[Marxism] Rosa Luxemburg's legacy lives on
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
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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