[OPE-L:6918] Re: Re: slavery and value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Fri Apr 05 2002 - 23:59:35 EST

Nicky writes in 6916

>Slaves *don't* produce commodities


>If production is carried out by slave labour I wouldn't call it 'commodity

Though they produce commodities! This is just word play!

>  Certainly it is true
>that many countries that developed capitalist relations (use of wage
>labour) earlier in colonial history (eg South Africa) are more 'developed'
>than those where slave labour was extensively used for centuries (eg.
>Angola, Mozambique, the Congo).

So this means that you count as free wage labor those Africans (and 
they were recruited from all over the continent ) who were confined 
for fascist state- enforced contracts of increasing length (2mos to 2 
years) over the course of the 20th century to the South African 
compound system, which was modelled on the principle of CONVICT LABOR 
and which thereby

*ensured the total isolation of African workers from all forms of 
social contact beyond the mines
*thereby prevented workers from negotiating with different employers 
about their wages
*prevented the desertion of workers
*regimented them during off work hours, e.g., regulating alcoholic intake
*forced workers to expend their wages at company owned stores and 
thereby ensured their super-exploitation.

That is, despite control over virtually all aspects of the workers' 
lives, which reduced their struggle to the absolute minimum, you say 
that South African workers were free wage laborers?!

Yet  they were not free to break off contracts  or spend their wages 
as they wished in the towns for example.

No!  these workers were formally unfree workers..and yet... they were 
indeed proletarians who endured the grave misfortune of 
capital-positing labor. The truly free wage white guards were not in 
fact part of the working class. One would be led to this grave and 
disturbing mistake if attention was focused on circulation as you 

Please see Martin Legassick "South African: Forced Labour, 
Industrialization and Racial Discimination" in R. Harris, ed. The 
Political Economy of Africa, Boston, 1974.

>To this day, where capitalist relations (commodity production based on wage
>labour) predominates other social relations still persist (perhaps, as
>Jerry already pointed out, they might be considered an impediment to the
>development of fully developed capitalist relations).

  no, the commodification of tropical hardwood in which surplus value 
is embodied does not find an impediment at present but rather an 
"enablement" in formally unfree labor relations.

As for the implication of above,  no one is denying that capital 
comes to depend on the production of relative surplus value which 
does depend on more truly free wage labor.

But at first the production of surplus value proceeded largely on the 
basis of constant technique; and confined to absolute surplus value, 
the boundless pursuit of surplus value depended on the extension of 
capital's valorization base which was in fact expanded by resort to 
formally unfree labor relations (use of vagrancy laws, maximum wage 
laws and most importantly slavery).

Those fellow proletarians who were brought into the capitalist system 
in this violent way and  confined by force and racial ideology to its 
plantations and compounds still have the shadow of history fall on 
them, though these plantations that they worked became the pivot for 
the development of the world capitalist system.

>  To call it 'commodity production' conflates value and
>exchange value - i.e. to produce exchange values for a market (an exchange
>relation) is not the same thing as to produce values (only wage labour
>produces values;

By defintion, Nicky is saying, only free wage workers can produce 
value and surplus value.

So, according to Nicky's definition,  the white guards of an African 
worker compound are freely mobile wage laborers--the true working 
class since they received a wage which they were free to spend as 
they please--while the compounded and formally unfree Africans are 
not the proletarians.

Seems absurd to me. Marxism fights for the emancipation from the free 
wage labor form, not proletarian labor itself. Overformal 
Marxism--whether it's VFT or diamat--thus takes a step once again in 
the direction of Stalinism.

>  moreover, value is a concept that makes sense only within
>the total circuit of capital; i.e. a relation of exchange and production).

Yes and why were the slave plantations and the worker compound/mines 
not in the circuit of capital?

Slave production (as well as reproduction) was enabled by the 
purchase of goods on the market with money and the result of slave 
production was commodities that sold on the market for more money.

Seems like M-C-P-C+-M+ to me.

Of course there is the idea that slave products are purchased at 
profit making prices out of revenue deducted from the surplus value 
produced elsewhere in capitalist enterprises which only employ free 
wage labor. This seems to be Jerry's idea; it may have been Duncan's.

Yet Jerry seems to agree that slaves were actually working quite hard 
enough to have produced a surplus product; it just wasn't surplus 
value, according to Jerry, though this surplus product took the 
commodity and the money form and were produced only in order to take 
the commodity and money form.

Now you deny the diamonds, cotton, sugar were even commodities 
because that looks to close to the value form which--according to 
you--the product of slave labor cannot take...seemingly by 
definition. .

>I have already said that the latter relation (capital-labour relation) is
>more fundamental than the former (exchange relation), for me (and for other
>VFT theorists, and for some non-VFT theorists such as Riccardo B and Jerry

No you *defined* the capital labor relation as an exchange 
relation--the exchange of wages for labor power.

And since you have defined the capital-labor relation as an exchange 
relation, what basis do you to say that it is more fundamental than 
an exchange relation?

Are Jerry and Riccardo really saying the same thing? Where?

>  Just that a theory
>developed with the intention of explaining social relations based on wage
>labour is not the right theory to apply to social relations based on

No Marx's theory has the intention of explaining the laws of tendency 
of a system based on production of surplus value and capital. Such a 
system or relation of production does come to depend on the free wage 
labor form of exploitation. And because of that, Marx assumes that 
this is the only form of exploitation in the pure capitalism that he 
subjects to analysis.


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