Christopher Hitchens is a divisive figure for many on the Left. But despite some of his politically problematic positions, his knowledge of the Marxist canon—Trotsky's thought in particular— is a welcome antidote to those public intellectuals who wholly dismiss Marxism as an unwelcome chapter in the triumphant narrative of democratic liberalism. Hitchens refers to precisely this intellectual repudiation in his review of The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg in the Atlantic. The generally accepted verdict on twentieth century ideology, he writes, is "that its 'totalitarian' character eclipses any of the ostensible differences between its 'left' and 'right' versions." Scholars who castigate Marxism without scrutinizing the serious variances and debates within it risk severely limiting their knowledge of modern history. In this milieu, one figure who has earned and deserves public attention is Rosa Luxemburg, who, for Hitchens is
... the most brilliant-and the most engaging-of these Marxist intellectuals was Rosa Luxemburg, the Polish-born Jew who was the most charismatic figure in the German Social Democratic Party (SPD).
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