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Short reflective response page . A page response on Accumulation by dispositionThe page response should include one page answering :what the reading tells us about structures of inequality?**Please use the reading and highlight key points to answer the question on the paper**Easy vocabulary.Do not summarize reading, its more of like what you got from the reading and what it reminds you at the present day or past so please relate it to other people or historic events or current social issues in the U.S(current events).USE READING ONLY.I will provide the pdf of the reading

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Accumulation by Dispossession
Rosa Luxemburg argues that capital accumulation has a
dual character:
One concerns the commodity market and the place where surplus value is produced—the factory, the mine, the agricultural
estate. Regarded in this light accumulation is a purely economic
process, with its most important phase a transaction between
the capitalist and the wage labourer. . . . Here, in form at any
rate, peace, property and equality prevail, and the keen dialectics of scientific analysis were required to reveal how the right
of ownership changes in the course of accumulation into appropriation of other people’s property, how commodity exchange
turns into exploitation, and equality becomes class rule. 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, and it requires an effort to
discover within this tangle of political violence and contests of
power the stern laws of the economic process.1
Accumulation by Dispossession
These two aspects of accumulation, she argues, are
‘organically linked’ and ‘the historical career of capitalism
can only be appreciated by taking them together’.
Underconsumption or Overaccumulation?
Luxemburg rests her analysis upon a particular understanding of the crisis tendencies of capitalism. The problem, she argues, is underconsumption, a general lack of
sufficient effective demand to soak up the growth in
output that capitalism generates. This difficulty arises
because workers are exploited and by definition receive
much less value to spend than they produce, and capitalists are at least in part obliged to reinvest rather than to
consume. After due consideration of various ways in
which the supposed gap between supply and effective
demand might be bridged, she concludes that trade with
non-capitalist social formations provides the only systematic way to stabilize the system. If those social formations
or territories are reluctant to trade then they must be compelled to do so by force of arms (as happened with the
opium wars in China). This is, in her view, the heart of
what imperialism is about. One possible corollary of this
argument (though Luxemburg does not state it directly) is
that, if this system is to last any length of time, the noncapitalist territories must be kept (forcibly if necessary) in
a non-capitalist state. This could account for the fiercely
repressive qualities of many of the colonial regimes developed during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
Few would now accept Luxemburg’s theory of underconsumption as the explanation of crises.2 By contrast,
Accumulation by Dispossession
the theory of overaccumulation identifies the lack
of opportunities for profitable investment as the fundamental problem. On occasion, lack of sufficient effective
consumer demand may be part of the problem—hence the
heavy reliance in our own day on something called ‘consumer confidence’ (otherwise known as the inability of
compulsive shoppers to keep their credit cards in their
wallets) as an indicator of strength and stability in the
economy. The gap that Luxemburg thought she saw can
easily be covered by reinvestment which generates its own
demand for capital goods and other inputs. And, as we
have seen in the case of the spatio-temporal fixes, the geographical expansion of capitalism which underlies a lot of
imperialist activity is very helpful to the stabilization of
the system precisely because it opens up demand for both
investment goods and consumer goods elsewhere.
Imbalances can arise, of course, between sectors and
regions, and business cycles and localized recessions can
result. But it is also possible to accumulate in the face of
stagnant effective demand if the costs of inputs (land, raw
materials, intermediate inputs, labour power) decline
significantly. Access to cheaper inputs is, therefore, just as
important as access to widening markets in keeping
profitable opportunities open. The implication is that
non-capitalist territories should be forced open not only
to trade (which could be helpful) but also to permit capital
to invest in profitable ventures using cheaper labour
power, raw materials, low-cost land, and the like. The
general thrust of any capitalistic logic of power is not that
territories should be held back from capitalist development, but that they should be continuously opened up.
