[OPE-L:2659] Re: Re: slaves and value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Fri Mar 31 2000 - 11:12:57 EST

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Hi Jerry,

>If all labor time is unpaid labor time, v would equal -0- and the
>specific social relations associated with capitalism could not exist.

I don't think this follows in the case of slavery. The consumer goods that
the capitalist purchased for the reproduction of slaves, along with the
other costs of reproduction, constituted variable capital. All labor time
was unpaid, but v (and sv) was not zero.

>The question at hand does not concern surplus labor time or the surplus
>product, but *surplus value*.

We have monetized means of production, calculating and calculated behavior,
and marketable output that allows a reasonable return on investment. Seems
like value production to me.

 However, the fact that slaves were
>engaged in the production of goods which were sold on the market does not
>by itself mean that they were productive of surplus value rather than
>being productive of some proportion of the surplus product.

Sure, and that plantation slaves don't fit the model of free wage labor in
Marx's Capital does not mean that they weren't at the center of the
proletariat in the early stages of accumulation.

>Plantation slavery was a remnant of a pre-capitalist mode of production
>superimposed on the capitalist mode of production.

I disagree. Plantation slavery had all but been eliminated in the Western
world. It was re-introduced as an early form of value production.

And, yes, the
>institution of modern slavery was connected to the historical process of
>creating the working class and dealing with shortages of wage-labor to
>meet the requirements of capitalist expansion.

Well we are agreed.

 It had other functions as
>well, e.g. goods produced by slaves helped to lower the value of
>labour-power when there were goods like sugar that entered into the
>consumption of the working class.

Agreed again.

And we are also agreed that a developed capitalism can only operate on the
basis of a free market in wage labor: with continuous technical change and
the rise and shrinkage of firms and industries to which that gives rise,
only mobile free wage labor will suffice. But capitalism proceeded for some
time without continuous technical change and relative surplus value as the
main form of extraction.

Yours, Rakesh

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