How Should Marxists Characterize Chattel Slave Labor?

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Sun Oct 29 01:22:50 MST 2000

Hi Lou:

>_A clear difference_ exists, in that the Brenner camp regards local
>class struggles & relations as the crucial determinant in an
>explanation of the _emergence_ of capitalist social relations while
>the Williams camp focuses on the accumulation of surplus (especially
>absolute surplus through chattel slavery) in the _development_ of
>capitalism, especially of the so-called Industrial Revolution.  The
>former emphasizes that the incorporation into the world market
>without the development of free labor tends to have a regressive
>effect on local class structures as well as economic development,
>just as Mariategui does.
>Why do you highlight _emergence_? Emergence conveys the seed
>of something, while Woods takes pain to describe a fully
>mature "agrarian capitalism" in 15th century England. This would be
>like me saying that my sperm takes after his father.

Ellen Wood does not argue that "a fully mature 'agrarian capitalism'"
existed "in 15th century England."  Instead, she has this to say:
"English agriculture, then, was already _in the sixteenth century_
marked by a unique combination of conditions, _at least in certain
regions_, which _would gradually set the economic direction_ of the
whole economy" (_The Origin of Capitalism_, NY: Monthly Review Press,
1999, p. 80).  Gradually, you see.  Beginning in the sixteenth
century, in certain regions of England.  Hence I speak of
_emergence_.  A correct word choice, in my view.


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