Forwarded from Anthony

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri May 25 20:38:04 MDT 2001

Hi Lou:

Please post:

Huey, Duey and Louis?  Quacking Up, or Quacking  down? 

Tomato tossing in Cyberspace? 

I just got reconnected to cyberspace after a computer crash and come back
to find Lou throwing verbal tomatos at Ellen Meiskin Wood. I am not a Wood
fan, nor a project fan for that matter - but am interested in the issues -
especially the issue of primitive accumulation of capital.

I am interested in the quote Lou throws at Wood - which certianly isn’t
drivel (although Lou says it is) , and one which Lou seems to have
completely misunderstood. 

As expressed in the article Lou quotes from, Wood’s understanding of
primitive accumulation is that its central aspect is the creation of wage
labor - and a class of wage laborers - not simply the accumulation of
wealth in the form of gold, silver or even land.

Wood is consistent with Marx on this point.

But Lou ignores it.

Her point about Spain - the one Lou misses - is that despite the
accumulation of enourmous wealth by Spain through her empire - the central
aspect of primitive accumulation THE CREATION OF A WORKING CLASS MADE UP OF
PROPERTYLESS WAGE LABORERS was stunted for centuries in Spain. And Spanish
imperial wealth was employed in feudal methods of accumulation - or
attempts at feudal methods of accumulation - such as wars to gain tribute
paying possessions.

Lou’s misreading of Wood is sloppy, and perplexing. 

More perplexing because in Lou’s second post on the subject he retreats
into "more activist than thou" nose thumbing and completely ignores the
historical issue he had so badly misaddressed in his first post.

Marx and Wood may be wrong about primitive accumulation, but at least Lou
should deal with the issue they are talking about, instead of throwing up
clouds of smoke and misrepresentation.

Is the only explanation that, now that Lou has hundreds of people on his
mailing list, his star status has gone to his head, and he has lost his
self-critical abilities?

Or did Lou get up on the wrong side of the bed?

Or did Lou ..........? 

I await a sign from the stars.


In reference to:

 This is the only explanation for Wood writing drivel such as this in the
ATC article:

--- At the same time, Spain, the dominant early colonial power and the
leader in "primitive accumulation" of the classical kind, which amassed
huge wealth especially from South American silver and gold mines, and was
well endowed with "capital" in the simple sense of wealth, did not develop
in a capitalist direction. Instead, Spain expended its massive colonial
wealth in essentially feudal pursuits, especially war and the construction
of its Habsburg empire in Europe.  ---

In her MR defense of Brenner and in this article, she makes repeated
assertions about Spain without any scholarly documentation. Doesn't anybody
have the guts to tell her that she should read something about Spain before
opening up her mouth in such a foolish manner? Where does she get her
information? From Zorro movies?

--- James Lang, "Conquest and Commerce: Spain and England in the Americas"
(Harcourt Brace, 1975):

"The seventeenth century belies most of our common assumptions about the
Spanish empire in America. Creoles exerted strong pressure on bureaucratic
administration. The proof of the vitality of that power is that the
economic interests and needs of the colonists in the long run determined
the nature of the economy. Whether it was the regulation of the Indian
labor, the restrictions on intercontinental trade, the prohibitions against
the contraband traffic, or the limitations on vineyards and olive groves,
the initiative of the monarchy had, at best, mixed results. Our image of
colonial Spanish America as a stagnant morass capable only of silver
production is false. So is our assumption of remorseless Spanish
exploitation that deprived the New World of all its silver in exchange for
a rigid political theocracy that imposed the will of Madrid. In the
seventeenth century, the colonists of the New World retained the greatest
share of silver for their own use, investing it in the domestic economy or
employing it to purchase foreign goods either through the Indies fleet or
contraband channels. They built ships, carried on trade, developed
plantation agriculture oriented toward tropical products, and invested in
mining and 'obrajes' (an early version of textile sweatshops). The
merchants of Lima were no less resourceful than those of Boston, and their
influence was often extensive."

 Louis Proyect Marxism mailing list:

 Five years ago I thought that it was a big deal that people like Wood and
Perry Anderson were ripping into postmodernism. That was then and this is
now. The major task today is not demolishing postmodernism because it fell
apart on its own, like other fancy academic leftist trends like Analytical
Marxism. Our task today is to address the growing mass movement against
capitalism, which assumes problematic forms in demonstrations such as took
place in Quebec and Seattle. It involves coming to terms with the relation
between Marxism and ecology, trade union protectionism and anarchism among
other questions. People like Wood and Anderson have nothing to say about
these questions. NLR has issued a formal declaration that struggles against
capitalism are futile. Meanwhile, Wood has written nothing over the past 3
years except defenses of the Brenner thesis, which itself is not only 25
years old but of practically no significance to revolutionary-minded youth.
With this mailing list I hope to create a pole of attraction for people who
are serious about challenging the capitalist system. If and when Wood and
Anderson write something relevant to this task, I will support their efforts. 

Louis Proyect
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