Dependency Theory (Mine) - (Nestor) ( Karl Marx)

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Tue May 29 13:23:17 MDT 2001

>>> lnp3 at 05/29/01 02:30PM >>>
>CB: Clearly  (and congruently) it is you who are unable to think clearly
and congruently in accordance with the mode of analysis Marx proposed in
this discussion. You have to dismiss large sections of things Marx wrote as
 irrelvant to his mode of analysis ( your interpretation of his term
"illustrative").  If they are irrelevant to his mode of analysis , why did
he put them in his masterpiece ? We need both historical and dialectical
materialist approach.

Charles, part of the problem is that this discussion--both here and on
PEN-L--has turned into a search for Marxist orthodoxy. It is not a very
fruitful endeavor since Marx never really devoted much time or study to the
question of unfree labor. Nor did he really think through the problem of
indigenous peoples and capitalism, nor the question of "Asiatic despotism"
that turned out to be false.

It is really up to us as a movement--and this is the key word--to fill in
the gaps. That is why it is so important for us to continue with the work
that Jim Blaut was engaged in. It is filling in a gap in the Marxist
literature. We need a Marxism that IS UNAMBIGUOUS about this question. It
has political consequences. If we can not figure out the class character of
societies that utilized unfree labor to build capitalism, then we have no
business trying to fight for socialism.


CB: Yes, I agree, although Lenin pretty thoroughly filled the gap left by Marx.  Jim Blaut recognized this.  We are filling in the details and historical developments since Lenin's writing.

By the way, the debate with Julio has to do with the necessity of the bourgeoisie holding state power for capitalism to continue, as well as the question of a division of labor which combines waged and less-than-waged forms.  I guess I will drop it again, as I can't see much to debate about whether the bourgeois must hold state power to carry on capitalism.


The best thing we can get from Marx is not chapter and verse on slavery,
etc. because it is really not there. Most of what he wrote has a tentative,
thinking out loud character. What we can get from Marx, however, is a
method that can be used to analyze society.


CB: On slavery specifically, Marx  filled in some in _Capital_ , and some of his articles on the U.S. Civil War.

Part of what is missing from the discussion is that he discusses slavery as both in unity and conflict with the wage-labor system. I didn't get into that, because it seemed like it would complicate the exchange with Julio at this point as we are disagreeing on some elementary aspects


For example, modern South Africa is the most advanced capitalist country on
the continent and mineral extraction accounts for its top position. If you
analyze South African mining (as I will do in my wrap-up on Wood/Brenner),
you will learn that it relied almost exclusively on a form of indentured
servitude. In the 1970s there was a boycott of South African coal because
American unions decided it had been produced by indentured servitude.

If anybody thinks that the Malawi and Mozambiquean workers, who constituted
the bulk of indentured labor, were not proletarians, then it is difficult
to believe that we belong in the same movement. If this kind of thing does
not serve as a clear class line, then I do not know what does. Workers are
workers whether they are defined as free wage laborers or indentured
servants. To quibble over such distinctions is not revolutionary, it is
rightwing pedantry.


CB: Yes , as I said in one post,  Marx emphasizes the unity of the struggle of the workers in indirect slavery in England and direct slavery in the U.S. Similarly, the Bolsheviks emphasized the unity of workers and peasants, thus "the hammer and the sickle".

We should, as Julio and others say acknowledge the analytical difference between the different categories of workers , but then emphasize that their need to unite against the common capitalist and imperialist enemy.


Excerpt from "The North American Civil War "

The vitally important point in this platform was that not a foot of fresh terrain was conceded to slavery; rather it was to remain once and for all confined with the boundaries of the states where it already legally existed. Slavery was thus to be formally interned; but continual expansion of territory and continual spread of slavery beyond its old limits is a law of life for the slave states of the Union.

The cultivation of the southern export articles, cotton, tobacco, sugar , etc., carried on by slaves, is only remunerative as long as it is conducted with large gangs of slaves, on a mass scale and on wide expanses of a naturally fertile soil, which requires only simple labour. Intensive cultivation, which depends less on fertility of the soil than on investment of capital, intelligence and energy of labour, is contrary to the nature of slavery. Hence the rapid transformation of states like Maryland and Virginia, which formerly employed slaves on the production of export articles, into states which raise slaves to export them into the deep South. Even in South Carolina, where the slaves form four-sevenths of the population, the cultivation of cotton has been almost completely stationary for years due to the exhaustion of the soil. Indeed, by force of circumstances South Carolina has already been transformed in part into a slave-raising state, since it already sells slaves to t!
he sum of four million dollars yearly to the states of the extreme South and South-west. As soon as this point is reached, the acquisition of new Territories becomes necessary, so that one section of the slaveholders with their slaves may occupy new fertile lands and that a new market for slave-raising, therefore for the sale of slaves, may be created for the remaining section. It is, for example, indubitable that without the acquisition of Louisiana, Missouri and Arkansas by the United States, slavery in Virginia and Maryland would have been wiped out long ago. In the Secessionist Congress at Montgomery, Senator Toombs, one of the spokesmen of the South, strikingly formulated the economic law that commands the constant expansion of the territory of slavery. "In fifteen years," said he, "without a great increase in slave territory, either the slaves must be permitted to flee from the whites, or the whites must flee from the slaves."

As is known, the representation of the individual states in the Congress House of Representatives depends on the size of their respective populations. As the populations of the free states grow far more quickly than those of the slave states, the number of Northern Representatives was bound to outstrip that of the Southern very rapidly. The real seat of the political power of the South is accordingly transferred more and more to the American Senate, where every state, whether its population is great or small, is represented by two Senators. In order to assert its influence in the Senate and, through the Senate, its hegemony over the United States, the South therefore required a continual formation of new slave states. This, however, was only possible through conquest of foreign lands, as in the case of Texas, or through the transformation of the Territories belonging to the United States first into slave Territories and later into slave states, as in the case of Missouri, Arka!
nsas, etc. John Calhoun, whom the slaveholders admire as their statesman par excellence, stated as early as February 19, 1847, in the Senate, that the Senate alone placed a balance of power in the hands of the South, that extension of the slave territory was necessary to preserve this equilibrium between South and North in the Senate, and that the attempts of the South at the creation of new slave states by force were accordingly justified.

Finally, the number of actual slaveholders in the South of the Union does not amount to more than three hundred thousand, a narrow oligarchy that is confronted with many millions of so-called poor whites, whose numbers have been constantly growing through concentration of landed property and whose condition is only to be compared with that of the Roman plebeians in the period of Rome's extreme decline. Only by acquisition and the prospect of acquisition of new Territories, as well as by filibustering expeditions, is it possible to square the interests of these poor whites with those of the slaveholders, to give their restless thirst for action a harmless direction and to tame them with the prospect of one day becoming slaveholders themselves.

A strict confinement of slavery within its old terrain, therefore, was bound according to economic law to lead to its gradual effacement, in the political sphere to annihilate the hegemony that the slave states exercised through the Senate, and finally to expose the slaveholding oligarchy within its own states to threatening perils from the poor whites. In accordance with the principle that any further extension of slave Territories was to be prohibited by law, the Republicans therefore attacked the rule of the slaveholders at its root. The Republican election victory was accordingly bound to lead to open struggle between North and South. And this election victory, as already mentioned, was itself conditioned by the split in the Democratic camp.

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