From this standpoint colonial repressions of the sort that
Accumulation by Dispossession
undoubtedly occurred in the late nineteenth century have
to be interpreted as self-defeating, a case of a territorial
logic inhibiting the capitalistic logic. Fear of emulation led
Britain, for example, to prevent India from developing a
vigorous capitalist dynamic and thereby frustrated the
possibilities of spatio-temporal fixes in that region. The
open dynamic of the Atlantic economy did far more for
Britain than did the repressed colonial empire in India,
from which Britain certainly managed to extract surpluses but which never functioned as a major field for
deployment of British surplus capital. But, by the same
token, it was the open dynamic of the Atlantic trade that
opened up the possibility of Britain’s displacement by the
United States as the global hegemonic power. If Arendt is
right and endless accumulation requires the endless accumulation of political power, then such shifts are impossible to avoid and any attempt to do so will result in
disaster. The formation of closed empires after the First
World War almost certainly played a role in the inability to
solve the overaccumulation problem of the 1930s and laid
the economic groundwork for the territorial conflicts of
the Second World War. The territorial logic dominated
and frustrated the capitalist logic, thus forcing the latter
into an almost terminal crisis through territorial conflict.
The weight of historical-geographical evidence from
the twentieth century broadly accords with the overaccumulation argument. However, there is much that is interesting about Luxemburg’s formulation. To begin with,
the idea that capitalism must perpetually have something
‘outside of itself in order to stabilize itself is worthy of
scrutiny, particularly as it echoes Hegel’s conception,
which we encountered in Chapter 3, of an inner dialectic
Accumulation by Dispossession
of capitalism forcing it to seek solutions external to itself.
Consider, for example, Marx’s argument concerning the
creation of an industrial reserve army.3 Capital accumulation, in the absence of strong currents of labour-saving
technological change, requires an increase in the labour
force. This can come about in a number of ways. Increase
of population is important (and most analysts conveniently forget Marx’s own strictures on this point).
Capital can also raid ‘latent reserves’ from a peasantry or,
by extension, mobilize cheap labour from colonies and
other external settings. Failing this, capitalism can utilize
its powers of technological change and investment to
induce unemployment (lay-offs) thus creating an industrial reserve army of unemployed workers directly. This
unemployment tends to exert a downward pressure on
wage rates and thereby opens up new opportunities for
profitable deployment of capital. Now in all of these
instances capitalism does indeed require something ‘outside of itself’ in order to accumulate, but in the last case it
actually throws workers out of the system at one point in
time in order to have them to hand for purposes of accumulation at a later point in time. Put in the language of
contemporary postmodern political theory, we might say
that capitalism necessarily and always creates its own
‘other’. The idea that some sort of ‘outside’ is necessary
for the stabilization of capitalism therefore has relevance.
But capitalism can either make use of some pre-existing
outside (non-capitalist social formations or some sector
within capitalism—such as education—that has not yet
been proletarianized) or it can actively manufacture it. I
propose to take this ‘inside-outside’ dialectic seriously in
what follows. I shall examine how the ‘organic relation’
Accumulation by Dispossession
between expanded reproduction on the one hand and the
often violent processes of dispossession on the other have
shaped the historical geography of capitalism. This helps
us better understand what the capitalistic form of imperialism is about.
Arendt, interestingly, advances an argument along similar lines. The depressions of the 1860s and 1870s in
Britain, she argues, initiated the push into a new form of
Imperialist expansion had been touched off by a curious kind of
economic crisis, the overproduction of capital and the emergence of ‘superfluous’ money, the result of oversaving, which
could no longer find productive investment within the national
borders. For the first time, investment of power did not pave
the way for investment of money, but export of power followed
meekly in the train of exported money, since uncontrolled
investments in distant countries threatened to transform large
strata of society into gamblers, to change the whole capitalist
economy from a system of production into a system of financial
speculation, and to replace the profits of production with
profits in commissions. The decade immediately before the
imperialist era, the seventies of the last century, witnessed an
unparalleled increase in swindles, financial scandals and gambling in the stock market.
