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Marx's Economics for Anarchists - Chapter 4

category international | economy | opinion / analysis author Friday October 21, 2011 10:59author by Wayne Priceauthor email drwdprice at aol dot com Report this post to the editors

Primitive Accumulation at the Origins of Capitalism

This is the 4th chapter of a work in progress: Marx's Economics for Anarchists; An Anarchist's Introduction to Marx's Critique of Political Economy. This chapter discusses "primitive accumulation", the oppression of women at the beginning of capitalism, the destruction of the environment, and the nature of the three epochs of capitalist history.

Primitive Accumulation at the Origins of Capitalism

For Marx, capitalism has a beginning, a middle, and an end. What was that beginning like? To the classical political economists, when they dealt with the question at all, capitalism began with small businesses in the nooks and crannies of feudalism. Gradually they made more money for their owners, until they could afford to hire some employees. The first workers were available to be hired because they had not been as industrious as the original businesspeople. As in the fable of Aesop, the workers had been lazy grasshoppers while the original capitalists had been hand-working ants. Eventually the capitalists became rich enough to displace the feudal lords.

To begin with, this pretty story overlooks the violent upheavals of the Cromwellian British revolution, the US revolution, the French revolution, the South American and Caribbean revolutions, and the 1848 failed European revolution. But some of this story was true, no doubt. There were blacksmiths and artisans who did build up their original capital; there were merchants who carried goods between widely separated markets until they decided to directly invest in production here or there. However, this misses the main dynamic of the beginning of capitalism. “In actual history, it is notorious that conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, briefly force, play the great part” (Capital I, 1906; p. 785).

The earliest time (which I will call an “epoch” to leave room for several periods within it) was described by Marx, in Capital I, as a “pre-historic stage of capitalism.” Borrowing from Ricardo, Marx called it “primitive accumulation” (in German, “Ursprunglich”). This could just as well be translated as “primary,” “original,” “initial,” or “unspoiled” accumulation. For capitalism to begin on a large scale, even in only one country, it needed two things: the accumulation of masses of wealth in the hands of a few people who could invest it (capital), and secondly, free workers who were available for work in factories and fields under capitalist discipline.

In Europe, these two things were achieved through violence, legally and illegally: driving peasants off the land, replacing them by sheep; taking away the common grazing lands which had been open to all peasants and giving them to the lords; forcing poor people to wander the highways; cutting the benefits to the poor and unemployed, and so on. On a world scale, the European rulers seized continents and subcontinents--in the Americas, India, other parts of Asia, Australia, and Africa. Black people were forced into slavery far from their homes while Native Americans faced genocide. European people were settled on land once owned by others. The Asian-Indian economy was destroyed by foreign imports, even as natural resources (from gold to cotton) were robbed from them.

The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement, and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief moments of primitive accumulation.” (Capital I, 1906; p. 823). Marx was fully aware of the interaction of class, nationality, and race in the origins of capitalism.

Sometimes Marxists, and even Marx himself, criticized anarchists for supposedly underemphasizing the role of economic forces and overemphasizing the power of the state. But when discussing primitive accumulation, Marx was quite clear about the key role played by the state and other forms of organized violence. While capitalism may be said to have created the modern state, the state may also be said to have created capitalism.

In Capital I, Marx wrote of “… the power of the state, the concentrated and organized force of society, to hasten, hothouse fashon, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode…. Force is…itself an economic power” (Marx, 1906; pp. 823—824).

The anarchist Kropotkin writes of the same period, “The role of the nascent state in the 16th and 17th centuries in relation to the urban centers was to destroy the independence of the cities; to pillage the rich guilds of merchants and artisans; to concentrate in its hands the… administration of the guilds ….The same tactic was applied to the villages and the peasants….The state…set about destroying the village commune, ruining the peasants in its clutches and plundering the common lands” (Kropotkin, 1987; p. 41). If not precisely the same as Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation, it describes the same process.

Women under Capitalism

Marx did not directly discuss the effects of primitive capitalist accumulation on gender. However, Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation is directly relevant to understanding the history of women—and the role of women is essential for understanding the origins of capitalism.

