[Marxism] Capital accumulation, South Africa and the American SWP tradition

dave.walters at comcast.net dave.walters at comcast.net
Thu Feb 15 20:43:15 MST 2007

While pretty much agreeing with most of what Phil F has written of late on S. Africa and Ireland, I too was a little surprised that he thinks that the lack of investigation into the "accumulation of capital in the US" was some sort of major flaw of the SWP (and, by extension, the entire Marxist left in the US). Partly, the history of early Marxism (1870 onward) was a study of this "in pactice", with little reason to examine it as it was so obvious in it's results.

The reason to study this in Russia, as Joaquín suggests, was political for Lenin...and not only him, but *everyone* there and why it dominated the debates among Russian social-democrats. Capital accumulation, more importantly in it's fullest or broadest meaning "the development of capitalism", was the question of questions on political strategy in Russia. Every debate which way forward was predicated on ones position on this. Little of this was debated about Germany, one might note, because it was obvious there too, albeit different than the US.

Perhaps I might diverge with Joaquín over the issue of genocide of Native Americans as being a perquisite for the accumulation of capital in the US. I think it was rather the parallel result of this process, but not a precondition for it, nor even necessary. 

The most glaring aspect of the accumulation, and the most important, a result that effects our lives today: slavery, as it dominated capitalism North and South in the US, was the undisputed method of early capital accumulation into the 1840s. But few questioned the need for socialist revolution after Reconstruction was betrayed, it simply wasn't a debate, IMO.


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