The Myth of Spartacus and the Tradition of the Oppressed

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Abstract

Most historiographical accounts of the Berlin uprising of January 1919 depict it as a failed repetition of the Russian October, framing the Spartacists as twin brothers of the Bolsheviks and Rosa Luxemburg as the German counterpart to Lenin. Furio Jesi's 1969 work, Spartacus. The Symbology of Revolt invites an alternative reading of the event, highlighting the difference between "revolution" and "revolt" as contrasting experiences of time. This article explores the connection between the Berlin uprising and the slave revolts of antiquity, using a concept coined by Walter Benjamin, "the tradition of the oppressed," in order to understand the role of myth in modern revolutionary movements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1082-1104
Number of pages23
JournalTheory & Event
Volume22
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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