This scenario sounds all too familiar given the experience
of the 1980s and 1990s. But Arendt’s description of the
bourgeois response is even more arresting. They realized,
she argues, ‘for the first time that the original sin of simple robbery, which centuries ago had made possible “the
original accumulation of capital” (Marx) and had started
all further accumulation, had eventually to be repeated
lest the motor of accumulation suddenly die down’.4
Accumulation by Dispossession
The processes that Marx, following Adam Smith,
referred to as ‘primitive’ or ‘original’ accumulation constitute, in Arendt’s view, an important and continuing
force in the historical geography of capital accumulation
through imperialism. As in the case of labour supply, capitalism always requires a fund of assets outside of itself if
it is to confront and circumvent pressures of overaccumulation. If those assets, such as empty land or new raw
material sources, do not lie to hand, then capitalism must
somehow produce them. Marx, however, does not consider this possibility except in the case of the creation of
an industrial reserve army through technologically
induced unemployment. It is interesting to consider why.
M a r x ‘ s Reticence
Marx’s general theory of capital accumulation is constructed under certain crucial initial assumptions that
broadly match those of classical political economy. These
assumptions are: freely functioning competitive markets
with institutional arrangements of private property,
juridical individualism, freedom of contract, and appropriate structures of law and governance guaranteed by a
‘facilitative’ state which also secures the integrity of
money as a store of value and as a medium of circulation.
The role of the capitalist as a commodity producer and
exchanger is already well established, and labour power
has become a commodity that trades generally at its
appropriate value. ‘Primitive’ or ‘original’ accumulation
has already occurred and accumulation now proceeds as
expanded reproduction (albeit through the exploitation of
Accumulation by Dispossession
living labour in production) under conditions of ‘peace,
property and equality’. These assumptions allow us to see
what will happen if the liberal project of the classical
political economists or, in our times, the neo-liberal project of the economists, is realized. The brilliance of
Marx’s dialectical method, as Luxemburg for one clearly
recognizes, is to show that market liberalization—the
credo of the liberals and the neo-liberals—will not produce a harmonious state in which everyone is better off. It
will instead produce ever greater levels of social inequality (as indeed has been the global trend over the last thirty
years of neo-liberalism, particularly within those countries such as Britain and the United States that have most
closely hewed to such a political line). It will also, Marx
predicts, produce serious and growing instabilities culminating in chronic crises of overaccumulation (of the sort
we are now witnessing).
The disadvantage of these assumptions is that they
relegate accumulation based upon predation, fraud, and
violence to an ‘original stage’ that is considered no longer
relevant or, as with Luxemburg, as being somehow
‘outside of capitalism as a closed system. A general reevaluation of the continuous role and persistence of the
predatory practices of ‘primitive’ or ‘original’ accumulation within the long historical geography of capital accumulation is, therefore, very much in order, as several
commentators have recently observed.5 Since it seems
peculiar to call an ongoing process ‘primitive’ or ‘original’
I shall, in what follows, substitute these terms by the concept of’accumulation by dispossession’.
Accumulation by Dispossession
Accumulation by Dispossession
A closer look at Marx’s description of primitive accumulation reveals a wide range of processes.6 These include
the commodification and privatization of land and the
forceful expulsion of peasant populations; the conversion
of various forms of property rights (common, collective,
state, etc.) into exclusive private property rights; the suppression of rights to the commons; the commodification
of labour power and the suppression of alternative
(indigenous) forms of production and consumption; colonial, neo-colonial, and imperial processes of appropriation
of assets (including natural resources); the monetization
of exchange and taxation, particularly of land; the slave
trajdefand usury, the national debt, and ultimately the
credit system as radical means of primitive accumulation.
The state, with its monopoly of violence and definitions of
legality, plays a crucial role in both backing and promoting these processes and, as I argued in Chapter 3, there is
considerable evidence that the transition to capitalist
development was and continues to be vitally contingent
upon the stance of the state. The developmental role of
the state goes back a long way, keeping the territorial and
capitalistic logics of power always intertwined though not
necessarily concordant.
