“Capital Accumulation in the “Lucky Country”: Australia from the “Sheep’s Back” to the “Quarry Economy.” Part I: The Colonial Period” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2022.2032800)
is the first installment of a two-part article on Australia by Nicolas Grinberg of CONICET, Buenos Aires, and UNSAM, San Martin, Argentina.
Part II should be available within a month.
The abstract for the article states:
Australia is unique as the only ex-colonial economy that has remained throughout its history at the top of high-income countries despite continuously specialising in the production of raw materials for world markets. Conscious of this peculiarity, a Treasurer once warned the nation of the risk of becoming a “banana republic.” This article, the first of a two-part contribution, presents an account of Australia’s economic history that explains that peculiarity as an alternative to mainstream and critical positions. Drawing on Marx’s critique of political economy, it is argued that Australia’s role in the production of surplus-value on a global scale has determined its pattern of economic and political development. Since its creation by British capital, the Australian economy became both a source of raw materials and of ground-rent for appropriation by competing economic actors. After introducing the general theoretical approach to the relationship between global- and national-scale processes of capital accumulation, this article analyses the colonial period. It argues that despite inheriting a variety of political institutions and cultural traditions, British colonialism produced a national economy specialised in, and limited to, the production of low-cost primary commodities and bearers of ground-rent that could be recovered by capital through specific state-mediated dynamics.