[Marxism] "Slavery in All But Name" - Jeffrey B. Perry

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Feb 24 08:54:58 MST 2013

On 2/24/13 10:10 AM, Mark Lause wrote:
> There should be no American exceptionalism in any of this.  The
> English Revolution, the French Revolution led to similar results
> through process that were every bit as tainted in motives and
> outcomes.

Down the road I hope to review Neil Davidson's "How Revolutionary were 
the Bourgeois Revolutions?" but provisionally I can say that there has 
been some theoretical confusion over this from the beginning rooted in 
the Communist Manifesto's depiction of a revolutionary bourgeoisie. 
There has been a tendency to conflate the revolutionizing of the means 
of production with the creation of a free market and free labor within 
market relations. This demonstrates a certain affinity with the 
ideologists of the bourgeois revolution whose hopes for a free society 
colored the perceptions of Marx and Engels, as well as Lenin for that 
matter. In a 1918 article Lenin draws a distinction between the "from 
above" Junkers bourgeois revolution in Germany and the "from below" 
American Civil War. In reality, the outcome was the same: a preservation 
of feudal-like conditions in the countryside. This is what Arno Mayer 
characterized as "The Persistence of the Ancien Regime". You had the 
same thing in rural Germany (a hotbed for Hitlerism) and the Jim Crow south.


> The two ways I have indicated of "solving" the agrarian question in
> developing bourgeois Russia correspond to the two paths of development of
> capitalism in agriculture. I call these two paths the Prussian and the
> American paths. The characteristic feature of the first is that medieval
> relations in landowning are not liquidated at one stroke, but are gradually
> adapted to capitalism, which because of this for a long time retains
> semi-feudal features. Prussian landlordism was not crushed by the bourgeois
> revolution; it survived and became the basis of "Junker" economy, which is
> essentially capitalistic, but involves a certain degree of dependence of
> the rural population, such as the Gesinde-ordnung* etc. As a consequence,
> the social and political domination of the Junkers was consolidated for
> many decades after 1848, and the productive forces of German agriculture
> developed far more slowly than in America. There, on the contrary, it was
> not the old slave-holding economy of the big landowners that became the
> basis of capitalist agriculture (the Civil War smashed the slave-owners'
> estates) , but the free economy of the free farmer working on free landfree
> from all medieval fetters, from serfdom and feudalism on the one hand, and
> from the fetters of private property in land, on the other. Land was given
> away in America, out of its vast resources, at a nominal price; and it is
> only on a new, fully capitalist basis that private property in land has now
> developed there.

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