(OPE-L) Re: 'primitive' or 'original accumulation'

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Fri Apr 23 2004 - 21:55:22 EDT

Hi Howard and Paul Z.

[Howard wrote]
> He is concerned to reevaluate "the continuous role and persistence of the
> predatory practices of 'primitive' or 'original' accumulation within the
> long historical geography of capital accumulation," and cites the debate
> in The Commoner.  He adds, "Since it seems peculiar to call an ongoing
> process 'primitive' or 'original' I shall, in what follows, substitute
> these  terms by  the concept of 'accumulation by dispossession."
> Probably he'll speak to the issue this weekend.  <snip>

David Harvey did indeed speak to this issue today -- because I asked him.
I  mentioned that I was on an Internet mailing list where his concept of
"accumulation by dispossession" was recently but briefly discussed and asked
him to what extent this concept was similar to and different from Marx's
concept of primitive or original accumulation.  His reply was that he
thought that the concept of primitive accumulation, so as not to avoid
confusion, should be reserved for the early period of the emergence of
capitalism (which is, as I understand it, Paul Z's position).  Yet, he
agreed with Luxemburg who claimed that the process represented
by the primitive accumulation of capital is ongoing and continuous.
But, he deliberately chose the expression "accumulation by dispossession"
to describe this ongoing and continuous process.  [btw, in talking to him
afterwards, he mentioned "The Commoner" and seemed to
be impressed with the quality of that e-journal, or at least, the quality of
the debate on primitive accumulation and enclosures in that journal].  He
emphasized the contemporary role of robbery and thievery  in the world
capitalist economy  during the neo-liberal period and cited attempts to
privatize social security (which he likened to the enclosure movement
since it represents an attempt to transform the public into the private and
thereby rob the working class) and the robbery of Enron employees
as instances of "accumulation by dispossession."

About 200 people, mostly Pratt students, attended the day-long conference
on "Globalization and Empire."

In solidarity, Jerry

PS: Harvey is currently teaching  Marx's _Capital_ at CUNY.

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