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

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Thu Apr 21 2005 - 08:45:10 EDT

Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of value?For the U.S.A. there is a necessary qualification on freedom of mobility in the 19th century.  In 1790 Congress passed a law declaring that naturalization was limited to "free white persons" and this racial restriction was not finally eliminated until after the Second World War.  This led to a series of court cases determining Chinese, Hawaiians, Native Americans, Burmese, Japanese, Mexicans, Filipinos, Asian Indians, Koreans, Afghanis and varieties of mixed race (e.g. European and Asian) were not white.  Syrians were a particularly troubling category, sometimes white, sometimes not, and the same for other Arabs.  See Lopez, White by Law, and, more generally for the construction of whiteness, Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, and Brodkin, How Jews Became White Folks.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Rakesh Bhandari 
  Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2005 12:01 AM
  Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of value?

  At 6:25 PM -0400 4/19/05, Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM wrote:
    >  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.

    Hi Andy:

    A historical note:  the 'fluidity' of the slave (who was as you say thought
    of  by slaveowners and slaveocracy as a talking animal) in the South of the
    US was limited by the state:  i.e. slaves could be put to work on different
    jobs (skill permitting) by the slaveowner or sold to another slaveowner,
    but the 'mobility' of slaves was limited by the abolition of slavery is most
    parts of the world.  Thus, wage-workers could move freely (with passports
    and visas, of course)

  Perhaps the point about labor mobility should be qualified.

  There was mobility across borders; in fact passports and visas were NOT required for much of 19th century migration. See review of the fascinating book by John Torpey below.

  But it is also false that there was unregulated movement of labor within national boundaries even among non-slaves. Karen Orren Belated Feudalism (1991) has shown how widespread was the application of master-servant law to putatively free labor relations before 1930. Vagrancy laws were used to force able bodied people to work; earnings could be withheld until the completion of the entire contract, often five to ten years; as employees were required to obtain a testimonial letter if they wished to switch jobs, judges could prevent the movement of labor if the employer did not provide such a letter; workers were defacto the property of their employers since in applying the doctrine of quicpquid acquietur servo acquietur domino (whatever is acquired by the servant is acquired by the master) off the job earnings could be appropriated by the employer.

  I  think we should watch the tendency to theorize without attention to the historical record.

    between the US and European nations, but the
    slaveowner could not sell his slaves in Europe or put his slaves to work
    in Europe.  Indeed, there were very few parts of the world during that time
    when slavery was legally permitted

  Brazil counts as very few parts?

     -- this was of great consequence
    politically because it helped to isolate the South from the rest of the
    world during the Civil War and after the Emancipation Proclamation,any
    hope that the Confederate States of America  had of help from the UK  or
    other foreign powers quickly evaporated.

    There has never been a time historically since the dominance of the
    capitalist mode of production when slaves were "fluid" in the same sense
    as wage-workers were.  From plantation slavery in the Americas to
    current forms of bonded labor in various parts of the world,  the use of
    bonded labor is restricted -- if not necessarily in individual regions and
    nation states,  then certainly internationally.    The 'fluidity' of the
    wage-worker,  however, is a consequence of  the market and different
    forms of property and class relations: it was and remains systematically
    necessary for the expansion of capitalism.

  There is a statement here about what was necessary for the expansion of capitalism.

  Are their actual historians who confirm this point?

  Again the expansion of capitalism in certain areas, in certain branches, in certain eras would not have been possible without formally unfree labor or at least were in fact carried out with formally unfree labor.  The South African compound and Pass system?!  The mobility of labor in early modern English capitalist agriculture was restricted. Brenner and Wood certainly do not deny this. Their emphasis is on the competition for leases, not the mobility of labor.

  Now a libertarian review of a Foucauldian book.

  Book Review -- The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance
  by Richard M. Ebeling, May 2000

  The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship and the State by John Torpey (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000); 210 pages; $19.95.

  One of the most stupendous achievements of 19th-century classical liberalism was the right of freedom of movement. As one indication, between 1840 and the early decades of the 20th century almost 60 million people emigrated from Europe to other parts of the world. Eighteen million came from Great Britain and Ireland; 10 million from Italy; 9.2 million from European Russia; 5.2 million from Austria-Hungary; 4.9 million from Germany; 4.7 million from Spain; 1.8 million from Portugal; 1.2 million from Sweden; 850,000 from Norway; 640,000 from Poland; 520,000 from France; and 390,000 from Denmark.

