Is slavery a necessary precondition for Capitalism post-colonialism? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15170728
I am struggling to imagine how one can build up the infrastructure to adopt the social relations which are a prerequisite to making capital without resorting to an extreme exploitation of labor i.e. slavery of some kind.
It seems to me an utter impossibility that the 'true' colonies could have developed without slavery. It also interestingly points to the tension between small farmers and capitalists which I tend to speculate is the basis of a lot of ideas in the U.S. of freemen. The idea that one can build for ones self a life off the land taken from the natives such that they no longer need to work for someone else but have their own property. This lead to the decentralized government because such people were not to be readily subdued by government and for a long time, many places were pretty 'wild' and relied not on government policy but communal norms to govern life and would run out any big wig that came through.

This chiefly arose in my mind in the writings of E. G. Wakefield when considering colonial economies of colonies where there wasn't a significant infrastructure to exploit due to small scale tribal life such as in the US and Australia.
Labor simply wasn't able to be coerced due to the access of stolen native land.
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks13/1306631h.html#ch-03
I did not, you know, intend to become a farmer. Having fortune enough for all my wants, I proposed to get a large domain, to build a good house, to keep enough land in my own hands for pleasure-grounds, park, and game preserves; and to let the rest, after erecting farm-houses in the most suitable spots. My mansion, park, preserves, and tenants, were all a mere dream. I have not one of them. When, upon my first arrival, I talked of these things to some sensible men, to whom I was recommended, they laughed in my face. I soon found that a house would, though the stone and timber were to be had for nothing, cost three times as much as in England. This was on account of the very high wages required by mechanics; but this was not all. None of the materials of a house, except stone and timber, are produced in the colony. Every pane of glass, every nail, every grain of paint, and every piece of furniture, from the kitchen copper to the drawing-room curtains, must have come from England. My property is at a distance of nearly seventy miles from the sea, and there is no road, but a track through the forest, for two-thirds of that distance. Every thing, even the food of the labourers, must have been transported from afar. Log-houses must have been built for the labourers; and the cheapest way of providing for them would have been by the establishment of a farm, in the first instance, to produce enough for their subsistence. Lastly, though none of these obstacles had existed, the whole colony did not contain as many masons, carpenters, glaziers, painters, black and whitesmiths, and other mechanics, as I should have required. You may believe most statements of fact respecting the colony; but beware how you draw conclusions!

Of course, I soon abandoned all thought of building a mansion. As for a park, my whole property was a park, and a preserve for kangaroos and emus. The grand object was to dispark it as soon as possible. I clung for some time to the hope of having tenants; but you will readily see that what deterred me from building a mansion presented numerous obstacles to the erection of farm-houses. Besides, even though I had forced circumstances, and had, at an enormous cost, placed a dozen good homesteads on my land, where was I to find tenants? There is no such class as a tenantry in this country, where every man, who has capital to cultivate a farm, can obtain one of his own for nothing. I soon found that what little my twenty thousand acres had cost me would be entirely lost, unless I turned farmer myself, and endeavoured, by my own exertions, with the assistance of convict servants, to extract something from the soil.
...
I constantly ask myself, whether it be possible to devise any means by which to establish, in a new country, such a proportion between people and land as would render labour plentiful, and not extravagantly dear. Here we have, it is true, a species of slave-labour that of convicts, and our system of slavery has been peculiarly favourable to the master, because the slaves have been obtained without any prime cost. To this, combined with the demand for produce created by the great expenditure of Government, the few rich men of New South Wales are wholly indebted for their fortunes. But the supply of cheap labour was always small and variable; and, of late, the demand has so much increased, through the increase of landowners, that not the slightest dependence can be placed on convict labour as a permanent source of wealth. You may obtain, though not without trouble, one, two, or perhaps three, convicts, for a term of a few years; but that they will rob you, is almost certain; that they will murder you, is by no means improbable; and that their labour will not be very profitable, is beyond a doubt. What, then, are we to do, to obtain that desirable proportion between the demand and supply of labour, without which, I say, no country can flourish? Answer me that question satisfactorily, and I will tell you that Botany Bay is an earthly paradise. This, indeed, would be a glorious discovery. Call it an invention, or what you will, it must, whenever established in a country cursed with slavery, cause the natural, slow, easy death of that hideous monster. Fancy the slavery of America and South Africa in a slow consumption, and free labour growing up, healthy, strong, and cheerful, to supply its place! But I am dreaming—We have a right to presume that slavery will flourish in America and South Africa, until there shall be no more land to be obtained for next to nothing; and that the inhabitants of Australasia must, for hundreds of years to come, secretly long for a trade in human flesh. Tell me the time when the disproportion between the demand and supply of labour in America, South Africa, and Australasia will cease, and I will tell you when slavery will cease in America and South Africa, and when the Australasians will become a rich, instructed, refined, and highly civilized people. Meanwhile, I deliberately state it as my opinion, that a permission to obtain slaves from Africa would be most beneficial to these settlements, with a view only to wealth and civilization; and that if Australasia should become independent to-morrow, these people would find some means of establishing slavery in spite of all the saints.
...
But will transportation continue to exert the same happy influence on our condition? t think not. If, for every acre of land that may be appropriated here, there should be a conviction for felony in England, our prosperity would rest on a solid basis; but, however earnestly we may desire it, we cannot expect that the increase of crime will keep pace with the spread of colonization. What, then, must happen? Every day sees an increase in the number of employers of labour, without a proportionate increase in the number of labourers. As convicts are fairly distributed amongst those who want them, the general increase of demand diminishes the supply to each settler. Twenty thousand convicts, divided amongst five hundred settlers, would give to each settler forty pair of bands, wherewith to obtain for his wife a superb landau and plenty of gunpowder; but divide the same number of convicts amongst ten times the number of settlers, and poverty, in respect to every thing above mere subsistence, must be the lot of all. During forty years we have combined the fire and water of political economy—cheap land and cheap labour. The result is, no doubt, astonishing: but, as that strange union of contradictions is almost at an end, so what it has produced will vanish like a steam-cloud produced by the fire and water of physics, which can be maintained only by the constant action of its cause. The union of cheapness of labour with cheapness of land depended on the proportion which labour bore to appropriated land. Alter that proportion, either by diminishing the quantity of labour, or increasing the quantity of land, and you dissolve the unnatural union. Every day, I must repeat, sees an increase in the quantity of; land, whilst the quantity of labour remains the same. Ten years hence land will be as cheap as ever, and we shall talk of cheap labour as a thing that was. Ten years hence, perhaps sooner, the peculiar cheapness of land, which is a natural attribute of this country, must operate without a check; the accumulation of wealth must cease; and most of that creation from nothing, which astonishes the hasty observer, will gradually perish.
...
The effect of penal slavery in producing wealth must, as has been already explained, depend altogether on the proportion of cheap slaves to the employers of slave-labour. If, henceforth, convicts shall be fairly divided amongst all who want labourers, they will not confer wealth upon any man. If they should be unfairly distributed by favour, so as to bestow upon a few persons only the means of wealth, that would not be a general benefit; and such partiality would be injurious, in another light, by causing furious ill-will amongst the colonists.

