Were sugar plantations capitalist?

TAHIR WOOD TWOOD at SPAMadfin.uwc.ac.za
Tue Oct 12 09:17:01 MDT 1999



It's quite hard to know exactly what this debate is about,
but perhaps I could ask a naive question just to get in the
picture, and then maybe a more important one.

The naive question is why the mercantile period could not be
referred to as proto-capitalist and just left at that?

The question which builds on that one draws attention to the
fact that capitalism as we know it is not just economic; it
is surely also a political phenomenon. So the question then
is: can we talk about capitalism existing before the
bourgeoisie came to power? If we can, then surely we can
talk about capitalism existing in other societies and
historical epochs where this bourgeoisie never emerged
and/or did not prevail to the same extent as in Europe. What
would have happened to the 'capitalism' of the new world,
slave trade, etc., if the 'bourgeois revolutions' in Europe
had not succeeded? What would we have had then? At which
point also can we talk about capitalism emerging in Japan?
And what about the so-called 'national bourgeoisies' that
have been identified in China, Iran and other Asian
countries prior to the colonisation of these areas? It seems
to me there is plenty of 'capitalism' to be found prior to
the political triumph of the bourgeoisie, but surely when we
speak of the capitalist mode of production and a society in
which commodity production is quite predominant we mean a
society in which the bourgeoisie rules?

Tahir

>>> Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> 10/12 3:22 PM >>>
>If you want to defend empiricism against marxism, I will
debate you
>on that.
>Carrol

Okay, I'd be happy to defend empiricism against marxism. You
go first. But
I warn you, my reply will be rapier-like and unstinting. You
have never
heard my "when trees fall in the woods, but they land on the
head of a
bear--who is taking a shit at the time" philosophical
exposition, have you?
It is my ace in the sleeve. You are doomed.

Louis Proyect

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