Translated preface to the Russian fifth edition of Rosa Luxemburg's works The Accumulation of Capital and her Anti-Critique.
(as well as Bauer and Eckstein's critiques) by W.E. Motylev. It's a quite lengthy preface with its 43 pages. This text was written during third-period Stalinism in 1934 when the thought of unity with the Social-Democrats was rejected and Bukharin's opposition had been defeated. Its author, as he 'admits' towards the end, had initially been sympathetic to Luxemburg's views. This text perhaps stands out in that it touches on Luxemburg's 'Introduction to Political Economy' (1925). Furthermore, Motylev has the benefit of being able to quote from Kautsky's 1927 magnum opus 'The Materialist Conception of History', which gives at least a new reason to revisit to the old Lenin-Kautsky controversy on imperialism. Stalinist passages are laid on thick enough to be noticed by any reader (to be sure, the author is a full Stalinist, who just happens to be a decent scholar of Marx).
There are small annoyances in this translation, e.g. 'production' and 'reproduction' are sometimes used interchangeably. The footnote-numbering was improved and sometimes a citation's source added. Russian text at http://trst.narod.ru/rl/00.htm
Preface to the fifth edition
One can hardly name another work in Marxist economic literature, which is characterized by such a disparity between the subjective-revolutionary intentions of the author and the objective anti-revolutionary meaning of its central ideas, as "The Accumulation of Capital" by Rosa Luxemburg. This work by R. Luxemburg called forth strange at first sight, but not at all random, groups of supporters and opponents. Against the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg were, on the one hand, the official social-reformist theorists, and, on the other hand, communist theorists. Consistent supporters of this theory were mostly renegades of communism (Thalheimer, etc.). Its methodological conception also met the sympathy among some of the "left" Social-Democrats (Sternberg, Grossman and others). In recent years, as we will show below, among the "left" Social-Democrats the tendency increased to lean to one degree or another on the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg as justification of "left" phrases about contemporary capitalism. Attempts to come out under the banner of Luxemburgism are observed in recent years also on the side of trotskyites.
The reasons for this group of opponents and supporters of the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg will become clear below, after finding out the substance of her errors. It is completely obvious however, that the criticism of social-fascists and communists cannot but differ fundamentally in its starting positions and nature, as well as in its conclusions.
I The theory of realization of K. Marx and R. Luxemburg
The theory of realization of R. Luxemburg puts her into contrast with the theory of expanded reproduction of Marx, developed in part III of the second volume of "Capital".
Marx considered, as is known, the problem of reproduction in an "ideal", "pure" capitalist economy, which consists of two classes - the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. This abstraction is necessary in order to establish the immanent laws of the reproduction of the capitalist economic system as such. But in doing so, Marx establishes the inherent laws of reproduction in the real capitalist economy, because the capitalist system dominates in it, and the remnants of the pre-capitalist system are mainly governed by the laws of capitalist development, only partially modifying them.
R. Luxemburg, while not opposed to the correctness of this assumption of Marx in the study of simple reproduction, strongly comes out however against its admissibility in the study of expanded reproduction.
"The theoretical assumption of a society, – she writes, - of capitalists and workers only [...] no longer seems adequate when we deal with the accumulation of gross social capital. As this represents the real historical process of capitalist development, it seems impossible to me to understand it if one abstracts it from all conditions of historical reality. Capital accumulation as the historical process develops in an environment of various pre-capitalist formations, in a constant political struggle and in reciprocal economic relations. How can one capture this process in a bloodless theoretical fiction, which declares this whole context, the struggle and the relations, to be non-existent? "1 .
In this quote an oddity in the argument of R. Luxemburg draws attention to itself. After all every process, investigated in Marx's "Capital", is ''a real historical process", all the logical categories, reflecting the capitalist economy, present historical ones. Regarding these processes at a given level of abstraction, i.e., abstracting from some (but not all) of the conditions of historical reality, Marx thus provides the potential for true understanding of this same historical reality. ''All scientific (correct, serious, not absurd) abstractions reflect nature more deeply, truly and completely." 2 .
Contrary to the assertion of Rosa Luxemburg, the methodological premise of the abstract theory of expanded reproduction of Marx appears not at all "a bloodless theoretical fiction". Marx actually does not abstract in the theory of expanded reproduction from all historical conditions. The circumstance that (c), (v) and (m) in Marx's schemes mean constant capital, variable capital and surplus value, indicates that the problem is analyzed by Marx in the conditions of capitalist economy. That, common to all systems of social economy, which there is in Marx's schemes (necessity of certain proportionality between the departments of social reproduction, etc.), is given in them the particular, specific, historicity. The social nature and the quantitative determination
of the subdivided parts and their relations reflect the specific features of capitalist economy.
Thus Marx in the second volume of "Capital" abstracts in the study of expanded reproduction not from all historical conditions, but only from those, that complicate the actual immanent laws of expanded reproduction in capitalist economy. If to R. Luxemburg the premise of Marx's study seems to be "a bloodless theoretical fiction'', then in this is guilty her denial of the very possibility of expanded reproduction in a pure capitalist economy.
Not being in agreement with this methodological premise in Marx's study, R. Luxemburg tries even to make it appear that this assumption carries a random character, since Marx did not have time supposedly to verify its applicability to this problem. In "Anti-Critique" she declares, that "Marx specifically on the question of accumulation does not go any further into the question of accumulation than to devise a few models and suggest [the beginning of] an analysis" that he "only posed the question of the accumulation of gross capital, but did not answer it", that "to illustrate his conception he constructed some mathematical models, but hardly had he started on their significance for practical social possibilities and their verification from this standpoint when sickness and death forced him to stop writing" (ch01).
These statements from R. Luxemburg stand however in sharp contradiction with the fact, that Marx pointed to the necessity of an abstract analysis of the problem of expanded reproduction repeatedly in "Capital" as well as in "Theories of Surplus Value." R. Luxemburg herself is forced to give in ch. 25 of "Accumulation" a serie of quotations from these works of Marx, which proves, that the necessity to research the problem of expanded reproduction in "pure" capitalism was for him sufficiently thought out. R. Luxemburg is right, that "mathematical models are examples, illustrations of Marx's economic thoughts" (anti-critique/ch02), but the fact of the matter is, that these illustrations correspond to the economic reasoning of Marx, illustrate his real views.
R. Luxemburg claims, that in pure capitalism there cannot be buyers for the goods, in which surplus value is materialized, subjected to accumulation. We will not here reconstitute her reasoning and arguments on this issue, because the reader can get to know them in the same book - in "Accumulation of capital" (ch. VII, VIII, XXV, XXVI) and in "Anti-Critique" (ch.1)3
We turn directly to the analysis of the critical comments of R. Luxemburg.
When R. Luxemburg poses the question: "Who then could be the buyer and consumer of that portion of commodities whose sale is only the beginning of accumulation?" And answers it: "One thing is clear: it can be neither the workers nor the capitalists'' - then in this answer is absent clarity on the main question: about which workers and about which purchasing power of the capitalists are we talking. We're talking after all in this case about accumulation. Accumulation already implies the existence of additional demand of capitalists for means of production and their additional demand for labor power, i.e., additional demand of workers for means of consumption.
R. Luxemburg notes only the fact, that all capitalists appear on the market with supply of those goods, in which is materialized the surplus value subject of accumulation. But precisely because this part of the surplus value is subject to accumulation, every capitalist strives to sell his products only in order to buy from others. Thus in reality all the capitalists are in need of goods of each other (for additional means of production and means for the existence of additional workers), i.e., along with supply there exists demand. If the necessary proportionality is not violated (and that is the premise of the schemes), then the demand for these products is created by the need to expand production.
The question, which R. Luxemburg believes insoluble in pure capitalist economy, is solved in the way, that the demand for goods, in which is materialized the accumulating surplus value, is presented by capitalists themselves additionally (for means of production) and by the for them additional employed workers (for means of consumption).
R. Luxemburg herself approaches a similar, i.e., correct, resolution of the question, but immediately rejects it.
"Perhaps - she writes - we are acting like the rider who is desperately looking for the nag he is sitting on. Perhaps the capitalists are mutual customers for the remainder of the commodities – not to use them carelessly, but to use them for the extension of production, for accumulation. Then what else is accumulation but extension of capitalist production? Those goods which fulfil this purpose must not consist of luxurious articles for the private consumption of the capitalists, but must be composed of various means of production (new constant capital) and provisions for the workers [variable capital].
''All right, but such a solution only pushes the problem from this moment to the next. After we have assumed that accumulation has started and that the increased production throws an even bigger amount of commodities on to the market the following year, the same question arises again: where do we then find the consumers for this even greater amount of commodities?
''Will we answer: well, this growing amount of goods will again be exchanged among the capitalists to extend production again, and so forth, year after year? Then we have the roundabout that revolves around itself in empty space. That is not capitalist accumulation, i.e. the amassing of money capital, but its contrary: producing commodities for the sake of it; from the standpoint of capital an utter absurdity" (anti-critique/ch01).
After acknowledging thus the possibility of realizing the to accumulation subjected surplus value, R. Luxemburg immediately rejects it (the possibility) on the grounds that: 1) such production for production in terms of capital is nonsense, and 2) accumulation must represent the accumulation of money capital.
Let us first consider the first reason. This argument is repeated by R. Luxemburg several times, it is one of her central methodological guidelines. In the same "Anti-Critique" she says: "One cannot make out where it begins, or where the impelling force is. We are turning round in circles and the problem eludes our grasp".
Even more sharply this question is formulated by her in the main work - "The Accumulation of Capital."
"But that implies a previous capitalist incentive to enlarge production; if new workers are set to work with new means of production, there must have been a new demand for the products which are to be turned out (ch07, our highlight - W.M.)."
"It cannot be discovered from the assumptions of Marx’s diagram for whose sake production is progressively expanded. ... The question is: if, and in so far as, the capitalists do not themselves consume their products but ‘practise abstinence’, i.e. accumulate, for whose sake do they produce? .. These capitalists are thus fanatical supporters of an expansion of production for production’s sake (ch25, our highlight. - W.M)."
The fact that such a formulation of the question is repeated by R. Luxemburg several times indicates that she became the victim of a deeply mistaken methodological approach to this question in capitalist economy. After all the immediate goal, the incentive of capitalist production is progressing production of surplus value – obtaining profit. Capitalists expand production in order to ensure profitable growth. At the same time, capitalist production, like any social production, exists there to meet social needs, although this is achieved only indirectly, in a very limited and reduced extent. "Production for production's sake" is in capitalist economy an expression of the fact that it is not directly driven by the need to meet social needs, but the desire for profit. Thus, all expressions about the "nonsense", "absurdity" of progressing production for the sake of production, the question "for whom", etc. are the result of neglect of the elementary features of the capitalist economy.
In the same "Accumulation of Capital" R. Luxemburg gave a correct formulation of the real incentives for production. We give a few brief quotations, which perfectly correspond to the questions raised by it in the same paper, on purpose, incentives, etc., of expanded reproduction as production for production's sake.
"Thus profit becomes an end in itself, the decisive factor which determines not only production but also reproduction." (accumulation-capital/ch01).
"The aim and incentive of capitalist production is not a surplus value pure and simple, to be appropriated in any desired quantity, but a surplus value ever growing into larger quantities, surplus value ad infinitum."
How then to explain this strange aberration, this strange forgetfulness of R. Luxemburg established by her in the same work, of elementary features of capitalist economy? Obviously played a fateful role in this case, the teleological approach of R. Luxemburg to the reproduction of gross capital, her lack of understanding of the relation, that exists between the motives of individual capitalists and the movement of gross capital as a whole.
