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Rosa Luxemburg: Capitalism and Imperialism

at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research - Murray Hill

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Murray Hill, Manhattan
275 Madison Ave St #2114
Btwn E 39th & 40th Streets
New York, New York 10016
Class will not meet Wednesday, November 27th.
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Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 12
Teacher: Raphaele Chappe

Flexible Reschedule Policy: This provider has flexible, free rescheduling for any-in person workshop. Please see the cancellation policy for more details

What you'll learn in this lecture class:

Reading Rosa Luxemburg: Capitalism, Imperialism, and the Contemporary World

Contemporary globalization marks an age where the “world is flat,” to quote an international best seller. A world of global competition and the ever-growing integration of economies through the free movement of goods, capital, technology, and labor. Yet nearly a century earlier, Rosa Luxemburg had already theorized and recorded a global form of capitalism, a massive augmentation of Karl Marx’s original critique of capital with an understanding of how imperialism and colonialism are fundamentally internal and necessary for the perpetuation of a capitalist economy. Sometimes better known for her political work and writings, Luxemburg’s actual scholarly specialization was in political economy, and The Accumulation of Capital is her magnum opus, one of the first major attempts at truly coming to terms with the functioning of global capital. In recent decades, foreign policy in the U.S. (and in OECD-member countries, more generally) has favored political regimes and leaders that have implemented a complete privatization and deregulation of their economies, allowing American corporate multinationals to be present in those foreign markets. Financial markets have also become fully globalized. How should we understand these recent developments in the light of Luxemburg’s observations from the early twentieth century? What has changed between Luxemburg’s day and our own? What drives the expansion of capital and the conquest of foreign markets?

In this course we will consider these questions through a reading of Rosa Luxemburg’s classic The Accumulation of Capital. We will dedicate the class to a close reading of Luxemburg’s original contribution to Marx’s theory of capital reproduction and accumulation. We will discuss Luxemburg’s insights on the role played by external non-capitalist markets, relating her work to modern forms of imperialism and contemporary economic issues such as the global crisis of finance capitalism. In doing so, we will draw upon more recent research from economists as well as political and social scientists (both Marxists and others). Do imperialism and colonialism underwrite the very survival of capitalistic economies? What is the link between capitalism, economic growth and the modern face of imperialism? What is the role played by the process of capital accumulation in the recent global financial crisis? How should we understand the accumulation of capital today?


There *is* no physical Brooklyn Institute. We hold our classes all over (thus far) Brooklyn and Manhattan, in alternative spaces ranging from the back rooms of bars to bookstores to spaces in cultural centers, including the Center for Jewish History, the Goethe-Institut, and the Barnard Center for Research on Women. We can (and do) turn any space into a classroom. You will be notified of the exact location when you register for a class.

Instructors will contact students approximately one week prior to the first class with reading assignments and details about the course location. 

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Refund Policy

Note: This provider has a temporary cancellation policy for COVID-19 related cancellations which is as follows:

We'll grant full course credit up to the start of the first class. After the first class we can offer 75% course credit; after the second 50%; and after the third 25%.


Original cancellation policy (non-COVID-19):

Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.


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Reviews of Classes at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (22)

School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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