For Ultra-left Marxists as well as for Luxemburgists, the leadership matter is of crucial importance.
In your first e-mail you say that "there is a suggestion in Lenin's 'What is to be Done' that a socialist 'consciousness' can only be brought to the people from the intellectuals".
My point was and strongly is that this is not only a suggestion, but conversely this is a central point of Leninism.
My example about 1903 Russina Social Democratic Party split, not only is appropriate to show that in Lenin the professional revolutionary idea was present, but also to prove that it was one of the points on which the Party split.
To disprove your statement "this wasn't a split over the question of professional revolutionaries".
I translated a part from lucid review on Lenin.
"The first paragraph of the statutes defined indeed the condition of adhesion to the Party. Two views were opposed irreversibly: Lenin's and Martov's. For the first the adhesion supposed a personal engagement in the organization of the Party, which meant not only agreement on the platform of the Party, but also an active participation to the life (activities) of the Party itself. Martov, whom instead prepared a second text, insisted strongly his version to undergo the delegates, he proposed a much more elastic definition of -member of the Party-. To Martov, a member, was "whomever give their contribution to the Party under the authority of one of its organs". In other terms, for Lenin, a member of the Party was only whom had a precise position in it, carrying on an active role within the hierarchic and centralised organization, whereas, for Martov, whomever was near the Party's ideas could have been considered member. This dispute, apparently abstract, concealed indeed two extremely concrete aspects: on the one hand, the view defended by Lenin in his preparatory text implying his idea of a rigorous revolutionary organisation disciplined by professional revolutionaries, subjected to a constant inner control..."
(Hélène Carrère D'Encausse, Lenin, 2003)
So behind the membership matter there is the professional revolutionary matter.
You are reffering to Lenin's What is to be done, 1902.
"The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc
...Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without, that is, only from outside the economic struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between workers and employers."
Than you say that anyhow Lenin rejected this idea.
If he did it, well, he must have done it when he was at the end of his life, probably around 1923.
It would be interesting to see when and in which terms he did it.
Anyway, in 1920 Lenin's view was unchanged:
"absolute centralisation and rigorous discipline of the proletariat are an essential condition of victory over the bourgeoisie...how is the discipline of the proletariat's revolutionary party maintained?...by the class-consciousness of the proletarian vanguard and by its devotion to the revolution..."
(Lenin, Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder, 1920)
On the the Split Among the German Communists, he goes:
"Let the "Lefts" put themselves to a practical test on a national and international scale. Let them try to prepare for (and then implement) the dictatorship of the proletariat, without a rigorously centralised party with iron discipline, without the ability to become masters of every sphere, every branch, and every variety of political and cultural work. Practical experience will soon teach them"
(Lenin, Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder, 1920)
The idea of proletarian vanguard is, at the end of the day, another aspect of the professional revolutionaries idea.
The leadership question was an important one and Rosa Luxemburg did publish, in the 1904 in Iskra and Neue Zeit, her opinion on it well before her death:
She was referring exactly to the professional revolutionaries, or proletarian vanguard and centralism:
"One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward, written by Lenin... is a methodical exposition of the ideas of the ultra-centralist tendency in the Russian movement.... Laid down as principles are: 1. The necessity of selecting, and constituting as a separate corps, all the active revolutionists, as distinguished from the unorganized, though revolutionary, mass surrounding this elite...
...Now the two principles on which Lenin's centralism rests are precisely these:
The blind subordination, in the smallest detail, of all party organs to the party centre which alone thinks, guides, and decides for all. The rigorous separation of the organized nucleus of revolutionaries from its social-revolutionary surroundings.
Such centralism is a mechanical transposition of the organizational principles of Blanquism into the mass movement of the socialist working class.
In accordance with this view, Lenin defines his "revolutionary Social Democrat" as a "Jacobin joined to the organization of the proletariat, which has become conscious of its class interests."
...The fact is that the Social Democracy is not joined to the organization of the proletariat. It is itself the proletariat. And because of this, Social Democratic centralism is essentially different from Blanquist centralism. It can only be the concentrated will of the individuals and groups representative of the working class. It is, so to speak, the "self-centralism" of the advanced sectors of the proletariat. It is the rule of the majority within its own party.
The indispensable conditions for the realization of Social Democratic centralism are:
The existence of a large contingent of workers educated in the class struggle.
The possibility for the workers to develop their own political activity through direct influence on public life, in a party press, and public congresses, etc...
...In Lenin's overanxious desire to establish the guardianship of an omniscient and omnipotent Central Committee in order to protect so promising and vigorous a labour movement against any misstep, we recognize the symptoms of the same subjectivism that has already played more than one trick on socialist thinking in Russia."
(R Luxemburg, Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy [Leninism or Marxism?], 1904)
You also say that Rosa Luxemburg agreed with the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, but she actually agrees on the fact that the assembly was voted before the revolution therefore it was not reflecting the mood of the people after. On this she agrees that the elections were no longer valid and they must have been repeated. Actually she was mistaken on the dates. The elections took place after the October Revolution therefore following her logic there were valid.
Most importantly, as you mentioned, she did not agree at all with Lenin and Trotsky solution to "eliminate democracy":
"To be sure, every democratic institution has its limits and shortcomings, things which it doubtless shares with all other human institutions. But the remedy which Trotsky and Lenin have found, the elimination of democracy as such, is worse than the disease it is supposed to cure; for it stops up the very living source from which alone can come correction of all the innate shortcomings of social institutions. That source is the active, untrammeled, energetic political life of the broadest masses of the people."
