michael perelman <michael@ECST.CSUCHICO.EDU> said, on 01/06/01: > I did not mention Luxemburg because I was trying to do something that >Marx also did, but with a narrower focus: to look at the emergence of >capitalism through the works of the classical political economists. What I was thinking of is that 1. Luxemburg had a reading of the classicals which relates but wasn't discussed, and 2. so did her contemporary Lenin which is discussed quite a bit. Actually, I think Luxemburg's is probably more germane to Michael's concerns than is Lenin's. > Paul takes issue with my use of the citation regarding the >multiplication of the proletariat. In early capitalism -- and Marx makes >this point clearly -- >technical change was minimal. Much of the improvement in productivity >came from the extension of the working day. Like the mercantilists >before them, the key was to engage more people into the labor force, at >least within the domestic economy. Agreed, multiplication of the proletariat does occur in primitive accumulation as Michael describes above. But what is it when we have multiplication of the proletariat AFTER the establishment of the capitalist mode of production? This is an issue clarification of concepts: Abstracting from population increase, is it then "primitive accumulation" or "accumulation"? The reason why I am not at all sure that Michael's discussion of the Classicals would be affected by the answer to this question is that the Classicals are mostly within the timing of the ESTABLISHMENT of the capitalist mode and thus, in any case, under "primitive accumulation". > With regard to Marx's restriction of primitive accumulation to the >pre-history, I hope that explained myself in the text adequately. Marx >made that restriction to emphasize that exploitation is not just a matter >of "unfair" behavior on the part of some "bad" capitalist, but it is part >of the normal functioning of the market in which workers get paid the for >the value of their labor power. Michael does spend most of his Chapter 2 explaining his position. The problem is that I don't find the argument convincing, and I was citing Andre Gunder Frank as an example of an alternative reading. > Paul, in a private note to me, suggested that he took issue with me, in >part, because he thought that my emphasis on primitive accumulation >detracted from the accumulation of capital, proper. I hope that he is >wrong. That was not my intent. > I did imply that primitive accumulation is not merely something that >happens all at once and then ceases, but I also believe that the role of >primitive accumulation diminishes as capital accumulation becomes the >dominant force. The above paragraph is a formulation with which I factually agree but disagree regarding concepts. Factually I agree that separation from means of production remains important. But I would disagree in calling this separation after the ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CAPITALIST MODE as "primitive accumulation". Probably Michael and I will continue to disagree on this conceptual issue. But suppose (as an intermediate position) we go along with Frank and regard later separation as "primary accumulation". Would the remainder of Michael's book be affected? Surely not his discussion "gaming laws", i.e. laws which determined who can hunt for game and where (a very interesting discussion, to my mind, on the very deleterious effects on peasant capacity to access meat and therefore promoted their separtion from means of production)? the Classicals were mostly silent on this violation of their "free market" emphasis and, according to Michael, pointed to their practical DENIAL of the free market. But what of the remainder of the Michael's book if Frank's concept were utilized? I mention Frank, even though I rather disagree with him also. I disagree with Frank, since going along with him on "primitive accumulation" and "'primary accumulation" does not settle the issue of what is "accumulation" proper -- the focus of my own research. Frank, nevertheless, is useful for this dialogue with Michael. Paul Z.
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