Robin Blackburn on capitalism and slavery

Richard Harris rhh1 at gotadsl.co.uk
Fri Jul 4 19:20:14 MDT 2003


Louis quotes the Weekly Worker which said (in 1997 - Blackburn):

"Britain was already on the road to
capitalism at the time of the plantation revolution in the 17th century"

But what does that mean?  Was Britain (in fact, England which was the legal
name for England and Wales.  Please!  I don't make this to make a stupid
petty point as it means nothing at all to me {you'd have to be odd to have
an emotional investment in such things}, but I'm just pointing out an
historical technicality ~ Great Britain was formed in 1707 with the
combination of the Scottish and English (including Wales) parliaments.
Until then, you had England ~ which included/incorporated/absorbed Wales.)

Was 'on the road' capitalism?  Wood argues it was, as peasant villagers had
been dispossessed to become a labouring class.  It certainly was not the
CMP, but the key characteristic, the two groups of workers and owners of the
means of production , was there.

The key issue is when were peasants disposessed?  How did the countryside
then feed the enlarged towns?

To me, the discussion concerning the rape of the Americas is off point ~ the
Romans would have done that.  I don't see the specific relation to
capitalism, except providing the loot to speed it up.  American wealth
clearly fuelled the western capitalists, but why were there western
capitalists?

Robin Blackburn does not get to task with the issue of why there were
'masterless men' in the years following the peasant's revolt?  Guess?

Best wishes

Richard
Canterbury, Kent





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