reply to DMS on Post

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Sep 8 09:51:26 MDT 2003

DMS wrote:
> 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.

All this is besides the point. The plantation system was *the form* of
capitalism in the more thinly populated but fertile and tropical South.
The capacity to produce coffee, sugar, tea, tobacco, rice, cotton,
rubber and other typically monoculture commercial staples went hand in
hand with labor shortages. Slavery or other forms of coerced labor was
the only way that capitalist production could be fostered in places like
the Deep South, the Caribbean islands, Brazil, etc. The slaves picked
the crops which were put on ships and sent off to Boston, New York or
London in order to be processed in capitalist factories. Factories
relied on the wage system since there was a surplus of labor that could
be exploited through market relations. But you can't separate one
component from the capital accumulation process from another simply on
the basis of whether it is coerced or not. This would make about as much
sense as describing the Africans who were compelled at gunpoint to
harvest rubber in the Congo or Liberia for advanced capitalist
operations like Firestone as operating out of the sphere of capitalism.


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