Contribution to a discussion on Marx’s accumulation and crises theory of Capitalism
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.
«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.»
Statements and analyses from internationalist sources
The announced withdrawal by the USA and its allies from Afghanistan after 20 years of direct military presence has led to a takeover of the country by the Taliban with unprecedented speed in the last few weeks and days, leading, among others, to dramatic and chaotic scenes of mass flights that are presently reported in the world’s media by the hour. This blog post references and documents (first) statements by internationalist groups and circles on these events and their wider implications and significance. Continue to read an updated list of statements and analyses.
The editor, August 16, 2021.
Last updated: September 9, 2021.
With the rapid propagation of the so-called “Delta” variant of SARS-CoV2 becoming dominant, the Corona-virus pandemic has entered a new phase. First discovered in India, it is reported to be more infectious notably than the “Alpha” variant that spread from the South of England at the end of 2020. Faced with this turn in the pandemic, among concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccinations already administered, and confronted with staggering of the respective vaccination campaigns, several governments in the Western hemisphere have been caught in the middle, and were forced to recede from all too “optimistically” lifting their restrictive measures, notably concerning their night-life, tourism and festival sectors during the summer holiday season. Very rapidly, a widespread tendency showed up to intensify state control of social life (e.g. through the application of the “Corona-passport”) and to forcefully lift vaccination degrees by mandatory vaccination for specific professional categories (notably in health care and hospitals, like in France), or even for whole sectors (like in the USA). In Germany, a.o., the government saw itself forced to hastily reintroduce stricter border controls, notably for those returning from holiday travels abroad in “high risk areas”.
The recent measures by the respective governments have led to a resurgence of “Corona-protests” in these countries, habitually mobilizing a very heterogeneous spectrum of discontent, without any proletarian class character or perspective, but with a marked presence of all kinds of openly right-wing extremist groups, manifesting their anti-social character with increasing aggressiveness. The influence of this amalgam with certain proletarian milieus and political tendencies has incited an internationalist group like the Circulo Internazionalista “coalizione operaia” in Italy to take position, as can be read hereafter in translation.
After the fiasco of the recent presidential elections in Iran (less than 50% of the voters participated), a massive strike wave initiated by ‘contract’ workers in the oil and petrochemical industries has extended throughout the country, persistently resisting the maneuverings and repression of the ‘Islamic Republic’ and resuscitating a widespread solidarity in society.
In the following we document its repercussions in the political milieus laying claim to proletarian internationalism:
‘Left-wing Communism – NOT an infantile disorder’ has opened a special section since last June 30, featuring analyses from internationalist sources, news and background articles: Iran oil strike at the center of a new wave of proletarian struggles. Besides voices from the former milieus, statements by a number of bourgeois (ultra-) left organizations can be consulted there (in provisional translations) as well, next to a number of communiqués by the strike committee in Iran, and some commentaries.
Hereafter, on page 2, we present the first statement we have received on the courageous struggle by the precarious workers in Iran, the communiqué by ‘Internationalist Voice’ of June 27, 2021, (regardless our disagreement on ‘peripheral’ capitalism’), summarizing the stakes and demands at its point of departure, and putting forward a first evaluation.
The Internationalist Communist Tendency has just published its first article, envisaging both to inform its readers (at the hand of communiqués from the strike committee) and to draw a critical balance sheet of the strike, its repercussions in the country, and the perspectives this opens up: Iranian Oil and Petrochemical Workers’ Strikes Go On . (28 July, 2021)
Last but not least, we invite our readers to explore the publications we have had occasion to relate on this blog on the situation in the Near and Middle East, and specifically regarding Iran. For our following of proletarian struggles we recommend in particular:
Iran: “Lessons from Strikes, Labour Struggles and internationalist Tasks” (Extracts) (A balance sheet by ‘Internationalist Voice’, January 2019)
Theses on the 2018 proletarian struggles in the Near and Middle East and their prospects (An article summary, Fredo Corvo, January 2019)
Impending war Iran-USA, towards a third world war? (Translation from ‘Arbeidersstemmen’, January 2020)
Iran: A New Wave of Strikes and Workers’ Protests and the Need for Workers’ Solidarity (A Communiqué by ‘Internationalist Voice’, August 2020)
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.”
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.]
A further Statement by Circolo Internazionalista (May 24, 2021)
«It is still too early to draw up an exhaustive balance sheet of recent events in Palestine, however, it is already possible to sketch an outline.