The matter doesn't improve with another critical comment of R. Luxemburg that accumulation must represent the accumulation of money capital. This argument is given by her in the "Anti-Critique" and in expanded form. She claims there that "to accumulate capital does not mean to produce higher and higher mountains of commodities, but to convert more and more commodities into money capital. (anti-critique/ch02)" Considering the explanation of the issue according to which money alternately serves the realization of profits of individual capitalists, R. Luxemburg says, "So the problem remains: gross social capital continually realizes an aggregate profit in money-form, which must continually grow for gross accumulation to take place. Now, how can the amount grow if its component parts are always circulating from one pocket to another?"
R. Luxemburg also in this case makes a significant error. In fact, total social capital accumulation occurs mainly in material form - the means of production, etc. Money capital is nothing but having reached independence, isolated functional form of the circuit of industrial capital, which the latter accepts, then rejects in the process of its circulation. Aggregate profit ("sum") can grow also in its natural form, because some of its component parts only elapse the form of money. The individual capitalist knows that he can turn his capital and his profit into money, into money-capital. The growth of social capital is usually accompanied by new growth of monetary capital, but both processes are not identical.
It's not appropriate to give here a consideration of all the objections, raised by R. Luxemburg on the question of the role of money in the process of expanded reproduction, but we believe it necessary to note the existence in her on this subject of a contradiction. On the one hand, R. Luxemburg blames Marx for the fact that for the question "where does the demand for surplus value", he substituted the question, "where does the money come for the realization of surplus value". On the other hand, R. Luxemburg herself extremely exaggerates the importance of money, by painting the accumulation of capital as the accumulation of money capital. In fact the mistakes attributed to Marx by R. Luxemburg are alien to him. The question, "where does the demand for surplus value", he finds, as we saw above, with the help of the scheme. The question about the source of money figures in him as a separate issue.
We now turn to the theory of realization, that R. Luxemburg contrasted with Marx's. Considering impossible the realization of surplus value, subject to accumulation, in a pure capitalist economy, R. Luxemburg put forward as a prerequisite for the implementation of expanded reproduction of capitalism the existence of a non-capitalist environment, in which the capitalists would be able to sell the goods, representing the accumulated part of surplus value.
"So there must develop right from the start an exchange relationship between capitalist production and the non-capitalist milieu, where capital not only finds the possibility of realizing surplus value in hard cash for further capitalization, but also receives various commodities to extend production, and finally wins new proletarianized labour forces by disintegrating the non-capitalist forms of production."[anti-critique/ch01].
We shall not here set forth in detail the theory of Rosa Luxemburg, as the reader can get acquainted with it in this book 4
Let's consider the theory realization of Rosa Luxemburg in substance.
In the same section of Volume III of the second volume of "Capital", which sets out the embattled by R. Luxemburg abstract theory of realization of Marx, the latter, in connection with the question of the admissibility of abstracting from foreign trade, expressed thoughts, that are relevant to the issue of admissibility of abstraction from non-capitalist environment.
"Capitalist production, - Marx writes, - does not exist at all without foreign commerce. But when one assumes normal annual reproduction on a given scale one also assumes that foreign commerce only replaces home products by articles of other use or bodily form, without affecting value-relations, hence without affecting either the value-relations in which the two categories “means of production” and “articles of consumption” mutually exchange, or the relations between constant capital, variable capital, and surplus-value, into which the value of the product of each of these categories may be divided. The involvement of foreign commerce in analysing the annually reproduced value of products can therefore only confuse without contributing any new element of the problem, or of its solution. For this reason it must be entirely discarded 5 ."
It's enough to ponder the meaning of Marx's argument, to see, that it can entirely be referred also to the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg.
In fact, if foreign trade only replaces one use-value for another, then this means, that it does not give in terms of abstract theory of realization any new possibility for the realization of the accumulated surplus value as compared to those, that are also present in pure capitalism. If we theoretically assume a pure world capitalist economy, in which are produced all the necessary use-values, then surely also with it the problem of realization of surplus value, subject to accumulation, can be solved by substitution of one use-value for another. If this is possible, as is suggested by R. Luxemburg, in the presence of non-capitalist environment, why is it impossible in a pure capitalist economy?
The logical inconsistency of disentangling foreign trade when considering the abstract theory of realization has repeatedly been emphasized also by Lenin. For example, in his work "A Characterisation of Economic Romanticism", criticizing the theory of "the third part" of Sismondi (with which the theory of realization of R. Luxemburg basically is identical), Lenin declared the following:
"But what about the foreign market? Do we deny that capitalism needs a foreign market? Of course not. But the question of a foreign market has absolutely nothing to do with the question of realization, and the attempt to link them into one whole merely expresses the romantic wish to “retard” capitalism, and the romantic inability to think logically. The theory which has explained the question of realization has proved this up to the hilt. The romanticist says: the capitalists cannot consume surplus-value and therefore must dispose of it abroad. The question is: do the capitalists supply foreigners with products gratis, or do they throw them into the sea? They sell them—hence, they receive an equivalent; they export certain kinds of products—hence, they import other kinds. If we speak of the realization of the social product, we thereby exclude the circulation of money and assume only the exchange of products for products, since the problem of realization consists in analyzing the replacement of all parts of the social product in terms of value and in terms of material form. Hence, to commence the argument about realization and to end it by saying that they “will market the product for money” is as ridiculous as answering the question about realizing constant capital in the shape of articles of consumption by saying: “they will sell.” This is simply a gross logical blunder: people wander away from the question of the realization of the aggregate social product to the view point of the individual entrepreneur, who has no other interest than that of “selling to the foreigner.” To link foreign trade, exports, with the question of realization means evading the issue, merely shifting it to a wider field, but doing nothing towards clearing it up. The problem of realization will not be made one iota clearer if, instead of the market of one country, we take the market of a certain group of countries 6 .
Lenin's affirmation, that disentangling foreign trade (meaning also non-capitalist environment) only pushes the question of realization to a wider field, does nothing towards clearing it up, can be illustrated by the following example.
Let's assume, that the scheme of expanded reproduction also includes production of non-capitalist producers, i.e., the execution of the basic requirement of R. Luxemburg in the analysis of the problem of expanded reproduction in non-capitalist environment. In order not to complicate things with new calculations, we assume, that it is the scheme of extended reproduction, which appears in Marx, reflecting the relation not only in a pure capitalist economy, but also among non-capitalist producers, i.e., that in (c) is included, besides the constant capital of capitalists, the value of the means of production of independent producers, in (v), except variable capital, - that part of revenue of non-capitalist producers, which goes to private consumption of these producers and their families, in the accumulated part (m) - accumulation (very little) of certain groups of these producers. Although such inclusion in the scheme of simple commodity production is rather conditional, it is still permissible for illustrative purposes.
The question is: will this change anything in the question of realization compared to its make-up, which it has in a pure capitalist economy? Applying the method of reasoning of R. Luxemburg, we must inevitably come to the conclusion, that in this case there are no buyers of the accumulated part (m). In fact, after all the purchasing power of the capitalists, workers and non-capitalist producers is limited to (c+ v) plus the consumption part (m). Once capitalists and non-capitalist producers want to accumulate the other part (m), then with R. Luxemburg's method of reasoning for them there should not be buyers. To whom in this case can the goods be sold, in which is materialized that part (m)? After all the purchasing power of the non-capitalist environment has already been included in our example 7 .
In this way the salvific role of the non-capitalist environment is found to be imaginary. For the supporters of R. Luxemburg there are only two choices: either to deny the possibility of accumulation also under the existence of non-capitalist environment, or admit the possibility of realization in abstract pure capitalism.
II Contradictions of expanded reproduction and crises.
The abstract theory of realization explains the possibility of extended reproduction, which finds expression normally at the end of the cycle. But this theory does not claim, that the possibility, of expanded reproduction is realized without difficulties and disorders.
"The abstract theory of realisation, - Lenin writes, - assumes and must assume the proportional distribution of the product between the various branches of capitalist production. But, in assuming this, the theory of realisation does not, by any means, assert that in a capitalist society products are always distributed or could be distributed proportionally. ... Since we take an abstract theory of realisation ... the deduction that realisation is possible becomes inevitable. But while expounding the abstract theory, it is necessary to indicate the contradictions that are inherent in the actual process of realisation 8 ."
Exploring, how the reproduction and circulation of social capital happens, Marx's scheme assumes the presence of necessary proportionality. Nevertheless the inevitability of violations of this proportionality follows from the very nature of the scheme. In as much as the latter examines, as was noted above, the process of expanded reproduction in capitalist economy, the scheme includes the contradiction between the social character of production and the private character of appropriation. At the same time precisely this contradiction explains the necessity of crises.
By establishing conditions of necessary proportionality, under which the process of expanded reproduction is possible in a capitalist economy, the scheme finds thus by the same line an imminent disturbance of this proportionality, because in an anarchic economy the required proportionality can be realized only through the mechanism of disturbances of this proportionality and causes the tendency to its recovery.
The state of necessary proportionality, which is given by Marx in the schemes, appears not for capitalism, but, meaning, for his theoretical study, a point of departure. The point of departure in the study of capitalist production shows the movement of the antagonistic contradictions of this production. The schemes directly depict the growth of antagonistic contradictions of capitalist production: firstly, they show that expanded reproduction means the expanded reproduction of class relations and the contradictions of capitalism, as, on the one hand, grows the wealth of capitalists and the reproduction on an enlarged scale of their class domination and, on the other - the occurring of expanded reproduction of the class of wage workers and the poverty of the masses: secondly, by virtue of this more rapid growth in the first department, producing means of production, compared to the second department, producing means of consumption, is reflected the growth and intensification in capitalist society of the contradiction between production and consumption. The schemes show that consumption of the working masses forms a narrow basis of capitalist reproduction. Thus, in the schemes, Marx not only does not discard the contradictions of capitalist production, but precisely explores them.
All this is not understood by R. Luxemburg. Correctly speaking against a number of apologetic views of the critics-epigones (Eckstein, Bauer, etc.), she is in the midst of Anti-Critique deepens her mistakes. She argues that, based on Marx's schemes of expanded reproduction crises as a periodic phenomenon become inexplicable.
"The capitalist crisis becomes an inexplicable phenomenon. Or there is only one explanation left for it: the crisis does not come from the incongruity between the ability of capitalist production and that of the market to expand, but only from the disproportionate relations between different branches of capitalist production. "[anti-critique/ch02].
Furthermore, in ch. XXV «Accumulation» R. Luxemburg argues that the theory of expanded reproduction, developed by Marx in part III, second volume of "Capital", is contrary to that characteristic of the capitalist accumulation, which Marx made throughout "Capital" and in particular in the third volume 9 .
Such a contradiction R. Luxemburg sees above all in that "the schemes do not consider regressing labor productivity." She tries to prove that under growth of the organic composition of capital the basic relationship of Marx's scheme is disturbed. Leaving aside here some other "contradictions", opened by R. Luxemburg, let's note further, that a very significant contradiction between volume II and III of «Capital» she sees in the fact that the scheme of expanded reproduction exlude the by Marx established "deep fundamental contradiction between the productive and consuming power of capitalist society". We will not reconstitute here her argumentation on these issues, referring the reader to ch. XXV of «Accumulation".
