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

Julio Huato juliohuato at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 8 16:39:00 MDT 2003

Rakesh Bhandari writes:

>Julio Huato wrote:
>"So, it is not out of pedantic dogmatism that I claim that 'capitalist
>production' excludes production with forced labor. "
>Agreed not so much dogmatism as ignorance.  If you actually read Marx (or
>Michael Perelman!), you will find that he documents that the bourgeoisie,
>at its rise, did and had to depend on extra economic coercion to regulate
>wages and to keep the labourer himself in a degree of dependence.  Dull
>economic compulsion did not suffice only in exceptional cases.  You've been
>importing categories from an already fully developed or pure capitalism.
>That is, your arguments relied on anachronisms as well as a mixing up of
>levels of abstraction and of idealizations with historical and contemporary

Save yourself the embarrassment and read what I actually wrote.

Where do you get the idea that my insistence on getting the categories
straight denies extra-economic compulsion in the concrete history of
capitalism?  Have you ever heard of the term 'abstraction'?

"[T]he complete body is easier to study than its cells.  Moreover, in the
analysis of economic forms neither microscopes nor chemical reagents are of
assistance. The power of abstraction must replace both." (Capital, vol. I,
p. 90, Penguin.)  That is, historical capitalism is 'easier to study' than
its apparently simpler cellular structures.  Do you claim that these
cellular structures are empty entelechies with no objective, historical

"In theory, we assume that the laws of the capitalist mode of production
develop in their pure form.  In reality, this is only an approximation; but
the approximation is all the more exact, the more the capitalist mode of
production is developed and the less is adulterated by survivals of earlier
economic conditions with which it is amalgamated." (Capital, vol. III, p.
275, Penguin.)  Do you get that?

To make sense of history, we need to 'import categories from an already
fully developed or pure capitalism.'  "Human anatomy contains a key to the
anatomy of the ape. The intimations of higher development among the
subordinate animal species, however, can be understood only after the higher
development is already known." (Grundrisse, chapter 1).


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