a new book you would love to read! On the origins of imperialism

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mikail firtinaci
a new book you would love to read! On the origins of imperialism
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Check this out:


There are many new translations of Pannekoek previously unavaliable in English that are now available in this book. If you want, I have scanned them all - and put one to Libcom. 

The book has the great merit of situating the intellectual debate around the concept of imperialism into the wider international context of left-internationalist social democratic milleu. So the role of the Bremen tendency (including Pannekoek and Radek) becomes clearer.

Also it presents hindsights about how this tendency infuenced Lenin and the Bolshevik-left thought deeply. I think this is a further indication of Schurer thesis which argues that Lenin and Bolshevik theory has been influenced a lot by this Bremen tendency which supported them -unlike Luxemburg- in the International. Their collaboration started from 1910 on when the left gradually started to dis-attach itself from Kautsky under the theoretical leadership of Pannekoek. In Zimmerwald they were definitely united (Bremen left and the Bolsheviks were the left wing of the zimmerwald who published a journal under the editorship of Pannekoek and Roland-Holst). And... we know how their ways parted...

There are many more interesting stuff in this book. I highly recommend it for the comrades in the ICC and sympathisers.  


I also listed this in my recommended literature thread.

Both Cunow and Lensch were radicals who became chauvinists. There is a key two-part reply of Kautsky in 1912 against Lensch, where he responds to the charge that he had supposedly changed his thoughts in 1909 (exactly the same accusation made by Lenin et al. against him) called 'Der improvisierte Bruch', which is missing in this book (it's online in German here).

Later in 1915, Kautsky wrote another article in Die Neue Zeit called 'Nochmals unsere Illusionen (Antwort an H. Cunow und P. Lensch)', also missing in this book. 

There is also an article by Max Schippel in 1913 against Luxemburg's theory called Das Grundgeheimnis des Imperialismus, in Sozialistische Monatshefte (online in German). I read Schippel was a chauvinst even before the war and he simply claimed that Kautsky's writings on imperialism were garbage. Originally though, he belonged to the radical linke in the early 1890s who fought against what they believed was the opportunism of the party (including against Kautsky).

One lesson I  think Lenin drew from this is in his debate later with Luxemburg and Pyatakov on self-determination where he recalled how their supposedly radical positon actually was a mirror image of the arguments by the social-imperialists.




paper back out in November

The paperback version of this book will be out in November. At present it is only available in hardback at €149.00. The paperback price will be £30.

It certainly appears to be a very important book for understanding the initial discussions on imperialism.

mikail firtinaci


I took it from the library. I have also scanned the articles by radek, pannekoek, marchlewski, parvus and the Chemnitz congress proceedings. If you like I can send them. I can not guarantee a very good quality scan though.


q 2 mikail

Can you give a hint though, what the appendix on Luxemburg's Accumulation says (broadly speaking)?

It's good to finally have Pannekoek's critique of it available. Have you changed your mind about her theory now after reading his critique?





mikail firtinaci

sorry for this late response. Unfortunately I could just read Pannekoek's 1913 criticism of Luxemburg and hence I am a bit late. Unfortunately I did not read the appendix and did not have time to scan it.

It's good to finally have Pannekoek's critique of it available. Have you changed your mind about her theory now after reading his critique?

Well I have to say that Pannekoek's criticism does not look like to include an antagonistic claim to Luxemburg's. Appearantly he regards highly her interpretation of imperialism in the 3rd chapter.

His most urgent political criticism is that if the question of expansion of markets would be put to the front as the main reason of "imperialism" than that would make it difficult to differentiate what was going on in Europe in 1913 from, lets say in Spanish expansion period. So, Pannekoek argues that capital exports explains better the difference.

And I think this political concern influenced Lenin too. But this is another issue.

Anyway, generally speaking I agree with Pannekoek that the problem of market expansion solely can not explain the decadance. However, Luxemburg - as far as I understand- can still help us to expalin what was to happen in the 1st WW. Because, there is still a limit to the expansion of the capitalist social relations -through directly by acquiring markets or indirectly through expanding capital markets- . And the essense of Luxemburg's arguement is still correct - I presume-  in the sense that, it shows us there is a limit to the growth of capitalist society after which point it turn on to itself in a parasitic form.

I am sorry if this answer is not very satisfying. Part of the problem is that I can not easily comment on the mathematical part of the debate on the equations in the capital vol.2...