[OPE-L:2806] RE: Re: RE: Slavery

From: P.J.Wells@open.ac.uk
Date: Tue Apr 11 2000 - 04:02:55 EDT

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Thanks for these points about the integration of the U.S. slave plantations
with the world economy; but a pedant (who? me?) might complain that this
doesn't -- except implicitly -- answer the question of "what was the
plantation owners' *motivation*?"

The fact that the owners *had* to find a high proportion of inputs on the
market doesn't show that they didn't *want* to maximise the proportion of
self-produced imports, hence allowing more cash to be spent on luxuries.

My impression is that they set great store by their (self-awarded) character
of gentlemen, as opposed to Yankee money-grubbers, which suggests that their
motivation was not maximum accumulation of capital.

This may not have been a very realistic stance, given the nature of the
South's economic relations with the world economy, but then in the end they
turned out not to be a very successful set of exploiters.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rakesh Bhandari [SMTP:bhandari@phoenix.Princeton.EDU]
> Sent: Monday, April 10, 2000 10:08 PM
> To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
> Subject: [OPE-L:2805] Re: RE: Slavery
> >
> > 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.
> Julian,
> please note Robin Blackburn's conclusion:
> However the undoubted fact that neither the feudal estates of Eastern
> Europenor the slave planations of the America can properly be regarded as
> capitalist enterprises should not lead us, as it has some writers, to
> regard them as *equivalently distant from teh capitalist mode*. The feudal
> estates of E Europe were a product of the manorial reaction of the 14 and
> 15th centuries--sometimes referred to as Europe's 2nd serfdom. In the
> first instance they were created not in response to the dictates of crap
> crop productin but as the lords' answer to the impact of the demographic
> crisis in the Eastern marchlands. Their subsequent orientation to cereal
> exports required very few productive inputs from the West, and encouraged
> no reciprocal exchange. The American slave planations by contrast were set
> up directly for the purpose of supplying the European market, and had not
> other raison d etre. In their operation, as in their foundation, they
> remained intimately tied geared to exchanges with European merchants and
> manufacturers. Even at the height of the Polish grain exports they
> accounted for only 10-15 0f total production, with luxury itmes
> dominating imports. In the New World by far the greater part of plantation
> output was exported, and many productive inputs were imported from
> European mfgs: equipment, implements, construction materials, clothing,
> foodstuffs; as for the African slaves, they also were acquired
> increasingly in exchange for mfg trade goods. Western Europe's trade with
> the slave plantations was thus less unbalanced and more conducive to
> cumulative, reciprocal expansion." The Making of New World Slavery, p.
> 374-5
> Yours, Rakesh

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