Marx applauds E.G. Wakefield for his honesty in considering the issue so forthrightly.
https://la.utexas.edu/users/hcleaver/357k/357ksg33.html
He lays bare something which may be hidden in the economics of others who naturalize such relations as true of production in general, missing the rather specific social relations which are a precondition for capital to be possible. In fact, the opposition of people who produce their own subsistence is clearly at odds with capitalist production which requires them to be propertyless and without means to survive other than to work for money to exchange for their needs. Such a coercive deprivation is absolutely necessary otherwise one would clearly come up against the point that no one would want to work for you because what need would they necessary have of money unless as a supplement to their primary means of life?
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch33.htm
Political economy confuses on principle two very different kinds of private property, of which one rests on the producers’ own labour, the other on the employment of the labour of others. It forgets that the latter not only is the direct antithesis of the former, but absolutely grows on its tomb only. In Western Europe, the home of Political Economy, the process of primitive accumulation is more of less accomplished. Here the capitalist regime has either directly conquered the whole domain of national production, or, where economic conditions are less developed, it, at least, indirectly controls those strata of society which, though belonging to the antiquated mode of production, continue to exist side by side with it in gradual decay. To this ready-made world of capital, the political economist applies the notions of law and of property inherited from a pre-capitalistic world with all the more anxious zeal and all the greater unction, the more loudly the facts cry out in the face of his ideology. It is otherwise in the colonies. There the capitalist regime everywhere comes into collision with the resistance of the producer, who, as owner of his own conditions of labour, employs that labour to enrich himself, instead of the capitalist. The contradiction of these two diametrically opposed economic systems, manifests itself here practically in a struggle between them. Where the capitalist has at his back the power of the mother-country, he tries to clear out of his way by force the modes of production and appropriation based on the independent labour of the producer. The same interest, which compels the sycophant of capital, the political economist, in the mother-country, to proclaim the theoretical identity of the capitalist mode of production with its contrary, that same interest compels him in the colonies to make a clean breast of it, and to proclaim aloud the antagonism of the two modes of production. To this end, he proves how the development of the social productive power of labour, co-operation, division of labour, use of machinery on a large scale, &c., are impossible without the expropriation of the labourers, and the corresponding transformation of their means of production into capital. In the interest of the so-called national wealth, he seeks for artificial means to ensure the poverty of the people. Here his apologetic armor crumbles off, bit by bit, like rotten touchwood. It is the great merit of E.G. Wakefield to have discovered, not anything new about the Colonies [2], but to have discovered in the Colonies the truth as to the conditions of capitalist production in the mother country. As the system of protection at its origin [3] attempted to manufacture capitalists artificially in the mother-country, so Wakefield’s colonisation theory, which England tried for a time to enforce by Acts of Parliament, attempted to effect the manufacture of wage-workers in the Colonies. This he calls “systematic colonisation.”

First of all, Wakefield discovered that in the Colonies, property in money, means of subsistence, machines, and other means of production, does not as yet stamp a man as a capitalist if there be wanting the correlative — the wage-worker, the other man who is compelled to sell himself of his own free will. He discovered that capital is not a thing, but a social relation between persons, established by the instrumentality of things. [4] Mr. Peel, he moans, took with him from England to Swan River, West Australia, means of subsistence and of production to the amount of £50,000. Mr. Peel had the foresight to bring with him, besides, 300 persons of the working class, men, women, and children. Once arrived at his destination, “Mr. Peel was left without a servant to make his bed or fetch him water from the river.” [5] Unhappy Mr. Peel who provided for everything except the export of English modes of production to Swan River!

