Luxemburg’s legacy is customarily reduced to two “errors”: crude economic determinism, blind belief in the spontaneity of the masses. The paper reconstructs Luxemburg’s arguments about the tendency to the “final” breakdown of capitalism and her criticism of Lenin, and shows how her economic theory and political perspective are different and much richer than usually recognized. Building not only on the Accumulation of Capital but also on the Introduction to Political Economy, the paper shows that: (i) Luxemburg saw the internal link between value, abstract labour and money; (ii) she emphasized the connection between dynamic competition, relative surplus value extraction, and the “law” of the falling tendency of the “relative wage”; (iii) her theory of the crisis is not underconsumptionist. The shortage of effective demand is seen as ultimately due to a fall of autonomous investment caused by inter-sectoral disequilibria springing from the revolution in the methods of production and the consequent relative reduction of workers’ consumption. “Disproportionalities,” as soon as they affect important branches of production, end up in a general glut of commodities. The paper also assesses Luxemburg political views. Her theory of the party was very different than the one held by the Bolsheviks, but it was a view in which the organization was essential for building class consciousness “from below.” Thus, in the end, Luxemburg’s questions seems to be more interesting than her critics’ answers, her defeats more fruitful than her opponents’ victories. The paper also considers the relationship between the personal and the political in Luxemburg.
Bellofiore, R. (2004), "“LIKE A CANDLE BURNING AT BOTH ENDS”: ROSA LUXEMBURG AND THE CRITIQUE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY", Zarembka, P. (Ed.) Neoliberalism in Crisis, Accumulation, and Rosa Luxemburg's Legacy (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 279-298. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0161-7230(04)21011-2Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited