Capital Accumulation and Class Struggles from the “Long 19th Century” to the Present—A Luxemburgian Interpretation

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Abstract

This article reconstructs Rosa Luxemburg's theories of capital accumulation, class formation and class struggle against the background of the “long 19th century.” It then uses these theories to analyse the “short 20th century” and ends with some preliminary thoughts about capital accumulation and class formation today. It is argued that the working classes that had developed over the 19th century were integrated into statist development projects—welfare capitalism in the West, state socialism in the East, or developmental states in the South—in the 20th century. It is further argued that this integration was accompanied by the capitalist penetration of non-capitalist milieus that the strategies of colonial expansion in the 19th century could not reach. After a period of intense conflict within these “three worlds of statism,” capitalist restructuring led to the unmaking of hitherto existing working classes. Yet, this restructuring not only produced a great crisis but also laid the foundation for the remaking of international working classes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-473
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Critical Thought
Volume4
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Keynesian wave of accumulation
  • capital accumulation
  • class formation
  • crises
  • neoliberal wave of accumulation

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