"small men who accumulate patiently"

Waistline2 at aol.com Waistline2 at aol.com
Thu Sep 4 16:24:30 MDT 2003


In a message dated 9/4/03 5:26:41 AM Pacific Daylight Time, lnp3 at panix.com
writes:

>Post argues . . .plantation slavery was incompatible with agrarian petty
capitalism in the two decades before the Civil War, plantation slavery became the
major impediment to the further development of capitalism in the rest of the
USA.

I find the following premises unsubstantiated: the development of agrarian
petty production was the key to the further development of capitalism,
specifically machino-facture, in the rest of the USA, and this key role of agrarian
petty production was quite clear as early as two decades before the Civil War. <

Comment

"Machino-facture" hits the nail on the head by establishing a specific
juncture in the development of the primary means of production. This juncture
defines the meaning of "petty production." "Petty" is petty in relationship
to something so a qualitative explanation of meaning is needed. "Petty
production" - an interesting concept, (meaning scale, class and property relations, an
assumption on my part) in agriculture cannot really be compared with
industrial production or manufacture, which by definition grows faster - expands
qualitatively and quantitatively, than agricultural production. What are we talking
about?

Above all plantation slavery was a distinct form of the laboring process. For
the last generation of Marxist the meaning of "form of laboring process" was
described on the basis of "free" and "slave-labor." The "form" of slave labor
itself was identical to the form of "free labor" in agriculture as it produced
commodities. That is to say, the process was manual labor.

Manual labor as the laboring process in agriculture - be it slave or
un-slave, is not incompatible with the bourgeois property relations as it
passed from manufacture to industrial production. Capitalism utilizes "any form
of labor it finds in existence" is one of those principles generations of
Marxist cling to and this is no crime. A deeper description or another vantage
point is needed to disclose the process - qualitatively.

It is not "stagism" or dogmatism to refuse to surrender the standpoint of the
development of the material power of production as expressed in tools,
instruments, machinery and external energy source. Slave labor in agriculture was
absolutely compatible with and complemented the development of industry, the
growth and spread of bourgeois property relations because the entire laboring
process was manual. This was capital accumulation on the basis of a distinct
juncture in the development of implements. The technological advance can be traced
on the basis of the development of the gasoline powered engine and evolution
of the mechanical trashing machine.

Plantation slavery was more productive than the yeoman farmer during this
period of history because of the massive organization of manual labor into a
regulated system of production. The intensity of the laboring process cannot be
overstated and Marx describes it in detail as the "working to death" of the
slave. The yeoman farmer cannot be worked to death by definition.

The old saying "he sold me down the river" had a dreadful meaning to the
slave. To be sold down the river - Mississippi, and into the heart of cotton
country -"Behind the Cotton Curtain," meant an average life expectancy of seven
years of labor!

The Civil War did not erupted as a social revolution being driven by changes
in the means of production or rather as a result of the on going transition
from agriculture to industry as such, but political antagonism within the
bourgeois property class of America. Yes, the slave was emancipated as slave but not
as a class associated with commodity production from the land.

In theory the emergence of yeomen farmers after the Civil War, would have
spurred technological innovation on the basis of competing capitals and the need
for industrial implements for agriculture. This concept of development is
understood as the basis for the 40 arches and a mule movement and in our specific
history - the political striving for Jefferson democracy, as it stood in
political conflict with the shattered slave oligarchy or rather planter landlord
class. Politics is of course a "dirty business" and this does not mean that the
industrial capitalist stood on one side of the street and shouted "forty
arches and a mule" in harmony with the freedmen and property-less whites and on
the other side of the street stood the planter landlord class in unison with
finance capital screaming "no, this demand will destroy me as a class and my
friends in New York support me now that I promise to be a good ole boy and rule on
their behalf."

Some time ago - during the last cycle of this same discussion on Marxline, a
comrade forwarded an interesting document of the National Association of
Manufacturers at the turn of the past century outlining their interest in yeoman
farming as opposed to sharecropping or having an available source of labor, not
restrained by political tradition and political structures.

I understand the word yeoman farmer to basically means a farmer that
cultivates his own land. Because he cultivates his own land means to one
degree or another he owns his land as property. What he produces on this land is
offered on the market for sale to one degree or another. That is to say he
alienates his product on the basis of exchange. It class terms this is called by
the previous generation Marxist a petty bourgeois producer.

Sharecropping is a business even if it does not sound like one. The
difference between the sharecropper and the yeoman farmer is that the former
worked someone else's land for a portion of the produce - shares, and as such
was is still charged with alienating his product on the same economic basis as
the yeoman farmer. In as much as no man or women in their right mind opts to
work another mans land when given the option of independence - Jefferson
democracy, extreme violence was used to keep the freedman tied to the planter
landlord and
reduced to the level of the peasant in India. Sharecropping in class terms is
a petty bourgeois relationship. The degree to which one is cheated and
terrorized is a profound political question.

In this sense the concept "free labor market" is avoided in my writing
although it's meaning is understood as a political description as oppose to
an economic category, which is generally the case with Marxist. The petty
bourgeois as a class are not free laborers by definition.

The Civil War was not a bourgeois revolution when one defines such as a
revolution that creates the political structure for the domination of the
bourgeois property relations. The Civil War or rather the Yankees imposed a
revolution in social relations in the plantation South. Even this does not
qualitatively define itself. The social relations that constituted itself as a class
of slaves and a class of slave owners was abolished with a political act and
enforced
by arms. The class was destroyed and became largely a class of petty
bourgeois produces in the shape of sharecroppers and the slave-master class was
destroyed and became a landlord planter class. The class relations or internal
connecting tissue between the sharecropper and planter landlord would not be
abolished until the advent of mechanization of agriculture.  American history is its
own history and instructive. A class can be politically emancipated but not
liberated as a class - abolished, until new means of production appear that the
class fundamentally superfluous to the production process. Liberation of the
sharecropper meant his abolition as a class.

An era of history has opened where it is possible to not only emancipate the
working class but also begin its material liberation. None of this is a
"Marxist" analysis as such. The "Marxism" is witnessed in the evolution of the
commodity form and the material basis for its destruction. Here one enters the
realm of the destruction of value. Lenin was not inconsistent but facing a
material class, political compromise and this compromise itself is the reality of
class and economic factors. In the last instance the petty bourgeois producer
can only alienate their products on the basis of exchange. There is no
political policy that can change an economic category. Bottom line . . . to one
degree or another you have to give the people what they want.

Bravo

Melvin P.


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