[OPE-L:6913] Re: Re: slavery and value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Fri Apr 05 2002 - 12:06:50 EST

re Jerry's 6908

>Re Alfredo's [6907]:
>>  I think that a more useful approach would depart from the relations of
>>  production: in "slave-capitalist" societies, slaves produce commodities
>>  (by and large, though not necessarily) inputs that are also commodities;
>>  moreover, even the slaves themselves are commodities (and, therefore, the
>>  production of slaves is also a commodity-producing process).
>I ask that you think through the implications of this last statement: if the
>(re)production of slaves is a commodity-producing process, is it also
>productive of surplus value?

No, slaves were purchased as commodities, as a form of capital 
investment. Amortization was as quick as possible; records indicate 
between 3 mos and 1 year.

>  If so, this would mean that the procreation
>and raising of children as slaves would itself be productive of surplus
>value. This would mean that the act of procreation and reproduction
>by and of slaves -- including the rape of slaves by slaveowners  where
>pregnancies and children result [!!!] -- would itself be a productive act
>[!]  in the sense that it would be productive of surplus value.

No, slave breeders and catches and suppliers were paid out of the 
value that these slaves would produce or other slaves had already 
produced. Slaves were so productive of surplus value and so 
intensively exploited that this cost to plantation owners could be 
recovered quickly while the daily reproduction costs of (e.g.) 
clothes were kept to a minimum. Slavery was quite profitable and run 
as a capitalist enterprise. Again I think if you look at Blackburn's 
account you will see that  in practical terms he reaches this 

>  If that were
>the case, then it would be possible to then say that slave_owners_, through
>the act of rape, contribute directly to the production of surplus value and
>are thereby (partially) productive laborers!

The function of rape was not to increase the number of slaves.


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