Rosa Luxemburg’s The Accumulation of Capital, postcolonial theory, and the problem of present day imperialisms

Autumn 2018
DOI : 10.3898/NEWF:94.09.2018

Rosa Luxemburg’s classic work The Accumulation of Capital reveals, with a great degree of clarity, the  function of imperialism in determining the global movement and accumulation of capital. Her attention to  the constitutive role of international credit, tariffs and militarism, not just as manifestations of imperialism but as methods integral to the project of capital accumulation, continues to have a significant bearing on our own time, offering us valuable insights for disrupting current theories of globalisation and  the postcolonial. The reason for highlighting the inadequacies of these particular theories is because over  the last three decades, they have become the predominant analytical lens through which asymmetrical global  relations have been viewed. While acknowledging the gaps in Luxemburg’s analysis of imperialist practices,  I will, nevertheless, consider how her fiery critique of imperial activities of her time hold tremendous  possibilities for investigating the vexed dialectic between capitalist and non-capitalist organisations as reflected in existing global arrangements, even as I specify ways to trouble those categories. Indeed, what  may Luxemburg’s categorisation of a non-capitalist space look like in the current conjuncture, where it is almost impossible to escape the centrality of capitalist relations? Moreover, if postcolonial theory in  its many formations remains the predominant mode of analysing global asymmetries, how  might its uncovering  of these asymmetries be strengthened by an attention to Luxemburg’s work?

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