[OPE-L:2804] RE: Slavery

From: P.J.Wells@open.ac.uk
Date: Mon Apr 10 2000 - 16:17:10 EDT

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Duncan wrote, inter alia:

> (I suspect quite a bit of the [>] [slaves'] subsistence was produced on
> the plantations.)
        When I was in Boston last year for the IWGVT mini-conference at the
EEA I went up to Lowell MA to see the preserved cotton factory there (it
would make a very interesting group excursion in 2002..)

        Apparently one of the staple products was cloth intended for making
up into clothing for plantation slaves (who had, presumably, grown the
cotton to begin with).

        Do the various studies of the Southern economy provide any estimate,
or enough data to calculate one, of the extent of domestic production?

        Witold Kula's book on feudalism might provide some insights; if the
plantation owners attempted to minimise the use of purchased inputs (in
order to maximise the amount of cash available to purchase luxuries), then
they would resemble Kula's Polish nobles much more than they would
conventional capitalists.

        Provisionally, however, I think I agree with Duncan's further
comment that:

> So it seems to me that it is somewhat off the track to try to analyze this
> form of slavery as a separate mode of production. While its
> "peculiarities"
> require some adaptation of the usual categories of commodity production
> and
> surplus value, those categories seem to be the best starting point for
> understanding the issues of social relations, economic competition, and
> value generation involved in slaveholding.
        This is not least because the attempt to understand these
peculiarities should elucidate the application of the categories in "normal"

        Thanks, by the way, for the kind remarks on my guesses about the
Civil War.


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