On the Bookshelves: “A critique of Luxemburg’s Theory of Accumulation”

Contribution to a discussion on Marx’s accumulation and crises theory of Capitalism

PS 2021 - frontcover

Bibliographic data: Phil Sutton, A Critique of Luxemburg’s Theory of Accumulation. Independently published, 30 May 2021. Paperback, 98 pages. ISBN-13: 979-8733143033. Per copy: £6.23 Ordering information via Amazon-UK.

Back-cover text

«From: The Accumulation of Capital by Rosa Luxemburg (1913):

“Capital accumulation progresses and expands at the expense of non-capitalist strata and countries, squeezing them out at an ever faster rate. The general tendency and final result of this process is the exclusive world rule of capitalist production. Once this is reached, Marx’s model becomes valid: accumulation, i.e. further expansion of capital, becomes impossible. Capitalism comes to a dead end, it cannot function any more as the vehicle for the unfolding of the productive forces, it reaches its objective economic limit.”

This pamphlet critically investigates how Rosa Luxemburg justifies her theory of the accumulation of capital and whether the events of the last century of capitalist development confirm or deny her theory.»

Read the Author’s Introduction & the Table of Contents

Topic: Has Capitalism entered its Decadence since 1914? (III)

The Falsehoods of the International Communist Current (ICC) — A critique

Chapter 3: The national question before and after 1914

Extract: “Certainly, the productive forces have developed with the industrial revolution that began in the countries of Western Europe and North America. However, were we witnessing “a step forward in the development of the productive forces on a world scale before 1914? Not at all, because the first Euro-American countries would limit this development to their geographical area and de-industrialize the rest of the world, destroying all potential for competing economic growth, as the study on the 250 years of capitalism that we have republished clearly shows. To this we add the very telling graph [above], whose data confirm this observation, since in 1750, 80% of industrial production was located in the world outside Western Europe and North America and only 20% in the latter two areas, whereas after a century and a half of ‘capitalist ascendancy’ (1750-1913), we are witnessing a spectacular geographical inversion in this distribution, as production had become almost exclusively concentrated in the Euro-American area (84%) to the detriment of the rest of the world (16%)! In other words, the development of productive forces following the industrial revolution, far from being “a step forward in the development of the productive forces on a world scale…”, remained confined to the Euro-American area to the detriment of the rest of the world. Once again, the reality is strictly the opposite of the idealistic postulates of the ICC. This divergence in geographical evolution is at the origin of the economic bi-polarization of the world between the so-called Developed Countries and what will later be called the Third World.”

 

Click here to read the complete chapter.

 

Graph 3.1: Distribution of the Manufactured Production in the World (1750 – 1913)

Source: Les mondes insurgés, Altermanuel d’histoire contemporaine , Ed. Vuibert, p. 13.
The data come from: Paul Bairoch, ‘International industrialization levels from 1750 to 1980’ ,
published in The Journal of European Economic History, n°11, 2, 1982.]

‘The economic necessity of imperialism’ (Anton Pannekoek, 1916)

From: ‘De Nieuwe Tijd’ (Vol.21 #5, May 5, 1916)

By way of an introduction

For a critique of the theory of the decadence of capitalism, Pannekoek is important because he has always opposed the view that capitalism would automatically and irreparably collapse. In “The Economic Necessity of Imperialism” (1916) he summarizes his critique of Luxemburg’s underpinning of the saturation of the markets at the hand of Marx’s reproduction diagrams. We will not go into this further, but do point out that the ICC’s theory of decadence relies on Luxemburg’s argument. Further, Pannekoek has taken down the tendency of the rate of profit to fall as a theoretical underpinning of Grossman’s and Mattick’s crises theory as well. Instead of an automatic and irreparable collapse of capitalism and an economic necessity of imperialism, Pannekoek argues that the periodic crises arise from the imbalance between economic factors inherent in capitalism. Instead of an economic necessity of imperialism, he posits a social and political necessity that follows from the power of big capital. Only at the margins of his reflections Pannekoek speaks of an end to capitalism in a then – in 1916 and 1946 respectively – distant future: through the exhaustion of the “material” conditions for the expansion of production. In 1916 these are “unlimited quantities” of raw materials in nature; in 1946 he already speaks of “the raw adventurous methods of capital – which on all continents are in the process of destroying the fertility of the earth”. Not unimportant, and even highly topical in the light of the current environmental and health crises. The second material condition mentioned by Pannekoek that capitalism would no longer be able to fulfill, is that of a labor force in “sufficient” quantities to expand production.
F.C., January 2021

