Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of value?
From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Wed Apr 20 2005 - 00:01:33 EDT
Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of
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
> treated as a talking animal and in the feudal mode peasants are
> their plot of land (to put it very crudely). The fluid creativity
> labour remains little more than a potential in such
A historical note: the 'fluidity' of the slave (who was as you
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
jobs (skill permitting) by the slaveowner or sold to another
but the 'mobility' of slaves was limited by the abolition of slavery
parts of the world. Thus, wage-workers could move freely (with
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
slaveowner could not sell his slaves in Europe or put his slaves to
in Europe. Indeed, there were very few parts of the world during
when slavery was legally permitted
Brazil counts as very few parts?
-- this was of great
politically because it helped to isolate the South from the rest of
world during the Civil War and after the Emancipation
hope that the Confederate States of America had of help from the
other foreign powers quickly evaporated.
There has never been a time historically since the dominance of
capitalist mode of production when slaves were "fluid" in
the same sense
as wage-workers were. From plantation slavery in the Americas
current forms of bonded labor in various parts of the world, the
bonded labor is restricted -- if not necessarily in individual regions
nation states, then certainly internationally.
The 'fluidity' of the
wage-worker, however, is a consequence of the market and
forms of property and class relations: it was and remains
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
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
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
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
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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: Thu Apr 21 2005 - 00:00:02 EDT