Feminist historians, as well as specialists in religious and medieval history, have studied the persecution of “witches” in Europe and North and South America. This was concentrated in the 16th and 17th cenuries, and somewhat before and after. Led by the church, but including state authorities, a hue and cry was raised against women who were accused of following a heretical sect, composed almost only of women, which supposedly worshipped the devil. Special tribunals were set up, methods of torture were standardized, and witch hunting manuals were published.

The numbers of women so persecuted is unknown. Some estimates run into the millions, but the best estimate is that, over three centuries, about 200 thousand were accused of witchcraft, of whom 100 thousand were killed (Federici, 2004). It is impossible to know how many of these people were just women whom someone disliked, how many were midwives or herbalists, how many were practitioners of pre-Christian religions, and how many were genuine worshippers of the devil. If any were.

The witch hunt was an attack on half the population, mostly focused on poor women in the cities and countryside. The campaign against supposed witches was part of general misogynist sentiments promoted by the church and state. It whipped up hysteria and misdirected people’s fears and angers from the rich to other poor people (similar to the rise in anti-Semitism of the time). It divided working people, causing men to cling to male privileges even while their general conditions were being undermined. It drove women out of the traditional workforce. It prepared women to become modern “housewives” and part of the working class.

While Marx does not discuss the role of women in the capitalist economy, it is implicit in his theory. Of course, women may work in paid jobs, as do male workers, and Marx describes their actual conditions in the factories and mines. In that case they were paid less than men for the same work, being more vulnerable. Female waged labor, and also child labor, was common in Marx’s time in the 19th century in British industry. Female paid labor is common now. (That women workers are directly exploited does not cancel out that there may be positive effects also, such as increased individual independence.)

But there was another, and more fundamental role for women, which applies to women not as waged workers but as nonwaged members of the working class. (The working class--as a class--is broader than those who are immediately employed; it includes children, the unemployed, the retired, and wives and mothers who labor in the home.) The commodity labor-power of the workers (mostly male) included what was necessary to recuperate them, to let them rest-up and be able to work another day. It fell on the women as “homemakers” (or “housewives”) to see to it that the men were recuperated. And the price of the wage (the “family wage”) also covered raising a new generation of workers. The work of doing this also fell on the women. (This included passing on the necessary social psychology and ideology to the children.)

In all this, the women at home were not directly creating surplus value but were producing (reproducing) the necessary labor power commodities of their husbands, children, and themselves. If we define capitalist “productive labor” only as what directly produces surplus value (as Marx did), then this was not “productive” (in this narrow, technical, sense) but it was (is) essential labor for surplus value to be produced--in plain English, highly productive labor!

In Engels’ The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, he described the reproductive work of women as being as much part of the “base” of society as is industrial production (as distinct from the “superstructure”). He speculated that class society grew out of the original oppression of women.

The above is not at all an adequate analysis of how women are oppressed; but it is clear that the oppression of women, in the family and in the workplace, is thoroughly intertwined with capitalist exploitation (as it had previously been with pre-capitalist forms of exploitation).

Primitive Accumulation and the Destruction of the Ecology

Marx and Engels noted the way early capitalism was destroying the biological environment. They saw human labor as the way humans interact with nature, satisfying human needs while maintaining a biological balance. They saw this as a “metabolism” between humans and nature. But through capitalism they believed that there had developed a “rift” in the metabolism.

The most important factor, to them, was the split between city and country, between industry and agriculture, between town and farmland. This concept had been raised by a number of the “utopian socialists” before them, as well as by bourgeois agronomy specialists. Kropotkin and other leading anarchists (several of whom, like him, were professional geologists and geographers) were also to raise this as a problem, well before the modern Green movement.

What Marx and Engels noted was that the farms and the cities were increasingly separated. Agriculture drained the soil of nutrients, which had once been returned to the soil through local consumption of food and the use of animal and human manure. But now the animal and plant nutrients were shipped over increasing distances to cities. Their eventual waste was not returned to the land, but polluted the cities and the rivers and lakes around them. Meanwhile waste products from production—coal dust, dyes, cotton dust, etc., polluted the air, the water, and the food of the workers and others. Engels walked through Manchester, the center of British industry, and noted the ill-health of the working class, the filthy conditions they lived in, and the diseases which spread through their quarters.

Of course, since then we have learned a great deal more about the ill effects which capitalist production has on the ecological environment and on general health. But Marx and Engels saw this quite early.