As for R. Luxemburg's comments on the contradictions, associated with the growth of the organic composition of capital, then these individual correct thoughts, that are present in these comments, indicate not that it is impossible to expanded reproduction in pure capitalism, but that it may take place only amid difficulties and disturbances. Therefore in the abstract theory of reproduction Marx could abstract from the growth of the organic composition of capital.
The statement of R. Luxemburg, that from the scheme of expanded reproduction supposedly the contradiction between production and consumption is excluded, that crises can be explained on the basis of the scheme only by disproportionality between different branches of capitalist production, - is of course deeply flawed. We noted above that the scheme involves a contradiction between the social character of production and the private character of appropriation, and hence from it follows the contradiction between production and consumption. Division within the departments in constant and variable capital and the division of social reproduction in the departments of means of production and means of consumption show, that in conditions of necessary proportionality the schemes include also the proportionality between production and consumption.
Thus the proportionality of the branches of production implies also the proportionality between production and consumption.
"“The consumer power of society”, Lenin writes, - and the “proportional relation of the various branches of production”—these are not conditions that are isolated, independent of, and unconnected with, each other. On the contrary, a definite condition of consumption is one of the elements of proportionality 10 ."
In this case the fact that a certain state of consumption is an element of proportionality and therefore can not be opposed to the proportionality of individual sectors, does not at all contradict with the special character and with special significance of the contradiction between production and consumption. Consumption is an element of proportionality, which proves to be the eminent "bottleneck" of this proportionality. Although in periods of growth and prosperity, preceding crises, consumption increases, its growth lags behind production growth. Therefore in the violations of proportionality of the reproduction process the periodical lagging of the growth of consumption from the growth of production plays a special role.
Lenin stressed repeatedly in his articles, referring to quotations from the works of Marx, that "in the final analysis the manufacture of means of production is necessarily bound up with that of articles of consumption, since the former are not manufactured for their own sake, but only because more and more means of production are demanded by the branches of industry manufacturing articles of consumption 11 ." At the same time Lenin stresses, that the contradiction between production and consumption exists even under the assumption of perfectly-smooth course of the reproduction process.
"Even with an ideally smooth and proportional reproduction and circulation of the aggregate social capital, the contradiction between the growth of production and the narrow limits of consumption is inevitable. But in reality, apart from this, realisation does not proceed in ideally smooth proportions, but only amidst “difficulties,” “fluctuations,” “crises,” etc. 12 ."
Marx, Lenin did not believe, in contrast to R. Luxemburg, that the contradiction between production and consumption should lead to systemic, chronic overproduction, to systemic imbalance between production and consumption.
"I did not say, - Lenin wrote, - anywhere that this contradiction should regularly produce a surplus-product; I do not think so and such a view cannot be deduced from Marx’s words. The contradiction between production and consumption that is inherent in capitalism is due to the tremendous rate at which production is growing, to the tendency to unlimited expansion which competition gives it, while consumption (individual), if it grows at all, grows very slightly; the proletarian condition of the masses of the people makes a rapid growth of individual consumption impossible 13 ."
This tendency of the capitalist economy to an unlimited expansion of production and the simultaneous restriction of consumption and is reflected in the periodical violations of proportionality in the national economy, periodical crises. It's wrong to tear only the contradiction between production and consumption from the entire system of contradictions of the capitalist economy, growing on the basis of the contradiction between social character of production and private character of appropriation. "Crises, - Marx says, - must be regarded as the real concentration and forcible adjustment of all the contradictions of bourgeois economy 14 ."
Unlike Marx, Engels and Lenin R. Luxemburg separates the contradiction between production and consumption, from the fundamental contradiction of capitalism, the contradiction between social character production and private character of appropriation, as well as from other contradictions, arising from this fundamental contradiction.
R. Luxembourg attaches great importance to that interpretation of Marx's schemes of expanded reproduction, which was given by Tugan-Baranovsky in his theory of accumulation. This theory of Tugan-Baranovsky she promotes as a scarecrow against the schemes of expanded reproduction of Marx. Meanwhile, the scheme of Tugan-Baranovsky has only a formal resemblance to the schemes of Marx, fundamentally is opposed to them in substance. The schemes of Marx, being an illustration of his economic research, not only do not abstract from the contradiction between production and consumption, but, as we saw above, include this contradiction. On the contrary in Tugan-Baranovsky, the relationship between production and consumption is essentially broken. Building schemes, in which consumption decreases systematically, and arguing on that basis the possibility of realization under any reduction in consumption, Tugan-Baranovsky denies the scheme any social content. While Marx's schemes are meaningful abstractions, reflecting the inherent relations of reproduction and circulation of social capital, - the schemes of Tugan-Baranovsky are empty and meaningless abstractions, arithmetic exercises, not having any relationship to the reality of the capitalist economy.
As much as the capitalist economy is characterized by the contradiction between production and consumption, and the increase of wealth of the ruling classes is accompanied by growth of national poverty, it satisfies the needs of society in a very limited and reduced extent. However, in a capitalist economy the means of production must be related with the production of consumer goods and is in the final analysis exactly this production. Therefore, private consumption also forms in the capitalist economy the basis of reproduction in general. From the fact that this basis is very narrow, follows not at all follow however, the possibility of abstracting from consumption, from the relationship between consumption and production, from the contradiction between them. At the same time it does not imply the impossibility of expanded reproduction in capitalist economy.
"This contradiction, - Lenin says, - does not signify the impossibility of capitalism, but it does signify that its transformation to a higher form is a necessity: the stronger this contradiction becomes, the more developed become the objective conditions for this transformation, as well as the subjective conditions, i.e., the workers’ consciousness of this contradiction 15 .''
III The theory of imperialism of R. Luxemburg
The analysis of R. Luxemburg's main objections against the theory of realization of Marx and the key positions of her own realization theory allows us to move now to the theory of imperialism of R. Luxemburg. The need for an economic explanation of imperialism is, as is emphasized by R. Luxemburg, not only in the subtitle to the book, but also repeatedly in the text, the central task of her book.
R. Luxemburg is not confined to the formulation of an own theory of imperialism, but also tries to prove that the premises of Marx's schemes exclude the very possibility of an explanation of imperialism. "But Marx assumes, as we have seen in the second volume of Capital, that the whole world is ''one capitalist nation'', that all other forms of economy and society have already disappeared. How can one explain imperialism in a society where there is no longer any space for it? ..'' [anti-critique/ch01].
This objection appears at first glance very convincing, reveals however a blatant misunderstanding of Marx's methodological approach to the problems interesting to R. Luxemburg of foreign trade, export of capital, etc. Studying in part III of the second volume of "Capital" how the process occurs of the reproduction and circulation of social capital, Marx to find out about these problems abstracted from a non-capitalist environment, because its existence in terms of the abstract realization theory, assuming the presence of proportionality, etc., does not facilitate the knowledge of the realization process and on the contrary makes it more difficult to clarify the relations of reproduction of social capital. But this not only not excludes, but precisily suggests the necessity to continue the ascent from the abstract to the concrete, and so – also the study later, in particular, of the question of the true role of non-capitalist environment.
At the same time in this objection lurks one of the central errors of Luxemburgists' views on imperialism. As is clear from this quotation, R. Luxemburg sees the roots of imperialism, its very necessity only in the relations of capitalism with noncapitalist environment. In relations of the capitalist countries with each other, she sees no need for imperialism. We'll show below that in this issue R.Luxemburg is close to Kautsky.
Moreover, R. Luxemburg believes, that based on the theory of expanded reproduction of Marx one cannot understand not only such bright manifestations of imperialism as "competition [swiftness in the race] for the most distant markets and capital exports", but even the existence of foreign trade.
"When capitalist production builds itself a sufficient market and permits expansion of the total accumulated value, there appears another riddle of modern development: competition for the most distant markets and capital exports, the most dominant feature of modern imperialism. Indeed incomprehensible! Why all this fuss? Why conquer colonies, why the opium wars of the forties and sixties, why the squabble for swamps in the Congo, for Mesopotamian deserts? Capital should stay at home and earn an honest living."[anti-critique/ch02].
"A picture of reproduction like the above in fact has no room for foreign commerce. If capitalism forms a ‘closed circle’ in every country from the very beginning, if, chasing its tail like a puppy and in complete ‘self-sufficiency’, it is able of itself to create an unlimited market for its products and can spur itself on to ever greater expansion, then every capitalist country as such must also be a closed and self-sufficient economic whole. In but a single respect would foreign commerce appear reasonable: to compensate, by imports from abroad, for certain deficiencies due to the soil and the climate, i.e. the import of raw materials or foodstuffs from sheer necessity. "[accumulation-capital/ch22].
We'll have to deal with these objections in some detail, as they are of great importance to identify the substance of the errors in R. Luxemburg's theory of imperialism.
R.Luxemburg's assertion, that from the standpoint critical to her theory of realization there is left no place for foreign trade, testifies about her misunderstanding of the real reasons for the necessity of foreign trade under capitalism.
If the abstract theory of realization, considering the world economy as one capitalist nation and assuming the existence of the necessary proportionality, thereby abstracting correctly from foreign trade, then this does not in any way diminish the importance of foreign trade in concrete capitalism. If the rate of profit in the sale of goods within the country and abroad were equal, if capitalism did not develop unevenly, if always the proportionality is kept, then the need for external trade could be really explained only by the geographical division of labor. But capitalism would not be capitalism then.
The possibility of realization by means of foreign trade of high rates of return follows primarily from differences in the level of the national market values (i.e., the socially necessary labor time), from the fact, that an advanced country, selling goods to a backward (albeit capitalist) country even below the market value of that country, sells them all the same above its market value, i.e., appropriates the unpaid labor of a backward country, and realizes thereby superprofit. The backward country is exposed in this case to exploitation, despite the fact that the exchange is profitable for it, since it gets the goods cheaper, than it could produce them itself.
"Capitals invested in foreign trade, - writes Marx, - can yield a higher rate of profit, because, in the first place, there is competition with commodities produced in other countries with inferior production facilities, so that the more advanced country sells its goods above their value even though cheaper than the competing countries. In so far as the labour of the more advanced country is here realised as labour of a higher specific weight, the rate of profit rises, because labour which has not been paid as being of a higher quality is sold as such. The same may obtain in relation to the country, to which commodities are exported and to that from which commodities are imported; namely, the latter may offer more materialised labour in kind than it receives, and yet thereby receive commodities cheaper than it could produce them16 .''
Further, capitalism is characterized by a tendency to unlimited expansion of production. When certain branches of production within the country reach such a level of development that the capacity of the domestic market for their product is exhausted, then the desire for maximum profit and the pressure of competition forces them to continue to expand production with the goal of export of goods abroad.
Finally the inevitability in anarchic economy of the disturbance of proportionality impels the search for a way to increase the external field of sales.
Here it should be emphasized, that the necessity of foreign trade in all these cases exists not only for the realization of the accumulated surplus value, but also for the realization of those goods, in which is materialized the value of constant capital, variable capital and the consumption part of surplus value.
