Brenner, C. L. R. James, & José Carlos Mariátegui (was Re: Brenner Redux)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Tue Oct 24 19:39:47 MDT 2000

>CB: OK , but I don't get how this particular fact impacts the
>question as to whether or not slavery should be analyzed as a
>component part of capitalism in combination with wage-labor.
>Indentured servitude might be analyzed as a component part of
>capitalism too. As I said, capitalism would be a combination with
>the division of labor wage-labor/slave labor/non-slave-non-wage
>labor ( indentured servants, serfs, corvee labor). Didn't a
>significant proportion of the surplus product of the slaves go into
>the capitalist market?

No one -- including Robert Brenner & Ellen Wood -- disagrees with you
that slavery, indentured servitude, convict labor, women's un-waged
domestic labor, etc. have been "component parts of capitalism in
combination with wage labor."  It seems to me self-evident that
capitalism as a mode of production couldn't reproduce itself if wage
labor were the only mode of labor.

>CB: Unlike the feudal residues that capitalism struggled with in its
>beginning, the slavery that was established was not a leftover from
>the mode of production immediately preceding capitalism. In other
>words, the slavery that pops up here is not leftover from Roman
>slavery.  The capitalists "artificially" grafted it onto their new
>rising mode. It wasn't just there. It had to be recreated from
>memories of Rome and Greece. This is another sense in which it was
>capitalist slavery. It was reoriginated to fit in with capitalism,
>so it was definitely shaped by the ether and the ethos of the rising
>mode of production. It wasn't just there before capitalism and
>shaped by the new mode. It was brought back, suddenly, in its
>entirety by the new mode makers.  It didn't grow out of feudalism,
>by class struggles like wage-labor relations.

You don't have to go all the way back to Roman slavery.  What of the
"memories" of the Arab trade in African slaves?

The "family" was reorganized to fit capitalism, too; so were all
social institutions that survived the demise of the world before
capitalism.  Does it make sense, though, to call families today
"capitalist"?  I don't object if you do, but does adding this
adjective make for an added explanatory value?  Slavery under
capitalism differed from slavery in the ancient & medieval worlds, so
in the sense of emphasizing the distinction, you can say it's
"capitalist" slavery.  For this purpose of making a distinction,
however, the term chattel slavery does just as well, in my view.


More information about the Marxism mailing list