Luxemburg's theory of accumulation and imperialism: More than a classic

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This article first explains the different methodological approaches of Luxemburg's theory of imperialism as compared to those of Hilferding and Lenin. It then recapitulates her main argument that capital accumulation relies on the expansion into non-capitalist environments. Based on the understanding that such expansion is not necessarily geographical, but can also occur within non-capitalist spheres and strata in countries already dominated by the capitalist mode of production, the article uses Luxemburg's arguments to explain the Keynesian and neoliberal waves of accumulation. It also demonstrates that capitalist expansion takes on historically specific forms. Each of these forms provides only so much room for expansion, once this is exhausted a major crisis occurs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-40
Number of pages24
JournalJournal fur Entwicklungspolitik
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Accumulation by dispossession
  • Expanded reproduction
  • Imperialism
  • Keynesian wave of accumulation
  • Neoliberal wave of accumulation
  • Unequal exchange


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