Forwarded from Anthony (Civil War)

Fri Jul 11 10:03:07 MDT 2003

>5. Regarding the West, primitive accumulation, and the indigenous
peoples...To state that a component, or precipitating element of the US Civil War was a
competition for primitive accumulation does not seem to be supported by the
existing studies. Actions by the slaveholding states clearly point to the
South's "blocking strategy" regarding the territories, that is blocking the North
and its free soil/free labor organization.  The South is quite clear on its
desire for other areas, i.e., Cuba, as slave territories, but nothing appears to
show the South's desire to "grab," "loot," or primitively accumulate the
product, wealth, and labor of the indigenous peoples in the West.

6. There is a contradiction in the economic logic and economic analysis to
argue that 1. The West was unsuited for slave production, based on its climate,
geology, etc., (particularly when slavery was practiced in areas of the West),
and at the same time argue that the slave economy need to primitively
accumulate in those areas.  No economy exists in any area simply for primitive
accumulation without producing the social relations that execute, organize, and
absorb the primitive accumulation.  The slave trade, a source of primitive
accumulation if ever there was one, existed to reproduce the relations of slave

Primitive accumulation is not simple looting. It requires the development of
social relations of production.  It requires, as all accumulation requires, a
system of reproduction.<


Comment: Bravo

Perhaps a year or so ago this discussion took place involving Comrade CB and
myself. The discussion was carried on across Marxline, Pen-L, and the A-List.
The base of my opposition and disagreement with Comrade CB, you more than less
outline above. Our discussion involved the use of the historical literature
of the CPUSA - William Z. Foster's History of the Negro People in America,
James Allen's works, and a collection of material I once possessed but lost to
time. This material included a personal library of Political Affairs covering
thirty years and every article on the Negro Question. Also mentioned was the
black the psychopath Dr. James Jackson's "New Theoretical Aspects on the Negro
Question," Henry Winston's "Strategy For A Black Agenda," and some material
presented from Eric Foner.

There of course is the historical document of the Comintern in respects to
the Negro Question - which calls forth an unjustifiable amount of hatred on
Marxline. Specifically the 1928 and 1930 resolutions on the Negro Question forced
on the communist affiliated to the Third International.

The "background noise" of this discussion included knowledge of the writings
of the "West Indian" Theoretician CLR James, whose writings on the Negro
Question and dissertations on dialectics have never impressed me very much,
although I did enjoy some of the material of his "Facing Reality Group" in the 1960s
and early 1970s if memory serves me correct.  There of course is the other
side of the discussion based on Mr. L. Trotsky writings on the Negro Question,
which no thinking person can take serious. Specifically, he states that the
Negro People can - given the configuration of American society and the distressing
situation of the blacks and their compactness in the Southern states, attain
state power several steps - leagues, ahead of the white working class and
become an impetus of the revolutionary upsurge. We of course understood this to
mean what is says or an attempt to run the Negro masses in the naked power of
the state by themselves. No one can take such "political theory and strategy"

My harshest critical assessments of the African American National-Colonial
Question has always been directed at the CPUSA - against the black elite, in
history as opposed to "anti-Trotskyism" which I have never really taken serious.
Even the heroic intellectual giant and our beloved comrade Dr. Dubois could be
no more than a representative of the Negro National bourgeoisie in history.
The era of rebellions - Watts 1965 and Detroit 1967, is the historical juncture
where the proletarian sector of the African American people asserted itself
independent of the black elite, the black bourgeoisie and the white petty
bourgeois intellectual. This was the result of the black masses rejecting the
strategy of nonviolence, which immediately hurled them face to face with the state

Comrades do no understand the 1965 Watts Rebellion. The petty bourgeois
leaders that are the black elite was not simply booed and rejected in their appeals
to the black masses on behave of the imperial master but shot from the
podium. In Detroit the black elite went into hiding and the white southern
proletariat immigrant engaged in more armed conflict with the state than the black
insurgents. These facts have been lost to history.

For a brief historical moment the black elite, the black bourgeoisie and the
white petty bourgeois intellectual were defeated and on this basis a political
leap occurred resulting in the formation of various Marxist group calling
themselves the "New" or "Young Communist Movement."  The class delineation
amongst the colonized is a product of the dispersal of nations under imperialism and
decay of the national factor as the result of the dispersal. The idea that
such a class formation could have been fought for in the period of history prior
to the 1960s is political insanity. Historical junctures are real material
forces as class alignments.

