‘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)

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Topic: Anton Pannekoek, Marxism and Darwinism (1909, 1914)

An Introduction by Ph. Bourrinet, October 2019

In A Free Retriever’s Digest Vol. 4 Issue #2, April – June 2020 (April 21, 2020) we have presented Anton Pannekoek’s classic work on Marxism, Darwinism and their thorny relationship at the hand of a summary written for its recent French translation. (a)

In the following we continue with the elaborate introduction to Pannekoek’s synthesis by its French translator, which endeavors a critical evaluation of this work and its reception in diverse quarters.

We wholeheartedly support this effort to review the ‘classics’ of historical materialism in the light of the lessons taken from the historical experiences of the working class struggle and in that of the evolution of science – not limiting ourselves to saving them from the “the gnawing criticism of the mice”, nor to simply repeating them – and hope this review contributes to a meaningful discussion among the political minorities that lay claim to proletarian internationalism.

Due to the length and scope of this contribution and its extensive annotations, we publish our translation on the portfolio pages. The following presents the contents at the hand of excerpts, with links to the full text.

H.C., September 7, 2020

a) “Marxismus und Darwinismus. Ein Vortrag von Ant. Pannekoek” (2nd German edition, Leipzig 1914). Its French translation is available with Moto Propio, Paris, November 2019.

Note:  The full text is available here since September 14, 2020.


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Book Presentation: The German-Dutch Communist Left from its Origins to 1968

The 3rd, revised Edition in French (June 2018)

Back cover text

The German-Dutch Communist Left, represented by the German KAPD and AAUD, the Dutch KAPN and the Bulgarian Communist Workers Party, separated from the Comintern in September 1921 because of principled disagreements on all important questions: parliamentarism, syndicalism, united fronts, the Bolshevik party-state using anti-proletarian violence (Kronstadt). This radical current had the audacity to assert that it was not the “communist party”, but the workers’ councils that constituted the finally discovered form of the proletarian dictatorship, and thereby of the communist transformation. It attracted the ire of Lenin, who wrote in June 1920 his famous book on left extremism, “Left-wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder, (1) to which Herman Gorter delivered a slashing response in his pamphlet Open letter to comrade Lenin. (2)

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A political History of the German-Dutch communist Left (Preface)

The Author’s Introduction to the new Edition (Prepublication)

Despite the theoretical and political renown of Gorter and Pannekoek in the international labor movement, the Communist Left in the Nether­lands is the least known of the left currents that emerged within the II. International, and later joined the Communist International. Their exclu­sion in 1921 from the Komintern wrapped the names that had symbolized the most intransigent internationalism in a veil of oblivion.

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The Crisis in Socialist Theory: The “Group of International Communists” in Holland (1947)

Title:

The Crisis in Socialist Theory; The “Group of International Communists” in Holland (Dr. Anton Pannekoek)

Language:

English

Document:

Left, No. 132 (London, October 1947), p. 225-228; Reprinted in: Southern Advocate for Workers’ Councils, No. 40 (Melbourne, December 1947).

Author(s):

Anton Pannekoek

Web links:

http://www.aaap.be/Pages/Pannekoek-en-1947-The-Crisis-In-Socialist-Theory.html

Subject:

Socialist theory; Marxism

Categories:

Council Communism; G.I.C.; Anton Pannekoek

Remarks:

Source transcription from MIA revised by Vico/AAAP (January 9, 2018). With bibliographical references. Dutch & French translations are available at the Antonie Pannekoek Archives website.

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