[Marxism] Primitive Accmulation

Charles Brown cbrown at michiganlegal.org
Mon Oct 10 12:17:44 MDT 2005

I suggest everyone read the entire section <The So Called Primitive

The entire section would also include the following (why'd you leave this
part of the "_entire_" section out ?), which indicates that the chief
momenta of the primitive accumulation (note here Marx does not term it
"socalled"; so we can assume he means the actual, not socalled primitive
accumulation) were slavery and colonialism.

Anyway, the Brennerites seem to think that this notion that slavery and
colonialism are causally linked with the origin of capital accumulation (
which would be the origin of capital) contradict's Brenner's thesis. 



Part VIII:
Primative Accumulation 





The genesis of the industrial [1]
<http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch31.htm#n1>  capitalist
did not proceed in such a gradual way as that of the farmer. Doubtless many
small guild-masters, and yet more independent small artisans, or even
wage-labourers, transformed themselves into small capitalists, and (by
gradually extending exploitation of wage-labour and corresponding
accumulation) into full-blown capitalists. In the infancy of capitalist
production, things often happened as in the infancy of medieval towns, where
the question, which of the escaped serfs should be master and which servant,
was in great part decided by the earlier or later date of their flight. The
snail's pace of this method corresponded in no wise with the commercial
requirements of the new world-market that the great discoveries of the end
of the 15th century created. But the middle ages had handed down two
distinct forms of capital, which mature in the most different economic
social formations, and which before the era of the capitalist mode of
production, are considered as capital quand même — usurer's capital and
merchant's capital. 

"At present, all the wealth of society goes first into the possession of the
capitalist ... he pays the landowner his rent, the labourer his wages, the
tax and tithe gatherer their claims, and keeps a large, indeed the largest,
and a continually augmenting share, of the annual produce of labour for
himself. The capitalist may now be said to be the first owner of all the
wealth of the community, though no law has conferred on him the right to
this property... this change has been effected by the taking of interest on
capital ... and it is not a little curious that all the law-givers of Europe
endeavoured to prevent this by statutes, viz., statutes against usury....
The power of the capitalist over all the wealth of the country is a complete
change in the right of property, and by what law, or series of laws, was it
effected?" [2]
<http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch31.htm#n2>  The author
should have remembered that revolutions are not made by laws. 

The money capital formed by means of usury and commerce was prevented from
turning into industrial capital, in the country by the feudal constitution,
in the towns by the guild organisation. [3]
<http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch31.htm#n3>  These
fetters vanished with the dissolution of feudal society, with the
expropriation and partial eviction of the country population. The new
manufactures were established at Weapons, or at inland points beyond the
control of the old municipalities and their guilds. Hence in England an
embittered struggle of the corporate towns against these new industrial

The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement
and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the
conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren
for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rosy dawn of the
era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief
momenta of primitive accumulation. On their heels treads the commercial war
of the European nations, with the globe for a theatre. It begins with the
revolt of the Netherlands from Spain, assumes giant dimensions in England's
Anti-Jacobin War, and is still going on in the opium wars against China, &c.

The different momenta of primitive accumulation distribute themselves now,
more or less in chronological order, particularly over Spain, Portugal,
Holland, France, and England. In England at the end of the 17th century,
they arrive at a systematical combination, embracing the colonies, the
national debt, the modern mode of taxation, and the protectionist system.
These methods depend in part on brute force, e.g., the colonial system. But,
they all employ the power of the State, the concentrated and organised force
of society, to hasten, hot-house fashion, the process of transformation of
the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode, and to shorten the
transition. Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new
one. It is itself an economic power. 

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