Since the U.S. of the Trump administration recognized the Israeli claim to Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state three years ago, the maneuvers and prodigious actions of the Israeli bourgeoisie to annex East Jerusalem have had a marked increase: new and massive settlements of Israeli settlers around areas inhabited by Palestinians; daily provocations, insults, assaults by far-right groups claiming to want to “purify” East Jerusalem of “Arabs” and their mosques, including Al-Aqsa; deliberations by Israeli courts rediscovering Jewish “property rights” on land on which 27 Palestinian families have been settled for more than 60 years and ruling on their eviction; and, most recently, the provocative closure by Israeli police of access to Muslim prayer sites during Ramadan. It is very probable that with the intensification of these bullying actions, which could not fail to trigger a reaction from the Palestinians, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to divert public opinion and the “opposition” parties in Israel from their difficulties, recomposing them under the sacred union for the defense against the historic “external enemy”. In this, Netanyahu’s game was completely successful. All he had to do was wait.» Continue reading “The Intifada of Class Unity or that of the Sacred Union?”
Arbeidersstemmen (‘Worker’s Voices’), Amsterdam, May 25, 2021.
With hope and expectation, workers around the world have received the news on the joint demonstrations on bridges and traffic junctions of Arab and Israeli speakers. During the mutual bombings and pogroms back and forth, they protested hand in hand, as neighbors and fellow workers against terror and war.
After the armistice, by their participation in mass peace demonstrations, they expressed the fear that the powers on both sides of the borders speak of peace, but in reality are already preparing the next war. War preparations that require further intensification of the exploitation of all workers: border-crossing labor, digging tunnels, building missiles, surplus labor for the development and purchase of weapons systems. All this in addition to passing the costs of war and reconstruction on to the working and poor. Both the State of Israel, the PLO State in the West Bank and the Hamas State in Gaza feel empowered in their war efforts by the massive support of “their” populations blinded by nationalism. Without exception, these three states will continue to direct the terror of extremist militias and gangs against any resistance to the war preparations and intensified exploitation, even if this resistance invokes the “peace” and the “right of self-determination” as articulated by the leaders of the peace movement. Continue reading “Appeal to Arab and Jewish workers in Palestine and Israel”
‘Circolo internazionalista’ on the proletarian perspective in the Middle East
Among the statements that have come to our attention on the latest escalation in the barbaric ‘Israeli-Palestinian’ conflict issued by a diversity of groups who lay claim to proletarian internationalism, we want to highlight one for its focus on an aspect of the situation that crucially differs from the previous rounds or ‘cycles’ in this seemingly perpetual imperialist stand-off: the mobilization of Arab Israelis, including strikes and demonstrations, not only in solidarity against the brutal maneuvers of the Israeli state in East Jerusalem, on the West Bank and against the Gaza strip, but also in defense to state sponsored repression and terrorism directed against themselves in the heart of the country.
The following article by the Internationalist Circle – “workers’ coalition” from Rome (Italy) on what may be regarded as a key factor to ending the bloody impasse: the refusal to follow any of the nationalist flags and the search for proletarian solidarity across religious, ethnic and national divides, has been written on the eve of the US-sponsored “truce” of Friday 21st.
Apropos of the recently started series The Falsehoods of the International Communist Current (ICC) — A Critique, we have opened a new section on our topics pages, which collects Discussion Contributions on the Question of Capitalism’s Decadence by commentators of this work in progress. At present it contains the following essays:
Decline and Senility of Capitalism with Marx, Engels and Communism.
A critical recapitulation and determination of capitalism’s historical phase (Anibal & materia, May 22, 2020)
Some Key Questions for Luxemburg’s Theory of Accumulation.
Problems for the modern day supporters of Luxemburg’s theory of total dependence on precapitalist markets (Link, November 27, 2020)
Capitalism is coming to an end. But how?
Does China’s further integration into capitalism lead to the latter’s “obsolescence”? Fredo Corvo replies to C.Mcl. (Version of March 14, 2021)
The Decadence of Capitalism. A Discussion
Aníbal & materia (Version of March 22, 2021)
New: Is Decadence an Economic Phenomenon?
Link, May 17, 2021
This section may be updated with new contributions. We invite interested readers to send in their commentaries and/or contributions. Please read the modalities in the Colophon.