Riot and Revolution
Speech by Rosa Luxemburg on Trial for Inciting to Riot

Luxemburg, Rosa
Publisher:  Leipziger Volkszeitung
Year Published:  1906
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX7969

On the twelfth of November 1906 Rosa Luxemburg was tried at the Criminal Court at Weimar for “inciting to the use of physical force” by the speech she contributed to the discussion on the General Strike at the annual Congress of the German Socialist Party held in 1905 at Jena.



Do you believe that masses of people could be incited to use physical force against the ruling class merely by a few words on the Revolution, when you consider that these same masses kept their temper admirably all the time the capitalist class enforced their anti-Socialist law, their penal servitude enactment directed against free speech and press, their measures for increasing working-class starvation and, last but not least, their Bill for smashing up the workers’ economic organisation? I am surprised that the Public Prosecutor has not, instead of prosecuting me, brought to book the originators of those laws and Bills, for these deeds are apt to stir up immensely the propertyless masses and would most certainly lead to physical force excesses if – yes, if it were not for Socialism’s enlightening and elevating influence.

“The Public Prosecutor opined that I completely repudiate the revolutionary character of my Jena speech. That is a great error. I have spoken in a revolutionary strain and I always speak in a revolutionary way, seeing that our entire Socialist propaganda is revolutionary; but not in the sense so peculiarly interpreted by the Public Prosecutor, who ascribes the Hamburg street riots to the revolutionary effect of Socialist agitation; but in the sense that we aim at abasic revolution of the present social order. And I do not even deny that in that process physical force may well become necessary.

“But I, together with my Party, take up the standpoint that the initiative for using physical force proceeds always from the ruling class

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