reply to DMS on Post

DMS dmschanoes at earthlink.net
Mon Sep 8 06:32:59 MDT 2003


LP and RB provide differing responses to my Posts on Post, but
they share a commom theme: "Size matters."

Certainly size might matter, but not always and not without
variations and divergences and even contradiction. The social
relations encased in that "size," and the proportion of size to
"motion," in this case labor being the motion, capital being the
size, is indeed the most critical component.  And again it is
the slave economy's inability, lack of need, absence of com-
pulsion to radically separate the components of production that
determines its inability to sustain itself.

The facts are these:  Free soil farming improved a higher
proportion of the land so committed than plantation slavery;
free soil farming utilized a higher proportion of
manufactured elements in production than plantation slavery;
free soil/free labor states invested more in manufacturing
and converted that process into a proportionately higher
output than slave states. These are the elements that constitute
an expanding reproduction of Northern free-labor based capital-
ism.  This expanded reproduction is a necessity, a compulsion,
based on capital's separation of the means of production into
private property that have VALUE only to the extent that they
employ, can be animated by, and exchange with wage-labor.

Now at an early stage of this process, say 1787 regarding the
articles of Confederation, in which by the way, the biggest
stumbling block was to be the status of the Northwest Territories, slave or free?, one might understand why a
slaveholder like Thomas Jefferson might quote a mercantilist
like John Adams about the purely formal distinction between
free soil and slave agriculture.  But by 1820, the divergence
of the two systems is quite apparent and the quotes the
slaveholders cite of their Northern brothers are the statements
that are calling for the restriction of slavery and the
unfettered expansion of free soil.


In the remarks LP cites Jefferson citing Adams, Adams talks
about the "indiscriminate" nature of profits.  But the fact of
the matter is that while profits are blind, the mode of labor
is not, and while profits can be extracted from 500 slaves by
whips and chains, a free labor force will not endure such
treatment-- thus the South's "solution,"  a solution repro-
duced in Brazil, St. Dominique, etc. is to work the slaves to
death, quite literally; for the North, for industrial capital-
ism, the solution is the constant development of the means of
production in proportion to the wage-labor required.

At certain points in develpment, slave plantations
were bigger than free soil farms, they producted more surplus,
more for export, and even more profit.  But this is not
limited to the South.  We can say the same thing about every
slave colony-- up to a point.  And then?  And then we see
that the greater size, the greater surplus, the greater profit,
the greater output, not only begin to fall in relation to
free soil farming-- but that these same previously great
qualities now stand as testament to the BACKWARDNESS of
the slave system-- it's inability to establish the domestic
market, it's failure to provide a stable agricultural base
that can substitute machinery for labor, thus free the pop-
ulation from the soil.

So... for industrial capitalist, and free soil farmer
it's all about today's profit, but industrial capitalISM,
free soil farmING, it's the compulsion to extract surplus
value that drives it forward even against today's paltry
returns.

dms


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