[OPE-L] (Fwd) New CCS/RLS book on Accumulation in Southern Africa

From: Patrick Bond (pbond@MAIL.NGO.ZA)
Date: Wed Feb 14 2007 - 15:05:45 EST

(Apologies for cross-posting)



Berlin: at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung head office, after 19 February
Durban: at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society,
after 22 February
Joburg: at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung office, after 22 February
Cape Town: at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Seminar with AIDC, ILRIG and
LRS, 28 February


The Accumulation of Capital in Southern Africa:
Rosa Luxemburg's contemporary relevance

Edited by Patrick Bond, Horman Chitonge and Arndt Hopfmann

The revived interest in Luxemburg's ideas about imperialism is
not surprising. More than her contemporaries (Lenin, Bukharin,
Hilferding), she pointed out the dialectical relations between
markets and the 'non-market' spheres of life, to which we should
add the environment. These relations are central to a new period
of 'primitive accumulation' that has generated powerful resistance
in many corners of the earth. Southern Africa is an especially
important site to reconsider the dynamics of capital accumulation,
given the reliance of regional businesses upon superexploitative
systems such as colonialism, apartheid and neoliberalism.

This collection is drawn from a collaboration between the Rosa
Luxemburg Foundation and University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre
for Civil Society, in which the Rosa Luxemburg Political Education
Seminar 2006 overlapped with the Centre's Colloquium on
Economy, Society and Nature. The event attracted some of the
world's leading political economists alongside regional analysts.
This volume features work by Luxemburg, Arndt Hopfmann, Jeff
Guy, Ahmed Veriava, Massimo De Angelis, Elmar Altvater, Patrick
Bond, Isobel Frye, Caroline Skinner, Imraan Valodia, Greg Ruiters,
Leonard Gentle, Ulrich Duchrow, Ntwala Mwilima, S'bu Zikode,
Salim Vally and Trevor Ngwane.


/Capitalists have come to understand that to destroy the subsistence
economy altogether would not be in their best interests for two reasons:
fi rst, and most obviously, the employers are not prepared to absorb
the entire subsistence sector; second, and more subtly, self-provisioning
has provided subsidised wage labour. Luxemburg knew this as well as
anyone, and Southern Africa is an exemplary case. For me, the Durban
conference was an eye-opener. You had poor young people, who live in
shacks constructed of the sort of materials that you could scrounge up in
the nearby dump, going toe to toe with some of the smartest and most
articulate academics you can imagine. There was mutual respect on all
sides, as is evident in this excellent collection.
/-- Michael Perelman, California State University and author of
The Invention of Capitalism: The Secret History of Primitive


About Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg, born in Poland on March 5 1871, was an eminent
representative of European democratic socialist thinking and action.
Along with Karl Liebknecht, she was the most important representative of
internationalist and anti-militaristic positions in the German Social
Democratic Party. She was a passionate and convinced critic of
capitalism, as witnessed by her book The Accumulation of Capital, and
from this criticism she drew the strength for revolutionary politics.
After leaving the Social Democratic Party, Luxemburg co-founded the
German Communist Party. She was assassinated on January 15 1919 by
military men who later openly supported German Fascism.


Preface -- Arndt Hopfmann
Introduction -- Patrick Bond and Horman Chitonge


Excerpts from The Accumulation of Capital - Rosa Luxemburg

The Accumulation of Capital in historical perspective - Arndt Hopfmann

'No eyes, no interest, no frame of reference': Rosa Luxemburg, Southern
African historiography, and pre-capitalist of modes of production --
Jeff Guy

Unlocking the present? Two theories of primitive accumulation - Ahmed

Enclosures, commons and the 'outside' -- Massimo De Angelis


Imperialism and new commodity forms -- Elmar Altvater

Luxemburg and South African subimperial accumulation - Patrick Bond

Two economies? A critique of recent South African policy debates --
Caroline Skinner and Imraan Valodia

New faces of privatisation: From comrades to customers -- Greg Ruiters

Black Economic Empowerment and the South African social formation --
Leonard Gentle


Property for people, not for profit - Ulrich Duchrow

The regional labour movement - Ntwala Mwilima

The shackdwellers movement of Durban -- S'Bu Zikode

Against the commodification of education -- Salim Vally

Challenging municipal policies and global capital -- Trevor Ngwane


Elmar Altvater taught at the Free University in Berlin for many years,
and is a leading authority on political economy and environment.