"Not only the products (or part of the products) which replace surplus-value, - Lenin writes, - but also those which replace variable capital; not only products which replace variable capital, but also those which replace constant capital ... not only products that serve as articles of consumption but also those that serve as means of production—all these products are realised in the same way, in the midst of “difficulties,” in the midst of continuous fluctuations, which become increasingly violent as capitalism grows, in the midst of fierce competition, which compels every entrepreneur to strive to expand production unlimitedly, to go beyond the bounds of the given country, to set out in quest of new markets in countries not yet drawn into the sphere of capitalist commodity circulation. This brings us to the question of why a capitalist country needs a foreign market. Certainly not because the product cannot be realised at all under the capitalist system. That is nonsense. A foreign market is needed because it is inherent in capitalist production to strive for unlimited expansion—unlike all the old modes of production, which were limited to the village community, to the patriarchal estate, to the tribe, to a territorial area, or state. Under all the old economic systems production was every time resumed in the same form and on the same scale as previously; under the capitalist system, however, this resumption in the same form becomes impossible, and unlimited expansion, perpetual progress, becomes the law of production "17 . All these reasons explain the economic necessity of foreign trade in concrete capitalism even with the presence of the possibility in terms of the abstract theory of realization of expanded reproduction in pure capitalism.
With regard to export of capital, the main reason for it is also the difference in rates of return. In backward countries, where the organic composition of capital is low and at the same time workers' hands, raw materials, etc. are cheap - the rate of return is significantly higher, than in advanced ones. This causes the export of capital to underdeveloped countries and the struggle for the most favorable opportunity of its application.
"As concerns capitals, - Marx writes, - invested in colonies, etc., on the other hand, they may yield higher rates of profit for the simple reason that the rate of profit is higher there due to backward development, and likewise the exploitation of labour, because of the use of slaves, coolies, etc. "18 .
"If capital, - Marx writes, - is sent abroad, this is not done because it absolutely could not be applied at home, but because it can be employed at a higher rate of profit in a foreign country 19 ."
The above-mentioned reasons, evoke the export of goods and capital before the era of imperialism and also continue to operate under imperialism. But the dominance of monopolies, the development of new forms of competition and the struggle for the redivision of the world have a significant modifying effect, creating in the imperialist era the necessity of export of capital.
The growth of monopolistic price limits in the advanced capitalist countries the capacity of the domestic market, exacerbating poverty of the masses, inhibits the development of agriculture. The result of this is the increased need for external markets for the sale of goods and external areas for the application of capital. The need to export capital is also enhanced by the fact that his application in cartelised industries is not always possible, but in non-cartelized ones the rate of profit is very low. Further increase of cartel protectionism, hampers the penetration of goods in those countries, making at the same time especially profitable the export of capital to them. "The need to export capital arises from the fact that in a few countries capitalism has become “overripe” and (owing to the backward state of agriculture and the poverty of the masses) capital cannot find a field for “profitable” investment 20 .
Finally, the export of capital becomes an instrument of the struggle of monopolistic associations for monopolistic possession of the sources of cheap raw materials and markets, for the redivision of the world. Therefore, while sharpening the necessity to export goods and capital, - the export of capital "takes on particularly important significance" (Lenin). Exports of goods proves the essential dependence on the export of capital.
Thus, contrary to the opinion of R. Luxemburg, "competition for the most distant markets and capital exports" can be understood and explained precisely based on Marx's theory of realization, but subject to all of the contradictions of capitalism and, in particular, those contradictions, that generated the dominance of monopolies and their policies. On the contrary theory of realization of R. Luxemburg can not explain, as we saw above, even for the possibility of realization as such.
R. Luxemburg correctly points out in "Anti-Critique", that "the explanation of the economic roots of imperialism must be derived specifically from the law of accumulation of capital, and brought into compliance with them." But the fact of the matter is that the study of the accumulation process and its results she has substituted the study only the problem realization, concluding the theory of imperialism directly from the theory of realization.
Leninist theory of imperialism departs from the process of capital accumulation, the concentration of production and growth on the basis of this monopoly. Lenin, like R. Luxemburg, proves the economic necessity of imperialism. But unlike R. Luxemburg imperialism, according to Lenin, is – a stage of development of capitalism and at the same time – its latest stage, and not only policy.
We will not here present all the arguments of R. Luxemburg on the nature of imperialism, as the reader can get to know them in this book 21 . But from the foregoing it is clear that imperialism in R. Luxemburg's understanding accompanied capitalism on the first day of its appearance as a constant, a necessary feature. Thus, the specificity of imperialism as the latest stage of capitalism does not fit in the frame of Luxemburgist theory.
At the sale time the theory of realization of R. Luxemburg provoked an extremely one-sided and erroneous understanding of its imperialism, even as policy. She gives for example a definition of imperialism such as:
"Imperialism is the political expression of the accumulation of capital in its competitive struggle for what remains still open of the non-capitalist environment. " [accumulation-capital/ch31].
"the expansion of the rule of capital from the old capitalist countries to new areas, and the economic and political competition of those countries for the new parts of the world. " [anti-critique/ch01].
To anyone, familiar with the definition of imperialism of Kautsky, the similarity of R. Luxemburg's definition should jump into the eye with the definition of Kautsky. The latter wrote that imperialism "consists in the striving of every industrial capitalist nation to bring under its control or to annex all large areas of agrarian [Kautsky’s italics] territory 22
." If we consider that non-capitalist area are essentially agrarian, the similarity definition with the definition of R. Luxemburg to Kautsky becomes apparent. It is highly significant, therefore, that Kautsky himself in "The Materialist Conception of History" interprets the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg in the spirit of his understanding of the relationship between industry and agriculture and in this interpretation endorses it (siding at the same time with the social-fascist critics of her theory as a whole and resolutely rejecting her theory of capitalism's collapse).
Therefore, the criticism which Lenin directed against Kautsky's definition, strikes to a great extent also the position of R. Luxemburg. Focusing only on the question of the relation of capitalism to the non-capitalist environment, and understanding this relationship one-sidedly due to a mistaken theory of realization, R. Luxemburg, "did not notice", that the struggle is not only for new, non-capitalist countries, but also for of the most highly capitalist industrial regions of the world.
IV Imperialism and historical conditions of accumulation
Not confining herself to theoretical analysis of the problems of imperialism, R. Luxemburg tries to show the correctness of her theory also for the characteristic historical conditions of accumulation. She tries to show, that the history of colonial conquest, the history of the division of the world is an expression of competition of capital for the remaining non-capitalist world environment. Describing with much historical material the rule of capital in the colonies and backward countries, she argues that in order to create the necessary non-capitalist environment for the realization of surplus value capital struggles with agriculture, seeking to decompose it and introduce the commodity economy, that the instruments of this policy prove to be international loans and protective tariffs, etc. This part of "Accumulation of Capital " (section three) usually attracts the least attention from critics.
Meanwhile the erroneous theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg deeply predetermines the erroneous illumination of these historical events and facts, which she brings to justify her conception. And yet, despite this, the historical illustrations given by R. Luxemburg do even with her presentation not establish that which she is trying to substantiate with their help, and in some cases even argue the opposite. Especially sharp this is manifested in ch. XXVIII and XXX.
In ch. XXVIII R. Luxemburg describes the process of "involvement of the natural-economic formations - after their destruction and in the process of their destruction - into the circulation of commodities and the commodity economy." The meaning of this process, she sees in the creation of a market for the realization of surplus value. What follows is a detailed description of the war of Britain with China because of opium, which "compelled China to buy the drug from Indian plantations in order to make money for British capitalists " (accumulation-capital/ch28). How and why the introduction of opium of Indian plantations must have carried out the realization of surplus value of the capitalist enterprises of England - remains a secret. In this respect, the whole argument of R. Luxemburg turns out to act idle. If you think from R. Luxemburg's setting out of the historical facts, then they show just a different thing - that the basis of these predatory wars lay not in a desire for "the realization of surplus value," but the pursuit of giant predatory super-profits through unequal exchange and comprehensive exploitation of the working masses of China. Seeing the whole meaning of the events described in the creation of a market for the realization of surplus value, R. Luxemburg not only distorts the true meaning of these events, but the given illustrations do not at all confirm her conception. No wonder this chapter caused the following ironic remark of Lenin on the margins, "Amusing! .. In the beginning: «realizing» surplus-value (s.359, 2nd paragraph of chapter), - and account of forced introduction of opium to China!!! Account very very interesting, detailed. How many junks sunk 7.IX.1839 etc.!! What erudition! 24 "
Describing the next, ch. XXIX, devoted to "The struggle against peasant economy", the process of extermination of the Indians, the destruction of farming and the growth of the big-capitalist companies in the U.S., the destruction of the Boers in South Africa, etc., R. Luxemburg again simplifies and distorts the content of these phenomena, reducing them to a process realization of surplus value. In reality also here the content characterizing the processes are deeper, multifaceted. The spread of capitalism in breadth, into new territory and population, leading to multifaceted exploitation and the expropriation of small producers - to non-equivalent exchange with them, squeezing them out of lease payments, to the expropriation of their income by high prices for land, etc. The one-sidedness and superficiality of R.Luxemburg's illumination of the processes of decomposition of natural and simple commodity production in ch. XXVIII and XXIX found the following damning assessment in Lenin's remarks in the margins of the book: "Opium in China - quotes from Nikolayon on «bonanza farms» (large-scale capitalist agricultural enterprise. - W.M.) etc. - boers, torturers of negroes in South Africa and so on. Sensational, flashy, empty."
The contradiction between the theoretical positions of R. Luxemburg and the real meaning of the historical illustrations given by her reaches particularly acuteness in ch. XXX, on the problem of international loans. The export of capital from the advanced capitalist countries in the backward R. Luxemburg explained as follows; "There had been no demand for the surplus product within the country, so capital had lain idle without the possibility of accumulating. But abroad, where capitalist production has not yet developed, there has come about, voluntarily or by force, a new demand of the non-capitalist strata. The consumption of the capitalist and working classes at home is irrelevant for the purposes of accumulation, and what matters to capital is the very fact that its products are ‘used’ by others'' [...that 'the consumption' of products is transferred to others, in as much as consumption of cap.&workers does not account...(poor English translation, accumulation-capital/ch30]. But that description of export of capital (foreign loans, investments in railways, etc.), which R. Luxemburg gives in this chapter shows that the actual stimulus of external loans and investments consist not at all in a "transfer of the use of products to others", but in the usurious profits, in the ability to knock out of the peasants their income, expropriate their land, etc. "Stripped of all obscuring connecting links, - writes R. Luxemburg in this chapter, - these relations consist in the simple fact that European capital has largely swallowed up the Egyptian peasant economy. Enormous tracts of land, labour, and labour products without number, accruing to the state as taxes, have ultimately been converted into European capital and have been accumulated. Evidently, only by use of the kourbash could the historical development which would normally take centuries be compressed into two or three decades, and it was just the primitive nature of Egyptian conditions which proved such fertile soil for the accumulation of capital. "[accumulation-capital/ch30].
Thus, R. Luxemburg herself forced to admit that the real meaning of foreign loans and investments consists in the "devoration" by European capital of peasant economy. Precisely this devoration, by itself, as a source of huge superprofits, and not at all the necessity of realization of surplus value, was also clearly the driving force of rule of the British capitalists in Egypt. "The primitiveness of social relations" played only the role that facilitates the process of comprehensive exploitation and expropriation, the process of squeezing out the giant superprofit. Lenin on the presentation of R .Luxemburg of the process enslavement of Egypt notes in the book's margins: ''Egypt's ruin very good, by Rothstein etc. Conclusion: 'nur durch die Nilpferdpeitsche' (only because of a hippopotamus-skin whip. - W.M.) Precisely! Rosa Luxemburg flogs herself. Not for the sake of «the realisation of surplus-value» but for the sake of convenience of exploitation («whips», unpaid labour etc.) capital emigrates to backward countries. High returns! And that's all. Theft of land (without payment), loans at 12-13% etc.etc. - that's at the root."
