[OPE-L:6960] Re: Re: the cost of slaves

From: Paul (paul@cockshott.com)
Date: Wed Apr 10 2002 - 16:39:56 EDT

Rakesh Bhandari wrote:

> No v is that part of the capital investment that allows for the
> securing and reproduction of the proletariat such that it can engage
> in alienated, proletarian value positing labor under the command of
> capital.
> In the case of plantation slavery, many subsistence goods (cotton
> cloth, shoes, materials for housing and bedding, string, and food
> from local peasant production) were bought on the market--true
> enough, not by the worker but by the capitalist. It seems not to me
> too different from the situtation in a company store.
> No one is arguing that we have the category of variable capital in
> its pure form.

I think this is a very fair point.  Though I would count the cost
of purchasing slaves as part of variable capital.

One has to distinguish the value of the slave under conditions
of an isolated slave economy from the price of slaves when the
slave economy can engage on raids on pre-slave mode of production

When slaves have to be purchased from internal sources, then
the value of the slave will represent the cost of raising them from
infancy until they are able to work productively at the age of
perhaps 7 or 8. It is  unlikely that this price will be earned
as quickly as you suggest from the current surplus value produced
by the child slave.

When there are slave raids then the price of slaves falls below
their value. That is why the slave trade was profitable, slaves
could be purchased off the coast of Guinea at a price well below
their reproduction value in Jamaica or Kentucky.

If we consider a self reproducing slave economy then the price
paid for slaves is variable capital and is homologous to the
part of the wage that goes to support the worker's children.

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