Paternalism of Genovese; social darwinism of Fogel; Re: Wallerstein on slavery and capitalism

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
Sat Oct 21 02:29:51 MDT 2000




Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:.

>
> >I myself posted several criticisms of Genovese's misappropriation of
> >Gramsci's concept of consent on LBO-talk, and I would also criticize
> >Fogel & Engerman as well.  However, are you sure that Wallerstein
> >criticizes Genovese, Fogel, & Engerman _in these terms_?  Is Xxxx
> >sure that she is reproducing Wallerstein's criticism accurately?
>

Are you sure that you are reading Fogel and Engerman & Genovese correctly here?
This is what Fogel and Engerman says:

" The material and psychological  conditions of the lives of slaves compared
favorably with those of free industrial workers" (p.5)

Genovese idealizes the institution of black slavery as a  cultural "weapon of
defense" in a society shaped by "paternalistic relations"  (which is sort of
letting slavery off the hook). So slaves appear as pre-capitalist,  authentic,
idealized and paternalistic beings. Wallerstein points out the implicit *Weberian*
bias  in Geno's analysis (p. 213). He says " On the other hand, Genovese, an avowed
Marxist, might be said to make a case for  conservative (idealist)  theories about
the ways in which political and cultural institutions tend to explain the largest
part of historical reality". Ideologies, repeats Genovese over and over, are not
merely 'self-serving and radically false'. They can also be an authentic world
view.... developed in accordance with the reality of social relations' and hence
embraced 'without hypocrisy' (Geno, p.86). We can not wish away  paternalism with a
sneer of contempt. It constituted in fact the 'RICH EXPERIENCE' of the daily lives
of slaves who truly 'EXPRESSED ADMIRATION FOR THE ARISTOCRATIC FEATURES OF SOUTHERN
LIFE' (Geno, p.115)"

What emerge out of Geno's culturalist/racist account of slavery are (Mine):

1) Slaves consented to their own situation
2) Slaves were still better of under slavery
3) Slavery served the interests of slaves because of "paternalism", which served as
a "doctrine of protection" of the rights of slaves
4) Paternalism  emphasized the idea of " a life affirming faith that stressed shame
and minimized guilt" (Geno, p. 2470)
5) So  overall *mystification* of the situation of slaves (and the political
economy of slavery) and apologia for slavery and racism (Mine).
6)American South  as an arena "in a world economy is left out of  consideration and
hence the analysis is falsified" (Wallers, p. 215)

" Old south , black and white created a historically unique kind of paternalist
society" (p. 4, Geno)

Between 1831 and 1861 "the conditions of the slaves.. got better with  respect to
material conditions of life" (p.51,Geno)

" From the 18th century onward  many slaves had a better diet than rural whites
because they made effort to raise vegetables"  (p.535, Geno). (What an absurdity is
this?  so slaves were better off than rural  whites just because they happily
raised vegetables? what about racism and structural inequalities between blacks and
whites here?  Mine)

For Fogel and Engerman

" the houses of slaves compared well with the housing of free workers in the
ante-bellum era" (p.116).

Geno makes the same comparison, idealizing the living conditions of slavery.

" The laboring poor of France, england and  even urban northeast of the United
States, not to mention Scilly or Russia, lived in crowded hovels little better and
often worse than the slaver quarters' (p.526).


> >The problem with Fogel & Engerman is the opposite of what Mine or
> >Wallerstein says is their view.

You don't get it. W argues that Fogel's analysis of slavery is _still_ inspired by
neo-classical elements due to their exclusion of world economy from their analysis
. W subscribes to the notion of slave labor as being productive, if not he would
not make it central to his analysis of world capitalism. However, W does not
subscribe to Fogel's version. That is the difference. Although F&E *disagree* with
the traditional interpretation of slavery as being "unproductive", "inefficient",
and "moribund",  their opposite view of treating slavery as being efficient
WITHOUT explaining the coercive process of how this institution came into being as
"parcel" of the capitalist world economy ( international slave trade) is to let the
structural  slavery off the hook and in fact to imply that slaves consented to
their situation (as *happy* beings). "The theoretical debate underlying these books
concerns  the nature of capitalism as a social system. FOGEL  and ENGERMAN  are
adherents of the basic Smithian view that the search for profit for via market
exchange is a natural prosperity of human kind.... From this perspective, the
traditional interpretation of slavery was very disturbing. Of the five propositions
Fogel and Engerman say define that interpretation (vol 2, pp.169), the first four
seem to indicate that slavery in the US represented economically irrational
behavior; it was an unprofitable investment; it was economically moribund; slave
labor was inefficient; slavery retarded growth. Given their stating point, Fogel
and Engerman  were genuinely puzzled. were these propositions true, why did slavery
last so long? the answer they come up with  is at once simple and comforting. The
propositions are not true. Ergo, THERE IS NO ANOMALY. This approach explains also
WHY THEY DO NOT POSE OTHER QUESTIONS  such as how then to explain the outbreak of
the civil war, why slavery persisted longer in the southern states than in the
Caribbean?... Given their neo-classical orientation, the logic unit for  Fogel and
Engerman is the  FIRM,  and they tend to use it. THEY DO SO INCONSISTENTLY  AS DO
MOST NEO-CLASSICAL ECONOMIC HISTORIANS, BECAUSE SO MANY QUESTIONS CAN NOT BE
TREATED AT THE LEVEL OF THE FIRM. BUT THEY HANDLE THE DIFFICULTY ONE IS TEMPTED TO
SAY, NEO-CLASSICALLY--BY BLURRING IT..... THE SOUTH CERTAINLY IN THE YEARS
1831-61, THE YEARS WHICH *BOTH* BOOKS ARE CENTRALLY CONCERNED, WAS PART AND PARCEL
OF A WORLD ECONOMY WHOSE MODE OF PRODUCTION WAS CAPITALIST, AND WITHIN WHICH OWNERS
OF LARGE SCALE CASH CROP PRODUCTION WAS UTILIZED TO THE EXTEND THAT THEY COULD...
TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR THEM TO EXTRACT THE LARGEST SHARE OF THE SURPLUS VALUE
BEING PRODUCED BY ***PRODUCTIVE WORKERS"***

>  Mine writes:
> >W argues that slavery is one of the "varieties of
> >economic roles for the peripheral areas of the world economy, which have
> >different modes of labor control (raw material cash crops based on slave labor
> >for the US South contrasted  with food cash cops based on small freeholds
> >in the US--West)". W continues:
>
> >According to Wallerstein, what were the origins (or causes) of
> >different modes of labor control between the U.S. South & West?
>

" Coerced or semi coerced  semi wage labor is, and has been from the *beginning* of
capitalism as a world system, a phenomenon of peripheral areas of the capitalist
world economy, while contractual labor is concentrated (largely but not exclusion)
in core areas." (p. 219). The same logic applies to different modes of labor within
one country, region, continent etc, such as the reinstitution of and "increase" in
corvee labor in Poland, Elbia, Hungary, Rumania, in the 17th century (Modern world
system, p.138). Corvee labor had nothing to with Polish feudalism since we are not
talking about Middle Ages here. It was NOT a pre-capitalist concept (just as
slavery). Corvee labor was needed (and in fact reintroduced) in cash-crop
production for transcontinental capitalist trade in Europe, just as the use of
slave labor in large scale plantations for almost the same reasons in the US.  Both
of these forms constituted varieties of *productive workers* under capitalism and
were central to the development of capitalist world economy as areas of surplus
extraction by the core..


Xxxx


>
> Yoshie

--

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222



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