For the understanding of the following discoveries of Wakefield, two preliminary remarks: We know that the means of production and subsistence, while they remain the property of the immediate producer, are not capital. They become capital only under circumstances in which they serve at the same time as means of exploitation and subjection of the labourer. But this capitalist soul of theirs is so intimately wedded, in the head of the political economist, to their material substance, that he christens them capital under all circumstances, even when they are its exact opposite. Thus is it with Wakefield. Further: the splitting up of the means of production into the individual property of many independent labourers, working on their own account, he calls equal division of capital. It is with the political economist as with the feudal jurist. The latter stuck on to pure monetary relations the labels supplied by feudal law.

“If,” says Wakefield, “all members of the society are supposed to possess equal portions of capital... no man would have a motive for accumulating more capital than he could use with his own hands. This is to some extent the case in new American settlements, where a passion for owning land prevents the existence of a class of labourers for hire.” [6] So long, therefore, as the labourer can accumulate for himself — and this he can do so long as he remains possessor of his means of production — capitalist accumulation and the capitalistic mode of production are impossible. The class of wage labourers, essential to these, is wanting. How, then, in old Europe, was the expropriation of the labourer from his conditions of labour, i.e., the co-existence of capital and wage labour, brought about? By a social contract of a quite original kind. “Mankind have adopted a... simple contrivance for promoting the accumulation of capital,” which, of course, since the time of Adam, floated in their imagination, floated in their imagination as the sole and final end of their existence: “they have divided themselves into owners of capital and owners of labour.... The division was the result of concert and combination.” [7] In one word: the mass of mankind expropriated itself in honor of the “accumulation of capital.” Now, one would think that this instinct of self-denying fanaticism would give itself full fling especially in the Colonies, where alone exist the men and conditions that could turn a social contract from a dream to a reality. But why, then, should “systematic colonisation” be called in to replace its opposite, spontaneous, unregulated colonisation? But - but - “In the Northern States of the American Union; it may be doubted whether so many as a tenth of the people would fall under the description of hired labourers.... In England... the labouring class compose the bulk of the people.” [8] Nay, the impulse to self-expropriation on the part of labouring humanity for the glory of capital, exists so little that slavery, according to Wakefield himself, is the sole natural basis of Colonial wealth. His systematic colonisation is a mere pis aller, since he unfortunately has to do with free men, not with slaves. “The first Spanish settlers in Saint Domingo did not obtain labourers from Spain. But, without labourers, their capital must have perished, or at least, must soon have been diminished to that small amount which each individual could employ with his own hands. This has actually occurred in the last Colony founded by England — the Swan River Settlement — where a great mass of capital, of seeds, implements, and cattle, has perished for want of labourers to use it, and where no settler has preserved much more capital than he can employ with his own hands.” [9]

We have seen that the expropriation of the mass of the people from the soil forms the basis of the capitalist mode of production. The essence of a free colony, on the contrary, consists in this — that the bulk of the soil is still public property, and every settler on it therefore can turn part of it into his private property and individual means of production, without hindering the later settlers in the same operation.[10] This is the secret both of the prosperity of the colonies and of their inveterate vice — opposition to the establishment of capital. “Where land is very cheap and all men are free, where every one who so pleases can easily obtain a piece of land for himself, not only is labour very dear, as respects the labourer’s share of the produce, but the difficulty is to obtain combined labour at any price.” [11]
#15170734
late wrote:Slavery had been around for thousands of years before Capitalism...

Actually, capitalism eventually killed slavery, it was cheaper to hire workers, and then let them go, when you didn't need them.

Indeed, but would capitalism be possible in the colonies without the use of slavery is more the point.

Also, there is a point that slavery is still a profitable industry even if it isn't formally approved of by nation states. It's more prolific than it has ever been. And while many things come under the label of slavery, it is useful to examine the different conditions and qualities of them to properly distinguish the conditions of slavery just as convicts in Australia were not the same as slaves in Virginia and Georgia. Guess this is simply my conservative concern to not treat things as synonymous where they may not be entirely.
#15170738
Wellsy wrote:
1) Indeed, but would capitalism be possible in the colonies without the use of slavery is more the point.

2) Also, there is a point that slavery is still a profitable industry even if it isn't formally approved of by nation states.

3) It's more prolific than it has ever been.




1) Capitalism started in Italy, and had not a thing to do with slavery. Bankers developed tools to manage risk.

2) True, but here in America we could cut that down to nothing by making sex work legal, and regulated.

3) That is wildly incorrect.
#15170740
Wellsy wrote:Indeed, but would capitalism be possible in the colonies without the use of slavery is more the point.

Indeed, and it would clearly not have been possible, for the reasons you outlined in your wall of text (and a very fine wall of text it was too). Which is why slavery existed in the New World almost from the first moment Columbus set foot on Hispaniola. First he enslaved the Tainos, and when they all died off from overwork, disease and despair, he imported slaves from Africa, who proved to be of hardier stock (though they still tended to die off at an annoying rate). He didn't do this because he was an evil person, or because he got out of bed in a bad mood one day, but because he had to. Apart from looting gold from the natives, there was no other way of turning a profit in this New World....
#15170743
late wrote:1) Capitalism started in Italy, and had not a thing to do with slavery. Bankers developed tools to manage risk.

