[OPE-L:2583] Re: Classes and wage-labor

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Fri, 28 Jun 1996 06:34:24 -0700 (PDT)

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Paul C asked in [OPE-L:2582]:

> Why identify the US with a social formation. Might there not be
> several social formations within it?
> Why not treat each state as a social formation?

It is entirely possible that different, and antagonistic, modes of
production can exist simultaneously within a particular nation in a given
historical period. After all, capitalism did not develop fully blown in
any nation and we have to consider the uneven development of capitalism
internationally and regionally and the varying manner in which different
modes of production relate to each other in "transitional" economies. I
would resist, though, treating the North and the South in the pre-Civil
War period as separate states since they were unified -- tenuously -- by
a common state and their economies were inter-related and affected by
federal policies. In large part, it was over the issue of which class
would control that state that the Civil War was fought. During the Civil
War itself, perhaps one could refer to the Confederacy as primarily a
slave economy (although there were elements of capitalist
production in the CSA as well).

Perhaps we have different definitions of social formations and modes of
production. Perhaps, also, we place a different emphasis on the role of
the state in this process of "articulating" modes of production within
social formations.

In the pre-Civil War period in the US (and during the Civil War itself)
perhaps we could refer to what Trotsky called "dual power" to describe
the relation between different classes and the state. While this may seem
to be a historical question alone, it seems to me that there are
analogies that can be made to contemporary social formations and that
this issue has relevance for many urban and regional areas. For instance,
what about Mexico? Perhaps Alejandro V and/or Massimo might want to
comment on the current situation. In Russia as well, the concept of "dual
power" might have explanatory value.

In OPE-L Solidarity,