U.S. Civil War

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Thu Jul 10 09:48:00 MDT 2003


**One** of the sources. Another one was the constraint placed on the
labor market and the hindrance to capital's self-expansion (and not
only geographically) for northern industrialial capital as the result
of the existence of an entire section of the country in which the
labor force was largely non-wage labor, and which represented a
sphere in which northern capital could not freely invest. For the
U.S. as a whole, and northern industry, in particular, this put a
brake on the growth of constant capital. Thus, the conflict between
northern and southern capital was located at the point of production,
not simply in commerce. From the perspective of northern
industrialists, remember that the liberation of slaves expanded the
labor force and produced a downward pressure on wages. The breaking
of the southern slavocracy allowed for increased investment
opportunities in the south. The defeat of the radical reconstruction
allowed northern capital to enjoy the best of both worlds: investment
opportunities and more wage labor, on the one hand, and further
depression of wages through racism and the continued existence or
integration of pre-capitalist forms of exploitation, such as
share-cropping, on the other.

Mike


  At 11:14 AM -0400 7/10/03, marxism-digest wrote:
>I think what Nestor meant is that the US would have remained
>an economic colony of Britain if the Confederacy had won
>the war.  Through much of the 19th century, the US was
>arguably an economic colony of Great Britain.  British
>investors were a major source of capital for the US.
>The US, especially the South was a major source of
>raw materials for British industry, including especially
>a prime source of cheap cotton for Britain's textile mills.
>This economic relationship was one of the sources of
>conflict betwwen the industrial capitalists of the North
>and the planters of the South.  Northern industrialists
>favored high tariffs to keep out British goods, and thereby
>secure domestic markets for Northern industry and thus
>promote a more rapid development of industry in the
>US.  The Southern planters, who were dependent of British industry as a
>major market and as their prime source for such goods
>as agricultural equipment and other goods that the
>Southern planters needed and wanted, favored low
>tariffs.

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