An animated sequence at the beginning of Raqs Media Collective’s two-screen film The Capital of Accumulation (2010) performs the title of the work’s reversal of the most important of Rosa Luxemburg’s economic studies, The Accumulation of Capital (1913). What can this mean as a reflection on the legacy, the corpse, and the spirit of Rosa Luxemburg?
In her 1913 book, Luxemburg boldly exposed the shortcomings of Karl Marx’s understanding of the process of the reproduction of capital. She suggested that the necessary growth in demand required by a constantly expanded production process could not be explained by an increase in the consumption of workers and capitalists. Instead, it had to be found elsewhere. Accumulation, Luxemburg showed, was a process that was not restricted to the origins of modernity in what Marx had described as “primitive accumulation”—consisting in the “divorcing of the producer from the means of production of wealth,” where “conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, briefly force, play the great part.” Instead, capital’s history is tantamount to constant “modernization”—vampirization and ultimately the annihilation of capitalism’s others.
We owe to Luxemburg the insight that capitalism is the first and only economy “which tends to engulf the entire globe and to stamp out all other economies.” For, as Luxemburg argued, capitalism was also “the first mode of economy unable to exist by itself.” This means that, like any other parasitic life-form, capitalism stands in a relation of dependence to whatever it encroaches upon.
How can the action of capital accumulating become the predicate, the substance, a key feature of another kind of capital, one that is not the subject of a perpetual and desperate spiral of accumulation, but one that is, in fact, the profit and the sedimentary currency of accumulation itself? Raqs Media Collective’s film—which grew out of a long and devoted familiarity with Luxemburg’s thought that began with the abridged version of The Accumulation of Capital published in Delhi by Kamunist Kranti in 1990 ] (Delhi: Kamunist Kranti, 1990). Kamunist Kranti (KK) was a left-wing worker-student group located in Faridabad (an industrial suburb of Delhi). KK included Jeebesh Bagchi amongst its members, who two years later, in 1992, together with Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta, formed the Raqs Media Collective.]—provides a preliminary answer at the very beginning of the film, alluding to the existence of another kind of ghostly, ethereal, and residual accumulation:
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