Thus, contrary to the intentions or claims of R. Luxemburg, the characteristics of the historical conditions of accumulation given by her do not at all confirm her theory. Even in her exposition it's clear that the expansion of capital to underdeveloped countries is not due to the impossibility of the realization of surplus value within the capitalist economy, but a desire to receive - directly or indirectly - more profit, superprofits, with the conquest of new markets for this purpose, sources of cheap raw materials, spheres of application of capital. It is true, in the era of imperialism the need to export capital due to the fact that capital in the monopolist countries lacks a field for profitable space. However, as we saw above, this is caused not at all by an inherent inability to realize the surplus-value within capitalist economy, but the influence of monopolies and monopoly prices on the capacity of the domestic market, protectionism, etc. Further, even in cases where capital is exported directly for the sake of superprofits (for example, when exporting to the countries of "old" capitalism - from France to Switzerland, from Holland to Germany, and so etc.), - in the final analysis, indirectly it serves nevertheless also this goal, since it increases this or that relation of positions of the appropitate groups of financial capital and expands in general their opportunities for obtaining superprofits.
Leaving outside of her work, devoted to the economic explanation of imperialism, monopoly associations of capital and their dominance in the most modern capitalism, R. Luxemburg has deprived herself thereby the possibility to understand the real driving forces of imperialist expansion. Even in cases where a simple description of events brings R. Luxemburg close to the problem of the role of monopolies and finance capital, the assimilation by her dogma on the role of non-capitalist environment directs her attention on the wrong path and leads to erroneous conclusions. For example, considering in ch. XXXI the of fact growing protectionism in the era of imperialism, R. Luxemburg proves unable to understand the condition of this protectionism of the domination of monopolies. She sees only the growth of so-called guardian or protective duties. As a consequence, such a specific phenomena as the imperialist protectionism as cartel duties, export dumping, etc., are outside the scope of her attention.
Wrong is also the explanation of R. Luxemburg of the nature and role of militarism. Militarism is in her treatment only an instrument in the struggle for non-capitalist countries and for a field of capital accumulation. The connection of the newest militarism with the policy of monopoly and finance capital, with their tendency of monopoly ownership of sale markets, sources of raw materials and spheres of capital investment, its connection with the desire of imperialist powers for monopoly possession of territories and the redivision of the world, its connection with the strengthening and intensification of uneven development, - remains outside the purview of R. Luxemburg. Absorbed far-fetched realization problem of surplus value, R. Luxemburg did not notice, that militarism serves the matter of squeezing superprofit - also inside monopolistic countries (through military contracts at high prices), and abroad (through provision of military pressure privileges, etc.).
The conception of R. Luxemburg leads to a simplification and distortion of the issues of the exploitation of colonial peoples. From the perspective of this conception, the center of gravity is transferred to the realization of in the metropolis produced surplus value - and only. All other methods of exploitation, described by R. Luxemburg, prove to be only means to implement this basic need of capital. The problem of squeezing monopolistic superprofit through multifaceted exploitation of the colonies in this position, either completely disappears, or fades into the background. And if presented by R. Luxemburg of the historical conditions of accumulation in places gives a good description of the methods of rule of the imperialists in the colonies, it happened not because of her conception, but in spite of it, - and the corresponding material does not confirm her views. Thus the conception of R. Luxemburg leads objectively to an underestimate of the versatility and intensity of the exploitation of colonial peoples, which means to the underestimation of the sharp appearance of this basic contradiction.
The most vivid expression of all this is in the fact that the conception of R. Luxemburg leads her in the substance to the theory of decolonisation. From the perspective of the "problem" of surplus-value realization R. Luxemburg sees in the colonies only the process of transformation of natural economy into a simple commodity one, and the latter - in a capitalist one. Here are a few typical quotations.
"The accumulative process endeavours everywhere to substitute simple commodity economy for natural economy. Its ultimate aim, that is to say, is to establish the exclusive and universal domination of capitalist production in all countries and for all branches of industry. " [accumulation-capital/ch29].
"The imperialist phase of capitalist accumulation... comprises the industrialisation and capitalist emancipation of the hinterland where capital formerly realised its surplus value. "[accumulation-capital/ch30].
These quotations, whose number could easily be multiplied, show that the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg brought her close to the theory of decolonization. True, in "Accumulation of capital" (in particular ch. XXVI) R. Luxemburg herself is forced to admit that the imperialist powers preserve in the colonies pre-capitalist forms of economy. However, prevail do nevertheless - in full accordance with the logic of the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg – the statements and arguments in the spirit of decolonization.
Generally, not understanding the nature of imperialism as monopoly capitalism, R. Luxemburg was not able to theoretically comprehend all the complex and rich reality of the era of imperialism. In her "Anti-Critique" she correctly points out that "only precise theoretical knowledge of the problem at its roots can provide our practical struggle against imperialism with security, aim and force – essential for the politics of the proletariat." (anti-critique/ch01) Unfortunately, this knowledge she did not give. This becomes particularly clear when considering her theory of the collapse of capitalism.
V Problem of the collapse of capitalism
The immediate conclusion drawn from the theories of imperialism and the realization of R. Luxemburg is her theory of the collapse of capitalism. The theory is simple. Once capitalism can not exist without the non-capitalist environment and at the same time erodes and displaces it, then it will automatically approaches collapse. R. Luxemburg formulates her theory of the collapse of capitalism extremely clear within two pages [Anti-Critique, ch.1]. Here is a small excerpt, giving a clear idea of her understanding of this issue:
"Thus capitalism expands because of its mutual relationship with non-capitalist social strata and countries, accumulating at their expense and at the same time pushing them aside to take their place ...
"But by this process capital prepares its own destruction in two ways. As it approaches the point where humanity only consists of capitalists and proletarians, further accumulation will become impossible. At the same time, the absolute and undivided rule of capital aggravates class struggle throughout the world and the international economic and political anarchy to such an extent that, long before the last consequences of economic development, it must lead to the rebellion of the international proletariat against the existence of the rule of capital."
This scheme is captivating in its external harmony, clarity and completeness. In its wording is found the vivid expression of R. Luxemburg's revolutionary approach to imperialism, her subjective-actual revolutionary standpoint. Nevertheless, it's enough to ponder the meaning of this concept, for it to become clear, that between the subjective standpoint of R. Luxemburg and the objective meaning of her theory there is a glaring contradiction.
In fact, if the death of capitalism depends mainly on the displacement of non-capitalist environment, then is there reason to consider the current period as the period of the collapse of capitalism? After all non-capitalist producers are still the vast majority of humanity. True, in terms of R. Luxemburg, to the extent, to which they are producers, their purchasing power is already being used by capitalism, and the continuing of their exclusion should reduce the market. But, firstly, within the world economy there are still (in Asia, Africa, etc.) impressive remains of the natural forms of the economy, covering all or part of many millions of small producers. Their decomposition, their transformation into producers may still significantly expand the market; and secondly, the number of non-capitalist producers in general is so large, that their exclusion can not but last for a long historical period. Thus, remaining on the soil of the theory of R. Luxemburg, one cannot assert, that the economic limit of capitalism is very close and even less so, - that it has already been reached.
It's curious, that R. Luxemburg herself acknowledged this in another work - "Introduction to Political Economy," written after the "Accumulation of capital." In the chapter on "The tendencies in capitalist economy," she writes:
"True, capitalist development by itself has before itself still a long road, because capitalist development as such comprises still a most insignificant portion of total production on the territorial globe... The capitalist mode of production by itself could still see a colossal expansion, if it was given the possibility to displace the more backward forms of production... But precisely with that capitalist development the basic contradiction is tangled.''
Le développement capitaliste en soi a devant lui un long chemin, car la production capitaliste en tant que telle ne représente qu'une infime fraction de la production mondiale... Le mode de production capitaliste pourrait avoir une puissante extension s'il devait refouler partout les formes arriérées de production... Cependant, cette évolution enferme le capitalisme dans la contradiction fondamentale 25 ."
So when R. Luxemburg tried to make a logical conclusion from her theory of accumulation, this conclusion proves to be very non-revolutionary: R. Luxemburg herself showed that out of her theory emerges the longevity of capitalism.
But more importantly is the other side of the issue. Subjectively R. Luxemburg makes with "Accumulation of capital" revolutionary conclusions. Is it however mandatory for her theoretical position? Does it follow from the substance of her theory? It is easily seen, that the theory leads to the contrary.
If capitalism automatically, mechanically, by itself goes to death, the role of the proletariat as the gravedigger of the bourgeois system is effaced. Once the bourgeois regime must die by itself because of force of automatic processes, then the role of conscious struggle of the proletariat appears not decisive. The theory of automatic collapse of capitalism demobilizes therefor the vanguard of the proletariat, leads inevitably to an underestimation of the role of the party and its conscious struggle, the role of allies of the proletariat, etc.
At the same time this theory is not true in substance. We have seen, above, that the theory of realization of R. Luxemburg is wrong, that capitalism does not automatically die from the reduction of non-capitalist environment. Under these conditions, the theory of automatic crash spreads harmful illusions.
R. Luxemburg was convinced, that a different look at the problem of the collapse of capitalism "breaks from under socialism the granite foundation of its objective historical necessity". More than that, she goes exactly on this point in the most determined attack on opponents, accusing them of rejection of scientific socialism.
"Capitalist accumulation, - she writes, - becomes (objectively) limitless once capitalist production has built a sufficient market for itself. As production will still grow, i.e. the productive forces will develop without limit, even when all mankind is divided into capitalists and proletarians, as there is no end to the economic development of capitalism, the one specifically Marxist foundation crumbles. According to Marx, the rebellion of the workers, the class struggle, is only the ideological reflection of the objective historical necessity of socialism, resulting from the objective impossibility of capitalism at a certain economic stage...
"If we assume, with the ‘experts’, the economic infinity of capitalist accumulation, then the vital foundation on which socialism rests will disappear. We then take refuge in the mist of pre-Marxist systems and schools which attempted to deduce socialism solely on the basis of the injustice and evils of today’s world and the revolutionary determination of the working classes. "[anti-critique/ch02].
If we consider that under "finite economic development of capitalism" and under "the objective economic impossibility of capitalism at a certain stage of its development" R. Luxemburg understands such a condition, which occurs automatically, mechanically, by itself and means an absolute impossibility of accumulation, - than these critical observations of R. Luxemburg lose all credibility.
There is no doubt that the objective necessity of socialism is the result of economic conditions. But the nature of economic processes, which give rise to the inevitable demise of capitalism, R. Luxemburg understood incorrectly.
The basic contradiction of capitalism is the contradiction between the social character of production and the private character of appropriation. With the development of productive forces and the increasing concentration of production, this contradiction grows and becomes more acute. Its highest level is reached in the era of imperialism, when the giant socialization of the productive forces appear in particularly sharp contrast with the private character of appropriation. This fact of the development of monopolies does not eliminate competition, "but exist above it and alongside it ", creates "a number of very acute, intense antagonisms, frictions and conflicts" 26 .
The domination of capitalist monopolies creates a tendency of capitalism to parasitism and decay. But the coexistence of monopoly and competition leads to the fact, that processes of decay and development of industries and countries intertwine and alternate in time and space. The result is frequent and abrupt change in the power relations, leading to conditions of complete partition of the world for the fight for its redivision, to conflicts and disasters. The decisive force of imperialist development is uneven development, escalating and increasing in the era of imperialism.
