Capitalism, slavery and the Brenner thesis part 4

DMS dmschanoes at
Tue Sep 30 14:36:43 MDT 2003

The replacement of slavery by individualized sharecropping would seem
to have made the adoption of cotton harvester unprofitable--the
cotton harvester is only assimilated in the late 1940s! It was only
after planters evicted sharecroppers and consolidated  their holdings
(as a result of New Deal policies) that it may have become profitable
to make large up front capital investments for large scale
production. Had slavery remained in tact (and I think it would have
remained intact if not for the Civil War) the harvesting of cotton
may well have been mechanized sooner than the late 1940s. The
mechanization of cotton harvesting may then have created enough of a
surplus labor pool (technologically redundant slaves could have been
forced to purchase their freedom to enter the reserve army of labor
through simple commodity production) that it would have been
profitable to turn "free" wage labor earlier than the late 1940s at
which point the sharecropping system was still dominant.

What a bunch of ifs......

if slavery had remained intact,  THEN

1.mechanization would have advanced
2.surplus labor would have allowed the slaves to purchase their freedom
3.the freed slaves would have entered the reserve army of labor

Well, Rakesh, IF people in hell had ice water, THEN they wouldn't be so thirsty.

But that would mean we need a new and a new definition of hell.

What Rakesh ignores in this speculative exercise is that the puts and calls on the
economic expansion of industrial capitalism could not allow slavery to remain intact,
for the slaveholders were determined to prevent such expansion.  Had the
slaveholders triumphed, there would have been no Northern industrial capitalism
as we know it to finance the mechanization of Southern agriculture in 1940 or

And we really would have a new defintion of hell.

Speculation is, after all, the purest manifestation of exchange value, and the
complete lack of use value.


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