Since at least the time Rosa Luxemburg wrote The Accumulation of Capital, there have been various applications and theoretical developments of Marx’s historical account of the so-called primitive accumulation. Luxemburg argued that Marxists should expand Marx’s fixed historical description and rework it into a theoretical concept that could be used to describe not only what had happened (and ended) at the birth of capitalism, but also what has been going on to this very day. She criticised the reproduction schemes developed in Capital, Vol. 2, and stressed the necessity of capital’s expansionary and engulfing nature. Despite the flaws in her critique of reproduction schemes, capital’s inherent tendency to extract surplus value by non-economic means is undoubtable.
Other Marxist theorists, for instance David Harvey and Giovanni Arrighi, have proposed similar concepts of the ongoing process of primitive accumulation. Harvey’s argument incorporates an explanation of the ‘subtle colonisation practices’ which he terms ‘spatial fix’, and an all-encompassing idea of non-capitalist environments from which surplus value is extracted in non-economic ways, the so-called ‘accumulation by dispossession’. Referring to the ‘spatial fix’, Harvey emphasises that capital not only devours un- or underdeveloped nations and geographic locations, but also periodically destroys the already developed regions on behalf of the production od value. His idea of accumulation by dispossession has provoked critiques and controversies, mainly because of its inclusivity. In this panel discussion, we will address these responds. In general, we will discuss the contemporary relevance of such developments of Marx’s historical description of primitive accumulation.