[OPE-L] debate on labor aristocracy

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sun Apr 08 2007 - 12:20:28 EDT

What I didn't quite realize was that a whole debate happened about this, in
Solidarity's magazine Against the Current:


Charles Post (like Ellen Meiksins Wood) has some weird ideas about the
history of capitalism. For example he claims:

"... the use of non-market coercion -- military power, monopoly power,
etc. -- is the distinguishing characteristic of pre-capitalist, not
capitalist imperialism. As Ellen Meiksins Wood argues in Empire of Capital,
what distinguishes capitalist from pre-capitalist imperialism is precisely
the absence of non-market coercion. The distinguishing feature of capitalist
social relations is the absence of non-market coercion in the exploitation
of direct producers. Rather than relying on legal, juridical and other
non-market forms of coercion to ensure that producers perform surplus labor
for their exploiters, capital relies solely on the operation of the market
in labor-power to ensure the production of surplus-value."


"If outright plunder in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a
significant source of capital accumulation, then Spain and Portugal -- the
most effective early modern pre-capitalist empires -- should have
experienced the break through to industrial capitalism well before England
in the eighteenth century."

This does not follow at all, and Charlie's mentor Ernest Mandel certainly
did not make any such argument - capital accumulation, Mandel noted, can
take many different forms, industrial investment being only one of those
forms. The expansion of the world market has been accompanied by a
continuing series of wars and foreign interventions, and this makes the
"absence of non-market coercion" thesis quite impossible to maintain.


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