PRINT November 2006


Hans Haacke’s Memorial to Rosa Luxemburg

EVERY BELIEF SYSTEM requires a mythical hero, idolized in death, yet whose legacy is open to multiple interpretations. In the United States, for example, blue states revere the figure of JFK; red states, Ronald Reagan. In the 1920s the Wobblies lionized Joe Hill, and in the ’70s radicals looked to Malcolm X. Today iPod-shuffling art students and e-marketing executives alike might sport Che Guevara’s ragged silhouette, a trademark for what Thomas Frank has called the “countercultural capitalist orthodoxy.” Nevertheless, for any true-blue red around the world there remains an ultimate icon: Rosa Luxemburg, fiery orator, Marxist theoretician, amateur naturalist, occasional artist, and inexhaustible political leader whose anti-Leninist credo held that working-class spontaneity must lead the party, rather than be molded by it. Thus, in 2002, when the Left returned to power in Berlin for the

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