[OPE-L:7450] Re: Re: Re: definitely not about Ch. 5

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Date: Tue Jul 23 2002 - 19:21:47 EDT

Rakesh writes

>I'm not straight on OPE-L rules, so I shall not forward Gil's recent 
>criticism of Robert Albritton to him. Gil, perhaps you could forward what 
>you wrote to him and then post his reply, if he replies?
>Here's his email address:ralbritt@yorku.ca

Given the large number of times that, e.g., John Roemer's work has been 
misrepresented and dismissed on OPE-L without anyone suggesting that he be 
contacted for a reply, it seems remarkably arbitrary for Rakesh to suggest 
now that Albritton should be contacted based on my *response to Mike L.'s 
request* for elaboration of my reaction to Albritton's position.  I readily 
accept Rakesh's proposed emendation of Albritton's overarching argument, 
reproduced below.  What I'd be less ready to accept is the prospect of 
having even tentative characterizations of non-OPE-L'rs work leaped on by 
thought-gestapo and fired off to the "offended" parties for comment, even 
though no offense--or even definite conclusion--were intended.  I'm 
thankful that we don't face this prospect on OPE-L--it would have a 
definite chilling effect on our discussions.  Particularly in a case like 
this, where my comments were *requested* by another OPE-L'r.  Is Rakesh 
suggesting I should have rebuffed this request, until such time as I could 
have my remarks "cleared" by Albritton?

For what it's worth, though, I'm thinking of writing up my comments re his 
treatment of LP commodification for possible submission to the Journal of 
Peasant Studies.  If I do this, I will assuredly send a copy ahead of time 
to Albritton for his reaction, and thus I thank Rakesh for giving me his 

>Gil, I do think you have Albritton's argument a bit wrong:
>>In a nutshell, Albritton takes issue with Brenner's contention that 
>>British "agrarian capitalism" was the prime mover of capitalism, arguing 
>>the commodification of labor power is a necessary basis of the latter, 
>>and that LP was insufficiently commodified until the 2nd half of the 19th 
>>(!) century to allow commercial farming in Gr. Br. to be called "capitalist."
>I think Albritton is arguing that even though early English capitalist 
>agriculture, unlike the putting out system, relied on the basis of free 
>wage labor  (Albritton also insists on the serious qualification of this 
>claim, which seems to have lead to Ellen Wood's concession which I quoted 
>earlier), it does not follow that that the latter was any less a crucial 
>form of early capitalist enterprise than English agriculture organized 
>around the tripartite regime of landlord-tenant-wage labor. Albritton is 
>in fact raising questions about the relation between a pure theory of 
>capitalism in which labor power is fully commodified and the history of 
>early capitalism. He warns against using the former to derive conclusions 
>about the center of gravity of the latter, no?

Yes.  I accept this correction, noting however that it in no way affects my 
discussion of his treatment of "fully commodified labor power" or the 
connection of labor subsumption to the existence of surplus value.


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