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

From: Andrew Brown (A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Apr 19 2005 - 17:13:53 EDT

Thanks Rakesh,
I had in mind simply the overall mode of production (slave or feudal or capitalist), rather than individual relations and activities within any given mode.The world of difference between selling a labourer (slavery) and selling labour-power (capitalism) is to be considered at the level of the overall mode of production, and by no means rules out the functionality of slave production at the indiviudal level within a capitalist mode of production (it does rule out slavery becoming the prevalent and dominant form of production with capitalism). You give very important examples of the existience and functioning of slave production *within* the capitalist mode of production but this is a different matter from consideration of the slave mode of production as such  (where capital has no general hold of production and no general existence). Re. allocation, then we certainly may consider how slave production *within*capitalism responds to price signals.
My argument is that labour, in *all* societies, is not fixed by the external material constraints, nor internal structure of the labourers. In all societies we can distinguish between the power to labour and the actual labor done, noting the unique creative productivity of labour. However, in slave and feudal societies labour *is* pretty much fixed by the prevalent social relations. In the slave mode the labourer it is treated as a talking animal and in the feudal mode peasants are bound to their plot of land (to put it very crudely). The fluid creativity of labour remains little more than a potential in such societies.  
It must be painfully obvious that I'm no expert on world history, btw, and so apolgies in advance and I look forward to be being corrected!

	-----Original Message----- 
	From: OPE-L on behalf of Rakesh Bhandari 
	Sent: Tue 19/04/2005 20:11 
	Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of value?

	>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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