[OPE-L:6946] Re: Re: slavery and the multiple worlds hypothesis

From: Paul (paul@cockshott.com)
Date: Mon Apr 08 2002 - 16:45:42 EDT

nicola taylor wrote:

This is because VFT theory is focused precisely on this

> attempt to make the differentiation between necessity and contingency.
> Slave labour is not necessary to the existence and reproduction of
> contemporary capitalism, so it is a historical contingency (ie. it may have
> been important in the development of capitalism in the new world in the
> past, and remnants of it might persist today, but it is not absolutely
> essential the to capitalism).  In contrast, wage labour is a necessity
> (i.e. essential to the existence of reproduction and capitalism).  If this
> is accepted, the question then arises: what role within the theory of
> capitalism (the demonstration of logical necessity) does historical
> contingency play?

I am not really happy with this idea of necessity and contingency.
It is in danger of placing the idea of capitalism as superior to the
real process of history.  Given the state of the world in the past
its actual development was a necessity driven by material causality.

One may speculate whether on a multiplicity of worlds, spread accross
the universe, on which intelligent life develops capitalism would usually
develop without first being enmeshed in slavery. But this can only be
speculation, we can never test it.

>  If I am right in this, then our different understandings of key concepts
> (such as the capital-labour relation, the commodity, value, surplus value
> and abstract labour) merely mask a shared problem.  And this is precisely
> the problem that you identify in your question: *how* to *theorise* the
> role that contingent social relations play in capitalism (i.e. the
> interaction with essential relations).

This opposition of essential relations to contingent relations enhances
my suspicions here. The essential relations are only essential within the
terms of a particular simplified theoretical model of reality. We are in
of raising our theoretical model of capitalism to the status of a necessity
in a way similar to that of the neo-classical economists  with their models.

> -----------------------
> Nicola Taylor
> Faculty of Economics
> Murdoch University
> South Street
> Murdoch
> W.A. 6150
> Australia
> Tel. 61 8 9385 1130
> email: n.taylor@stu.murdoch.edu.au

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