From Rosa Luxemburg

The Accumulation of Capital

Section 1 The Problem of Reproduction


Karl Marx made a contribution of lasting service to the theory of economics when he drew attention to the problem of the reproduction of the entire social capital. It is significant that in the history of economics we find only two attempts at an exact exposition of this problem: one by Quesnay, the father of the Physiocrats; at its very inception; and in its final stage this attempt by Marx. In the interim, the problem was ever with bourgeois economics. Yet bourgeios economists have never been fully aware of this problem in its pure aspects, detached from related and interesting minor problems; they have never been able to formulate it precisely, let alone solve it. Seeing that the problem is of paramount importance, their attempts may all the same help us to some understanding of the trend of scientific economics.

What is it precisely that constitutes this problem of the reproduction of total capital? The literal meaning of the word ‘reproduction’ is repitition, renewal of the process of production. At first sight it may be difficult to see in what respect the idea of reproduction differs from that of repitition which we can all understand-why such a new and unfamiliar term should be required. But in the sort of repitition which we shall consider, in the continual recurrance of the process of production there are certain distinctive features. First, the regular repitition of reproduction is the general sine qua non of regular consumption which in its turn has been the precondition of human civilisation in every one of its historical forms. 


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