Forwarded from Anthony (Civil War)/totality of the colonial question

Fri Jul 11 15:02:25 MDT 2003

In a message dated 7/11/03 10:34:25 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
renatopompeu at writes:

> Comrade MP writes:
> How one can speak of the primitive accumulation of capital in America
> the 1800s has always been baffling to me.

Primitive accumulation of capital goes on in the USA
even today, as I see it. For instance, what do you think
is the nature of organised crime and its money
Renato Pompeu

Reply - Moving towards Totality on the Colonial Question

The primitive or what makes primitive "primitive" in the primitive
accumulation of capital does not mean "magnitude" or "non-modern," or criminal
enterprise, or a category of legal or illegal as such. Primitive means the prehistoric
age of capital formation, accumulation and reproduction. After this
prehistorical age has been completed we speak of "capital reproduction."


"We have seen how money is changed into capital; how through capital surplus
value is made, and from surplus value more capital. But the accumulation of
capital presupposes surplus value; surplus value presupposes capitalistic
production; capitalistic production presupposes the preexistence of considerable
masses of capital and of labor-power in the hands of producers of commodities.
The whole movement, therefore, seems to turn in a vicious circle, out of which
we can only get by supposing a primitive accumulation (previous accumulation of
Adam Smith) preceding capitalistic accumulation; an accumulation not the
result of the capitalistic mode of production, but its starting point.

 "This primitive accumulation plays in Political Economy about the same part
as original sin in theology."

"The capitalist system presupposes the complete separation of the laborers
from all property in the means by which they can realize their labor. As soon as
capitalist production is once on its own legs, it not only maintains this
separation, but also reproduces it on a continually extending scale. The process,
therefore, that clears the way for the capitalist system, can be none other
than the process which takes away from the laborer the possession of his means
of production; a process that transforms, on the one hand, the social means of
subsistence and of production into capital, on the other, the immediate
producers into wage-laborers. The so-called primitive accumulation, therefore, is
nothing else than the historical process of divorcing the producer from the
means of production. It appears as primitive, because it forms the prehistoric
stage of capital and of the mode of production corresponding with it."

Marx cannot be any more clear.

"(P)rimitive accumulation . . . is nothing else than the historical process
of divorcing the producer from the means of production. It appears as
primitive, because it forms the prehistoric stage of capital and of the mode of
production corresponding with it."

"The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement
and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the
conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for
the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of
capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of
primitive accumulation. On their heels treads the commercial war of the European
nations, with the globe for a theater. It begins with the revolt of the
Netherlands from Spain, assumes giant dimensions in England's Anti-Jacobin War, and is
still going on in the opium wars against China, &c.

"The different momenta of primitive accumulation distribute themselves now,
more or less in chronological order, particularly over Spain, Portugal,
Holland, France, and England. In England at the end of the 17th century, they arrive
at a systematical combination, embracing the colonies, the national debt, the
modern mode of taxation, and the protectionist system. These methods depend in
part on brute force, e.g., the colonial system. But, they all employ the
power of the State, the concentrated and organized force of society, to hasten,
hothouse fashion, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production
into the capitalist mode, and to shorten the transition. Force is the midwife
of every old society pregnant with a new one. It is itself an economic power.
et al.


In yesteryear this theory question was actually a question of practical
political policy and program for communist. The substance of Marx quoted material
on primitive accumulation was actually included in the ancient Negro National
Colonial Question, published in 1972. It is located in the third edition, 1975
on page 6.

Today the context of the argument - debate, makes no sense unless it is
combined with knowledge of the evolution of the social position of the African
American people, who emerged as a class before becoming a people, and in turn the
Negro people were formed prior to the emergence of the former plantation area
of the South as a colony of Wall Street.

Thirty years ago, the way this was stated was to say, "the Negro People were
formed as a people prior to the formation of the Negro Nation." The Negro
Nation meant all of the people whose collective social attributes and economic
life revolved around and took shape on the basis of the plantation system running
along the area of the historic cotton belt, not the entire region called the

The reason the term "Negro Nation" was used to distinguish it from the
"Anglo-American" nation in the North. Comrades understood this to mean "black
nation," although every document we published stated that is not the meaning of the
term. In history the national factor of the plantation areas was called slave
culture and the culture of the North was called "white culture" and the
language itself became a barrier for anyone not schooled in Marxism and the National

The problem with the description "Southern Nation," - which was used by the
Communist in the South, has to do with the politics of colonialism on the one
hand and the difference between the border region areas - some that gravitated
economically to the North and some towards the plantation system, on the other

