[OPE-L:7220] Re: Re: Marx on solving human problems

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Sun May 19 2002 - 14:49:56 EDT

Hans wrote in 7211:

>It is a too optimistic view to think that only internal
>contradictions are relevant for the downfall of capitalism.

And to change the subject:

Were only internal contradictions relevant for the downfall of 
feudalism? Or did "trade" act as an external dissolvent? Dobb vs. 
Sweezy, Brenner vs. Rudra.

I have been arguing that the setting up by modern slave plantations 
under the aegis of merchant capitalism--and this was a revolutionary 
undertaking in the sense that merchant capital did not simply latch 
onto independent producers and formally subsume them but financed 
enterprises organized around a  large scale, cooperative and gang 
organized labor process which forced proletarians in, say, Barbados 
to be more productive than they were anywhere else--was a crucial 
critical *external* dissolvent of feudalism in the fillip it provided 
to several industries which could then entice away peasants and serfs 
and thus accentuate the internal crisis of feudalism (Albritton 
argues that the demand for wool from the putting out system also 
acted as an external force for enclosures and the reorganization of 
rural relations).

But... this raises the question of why slavery (sugar plantations in 
particular) did not lead to full scale capitalist agriculture and 
industry in Spain and Portugal as it did in Britain.   Which then 
leads to the conclusion that only where the internal contradictions 
of feudalism were of such a nature could  there have been a 
transition to capitalism. So the primacy of internal contradictions 
are reasserted in quite a reasonable manner by Brenner and Ellen 
Wood, and I am thinking about a reply to this.

But a Marxist metaphysics about the primacy of internal contradiction 
may bias the way in which Marxists understand the transition from 
feudalism to capitalism. Plantation slavery may not have been 
sufficient but it does not mean that it was not necessary in the 
transition from feudalism to capitalism.


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