[Marxism] From Gindin and Panitch

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 11 12:49:58 MST 2005

Hi Louis,
We appreciate the response and the argumentation made. To clarify our 
argument, we are trying to get at the difference between a phase of 
capitalism in which the forms of specifically capitalist exploitation and 
accumulation were still at an early stage and the present nature of the 
American empire. In the former case, capitalism was fragmented into 
exclusivist spheres of influence with the densest linkages running within 
the empires. Today, the drive is to a unitary capitalist space, open and 
integrated through informal means  (which is not to say that states 
disappear or are marginalized, but that they in fact play an expanded role 
on behalf of both domestic and international capital). The densest linkages 
are amongst the developed capitalist states themselves (in part, because 
that's where the bulk of accumulation occurs but this is not to deny the 
significance of other linkages). And while previously informal (market) 
linkages were limited by the prevalence of accumulation linked to what we 
called 'pre-capitalist' formations, today it is the penetration of 
capitalist structures that dominates exploitation and accumulation.

The point about slavery is that it existed before capitalism and is not a 
specifically capitalist form of exploitation, even if capital did not 
hesitate to adopt and in fact horrifically expanded it. Our point was that 
the interaction of slavery as a 'pre-capitalist' form (because it was not 
wage labour) and capitalism per se was one factor that led to a different 
kind of imperialism than a specifically capitalist imperialism. We see the 
American state as having been central to the construction of a specifically 
capitalist empire.

If we understand your criticism, it is that our argument might seem to free 
capitalism from being implicated in 'pre-capitalist' formations like 
slavery. We would absolutely agree with you that capitalism is so 
implicated,  and we'll try to restate this in ways that makes this clearer.

In Solidarity,
Sam and Leo



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