  The right to freely leave one's native land required the right to freely settle in another country of choice. And so matching the right of emigration was the right of immigration. During that same period between 1840 and 1914, 34 million Europeans settled in the United States; 6.4 million went to Argentina; 5.2 million moved to Canada; 4.4 million made Brazil their new home; 2.9 million went to Australia; 1.6 million took up residence in the British West Indies; 860,000 chose to live in Cuba; 852,000 traveled to South Africa; 713,000 elected to go to Uruguay; and 594,000 journeyed to New Zealand.

  Historian R.R. Palmer emphasized,

  Perhaps most basic in the whole European exodus was the underlying [classical] liberalism of the age. Never before (nor since) had people been legally so free to move. Old laws requiring skilled workmen to stay in their own countries were repealed, as in England in 1824. The old semi-communal agricultural villages, with collective rights and obligations, holding the individual to his native group, fell into disuse except in Russia.... Governments permitted their subjects to emigrate, to take with them their savings of shillings, marks, kroner, or lire, and to change nationality by becoming naturalized in their new homes. The rise of individual liberty in Europe, as well as the hope of enjoying it in America, made possible the great emigration. For so huge a mass movement the most remarkable fact is that it took place by individual initiative and at individual expense.

  In the early 1950s, German free-market economist Wilhelm Röpke pointed out the paradox that as the world has developed cheaper and more rapid means of global transportation, making it easier and less costly to move about from one part of the world to another, "national borders have been changed into barbed wire fences." And he explained, "There is no doubt that the closing of the gates of immigration ... is part of the larger tendency of our time towards growing nationalization and collectivization of political, cultural, economic and social life."

  John Torpey's recent book, The Invention of the Passport, is an attempt to explain how and why governments have used the power of issuing official travel documents as a means of restricting the free movement of people during the last 200 years. Over the centuries governments have attempted to control the movements of the people under their control.

  The origin of passports

  With the French Revolution, Torpey explains, the argument was made for the first time that free men should be at liberty to move freely both within and between countries. But as the French Revolution developed into civil war between factions within France and international war between France and surrounding countries, the assemblies governing the country reimposed passport controls and restrictions on movement between the countryside and the cities. Fear and paranoia about spies, provocateurs, armed bandits, army deserters, and "enemies of the people" became more important than the principle of the freedom to move.

  Only after the wars between France and the rest of Europe did travel and passport restrictions loosen across the continent, as the classical-liberal spirit of freedom and enterprise began its ascendancy. In the 1820s and 1830s, restrictions on migration were reduced in Great Britain, France, and the German states, including Prussia. By the middle and late decades of the 19th century, the freedom to move was viewed as complementary to and inseparable from the freedom of trade. Just before the First World War, a German scholar could write that

  "most modern states have, with but a few exceptions, abolished their passport laws or at least neutralized them through non-enforcement. [Foreigners] are no longer viewed by states with suspicion and mistrust but rather, in recognition of the tremendous value that can be derived from trade and exchange, welcomed with open arms, and for this reason, hindrances are removed from their path to the greatest extent possible."

  But, as Torpey points out, already in the 1880s, new restrictions on migration, residence, and work by foreigners began to be reimposed in France and Germany. Labor unions in both countries pressured their governments to "protect" jobs from foreign workers who were willing to offer their services to employers at more attractive wages. The emergence of welfare-state programs also strengthened this tendency, as governments claimed the right to determine who was expected to pay taxes and who could claim redistributive benefits within their respective jurisdictions.

  The role of the United States

  But the great impetus for a new era of barriers on freedom of movement came from the United States. In 1880, the U.S. government imposed immigration restrictions on Chinese. In 1882, this was extended to various socially "undesirable" types.

  When these laws were challenged, the Supreme Court declared the federal government had the authority to control entrance into and residence in the United States. One reaction was for foreign governments (Italy, for example, in 1901) to start issuing passports to provide legal documents to assist emigrants desiring to gain entry into the United States.

  The great watershed in the reestablishment of passport regimes among all the major countries of Europe and North America, however, was the First World War, under the declaration of "national emergency." In the political and economic nationalistic environment that followed the war in 1918, passport controls became an institutionalized feature of international travel, with governments reasserting the right to control exit from and entry into national territories under their control.

  As the state has grown in power and authority over social and economic life in the 20th century, Torpey concludes, governments have used national documents, including passports, as a legal device to "embrace" private individuals under their control and to exclude others. Passports have been a crucial technique for "nationalizing" their citizens. And until men in their social and economic life are once again denationalized, passport controls will remain government's way of managing the movement and activities of people around the world.

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