no “eternal” truths and that there are no “rights.” […] what is right and reasonable under some circumstances becomes nonsense and absurdity under others. Historical materialism has taught us that the real content of these “eternal” truths, rights, and formulae is determined only by the material social conditions of the environment in a given historical epoch.” [28]

The Georgian example showcased just how counterproductive and unfeasible it is to apply a single slogan uniformly as a “principle” or “right.” It represents one case among many, where a slogan playing into national sentiments can result in disastrous repercussions. No matter the moral content behind it, the crux of the disagreement between Lenin and Luxemburg was precisely whether such a right existed at all. The latter argued that it didn’t. For Luxemburg, opting for this slogan with undefined terms was not a way of solving the problem of nationalism, but a way of avoiding the essential questions, thereby making things worse. Luxemburg’s fierce opposition to national oppression and her advocation of national liberation it in some instances shows that she certainly, but more implicitly (and we can fault her for this ambiguity) recognized a quasi-moral justification for self-determination in general: “It is true that socialism gives to every people the right of independence and the freedom of independent control of its own destinies…” [29]

We do neither deny nor affirm any such “right to self-determination” in principle, but consider each case in conjunction with the prevailing conditions. There certainly are moments where an organization along national lines (although this is infinitely less likely in the modern world, when the bourgeois-democratic epoch has been completed) have a liberatory potential. But in the instance of Georgia, granting it self-determination did the exact opposite – at the end, the Georgians could neither determine their own faith, maintain their independence or exist without aggression from above. Whether with the imperialist Wrangel or “proletarian” Ordzhonikidze, the nation lost control of its individual path and faced maltreatment from both forces.

To ensure that all such subordination and enslavement end once and for all, to secure an actual ability for the masses to determine their own affairs, to truly flesh out Luxemburg’s vision for a better tomorrow, we can advocate for nothing less than an international socialist revolution – now, more than ever.


[1] Rosa Luxemburg – Social Democracy and the National Struggles in Turkey
[2] Rosa Luxemburg – The Russian Revolution, Chapter III
[3] Rosa Luxemburg – Foreword to the Anthology: The Polish Question and the Socialist Movement
[4] Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels – The German Ideology, Part I
[5] Rosa Luxemburg – The National Question
[6] Loren Goldner – Theses For Discussion (Insurgent Notes Internal Conference, July 31 2011)
[7] Jeremy Robert Charnock Smith – The Bolsheviks and the National Question, 1917-1923
[8] Andrés Nin – Austro-Marxism and the National Question
[9] Rosa Luxemburg – Foreword to the Anthology: The Polish Question and the Socialist Movement
[10] Vladimir Lenin – The National Question in Our Programme
[11] Ibid.
[12] Vladimir Lenin – The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination (Theses)
[13] Horace B. Davis – Introduction to The National Question: Selected Writings by Rosa Luxemburg
[14] Jeremy Robert Charnock Smith – The Bolsheviks and the National Question, 1917-1923
[15] Nino Chikovani – The Georgian historical narrative: From pre-Soviet to post-Soviet nationalism
[16] Simon Sebag Montefiore – Young Stalin
[17] Vladimir Lenin – The Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., Report on the Resolution on the Support of the Peasant Movement
[18] Official statement of the Georgian Government of June 13, 1918
[19] Rosa Luxemburg – The Russian Revolution, Chapter III
[20] On Recognition of Georgia by Entente Powers: January 14, 1920 Address by Noe Zhordania, President of the Government to the Constituent Assembly 
[21] Leon Trotsky – Between Red and White
[22] Rosa Luxemburg – The Russian Revolution, Chapter III
[23] Moshe Lewin – Lenin’s Last Struggle
[24] Noe Zhordania’s Open Letter from May 26th, 1934
[25] Rosa Luxemburg – The Russian Revolution, Chapter III
[26] Vladimir Lenin – The Question of Nationalities or “Autonomisation”
[27] Roger William Pethybridge – One Step Backwards, Two Steps Forward: Soviet Society and Politics in the New Economic Policy
[28] Rosa Luxemburg – The National Question
[29] Rosa Luxemburg – The Junius Pamphlet