[OPE-L:2143] Re: Re: markets and reproduction

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Date: Fri Jan 14 2000 - 04:22:10 EST

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        In response to Paul C's statement that:

Any unit of production that purchases its inputs and requires to sell its
>> >outputs in order to reproduce itself is a capital, so that any economy is
>> >based
>> >on such units is a capitalist economy.

I wrote:

> > I'm afraid I seem to have missed something here. If we were to theorise a
>> simple commodity producing society in which craftspeople and peasants
>> exchange articles of consumption and means of production in the market,
>> would that make those individual production units (or those means of
>> production) capital and an economy based upon such units capitalist? Isn't
>> the designation as capital based upon a particular social relation which
>> missing in this case?


Paul responds in 2129:

>If one were just talking about mere handarbeit then you might be justified,
>but we are not talking about such a primitive economic basis. And even
>this, as Lenin emphasised in his writings on the NEP constantly engenders
>capitalist relations of production, sweats them from its very pores. His
>writing on the differentiation of the peasantry into exploiter and exploited
>makes this clear.
>There is some possibility within agriculture of having units of production
>which continue to produce commodities but do not engender captialist
>relations - collective farms. They differ from other commodity producing
>units in the following fashion:
>1. their major productive input - land - is not a commodity, and cannot
> be purchased of sold.
>2. there is a large measure of internal self sufficiency - many of the
> used are grown locally - fodder etc.
>3. the participation in labout is hereditary rather than flexible, which
> the formation of wage relations.

        If we are talking about the NEP period, though, your description fits well
a very significant proportion of peasants (the serednyak)--- regardless of
Lenin's comments. Cf Chayanov's Theory of Peasant Economy for a
contemporary discussion of Russian peasant agriculture with family labour.

>If we are dealing instead with industrial enterprises, then the point that I
>was making to Jurrian applies in full.

        Do I understand you to mean, then, that workers' collectives in industry
would be capitalist--- even in the absence of wage-labour-- if they
purchase inputs on the market and sell their outputs there as well? Let me
stress that I think the *tendency* to capitalism is present in commodity
exchange but that is not the same as saying this is capitalism.

        in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office: Phone (604) 291-4669
        Fax (604) 291-5944
Home: Phone (604) 872-0494
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