Patrick Bond, a political economist, is research professor at the
University of KwaZulu-Natal where he directs the Centre for Civil Society.

Horman Chitonge is a doctoral candidate at the University of
KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society. A Zambian, he holds degrees from
the University of Zimbabwe and UKZN School of Development Studies.

Massimo De Angelis is a Reader in economics at the University of East
London. He edits The Commoner website and blog: www.thecommoner.org.

Ulrich Duchrow is associated with the German prophetic faith
organisation Kairos, and is based at the University of Heidelberg.

Leonard Gentle directs the International Labour Research and Information
Group in Cape Town.

Jeff Guy is research fellow at the Campbell Collection in Durban, and
has taught at universities in Southern Africa and Norway. He has
published several books on the destruction of the Zulu kingdom, and Zulu

Arndt Hopfmann holds a PhD in Development Economics, and was formerly
senior lecturer at the University of Leipzig and the Free University in
Berlin. He directs the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation's Regional Office in

Ntwala Mwilima is a researcher based at the Labour Resource and Research
Institute in Windhoek, Namibia.

Trevor Ngwane is a student at the UKZN Centre for Civil Society and
general secretary of the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee.

Greg Ruiters holds the Matthew Goniwe professorship at the Rhodes
University Institute for Social and Economic Research.

Caroline Skinner is a research fellow at the UKZN School of Development

Imraan Valodia is a senior research fellow at the UKZN School of
Development Studies.

Salim Vally is a senior researcher at the University of the
Witwatersrand Education Policy Unit.

Ahmed Veriava is conducting masters degree research at the UKZN Centre
for Civil Society and works with the Anti-Privatisation Forum in Gauteng.

S'Bu Zikode is a leader of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Durban movement of

Arndt Hopfmann

Capitalist accumulation as a whole, as an actual historical process, has
two different aspects. One concerns the commodity market and the place
where surplus value is produced -- the factory, the mine, the
agricultural estate... The other aspect of the accumulation of capital
concerns the relations between capitalism and the non-capitalist modes
of production which start making their appearance on the international
stage. Its predominant methods are colonial policy, an international
loan system -- a policy of spheres of interest -- and war. Force, fraud,
oppression, looting are openly displayed without any attempt at
- Rosa Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital, p. 432.

Capital now devours human beings: it becomes a cannibal. Every human
activity must now become capital and bear interest, so that
investment-seeking capital can live: schools, kindergartens,
universities, health systems, energy utilities, roads, railways, the
post office, telecommunications and other means of communication, etc.
The anarcho-capitalist dreams go even further. Even the police and
legislation are to be transformed into capital investments. One receives
a licence to live and to participate in any of the spheres of society
only if one pays to capital the fees required in the form of interest.
Capital becomes a 'superworld' to which sacrificial victims must be brought.
- Ulrich Duchrow and Franz Hinkelammert, Property for people, not for
profit, p.148.

These two citations present in a nutshell the basic traits of capitalist
accumulation from its origins to its current forms -- the dominance of
the capitalist forms in the arena of material production, the continuous
use of coercion, violence and theft in order to increase the rate of
profit, as well as the intrinsic tendency of capitalism to subjugate all
aspects of social life to the reign of profit.

The 3rd Rosa Luxemburg Political Education Seminar, jointly organised by
the Centre of Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban
and the Southern African Regional Office of the Rosa Luxemburg
Foundation in Johannesburg, was held on March 2nd -- 4th 2006 in Durban.
The Seminar examined these general characteristics of capitalist
accumulation within the global, regional and local context.
That context is shaped, on the one hand, by the growing impact of a
corporate driven globalisation, but also the expansion of South African
capital into neighbouring countries, the emergence of new forms of
'primitive accumulation' under the label of Black Economic Empowerment,
and the ongoing commodification and privatisation of public services.

On the other hand, there is a growing movement which not only resists
the commercialisation of all sphere of human life but strives to build
alternatives -- to create 'another world' which is not only possible but

The success of the Seminar is due to many contributors. Very valuable
inputs were made by overseas guests including Elmar Altvater, Nicola
Bullard, Massimo De Angelis, Ulrich Duchrow and Gill Hart. Other crucial
interventions came from scholar-activists from the region including Jeff
Guy, Ntwala Mwilima, Prishani Naidoo and Greg Ruiters. But this alone
would not have been enough to make the seminar the thrilling event it
was. The other factor was vibrant interaction from the floor.

Contributions by activists from townships and social movements -- and the
often forgotten inconspicuous work of the staff members of the
organising institutions -- created an atmosphere of rigorous debate and
mutual encouragement.

This book contains some of the contributions to the 3rd Rosa Luxemburg
Political Education Seminar. The materials gathered here will hopefully
provide a valuable source of inspiration for activists and will
encourage them to extend their studies on other important writings which
form part of our huge theoretical heritage. However, these texts can
never fully reflect the lively spirit of interaction and solidarity that
prevailed throughout the event. To experience this unique feeling it was
essential to be there.

That is why I'm looking forward to inviting readers to the Rosa
Luxemburg Seminar 2007 which will be held from March 1st -- 3rd in Cape

Arndt Hopfmann


Patrick Bond and Horman Chitonge

With the 2004-05 South African protest rate at 16 per day, of which 13
percent were illegal, it is evident that activists have returned to an
earlier militancy which some worried would be forgotten or completely
repressed in the post-apartheid era. This mirrors processes across the
region, in the wake of post-independence betrayals of promised progress.
If we take merely one case from the region, Zimbabwe, Simba Manyanya and
Patrick Bond documented five stages over a twenty-year period (1980-2000):

- a liberation movement which won repeated elections against a terribly
weak opposition, but under circumstances of worsening abstentionism by,
and depoliticisation of, the masses;
- concomitantly, that movement's undeniable failure to deliver a better
life for most of the country's low-income people, while material
inequality soared;
- rising popular alienation from, and cynicism about, nationalist
politicians, as the gulf between rulers and the ruled widened inexorably
and as more numerous cases of corruption and malgovernance were brought
to public attention;
- growing economic misery as neoliberal policies were tried and failed; and
- the sudden rise of an opposition movement based in the trade unions,
quickly backed by most of civil society, the liberal petit-bourgeoisie
and the independent media - potentially leading to the election of a
new, post-nationalist government.

That trajectory appears inexorable for South Africa, as well, even if
not on the same timescale, given the stronger ties between trade unions
and the ruling party (especially in the wake of the rise and fall and
rise and fall and rise... of Jacob Zuma). It is in this respect that we
will continually have our ears tuned to regional dimensions, to learn as
much as possible from prior episodes of exhausted nationalist
capitalism, and from temporarily unsuccessful reactions by progressive
forces in civil society.

After all, for more than three centuries, this region has hosted some of
the world's most intense contests between capitalism and non-capitalist
social and natural life, with capital -- in mining, agriculture, industry
and services -- taking full advantage of slavery, colonialism,
neocolonialism, apartheid and neoliberalism. The result has been a
continual 'primitive accumulation' in which capital's reach
superexploits women, indigenous people, natural environments, workers
and now consumers.

To learn more about these regional, historical, theoretical and
contemporary processes, the Centre for Civil Society opened thematic
research projects on 'Economic Justice' in March 2006. We launched this
theme by reviewing some of the finest traditions of South African,
regional and international political-economic theory and contemporary
analysis. Our focus was on market-nonmarket interactions and new forms
of primitive accumulation.

In addition to Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, we were supported in this effort
by funding and intellectual partners also committed to these issues,
including the SA-Netherlands Programme for Alternative Research in
Development, Harold Wolpe Memorial Trust, Open Society Initiative of
Southern Africa, Research Council of Norway, SA National Research
Foundation and two leading journals, Capitalism Nature Socialism and
Review of African Political Economy.

