Answers to Questions for Review

Chapter 26

1. The idyllic myth of the origins of capitalism is that it arose from some people (mostly men) saving and investing their income instead of wasting it on consumption, gradually gaining enough resources to put others to work --those who were not so frugal and crafty. The on-going propagation of the myth saw capitalism constantly renewed by the same means --by newly self-made-entrepreneurs who raised themselves by their financial bootstraps to compete with established capitalists. Thus, in Hard Times, we find Bitzer expressing impatience with "hands" who are not individually penny-pinching, self-serving and trying to climb the "ladder of success". Marx critiques these view by showing how much capitalist wealth was accumulated by theft and enslavement. Elsewhere he also points out that workers don't make enough to save even if they would, much less, save enough to invest. Nor, he might have added, did they have the time, energy, information of connections necessary to successful "entry" into competition.

7. We can deduce that violence was needed to impose this new kind of civilization because there was resistance to it. Unless you want to suppose some gratuitous will-to-violence against people who were quite willing to cooperate, we have to suppose some correlation between the methods used and the methods necessary to achieve the desired ends. The resistance apparently came from both the old ruling class --the landed aristocracy-- and from the old exploited classes —the peasants and worker-artisans.

9. He responds by rejecting the idea that his analysis of the rise of capitalism in England should be taken as an inevitable process in all countries, e.g. Russia. Here and in his letters to Zasulich, he argues that different peoples may follow different paths, e.g., the Russians might follow a different path because the traditional collectivist practices of the mir provided a different point of departure and possible template for further development.

12. Cultural creation and destruction. Capitalism is not just a way of organizing the economy; it is also a way of organizing all of society around the economy, a way which subordinates cultural activities to the needs of capitalist reproduction. Thus, the social relationships of capitalism have tended to penetrate and reshape or supplant all other kinds of social relationships. As a result, pre-capitalist cultures have been more or less undermined or destroyed. Of course, faced with this invasion of a new way of life, many people have experienced these changes as threatening and resisted them, with greater or lesser success, depending on the case.  Others have experienced at least aspects of these changes as liberating and have thrown themselves into the whirlwind of change. But even then, they have usually experienced the dual "freedom" Marx talks about "free from" and "free to". Examples of those cultures mostly, or entirely destroyed, might include most of the indigenous cultures throughout the Americas. No, it was not a one-time phenomena but became an on-groing process. Unable to immediately put people to work everywhere in the colonial world, the capitalists often left them on their own, to reproduce themselves as a "reserve army of labor' (see chapter 25). But this also meant that they continued to live in ways that preserved many aspects of pre-colonial times and to develop in ways which were influenced by but distinct from the central capitalist culture.

Chapter 27

5. That in Marx's description which suggests resistance by the displaced is the force used to accomplish the displacement. If there were no resistance there would have been no need of force. What is lacking is an account and analysis of the resistance and of subsequent struggles to regain what had been lost (or some variation thereof, e.g., the Diggers).

7. American counterpart = First, the expropriation of the land from the Indians and second, the subsequent displacement of farmers from the land by banks and agribusiness --a process that reduced the population on the land to 3 - 4 percent. One might also include subsequent enclosures such as that of Thompson Square Park in New York City. Destiny? Indians died rather than work for the white man.  Farmers went to the city. Squatters moved elsewhere.

8. Resistance? Indians fought to the death or to incarceration on reservations. Farmers fought individually and collectively as in the Populist Movement of the 19th century or more recently in the American Farm Movement. Those who occupied Thompson Square Park continue to resist, resulting in barbed wire and police guards. Resistance has been recurrent, even today Indians fight to regain their land.

9. Bank Foreclosure? Not primitive accumulation in the sense that the farm family has usually been long incorporated into the capitalist system. Yet, it is clearly a continuation of the original processes of enclosure by which people were driven off the land. Linebaugh may be right that it is simply a change in the "wage form" but it has the same contours as primitive accumulation.

10. Diggers --Landless English in the 1640's who banded together to attempt to regain the use of unused commons (mostly wastelands). They fought for the land, albeit for a kind of collective appropriation which they invented and which was not, therefore, a simple return to the past. They failed, were driven from the land and prosecuted, but made a long remembered contribution to the history of working class struggle in England.

12. The squatting of abandoned buildings is analogous to land reform in the Third World to the degree that it involves people struggling for the direct appropriation of space for their own needs. Inasmuch as it is usually resisted by the State as a violation of property rights and almost never adopted as a policy for the pacification of the homeless, it has not yet become a tool in capital's strategic arsenal (with minor exceptions in New York City).

Chapter 28

2. Punishments:  whipping and imprisonment, half the ear sliced off, execution, enslavement, forced to work with whip and chains, branded, have their children taken away, iron neck rings, sent to the galleys.  Yes, there are such punishments today, but less open --mostly jailing but the violence of prisons makes jailing much more of a punishment than mere incarceration. School: failure and condemnation to the galleys of McDonalds for life; family: grounding, beatings, expulsion; prisons: solitary confinement, violence.

5. Rationale:   begging:  better the charity of the person in the street than that of the capitalist who thinks he has bought you with his money; stealing:  direct appropriation of wealth, from capitalists who have stolen the tools and products from those who do the work, seems only fair. Street people:  also victims of and rebels against enclosures, this time of the industrial belt in the North; also the cripples of past wars and alienated lives.

