El desarrollo desigual en El Capital de Marx y la Acumulación de capital de Luxemburgo, visto desde Sudáfrica

Translated title of the contribution: Uneven Development in Marx’s Capital and Luxemburg’s Accumulation of Capital, seen from South Africa

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The laws of motion of capitalism were sketched by Karl Marx in 1867 (Capital Volume 1) and brought to Africa most forcefully by Rosa Luxemburg in 1913 (The Accumulation of Capital). Their modelling of capitalist crisis tendencies (Marx) and of the ways imperial colonisation compelled a super-exploitative relationship between capital and non-capitalist socio-ecological relations (Luxemburg) provide necessary but insufficient ingredients for economic decolonisation. South African political economists subsequently developed potentials for Marxist methods to be applied in different sites across the continent, with attention to race, ethnicity, gender and environment as well as class domination. After reviewing these works and their relationship to the earlier classics, and after considering corresponding processes of capital accumulation, this essay considers opportunities for applying the theory of uneven development as further elaborated by David Harvey and Neil Smith. It then considers several of the most relevant acts of economic decolonisation I have witnessed in South Africa, led by grassroots activists: anti-apartheid struggles; labour uprisings; community, social movement and student mobilisations over municipal services, AIDS medicines and tertiary education; and democracy movements which emerged in neo-colonial kleptocratic regimes since 2011. What is evident is that, as Luxemburg argued, "Accumulation of capital periodically bursts out in crises and spurs capital on to a continual extension of the market. Capital cannot accumulate without the aid of non-capitalist relations, nor can it tolerate their continued existence side by side with itself." And likewise, the activists inspired by Marxist, Luxemburgist analysis in South Africa, can no longer tolerate a neo-colonial mode of uneven capitalist development.

Translated title of the contributionUneven Development in Marx’s Capital and Luxemburg’s Accumulation of Capital, seen from South Africa
Original languageSpanish
Article number28
Issue number51
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Luxemburg
  • Marx
  • South Africa
  • capital accumulation
  • uneven development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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