The Accumulation of Capital: An Anti-Critique

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(1871 - 1919)
Rosa Luxemburg (German: [ˈʁoːza ˈlʊksəmbʊʁk] (About this soundlisten); Polish: Róża Luksemburg; also Rozalia Luksenburg; 5 March 1871 – 15 January 1919) was a Polish Marxist, philosopher, economist, anti-war activist and revolutionary socialist who became a naturalized German citizen at the age of 28. Successively, she was a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). (From :


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The Accumulation of Capital: An Anti-Critique

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This document contains 6 sections, with 41,021 words or 269,260 characters.

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First Published: 1921 – Die Akkumulation des Kapitals oder Was die Epigonen aus der Marxschen Theorie gemacht haben. Eine Antikritik (Franke, Leipzig 1921). Originally written:1915 while interned in the women’s prison, Barnimstrasse, Berlin. Source: Rosa Luxemburg and Nikolai Bukharin: Imperialism and the Accumulation of Capital. Edited with an Introduction by Kenneth J. Tarbuck. (Allen Lane The Penguin Press, London 1972), pp.45-150. Translated: (from the German) by Rudolf Wichmann. Transcription/Markup: Steve Palmer. Copyright: Kenneth J. Tarbuck and Rudolf Wichmann 1972. Notes: Notes by the editor and translator appear [thus]. MIA notes appear {thus}. Habent sua fata libelli – books have their fates. When I wrote my Accumulation a thought depressed me from time to time: all followers of Marxist doctrine would declare that the things I was trying to show and carefully substantiate were self-e... (From :

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Just consider: it is a fact that the controversies in political economy over the problem of accumulation and the possibility of the realization of surplus value have gone on for a century; in the twenties, in Sismondi’s disputes with Say, Ricardo and MacCulloch, in the eighties and nineties between the Russian ‘Populists’ and Marxists. The most distinguished political economists in France, England, Germany and Russia aired the question repeatedly, both before and after the appearance of Marx’s Capital. Wherever, under the impact of sharp social criticism, active intellectual life pulsated through political economy, the problem left no peace for the researchers. It is a fact that the second volume of Capital is not really a complete work, like the first, but only a torso, a loose collection of more or less finished fragments and drafts such as a researcher writes down for his own unde... (From :

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Naturally I shall not let myself be drawn into a discussion of Bauer’s tabulated calculations. His position and his critique of my book depend mainly on the theory of population which he counterposes to my ideas as the basis of accumulation, and which in itself really has nothing to do with any mathematical models. It is this theory which we must investigate. However, we must first get acquainted with the ways and means, with the method, in which Bauer performs his tabulated manipulations. Even if they are absolutely worthless when it comes to solving the purely social and economic problems of accumulation, they are still very characteristic of Bauer himself, and of the consciousness with which he approaches a solution to the problem. This procedure can be illustrated with a few very simple examples which may even be judged by common mortals who are usually horrified by mind boggling tables and cabalistic signs. Three examples are sufficient. On p... (From :

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‘Every society which grows must expand its productive apparatus every year. This will be a necessity for the future socialist society as much as it is for the present capitalist society, or as it was for the simple commodity-production and peasant economy of the past, which produced for its own need.’ Here, in a nutshell, is Bauer’s solution to the problem of accumulation. In order to accumulate, capital needs a steadily increasing outlet to make the realization of surplus value possible. Where does the outlet come from? Bauer answers: the population in capitalist society grows, like that in any other society, thus increasing the demand for commodities and giving the foundation for accumulation in general. ‘In capitalist society there is a need for capital accumulation to adjust to population growth.’ From this central point Bauer deduces the characteristic movements of capital and its forms. (From :

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This is the limit of Bauer’s own explanation of capital accumulation. What is its practical conclusion? Bauer expresses it as follows: The result of our investigation is that capital accumulation is possible even in isolated capitalist society, provided that it does not extend beyond a certain defined limit (i.e. the growth of the working population – R.L.); and that the mechanism of capitalist production itself automatically brings it back to this limit. Immediately afterwards, Bauer summarizes the quintessence of the practical application of his theory in a concluding chapter, where we read: Comrade Luxemburg explains imperialism in the following way: the conversion of surplus value into capital would be impossible in an isolated capitalist society. This is possible only if the class of capitalists expands its market continuously, so that it can sell that part of the surplus value which contains the a... (From :

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However that may be, we have at last arrived at imperialism. The concluding chapter of Bauer’s essay is entitled The Explanation of Imperialism. After this, the reader might well hope finally to find one. After Bauer had explained that I had only uncovered one root of imperialism, ‘but not the only one’, one could only expect that, from the standpoint of his theory, he himself would lay bare the other roots. Unfortunately, this was not the case. To the end, Bauer fails to give one single indication of the other roots, he keeps the secret to himself. In spite of the concluding chapter’s promising title and introduction we are still left with only the one miserable ‘root’ of imperialism, which forms the ‘kernel of truth’ in my incorrect explanation. In doing this, however, Bauer has already conceded too much to me, in the shape of the ‘one root’ which he kindly accepts as true&rs... (From :


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