re John M's 7479 thank you for the cite to your paper; don't take the trouble to send it via snail mail. I'll look it up in the library. You write > > >Gil, thanks for stressing the narrowness of the monopsony >explanation. However, what I wrote about the buyer-up was not >intended to support such an approach. I consider the buyer-up to be >a hybrid historical figure who personifies the process of transition >from handicraft to the developed capitalist manufacture. What >is important according to my view, is not only the "monopsony >relation" but also the division of labour imposed to the direct >producers by the buyer up, the diversification of production on the >buyer-up's command, the supply of raw materials to these direct >producers, the emergence of the "middleman" who connects the local >producers in the different regions of a dominion with the large >scale buyer-up (seated in the export port or the commercial city) >and who also "subjects" these producers to the new (capitalist) >social relations not only economically, but also politically and >ideologically. In John Weeks' entry on merchant capital in The Dictionary of Marxist Thought, one finds Geoffrey Kay's error of confining the analysis of merchant capitalists to the extent that they personified merchant capital, i.e., buying cheap and selling dear or engaging in the carrying out trade (see Doug McEahern in Colonialism and Commodity Production, ed. Alavi, pp.17ff). Of course in terms of that role alone merchant capitalists cannot have had a transformative impact on the mode of production. But merchant capitalists did not simply buy cheap and sell dear even in the Verlag system: as you show above, they had an impact on the organization of production--for example, in order to control the final product, merchants often directly took over the finishing process which was conducted by many artisans under one roof set up by the merchant. Here we begin to see the rudiments of large scale cooperation (Braudel, Wheels of Commerce, vol 2). Marx may have been too skeptical of the potential of the putting out system to effect a change in the organization of the labor process. Moreover English merchant capitalists-- enriched by the slave trade, control of plantation produce, the opium wars and the plundering of India--do seem to have set up large-scale modern manufacture outside of the guild protected towns; large scale manufacture was not introduced mainly by self proprietors who patiently arose from the ranks, as Sweezy argued. Commercial predominance fed industrial dominance in the early stages of capitalism while this relationship would later be reversed, as Marx underlined in chapter 32. That is, merchants seem to have taken what Marx called the revolutionary road to capitalist production, though as Sweezy shows Marx only presents indirect evidence at best that commercial fortune initially subsidized industrial success. Braudel however shows that merchants took control of mining and reorganized production as large scale capitalist enterprise as early as the late 15th century in Central Europe. It does seem that the achievement of such large scale enterprise would have been delayed if left in the hands of small self proprietors who could only accumulate at (in Marx's own words) "a snail's pace"--hardly what Marx could have meant by a revolutionary road, though many Marxists today think that slow accumulation by the self proprietor or the capitalist farmer is what Marx meant by the revolutionary path to capitalism (Weeks, Byres, Mooers, Wood, etc). Sweezy attempts to confirm Marx's own finding on the basis of Nef's historical work which of course is now outdated. And this is not to say that commercial predominance in the context of the new world market was sufficient in itself for the transition to capitalism. One could also add Robin Blackburn's evidence of the role merchant capitalists played in setting up modern plantions which were not based on the old fragmented way of producing things as in the putting out system and presaged the industrial factory if Aufhauser and Fogel are to be believed. For Aufhauser and Fogel, plantation slavery was more proto industrial than the putting out system. In general, I think it is incorrect to conclude--as do the pseudo American Marxists Eugene and Elisabeth Fox Genovese in their Fruits of Merchant Capital in which there is not a single reference to Marx's discussion of the capitalist character of plantation slavery--that merchant capitalists only preserved and bled dry the old modes of production in the New World and the Old World. And all this does not even mention the political and ideological role of merchant capitalists in the carrying out of bourgeois revolutions, which you so provocatively mention below. From the tautology that merchant capitalists, qua pure merchant capital, cannot bring about a change in the mode of production it does not follow that merchant capitalists did not play a crucial role in effecting the transition to the bourgeois mode of production. In short, one cannot reduce merchant capitalists to personifications of the function of merchant or commercial capital. All the best, Rakesh ps Alex Callinicos presents an undeveloped criticism of the Dobb-Brenner tradition in his Theories and Narratives: Reflections on the Philosophy of History. His comments are quite brief and undeveloped. > In the regions of the Ottoman empire where the Greek >bourgeoisie-national revolution of 1821 broke out, this process had >been going on for several decades, transforming the "ancien regime" >not only economically (buyer-up, wage labour: manufactories, big >merchant and ship-owner enterprises), but also politically (forms of >political representation, dissolution of the asiatic-communal system >of the empire, formation of revolutionary organisations) and >ideologically (enlightenment and national idea). The middleman of >the new era emerged out of the dignitary of the "ancien regime". >Focusing on the economic level again, it is these overall relations >which transform the artisans or farmers to a hybrid or informal form >of piece-"wage labourer and proletarian", as Marx says: "The >transition from the feudal mode of production takes place in two >different ways. The producer may become merchant and capitalist >(...) Alternatively, however, the merchant may take direct control >of production himself (...) This method (...) without >revolutionizing the mode of production, it simply worsens the >conditions of the direct producers, transforms them into mere >wage-labourers and proletarians (...) appropriating their surplus >labour on the basis of the old mode of production (...) The merchant >is the real capitalist and pockets the greater part of the surplus >value" (Marx 1991, [Kiii, Penguin edition] pp. 452-53).
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