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