[Marxism] two questions about Marx

abu hartal abuhartal at hotmail.com
Sat Aug 12 11:01:14 MDT 2006

Marx underlined this capitalist character of modern slavery as compared to 
what he understood to be essentially peasant production in much else of the 
New World:
"Two different aspects must be distinguished here.

First, There are the colonies proper, such as in the US, Australia, etc. 
Here the mass of the farming colonists, although they bring with them a 
larger or smaller amount of capital from the motherland, are not 
capitalists, nor do they carry on capitalist production. They are more or 
less peasants who work themselves and whose main object, in the first place, 
is to produce their own livelihood, their means of subsistence. Their main 
product does not become a commodity, and is not intended for trade. They 
sell or exchange the excess of their product over their own consumption for 
imported manufacturing commodities, etc. The other, smaller section of the 
colonists who settler near the sea, navigable rivers, etc. form trading 
towns. There is no question of capitalist here either. Even if capitalist 
production gradually comes into being, so that the sale of his products and 
the profit he makes from this sale become decisive for the farmer who 
himself works and owns his land: so long, as compared with capital and 
labour, land still exists in elemental abundance providing a practically 
unlimited field of action, the first type of colonisation will continue as 
well and production will therefore never be regulated according to the needs 
of the market--at a given market value. Everything the colonists of the 
first type produce over and above their immediate consumption, they will 
throw on the market and sell at any price that will bring in more than their 
wages. They are, and continue for a long time to be, competitors of the 
farmers who are already producing more or less capitalistically, and thus 
keep the market price of the agricultural product below its value...
In the second type of colonies--plantations--where commercial speculations 
figure from the start  and production is intended for the world market, the 
capitalist mode of production exists, although only in a formal sense, since 
the slavery of Negroes precludes free wage labour, which is the basis of 
capitalist production. But the business in which slaves are used is 
conducted by capitalists. The method of production, which they introduce has 
not arisen out of slavery but is grafted on to it. In this case the same 
person is capitalist and landowner. And the elemental [profusion] existence 
of the land confronting capital and labour does not offer any resistance to 
capital investment, hence none to the competition between capitals. Neither 
does a class of farmers as distinct from landlords develop here. So long as 
these conditions endure, nothing will stand in the way of cost price [by 
which Marx meant what he would later call price of production--rb] 
regulating market value.
Marx TSV, part II Moscow, pp. 301-3

Also see

"In these colonies, and especially in those which produced only merchandise 
such as tobacco, cotton, sugar, etc and not the usual foodstuffs.. right 
from the start the colonists did not seek subsistence but set up a 
business...They did not act like the Germans, who settled in Germany, in 
order to make their home their, but like people, who driven by motives of 
*bourgeois production*, wanted to produce *commodities*, and their point of 
view was, form
the outset, determined not by the product by the sale of the product."
TSV, vol 2, p. 239 all emphases Marx's.

Abu Hartal

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