During the epoch of primitive accumulation, the capitalists were able to accumulate wealth by robbing the land of its nutrients and by not paying to keep their cities clean or their working classes healthy. These were not simply matters of indifference or ignorance; they were a way to accumulate riches, to increase values.

Three Epochs

In his Grundrisse, Marx proposed essentially three epochs of capitalism. “As long as capital is weak, it still itself relies on the crutches of past modes of production….As soon as it feels strong, it throws away the crutches, and moves in accordance with its own laws. As soon as it begins to sense itself as a barrier to development, it seeks refuge in forms which, by restricting free competition, seem to make the rule of capital more perfect, but are at the same time the heralds of its dissolution and of the dissolution of the mode of production resting on it” (quoted in Daum 1990; p. 79).

That is, in the earliest stage, capitalism is weak. It must rely on non-market forces (primitive accumulation) for overall protection, in order to expand. It uses force, the state, religious hysteria, anti-women prejudices, robbery and slavery, “robbery” of the natural environment. This process may be said to have begun as far back as the 14th century, but reached its high point in the 17th to 18th centuries.

In the 19th century capitalism may be said to have really taken off, first in Britain and then as a world system. As this is the height of its well-being as a system, it relied mainly on market forces to batter down all obstacles to expansion. This was the heigh-day of capitalism! It was also the time when the working class and socialist movements begin to grow. It was when Marx wrote his books and led the First International, and in which Bakunin started the anarchist movement.

Last is the final epoch, beginning in the early 20th century, when capitalism has reached its limits and its contradictions threaten to tear apart all society. This will be discussed in the next chapter.

There are no sharp divisions among the three epochs. They are just abstractions to help us conceptualize the history of capitalism. They overlap in their traits and tendencies. Primitive (non-market) accumulation, including violence by the state, continued during the height of market capitalism and expanded again during the final epoch of capitalist decline.

For example, in the epoch of primitive accumulation, there was a vast expansion of African enslavement in the Americas. This lasted into the 19th century and was only ended through revolutionary violence in various countries (Haiti, the US, parts of South America, etc.). However, the special oppression of African descendents continued. In the US, Jim Crow segregation laws (not customs, laws) continued through the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century and were not abolished until the late 20th century. Even now, African-Americans remain oppressed, discriminated against, and mostly at the bottom of society. Capitalism does not seem to be able to end its racism.

Previous parts:

Chapter 3 - Cycles, Recessions, and the Falling Rate of Profit
Chapter 2 - The Labor Theory of Value
Chapter 1 - An Anarchist's Introduction to Marx's Critique of Political Economy

author by Red and black actionpublication date Wed Nov 02, 2011 22:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors


If primitive accumulation served the tasks of creating the material preconditions for capitalist dominance
If primitive accumulation took place in a time before the bourgeois revolutions put the capitalists in power
If it primitive accumulation centred upon the actions of the state power

Which class was the author of primitive accumulation, and why?

This is noting that
For Marx, the state is the tool of the economically dominant class, which could not have been the bourgeoisie
The bourgeoisie could not have been economically dominant before the preconditions of dominance existed

If primitive accumulation served the bourgeoisie, why did the pre-bourgeois ruling class undertake it?

The sequence seems illogical in Marxist terms.

author by Waynepublication date Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

An interesting question. It would involve a detailed discussion of the history of the transition from feudalism to capitalism, in England and elsewhere. However it is a mistake to draw too sharp lines between the degenerated feudal system and the rising capitalist system, both based on minority ruling classes owning private property. While it is true that " For Marx, the state is the tool of the economically dominant class," the *economically* dominant class is not necessarily directly *politically* dominant . Indeed, the British bourgeoisie effectively "hired" its aristocracy to manage its state well into the 20th century. In Germany, it was Bismark and his aristocratic state which served to build a capialist economy.
Capital accumulation is a dynamic process which, via the market, can absorb all sorts of class elements and fragments and sructures, overwhelming the stagnant remains of feudalism

author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Thu Nov 03, 2011 22:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yes, interesting.

I think the problem though is that if you do identify black slavery in the Americas, and the colonisation of South America, as part of capitalist primitive acumulation, AND you want to keep a Marxist state theory, then you have to claim that the old Spanish empire was capitalist or run by capitalists, as opposed to feudal.

