[OPE-L:4736] Perelman on "Primitive Accumulation": Lenin rather than Luxemburg?

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:34:07 EST

Perhaps I can open a discussion of primitive accumulation and see if there
are any takers.

I have read some of Michael Perelman's book "The Invention of Capitalism:
Classical Political Economy and the Secret History of Primitive
Accumulation".  I notice on his p. 36 that he considers that Marx is
referring to "primitive accumulation" in regard to "multiplication of the
proletariat" within Part VII (p. 764, Vintage/Fowkes edition).  However,
that whole Part of *Capital* is discussing accumulation, not 'primitive'
accumulation, and there is really no justification that I can see for
saying that those pages are referring to primitive accumulation.  

Do any others on this list think that that "multiplication of the
proletariat" in Part VII includes primitive accumulation?

Michael's Chapter 2 seems to want to defend a broadening of the definition
of primitive accumulation to any separation (before or after the
establishment of the capitalist mode of production).  But he fails to 
confront Marx's definition of primitive accumulation (pp. 874-75) which
refers to "the pre-history of capital" (or "the pre-historic stage of
capital" in the earlier English translation; the French is also worth

Andre Gunder Frank chooses another route which is to refer
to separation AFTER the establishment of the capitalist mode of production
as "primary accumulation" so as to better keep our concepts clear (by
keeping the usage of primitive accumulation to the historical situation
Marx considers).

Of course, the point is not to deny the importance separation from means
of production.  For myself, I would join with Rosa Luxemburg in
emphasizing its importance to "accumulation of capital" (note the absence
of the word "primitive").  Michael's usage, if I understand correctly,
seems to follow Lenin's usage, while Luxemburg has it correct (altho she
doesn't introduce a new concept as Frank does).

How this problem affects Michael's reading of the Classicals, I don't know
(he has a 35-page reference list, by the way, but little on Luxemburg I
found except a comment or two which is not indexed).  


Note: There is an interesting point regarding primitive accumulation I
discovered within Marx's chapter on Simple Reproduction.  The Fowkes
translation (p. 714), as well as Engels' German 4th edition, refers to
primitive in an manner which suggests separation from means of production.
But the French edition (Marx's last) could not be so translated.  It

"Ne fallait-il donc pas, la première fois qu'elle se présenta au marché du
travail, que la classe capitaliste eût déjà accumulé par ses propres
labeurs et ses propres épargnes des trésors qui la mettaient en état
d'avancer les subsistances de l'ouvrier sous forme de monnaie? 
Provisoirement nous voulons bien accepter cette solution du problème, en
nous réservant d'y regarder de plus près dans le chapitre sur las
prétendue accumulation primitive."

In other words, the reference in the Simple Reproduction chapter in Marx's
own last edition refers to the PREREQUISITE, the background, for the
separation.   I suspect the Marx was sharpening up his wording by the time
he got to the French edition (the French passage above is also a longer
one than the standard passages we are familiar with).

Happy New Year to all.  Paul

******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed Jan 31 2001 - 00:00:03 EST