Strengthening of uneven development and the sudden and frequent changes caused by it in the power relations in conditions when an unoccupied part is no longer available, inevitably lead to military clashes for the redivision of the already subdivided world, to the weakening of the front of world imperialism, the possibility of a breakthrough on this front by the proletarian revolution, to the victory of socialism in different countries.
However, the huge power of monopoly groups of capital and financial oligarchy makes insufficient and less effective the old methods of class struggle. The pressure of monopoly and finance capital brings the working class close to the necessity of revolution.
At the same time the strengthening of exploitation by financial capital of the colonies causes in them the rise of the national liberation movement; it becomes possible to connect under the leadership of the proletariat its revolutionary struggle against imperialism and the revolutionary struggle of the labouring masses in the colonies. Allies of the proletariat in its struggle against imperialism become also in increasing degree the peasants in the capitalist countries, oppressed and ruined by financial capital by means of monopoly prices, "scissors", usurious loans, etc.
The result is that imperialism is, by the definition of Lenin, moribund capitalism, because it "carries the contradictions of capitalism to their last bounds, to the extreme limit, beyond which revolution begins" (Stalin) 27 .
In "Socialism and War," published in 1915, Lenin wrote the following: "Formerly progressive, capitalism has become reactionary; it has developed the forces of production to such a degree that mankind is faced with the alternative of going over to Socialism or of suffering years and even decades of armed struggle between the ''great'' powers for the artificial preservation of capitalism by means of colonies, monopolies, privileges and national oppression of every kind "28 .
Observing, that the productive forces are ripe for socialism, that capitalism has become a reactionary economic system, Lenin did not however from this conclude, that capitalism automatically, by itself, can die. On the contrary, in his notes on "Economics of the Transition Period" of Bukharin, Lenin criticized the remarks of Bukharin, who sketched the collapse of capitalism as automatical. In other works Lenin emphasized, that it is not an absolutely hopeless situation for the bourgeoisie, and shifted the focus to the question of subjective factors, emphasizing the crucial role of the proletariat and its party in the implementation of the collapse of capitalism.
Since the world imperialist war a general crisis of capitalism began. War,"unleashed", in the words of the program of the Comintern, the general crisis of capitalism, was itself an indicator of its occurrence. She expressed a degree of aggravation of the contradictions inherent in the monopoly stage of capitalism, which made inevitable the era of world socialist revolution. "As a result of this war we have an immeasurable sharpening of all the contradictions of capitalism29 ." Thus the emergence of a general crisis of capitalism is inextricably linked with features of imperialism as the monopoly stage of capitalism. Tendency to decay and dying, characteristic of this stage, developed and deepened to such extent, that capitalism has entered since the war in a period of general crisis. The most vivid expression of the crisis and the most important factor for its further deepening is the existence of the Soviet union and the victorious socialist construction in it.
The maximum sharpening of contradictions, typical of imperialism as monopoly, decaying, moribund capitalism, gave rise to a period of general crisis of capitalism, being a period of war and revolutions, the split of world economy in socialist and capitalist systems, the struggle of both systems. However, the development of the general crisis of capitalism does not represent an automatic process. Capitalism can only be killed as a result of maturing revolutionary crises and escalation of them to revolutions. A crucial role play in this regard the subjective factors, i.e., the connection with the conscious struggle of the proletariat under the leadership of the comparty.
In light of these positions the error of the theory of collapse R. Luxemburg is quite obvious. Contrary to her opinion, the rejection of her narrow economic theory of automatic collapse of capitalism not only not represents a rejection of scientific socialism, but it follows just from a proper understanding of the latter.
True, in "Accumulation of capital", as well as in "Introduction to Political Economy", and some of her other works R. Luxemburg wrote about the need for "the international revolt of the working class against capitalist domination", about the need for "political revolution" for the transition to socialism. But the fact of the matter is that this is not a logical conclusion from her study of the accumulation of capital. The conception of R. Luxemburg shifts the center of gravity not to the class contradictions of capitalist society, but to the relationship between capitalism and non-capitalist environment. Putting theoretically the downfall of capitalism in dependency on the restriction of non-capitalist environment, R. Luxemburg distracts thereby the attention from the problem of internal contradictions of capitalism, and therefore from the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie. That is why in her voluminous work, on the economic explanation of imperialism, is paid almost no attention to the position and struggle of the proletariat, which is why her statements about the role of the proletarian revolution carry a declarative character, not inherent to the whole presentation. By shifting the center of gravity to an objective economic limit of capitalism, R. Luxemburg makes the proletarian revolution into a subordinate moment of the process of automatic collapse of capitalism.
VI Methodology of the economic research of R. Luxemburg
The preceding sections have already identified some of the methodological errors of R. Luxemburg. The sequential analysis of her views led us now to the question of the nature and characteristics of the methodology that underlies her theory as a whole. The presence in R. Luxemburg of a whole original conception for a number of important problems of the economic theory of capitalism suggests there is no doubt about the presence with her of a peculiar methodology in the study of these problems.
R. Luxemburg herself believes it is obvious that the studied problems are resolved by her in the spirit of Marxist dialectics. "The solution envisaged by Marx, - she says, - lies in the dialectical conflict that capitalism needs non-capitalist social organisations as the setting for its development, that it proceeds by assimilating the very conditions which alone can ensure its own existence." [accumulation-capital/ch26].
Thus the establishment by her of the dependence of the development (and death) of capitalism on the non-capitalist areas R. Luxemburg considers appropriate to the spirit of Marxist dialectics.
It is easy to show however that in this position R. Luxemburg has nothing in common with Marx's dialectic.
The Marxist dialetic, dialectical materialism teaches, that the source of development, the driving force of the latter is located not outside the system, an outside process, but inside it. All the processes and world phenomena can be known only in their self-development. The source of this self-motion, its motive force, is the struggle of opposites, forming the development of the phenomenon, of the system. Precisely the struggle of opposites leads "to the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new 30 ".
Thus, the driving force of development and decay of capitalism can not be found outside of the capitalist system, but in the inside of itself, in its inherent contradictions. Therefore, to clarify the fundamental laws of capitalism, Marx concentrated in "Capital" attention on capitalism as such, on "pure" capitalism. The general law of capitalist accumulation, which is essentially the basic law of development and decay of capitalism, Marx derived from the internal contradictions of capitalism, from its self-motion. Marx shows how, based on the concentration and centralization of capital, the growth of the organic composition of capital, the growth of relative overpopulation exacerbates the contradiction between socialized production and private appropriation, how the aggravation of this contradiction is reflected in the worsening conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat – how the struggle of opposites leads to the death of capitalism with the inevitable result of proletarian revolution.
"Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, - Marx shows, - who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself."[1867-c1/ch32]. Lenin and Stalin have shown that this is brilliant statement of Marx finds its decisive expression in the era of imperialism and, in particular, in its final phase – in the period of the general crisis of capitalism.
By focusing on the self-development of capitalism, on the clarification of its laws, the classics of Marxism do not ignore however the question of the relationship between capitalism and pre-capitalist formations. Marx in "Capital," Lenin in "The Development of Capitalism in Russia", in the works on agrarian question, etc., have shown that under the rule of capitalism remains of pre-capitalist formations are subjected to it and move on its basis. This certainly does not mean that they do have no self-development at all, that the movement is only a reflection. But still basically their development is subordinated to capitalism, has undergone profound corresponding changes and can not make a fundamental deviation from the laws of motion of the capitalist system.
All this shows that the methodology of R. Luxemburg, which sets the movement and destruction of capitalism in dependence on the relationship between capitalism and non-capitalist environment, has not anything in common with Marx dialectic. Capitalism must die, according to the views of R. Luxemburg, by virtue of the exhaustion of the outside environment. Capitalism itself, without the external environment, is unable to move. The significance of internal contradictions of capitalism is effaced, recedes into the background.
The conception, of associating the development and destruction of the system in dependence on the environment is clearly mechanistic. Thus, contrary to the assertion of R. Luxemburg, her theory solves the problem not in the spirit of the Marxist dialectic, but in the spirit of mechanism, in the spirit of the "equilibrium theory".
However, it would be wrong to think that this particular methodology of R. Luxemburg is exhausted. Not less attention deserves the clear expression in her research of the conception of exchange. R. Luxemburg is looking for the laws of motion and the collapse of capitalism not in production, production relations, but in the field of circulation. The main difficulties and contradictions of capitalism she sees in the domain of the market, the realization of the produced surplus value. The prevailing moment in her concept appears not production, but exchange, circulation. Along with this R. Luxemburg misunderstands the relationship of production and consumption. She does not understand that the development of production pushes the limits of consumption, that the contradiction between production and consumption, inherent in capitalism always, has however a cyclic form of motion, resulting only occasionally in crises.
To show that in "Accumulation of capital" R. Luxemburg we are confronted not with isolated methodological errors, but with essential features of her methodology, determining to a large extent the erroneous of her independent economic theories - let us briefly stop at the other economic work of R. Luxemburg, related to "Accumulation of capital", - at her "Introduction to Political Economy". R. Luxemburg herself emphasizes in the preface to "Accumulation of capital" the link of this work to the "Introduction".
"The impetus for this work, - she writes, - gave me a popular introduction to political economy, that I have been preparing already quite a long time for the same publisher... When I in January of this year, after the elections to the Reichstag, again set to work, to at least in basic outline finish the popularization of economic teachings of Marx, I ran into unexpected difficulties. I could not imagine with sufficient clarity the cumulative process of capitalist production in its specific relationship, as well as its objective historical boundaries. Upon closer examination, I came to the conclusion that here it is not just a question of presentation, but that this is a problem, which theoretically is due to the content of the second volume of "Capital" of Marx and at the same time linked with the practice of modern imperialist policy and its economic roots 31 ."
This "Introduction" describes the most general questions of economic theory of capitalism. R. Luxemburg explains in it the subject of political economy, making an extensive tour of the history of national economy, provides a theoretical description of commodity production, law of wages, the tendencies of the capitalist economy. However, despite the fact that, according to R. Luxemburg, the "Introduction" was to promote the economic teachings of Marx, it in a number of issues distort and pervert it. We do not set ourselves the task of a detailed analysis of the "Introduction" as a whole, we note only the methodological features of this work of R. Luxemburg, which we found reflected and developed in "Accumulation of capital".
In this book, especially in the chapter on commodity production, first of all strikes in the eye the more or less clearly pronounced exchange conception. R.Luxemburg opposes commodities production as unorganized, unplanned, anarchic – with the previous socio-economic formations as organized. This moment stuck out for her to the fore as decisive.
Marx, Engels, Lenin considered the planlessness, the anarchy of capitalist production as an expression of the fundamental contradiction of capitalist production, the contradiction between socialized production and private appropriation. For example Engels in ''Anti-Duhring'', wrote that " The contradiction between socialized production and capitalistic appropriation now presents itself as an antagonism between the organization of production in the individual workshop, and the anarchy of production in society generally32 ."
Lenin in his polemics with the Populists said: '' 'Anarchy of production', 'unplanned production' —what do these expressions tell us? They tell us about the contradiction between the social character of production and the individual character of appropriation 33 ."
Meanwhile, R. Luxemburg draws the planlessness, the anarchy of capitalist production not from this fundamental contradiction, but directly from the fact of the rule of exchange as the main connection of commodity society. The obtained result is the primacy of exchange over production. She claims for example, that "exchange has created the new relationship between scattered, separated from each other private producers" 34 , that exchange is the "only economic binding link among members of society" [Intro.], etc. Moreover, combining the separated by her individual moments, she argues that "already the one fact of commodity exchange, without any intervention and regulation, defines three kinds of important relationships: 1.Participation of each member in societal labour... 2. Contribution of every member of society to the national wealth ... 3. And finally the mechanism of exchange regulates also the very societal division of labour "[Intro.].
