Forwarded from Saul Thomas (slavery & capitalism)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Jan 23 09:55:46 MST 2001

Hey Louis,

I was just going over the Poverty of Philosophy, and found this section that
might have been relevant to the discussions of a few months back:

"Direct slavery is just as much the pivot of bourgeois industry as
machinery, credits, etc. Without slavery you have no cotton; without cotton
you have no modern industry. It is slavery that gave the colonies their
value; it is the colonies that created world trade, and it is world trade
that is the precondition of large-scale industry. Thus slavery is an
economic category of the greatest importance.

"Without slavery North America, the most progressive of countries, would be
transformed into a patriarchal society. Wipe North America off the map of
the world and you would have anarchy--the complete decay of modern commerce
and civilization. Cause slavery to disappear and you will have wiped America
off the map of nations."

Engles added a footnote:
"This was perfectly correct for the year 1847. At that time the world trade
of the United States was limited mainly to import of immigrants and
industrial products, and export of cotton and tobacco, i.e., of the products
of southern slave labour. The Northern States produced mainly corn and meat
for the slave states. It was only when the North produced corn and meat for
export and also became an industrial country, and when the American cotton
monopoly had to face powerful competition, in India, Egypt, Brazil, etc.,
that the abolition of slavery became possible. And even then this led to the
ruin of the South, which did not succeed in replacing the open Negro slavery
by thc disguised slavery of Indian and Chinese coolies. [Note by F. Engels
to the German edition of 1885.] "

(The Poverty of Philosophy, Beijing 1977, p. 105)

Louis Proyect
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