Rosa Luxemburg and the Contemporary:  Imperialism, Neoliberalism, Revolution

Call For Papers
This issue of New Formations will propose a rethinking of the legacy of revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg in the twenty-first century. In particular, essays included in the issue will draw on Luxemburg’s writings in order to address pressing issues of the contemporary world. At a time when neoliberal policies strengthen the smooth running of imperialist dispossession and continue to break the oppressed classes through new forms of precariat, debt, marginalisation, militarism and impoverishment, Luxemburg’s inheritance seems to acquire an unexpected poignancy. Luxemburg’s uncompromising commitment to socialism as only alternative to the violence of capitalism can inspire engaged movements fighting social justice in many contexts of the globe. In particular, the issue will focus on Luxemburg’s reflections on imperialism as the forcing of trade relations with non-capitalist surroundings as antidote to the ‘standstill of accumulation’ inherent to the unfolding of capitalism’s history.
Theories of imperialism through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have contended with Luxemburg’s proposition by emphasising its limitations, errors and blind-spots. Yet, do Luxemburg’s theories on imperialism retain any meaning or validity in a postcolonial era? Can Luxemburg’s legacy help redefine the struggle against contemporary forms of neoliberalism, imperialism and accumulation? Can a debate on Luxemburg shed light on the meaning of the postcolonial as historical category and its political and social implications? Can Luxemburg’s thought help to redefine the meaning of social engagement today? The twenty-first century seems to confirm Rosa Luxemburg’s prediction that capitalism would be incapable of becoming universal without damaging the environments, societies and forms of life that are necessary for its reproduction. Contemporary wars, ecological crises, social unrest and the violence of neoliberal economy testify to the paradox that Luxemburg examined in her work: the full domination of capitalism on the planet would correspond to a scenario verging on total destruction and hence the breakdown of capitalism itself. According to Rosa Luxemburg, this ‘barbaric’ aspect of capitalism requires the re-opening of history through active revolutionary intervention.
Confirmed contributors
Stephen Morton
Paul LeBlanc
Peter Hudis
Helen Scott
Rory Castle
Filippo Menozzi
Kanishka Chowdhury
We welcome contributions from all disciplines. Final essays will be expected to be 7,000-9,000 words in length.
For more information about New Formations see
Deadline for abstracts 30 September 2015
Contributors will be told if their abstracts have been accepted by October 30th 2015
Deadline for full essays: May Day 2016