Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of value?

From: Andrew Brown (A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Wed Apr 20 2005 - 09:49:18 EDT

Hi Rakesh,

Maybe we have in mind rather different things. I have in mind developed
capitalism -- where there is, for example, real subsumption of the
labour process -- rather than the processes involved in capital coming
to dominate production, i.e. coming to be developed (processes that of
course continue to this day, as capital continues to expand and develop
across the globe). These processes of development may be those foremost
in your mind? These processes of development are very revealing about
developed capitalism, e.g. the history of the enclosures is one of
direct coercion and ongoing resistance. 

I would argue that (developed) capitalism is to be initially
characterised by the prevalence and dominance of capital, M-C-M' with
M'>M. The increment M'-M = dM here occurs through, inter alia, free
exchange. Buying a slave is not a free exchange so cannot explain dM. If
slavery were predominant then it would be slave owners, not capital,
that would drive production. Buying labour power explains dM. With this
comes the whole ideology of freedom for all, characteristic of
capitalism, based on the double freedom of labour.

Re. 'sharp distinction': this concerns the status of the labourer and of
labour in slavery and capitalism - the different forms taken by
exploitation in different modes of production. It does not concern the
comparison of slave labour and free labour within one single mode of
production (e.g. capitalist). In both modes, of course, both slave and
free labourer generally get a hiding at the point of production.

Re. 'fluidity and creativity of labour': within slave-based society
there are a fixed range of tasks to be done by 'talking animals' and
animals, with land, tools etc. To the extent that slave owners get their
way, fluidity or creativity of labour does not extend beyond these

I continue to be embarrassed about my lack of historical knowledge on
this stuff...

Many thanks,


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