Re Rakesh's : > The costs of slaves are thus more like the faux fraix of plantation > slavery. I say this because I do not think slaves are means of > production (they are not in fact speaking instruments, as the > friendly Romans had it) the value of which can then be transferred to > the commodity output. > Most slaves were not however used in order to meet the personal whims > of the master but subjected to alienated, value positing > proletarian labor, yielding value in excess of their own costs, > including the price paid to the slave trader and the costs of their > daily reproduction (these latter costs would be variable capital). Let us, once again, consider your possibilities: a) means of production; b) faux frais; c) variable capital. a) you seem to agree that the money advanced for the purchase of slaves can not be considered to represent constant capital. Good. After all, i) the labor of slaves is not "dead labor" but living labor; ii) if the money used to purchase slaves represented c, then your proposition that slaves create surplus value couldn't be maintained unless you embraced Steve K's proposition that means of production are themselves productive of surplus value. b) the money, you assert, for the purchase of new slaves represents a "faux frais" of slave production. What are we to make of this claim? Faux frais is understood to mean *incidental* expenses associated with production. To call the purchase of slaves "incidental" is quite literally absurd! Perhaps there were some type of expenses associated with modern plantation slavery that could be considered to be "incidental" expenses (like the cost for whips and guns) but *surely* the cost of slaves themselves can not be considered in these terms. c) [while, you assert, the initial purchase price of slaves represents faux frais], the costs associated with the daily reproduction of slaves would represent variable capital. Yet, how can this be -- unless we are to totally discard and abandon our understanding of v? Variable capital, let us recall, is that part of capital which is exchanged for the commodity labor-power. This *requires* -- logically and historically -- that capitalists meet potential wage-earners in the marketplace as buyer and seller. Yet, slaveowners do not buy the commodity labour-power in the market -- they buy the slaves themselves. Moreover, the exchange (if there is one, i.e. slaves can be directly enslaved by slaveowners without first entering the market) is not one between capital and wage-labourers but between slaveowners and slavesellers -- a very different social relationship. And, of course, slaves are "free" in *no* sense of the word -- unless it is a choice made by slaveowners rather than by slaves. Furthermore, variable capital must be advanced *periodically* for the purchase of labour power whereas slaves can be bought once and kept until death with only 'maintenance' expenses. Now returning to Rakesh's specific idea: it should be noted, even in regard to the latter, that typically many (or all) of the reproduction requirements for slaves were satisfied not by the purchase of commodities but through farming etc. *within* the plantation system. Thus, there is no requirement or expectation that these reproduction requirements for slaves have to assume the commodity-form (even when slaves produce goods which are intended to be sold, i.e. even where commodity production in the transhistorical and nominal sense exists) and therefore don't necessarily even represent 'costs'. What Rakesh wants us to believe is that the distinction between slave labor and wage-labor is of no consequence in terms of the production of the surplus product and whether that product takes the commodity-/ value-/ money- /capital-forms. Yet, to insist that there is a significant distinction, which is by no means "overformalist", allows us to comprehend the *specific* ways in which under different class societies a surplus product is produced. I showed previously [6920; 6924] that by concentrating only on trans-historical and trans-relational similarities Rakesh missed the boat in terms of comprehending the *specific* ways in which the intensity of work is increased under capitalism and how that specific form is necessarily tied to the opposition of capital to wage-labour. Thus, Rakesh finds himself ensnared by widening contradictions: e.g. he argued that slaves do not produce relative surplus value but they produce absolute surplus value yet I have showed -- using his definition of absolute s -- how this is a gross misconception that leads to a huge misunderstanding re how the intensity of labor is systematically increased under capitalism; he holds that surplus value is produced by abstract labor but Rakesh's understanding of abstract labor (as he has expressed it previously) can not hold for slave labor, etc. In solidarity, Jerry PS: listproc was down most of Tuesday.
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