[OPE-L:2721] Re: Accumulation theory

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu)
Date: Wed Apr 05 2000 - 10:20:19 EDT

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> Paul, Rakesh, all:
> What do you think about the following piece:
> "Rosa Luxemburg, whose mistakes the Trotskyist contrabandists adopted when
> they attempted to foist their ideas on the world under the guise of
> idealizing Luxemburgism, made *mistakes* of a clearly Kautskyist type on
> the question of imperialism. She considered imperialism not as a separate
> stage in the development of capitalism, but as a definite policy on the
> new period. In her principal theoretical work, The Accumulation of
> Capital, Luxemburg proves the inevitability of a collapse not because the
> inner contradictions of capitalism become extremely acute in the epoch of
> imperialism,

This is a complete misunderstanding of Luxemburg. The heart of her book
is about analyzing the logic of Marx's *Capital*, particularly the schemes
of extended reproduction, under conditions of the universal domination of
the capital--wage-labor reolation. In other words, this is about the
logical conclusions does she raise the issue of a non-capitalist
environment. Furthermore, I don't recall her ever referring to
"imperialism" as a "policy" -- as in a "decision" of the bourgeois class
which could be abrogated by the simple subjective will to do so.

> but because of the conflict of capitalism with its external
> surroundings, because of the impossibility of realizing surplus value
> under de so called "pure" capitalism (i.e., a capitalist society
> consisting only of capitalists and workers without any "non-capitalist
> mass" in the form of small producers).

This portion is closer to the mark, but still not correct in its emphasis
on "the conflict of capitalism with its external surroundings", as if
there is no class struggle INSIDE capitalism, as if the key founder of the
Polish and German parties was disconnected from the working classes of
those countries.

> Basing herself thus on
> semi-Menshevik positions, Luxemburg could not rise to the Leninist
> conception of imperialism, to a correct understanding of its fundamental
> peculiarities and distinguishing attributes.

Or, Lenin could not rise to Luxemburg's depth of understanding about
"accumulation of capital". Leontief is just engaging in a Stalinist slam
of Luxemburg, which had been set up by Bukharin's extended attack on her
in 1924.

> Luxemburg's mistakes in the
> conception of imperialism are closely allied to her erroneous positions on
> a number of important political questions: the question of the split in
> Social-Democracy, the agrarian and national questions, the role of the
> Party and spontaneous elements in the movement, etc.

This is a partial rephrasing of Lenin in 1922, but published in 1924 (who
also describes her as a "eagle" and deserving the highest respect). There
is surely a truth in the interconnection of her conceptions and of Lenin's
conceptions, but I'm not ready for that step which would require careful
research and understanding of both of their positions.

I will say that I suspect that the famous debate between Lenin and
Luxemburg over the issue of a nation's right to self-determination has
probably been greatly distorted to her disadvantage. She was coming out
of an understanding of what a POLISH demand for independence might mean in
substance, its actual content -- i.e., a bourgeois demand. It would have
been very interesting if Luxemburg had lived long enough to have observed
the Trotsky-Lenin debate and its consequences on whether to cross the
Polish border after pushing back a Polish invasion late in the Civil War.
Recall that Trotsky opposed it while Lenin convinced a majority on the
Central Comm. to cross the border, with disaster consequences which we are
living with even today.

> The theory of the
> automatic collapse of capitalism ensuing from Luxemburg's erroneous theory
> of reproduction, which the "Left" Social-Democrats gladly utilize no to
> hold the working class back from revolutionary activity by means of
> supposedly revolutionary phraseology, in practice disarms the working
> class, spreads a mood of *passivity* and *fatalism* in its midst,
> stultifying its will to struggle."

Stalinist bullshit, connecting to justisfying Stalinist policy toward the
rise of fascism.

> A. Leontiev, Political Economy -- A Beginners's Course, Cooperative
> Publishing Society of Foreign Workers in the USSR, Moscow-Leningrad, 1935,
> pp. 222-3.

Thanks, Alejandro, for passing on the quotation. Paul

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