Such an over-assessment of the role of exchange follows obviously from a misunderstanding of the determining influence of the division of labor and its special nature in commodity society, the determining influence of the structure of production and its development in the fact of commodity exchange and the development of the latter. R. Luxemburg repeatedly encounters the question of the role of the division of labor, but solves it not in the spirit of Marx. To show this, let us compare, for example, a statement of R. Luxemburg with a statement of Marx.
"Thus we come to a strange contradiction: exchange is only possible under private property and developed division of labor, the same division of labor may arise under the presence of exchange and private property, the same private property, from its side, arises only through exchange... How can this fit? We obviously revolve in a vicious circle... But this hopelessness of the situation is only apparent... What today appears the cause of the other phenomenon, will tomorrow become its consequence, and vice versa, and what is more these continuous changes in relationship do not retard the flow of societal life "[Intro.].
"Exchange appears as independent of and indifferent to production only in the final phase where the product is exchanged directly for consumption. But (1) there is no exchange without division of labour, whether the latter is spontaneous, natural, or already a product of historic development; (2) private exchange presupposes private production; (3) the intensity of exchange, as well as its extension and its manner, are determined by the development and structure of production. For example. Exchange between town and country; exchange in the country, in the town etc. Exchange in all its moments thus appears as either directly comprised in production or determined by it 35 ."
Whilst R. Luxemburg in this quotation is confined to the primitive concept of interaction, and in other places of the book inclines more to the conception of the primacy of exchange, Marx clearly and persuasively articulates and develops the conception of the primacy of production over exchange, although after our above quote he also notes the interaction of production and exchange.
Interaction does not only not exclude, but precisely assumes the primacy of production over exchange, consumption and distribution.
The fact that R. Luxemburg inclines in her economic works to the exchange conception and in a serie of issues carries it out quite clearly, deserves special attention. Exchange theory is, as is known, a significant feature of the "methodology" of social-fascist theoreticians. By focusing on the sphere of circulation and in every way exaggerating and inflating its role and influence, social-fascist theorists strive in this way to obscure the fundamental contradictions of capitalism and to divert attention from them of the working masses, to intimidate the working masses with the complexity and brittleness of the sphere of circulation, to instill in them the idea of there being common interests of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in the domain of circulation and, most importantly, to convince them of the impossibility and futility of direct expropriation of the expropriators, the immediate socialization, of production. R. Luxemburg, conducting the concept of the primacy of exchange, of course does not pursue these objectives. Nevertheless also her interpretation of exchange theory objectively leads, as shown above, to the glossing over of the fundamental contradictions of capitalism and to diverting attention from these contradictions. Thus her interpretation of exchange theory plays an anti-revolutionary role, presents essential semi-menshevik elements of methodology.
"Introduction to Political Economy" shows, like "The Accumulation of Capital", the inability of R. Luxemburg to understand and apply in a series of questions the Marxist dialectics. Beginning the study of capitalist society with its elementary cell, with the commodity, Marx reveals in the latter a union of opposites - use-value and value. From the contradiction of the commodity Marx reveals the contradiction of labor - abstract and concrete, public and private. He shows, how an inner contradiction, comprised in the commodity, finds an external manifestation in the bifurcation of the commodity into commodity and money, how this leads next to the movement and growth of this contradiction – to the transformation of money into capital, to the development of the contradiction between socialized production and capitalist appropriation, to the generals law of capitalist accumulation, etc.
"In his Capital, - Lenin wrote, - Marx first analyses the simplest, most ordinary and fundamental, most common and everyday relation of bourgeois (commodity) society, a relation encountered billions of times, viz., the exchange of commodities. In this very simple phenomenon (in this “cell” of bourgeois society) analysis reveals all the contradictions (or the germs of all contradictions) of modern society. The subsequent exposition shows us the development (both growth and movement) of these contradictions and of this society in the Σ of its individual parts. From its beginning to its end 36 ."
"Introduction" of R. Luxemburg not only does not reflect this Marxist dialectic, but - in the most important chapters - directly contradicts it. For example in the chapter of commodity production the analysis of the contradictions of the commodity and the movement of this contradiction is replaced by the description and the juxtaposition of planned and unplanned economy, the erroneous description of the role of exchange, etc. The need for money is derived, as with the bourgeois economists, from organizational-technical moments facilitating exchange. In the chapter on tendencies in the capitalist economy the center of gravity is transferred to the expansion of capitalism, the shrinkage of non-capitalist environment, etc. In this chapter R. Luxemburg develops a conception, similar to "Accumulation of capital."
It would be wrong to depict the methodology of the economic works of R. Luxemburg as persistently-mechanistic. Firstly, on a serie of issues R. Luxemburg presented Marx correctly, understood correctly als his methodology. Secondly, at the same time the methodology R. Luxemburg is characterized not only by the most powerful mechanistism, but also the presence of elements of idealism. Such idealistic elements of her methodology appear for example with the exchange theory, because this conception separates the phenomenon of exchange from production, material social relations, subordinates the latter to dependency on their exchange relations. Such idealistic elements appear further with the understanding of R. Luxemburg of simple reproduction. While Marx considerd simple reproduction as a component part, and, moreover, the most significant part, of expanded reproduction, i.e., analyzing simple reproduction as a real phenomenon, Rosa Luxemburg sees simple reproduction as a scientific fiction. The number of such examples can be multiplied. All this gives the right to describe the methodology of R. Luxemburg as eclectic. Precisely the singular eclectic character of the methodology of R. Luxemburg - a combination in her of a mechanistic conception of the relation of system and environment, the conception of the primacy of exchange over the production, the vulgar understanding of the contradictions between production and consumption, etc. - explains the features of the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg.
The abandonment by R. Luxemburg of Marxist dialectics in the economic explantion of imperialism led to it, that this explanation proved deeply flawed, distorting and clouding the real nature of imperialism.
VII Supporters and opponents of the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg
The economic conception of R. Luxemburg closely connected with the whole system of her semi-Menshevik mistakes, appeared essentially at their economic basis.
From this conception objectively follows, as was shown above, a shading of the role of proletarian class struggle, the transformation of the problem of the proletarian revolution in a subordinate moment of the automatic process of the collapse of capitalism, the underestimation of the intensity and versatility of the exploitation of colonial peoples, misunderstanding the problem of allies of the proletariat, etc. Therefore, the typical errors of Luxemburgism – the over-assessment of the role of spontaneity in the labor movement, the underestimation and belittling of the role of the party, the misunderstanding of the peasant and the national-colonial questions in the era of imperialism, a negative attitude to the slogan of self-determination, etc. - rely to big extent on a deep misunderstanding of the economic process as spontaneously, automatically leading to the collapse of capitalism.
True, R. Luxemburg overcame her semi-menshevik mistakes even in the last period of life corrected most of these errors. But the fact that she did not have time to do this at the end, that in particular the economics of her theory was not revised by her, creates the possibility of using her semi-menshevik mistakes by "left" social-democrats.
It is no accident that the supporters of R. Luxemburg were to a greater or lesser extent renegades of communism (Thalheimer and others) and the "Left" social-democrats (Sternberg, Grossman and others). In the aggravating circumstance of general crisis of capitalism "Left" Social-Democrats need such a theory which, on the one hand, would allow to recognize in some degree the presence of this crisis, but, on the other hand, shifts the emphasis to natural processes and did not require of them effective slogans, of authentic revolutionary struggle, etc. Such a theory appears for them in conditions of a general crisis of capitalism the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg.
Revolutionary authority of R. Luxemburg and those features of her theory of accumulation are used by "Left" Social-Democrats to support their revolutionary phraseology. On the other hand, the idea of automatic collapse of capitalism allows them to promote passivity and inactivity in conditions of maturing revolutionary crisis, i.e., factually provide service to the bourgeoisie.
Very curious are those amendments, which are made to the theory of automatic collapse by Sternberg and Grossman. Sternberg 37 was forced to admit that the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg in the form in which it was developed be her, does not prove the impossibility of accumulation in pure capitalism. He develops therefor a new version of this theory. He tries to prove that in pure capitalism cannot be realized, not all of the accumulated surplus value, but only some secondary division part of it. Moreover, under pressure from critics Sternberg was forced to admit even the abstract possibility of the existence of pure capitalism, but with a predominance of a state of depression. Characteristically, however, that with all his amendments to the theory of R. Luxemburg, he still remains faithful to the theory of automatic collapse of capitalism.
Grossman 38 constructed a "new" theory of capitalism's collapse, according to which capitalism is collapsing from the falling rate of profit. He even figured out such a collapse of capitalism could come under given circumstances in 35 years. Although R. Luxemburg mischievously ridiculed in "Anti-Critique" in one of the notes this "theory" of the collapse of capitalism (see ch.2), nevertheless one is forced to recognize, that the methodological work of Grossman is close in objective meaning to the theory of automatic crash of R. Luxemburg.
In recent years, among the "left" groups in Austro-German Social Democracy, the tendency increased to rely on R. Luxemburg. In the collective work of the crisis of capitalism, released by the group of editors and supporters of the "Left" Social-Democratic magazine "Der Klassenkampf" for the Leipzig party congress, we are faced with the attempt to lean on past mistakes of R. Luxemburg in the question of organization, as well on her theory of accumulation. In the preface to this book Seydewitz to justify the fact that the authors do not want to "give recipes for every conceivable tactical situation", i.e., in justification of the revolutionary phrase about modern capitalism without abandoning social fascism, recalls under this a quote from past erroneous utterances of R. Luxemburg on organization, exploiting in social democratic interests past mistakes of R. Luxemburg. The same trend is observed in an article of Petrich on the theory of crises. Speaking against the rightwing social-democratic theoretician Braunthal, Petrich at the same time very sympathetic, though not without reservations, speaks about the theories of imperialism of R. Luxemburg and Sternberg.
"Both the theorists of imperialism, - writes Petrich, - have undoubtedly the merit of having analyzed the present situation of total capitalism, reaching significant and valuable conclusions regarding the latest development of capitalism. They show the intense struggle for markets, spheres of investment, sources of raw materials, possibilities of exploitation; they paint very convincingly the problem of relations between capitalist economics and politics; they find for the proletariat the unparalleled scale of its historical tasks. If you survey the development of imperialism so far, its current status and near future, then the theory of imperialism of Luxemburg-Sternberg finds substantial evidence, proves to be an important means of orientation 39 ."
Along with these attempts of "left" social-fascists to rely on semi-menshevik mistakes by R. Luxemburg and exploit them to their advantage, the fact is rather indicative that in recent years are observed also attempts by trotskyists to act under the banner of Luxemburgism. Between the ideology and methodology of Trotskysim and Luxemburgism there is in reality an important similarity. In particular in the field of economic explanation of imperialism, the similarity lies in the fact that the trotskyist explanation of imperialism is characterized by the conception of exchange and leans towards the theory of automatic collapse of capitalism. The thory of the stagnation of the productive forces by Trotsky and Preobrazhensky's conception in "Decline of Capitalism" represent variants of the theory of automatic collapse of capitalism, because the center of gravity is transferred to the objectively reached capitalist economic limit, to the obstruction of the productive forces. The presence of the ideological and methodological similarities between the conceptions of Trotskyism and Luxemburgism found a vivid manifestation in the fact that the theory of permanent revolution of Parvus and R. Luxemburg was picked up by Trotsky and opposed it to Lenin's theory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution overgrowing into the proletarian one. Thus attempts trotskyists' attempts to use the ideas of Luxemburgism do not represent anything radically new or random. But the renewal of this tactic at this stage is very characteristic and significant. The reasons for this tactic were clearly formulated by com. Kaganovich after the publication of the historical letter of com. Stalin to the editors of the magazine "Proletarian Revolution".
