[Marxism] On Capital-Imperialism: An Interview with Virgínia Fontes
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 18 05:05:08 MDT 2018
GLG: At the root of the notion of capital-imperialism lies the
discussion about expropriations, which refers to Marx’s reflection on
so-called primitive accumulation. There is a long tradition of this
debate going back to Rosa Luxemburg. How do you fit into this tradition?
What does expropriation mean and what is its relation to the extraction
of surplus value?
VF: Marx insists that expropriations integrate capitalist social
dynamics. They are not only its “previous moment.” The existence of free
workers constitutes the social basis for the expansion of its crucial
social relationship, embedding capital and labor for value extraction
(valorization of value). Nowadays, this massive disposability tends to
reach the whole population, converting singular beings into a bare
necessity, a compulsory disposal for the sale of labor-power under any
conditions. Massive expropriation is the initial social condition and
result of capitalist expansion.
Until recently, the vast majority of the world’s population lived in the
countryside, under pre-capitalist conditions. The rural world appeared
as an effective exteriority vis-à-vis urban capitalism, but this has
changed. Rosa Luxemburg believed that the expansion of capital required
non-capitalist frontiers because of the impossibility of mercantile
achievement within the strict limits of capitalist societies. David
Harvey modified the formulation asserting that, today, capitalism
produces such externalities (the “dispossession” that portrays a further
unfolding of “normalized” capitalism). I disagree: there has never been
a “normalized” capitalism, and the countries in which that seemed to
happen, employed barbaric and imperialist forms of value extraction.
These are suggestive propositions, but we must insist that the basic
social relation, internal (not external) to capital, is the production
of necessities and the first of them is the production of social beings
who need to provide their own subsistence through markets. Rosa
Luxemburg reminds us of the overwhelming role of the continuous
expansion of capitalist social relations.
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