@Wellsy is talking specifically about the colonies, not Europe. That's the whole point of this thread.

2) True, but here in America we could cut that down to nothing by making sex work legal, and regulated.

Not all slaves are sex workers.

3) That is wildly incorrect.

Any statistics to back that up?
#15170747
Potemkin wrote:Indeed, and it would clearly not have been possible, for the reasons you outlined in your wall of text (and a very fine wall of text it was too). Which is why slavery existed in the New World almost from the first moment Columbus set foot on Hispaniola. First he enslaved the Tainos, and when they all died off from overwork, disease and despair, he imported slaves from Africa, who proved to be of hardier stock (though they still tended to die off at an annoying rate). He didn't do this because he was an evil person, or because he got out of bed in a bad mood one day, but because he had to. Apart from looting gold from the natives, there was no other way of turning a profit in this New World....



Yea, this is what I tell people that demonize Columbus specifically. My response is "if it wasn't him, it would be someone else. He is a product of his time." It's not like if someone other explorer set foot on the Americas, history would be all that different.

As for who invented capitalism. It wasn't the Dutch? I thought they were the people that started the concept of the stock market, as well as insurance for shipping. I believe the Italians invented the concept of the government bond though.
Last edited by Rancid on 04 May 2021 18:38, edited 1 time in total.
#15170748
Potemkin wrote:[usermention=41351]

1) @Wellsy[/usermention] is talking specifically about the colonies, not Europe. That's the whole point of this thread.


Not all slaves are sex workers.


Any statistics to back that up?



1) He also, and specifically, mentioned capitalism. In days of old armies came and stole your stuff long before capitalism. They also made slaves of your people, if they felt like it.

2) of course, but here that's by far the biggest cause.

3) Slavery was routine in ancient history. It simply isn't now.
#15170758
late wrote:1) Capitalism started in Italy, and had not a thing to do with slavery. Bankers developed tools to manage risk.

2) True, but here in America we could cut that down to nothing by making sex work legal, and regulated.

3) That is wildly incorrect.

1) I specified the emergence of capitalist production in the colonies as such a lack of infrastructure and social relations was not lacking in Europe which was able to engage in primitive accumulation quite directly.
I agree that the states of what is today modern Italy are the direct examples of the emergence capitalism. But of course the conditions for primitive accumulation existed where as in the colonies where tribal life of different kinds existed.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch26.htm
In the history of primitive accumulation, all revolutions are epoch-making that act as levers for the capital class in course of formation; but, above all, those moments when great masses of men are suddenly and forcibly torn from their means of subsistence, and hurled as free and “unattached” proletarians on the labour-market. The expropriation of the agricultural producer, of the peasant, from the soil, is the basis of the whole process. The history of this expropriation, in different countries, assumes different aspects, and runs through its various phases in different orders of succession, and at different periods. In England alone, which we take as our example, has it the classic form. [1]
...
1. In Italy, where capitalistic production developed earliest, the dissolution of serfdom also took place earlier than elsewhere. The serf was emancipated in that country before he had acquired any prescriptive right to the soil. His emancipation at once transformed him into a free proletarian, who, moreover, found his master ready waiting for him in the towns, for the most part handed down as legacies from the Roman time. When the revolution of the world-market, about the end of the 15th century, annihilated Northern Italy’s commercial supremacy, a movement in the reverse direction set in. The labourers of the towns were driven en masse into the country, and gave an impulse, never before seen, to the petite culture, carried on in the form of gardening.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/j.ctt183p671.6.pdf
Procacci’s insistence on the importance of markets was followed by the comprehensive and profound analysis of the origins and failure of early Italian capitalism in the light of the Dobb–Sweezy debate by the distinguished Annales scholar and Marxist historian Maurice Aymard.8 Following closely in the footsteps of the master of the Annales School, Fernand Braudel, Aymard acquired a deep understanding of Italian Renaissance history based on primary research.9 Beginning his analysis of capitalist origins by surveying the vestiges of feudalism in late medieval Italy, Aymard observed that by the mid-fifteenth century the remains of serfdom had disappeared throughout the Italian peninsula. A stage had been reached in which people could sell their labour freely. Indeed, the expropriation of the peasantry through enclosures – taken as a hallmark of capitalism in sixteenth-century England – had already begun in Italy in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

In the wide plains of the Po valley – the most productive land in Italy – capitalist farming became prevalent. Throughout the rest of the peninsula, but especially in the centre, share-cropping was the most widespread form of tenure. Meanwhile in Naples and Sicily large arable estates continued to dominate. But over time the presence of the old ruling groups and the vestiges of feudalism there weakened. The landlords who owned or who were able to buy, sell and exploit these large estates came to be mainly urban merchants and notables. This change was manifest in a more intense and systematic exploitation of labour rather than enhanced capital investment. Hence the historic backwardness of southern Italian agriculture.


2) & 3) My understanding is that slavery in absolute numbers of people in such conditions is greater than it has ever been in history and that forced sexual exploitation isn't the more prevalent.
https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/lang--en/index.htm
At any given time in 2016, an estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.

