History PhD candidate gives paper at international conference on Rosa Luxemburg

Rory Castle hopes that his research will contribute to future biographical studies and offer new insight into the origins of Luxemburg’s views on revolution, democracy, socialism and the national question.

Graduate Centre blocks thin

Rory Castle - conf 2013Rory Castle, a final year PhD candidate in the History and Classics Department at Swansea University gave a paper on Rosa Luxemburg entitled ‘Rosa Luxemburg, Her Family and the Origins of her Revolutionary Outlook’ at the ‘Rosa Luxemburg’s Concepts of Democracy and Revolution” international conference held at the Sorbonne, Paris (4-5th Oct 2013) to an audience of around 140 people.  If you would like to see Rory give his paper at the Conference, follow this link:  www.vimeo.com/77169330.

Rory is researching Rosa Luxemburg at Swansea University, UK, under the supervision of Dr Jill Lewis. He holds a BA and MA in History from Swansea University and undertook an internship at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Berlin in 2009. As well as giving a number of papers, he recently held a talk and discussion on Luxemburg with Professor Jacqueline Rose (Queen Mary, London University) and Luxemburg’s great-niece Ms. Marie-Louise Luxemburg at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. His research explores Rosa Luxemburg’s youth, background and family, her Polish and Jewish identities and why these areas have not previously been studied or fully understood. He recently published an article based on his research entitled ‘You alone will make our family’s name famous’; Rosa Luxemburg, Her Family and the Origins of her Polish-Jewish Identity’.  He also runs a blog on debate, publications and scholarship about Rosa Luxemburg at: www.rosaluxemburgblog.wordpress.com

About the conference:  One of the most important contributions of Rosa Luxemburg to modern Marxist thought is her refusal to separate the concepts of “democracy” and “revolution”. This approach is developed in a) her criticism of the limits of bourgeois democracy, b) her conception of the revolutionary struggle as democratic self-emancipation of the great masses, c) her vision of socialist democracy with the workers’ councils’ system as a possible form of “dictatorship of the proletariat”, and d) her firm insistence - in discussion with Russian revolutionaries - on the importance of democratic freedoms in the transition towards socialism.

The conference dealt with the question of democracy in her writings on Marxism, on political economy and on the national question (self-administration and national autonomy as democratic solutions).

These are issues that remain relevant at the beginning of the 21 Century. The aim of the Conference was not only to analyze the historical aspects and the texts themselves, but also the political significance of these issues, in an epoch that sees a crisis of democracy within the context of crisis in capitalist civilization.

For further information on the conference see http://www.internationale-rosa-luxemburg-gesellschaft.de/html/ankundigungen.html.


Left table: Elisabeth Gauthier (Conference President), Evelin Wittich (Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Berlin) and Narihiko Ito (Japan) and Right table: Rory Castle (UK), Isabel Loureiro (Brazil), Claudie Weill (France) and Michael  Löwy (France/ Brazil) (Photo: Ben Lewis)