RE: [OPE] Question to Marxologists: Mode of production

From: Paul Cockshott (
Date: Sat Aug 30 2008 - 02:50:25 EDT

I said that mechanised agriculture and industry would not have occured
with slavery, but that hand cultivation of cotton was compatible with
both slavery and sharecropping ( which is analogous to a form of feudalism )

I said that mechanised cotton production was compatible with capitalist
farms or state farms. The only difference you can bring out is whether
in Kazakstan the tractors had keys or not, which from the standpoint
of productivity is trivial

Paul Cockshott
Dept of Computing Science
University of Glasgow
+44 141 330 1629

-----Original Message-----
From: on behalf of GERALD LEVY
Sent: Fri 8/29/2008 1:03 PM
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: RE: [OPE] Question to Marxologists: Mode of production

> Consider manual agriculture in the production of cotton in the USA, it> was compatible with both sharecropping and with slave relations of production.> On the other hand it is arguable that neither sharecropping nor slavery would> have been compatible with modern mechanized agriculture. The latter however> would be compatible both with private capitalism or with state farms or with> collective farms.
OK, Paul C: I'll talk about mechanized agriculture. Yes, you can be able to have
mechanized agriculture in different modes of production. But, the *particular
form* those means of production take are shaped by the relations of 
production. In other words, the agricultural equipment is *designed* to be
used in a particular social context. When you use a tractor, what's the first thing
you have to do?  Perhaps put the *key* in the ignition and turn the engine
over?  Why is a key required to operate the tractor?  As it happens, I'm in the
Deep South now - in coastal South Carolina. If there was still slavery, do you 
think there would be air conditioning in the vehicles and factories where the 
slaves worked?  Would there be (as much of a) concern for ergonomic design?
The mechanized agricultural equipment and other related products like 
fertilizers are designed in such a way that they have environmental 
consequences. Would post-capitalist modes of production design agricultural
means of production with relative indifference to the environment? 
In solidarity, Jerry

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