Fw from Néstor: Capitalism, slavery and nano-robots

Richard Harris rhh1 at nildram.co.uk
Mon Aug 25 13:28:11 MDT 2003

> Richard Harris:
> "Let us suppose I develop a flock of nano-robots.  They could be set lose
> a farm I rent in Virginia.  They plant tobacco and grow a crop.  They
> perform all the labour tasks associated with turning the tobacco into
> commodity tobacco & getting it to a railway siding where it is  passed
> the charge of railway company employees.  They arrange its sale to a
> commodity merchant.
> I have no variable capital costs.  On LP's account I am therefore not a
> capitalist.  The value of previously expended human labour is represented
> the capital monies I invest.  I just have these capital costs (including
> fixed capital costs of various turnover times.)  Do my products scoop part
> of the world surplus?  If the price is right, of course. So my capital has
> exploited other capitals' workers.  Just as merchant capital, finance
> capital etc do within the developed world capitalist system.  The market
> distributes the surplus.
> In my example, I am a capital within the capitalist mode of production.
> all capitals cannot copy me, as capital depends upon exploiting wage
> That would be the end of the system.  The nano-robot farm is a death
> Melvin P has that insight."

In fact, this nanorobot example has had a more earthly existence in the
past. The landowners in the Lower River Plate Basin had exactly that kind of
nanorobot: the outstanding chemical constitution of the Pampa soil.  Of
course, this soil was not able to get tobacco to a railway siding, but
exceptionally high natural yields provided "automatic" income to the
landowner much in the way Richard's nanorobot farm would have acted.
Capitalists, yes, but not bourgeois.  Human labor intervening in
agricultural production under such circumstances cannot explain the
accumulation of these  capitalists who, in fact, are rentiers on other
capitalists.  In Richard´s example (much resembling Mandel´s on automation
revealing the source of surplus labor) full expansion of the nanotech farms
would kill the system. In actual historical fact, highest fertilities
combined with large landowning killed in bud the possibilities of local
accumulation of capital.


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