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Global Capitalism and Imperialism Theory: Methodological and Substantive Insights from Rosa Luxemburg


  • Roberto Veneziani


This paper analyses some issues raised by Rosa Luxemburg's theory of imperialism that are central to current debates on globalisation. Methodologically, despite widespread scepticism on the use of mathematics in Marxist social science, Luxemburg's rigorous analysis of Marx's schemes of reproduction forcefully shows the importance of theoretical abstraction and formal modelling. Indeed, this paper analyses Luxemburg's theory by means of an intertemporal generalisation of Roemer's (1983) economy with a global capital market. It focuses in particular on two substantive issues: the relation between capital accumulation and imperialism, and the role of force and non-competitive distortions in imperialistic international relations. It argues that differences in development and competitive credit markets, rather than realisation problems, are important to understand the emergence of international exploitation, whereas extra-economic coercion may be important to understand its persistence.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Veneziani, 2009. "Global Capitalism and Imperialism Theory: Methodological and Substantive Insights from Rosa Luxemburg," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(2), pages 195-211.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:21:y:2009:i:2:p:195-211 DOI: 10.1080/09538250902834004

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Harvey, David, 2005. "The New Imperialism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199278084.
    5. Agenor, Pierre-Richard & Jensen, Henning Tarp & Verghis, Mathew & Yeldan, Erinc, 2006. "Disinflation, fiscal sustainability, and labor market adjustment in Turkey," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3804, The World Bank.
    6. Ruccio, David F., 1991. "When failure becomes success: Class and the debate over stabilization and adjustment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 19(10), pages 1315-1334, October.
    7. Kang-Kook Lee & James Crotty, 2001. "Korea's Neoliberal Restructuring: Miracle or Disaster?," Published Studies ps9, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    8. Erinc Yeldan, 2007. "Patterns of Adjustment under the Age of Finance: The Case of Turkey as a Peripheral Agent of Neoliberal Globalization," Working Papers wp126, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    9. Francisco Rodriguez & Arjun Jayadev, 2010. "The Declining Labor Share of Income," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2010-36, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
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