(Rosa Luxemburg, The Russian Revolution, Chapter 4, The Constituent Assembly, 1920)
About Luxemburgism and Leninism on national question
I leave you to read Mattick's clear analysis:
"The 'liberated' nations form a fascist ring around Russia. 'Liberated' Turkey shoots down the communists with arms supplied to her by Russia. China, supported in its national struggle for freedom by Russia and the Third International, throttles its labour movement in a manner reminiscent of the Paris Commune. Thousands and thousands of workers' corpses are testimony of the correctness of Rosa Luxemburg's view that the phrase about the right of self-determination of nations is nothing but "petty-bourgeois humbug." The extent to which the "struggle for national liberation is a struggle for democracy" is surely revealed by the nationalistic adventures of the Third International in Germany, adventures which contributed their share to the preconditions for the victory of fascism. Ten years of competition with Hitler for the title to real nationalism turned the workers themselves into fascists"
(Paul Mattick Luxemburg versus Lenin, 1935)
In conclusion, this is not a strenuous defence of Rosa Luxemburg or Luxemburgism. This is just to make clear that Luxemburgism is far from Leninism in theory and practice.
I personally do not have any problem to agree with Luxemburg's views on leadership and national question than with Lenin's Jacobinism.
"A...new movement of the workers with its inseparable nucleus of conscious revolutionists can do more with Luxemburg's revolutionary theory, in spite of its many weaknesses, and derive from it more hope, than from the total accomplishment of the Leninist International"
(Paul Mattick Luxemburg versus Lenin, 1935)
Thank you for giving me the stimulus to go back to the old literature.
I am at a little bit of a loss how to reply to you - the main problem for me is that I simply do not have the time to read through volumes of literature. I deeply apologise for this, it is a bit of a cop out. Instead what I offer is my impressions upon the topics you have raised based on what knowledge i already have.
I want to start by talking about what do you mean by a 'professional revolutionary' - does it mean, as I believe you are implying, that we are talking about people who work full-time for an organisation drawn from the intelligentsia. I think this is a wrong categorisation in terms of what is needed for a revolutionary party and I also believe it isn't what is meant by Lenin. (I come onto the point about the intelligentsia in a moment)
What I believe Lenin was getting at by professional revolutionary (and even if you don't agree that this is what Lenin was saying - i think this is what we should mean by the term) is of someone who plays, as your D'Encasse quote says, an active role in the life of the party as well as agreeing with its programme. To my mind for a party to be worth having there must be a certain commitment of its members to trying to get its programme into action. By including people as full members of the party who are not doing that you allow in all sorts of chancers and armchair marxists who may not do a damn to move the struggle forward. That I believe is the danger of what Martov argued at the congress.
Now obviously there is the issue of what to do about people who agree with the programme or want to be active with you but don't fully agree with the programme - in my opinion you should work with these people still, but they do not have a right to be called a member of a party with the rights that flow from that. Ideally parties should work in united fronts where there is the freedom to debate the differences between individuals and organisations involved whilst uniting in campaigning for things that they are agreed upon. The Socialist Student society at the university is an example of this amongst many other things.
I next want to move onto the question of leadership you quote Rosa Luxemburg from 1904 - what you do not mention is that the SDKPiL, the party she helped found was rather centralised. Furthermore as a result of WW1 she did in fact organise the revolutionary wing of the SPD into a distinct tendency - the Spartacists.
That is the question of the vanguard - it is not about guaranteeing the rule of a central committee - far from it - if that committee turns out to be useless as a leadership then the masses (and the party itself) will ignore it. The question of the vanguard is in uniting the workers who agree on a specific programme for acheiving a socialist transformation of society (socialist revolution) who are then able to work together to argue for this.
As for the whole party leaders needing to be drawn from the intelligentsia (thats a loose way of putting it but you get my point), I believe Lenin changed his mind on this after the experience of the 1905 Russian Revolution - i will try to track this down for you. (or so I've been told - unfortunately I've not had the chance to read either Lenin, Trotsky or Luxemburg's material on 1905 which are all supposed to be excellent.) I'm not saying he changed his mind on the need for centralism
As for the right of nations to self-determine - what about the Spanish Revolution? The rejection of self-determination for the people of Morocco created a (btw saying people have a right to self-determination doesn't mean you actually advocate it in the concrete circumstances of a given country - ie the Socialist Party would say Wales has a right if it so wished to self determination from the UK, however whilst we uphold that right we would be opposed to that in the present circumstances). As for self-determination in Russia - the quotation from Mattick doesn't cut it to my mind - it confuses the period from the Chinese revolution (1925-27) onwards (til the 'third period') of cross-class fronts with the period prior to that of an independent class policy. Feel free to criticise Lenin's policy on the right to self-determination of nations but don't conflate it the Stalinist bureaucracy. Btw in the case of Stalin's position on the national question being similar to Lenin I am referring to the Caucuses just prior to Lenin's death. If you study Stalinism (and not just Stalin) then you will know its policy flip-flops from one position to another.
And finally on the constituent assembly - the reason the elections weren't valid was not due to the voting, but that the electoral lists were drawn up prior to the Socialist Revolutionaries splitting which gave a predominance to the right Socialist Revolutionaries despite people (mostly peasants) voting for that list on the basis of supporting the left socialist revolutionaries. Both Lenin and Rosa believed the Soviets to be a superior form of democracy to the constituent assembly, the question was how to resolve the balance of power in the favour of the Soviets.
ps. if you feel it will be beneficial to repost this on that forum that is your choice, all i say is that these are my own personal views and reflect my own shortcomings - I think they are broadly the socialist party's views as a whole too but i may be mistaken on a point or two.