[Marxism] Welcomed Back

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Oct 21 14:07:44 MDT 2005

>I have to differ. The Southern plantation owners were not the
>bourgeoisie.  They were not capitalists.  Were they feeding into a world
>wide capital system?  Absolutely.  No less than the tobacco, sugar, hemp
>plantation owners of the Philippines; no less than the Russian
>landowners before/after the "end" of serfdom.  But none of them, not the
>Southerners, not Philippine plantation owners, not the Russian landed
>"aristocracy" were the bourgeoisie.  In fact the "liberation" of the
>bourgeoisie required the destruction of just those landed rulers.  That
>such "liberation" was accomplished just once in the three case is a
>difference in...history.  It is the difference in capitalism of 1860 vs
>that of 1895 vs that of 1905/1917.

I know that rrubinelli had no problems stating his disagreements with Lenin 
over the "imperialism" question. This is just another instance where the 
two Marxists, one dead and one living, part company. No big deal. Diversity 
is a good thing. Lenin wrote:

"America provides the most graphic confirmation of the truth emphasized by 
Marx in Capital, Volume III, that capitalism in agriculture does not depend 
on the form of land ownership or land tenure. Capital finds the most 
diverse types of medieval and patriarchal landed property­feudal, 'peasant 
allotments' (i.e., the holdings of bonded peasants); clan, communal, state, 
and other forms of land ownership. Capital takes hold of all these, 
employing a variety of ways and methods."


You'll note that Lenin is referring to a "capitalism in agriculture" that 
does not *depend on the form of land ownership". The plantation system of 
the old South was one form as was the Junkers system in 19th century 
system. It can also involve wage labor as was the case in Cuba around the 
time that Batista was overthrown.

Indeed, Lenin identified the plantation system of the Deep South as having 
many of the same characteristics as agrarian capitalism during Czarism, 
which was a mixture of market and non-market class relations. In his 1899 
"The Development of Capitalism in Russia", Lenin did not posit market 
relations as a kind of sine qua non for capitalism. Instead he was eager to 
point out that extra-economic forms of coercion were integral to labor 
exploitation in the Russian countryside. (The corvée referred to below was 
a system that originated under feudalism that obligated a serf to perform 
labor services on his master's lands, like mending fences or sowing crops):

"Thus, capitalist economy could not emerge at once, and corvée economy 
could not disappear at once. The only possible system of economy was, 
accordingly, a transitional one, a system combining the features of both 
the corvée and the capitalist systems. And indeed, the post-Reform system 
of farming practised by the landlords bears precisely these features. With 
all the endless variety of forms characteristic of a transitional epoch, 
the economic organisation of contemporary landlord farming amounts to two 
main systems, in the most varied combinations -- the labour-service system 
and the capitalist system."


Lenin adds:

"Lastly, it must be observed that sometimes the labour-service system 
passes into the capitalist system and merges with it to such an extent that 
it becomes almost impossible to distinguish one from the other. For 
example, a peasant rents a plot of land, undertaking in return to perform a 
definite number of days’ work (a practice which, as we know, is most 
widespread; see examples in the next section). How are we to draw a line of 
demarcation between such a 'peasant' and the West-European or Ostsee 'farm 
labourer' who receives a plot of land on undertaking to work a definite 
number of days? Life creates forms that unite in themselves with remarkable 
gradualness systems of economy whose basic features constitute opposites. 
It becomes impossible to say where 'labour-service' ends and where 
'capitalism' begins."



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