The Fiction of Economic Coercion: Political Marxism and the Separation of Theory and History

in Historical Materialism
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Abstract

The theory of social-property relations, or political Marxism, has argued that in contradistinction with pre-capitalist forms of exploitation, capitalism is characterised by the separation of the economic and the political, which makes surplus appropriation under this system uniquely driven by economic coercion. In spite of political Marxism’s various strengths, this article argues that the paradigm puts forward an ahistorical and sanitised conception of capitalism typical of bourgeois economics, which is an outcome of its formal-abstractionist approach to the concept of the mode of production and the separation between theory and history that it operates. A more satisfactory solution to political Marxism’s inability to make sense of past and present forms of coercion and violence under capitalism can be found in Jairus Banaji’s emphasis on Marx’s historical – rather than formal – conception of the mode of production.

Historical Materialism

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References

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1.

Banaji 2010b, p. 54.

2.

Marx 1990, p. 875.

3.

Bales and Soodalter 2009, p. 3.

4.

Amnesty 2003 and 2005; ILO 2005, 2009a and 2009b; Bales 2004 and 2005; Bales and Soodalter 2009; Bangkok Post 2012; Bowe 2007; Estabrook 2009 and 2011; Off 2006; Ong 2006; Ryan 2011; Skinner 2008 and 2012; Panitch and Leys (eds.) 2008; US Department of State 2009, pp. 32–41; van der Anker 2004. For a powerful critique of the ‘new slavery’ literature, see LeBaron and Ayers 2013.

5.

ILO 2009a; US Department of State 2009, pp. 32–41.

6.

ILO 2009b, p. 11. For perceptive critiques of the ILO’s 2005 Report, see Lerche 2007; Rogaly 2008.

12.

Banaji 2010b, p. 53. The second meaning of the concept of mode of production is exposed in the third section.

13.

Brenner 1988a and 1988b.

14.

Brenner 1978, pp. 121–2.

15.

Brenner 1988a, pp. 11–12.

16.

Comninel 1987, pp. 133–78; Lacher 2006, p. 78.

17.

Tomich 2004, p. 45.

18.

Brenner 1986, pp. 26–7.

19.

Roemer 1986, pp. 1–2. For a presentation of analytical Marxism, see Bertram 2007.

20.

Lacher 2006, p. 39.

21.

Brenner 1977, p. 52.

22.

Brenner 1990, p. 182.

23.

Brenner 1986, p. 33.

24.

Meiksins Wood 2000, p. 29.

25.

Brenner 1988b, p. 228, n. 22; Meiksins Wood 2002b and 2005.

26.

Lacher 2006, pp. 37–8.

27.

Brenner 1977. See also Meiksins Wood 2002a, Chapter 4; Meiksins Wood 2002c.

28.

Brenner 1986, p. 23.

30.

Tomich 2004, p. 13.

31.

Post 2011; Meiksins Wood 2005.

32.

Brenner 2003, p. 715.

33.

Davidson 2005, p. 21; De Angelis 2004, p. 60; Robinson 2007, p. 73.

34.

Meiksins Wood 2000, pp. 54–5. For the same argument, see Anderson 1974, p. 423.

35.

Meiksins Wood 2000, pp. 57–8.

36.

Meiksins Wood 2007, p. 150.

37.

Meiksins Wood 2005, p. 104.

38.

Robinson 2007, p. 73.

39.

Meiksins Wood 2007, p. 150.

40.

Meiksins Wood 2005, p. 115.

42.

Chibber 2005, p. 155.

43.

Miéville 2004, p. 217.

44.

Meiksins Wood 2005, p. 24.

45.

Meiksins Wood 2005, pp. 22–5.

46.

Meiksins Wood 2000, p. 266. See also Meiksins Wood 2009. Charles Post (Post 2011, p. 277) seems to offer a much more nuanced approach to ‘the creation of a racially-exclusive suffrage, backed up by legal and extra-legal violence and terror’ in the US South. It remains unclear, however, how Post reconciles the resilience of such extra-economic coercion with the subsequent development of capitalist social-property relations in the South. In other words, it is hard to see how Post can uphold the sanitised realm of capital accumulation put forward by his theoretical allegiance to political Marxism’s specific conception of historical materialism, without also following Meiksins Wood into a functionalist argument about the continuous ‘use’ of extra-economic coercion in the post-Civil War period.

47.

Teschke 2003, p. 143. See also Post 2011, p. 255.

48.

Brass 1999, p. 176, n. 60. See also Heinz Roth 1997.

49.

Hristov 2009, p. xi.

50.

Meiksins Wood 2000, p. 266.

51.

 McNally 2004, p. 150.

53.

Heine and Teschke 1996, 1997 and 2002; Teschke 1998 and 2003; Lacher 2006.

54.

McNally 2004, p. 151.

55.

Blackledge 2006, p. 29.

56.

Banaji 2010a, pp. 4, 5–6.

57.

Banaji 2010b, pp. 50–2; Banaji 2010g, pp. 349–50.

58.

Banaji 2010b, p. 54.

59.

Banaji 2010b, p. 59 (emphasis added).

60.

Marx 1993, p. 101.

61.

 Bakan 1987, p. 81.

62.

Bakan 1987, p. 85.

63.

Banaji 2010c, p. 142. See also Marx 1990, p. 1064.

64.

Banaji 2010c, p. 144.

65.

McMichael 1991, pp. 324–5. See also Araghi 2003; McMichael 1999; Tomich 2004.

66.

Marx 1968.

67.

Marx 1990, p. 345.

68.

Banaji 2010c, p. 143.

70.

Marx 1990, p. 925.

71.

 Banaji 2010a, p. 1.

72.

Post 2011, p. 2.

73.

Banaji 2010d, p. 257. For similar arguments on the necessity of a more integrated approach, see McMichael 1991 and 1999; Moore 2007; Tomich 2004.

74.

Banaji 2010d, 2010e and 2010f.

75.

Marx 1991, pp. 450–1 (my emphasis).

76.

Banaji 2010d, p. 275.

77.

Banaji 2010d, p. 276.

78.

Marx 1990, pp. 876, 915–16; Davidson 2005, p. 17, n. 26; Banaji 2010a, pp. 43–4; Banaji 2010d.

79.

Marx 1990, p. 519.

80.

Marx 1990, p. 724, n. 20.

81.

 Marx 1990, p. 935 (emphasis added).

82.

Bhandari 2008, p. 96.

83.

Marx 1990, pp. 1063–4.

84.

Marx 1990, p. 875 (emphasis added).

85.

Marx 1990, p. 875 (emphasis added).

86.

Banaji 2010c.

87.

Marx 1990, p. 723. See also Marx 1990, pp. 415–16.

88.

Marx 1990, p. 719.

89.

Banaji 2010a, p. 15.

90.

Knafo 2007, p. 102.

91.

Bois 1988, p. 116.

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