Rudolf Hilferding: What Do We Still Have to Learn from His Legacy?

Rudolf Hilferding: What Do We Still Have to Learn from His Legacy?


Rudolf Hilferding was a prominent figure in the field of political economy during the early 20th century. His contributions to Marxist theory and his analysis of finance capital have had a lasting impact on the understanding of capitalism. In this article, we will delve into Hilferding’s legacy and explore the valuable lessons we can still learn from his work.

The Significance of Rudolf Hilferding

Hilferding’s most notable work, “Finance Capital,” published in 1910, revolutionized the understanding of capitalism. He argued that finance capital, the merger of banking and industrial capital, played a crucial role in the development and consolidation of capitalism. This concept laid the foundation for further research on the relationship between finance and capitalism.

The Role of Monopoly Capital

Hilferding emphasized the concentration and centralization of capital as a result of the emergence of monopolies. He highlighted how monopolistic control over industries led to the exploitation of workers and the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few. This analysis remains relevant today, as we continue to witness the growing power of multinational corporations and the increasing wealth inequality.

The Financialization of the Economy

One of the key insights from Hilferding’s work is the understanding of the financialization of the economy. He argued that finance capital not only influenced the production process but also exerted control over the entire economic system. This insight helps us comprehend the complex dynamics between financial markets, corporations, and the real economy.

The Role of the State

Hilferding also emphasized the role of the state in regulating and supporting capitalist economies. He argued that the state acts as a mediator between different capitalist interests and plays a crucial role in maintaining the stability of the system. This perspective is particularly relevant in understanding the relationship between the state and capitalism in modern times.

Lessons from Hilferding’s Legacy
  1. Understanding the interplay between finance and capitalism is essential in comprehending the dynamics of the modern economy.
  2. The concentration of capital and the rise of monopolies have significant implications for wealth distribution and economic inequality.
  3. The financialization of the economy requires careful analysis to grasp the complexities of the global economic system.
  4. The role of the state in regulating and supporting capitalism cannot be overlooked.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What other works did Rudolf Hilferding contribute?

A: Apart from “Finance Capital,” Hilferding also wrote extensively on imperialism and the role of banks in capitalist economies.

Q: How does Hilferding’s work relate to other Marxist thinkers?

A: Hilferding’s analysis of finance capital expanded on Karl Marx’s theories and provided a deeper understanding of the capitalist system.


Rudolf Hilferding’s legacy in political economy continues to provide valuable insights into the workings of capitalism. His analysis of finance capital, monopolies, and the role of the state remains relevant in understanding the complexities of the modern economy. By studying Hilferding’s work, we can gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of capitalism and work towards creating a more equitable and just society.

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