On the So-Called Primitive Accumulation

Greg Schofield gschofield at one.net.au
Fri May 25 20:50:12 MDT 2001

I am glad Claude Meillasoux has been mentioned, I have not read him since
the late 1970's but his work was something of a rebellion against the
formal structuralisms of "Stalinist" stagism in history. Unfortunately, it
was also a rebellion within structuralism, in the end he simply found Modes
of Production where ever he looked, multiple Modes existing in a single

I would direct you to my series of posts on Modes of Production within Marx
"Blaut's Modes Debate PART 1-3". Meillasoux's approach just does not work,
but in fairness I would have to refresh my reading on him to give a better
critique. But if I remember rightly, he makes the enormous mistake of
seeing any form of accumulated wealth as potential commodities, which would
make any and every society to a degree capitalistic.

In this case I think Meillasoux illustrates the absurdities involved when
the logic is followed to an extreme (he was serious but was caught up in a
very ahistorical world view not uncommon amongst anthropologists). Perhaps
his latter works overcame this peculiar problem, I would be interested to
know if this is the case.

Greg Schofield
Perth Australia

At 05:14  25/05/01 -0400, you wrote:
>On primitive accumulation itself, I think it's valuable to look at the works
>of the French Marxist anthropologist Claude Meillasoux who stresses in his
>works about Africa that primitive accumulation is not only an original stage
>of capitalism but is also a continuing factor in its cancerous development.
>He uses Luxemburg some, but without the notion of Luxemburg that exhausting
>this non-capitalist reservoir will finally lead to The Crisis.

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