(fwd from Jim Drysdale) Robert Biel on imperialism

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Tue Dec 11 18:36:26 MST 2001

>From Jim Drysdale,

JD.  the following is an extract given from Robert Biel's ' The New
Imperialism'.  IMO, R. Biel reveals little understanding of capital.
It's nature ensures its decline which also includes the evolution of
more parasitic forms of capital.  e.g. finance capital.  And, its
global expansion could never be pretty.

snip> If capitalism had been established in one small society in a
small area it would consume itself in its unsustainability and cease
to exist. But it is inherently global, and this is the problem. It has
sucked the whole world and its resources into the role of covering up
its own deficiencies, creating a vortex where the inevitable crisis of
its own sustainability will tend to drag everything else down with it.

JD: below, some words from Capital Vol1 (Marx) Firstly, one keeps in
mind that capitalist production is....M - C - M+ That is,
self-expanding value, self-expanding money.  Capital (accumulation)
dialectically, drives all of us.  That is, at one level, the
capitalist class are the personifications of capital.  They manage
capital and thus capitalist society solely in their class interests.
But, do not control the historical process.  A material historical
(dialectical) process that evolves unbeknown to consciousness.  No
doubt that might can establish capital in less evolved forms of
economies.  But might alone does not account for capital's global

JD: Capitalism, the early days: The mass of serf labour didn’t want to
leave the land, didn’t want to work for wage.

Vol 1:

A mass of free labourers was hurled onto the work market by the
breaking-up of the bands of feudal retainers.  In insolent conflict
with king and parliament the great feudal lords created a huge
work-force by driving the peasantry from the land.  The rapid rise of
the Flemish wool manufacturers and the corresponding rise in the price
of wool in England, gave the direct impulse to these evictions.  As
Thornton said “ The English working class was precipitated without any
transition from its golden into its iron cage”.

Inclosures at that time began to be more frequent, whereby arable land
was turned into pasture.  What the capitalist system demanded was, a
degraded and almost servile condition of the mass of the people.  The
landed proprietors carried, by legal means, an act of usurpation,
effected everywhere on the Continent of Europe without any legal
formality.  They abolished the feudal tenure of land.  They gave
themselves the rights of modern private property in estates to which
they had only a feudal title.  They stole lands on a colossal scale.
Estates were given away or sold at ridiculous figures.  All this
happened without the slightest observation of legal etiquette.  The
parliamentary form of the robbery is that of Acts for enclosures of
Commons, in other words decrees by which the landlords grant
themselves the people’s land as private property.  The agricultural
population is “set free” as labourers for manufacturing industry.

Some examples

“It is no uncommon thing for 3 or 4 wealthy graziers to engross a
large enclosed lordship which was before in the hands of 20 or 30
farmers, and as many smaller tenants.  All these are hereby thrown out
of their livings and with their families.  Dr Price says, “ The little
farmers (thrown of the land) will be converted into a body of men who
earn their subsistence by working for others.  “There will, perhaps,
be more labour, because there more will be more compulsion to
.Towns and manufacturers will increase, because more will be driven
to them in quest of places and employment
.”From little occupiers of
land, they are reduced to the state of day labourers and hirelings,
and at the same time, their subsistence in that state has become more

By the 19th century, the very memory of the connection between the
agricultural labourer and the communal property, had, of course,
vanished.  Even in recent times
..the agricultural population have not
received one farthing of compensation for the 3,511,770 acres of
common land which between 1801 and 1831 were stolen from them by
parliamentary decrees presented to the landlords by the landlords.

the “clearing of estates.”:
The Highland Celts were organised in clans, each of which was the
owner of the land on which it was settled.  The representative of the
clan, its chief or “great man”, was only the titular owner of this
property.  On their own authority these “great men” transformed their
nominal right into a right of private property.  In the 18th century
the hunted-out Gaels were forbidden to emigrate from the country, with
a view to driving them by force to Glasgow and other manufacturing
towns.  By 1851 the Gaels had been replaced by 131,000 sheep.

JD: Below, some old statutes constructed by the early bosses and made
law in the name of the current monarch

Legislation to impose wage discipline:
Early in the “closures” and “clearances” the displaced agricultural
workers, suddenly dragged from the way of life that they wanted,
refused to adapt to the discipline of wages.  These were classified as
"vagabonds” Hence at the end of the 15th century and during the whole
of the 16th century, throughout Western Europe a bloody legislation
against vagabondage.  The ancestors of the today’s workers were forced
to come to heel.