The political problem is that our material on the "Negro Question" is not
written from the standpoint of the revolutionaries in the South or black people
but as a political position of the advanced sector of the Anglo-American
proletariat in the North.  Self-determination under the hegemony of the proletariat
is still basically sound in the approach of the Anglo-American revolutionaries
- all the revolutionaries of the North without regard to their color, towards
the colony in the black belt South, still under the heel of Wall Street

The revolutionaries in the black belt South may choose to form a closer
association with the Northern proletarian, with the destruction of the bourgeois
property relations that has condemned them to social and economic backwardness,
but that is their choice. Given the history them may choose radically
different forms of association and bonds of commerce, but that is their choice - not
ours in the North. We cannot speak for them because we are the imperial
proletariats, and to do so is the logic of imperialists and scoundrels.

Comrades, think I am calling them racists when it is stated they precede form
imperial logic. This is not true on any level. What if entire sections of the
American Southwest seek closer and different state relations with Mexico with
the destruction of the bourgeois property relations? What is they want and
decide on a form of state system that mirrors an autonomous region expressing
who they are more actually tan the system of government imposed on them by my

In America we are not dealing with racism but authentic national-colonial
questions. The Native Bands that cut across all regions, nations and state
structures is even more complex but understandable.

Let us look at the obvious situation no one in American can deny.

The social position of the black and white national minority worker in the
North is radically different from that of the black and white worker in the old
plantation region of the South. The black and white national minority worker
in the North means those workers who come from the "South" and they tend to be
ostracized by their cultural identification tags in the North. Both generally
migrate to communities poor than that of the Anglo American workers. Yet this
difference is being obliterated which is the meaning of the decay of the
national factor in real time.

It gets more complex.

It is not possible to speak on behalf of the black workers of the North today
without speaking on behalf of the Anglo-American proletariat as a whole. What
possible demands can they raise that are not that of the proletariat? Demands
like black reparations are that of the white petty bourgeoisie, the black
elite and black bourgeoisie looking for government assistance. The decay of the
national factor is expressed through the national minority workers - black and
white, who have historically migrated from the colonial areas of the South. We
are dealing with a national colonial question and not the bourgeois concept
of race.

In other words, us Yankee's in the North, are the most imperial of all
workers on earth and this cannot be said of the workers in the black belt area of
the South today - not simply the South as a region.

The "social position of the African American people," sublates the old
expression "Negro National Colonial Question" or "Negro Question" because of the
further evolution of the national question under conditions of the dispersal of
nations and the unraveling of the national factor.

There is no source material for the unraveling of the national factor at this
current stage in the decay of capital, because it is new and a product of a
new stage of history. You got it first on Marxline. I did not invent this or
discover this fact but observed it over a period of many years.

This is a new formulation in the arsenal of American Marxism. It can be
theoretically sustained.  When speaking of "the social position of the African
American people" the words "National-Colonial" are still deployed to preserve
historical consistency and because the African American people as a people still
face the residual impact of second class citizenship and a certain social
position in the infrastructure. However, we are not talking about a people where
all classes are housed together.

The cotton belt of the South and the plantation system did not express the
logic of the primitive accumulation of capital as explained by Marx but
something else that compelled the black belt area along the path of modern national
development, involving all the black and white people of the area. If we are
talking about the primitive accumulation of capital we are dealing with
formations associated with the feudal estates and not the consequence of bourgeois
property relations.

These formulations and contradictions baffled generations of revolutionaries
as they fought the good fight.

The contradiction is real and apparent. The fact of the matter is the blacks
and whites of the South have more in common in their economic and social
conditions that the Northern Black and the Southern Black. The pressure of the
whites have in history given the struggle of the Northern Black and the Southern
Black its common character.

The Northern black and the Northern whites have more in common culturally and
economically than the Southern white and the Northern white, although the
pressure of the whites have in history given the struggle of the Northern Black
and the Southern Black its common character.

We are dealing with a modern colonial question. Integration - a historical
social force that is the result of changes in the means of production -
mechanization of agriculture, has simply placed a black hand alongside the white hand
dropping bombs on the world's people. The greatest economic division and
disparity in America is between North and South and this is clear if one measures
the economic conditions of the blacks in the North against the whites in the
plantation belt of the South - not the South as a region. Racism cannot explain
this difference.

Not primitive accumulation but capital accumulation and the social
consequence of colonialism.

Melvin P.

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