Forwarded from Jurriaan (Trotsky and imperialism)

Charles Brown CharlesB at SPAMCNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Tue Jun 5 11:33:10 MDT 2001




>>> lnp3 at panix.com 06/05/01 09:31AM >>>


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You can really see how deficient his analysis was in chapter 33 on
"Colonialism" in V. 1 of Capital. You would think that this chapter might
deal with the need to exterminate Indians in order to gain access to land,
or the specific character of unfree labor. But slaves and Indians hardly
enter the picture. The only significant actors are Europeans who either in
the form of capitalists or unwilling self-husbanding farmers are seen in
the context of European capitalism, which is much more exploitative based
on a prior history with enclosures, etc.

((((((((((

CB: Also, how is Marx's thesis about the centrality of expropriation of
self-husbanding farmers to development of capitalism ( discussed in the chapter and
section Lou refers to) impacted by the successful development of  capitalism in the
U.S. in the context of many self-husbanding farmers being able to get land ?.  If
expropriation of the European laborers in America was thwarted by their ability to
expropriate land from Indian groups and own it, and this didn't prevent capitalism
from developing in the U.S., then how central is expropriation of "peasant-proprietors
" to capitalist development outside the English countryside ?

(((((((((


The next paragraph is typical. He
refers to "virgin soil" as if there were not 90 million souls living here
with their own mode of production. It is the same flaw that Peter Linebaugh
pointed out in his May Day remarks on Engels' "Socialism, Utopian and
Scientific" which states, "A durable reign of the bourgeoisie has been
possible only in countries like America, where feudalism was unknown, and
society at the very beginning started from a bourgeois basis." Linebaugh
asks the same question that I ask: was feudalism really unknown? Only if
you pretend that the Aztecs and Incas never existed.

Karl Marx:
"How, then, to heal the anti-capitalistic cancer of the colonies? If men
were willing, at a blow, to turn all the soil from public into private
property, they would destroy certainly the root of the evil, but also - the
colonies. The trick is how to kill two birds with one stone. Let the
Government put upon the virgin soil an artificial price, independent of the
law of supply and demand, a price that compels the immigrant to work a long
time for wages before he can earn enough money to buy land, and turn
himself into an independent peasant."


((((((((

CB: I don't know, Lou. I just read this whole section , and the above seems to be
mocking recitation of _Wakefield's_ plan. This is not what Marx is proposing. This is
a paraphrase of Wakefield's plan . The chapter title "The Modern Theory of
Colonisation" is a reference to Wakefield's "modern theory of colonization". "How
,then" ( Wakefield asks himself) , "to heal the anti-capitalistic cancer..."

Here's the whole paragraph:

"How, then, to heal the anti-capitalistic cancer of the colonies? If men were willing,
at a blow, to turn all the soil from public into private property, they would destroy
certainly the root of the evil, but also — the colonies. The trick is how to kill two
birds with one stone. Let the Government put upon the virgin soil an artificial price,
independent of the law of supply and demand, a price that compels the immigrant to
work a long time for wages before he can earn enough money to buy land, and turn
himself into an independent peasant.[20] The fund resulting from the sale of land at a
price relatively prohibitory for the wage-workers, this fund of money extorted from
the wages of labor by violation of the sacred law of supply and demand, the Government
is to employ, on the other hand, in proportion as it grows; to import have-nothings
from Europe into the colonies, and thus keep the wage-labor market full for the
capitalists. Under these circumstances, tout sera pour le mieux dans le meilleur des
mondes possibles. This is the great secret of "systematic colonization". By this plan,
Wakefield cries in triumph, "the supply of labor must be constant and regular,
because, first, as no laborer would be able to procure land until he had worked for
money, all immigrant laborers, working for a time for wages and in combination, would
produce capital for the employment of more laborers; secondly, because every laborer
who left off working for wages and became a landowner would, by purchasing land,
provide a fund for bringing fresh labor to the colony." [21] The price of the soil
imposed by the State must, of course, be a "sufficient price" — i.e., so high "as to
prevent the laborers from becoming independent landowners until others had followed to
take their place." [22] This "sufficient price for the land" is nothing but a
euphemistic circumlocution for the ransom which the laborer pays to the capitalist for
leave to retire from the wage-labor market to the land. First, he must create for the
capitalist "capital", w
more laborers; then he must place, at his own expense, a locum tenens on the
labor-market, whom the Government forwards across the sea for the benefit of his old
master, the capitalist. "







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