[OPE-L:2699] Re: Re: slaves and value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Mon Apr 03 2000 - 21:19:04 EDT

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I was getting tired of this exchange, and it seems to me that my replies
would have already been easily anticipated by anyone who has been
interested in this exchange. Yet I shall reply again:

  Capital, both constant and variable,
>are thus *definite social forms* corresponding to the *particular* social
>relations of production of capitalism.

Yes, yes, Jerry, I have emphasized that form matters, though you seem to be
formalist to the point of being anachronistic. That the *general* form of
the output of plantations was the commodity form matters; that many
*ingredients* that entered into plantation output took the form of
commodites matters. This meant that production was value determined, that
modern plantation slave production was determined by and adequated to the
expansion of value. This means that modern slave labor was abstract, value
positing labor.

>I never asserted that the market is "the" criterion for defining variable
>capital. Rather, I asserted that it is _a_ criteria related to an
>appropriate understanding of the capital-form.

Fine, what are the other criteria? Prove to me that modern slave labor did
not meet them.

>> You did
>> note my argument as to historic inadequacy of this criterion in a previous
>> post, right?
>Uhhh ... which one? (there have been a bunch of posts ....)

Banaji's citation of Duby.

>No. My position, on the contrary, has been that slaves were not productive
>of surplus value *even though they were productive of some proportion of
>the surplus product* and *even though they produced products that in many
>cases were materially identical to commodities produced by wage-labour*.

As noted in last post, this collapses modern plantations with independent
peasant proprietors who marketed only some of their surplus product.
Because their means of production were not monetized, their production did
not have to be organized around/adequated to/determined by the expansion of
value. Moreover, their production faced a natural limit in the immediate
circle of their own consumption needs. Again, this was not true of modern
plantation slavery.

>I thus view the money spent on purchasing enslaved human beings as not
>corresponding to either variable or constant capital.

Fine. That may have been neither constant nor variable capital. But the
reproduction costs of slaves--which often included purchase of consumer
goods off the market--was variable capital.

 Although enslaving
>capitalists, no doubt, treated the cost of purchasing and maintaining
>slaves *for accounting purposes* as a "capital expense", this does not
>mean that slaves were in fact capital.

You seem to me confused. How can you refer to enslaving capitalists but not
proletarian slaves?

>> I have defended modern plantation slave labor as abstract, value
>> producing labor.
>Slave labour can only be viewed as abstract labour if we view abstract
>labour from the standpoint of the physiological expenditure of labour

 Slave labor was value positing labor whose product, generally in the
commodity form, was not meant to satsify the immediate circle of the ruling
class' needs. That you think I was defining modern slave labor as value
positing or abstract simply because it entailed an expenditure of energy is
really quite shocking.

Yours, Rakesh

ps I did not mean to resurrect a stagist theory of history. I accept
Alfredo's correction.

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