The term 'capitalist' etc.

Julio Huato juliohuato at hotmail.com
Mon Sep 15 17:57:01 MDT 2003


Rakesh wrote:

>I wrote a lenghty reply to Huato sometime back which was not even
>acknowledged.

Not true.

I do remember your posting.  You politely said my views were "ignorance."  I
replied to it immediately.  Here is my reply:

http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/marxism/2003w27/msg00123.htm

>5.Don't have time to make sense of Huato's distinction between "surplus
>value (i.e.,  surplus product that is produced immediately as value)" and
>"surplus product  that only takes the form of value in the sphere of
>circulation".

Fair enough.

>Of course he knows that Marx said somewhere in TSV that slave plantations,
>unlike peasant farming, were capitalist from the start, that value
>considerations (valorization of
capital, the making of an at least average rate of profit) were there at the
very beginning of the decision of what and how much to produce.

If you refer to the quotation below, yes, I have thought about it.  I gave
my interpretation of this passage in a reply to Melvin P.  In turn, he
replied to me extensively.  I couldn't keep up with Melvin, but I stand by
my interpretation.  In my view, it is consistent with Marx's overall work.

Melvin P.:

>Let us begin at the beginning with Marx.
>
>"In the second type of colonies - plantations- where commercial speculation
>figure from the start and production is intended for the world market, the
>capitalist mode of production exist, although only in a formal sense, since
>the slavery of Negroes precludes free wage laborers, which is the basis of
>capitalist production. But the business in which slaves are used is
>conducted by capitalist (italicized capitalist in original)."  (Theory of
>Surplus Value Volume 2).

My (JH's) comments were:

"Excellent quote.  According to Marx, in America's slave plantations, even
though they were plugged to the world market, capitalist production existed
only *formally*.  By implication, the social *content* of production was
still noncapitalist.  Note that Marx says that free wage labor "is the basis
of capitalist production."  Note that in my comments to South African
mining, I said the property used to exploit slave labor is capital.  Hence
Marx's next sentence, "the business in which slaves are used is conducted by
capitalists."  Yes, it is their capital that exploits slave labor, but that
means it is capital that is not valorizing itself the way typical capital
valorizes itself -- i.e., through the exploitation of free wage laborers.

"It is capital in its antediluvian form, because the content of the process
by which it expands is not surplus value *production*.  It may mix and melt
into the flow of surplus value in the economy.  But then it will become
'surplus value' not by origin but by choice -- if you allow my figure of
speech.  And that, to Marx, matters.  And it should matter to us too.  More
on this below."

And I went on and on.

>I also don't have time to get into the debate about whether it's
>superficial to determine whether a worker is a capital positing proletarian
>in terms of what happens in circulation, i.e. whether she receives a wage
>in the labor market. I've had these debates before; they're in the OPE-L
>archive.

Fair.

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