[OPE-L:6969] Re: slavery

From: paul bullock (paulbullock@ebms-ltd.co.uk)
Date: Fri Apr 12 2002 - 03:23:09 EDT

Hi Rakesh.. it is not easy to hit the point clearly, or be interpreted as one might want,  and this discussion is very interesting for me from the pint of view of assessing the dialectical development of bourgeoise social categories.. I have only the following to add to my earlier aside:

You say
> I do not define the free wage labor or wage labor form (at least as 
> Jerry and Nicky have defined wage labor; Jairus has a broader 
> definition) as part of the essence of capital as such though indeed 
> fully developed capitalism depends on it; in other words,  the 
> generalization of this form is the cause and effect of capitalist 
> development on the basis of relative surplus value. The boundless 
> search for surplus value however is the essence, if there is a 
> singular essence, of capitalist production.

I have to say I do consider the sale of labour power as a commodity to be the key to the transition to capitalistic production.  The extraction of surplus value was initially what we might today call archaic, essentially an absolute process, then with machinery we find the relative form  being the key way forward for raising  the rate of exploitation. However once a world market is evolving with a dynamic colonial process in hand then  all sorts of ways of extorting surplus products falls under the sway, influence, encouragement  etc of the dominant  system.

You say

> Plantation slavery was thus in my estimation essentially capitalistic 
> but in the long term an inefficient method for the production of 
> surplus value.

Now what do you mean 'essentially'...???   because it was produced for capitalist markets I suppose,  I prefer to think of the system as I said before, as brought into existence by capitalism because labour was not offering itself for sale freely.  The vacuum, abhored by capital, was filled by slave  merchants etc. In the complete and formal sense, the process was not fully capitalistic, yet entirely subordinate to it.  What need for further specification? the products had a price, this becomes part of the cost price for capitalists 'proper'. The preceeding process undoubtedly saw surplus labour extorted and the total product exchanged as value. I don't see the problem. 

 I said earlier 

> >The point is that once a 'real' capitalist, the developed sort, buys any
> >item, exchanges it for money, then it certainly is, from then on, a
> >commodity with a price, but at that stage the social character of the labour
> >power that has been involved is only accidentally and hesitatingly coming
> >into existence as a commodity.
Unfortunately you read this not  as 'the social character of labour power' as a commodity,  but  as the 'output of the slaves', saying 

> My goodness, the output of slaves did not accidentally take the 
> commodity form; the whole point of command of slave labor and the 
> massive concommitant in the modern plantation was the production of 
> commodities whose sale would allow for the valorization of capital as 
> Marx himself underlined.
I do not say what you took me to say, although then quoting me again, you agree agree. Thus:

> >In the case of US slavery labour power was
> >not a commodity.
> Yes but the general form of the product of labor was the commodity.
Paul B. 

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