7. Similarities: both past against vagabonds created by enclosure of land. Differences: the English lost traditional rights; ex-slaves did not get land reform (forty acres and a mule from plantation owners). England: traditional land use was pre-capitalist; in the South, slavery had been an integral part of the North Atlantic capitalist economy.

9. It tells me that integral to the imposition of the wage form was the simultaneous imposition of a variety of other kinds of coercion designed to impose work on everyone; that the wage form has always involved unwaged forms. Other forms? Compulsory schooling, job search by the unemployed, housework by women taught it is their destiny, South African homelands where unwaged domestic labor makes low urban and mining wages possible. etc.

Chapter 29

4. Class status of: 1. Family Farmer --In a few cases autonomous and outside of capitalist class relations, but mostly part of working class, exploited via market; 2. Contract Farmer --Legally a small capitalist supplying commodities to larger capitalists, but often exploited by big capital and banks so unable to accumulate, effectively locked into relying on own labor;  3. Slave Plantation Owner --capitalist supplying raw material and exploiting an unwaged labor force; 4. Sharecropper --ostensibly independent but exploited by land owners and debt peonage, so part of working class.

5. Capitalist farmers could benefit from 16th century inflation when wages and rent were more or less fixed --thus the prices of their goods rose while costs declined relatively. In the 16th century no one was consciously manipulating the money supply and the rate of inflation. In the post WWII period on the contrary, central monetary authorities did just that to undercut real wages and raise profits.  For this to work either workers had to suffer from monetary illusion and not try to raise wages with inflation, or they had to be too weak to achieve such an increase whether they understood or not.

Chapter 30

5. Protection of local industry will raise prices of local industrial output by excluding cheaper foreign imports. The higher prices will increase profits and stimulate a shift of resources out of agriculture (unless it too is protected) into industry. e.g., increase demand for local goods due to exclusion of imported ones should increase industrial demands for labor which would be less available for agriculture; wealthy landowners may invest in more profitable industry.

6. Disvalorization --the process of pre-existing skills being absorbed by capital, often piecemeal with other aspects totally lost or devalued. Yes, e.g., school. Kids develop creativity in play, school either kills it (devalues its) or channels it narrowly into activities (work) useful to capital, so they wind up being able to create ads but not worlds.

Chapter 31

6. Colonialism = worldwide extension of primitive accumulation in the basic sense that it involved an international process of class creation, especially the forced drafting of third world populations into the working class dominated and organized by the capitalist class of the colonizing nation. At the same time, it was also an integral part of English primitive accumulation in the sense that the colonization and enslavement of the Third World went hand in hand with the accumulation of the vast bulk of the English population as workers in English textile mills, etc.

12. National Debt = money borrowed to finance excess of government expenditures over tax revenues, then owed to lenders. Concentrates wealth because it is repaid with interest obtained by taxing others.  Yes, today national debt is in trillions --a high percentage of our taxes are being transferred to the holders of that debt. Despite Reagan-Bush balanced budget rhetoric, the giant deficit produced by their tax cuts have accelerated this concentration of wealth.

14. International credit systems both mobilize money internationally (e.g., Venice to Holland, Holland to England, England to US) and reconcentrated it internationally (in Venice, Holland and England respectively).  Yesterday (1970's) international banks loaned US/European/OPEC money to Mexico, etc. Today (1980's, 1990's) they drain the money out of the debtor countries through capital flight and debt repayment. Yes, the blood of children working in the factories of Mexico stains money repaid to US banks; the blood of children sold for body parts stains the money paid by Guatemala, etc.

20. Slavery in the New World produced raw materials for industry in the Old World, thus it was an integral part of Atlantic capitalism. Its "mode" of production my have differed in a technical sense (e.g., slave gangs instead of waged workers) but slaves' work was being valorized within the same economic mechanism.

Chapter 32

1. Pre-capitalist private property in England = personal property in one's tools and products often co-existed with the "commons" i.e. property of the community.  Capitalist private property was founded on the destruction both of personal property and of the commons, both of tools and products. "Personal" or "individual" private property was often more complicated than it seems; there were family rights and property, clan rights and property, and so on. But the basic point remains the same, that capitalist private property rights were founded on the destruction of earlier rights and its ideology doesn't recognize this.

3. United and organized by 1. Bringing them together in factories and cooperative production, and 2. imposing a common antagonism (exploitation) and enemy (capital).  This despite all the tendencies of capital to divide and conquer, separate and disorganize, by pitting white against black, men against women, English against Irish, etc.

6. Because the growth of the mass of these things involved the growth of antagonism and with it revolt. Clearly there are many strategies, e.g., divide and conquer, which may offset this tendency as the antagonism is directed away from capital and toward other groups of people.  Absolutely poorer? Not necessarily, could even be less poor and still have the mass grow, or could have an increase in the relative mass and poverty.  Mass = quantity.

8. Integument = the social relations of capital, the rules of the game, the legal and economic organization that links and binds all the different parts of the system together: laws, money, exchange, etc.

Chapter 33

5. Through the manipulation of supply and demand. In this chapter he shows us Wakefield's plan for manipulating the supply of labor.  By restricting access to land, Wakefield thought to increase supply.  Increased immigration could also be used, and was in both the United States and Australia, both free immigration and coerced immigration, e.g., transported prisoners.  Breach? By seizing land and refusing the labor market, by refusing to immigrate according to capitalist needs.

7. Restrict access to land, increase immigration.  Less concern now with keeping land out of the hands of people in the United States, but access to land elsewhere does influence immigration flows to the United States, e.g. reversal of Mexican land reforms have been one source of increased immigration across the Mexican-US border.