[OPE-L:7117] slavery, surplus value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Sat May 04 2002 - 15:37:42 EDT


You ask why I have pursued this argument with you despite having 
concluded that you have not been conducting the debate rationally and 
honestly with me, but I thought that I had made clear the importance 
which I attach to clarity on the issues that we are debating. The 
debate has implications for our understanding of the history of the 
capitalist system as well as present day class analysis.  It is 
important for me to show that the positions which you are attempting 
to defend cannot be sustained in a rational manner.

At any rate, your exit from the debate means that I shall not get a 
deep explanation for your own basic thesis (excuse the convoluted 

Despite modern slave plantation owners having appropriated surplus 
labor not primarily through the command of rent in kind or direct 
labor services which in either case would have directly satisfied the 
needs of the plantation owners but rather primarily through the 
production and sale of Commodities which embodied more new money 
value than the money value of the slaves' means of subsistence--that 
is despite the change (noted by Marx) in slavery from a patriarchal 
system to a system of commercial exploitation based on a voracious, 
if not limitless, appetite for surplus labor--these slaves still 
could not have produced surplus value because (and here is your 
argument) they were forced  to perform surplus labor and produce 
commodities ultimately through the fear of extra-economic coercion 
rather than fear of the sack.

So you are leaving the argument without specifying why it is exactly 
that the ultimate factor behind the compulsion of surplus labor 
determines whether that surplus labor is surplus value as well. Yet 
you also agree that developed capitalist exploitation has not been 
free of extra-economic coercion.

  I would like to think the break down in our argument stems in the 
final analysis from the analytical difficulties attendant to any 
liminal case-- modern plantation slavery does in fact stand at the 
threshold between pre capitalism and capitalism.

With Nicky however I have got the sense that slavery is a liminal 
case because slaves themselves stand in between donkeys and humans.

And yet poor old Marx's hero other than Kepler was Spartacus who was no ass. 


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