[OPE-L:4762] Re: Perelman on "Primitive Accumulation": Lenin rather than Luxemburg?

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Thu Jan 11 2001 - 14:10:52 EST

Michael Perelman <michael@ECST.CSUCHICO.EDU> said, on 01/10/01:

>I've been thinking about Paul's question about my book.  Would it be fair
>to say that Luxemburg sees less capitalistic forms of production as being
>efficient, while Lenin does not?  In this respect, Lenin does fit the
>mold of classical political economy, the Luxemburg falls outside of their
>way of thinking.

No, I don't thing Luxemburg was talking about efficiency, or at least I
don't recall passages like that.

>Marx seems to have moved from the Lenin perspective to the Luxemburg
>perspective in his late years, as Shanin showed.

J.D. White's book *Karl Marx and the Intellectual Origins of Dialectial
Materialism* 1996, very much makes the point of Marx's growing interest,
after 1867, in issues of primitive accumulation and how these
investigations influenced Marx.  White's work connects nicely with
Shanin's, and Michael's book ties in quite nicely with both.

Probably without being aware of it, Luxemburg was moving in the same
direction as late Marx; Lenin can be interpreted as staying closer to the
Marx of the first edition of *Capital* (partly under Plekhanov's important


Michael's book is not easy reading.  I have to go "back and forth".  One
drama is his promotion of the importance of James Steuart and the class
reasons for the silencing of Steuart, even though Steuart is ligitimately
the founder of political economy.  Marx doesn't have a full study of
Steuart (he does have 3-page Chapter I of T.S.V., I).  But he has
comments, such as at the beginning of a discussion of Richard Jones: "Even
this first work on rent [by Jones] is distinguished by what has been
lacking in all English economists since Sir James Steuart, namely, a sense
of the *historical* differences in modes of production" (T.S.V, III, p.
399).  If I read Michael correctly, Steuart might be similar to a Southern
U.S. slave-holder who sees that the "free market" for labor power was
being created by FORCE, even as a user of force himself (less likely,
herself), and says so.

Hopefully, to promote some interest in this topic on OPE-L other than
Michael and myself, I quote from Michael's p. 170:

  "Steuart, the greatest classical theortist of primitive accumulation,
found himself the victim of a primitive accumulation of a literary sort. 
We are all the poorer for the lack of attention given to this seminal

Michael's book DRIVES our attention INTO the issue of FORCE.  What does
that do to many of our various discussions?  Luxemburg's (and my own
work)on accumulation also drives toward attention to FORCE (rather than
efficiency), even if not centered around the concept of primitive
accumulation as Michael presents it.

Paul Z.

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