[OPE-L:3272] Re: Re: Re: Slavery

From: Patrick L. Mason (pmason@garnet.acns.fsu.edu)
Date: Fri May 19 2000 - 20:19:49 EDT

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Duncan, Rakesh, & fellow listmembers:

Duncan writes:
>I still think there's a question as to whether the slaves produced surplus
>value in the Marxian sense. The slaveowners made a profit, but this could
>have been the result of their participating in the equalization of the
>profit rate. For example, if there were one completely automated sector of
>the economy with no labor expenditure, the capitalists owning the means of
>production in that sector would participate in the equalization of the rate
>of profit, despite the fact that no surplus value was produced in the

I assume the capitalist works in "a completely automated sector?" That is
to say, Mr. Moneybags in this instance is actually a small businessman who
performs all the labor and managerial tasks of the firm. If so, the surplus
value comes from his own laboring activities.

If the capitalist doesn't work in a completely automated sector, then the
machines are cyborgs capable of making demand projections, coordinating
inventory, spotting future trends, making the appropriate technological
change, etc. Kinda scarely. But, in this Star Trek world, the job of the
economist is over.

Note: In the 35 years of Star Trek, Star Trek the Next Generation, Deep
Space Nine, and Voyager, there has never been an economist!!! But, gold
press latinum - a commodity - is the universal currency.

>If the analogy with fixed capital is strict, then the price the
>slaveholders paid for slaves would have been equal to the surplus value
>they expected to appropriate from the slaves' exploitation discounted at
>the average profit rate. If this were true, the surplus value would
>effectively have been appropriated by the slave traders rather than the

Yup. That's why the slave trade was abolished in 1807 or 1809 (at least in
the US). The kidnappers decided to keep the profit for themselves by
reproducing the plantation's enslaved
population. In other words, they figured it was more profitable to
internalize the expected of an enslaved person through vertical
integration. Note also that with the literal reproduction of an enslaved
population on the plantation, the real wages of the enslaved had to be
sufficient to allow for the biological reproduction of the adult enslaved
and their children. The latter often did not enter into the field until
they were "of age." Free white workers in enslavement states would receive
a wage that approached that of the enslaved. Hence, even though white
workers in the non-enslavement areas were no less racist than those in the
enslavement states they strongly opposed the expansion of slavery since it
would reduce their standard of living.

So, why did so many whites in the South who did not own slaves fight in the
Civil War? I dunno. Pure madness of racism?

Anyway, I think the internal reproduction of the enslaved population
answers the other issues raised by Rakesh.

peace, patrick l mason

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