[Marxism] Rosa Luxemburg's legacy lives on

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Mon Jan 20 22:52:37 MST 2014

100th anniversary of «The Accumulation of Capital: A Contribution to an 
Economic Explanation of Imperialism»

An international conference on the permanent importance of Rosa 
Luxemburg's major work taking place 7-9 March 2014.

A hundred years since the first Berlin edition of "The Accumulation of 
Capital: A Contribution to an Economic Explanation of Imperialism," no 
one needs a commemorative address to introduce the work. The work is 
still being referenced by scholars, writers and people all around the 
world who fight for democracy and justice; for a life of dignity, 
solidarity and ecological responsibility; and for socialism. Its 
continued prominence is a tribute to its author, her academic 
methodology and the topicality of the questions she posed, yet also 
demonstrates a corresponding weakness in the modern Left, particularly 
among socialists.

Rosa Luxemburg, one of the most fascinating characters in the struggle 
for freedom in equality, radically criticised capitalism's social 
relations and capital accumulation, and fought equally radically against 
the resulting outcomes of human oppression and natural destruction. 
After her murder on 15 January 1919 by her political enemies, her legacy 
lived on, as it still does today: both her writings and the political, 
scholarly and cultural interest she inspires. It continues to educate, 
to motivate political engagement and to foment communication and 

As a player among the institutions of the Democratic Left, the Rosa 
Luxemburg Foundation takes responsibility for promoting political 
education, networking those critical of capitalism, and uniting 
strengths between and across national boundaries for the sake of 
emancipation and solidarity. The foundation sees the centennial of its 
namesake's publication first of all as an opportunity to use Luxemburg's 
work to initiate discussion about today's globalised (financial) capital 
accumulation, the economy's increasing financialisation and the main 
players involved – modern oligarchies of capital. Second, it is relevant 
to examine how the debate on land grabbing has been or may be used to 
support efforts for a social and ecological transformation by local and 
regional EU, European and global movements/alliances against social and 
ecological destruction. Third, we ask what lessons can be learned from 
the fact that a concept subject to critique is promoted as theoretical, 
political insight. In this connection methodical and methodological 
questions are of highest interest, especially the work using mathematic 

The five theses below endeavour to explain the questions more clearly 
and invite a continued exchange of ideas:

Rosa Luxemburg saw the rise and development of capitalist production 
methods as a production of violence; as expansion, conquering, 
annihilation and violent upheaval of social milieus; and as a form of 
socialisation that ostracises people socially and destroys progressive, 
natural and social living conditions.
Her concept of "land grabbing," which ties the complete implementation 
of newly created added value to the existence and conquering of 
precapitalist socio-economic milieus, must be viewed critically and can 
be adjusted. Such critique is necessary to explain the accumulation of 
capital in view of the capital relationships that have since arisen. It 
is possible to adjust the theory because Luxemburg studied the basic 
relationships of capitalist production methods in their historical 
development, revealing the players in the accumulation process along 
with their interests and behaviour. Thus she demonstrated why members of 
society who produce and circulate added value can also be interested in 
the development of productive forces under freedom in equality.
Luxemburg's "land grabbing" can be interpreted as resource procurement, 
exploitation of new opportunities such as spaces for utilising tangible 
capital and as the securing of societal or socio-political preconditions 
for capital accumulation, for capitalist production methods.
Adopting her understanding of socialist policy, theoretical work must 
constantly interrogate and search for courses of action for players 
promoting emancipation and solidarity, while considering their consequences.
The concept of land grabbing is helpful in two ways. First, it aids the 
communication and collaboration of scholars studying (financial) capital 
accumulation, financialisation, and critiques of modern growth and 
capitalism. Second, it is a practical working concept for social and 
political alliances. "End the land grab!" can be a lasting offensive 
battle cry, helping create solidarity among those attacked and oppressed 
socially and globally in matching, similar and widely divergent ways.
Financialisation can be explained as a specific form of land grabbing 
and thus as a response to (financial) capital's need to reproduce 
itself. It proceeds as follows: a) Financial relationships expand with 
the growth of the societal distribution of labour/socialisation and 
capital accumulation or capitalist forms of production. b) Liquid money 
or monetary capital is transformed into interest-bearing capital, a.k.a. 
"fictitious capital". This is concentrated, centralised, and transported 
by financial institutions. c) Money is circulated by financial market 
players and financial markets, and the entire society's production and 
reproduction process is permeated by financial market players and 
financial operations. This changes production, distribution, circulation 
and consumption, and increases problems in reproduction and implicit 
contradictions. d) Financial market players and operations permeate 
society. e) Financial market players and operations have a consistent or 
growing determining effect on the socialisation of production, the 
economic sphere and both private and social life.
On the one hand, the enactment of the forms of financialisation reflects 
their development, the transformation of capital relationships, the 
capitalist production methods and the social lifestyle. On the other 
hand, it also reflects varying uses of the term.
If financialisation is placed in the context of the socialisation of 
work, the economic sphere and both individual and collective daily life, 
we must analyse the full complexity of the development of capital 
relationships, i.e. the private and collective appropriation of work 
products created by society.
Transnational Corporations (TNCs) are leading players in globalisation, 
financialisation and land grabbing. This is not "merely" because they 
mobilise, concentrate, circulate, redistribute, expropriate and 
centralise interest-bearing a.k.a. fictional capital around the world. 
At the same time, they have intellectual property and organisational 
strength, as they influence and exploit the WTO, other international 
organisations and governments in the regulation of world trade and 
investment protection. To those ends, and in so doing, they create and 
reproduce informal networks with the most powerful global players.
The modern capital oligarchy is the alliance or identity of relatives of 
financial institutions, owners and managers of TNCs, corporations of key 
economic importance (especially manufacturers in the energy, 
transportation, agribusiness, "security" and high-tech sectors) and 
umbrella organisations of the hegemony or social preconditions this 
requires ("government/security/military", "law", "culture and 
intellectual life", "media"), acting together to promote the best 
possible exploitation of financial capital. This oligarchy is a result 
of social development, a prerequisite of financial capital accumulation, 
of globalised socialisation of work, production and reproduction in the 
destructive capitalist shell.

The workshop will also acknowledge the academic and political work of 
Frieder Otto Wolf, who has been a close partner of the Rosa Luxemburg 
Foundation for many years and celebrated his 70th birthday in February 2013.

Contact: Judith Dellheim, dellheim at rosalux.de

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