All the features of primitive accumulation that Marx
mentions have remained powerfully present within capitalism’s historical geography up until now. Displacement of
peasant populations and the formation of a landless proletariat has accelerated in countries such as Mexico and
India in the last three decades, many formerly common
property resources, such as water, have been privatized
Accumulation by Dispossession
(often at World Bank insistence) and brought within the
capitalist logic of accumulation, alternative (indigenous
and even, in the case of the United States, petty commodity) forms of production and consumption have been suppressed. Nationalized industries have been privatized.
Family farming has been taken over by agribusiness. And
slavery has not disappeared (particularly in the sex trade).
Critical engagement over the years with Marx’s
account of primitive accumulation—which in any case
had the quality of a sketch rather than a systematic
exploration—suggests some lacunae that need to be
remedied. The process of proletarianization, for example,
entails a mix of coercions and of appropriations of precapitalist skills, social relations, knowledges, habits of
mind, and beliefs on the part of those being proletarianized. Kinship structures, familial and household arrangements, gender and authority relations (including those
exercised through religion and its institutions) all have
their part to play. In some instances the pre-existing structures have to be violently repressed as inconsistent with
labour under capitalism, but multiple accounts now exist
to suggest that they are just as likely to be co-opted in an
attempt to forge some consensual as opposed to coercive
basis for working-class formation. Primitive accumulation, in short, entails appropriation and co-optation of
pre-existing cultural and social achievements as well as
confrontation and supersession. The conditions of struggle and of working-class formation vary widely and there
is, therefore, as Thompson among others has insisted, a
sense in which a working class ‘makes itself though never,
of course, under conditions of its own choosing.7
The result is often to leave a trace of pre-capitalist social
Accumulation by Dispossession
relations in working-class formation and to create distinctive geographical, historical, and anthropological differentiations in how a working class is denned. No matter
how universal the process of proletarianization, the result
is not the creation of a homogeneous proletariat.8
Some of the mechanisms of primitive accumulation
that Marx emphasized have been fine-tuned to play an
even stronger role now than in the past. The credit system
and finance capital became, as Lenin, Hilferding, and
Luxemburg all remarked at the beginning of the twentieth century, major levers of predation, fraud, and thievery.
The strong wave of financialization that set in after 1973
has been every bit as spectacular for its speculative and
predatory style. Stock promotions, ponzi schemes, structured asset destruction through inflation, asset-stripping
through mergers and acquisitions, and the promotion of
levels of debt incumbency that reduce whole populations,
even in the advanced capitalist countries, to debt peonage,
to say nothing of corporate fraud and dispossession of
assets (the raiding of pension funds and their decimation
by stock and corporate collapses) by credit and stock
manipulations—all of these are central features of what
contemporary capitalism is about. The collapse of Enron
dispossessed many of their livelihoods and their pension
rights. But above all we have to look at the speculative
raiding carried out by hedge funds and other major institutions of finance capital as the cutting edge of accumulation by dispossession in recent times.
Wholly new mechanisms of accumulation by dispossession have also opened up. The emphasis upon intellectual
property rights in the WTO negotiations (the so-called
TRIPS agreement) points to ways in which the patenting
Accumulation by Dispossession
and licensing of genetic material, seed plasma, and all
manner of other products can now be used against whole
populations whose practices had played a crucial role in
the development of those materials. Biopiracy is rampant
and the pillaging of the world’s stockpile of genetic
resources is well under way to the benefit of a few large
pharmaceutical companies. The escalating depletion
of the global environmental commons (land, air, water)
and proliferating habitat degradations that preclude
anything but capital-intensive modes of agricultural
production have likewise resulted from the wholesale
commodification of nature in all its forms. The cornmodification of cultural forms, histories, and intellectual
creativity entails wholesale dispossessions (the music
industry is notorious for the appropriation and exploitation of grassroots culture and creativity). The corporatization and privatization of hitherto public assets (such as
universities), to say nothing of the wave of privatization
(of …
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