Capitalism came into being dripping head to toe in blood.

Henry VIII. 1530: Beggars old and unable to work receive a beggars
licence.  On the other hand, whipping and imprisonment for sturdy
vagabonds.  They are to be tied to the cart-tail and whipped until the
blood streams from their bodies, then to swear an oath to go back the
their birthplace, or where they have lived for the last three years
and “put themselves to labour.”

Henry VIII: This statute is repeated but strengthened with new
clauses.  “For the second arrest of vagabondage the whipping is to be
repeated and half the ear sliced off but for the third relapse the
offender is to be executed.

Edward VI: A statute of the first year of his reign, 1547, ordains
that if anyone refuses to work, he shall be condemned as a slave to
the person who has denounced him as an idler.  The master shall feed
his slave on bread and water, weak broth and such refuse meat as he
thinks fit.  He has the right to force him to do any work, no matter
how disgusting, with whip and chain.  If the slave is absent a
fortnight he is condemned to slavery for life and is to be branded on
forehead or back with the letter S.  If he runs away thrice, he is to
be executed as a felon.  Justices of the peace, (the landlords) on
information, are to hunt the rascals down.

If it happens that a vagabond has been idling about for three days, he
is to be taken to his birthplace, branded with a red-hot iron with the
letter V on his breast and be set to work in chains.  All persons have
the right to take away the children of vagabonds and to keep them as
apprentices, the young men until the 24th year, the girls until the
20th.  If they run away, they are to become up to this age the slaves
of their masters, who can put them in irons, whip them, &., Every
master may put an iron ring around the neck, arms or legs of his
slave.  Parish slaves (owned by a benevolent master) were kept in
England until far into the 19th century under the name of “roundsmen”

Elizabeth, 1572: Unlicensed beggars above 14 years of age are to be
severely flogged and branded on the left ear unless some one will take
them into service for two years; in the case of repetition of the
offence, if they are over 18, they are to be executed, unless some one
will take them into service for two years; but for the third offence
they are to be executed without mercy as felons.

James I: Any one wandering about and begging is declared a rogue and a
vagabond.  Justices of the peace in petty sessions are authorised to
have them publicly whipped and for the first offence to imprison them
for 6 months, for the second for 2 years.  Whilst in prison they are
to be whipped as much and as often as the justices of the peace think
fit.  Incorrigible and dangerous rogues are to be branded R on the
left shoulder and set to hard labour, and if they are caught begging
again, to be executed without mercy.  These statutes, legally binding
until the beginning of the 18th century, were only repealed by Anne.
Statute of Apprentices of Elizabeth: Ten days imprisonment is decreed
for him that pays the higher wages
..but twenty-one days for him that
receives them.

Coalition of labourers is treated as a heinous crime from the 14th
century to 1825.

George III: forbade a higher day’s wage than 2s 7 ½ d.  1799: an Act
of Parliament ordered that the wages of the Scotch miners should
continue to be regulated by a statute of Elizabeth and the two Scotch
acts of 1661 and 1617.

The advance of the capitalist mode of production and exchange
developed a working class, which by experience, tradition, habit,
looks upon the conditions of wages and profit as natural.

JD: Now, the bosses can leave the workers to the “natural laws of

The European model of disciplining a workforce to the acceptance of
wages and profit has been successfully exported to all countries of
the world.

JD: capital accumulation, that is the capitalist mode of production is
the culmination of the antagonistic phase of the material historical
process of our species which evolved through C - C, then C - M - C,
then M - C - M+.  Accumulation of wealth (of value) before capital
evolved to dominate was accomplished by unequal exchange of value.
But, was still for human want.  Not so in M - C - M+ IMO, Marx already
reveals that the world market is the logical outcome (if not halted by
revolution) of capital accumulation.  Self-expanding value.
Self-expanding money.  Thus, Robert Biel shows little that is new.
Indeed, IMO, by paying lip service only to capital he obfuscates the
reality of the historical material process of our species, where no
such obfuscation is required for understanding.  That capital and
capitalist society (as subject matter) have reached and passed
parameters is also inherent in birth arisal and decline.  Again, no
one and no group in control.



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