The Rosa Luxemburg Political Economy Workshop

In conjunction with the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research will be presenting a 7 week workshop, “The Accumulation of Capital: Rosa Luxemburg, Political Economy, and Imperialism.” This intensive workshop will begin on November 5, 2013, run for seven weeks, and be led by Raphaele Chappe. Participation will be by invitation and application only. All students receive full scholarships for the course. To apply, please send a letter describing your interest in the workshop to For further questions and information, please use the form below.

The Accumulation of Capital: Rosa Luxemburg, Political Economy and Imperialism

We have entered an age where the “world is flat,” to quote an international best seller. A world of global competition, markets and consumers, and the ever-growing integrations of world economies through the free movement of goods, capital, technology, and labor. Foreign policy in the U.S. (and in OECD-member countries, more generally) has favored political regimes and leaders that have implemented a complete privatization and deregulation of their economies, allowing American corporate multinationals to be present in those foreign markets. Financial markets have also become fully globalized. Textbooks of International Business tell us that this is good for economic growth and productivity, helping to create better and cheaper products. But is the expansion of capital and the conquest of foreign markets driven by growth or growth difficulties? Is the process indispensable to the very survival of our capitalistic economies? What is the link between capitalism, economic growth and the modern face of imperialism? What is the role played by the process of capital accumulation in the recent global financial crisis?

In this course we will consider these questions by reading Rosa Luxemburg’s The Accumulation of Capital. We will spend the first two weeks of the course preparing to critically engage with the text — familiarizing ourselves with classical economic thinkers (like Smith, Ricardo and Malthus) with a focus on capital accumulation (in connection with the close commentary provided by Luxemburg in the early sections of the book), as well as with key concepts and terminology of Marx’s economic theory. We will dedicate the remainder of the class to a close reading of Luxemburg’s original contribution to Marx’s theory of capital reproduction and accumulation in Section 3 of the book. We will discuss Luxemburg’s insights on the role played by external non-capitalist markets, relating her work to modern forms of imperialism and contemporary economic issues such as the global crisis of finance capitalism. In doing so, we will draw upon more recent research from economists as well as political and social scientists (Marxist and others).
Workshop Instructor: Raphaele Chappe
Location: 275 Madison Avenue, Suite 2114 in Manhattan
Time: Tuesdays, starting Nov. 5, 7-9pm
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