But Spain - and its overseas territories - it lacked pretty much any of the features of capitalism that Marx identified as intrinsic to the cpaitalist mode, let alone underwent a bourgeois revolution before the 1800s.

Even the England of the enclosures - which started in the 1400s - was far from a bourgeois society, and the main people doing the enclosing were artistocrats.


author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Fri Nov 04, 2011 00:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Spanish State, by the early XVth Century was completely run by both Dutch and German bankers (and was heavily indebted to them). The bulk of the accumulation of capital from the South American colonization, apart from that part which was squandered by emigre landlords, went almost straight into those bankers coffers. It is actually the Western European bourgeoisie who benefit the most from the Spanish conquest and colonization. In fact, the political structures of the Spanish State prevented capitalism to develop in that country (a class example was how the textile bourgeoisie of Castille was completely crushed by the local nobility) but that does not mean that a modern bourgeoisie did not emerge on the process -not in Spain, that's for sure, but that shows that the mobility of capital was as much of a feature of capitalism then as it is now.

The problem of enclosures respond to a new concept of property emerging, no doubt fostered by the dynamism acquired by the bourgeoisie, and though the active class that carried it may have been the aristocrats (in some, but surely not in all cases), it only shows how it permeated different layers of society. The fact that aristocrats carried it in the 1400s should not be understood in so simplistic terms, since, after all, they had more interests invested in the land at the time than the bourgeoisie. It is not unheard of that "bourgeois" reforms were implemented in that period of historic transition by other classes -the same is true for the monarchist reform on administration and land in the three decades preceding the French Revolution ("The Peasantry in the French Revolution" of PM Jones has a very good discussion of how monarchist reforms and its openness to physiocratic reformism paved the way to the bourgeois revolution of 1789). That's the whole case of being in a transition period, that there's a great flexibility and flux of interests among the actors.

author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Fri Nov 04, 2011 01:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors


On Spain/ Latin America: that is interesting, but deep debt to bankers was a commonplace of feudalism, bankers may be powerful in non-capitalist modes, and the power of bankers does not prove the dominance of capitalism as such, unless there are corresponding capitalist relations in production itself.

If capital remains merely in the field of circulation, as banking or merchant capitalism, as opposed to in production itself, then can we really speak of a capitalist mode of production in a Marxist sense? Trade and banking are integral to capitalism, but not unique to it.

Conversely the relations of production in that old Spain and its colonies cannot be called capitalist. (The same can be said of XV century Germany).

That is integral to the questions I think Red and Black Action raises: if enclosures create the preconditions for capitalist production, then where derives the power of the capitalists whose mode of production is still in embryo? To put it another way, if capitalism is not dominant, why should other classes act in support of capitalists?


author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Fri Nov 04, 2011 01:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We are talking about primitive capitalist accumulation and that did happen but not within the confines of the Spanish State. It went to countries such as Germany and Holland that were, in fact, moving strongly and steadfastly to the dominance of capitalist relations in production itself from the early stage of merchant capitalism (the dominant form in the early centuries of the primitive capitalist accumulation).

Rarely capitalism, in historical terms, has existed as a pure "mode of production" and often it has existed as a dominant set of relations in a much more complicated network of modes of production. Its pre-eminence is a feature of the late XIXth and early XXth century and yet, agrarian reform remained an issue in most Latin American countries in the 1960s! (and in Colombia or Haiti even today). Needless to say, all of them cases are undisputedly capitalist economies with many a "feudal" feature. Colonialism has not lead, necessarily, to capitalist development in the colonies but elsewhere. And in the Latin American case, the Spanish crown served as an intermediary who did not develop capitalist relationships itself, either.

You ask a crucial question to understand the process that leads to the emergence of the bourgeoisie: "If enclosures create the preconditions for capitalist production, then where derives the power of the capitalists whose mode of production is still in embryo? To put it another way, if capitalism is not dominant, why should other classes act in support of capitalists?"

My answer would be (and I am no expert in the field) that it is because rarely actors are fully aware of the implications of their actions, particularly when it comes to the "development of the forces and relationships of production". The Chilean industrialists who supported Pinochet's neoliberal programme were not aware of the fact that many of them would eventually be broken by the forces of free market, to the same extent that the French aristocracy bent on modernizing the French State in the XVIIIth Century were not aware that they were, at the same time, digging their own grave. Or the same could have been said about the Russian aristocracy and development of so called "junker" capitalism. Remember that it is also Marx who says that capitalist development also creates the bourgeoisie, that is the class that by its very nature will eventually become the negation of the system itself.