How one can speak of the primitive accumulation of capital in America during
the 1800s has always been baffling to me. After the emergence of the social
power of capital and formation of the capitalist class, the penetration of
capital - as social relations of production, in the backward areas and amongst the
backward colored masses cannot be understood as the process Marx calls the
primitive accumulation of capital, but capital reproduction. It is true that the
early clearing of the Native Bands from their land and the early slave trade
formed the pivot of capital accumulation on a world scale and here in America,
but the point of transition has taken place by the 1800s.

The words "the backward colored masses" is an economic and social description
and not a biological description. Backward is used as an economic description
of a people drawn into the vortex of capital relations and there is no basis
to be critical of anyone using this description.

In history this discussion was tied to policy and program of the communist in
America and history has solved the problem that appeared confusing fifty -
seventy years ago. It is hard to believe now, but the question of primitive
accumulation versus capital reproduction meant that the question of the South was
a question of completing the democratic or bourgeois revolution. If we are
talking about capital reproduction then the program for completing the bourgeois
revolution is absurd. The program of the radicals and communists on both sides
of the political split around the personalities of the Comintern was that the
black masses suffered from pre-capital social and economic formation and
needed to complete the democratic revolution - the bourgeois revolution.  This is
of course absurd, which is why many of us had to fight the theory battle on
the basis of agreeing with Marx description of the character of slavery in the
South. If slavery in the South was as Marx states, a value producing system -
commodity production, then the task and program of the communist cannot be
completion of the bourgeois revolution.

If the area housing the plantation system was in fact as Marx described it
clearly, then this area entered onto the path of national development as the
result of the economic logic of capital reproduction. Marx even mentioned how and
why this area was defeated in its national striving under the leadership of
the "Confederacy" or slave oligarchy. If Wall Street in fact colonized the area
housing the plantation system at the conclusion and as the result of the
Civil War, we are talking about a multinational state and the National Question.

To make matters worse, Foster - a brilliant organizer, union leader and
working class hero, put forth an absurd theory that defined blacks in America as a
nation within a nation, an impossible formation from the standpoint of Marxism
and the national Question. A "nation within a nation" is a misunderstanding
of the meaning of a multinational state, whose multinational character consists
in it housing various nations and national groups or non-sovereign peoples.
In this meaning Lenin called Russia a prison of nations.

On the one hand a "nation within a nation" and completing the bourgeois
revolution and on the other hand the Negro masses achieving state power several
giant steps in front of the white working class. The black masses never had a
chance at the hands of these petty bourgeois theorist, who literally wanted to
complete the bourgeois democratic revolution or "the battle for democracy," and
it would require the African American national minority proletarian Marxist to
clarify the African American national Question and this was completed thirty
years ago.

The outer appearance of the debate stays the same but most comrades simply
were not part of the history of the evolution of the debate and do not
understand why it took place and still persists. It was not a lack of democracy the
black and white masses faced in the South but the fascist movement, that
overthrown the legally constituted bourgeois democratic governments and substituted as
the state form of rule the open terrorist dictatorship of finance capital. To
this very day the political South control the country and Wall Street
controls the South. This political alignment dictates our strategy. Florida was
critical for Bush Jr. because this is the configuration of political reaction in
America and not because of black people as an abstraction.

The key to controlling the South has always been by controlling the
enfranchising of the blacks, not simply because they are black or former slaves but
because of there class striving and density. This control could only take shape
on the basis of the defeated slave oligarchy overseeing agricultural production
under the heel of Wall Street imperialism. On this basis all of America is
administered and to this very day this political reality is why the African
American people and African American Question is the key to social revolution and
political revolution as opposed to "the proletariat" or "industrial
proletariat" as abstractions. Every political group in America makes it or faces
destruction on the rock of the African American Question.

Your line of reasoning is right on the money. Jefferson Davis was the largest
slaveholder in the South as was George Washington during his political term
of office. To this very day Southern reaction says the issue of the Civil War -
called the War Between the States by the Southern elite, - a description I do
not dispute, was about everything except slavery. Even with his vacillations,
Lincoln is correctly understood as the Emancipator, because that was his role
in history.

Plantation slavery in America in the 1800 has nothing to do with the
historical process called the primitive accumulation of capital, which precedes the
formation of the capitalist class, according to Marx.

Bravo for you.

Melvin P.

More information about the Marxism mailing list