The term 'capitalist' etc.

Rakesh Bhandari rakeshb at stanford.edu
Mon Sep 15 18:23:33 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


And I then wrote a long reply which you then dropped.


>
>If you refer to the quotation below, yes, I have thought about it.

No Marx says several pages earlier to this quotation (which is out of
context) that plantation owners produced commodities from the start,
that (by implication) value considerations (valorization of capital,
the making of at least the average rate of profit) dominated what and
how much they produced. That passage speaks against the distinction
which you are attempting to make. Of course your formulation as it is
is too compact.  It may be important but I don't understand it.
Marx's point about capitalist slavery was that it was not an
accidental surplus product that was dumped on the market; rather what
was produced were commodities from the start, meant to be sold so as
to ensure the valorization of capital and the achievement of at least
an average rate of profit. What Marx is emphasizing in  the passage
you cite and in previous passage is exactly the capitalist character
of slavery as compared to peasant farming. What Marx means by slavery
as only formally capitalist is what Marx means by formal
subsumption--the actual organization of work has not yet been
revolutionized by capital. Marx followed Olmstead and Cairnes in
thinking that slaves could not be trusted with expensive means of
productio--and his argument is suspect. Imagine that.  I would put
the reasoning as follows: once slaves are purchased, it's profitable
to get as much out of them as possible; it's thus profitable that
they raise their own food and subsistence rather than the plantation
owner buying subsistence from the market; yet now slaves can clearly
see when they are producing for themselves and when they are being
forced to perform alienated and surplus labor; they become
unmotivated and destructive in the performance of surplus labor; they
cannot be trusted not to ruin new expensive means of production;
slavery can thus only remain formally capitalist. No where does Marx
say that plantation slaves were not value positing proletarians or
that plantation slavery was not productive of surplus value. You are
simply forcing that on to Marx.

OK that's it. You can have the last word, and since it will be that,
please be fair.

Thanks, Rakesh



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