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.]

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

Discussion Contributions

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:

Autumn 2020:

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)

Spring 2021:

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

 

Click to read Discussion Contributions on the Question of Capitalism’s Decadence

 

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.

 

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?”

Essay: On unionism and its revolutionary overcoming

A contribution to a debate between council communists
(Roi Ferreiro, August 17, 2020)

The following essay is a discussion contribution on the (trade- or industrial) union question from the perspective of overcoming the latter’s inherent limitations, which has been proposed in a recently emerging, council communist discussion forum.

Departing from the radicalizing tendencies that openly combated the official trades’ unions during the revolutionary upsurge in Germany 1917-1923, the essay  takes care to reestablish the vision of Marx and Engels on the possibilities and limits of ‘unionism’, both in their own time and in general. It subsequently attempts a terminological clarification, relating the ‘union’ or ‘syndicalist’ types of organizations and struggles to their historical period and respective aims and origins. Based on these preliminary considerations, the essay engages in an  investigation of the limitations and pitfalls in the conceptions, slogans and practices embodied by the K.A.P.D. and the Arbeiter-Unionen, as the most advanced expressions of a workers’ struggle for class autonomy at the time. Limitations and pitfalls that can also be found in more recent manifestations of proletarian struggles since the 1960s, albeit in a profoundly altered political-historical context, engaging very different force relations. A series of reflections is advanced that amount, a.o. to situating the workers’ struggles of the past decades as marked by a decline of ‘unionist’ illusions, and to re-calibrating the question of self-organizing in workers’ struggle. It appears that the old theses defended by the GIC in the 1930s are considered as still of use.

Continue reading “Essay: On unionism and its revolutionary overcoming”

The Corona-virus and the Communists Today

I.O.D.: An invitation to an open debate among proletarian internationalists

Whereas ‘A Free Retriever’s Digest‘ does not adhere to Leninist conceptions of the role and function of politicized minorities of the proletariat, it is not blind to relevant analyses of burning questions either, let alone to promising efforts to contribute to a renewal of Marxism, that may originate from Leninist tendencies. As such we consider the Istituto Onorato Damen (I.O.D.), that has originated from a split of Battaglia Comunista in 2009. We present its latest revue and its long-term project (AFRD Vol.4 issue #3, on page 7 ff.). The following article sets forth their vision on the actual tasks and responsibilities of proletarian internationalists and a proposition for an open debate on the basis of an historical materialist approach, criticizing certain tendencies with origins in the historical Italian communist Left for abandoning this terrain.

Continue reading “The Corona-virus and the Communists Today”