Rudolf Hilferding


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A leading member of the so-called Austro-Marxists (others were Karl Renner and Otto Bauer), who is best known for his analysis of Finance Capital (1910). He served as German Minister of Finance during the 1920s but, as a Jew and a Marxist, went into exile when the Nazis came to power. He was arrested in occupied France and was imprisoned by the Nazis in 1941, dying in prison after Gestapo interrogation.

Hilferding produced an influential critique of Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk's critical discussion of Marxist economics and went on to show how the Marxian framework could be updated to explain the emerging economic trends at the end of the 19th century. His ideas had a great influence on the theories of imperialism constructed by Bukharin and Lenin. His central argument was that concentration and monopolization characterized both industry and banking, and that banking capital was increasingly dominant over industrial capital. Enterprises of all kinds were tied into circuits of ‘finance capital’, within which a small knot of finance capitalists could exercise control. Finance capital was the basis of the overseas imperial expansion of capitalist monopolies. See also bourgeoisie; ownership and control.

Subjects: Sociology.

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