[OPE-L:6947] Re: Re: Re: Wage-Labour and Free Labour

From: Paul (paul@cockshott.com)
Date: Mon Apr 08 2002 - 17:22:37 EDT

Rakesh Bhandari wrote:

> Jerry,
> thanks for the response in 6938.
> you seem to be saying that only wage laborers, defined as those who
> exchange labor power as a commodity for money, can produce surplus
> value. I do not understand why and how you have reached this
> conclusion. One might have thought that the unique ability of wage
> labor, as you have defined it, to produce surplus value has something
> to do with the freedoms that are associated with wage labor, i.e.,
> freedom to choose one's master and use the market freely for
> consumption choices. But in your own estimation it does not seem to
> be these freedoms that underlay the unique ability of wage labor, as
> you have narrowly defined it, to produce surplus value.

I think it would be quite simple to construct a theory of a generalised
commodity producing slave economy, in which the circuit of capital
took place in the form m-c-m' and the surplus value was the monetisation
of the surplus product produced by the slaves.

Let us assume for analogy with the vol II analysis of capitalism that
there are 3 sectors.

Sector I produces slaves. We will assume that it does so by slave raids
on the territories adjacent to the slave state - as was the case of the
Roman republic during its expansion. This sector depends upon the
activity of the free citizenry to form an army, but it takes as input
corn, oil, salt, iron, leather etc to feed and supply the army. These
are commodities produced by the slave sector of the economy.
The state sells the slaves it captures to the slave owning classes
and from this recoups the costs of maintaining an army.

Sector 2 produces vendible commodities primarily agricultural
but also from extractive industries - mining etc. It does so using
slaves bought from the state and sells its output to sectors 1 and

Sector 3 constitutes the personal slaves of the upper class and
the slaves engaged in the building of public monuments temples

We will use the following notation:

V1 is the value of output of sector 1, V2 is the value of the
output of sector two. Sector 3 produces no vendible commodity
as output, but consists of what from the standpoint of the
slave mode of production is the unproductive or surplus
consuming sector.

S2 is the consumption of slaves by sector 2, S3 is the consumption
of slaves by sector 3.

C1 is the consumption of commodities in the form of food and
military raw materials by sector 1. C2 the internal consumption
of food and raw materials by sector 2. C3 is the consumption
of food and raw materials by sector 3.

For simple or expanded reproduction to occur we have the
following reproduction constraints:

V1 >= C1+ S1

That is to say the state must capture slaves to a value greater than
the cost of maintaining the army,

V2>= C2+S2

The slave industry and agriculture sector must produce commodities
of greater value than the slaves is destroys plus the costs of feeding
these slaves

C3+S3<= V1+V2 -(C1+ C2+ S1+ S3)

The unproductive consumption must be less than the surplus value
produced in sectors 1 and 2.

The slave owning class can carry out the circuit m-c-m' under these
circumstances, buying slaves from the state and food and industrial
raw materials from each other. The profit is used to employ
personal slaves in sector 3. The profit made by the state is used to
employ public slaves to build monuments etc.

Within this edifice a small amount of free labour may exist as
a contingency which the slave owning classes seek to eliminate
over time.  The inner necessity of the system is its ever greater
expansion as the sum of capital embodied in slaves is increased.

Thus the Slave Power must expand at the expense of surrounding
states - it is inherently imperialist - seeking to extend its subservient
population and its territory.

For those who consider slavery merely a contingency it is worth
remembering that both classical slavery and modern slavery existed
for significantly longer than industrial capitalism has so far survived.

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