"... The fact is, comrades, - said com. Kaganovich in the speech at the meeting, decicated to the tenth anniversary of the IKP (Institute of Red Professors), - and in this new present day, - that the trotskyists, real trotskyists, are shy, turning white, turning red, turning black in the literal and figurative sense, trotskyists can not now speak under disgraced, counter-revolutionary banner of Trotsky, which is now taken up by the most savage, bitter enemies of the proletarian dictatorship. And therefor open and hidden trotskyists pick up a new banner, the banner of Luxemburgism, the banner of R. Luxemburg, tortured by the German social democrats, in order to abuse it for their trotskyist purposes [L.M. Kaganovich, For the Bolshevik study of party history, Ogiz, "Moskovskij Rabochij", 1931, p. 28-29.
The letter referred to]."
The historical letter of com. Stalin, "On some questions concerning the history of bolshevism" drew the attention of the party to the need for sustained bolshevik criticism of the Luxemburgist errors, the need for uncompromising bolshevik struggle against the trotskyist contraband in our literature. This applies in particular to the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg and to all varieties of luxemburgist and trotskyite theories of automatic collapse of capitalism.
Communist thought, brought up on the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, could not pass by the revisionist nature of the main ideas of the "Accumulation of capital" of R. Luxemburg, could not help noticing that their objective meaning is anti-revolutionary.
Therefore, the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg already met criticism from the side of communist theorists 40 . However, at present, the stage, when Luxemburgist ideas are picked up by the "left" social-democrats and the trotskyites and used as weapons against the Comintern, - the task of theoretical exposure of Luxemburgism in general and theory of accumulation in particular, becomes especially important.
"Accumulation of Capital" of R. Luxemburg met, as is known, criticism also from the side of the official theorists of social democracy. They understood that this book in the author's intention was directed against them. In contrast to the social-democratic theorists who viewed imperialism as something that can be eliminated, while maintaining capitalism, R. Luxemburg argued in his book the necessity of imperialism and its organic connection with the nature of capitalism. She argued for the inevitability of the crash of capitalism, coming out thus against the brewing theory of organized capitalism, state capitalism, democractic economy, etc. "The Accumulation of Capital" appeared at a time when R. Luxemburg led a fierce struggle with social reformism. Knowing that this book was written by a revolutionary, official theorists of social-democracy have with all the more zeal used a good opportunity spoken out against its author. The criticism of the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg they conducted naturally with an apologetic position. The errors of this theory they attempted to use for opposing to it apologetic theories, often more or less cleverly disguised (e.g., Otto Bauer, Eckstein and others).
Objecting in the "Anti-Critique" to the critics-epigones and arguing, that they fall into Say's vulgar "harmony", R. Luxemburg has shown great keenness and insight. That which in that the articles of her critics-epigones appeared in disguised form, was in the future expressed openly by theorists of social fascism. For example one of the modern theorists of the Austro-German social-democrats Alfred Braunthal explicitly states in his book "Modern agriculture and its laws" that "the study of the relation of exchange with the spheres of production brought Marx essentially to a confirmation of Say's theory of the function of the markets 41 ." However the erroneous position of R. Luxemburg in the theory of realization has led that the criticism of the epigones grows in her to a critique of Marx.
Criticizing the semi-menshevik mistakes of R. Luxemburg, in particular the theory of accumulation, can not at the same time not share that contempt, which R. Luxemburg has shown to her own, critics-epigones, the turbulent revolutionary indignation, with which she made against them.
R. Luxemburg entered the path of overcoming and correcting her semi-menshevik mistakes, and only the vile assassin's hand prevented her from carrying it out until the end. Criticizing the mistakes of R. Luxemburg, communists are doing that which she would make with proper bolshevik self-criticism. The attitude of the communists to R. Luxemburg, Lenin explained perfectly in connection with attempts of renegades to communism to rely on her mistakes.
"Paul Levi, - Lenin wrote, - now wants to get into the good graces of the bourgeoisie—and, consequently, of its agents, the Second and the Two-and-a-Half Internationals—by republishing precisely those writings of Rosa Luxemburg in which she was wrong. We shall reply to this by quoting two lines from a good old Russian fable: “Eagles may at times fly lower than hens, but hens can never rise to the height of eagles.” Rosa Luxemburg was mistaken on the question of the independence of Poland; she was mistaken in 1903 in her appraisal of Menshevism; she was mistaken on the theory of the accumulation of capital; she was mistaken in July 1914, when, together with Plekhanov, Vandervelde, Kautsky and others, she advocated unity between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks; she was mistaken in what she wrote in prison in 1918 (she corrected most of these mistakes at the end of 1918 and the beginning of 1919 after she was released). But in spite of her mistakes she was—and remains for us—an eagle. And not only will Communists all over the world cherish her memory, but her biography and her complete works (the publication of which the German Communists are inordinately delaying, which can only be partly excused by the tremendous losses they are suffering in their severe struggle) will serve as useful manuals for training many generations of Communists all over the world. “Since August 4, 1914, German Social-Democracy has been a stinking corpse"—this statement will make Rosa Luxemburg’s name famous in the history of the international working class movement 42 ."
- 1highlighting ours. (copied from English translation, which is not always good at marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1915/anti-critique/ch01.htm )
- 3 For the reader, first time embarking on familiarization with the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg, we recommend you start reading is not with "Accumulation of capital", but first with, the positive part of the "Anti-Critique", ch.1.
- 4 "The Accumulation of Capital," part III, in particular ch. XXV and XXVI, «Anti-Critique", ch.1.
- 6 http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1897/econroman/i8vi.htm#v02zz99h-161-GUESS
- 7 An attempt at such concretisation of the statements of Marx and Lenin was for the first time, if I'm not mistaken, made by comrade Kritsman in his article "On accumulation and 'third parties' " (see "Vestnik Kommunisticheskai︠a︡ akademii︠a︡'' № 5, 1923). (Крицман «О накоплении и “третьих лицах”» (Вести, Ком. Акад.) http://content.mail.ru/arch/27930/6190052.html ). Our example differs from Kritsman's example in the fact that we do not see the need to assume the existence of theoretically conceivable simple commodity economy exploiters. In addition, we see no need to implicate for example agriculture (subsistence economy).
- 8 http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1899/mar/struve.htm
- 9 It should be noted that in this respect, R. Luxemburg is not original. On the contradiction between the part III of the second volume of "Capital" and the theoritical positions in the third volume Tugan-Baranovsky has written long before her. Lenin subjected to devastating criticism Tugan's assertion.
- 10 http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1898/dec/market.htm
- 14 our highlight, http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1863/theories-surplus-value/ch17.htm
- 17 see also Lenin, Collected Works, volume III, ch. I, part VIII. http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1897/econroman/i8vi.htm#v02zz99h-161-GUESS
- 18 http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch14.htm
- 19 http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch15.htm
- 21"Accumulation", section III, ''Anti-Critique", ch.2
- 22 http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/prrk/preface.htm
- 23To this issue Kautsky dedicated in "The Materialist Conception of History" a chapter (Volume II, Abschnitt VIII, Kapitel VIII - ''The limits of capitalist accumulation). ''Only, - he writes in that chapter, - only industry area of capitalist production. In agriculture, capitalist production has penetrated a little; this is the case even in highly capitalist countries. Involuntarily under capitalist production industry is always implied, and under pre-capitalist forms always have in mind agriculture. This is exactly what is the underlying basis of unconscious point of view of Luxembourg. It is quite an undeniable fact, consists in the fact that the industry can not do without agriculture, and that the accumulation in the industry requires an expansion of production in agricultural areas of the industry has taken her a look, that capitalist production can not exist without communication with precapitalist areas, and expansion of this industry requires constant as its premise extension dependencies pre-capitalist areas" (p. 551)
[I give here the passage in German from Die Materialistische Geschichtsauffassung (1927), and add some links. Anyone can get a copy of this major work of Kautsky by just leaving a comment or send a PM to me.
Nur bildet die Industrie das eigentliche Gebiet kapitalistischer Produktion. In die Landwirtschaft ist die kapitalitische Produktion nur weinig eingedrungen, selbst in hochkapitalistischen Ländern. Unwillkürlich denkt man bei kapitalistischer Produktion stets an vorkapitalistische Formen. Dieser Gedankengang liegt unbewust auch der Luxemburgischen Annahme zugrunde. Die ganz unleugbare Tatsache, das die Industrie in Verbindung mit vorkapitalistischen Gebieten ganz unmoöglich sei und ihre Ausdehnung stets die Erweiterung der von ihr beherrschten vorkapitalitischen Gebiete voraussetze.
Kautsky refers the reader there to his
Vermehrung und Entwicklung in Natur und Gesellschaft (1910), chapter 14 (p. 196-225) and his review of Hilferding, section 'Industry and Agriculture' (1911)
Motylev next hints at this article
and e.g. Lenin's response here (or here). Also compare with the Erfurt Program, ch.3; The Capitalist Class, e.g. the section 'How Capitalism Digs Its Own Grave'
- 24 http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1913/apr/rl-acc-capital-notes.htm]
- 25our highlight, Introduction to Political Economy, in French at http://marxists.org/francais/luxembur/intro_ecopo/intro_ecopo_6.htm
- 26 http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/ch07.htm
- 27 http://marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1924/foundations-leninism/ch01.htm
- 30 http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/cons-logic/summary.htm)
- 32 http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/ch24.htm
- 33 http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1897/econroman/i8vii.htm#v02zz99h-166-GUESS
- 34http://www.marxists.org/francais/luxembur/intro_ecopo/intro_ecopo.htm the 3 quotes and the next passage are probably translated from the German edition, pages 189; 197; 193-94 and 208-9
- 35 http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/ch01.htm
- 36 http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/cons-logic/summary.htm
- 37See the following of his work: «Der Imperialismus», Berlin 1926; «Der Imperialismus und seine Kritiker», Berlin 1929, "Imperialism and the Crisis", 1930, ed. Communist Academy. The last book is a transcript of the report to the Communist Academy and the debate on this report.
- 38See Henryk Grossmann, Das Akkumulations - und Zusammenbruchsgesetz des kapitalistischen Systems (zugleich eine Krisentheorie, Leipzig. 1929). Criticism of this work by Grossman see Varga's article "Accumulation and the collapse of capitalism," "Problemi ekonomiki», № 3, 1930
- 39«Die Krise des Kapitalismus und die Aufgabe der Arbeiterklasse», von Max Seydewitz, G. Engelbert, Graf, Eduard Weckerle, Max Adler, Franz Petrich; Berlin 1931, S. 176-177.
- 40True, also among communist-economists there were some advocates of the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg, but they were the exception. I find it necessary to note that in the two articles on the theory of accumulation of R. Luxemburg, published by me in 1923-1924, the criticism of her mistakes was inadequate and incomplete, and in the main questions I sided in substance with her erroneous views. Some mistakes in criticism of Luxemburgism were admitted by me also in the preface to the fourth edition of this book.
- 41 Alfred Braunthal, Die Wirtschaft der Qegenwart und ihre Gesetze, Berlin 1930, S. 162.