Cases like the Spanish aristocracy in the XVII-XVIII century who actually boycotted the bourgeoisie and the textile industry to curb the power of the nascent bourgeoisie are an exception rather than the rule.

author by Waynepublication date Fri Nov 04, 2011 01:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There is awholeliterature on this question,the transition from feudalism to capitalism, both Marxist and nonMarxist.. How and why did it happen? Why did it happen in Europe, and particularly in Britain, rather than in China, say? We cannot review the whole discussion here. (See the book on the topic by Ellen Meiksins Wod.)

The important thing to remember is that there is no sharp division between these systems. The diffference between late, decayed, feudalism and early capitalism is not as wide as that between late capitalism and early socialism. The difference between the feudal-aristocratic-bureaucratic monarchy and the emerging bourgeois-bureaucratic state is not as great as that between the bourgeois state and the federation of workers' councils. Late fuedalism and early capitalism *overlap* and factions of the population are in conflict, including factions of the ruling elite. Some parts are pulled by the magnetic attraction of capital accumulation (to speak metaphoricaly) and others are repelled.

There is a ruling class, but it is challenged and unstable, facing a rising new class (some of which comes from within itself). In such a situation, Marx says, the state tends to rise above society, balancing each class against the others (Ceasarism, Bonapartism). To a degree--but only to a degree--the state serves its own interests, which may include building up the preconditions for capital accumulation (primiteive accumulation).

author by private eyepublication date Fri Nov 04, 2011 07:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think where Jose says "Remember that it is also Marx who says that capitalist development also creates the bourgeoisie, that is the class that by its very nature will eventually become the negation of the system itself." he wanted to say "Remember that it is also Marx who says that capitalist development also creates the PROLETARIAT, that is the class that by its very nature will eventually become the negation of the system itself."

author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Fri Nov 04, 2011 17:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors


1. I think the point about unintended consequences is crucial. However, it does also suggest that if "primitive accumulation" helped lead to capitalism, this was not necessarily its intention . To put it another way, it does not provide an adequate explanation of the rise of capitalism.

2. The point remains that the power of merchants and bankers does not itself provide the existence of capitalism. The notion that capitalism emerges in the sphere of circulation (the Marxist Robert Brenner has argued) is not a class explanation, but a liberal explanation, inasmuch as it treats capitalism as equivalent to trade, and the rise of capitalism to the effects of trade. He stresses that class struggles led to capitalism, and in these, the merchants and bankers played no role, as they were then essentially tied to feudalism.

3. Certainly if those bankers were "German" this is valid, particularly when we note those German bankers were largely from marginal outgroups (mainly Jews) excluded from production in the feudal order. Germany did not have a capitalist revolution until the XIX, and this was driven by junkers and the state, which deliberately created capitalism for military reasons (the same is true of the Meiji Restoration in Japan at this time, and to a large degree in later NICs like South Korea). This so-called Prussian path cannot be explained by classical Marxist materialism, because it is a straight forward inversion of the materialist model. Indeed, Brenner himself is limited because he discounts the independent role of the state itself in these developments, as accounts by (for example) non-Marxists like Moore and Lachmann have demonstrated

4. The point I am trying to make is that Marxist explanations, which give no real credence to the irreducible and specific dynamics of the state machinery and of the competition in the world state system, are unable to explain the far more complicated trajectory of history. As Bakunin himself noted, “The supreme law of the State is self-preservation at any cost. And since all States, ever since they came to exist upon the earth, have been condemned to perpetual struggle – a struggle against their populations, whom they oppress and ruin, a struggle against all foreign States, every one of which can be strong only if others are weak – and since States cannot hold their own in this struggle unless they constantly keep on augmenting their power against their own subjects as well as against the neighbourhood States – it follows that the supreme law of the State is the augmentation of its power to the detriment of internal liberty and external justice” (n Maximoff, G (ed.) 1953. "The Political Philosophy of Bakunin". The Free Press: United States.). He goes on to stress that these state dynamics cannot be reduced to those of capitalism, although they are "parallel" and convergent

5. Therefore while I agree on the value of Marxist economics, I am raising - in line, I stress, with Bakunin and Kropotkin and Malatesta - basic problems with Marxist explanations of society more generally. The modern world is far more than a capitalist mode of production, and its rise is more complicated than contradictions between relations and forces of production. If we move from using Marxist economics, to embracing Marxist materialism, then I think we have taken a step too far.