(Last edited: March 15, 2021)

Continue reading “‘The economic necessity of imperialism’ (Anton Pannekoek, 1916)”

250 years of modern Capitalism: A reconstruction of its dynamics (Part 2)

“I pre-suppose, of course, a reader who is willing to learn something new and therefore to think for himself. […] Every opinion based on scientific criticism I welcome.” (Karl Marx, Preface to the First German Edition of ‘Capital, critique of political economy’, 1867).

Taking up a longstanding concern of Marx’s that he was unable to fulfill, this work in progress treats the development of modern capitalism over the past 250 years, with special attention to the classic country of its origin: Great Britain/the UK, at the hand of examined statistic sources and according to criteria developed by Marx.

With its third chapter: “An economically polarized World” now available in the topics section of this site, our translation is up to date with the work’s version of March 17, 2020 at ‘Capitalisme & Crises Économiques’.

We invite our readers to consult the article through its Table of Contents.

The editor

Topic: Has Capitalism entered its Decadence since 1914?

The Falsehoods of the International Communist Current (ICC) — A critique (Ch.1 & 2)

The following contribution challenges a fundamental programmatic position shared by several groups of the contemporary communist Left, in continuity with the beginnings of the III. (or Communist) International, namely that capitalism has entered its phase of decline as an historical mode of production since the outbreak of World War 1. It does so following the method that Marx applied in his (unfinished) magnum opus ‘Capital’, comparing the evolution of capitalism before and since 1914 at the hand of documented empirical data. These are summarized in a series of graphs and contrasted with the affirmations by one of the most outspoken protagonists of this position.

Continue reading “Topic: Has Capitalism entered its Decadence since 1914?”

‘250 years of modern Capitalism’ (Project Update)

“I pre-suppose, of course, a reader who is willing to learn something new and therefore to think for himself. […] Every opinion based on scientific criticism I welcome.” (Karl Marx, Preface to the First German Edition of ‘Capital, critique of political economy’, 1867).

Taking up a longstanding concern of Marx’s that he was unable to fulfill, this work in progress treats the development of modern capitalism over the past 250 years with special attention to the classic country of its origin, Great Britain/the UK, at the hand of examined statistic sources and according to  criteria developed by Marx.

The original text is published in French language on the ‘Capitalisme & Crises Économiques’ website. Our translation is up to date with its actual version of August 10, 2019, and can be read on this blog:

Continue reading “‘250 years of modern Capitalism’ (Project Update)”

250 years of Capitalism: A reconstruction of its dynamics (Part 1)

A Work in progress

I pre-suppose, of course, a reader who is willing to learn something new and therefore to think for himself. […] Every opinion based on scientific criticism I welcome.” Karl Marx, Preface to the First German Edition of Capital.

Taking up a longstanding concern of Marx’s he was unable to fulfill, the following presents the first part of an article series treating 250 years of Capitalism at the hand of examined statistic sources on its economic dynamic, in order to draw out its perspectives.

Updates and the subsequent parts of this series will be published on  special pages on this blog and announced on the blog roll. The original version in French language is published at the ‘Capitalisme & Crises Économiques’ website.

The editor

Continue reading “250 years of Capitalism: A reconstruction of its dynamics (Part 1)”

The Dilemma’s of Capitalism apropos of ‘Trump’ and ‘Brexit’

Crisis– Conflicts – Struggles – Populism (I.)

In A Free Retriever’s Digest Vol.2#4 (August – September 2018) we have published the introductory section of this article: “Trump and Brexit: A new economic and imperialist orientation?” that sets out the question treated. Hereafter you’ll find the integral article, including its main dish: an introduction into the concept of capitalism’s successive “productive orders”. From this angle of attack reflections are developed on the characteristics of the present period and its perspectives. As the author has revised his overview table of capitalism’s four main productive orders, we include the updated version as an annex.

Continue reading “The Dilemma’s of Capitalism apropos of ‘Trump’ and ‘Brexit’”