It means there are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world.
1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.

Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million persons in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million persons in forced labour imposed by state authorities.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labour, accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors
Last edited by Wellsy on 04 May 2021 19:33, edited 1 time in total.
#15170759
Without benefits from slave labor used almost entirely for cotton agriculture (one of a few sectors of economics in XVIII century where slavery was making a sense. Making a sense only in the unique condition of extremely cheap slave source of Western Africa. Would the cost be higher slavery would still make no sense) colonies would be exactly the same as the colonies we know from history, only with less money.
#15170761
Wellsy wrote:Indeed, but would capitalism be possible in the colonies without the use of slavery is more the point.

Also, there is a point that slavery is still a profitable industry even if it isn't formally approved of by nation states. It's more prolific than it has ever been. And while many things come under the label of slavery, it is useful to examine the different conditions and qualities of them to properly distinguish the conditions of slavery just as convicts in Australia were not the same as slaves in Virginia and Georgia. Guess this is simply my conservative concern to not treat things as synonymous where they may not be entirely.


Yes, there are no colonies in in the classical sense right now. Well not to any relevant degree and capitalism is still here. Germany barely had any colonies. Spain and Portugal had plenty of colonies but they were failures in the capitalism department for a long time.

Arguably slavery was a negative factor for capitalism and hence capitalism got rid of it. There are some theories that if slavery didn't exist in the Roman empire than technological innovation would have happened a lot sooner and well, capitalism.
#15170763
JohnRawls wrote:Yes, there are no colonies in in the classical sense right now. Well not to any relevant degree and capitalism is still here. Germany barely had any colonies. Spain and Portugal had plenty of colonies but they were failures in the capitalism department for a long time.

Arguably slavery was a negative factor for capitalism and hence capitalism got rid of it. There are some theories that if slavery didn't exist in the Roman empire than technological innovation would have happened a lot sooner and well, capitalism.

Well in the context of the U.S. which I guess really stands out here as capitalism par excellence, and is the basis of the greatest modern institutions which even most of Europe seems to have adopted post-WWII, was there economic motive alone in the competition between free and slave states? That workers are simply more economically viable than slavery because one no longer has to formally invest in their care. This has some intuitive appeal to me, but in the emergence to the civil war, I get the impression a lot of politicians were concerned with political power. BUt then why there was such a division of free to slave states vying for political power would suggest there was some sort of significant divide and could see that being an economic driven conflict.

I had vaguely heard of those theories that Capitalism could have emerged from the Roman empire and was on the cusp of it's preconditions but had factors like slavery impeding such a radical shift. I need to learn more American history.

----

Also to kind of make a point of what I think we should be careful to distinguish things across large periods of time under different conditions is that one can mistake something's continuity as being the same and without dramatic qualitative changes. But many things naturally pre-exist their dominant influence over things, just as commodities and markets pre-exist capitalism but in capitalism, the function of markets and their exchange of commodities comes to dominate and change society and thus it's social relations. Things which are universal are for a time exceptions or 'accidental'.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/articles/universal.htm
The real case-history of economic (market) relations testifies, however, in favor of Marx who shows that the “form of value in general” has not at all times been the universal form of the organization of production. Historically, and for a rather long time, it remained a particular relation of people and things in production although occurring haphazardly. It was not until capitalism and the “free enterprise society” came into being that value (i.e., the market form of the product) became the general form of inter-relationships among the component parts of production.

Similar transitions, of the “individual and accidental” into the universal is not a rarity, but rather a rule in history. In history – yet not exclusively the history of humanity with its culture – it always so happens that a phenomenon which later becomes universal, is at first emergent precisely as a solitary exception “from the rule,” as an anomaly, as something particular and partial. Otherwise, hardly anything could ever be expected to turn up. History would have a rather mystical appearance, if all that is new in it emerged at once, as something “common” to all without exception, as an abruptly embodied “idea.”
#15170772
Wellsy wrote:Well in the context of the U.S. which I guess really stands out here as capitalism par excellence, and is the basis of the greatest modern institutions which even most of Europe seems to have adopted post-WWII, was there economic motive alone in the competition between free and slave states? That workers are simply more economically viable than slavery because one no longer has to formally invest in their care. This has some intuitive appeal to me, but in the emergence to the civil war, I get the impression a lot of politicians were concerned with political power. BUt then why there was such a division of free to slave states vying for political power would suggest there was some sort of significant divide and could see that being an economic driven conflict.

I had vaguely heard of those theories that Capitalism could have emerged from the Roman empire and was on the cusp of it's preconditions but had factors like slavery impeding such a radical shift. I need to learn more American history.

----

Also to kind of make a point of what I think we should be careful to distinguish things across large periods of time under different conditions is that one can mistake something's continuity as being the same and without dramatic qualitative changes. But many things naturally pre-exist their dominant influence over things, just as commodities and markets pre-exist capitalism but in capitalism, the function of markets and their exchange of commodities comes to dominate and change society and thus it's social relations. Things which are universal are for a time exceptions or 'accidental'.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/articles/universal.htm


To be honest, there is a certain argument that colonialism made global capitalism easier like it is happened right now through swetshops in China or other cheap manpower countries. Capitalism did not require slavery in my opinion because who were exploited in the marxist sense first? Was it the colonies? No, it was the metropolies and the cheap labour that existed due to majority of the population leading an agrarian lifestyle.

