Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Oct 10 21:49:04 MDT 2005

rrubinelli wrote:
>Indeed, slave labor yielded commodities, but in and of itself slave
>labor never created a system that was as expansive as capital.  Indeed,
>slave labor provided inputs to systems that were fundamentally
>anti-dynamic, anti-expansive at the same time as it provided inputs to
>developing, and established capitalism.

So what term would you use to describe systems in which there is an absence 
of markets and that are characterized by extra-economic forces such as debt 
peonage, indentureship, etc? Are they precapitalist? Mercantile capitalist? 
B. Traven's novels, which are fairly accurate historically, describe an 
early 20th century Mexico that was dominated by debt peonage. Indians were 
lured into drunkenness and then arrested for public intoxication. Then they 
would have to work for a year to pay off the fine. They picked cotton, 
chopped trees and mined silver for export to the world market. Was this 
Mexico feudal? What was it exactly? What about the Belgian Congo when 
Blacks were forced to pick rubber at the point of a gun for export to 
factories in the mother country in order to pay taxes intended to force 
them into labor. Was Belgium capitalist at home and not capitalist in the 
colony? What about apartheid South Africa where the pass system interfered 
across the board with a free market in labor. And Nazi Germany, which was 
dominated by slave labor in some cases and conscripted labor in others. The 
state stood above the bourgeoisie and dictated to it as well. For me, these 
are the interesting and *dialectically* contradictory aspects of the 
capitalist system. This system only existed in the pure form described in 
Capital and in a handful of countries and only became generalized as a 
system in the past 50 years or so.  

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