Friday, February 16, 2007

Free Book Online: Rosa Luxemburg and South Africa

Newly released online as a PDF

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

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

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

The 3rd Rosa Luxemburg Political Education Seminar, jointly
organised by the Centre of Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-
Natal in Durban and the Southern African Regional Office of the Rosa
Luxemburg Foundation in Johannesburg, was held on March 2nd – 4th
2006 in Durban. The Seminar examined these general characteristics of
capitalist accumulation within the global, regional and local context.
That context is shaped, on the one hand, by the growing impact of
a corporate driven globalisation, but also the expansion of South African
capital into neighbouring countries, the emergence of new forms of
‘primitive accumulation’ under the label of Black Economic Empowerment,
and the ongoing commodification and privatisation of public services.
On the other hand, there is a growing movement which not only
resists the commercialisation of all sphere of human life but strives to
build alternatives – to create ‘another world’ which is not only possible
but necessary.

The success of the Seminar is due to many contributors. Very
valuable inputs were made by overseas guests including Elmar Altvater,
Nicola Bullard, Massimo De Angelis, Ulrich Duchrow and Gill Hart.
Other crucial interventions came from scholar-activists from the region
including Jeff Guy, Ntwala Mwilima, Prishani Naidoo and Greg Ruiters.
But this alone would not have been enough to make the seminar the
thrilling event it was. The other factor was vibrant interaction from the
floor. Contributions by activists from townships and social movements
– and the often forgotten inconspicuous work of the staff members of the
organising institutions – created an atmosphere of rigorous debate and
mutual encouragement.

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





State Capitalism in the USSR

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