Although I don't agree with Marxist narrative that capitalism really exploited, it can be interpreted that way. The reason people work and worked in the factories and coal mines and so on is because there is or was no alternative or the alternative is/was worse. Once the chains of feudalism has been removed then capitalism was inevitable in my opinion. It could have happened in the Roman empire but we are forgetting that late Roman empire basically established feudalism through its taxation practices. A large problem for the Roman collapse wasn't just the barbarian invasion but also their incompetent economic policy for hundreds of years. Later Roman practices created sagregated communities who were not encouraged to trade due to obscene taxation which later on turned in to feudalism.
#15170774
Wellsy wrote:

2) & 3) My understanding is that slavery in absolute numbers of people in such conditions is greater than it has ever been in history and that forced sexual exploitation isn't the more prevalent.



As I pointed out, I was talking about my country.

You can't use absolute numbers because the population has gotten so much larger..

Then there is the undeveloped issue. If you google the decline of slavery, you will be looking at governments outlawing slavery in the 1800s.

Those are developed, capitalist economies. Slaves became unprofitable.

The undeveloped world is quite different, are you saying we should dispatch armies to the 3rd world to show them the way?
#15170779
Unthinking Majority wrote:Why not? Maybe in some industries like agriculture they wouldn't have been as profitable, but that doesn't mean a market economy couldn't have existed.

The idea that America's successful capitalism is only due to black people working in the South is a bit of a stretch. The North was in better shape without slaves. Slave ownership in Canada was minuscule and they were able to develop.
#15170781
JohnRawls wrote:To be honest, there is a certain argument that colonialism made global capitalism easier like it is happened right now through swetshops in China or other cheap manpower countries. Capitalism did not require slavery in my opinion because who were exploited in the marxist sense first? Was it the colonies? No, it was the metropolies and the cheap labour that existed due to majority of the population leading an agrarian lifestyle.

Although I don't agree with Marxist narrative that capitalism really exploited, it can be interpreted that way. The reason people work and worked in the factories and coal mines and so on is because there is or was no alternative or the alternative is/was worse. Once the chains of feudalism has been removed then capitalism was inevitable in my opinion. It could have happened in the Roman empire but we are forgetting that late Roman empire basically established feudalism through its taxation practices. A large problem for the Roman collapse wasn't just the barbarian invasion but also their incompetent economic policy for hundreds of years. Later Roman practices created sagregated communities who were not encouraged to trade due to obscene taxation which later on turned in to feudalism.

Well how was there no alternative? ANd in what way was it considered worse?
My thought is that the very reason there was no alternative is because of the process of primitive accumulation in what ever form it takes like enclosure.
ANd whether the alternative was worse isn't always clear as there does seem to be some conflict around such a process.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kett%27s_Rebellion
[QUPTE]Kett's Rebellion was a revolt in Norfolk, England during the reign of Edward VI, largely in response to the enclosure of land. It began at Wymondham on 8 July 1549 with a group of rebels destroying fences that had been put up by wealthy landowners.[/QUOTE]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Rebellions
A factor that drew wider support for FitzMaurice was the prospect of land confiscations, which had been mooted by Sidney and Peter Carew, an English claimant to lands granted to an ancestor just after the Norman conquest of Ireland that had been lost soon afterwards.

This ensured FitzMaurice the support of important Munster clans, notably MacCarthy Mór, O'Sullivan Beare and O'Keefe, and two prominent Butlers, brothers of the Earl. Fitzmaurice himself had lost the land he had held at Kerricurrihy in County Cork, which had been taken and leased to English colonists.

So I wonder what way you might characterize these sort of conflicts and primitive accumulation as a concept in which there is forceful dispossession of people of their land.
I mean your examples of factory work and coal mining don't sound appealing considering how brutal such conditions were when England was industrializing. Although such jobs are a later stage compared to say when Adam Smith talks optimistically of the division of labor and free trade.
ALthough even he in his great openness can't help but bleed many contradictory but true parts of the developing economy when he speak of the negative effects of the division of labor.
https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/smith-adam/works/wealth-of-nations/book05/ch01c-2.htm
In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a few very simple operations, frequently to one or two. But the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life. Of the great and extensive interests of his country he is altogether incapable of judging, and unless very particular pains have been taken to render him otherwise, he is equally incapable of defending his country in war. The uniformity of his stationary life naturally corrupts the courage of his mind, and makes him regard with abhorrence the irregular, uncertain, and adventurous life of a soldier. It corrupts even the activity of his body, and renders him incapable of exerting his strength with vigour and perseverance in any other employment than that to which he has been bred. His dexterity at his own particular trade seems, in this manner, to be acquired at the expense of his intellectual, social, and martial virtues. But in every improved and civilised society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.

Such a condition of a worker you're saying is better than the alternative in the experience of the person who shifts roles in the production. I make no charmy eyed account of feudalism in this, but merely that I don't think the development of capitalist relations was all to pretty either. Of course every country which goes through industrialization experiences the brutality of building the infrastructure of the nation.

I like your point that they regarded trade through their taxation, so there was those who benefited from such a system and perhaps a merchant class wasn't strong enough to push itself in such conditions or there was not an impetus.

late wrote:As I pointed out, I was talking about my country.

