Banaji’s essays offer a powerful plea for a renewal of Marxism, a passionate argument to emancipate Marxism from the dead weight of vulgar traditions – with their simplifications, forced abstractions, mechanical reductions, generalised a-historical theorising, and familiar teleologies. To reinvigorate Marxism, argues Banaji, it is essential to use theory creatively, and recognise the need for complexity in thinking about categories. We cannot generalise about modes of production simply by referring to the forms of labour exploitation in the abstract: associate serfdom or coerced labour with feudalism, and free wage-labour with capitalism. Without historical research into the specific ways in which each economy works – its history and logic of operation – we cannot in the abstract characterise a mode of production: we only end up producing a formal evolutionary sequence of modes. Agreeing with the general thrust of the critique mounted in the book, this essay suggests that Banaji’s own arguments often reproduce the binaries and linearities he opposes, and remain framed within certain forms of reductionism.
BanajiJairus‘Capitalist Domination and the Small Peasantry: Deccan Districts in the Late-Nineteenth Century’Economic and Political Weekly1977a1233/34 [Special Number]137513771379138113831385138713891391139313981400140114031404
BanajiJairus‘Capitalist Domination and the Small Peasantry: Deccan Districts in the Late-Nineteenth Century’
Economic and Political Weekly
1977a1233/34 [Special Number]137513771379138113831385138713891391139313981400140114031404)| false
Martinez-AlierJuanDuncanKennethRutledgeIanHardingColin‘Relations of Production in Andean Haciendas: Peru’Land and Labour in Latin America: Essays on the Development of Agrarian Capitalism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries1978CambridgeCambridge University Press
Martinez-AlierJuanDuncanKennethRutledgeIanHardingColin‘Relations of Production in Andean Haciendas: Peru’
Land and Labour in Latin America: Essays on the Development of Agrarian Capitalism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
1978CambridgeCambridge University Press)| false
RosaldoRenatoCliffordJamesMarcusGeorge E.‘From the Door of His Tent: The Fieldworker and the Inquisitor’Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography1986BerkeleyUniversity of California
RosaldoRenatoCliffordJamesMarcusGeorge E.‘From the Door of His Tent: The Fieldworker and the Inquisitor’
Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography
1986BerkeleyUniversity of California)| false
Banaji197219731975 1976a 1976b 1977a and 1977b. Not all these essays are part of the collection Theory as History. In his earliest piece (1972) production relations are differentiated from relations of exploitation in the following terms: ‘We may define relations of exploitation as the particular form in which surplus is appropriated from the direct producers . . . Relations of production on the other hand are the specific historically determined form which particular relations of exploitation assume due to a certain level of development of the productive forces to the predominance of particular property forms (feudal landed property etc.) and so on. Thus in the strict sense feudalism is not the same as serfdom . . . capitalism cannot be defined in terms of the existence or non-existence of wage labour for the latter is only transformed into the capitalist relation of production under certain historical connections . . .’ In his later essays the notion of relations of production is specified slightly differently emphasising the logic and rationality more emphatically. See Banaji 1976a.
Banaji 2001; also Banaji2010Chapters 6–8.
Banaji2010. See in particular Chapter 3.
See Martinez-Alier 1977 and1978.
Steinfeld and Engerman1997.
Steinfeld 1991 and2001.
de Certeau 1988; Rancière1989.
Steinfeld 1991 and2001.
Steinfeld and Engerman1997.
Kennedy19851998and 2002; Steinfeld 1991 and 2001.
Rubin 1972; Tuschling1979.
See Burke 1986 and 1990; Chartier1988Chapter 1; LaCapra 1985; Rosaldo 1986.
Yeo and Yeo1981.
Bengal Land Revenue Commission1940ap. 69.
Bengal Land Revenue Commission1940b.
Bhattacharya1983. On the complicated picture in India after Independence see Ray 1978; Rudra 1975; Bardhan and Rudra 1980; Bhaduri 1983.
Banaji 1977a; Banaji2010Chapter 10. The argument is developed also in Banaji 2010 Chapter 12.
See Banaji2010pp. 43–4. Banaji ends his conclusion to the book with the following argument: ‘In short the theoretical distinction we need here is one between capitalism in this more general sense a sense which allows for the commercial capitalism of the twelfth to eighteenth centuries and what Marx himself called the “capitalist mode of production”. The latter is only a historically developed form of capitalism in the more general sense which in this way acquires a wider purchase and helps resolve problems that continue to mystify Marxists.’ (Banaji 2010 p. 358.) The linear schema of the succession of modes made familiar by the transition debate is replaced here with a different linearity. The shift is from the ‘initial stages’ to ‘developed’ forms capitalism in the general sense to the specifically capitalist mode of production. Emerging in embryonic forms operating in diverse configurations capital ultimately matures into forms that are seen as typical to the fully developed capitalist mode of production.