[OPE-L:3395] RE: slave labour conditions

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Sun, 13 Oct 1996 17:19:04 -0700 (PDT)

[ show plain text ]

At 03:41 12/10/96 -0700, Massimo De Angelis wrote:

>Depends on your understanding of LTV and capitalist mode of production. For
>Marx the latter is not defined by the existence of wages, but by the
>organization of the social system around a simple principle
>boundless drive for accumulation. The wage form is one way to deal
>with workers needs of reproduction, but is not the only one. With
>v=0 people could for example be fed directly without the monetary
>mediation, as in prison and slave camps.

If Marx thought wage labour irrelevant to capitalism then he would,
in my opinion, have been a fool. But I see little evidence that either
this premise or consequence held. In particular, his analysis of
the so called primitive accumulation is a lengthy historical investigation
into the process by which the wage labouring population came into being.

In my view, the conceptualisation of capitalism as being the organisation
of society around a 'principle', is a reversion to the essentialism
of Hegelian idealism.

If we assume that a different mode of production - slavery exists, then
there is generally ( though not universally ) no wage paid to the labourers.
But in these circumstances the labourers have themselves to be purchased.
Furthermore, whilst on a latifundia the slaves rations may be locally produced
not bought, for industrial production, slave rations have to be purchased
on the market. Under these circumstances simply assuming v=0 is an inadequate
representation of the costs of using labour since it ignores the costs
of purchasing and maintaining the slaves.

So my response is that what you are describing would

a) not be capitalism

b) would anyway be inadequately modeled by simply assuming v=0.


Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)