(fwd from Rakesh Bhandari) on forced labor--reply to Huato and others

dms dmschanoes at earthlink.net
Tue Jul 8 09:41:42 MDT 2003

Comrade Bhandari's post is truly informative and should precipitate as much
inquiry as it does discussion.

A  point on slavery:
RB: slavery seems not to have been a barrier
to mechanization as the plantations were more technically advanced
than early capitalist textile mfg; after all slave labor was not
immobile or "unexpendable"--slaves could be sold, rented out, shifted
from one plantation crop to another. The working time of slaves was
probably more devoted to commodity production than was the time of
servants in husbandry; plantations seem to have been less
self-sufficient, more profit oriented and larger scale than the units
of early so-called agrarian capitalism.

Slavery was indeed a barrier to mechanization. But later.  The initial
technical "equivalence" between plantation and "free" agrarian production
disappears in the second half of the 18th century and and the resistance of
plantation production to mechanization, technical inputs, is critical to its

One plantation colony did become the exception to the rule, Cuba. There the
application of steam and iron in the construction of railroads (financed by
exported British capital, engineered by US engineers, powered by US
locomotives) and applied also to the processing of the cane itself propelled
the island to pre-eminence in sugar.

Reporter after reporter bemoans the ignorance, backwardness, inefficiency of
the plantation producers during the late 18th/early 19th centuries.


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