By way of context, ideas about a supposed 'dual economy' in South Africa
(and indeed the region and world) are now being debated at the highest
political/policy levels. Early 2006 presented an opportune time to
discuss whether formal markets and the informal economy plus other
aspects of society and nature are really as divorced as is often assumed.
Before their deaths, several scholar-activists - Harold Wolpe in South
Africa (1995), Guy Mhone (2005) and Jose Negrao (2005) in Southern
Africa and Rosa Luxemburg in Europe (1919) - developed consistent
arguments about the way markets systematically exploit 'nonmarket'
opportunities, in other modes of production, in society (especially
women's unpaid labour ) and in the natural environment. At three scales
of analysis, we assessed their stories, reviewed past and contemporary
contributions on their legacies, and considered whether current and
future political-economic scenarios require new insights.

Interdisciplinary social scientists debated intellectual problems
associated with market exploitation of nonmarket spheres (society and
nature) from 28 February through 2 March, and from 2-4 March, activists
from across KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and the region helped move from
analysis to praxis, with open discussions and strategy debates in the
framework of the Rosa Luxemburg Political Education Seminar. While the
Review of African Political Economy (March 2007) carries papers from
days devoted to Wolpe, Mhone and Negrao, the main papers presented in
honour of Luxemburg's ideas, and some of the key strategic insights, are
found in this volume.

We start with Luxemburg's own analysis of South and Southern Africa, in
several revealing excerpts from The Accumulation of Capital. But by
discussing Accumulation in historical perspective, Arndt Hopfmann
maintains that not only do we encounter conceptual errors, but we can
also acknowledge the brilliance of Luxemburg's insights for application
to contemporary problems. By situating her work historically in
KwaZulu-Natal, Jeff Guy reintroduces us to the 'pre-capitalist mode of
production' and its interface with capitalist expansion at the turn of
the 20th century. And to update the theoretical argument, Ahmed Veriava
considers primitive accumulation by examining two directions in which we
can pursue Luxemburg's main theme, that of David Harvey and Massimo De
Angelis. With his notion of 'our outsides' (i.e., those terrains of
social struggle that counteract commodification), De Angelis adds an
important reminder about the power of agency.

But when we evaluate the contemporary nature of imperialism, sobering
evidence is to be found. In Luxemburg's spirit, Elmar Altvater surveys
the many ways that a new petro-grounded imperialism has emerged, along
with a variety of other new commodity forms that Luxemburg might have
anticipated. Some such aspects of imperialism pit countries against each
other, a prospect Patrick Bond argues is already in play with South
Africa's accumulation model extending into the region. That accumulation
model is currently being disguised by state rhetoric about how a 'second
economy' can be drawn into the first, as if they are separate. The
interconnections and systemic underdevelopment of the mass of informal
workers are unveiled by Caroline Skinner and Imraan Valodia. Likewise,
the deepening of the commodity form with respect to state services is
disguised by a new rhetoric of serving 'customers', as Greg Ruiters
shows. Part of the disguise is also the deracialisation of the
commanding heights, an uneven, stop-start-stop process criticised by
Leonard Gentle.

What of resistance to these aspects of regional capital accumulation? In
part by reminding us of the prophetic, radical, pro-poor voice of
religious tradition, Ulrich Duchrow launches an overdue attack on the
very foundations of accumulation, the property form. Ntwala Mwilima
poses challenges for regional labour with respect to ideological
challenges posed by foreign direct investment. The need for unity
amongst oppressed people, especially the very poorest, is emphasised by
S'Bu Zikode. In the specific case of fighting the commodification of
education, Salim Vally sketches strategic arguments and reveals
anti-capitalist practices. Finally, the more general relationship
between locales, identities, protests and class struggles are dissected
by Trevor Ngwane, as he ultimately counterposes one word as antidote to
the accumulation of capital: socialism.

This collection of texts, presented at our Colloquium on Economy,
Society and Nature, is the first of many attempts to revive the
political economic traditions that made South and Southern Africa
amongst the most important laboratories for anti-capitalist analysis and
praxis. But if academic comprehensions are typically six months or more
behind the curve on so many such struggles, we will continue to offer
interesting material only if we at the Centre for Civil Society and Rosa
Luxemburg Foundation listen, quite explicitly, as intently as possible
to the organic intelligentsia in the new movements for socio-economic
and environmental justice.


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