You can't use absolute numbers because the population has gotten so much larger..

Then there is the undeveloped issue. If you google the decline of slavery, you will be looking at governments outlawing slavery in the 1800s.

Those are developed, capitalist economies. Slaves became unprofitable.

The undeveloped world is quite different, are you saying we should dispatch armies to the 3rd world to show them the way?

Indeed you were in regards to regulation of the sex industry, I only wished to point out the basis for my claim that it is prolific as not being confined to the US.
Although even within the context of the U.S., the amount of slaves shipped to the U.S. is comparable to how many slaves are thought to be in the U.S.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/19/us-modern-slavery-report-global-slavery-index
More than 400,000 people could be living in “modern slavery” in the US, a condition of servitude broadly defined in a new study as forced and state-imposed labor, sexual servitude and forced marriage.

The Global Slavery Index, published on Thursday by Walk Free Foundation, describes modern slavery as a complex and often hidden crime that crosses borders, sectors and jurisdictions. The US number, the study estimates, is almost one hundredth of the estimated 40.3 million global total number of people it defines as being enslaved.

“The United States is one of the most advanced countries in the world yet has more than 400,000 modern slaves working under forced labor conditions,” said the group’s founder, Andrew Forrest, in a news release.

https://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/how-many-slaves-landed-in-the-us/
And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped directly to North America? Only about 388,000. That’s right: a tiny percentage.

This of course ignores how much of slavery was based on the reproduction of slaves through families after arriving of course, but still puts things into some perspective.

Indeed, slavery was very much in decline after the civil war and the victory for the North.
And I can agree that slavery can be considered unprofitable in upkeep whereas a worker there isn't as direct responsibility for managing their subsistence, only indirectly through wages.

No I have made no such allusion of what is to be done about slavery globally, rather my point is about the making of the preconditions on which capital can come into existence in the 'true' colonies such as the U.S. and Australia where the economics, as laid out by E. G. Wakefield make a point of how there aren't the same relations underpinning the ability to have a reliable source of labor to expand one's capital.

You emphasize how the rise of capitalism played a role in the defeat of institutional chattel slavery, but the point is about the emergence of a capitalist economy in the first place. It wasn't a natural given of the Americas that capital was possible, as was very apparent with the first colonies on the East Coast which to my understanding were meant to be profitable ventures but were not so, as they struggled like E. G. Wakefield in Australia, to have a tight hold on the locals to make them do what they wanted.
https://www.historyisfun.org/learn/learning-center/how-did-tobacco-become-a-cash-crop-for-jamestown/
Officials of the Virginia Company established the colony at Jamestown to make a profit. They expected the colonists to find marketable natural resources, develop industries or produce an agricultural product that would succeed in making money for the colony and its investors in England. After finding no precious metals and failing at such endeavors as glassmaking and silk production, John Rolfe finally succeeded by growing a sweet variety of tobacco which was all the rage in England. In other words, consumers were waiting! This meant land became a very important resource since a great deal of land was required to grow tobacco. Because growing tobacco also required a lot of hard work and labor, more people (human resources) were needed to work in the fields. The more workers one had, the more tobacco they could grow and the greater the profit they could recognize. Indentured servitude met this need at first, but later slavery became entrenched as an institution in Virginia, because of the labor force it provided the colonists for tobacco production. It didn’t take the colonists long to realize that economic specialization would be the way to go, and tobacco became a cash crop for the colony.

And see the bolded, as it affirms my sense that forced labor of some sort, such as slavery or convict penal labor as in Australia is absolutely necessary for a colony.
This is my main point in the thread and I put it out for consideration whether one could imagine any alternative for the colonies, that there was an economic inevitability that if colonies were to develop, they were first to be founded on such severe exploitation.

Unthinking Majority wrote:Why not? Maybe in some industries like agriculture they wouldn't have been as profitable, but that doesn't mean a market economy couldn't have existed.

Well, that's what I want to explore further, as it seems the interests of capitalists was to make a profit and for that profit to be possible they needed certain conditions to help press people into the role of labor for a price that still allowed them a profit.
It does however seem that colonies sometimes developed in spite of the British because people continued westward for various reasons at different times in the U.S. at least to acquire more land for themselves.
This allows me to think that slavery may not have been needed in all colonies when there was a proliferation of small farmers. Capitalist relations of production and capital itself was not possible until later after colonies had built themselves up enough that one could gradually introduce market relations and then expand them a great deal further with expanded production. It seems even at the time of the civil war that the U.S. was largely many colonies of subsistent farmers. Which at least points to the need for the population to build up and the land to be worked in a way that had some production analogous to serfdom in Europe which was prior to primitive accumulation which creates a working class needed to have surplus profit from labor.

Julian658 wrote:The idea that America's successful capitalism is only due to black people working in the South is a bit of a stretch. The North was in better shape without slaves. Slave ownership in Canada was minuscule and they were able to develop.

