Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of value?

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Tue Apr 19 2005 - 15:11:54 EDT

>I reply:
>I think we do need capitalism because in any other mode of production
>the market 'allocation' is peripheral relative to the dominant
>production relations (feudal or slave, say). Value is only 'fully
>developed' in capitalism.

Dear Andrew,

In recognizing that some forms of slavery have been part of the
capitalist mode of production, we are forced to deconstruct any a
priori opposition between the slave and the free wage laborer. There
is a reason why the expression wage slavery has resonance. Some
formally free wage laborers and slaves may have more in common as
dependents of capital than they have with others of their own
presumed type. Part of the reason for the failure to understand this
may come from the underlying progressivist liberal belief that
capitalism can be understood as a higher stage in the unfolding drama
of human freedom. I haven't read McCarney's defense of Hegel's theory
of history yet, but I doubt that I shall be persuaded!

At any rate, I am not quite sure what you mean here; there is good
evidence of crop reallocation in response to price signals in
American plantation slavery. African labor was not fixed by external
constraints and internal structure, so it too as part of the social
labor pool had to be organized, and it was organized in response to
price signals and profit requirements in a ruthlessly "calculating
and calculated system"--to use Marx's phrase about  New World slavery
in his chapter on absolute surplus value.

To be sure, the plantation could not allocate resources as fluidly as
the contemporary conglomeration (Harvey points to the conglomeration
as institutional form for the mobility of capital needed to effect
the averaging of the profit rate), but I don't think that this
disqualifies the plantation from having been a part and an example of
the capitalist mode of production.

Moreover without racial slavery--racialized labor extra economically
coerced intergenerationally--capital may never have been allocated to
much of New World capitalist commodity agriculture--given the
availability of land and the repulsive gang labor that was used to
ensure profitability (though that system of gang labor was studied
carefully by Frederick Winslow Taylor according to Keith
Aufhauser--just another way to deconstruct said a priori opposition).

Robin Blackburn contests this capitalist necessity of slavery thesis,
but Barbara Solow, drawing on Domar, effectively rebuts the argument,
I believe.

Yours, Rakesh

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