6. This does not mean removing class analysis, but it suggests that class analysis must take into account state / bureaucratic as well as corporate power, rather than rest upon the economistic class analysis of Marxism.

7. I agree entirely that capitalism incorporates and uses other modes of production, and that capitalism is many areas is often imprinted with prior sets of relations. However, to speak of capitalism incorporating other modes, we must show of the primacy of capitalism, as for example, Laclau did in his rejection of the notion that twentieth-century Latin America was still basically feudal - an argument beloved of many mainstream Marxists - and as South African writers like Legassick showed for that country, when they demonstrated that colonial-type domination was functional to capitalist accumulation.

8. However, I doubt it can be seriously shown that capitalism dominated Latin American economies before the XIX, and in many cases, before the end of that XIX. In some way it must be shown (unless we reduce capitalism to trade and thus reject Marx's key theses), that the logic of commodity production, wage labour, expanded reproduction etc. dominates these economies. To follow Laclau, this requires either that there is only a capitalist mode (even if it retains some legacies of feudalism or slavery e.g. unfree labour), or that there are subordinate modes articulated to capitalism via trade or labour etc., in such a way that they are fundamentally subject to a capitalist logic e.g. they cannot survive / reproduce without serving the needs of the capitalist mode. A slave mode that will not survive without focussing on exports of commodities to capitalists is an example of such subordination; a feudal estate that is largely self-sufficient is not an example of such subordination.

I'll leave it there, and thanks for all the thoughtful comments.


author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Fri Nov 04, 2011 17:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I will be very brief since I am up to my eyeballs with work today

1. "Primitive accumulation" did not only "help" the rise of capitalism -it was an absolutely necessary precondition which could have not lead anywhere else. If it was intended or not, remains irrelevant in my opinion. Most significant historical processes are unintentional (and more often than not, theory does not take you exactly where you want to go).

2. Capitalism did not emerge in the sphere of circulation but in the sphere of production. But it was only possible were previous capital accumulation took place and in sucking that capital from the colonies, banjers played a key role.

3. The junker path was analyzed in materialistic terms by Lenin in Capitalist Development in Russia and there is a whole school of neo-Marxists who have placed great emphasis in analysing State Capitalism. Even Charles Bettelhem in his analysis of the Class Struggle in the Soviet State emhpasizes the role of the State apparatus as a space that allowed the re-creation of a new bourgeoisie. But I do agree with you that the State is more often seen as a mere tool in the Marxist tradition when it was crucial (even Dutch companies could become worlwide corporations because they were granted state powers by the crown -including the right to declare war!). This I don't think derive from the method alone, but because of the political strategy devised by Marx and Engels which remained practically unaltered throughout most of their lives (save for the short period after the Paris Commune). This only proves that Marx was, not only a theoretician, but also a politician. And this was far from an incidential element in his analysis. That is, to embrace the method as a general guideline or a framework for analysis (something Bakunin himself did when he declared a socialist of the materialistic school) does not necessarily mean to embrace all of his conclusions.

4. Agree with you on the dominance of capitalism -that was my point indeed and that's why I emphasized that while agrarian reform remains an issue in Latin American countries with strong feudal components, such as Peru or Colombia, none of this countries could be defined as fedual today. Yet, I also insisted, and you agree that the pre-eminence of capitalism is a feature of the late XIXth and early XXth century (save exceptions such as Chile, Uruguay, Brazil or Argentina where by mid-XIXth century you had dominant capitalist relations).

This is an argument relevant to colonial and neocolonial studies because it proves that capitalism can profit from non capitalist modes of production (as French industrialists accumulating capital thanks to the slave colonies in the Caribbean in the XVIIth Century, so dear to them) This only proves that capital accumulation do not necessarily produce capitalist relationships apart from the centres (again, the point on Spanish colonialism remains relevant).

Thanks and see you.

author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Fri Nov 04, 2011 20:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Thanks for the feedback and dialogue. There are many issues here requiring careful thought - and some time for careful consideration.

With best wishes

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