See this seems vague to me considering the above where even the first colonies clearly relied on force labor and slavery. While they may not have been founded as slave states like that of Georgia, when we think of colonies before there is the prospect of free and slave states and an oncoming civil war, one has to make a point of how such colonies were developed without slavery directly or even indirectly where there was increasing commerence not confined to a single colony and thus slavery in the South wasn't necessarily uninfuential upon the economics of the North. Basically, even the North's prosperity was heavily indebted to slave labor, it's success in commerce and eventually commercial development doesn't stand out to me as somehow not indebted to the South's slave labor.
However, the point about less reliance at least points to the prospect of whether my account above of the westward expansion of people seeking land for their own use was a precondition where slavery wasn't implemented.

And in Regards to Canada, while it may not have been full blown Georgia state slavery, I think a point has to be made to argue how the development of such colonies was independent slavery otherwise one is engaging in wishful thinking where it seems there is a strong case as in the experience of E. G. Wakefield in theorizing colonial economics that the situation of land and labor undermines the ability to directly apply political economics of a capitalist economy.
#15170783
Ganeshas Rat wrote:Without benefits from slave labor used almost entirely for cotton agriculture (one of a few sectors of economics in XVIII century where slavery was making a sense. Making a sense only in the unique condition of extremely cheap slave source of Western Africa. Would the cost be higher slavery would still make no sense) colonies would be exactly the same as the colonies we know from history, only with less money.

I think this gets closest to my current speculative conclusion of what the colonies might be without slavery.
I'm thinking that basically could have a lot of subsistence farmers with slow growth and little production and maybe they would get taken over by some big money that rolled into the U.S. and established themselves.
That's very much a what if however, but the result is only to emphasize to myself that colonies would have had a much harder time without some system of a more forced extraction of labor than was present elsewhere.

However, it seems that even the difference in the Westward expansion and the political tension of free and slave states had an economic basis around the interests of "Free Soilers" fearing that slavery would undermine the ability to make their lot in land of displaced natives.
https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-resources/teaching-resource/historical-context-was-slavery-engine-american-economic-growth
The answer is "no"; slavery did not create a major share of the capital that financed the European industrial revolution. The combined profits of the slave trade and West Indian plantations did not add up to five percent of Britain's national income at the time of the industrial revolution.

Nevertheless, slavery was indispensable to European development of the New World. It is inconceivable that European colonists could have settled and developed North and South America and the Caribbean without slave labor. Moreover, slave labor did produce the major consumer goods that were the basis of world trade during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: coffee, cotton, rum, sugar, and tobacco.

In the pre-Civil War United States, a stronger case can be made that slavery played a critical role in economic development. One crop, slave-grown cotton, provided over half of all US export earnings. By 1840, the South grew 60 percent of the world's cotton and provided some 70 percent of the cotton consumed by the British textile industry. Thus slavery paid for a substantial share of the capital, iron, and manufactured goods that laid the basis for American economic growth. In addition, precisely because the South specialized in cotton production, the North developed a variety of businesses that provided services for the slave South, including textile factories, a meat processing industry, insurance companies, shippers, and cotton brokers.

This idea had been in the back of my mind for some time but not really thought through it in much detail.
#15170801
Wellsy wrote:he answer is "no"; slavery did not create a major share of the capital that financed the European industrial revolution. The combined profits of the slave trade and West Indian plantations did not add up to five percent of Britain's national income at the time of the industrial revolution.

Five percents of the world's superpower economics is not a joke though. A business big enough to be on NASDAQ. But what it made me think is how similar is the situation to Opium wars. China produces some goods, Europe wants to buy these goods but doesn't want the only thing it has: silver (which isn't produced in Europe, just saved). So it trades chinese goods for Indian opium, and as there's no market for opium in China, it's created. In the US Europe does need colonial goods (mostly plants that grow only in the new world as Europe is too far to the north) but again it has only silver and maybe some industrial goods, but their importance diminishes with time as colonies establish their own industrial power. Instead they choose to provide guns to Western Africa that is in roughly early-medieval phase of development and therefore will be unable to replace European goods with their own any time soon. The only resource from Africa that could be used in colonies is people. So Europeans sell guns to local kings who sell their own population and flood the American labor market with slaves. As a slave is cheaper than a free worker and cotton labour requires no qualification, the farmers who do use slaves get economical advantage and the race to bottom starts where everyone switches to slaves to keep competitive level. The market of slaves creates itself out of nothing, and the whole thing is based on the fact that the source of slaves is relatively close to Europe so one could run triangular trade.

If we talk about the possible history of the US without slavery we then must replace slaves with some goods that satisfy these conditions:

  • It's something that can't be produced in colonies no matter what.
  • It doesn't belong to Europe (because there's no sense to pay with something you own).

The Spanish Empire that wasn't involved in slave trade on principle comes to mind. Instead of the Atlantic triangle it operated on the world loop with European goods going to Philippines, and South-East Asian goods going to the Mexico's western coast while the eastern coast sends deliveries to Spain. British would need to develop the similar scheme using (again) India, and the whole loss of efficiency because of larger distances would define the difference in economics of the real US and the US from this hypothetical history.
#15170803
Julian658 wrote:The idea that America's successful capitalism is only due to black people working in the South is a bit of a stretch. The North was in better shape without slaves. Slave ownership in Canada was minuscule and they were able to develop.

I'm sure slavery helped at the time, especially in the south, but since the industrial revolution US growth was mainly due to a large population in a country with a large geographic area (with the natural resources) within a developed western economy. Britain, France, or Germany etc never had the population or access to resources. But slaves did still help "build" the US economy.

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