Non-Linear pathways to social transformation: Rosa Luxemburg and the post-colonial condition

Autumn 2018
DOI : 10.3898/NEWF:94.05.2018

Rosa Luxemburg’s The Accumulation of Capital, which spurred intense discussion and debate from the moment of its publication in 1913, has taken on new resonance in light of the global expansion of capitalism, the  destruction of indigenous cultures and habitats, and capital’s reconfiguration of public and private space.  No less important is a series of additional works by Luxemburg that address these themes, but which have received far less attention. These include her notes and lectures on pre-capitalist society that were composed as part of her work as a teacher at the German Social Democratic Party’s school in Berlin from 1907-14 and her Introduction to Political Economy, which first led her to confront the problem delineated  in The  Accumulation  of  Capital. These writings shed new light on the contributions as well as the limitations of her understanding of the internal and external limits to capital accumulation, especially insofar as the ability of non-capitalist formations and practices to survive the domination of  capital is concerned. Luxemburg’s understanding of the impact of capitalism in undermining non-capitalist  strata has crucial ramifications for working out a viable alternative to capitalism today.