Capital Accumulation in the “Lucky Country”: The Commonwealth Period

Capital Accumulation in the ‘Lucky Country’: Australia from the ‘Sheep’s Back’ to the ‘Quarry Economy.’ Part II: The Commonwealth Period” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2022.2065335) is the second part of an article by Nicolas Grinberg of CONICET, Buenos Aires, and UNSAM, San Martin, Argentina.

Part I is here.

The abstract for this article states:

The Australian economy went from being amongst the most promising areas of “new settlement,” to producing one of the most “mediocre” rich-country performances, only to later enjoy a “miraculous” revival. This is the second part of a two-part article that presents an account of this Australian trajectory that is critical of mainstream traditions. Drawing on key insights of Marx’s critique of political economy, this article argues that Australia’s role in the production of surplus-value on global scale has specifically determined its pattern of long-term economic and political development. Since its creation by British capital, the Australian economy became not only a source of cheap raw materials but also of ground-rent for appropriation by competing social subjects. Part I examined the colonial period. This second part analyses the Commonwealth period. It is argued that the process of inwards-oriented industrialisation, in place until the mid-1980s, was the state-mediated economic form through which capital invested in manufacturing managed to appropriate the largest share of the Australian ground-rent. It also argues that during the neo-liberal era that followed that process, manufacturing capital was increasingly displaced by industrial capital invested in mining and public services.


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