Apartheid (and slavery)

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Flint
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Jun 28 2007 15:21
Apartheid (and slavery)
baboon wrote:
the abolition of apartheid was no "achievement" for the working class but a manipulation of the bourgeoisie, used not only to unleash further attacks on the working class in S Africa but an ideological attack worldwide. Again leftism has a particular role to play in this.

Discuss.

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Joseph Kay
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Jun 28 2007 15:24

http://libcom.org/news/unions-call-massive-south-african-strike-28062007

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MJ
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Jun 28 2007 15:35

See, blacks in the US were better under slavery, they had all their needs taken care of.

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thugarchist
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Jun 28 2007 15:41
MJ wrote:
See, blacks in the US were better under slavery, they had all their needs taken care of.

Being anti-slavery and anti-apartheid is objectively pro-nationalist?

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Joseph Kay
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Jun 28 2007 15:44

nah baboon would be anti-slavery, it was pre-1914. i'd guess he even thinks social deomcrats and unions were swell back then too.

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MJ
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Jun 28 2007 15:44

Capitalists only enslave, imprison and slaughter people to distract us from the real class struggle. The ones who explicitly encourage our distraction are leftists.

Flint
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Jun 28 2007 15:46
MJ wrote:
See, blacks in the US were better under slavery, they had all their needs taken care of.

Well, in the first decade of reconstruction directly after the U.S. civil war, I think you can say that the working class in the southern states was worse off economically than they were before the civil war when slavery was intact...

Obviously the "War of Northern Aggression" was a ploy by international capital to open up the obstacles that southern tariffs had created to protect their domestic market; getting rid of the tariffs led to increased exploitation. Reconstruction itself was nothing other than a funds transfer from the public coffers to the private construction industries.

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Joseph Kay
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Jun 28 2007 15:49

Adam Smith actually argues that slavery is less efficient exploitation than wage labour. doesn't mean slavery's all that though, natch.

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thugarchist
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Jun 28 2007 15:51
Joseph K. wrote:
Adam Smith actually argues that slavery is less efficient exploitation than wage labour. doesn't mean slavery's all that though, natch.

But freeing slaves is really just trading one set of bourgeois masters for another so its really anti-working class.

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Joseph Kay
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Jun 28 2007 15:58

nah whole other mode of production, find a better analogy

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thugarchist
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Jun 28 2007 15:59
Joseph K. wrote:
nah whole other mode of production, find a better analogy

I can't think of one better suited to mocking the proletarian camp. Any suggestions?

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madashell
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Jun 28 2007 16:18
Flint wrote:
Obviously the "War of Northern Aggression" was a ploy by international capital to open up the obstacles that southern tariffs had created to protect their domestic market; getting rid of the tariffs led to increased exploitation. Reconstruction itself was nothing other than a funds transfer from the public coffers to the private construction industries.

"If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that" - Lincoln

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Jun 28 2007 16:23
madashell wrote:
Flint wrote:
Obviously the "War of Northern Aggression" was a ploy by international capital to open up the obstacles that southern tariffs had created to protect their domestic market; getting rid of the tariffs led to increased exploitation. Reconstruction itself was nothing other than a funds transfer from the public coffers to the private construction industries.

"If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that" - Lincoln

Sure. But was ending slavery a good thing to do or not?

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madashell
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Jun 28 2007 16:26
thugarchist wrote:
Sure. But was ending slavery a good thing to do or not?

Well, obviously it's somewhat better working for a boss than being a slave, that's a bit of a fucking no brainer. I was just pointing out that the North's actions weren't exactly motivated by an altruistic desire to free the slaves.

Baboon's post about Apartheid is just weird though and typical of the sort of shite you end up spouting once you accept decadance theory.

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Jun 28 2007 16:38
madashell wrote:
thugarchist wrote:
Sure. But was ending slavery a good thing to do or not?

Well, obviously it's somewhat better working for a boss than being a slave, that's a bit of a fucking no brainer. I was just pointing out that the North's actions weren't exactly motivated by an altruistic desire to free the slaves.

Baboon's post about Apartheid is just weird though and typical of the sort of shite you end up spouting once you accept decadance theory.

Right on both counts. Babboon seems like a nut. But the elimination of slavery was on the North's political agenda. The most popular plan was to end it by attrition. 25 years of slavery left and all new children born free. It was a smart economic shift to strangle the south's political/economic power for sure, but the abolitionist movement was also an important factor and were very effective both as an interest group and as a militant direct action movement.

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Jun 28 2007 16:39
Joseph K wrote:
nah whole other mode of production, find a better analogy

Uhm are you saying that chattel slavery wasn't happening within a capitalist mode of production?

Mike Harman
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Jun 28 2007 17:52

edit, I see flint, JK madashell and others got there first

MJ wrote:
See, blacks in the US were better under slavery, they had all their needs taken care of.

I think it's generally accepted that the abolition of slavery in the US was necessary for wage labour and capital accumulation to expand. The same could be said for the abolition of serfs and feudalism in the UK.

I think there are also some studies which analysed the conditions of some migrant workers immediately after abolition and found they were worse than they had been as slaves - plantation owners didn't have to pay upkeep unless there was work to be done etc. This may not have been a massive number though, but it'd be wrong to ignore that as a process.

Also the tools that were given to slaves were of substandard quality due to high incidences of sabotage. With wage labour, damage to tools could be deducted from wages - leading to technological development and more efficient exploitation of labour.

None of this is to say "blacks in the US were better under slavery", but there's plenty of analysis around which suggests it was a primarily political improvement around rights more than an economic one about actual living conditions, at least early on.

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Jun 28 2007 18:06

Er yes I'm familiar with these analyses. Chattel slavery, as part of a specific regime of accumulation within a capitalist mode of production, entered into crisis primarily due to expanding cycles of slave resistance. Slavery wasn't a holdover from precapitalism. It was a particularly obvious example of how primitive accumulation isn't a chronological period before proper capitalism, but rather a method that's constantly reintroduced in new forms and continues alongside and within formal capitalism.

There were plenty of what you'd probably call leftists in the US in the mid-19th century who argued that slavery shouldn't be abolished precisely because it would strengthen the hand of capital and worsen the lot of, depending on who was making the argument, either free labor or slaves.

Mike Harman
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Jun 28 2007 18:10

There's certainly primitive accumulation going on in China right at the moment, I personally wouldn't say it's ended. I'd also say that capital has continued to expand into more and more areas of social life (for example the massive attempts of the UK government at the moment to expand registered child care - both to get people into work doing child care, and to get people into work because they can put their kids in child care).

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Jun 28 2007 18:35
Quote:
There's certainly primitive accumulation going on in China right at the moment, I personally wouldn't say it's ended.

There's primitive accumulation going on in my neighborhood right at the moment.

Quote:
I'd also say that capital has continued to expand into more and more areas of social life

Yes, extensification and intensification of the commodity-form and all that. But it's really not been an straight one way flow of history away from a feudal past and toward a more rationalized capitalist present.

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Jun 28 2007 18:37

Oh and if the USSR was capitalist the plantation system in the south sure as hell was.

Terry
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Jun 28 2007 18:38

Well the defeat of apartheid was obviously a great victory....but what happened then is for several years people gave the new government the benefit of the doubt and there was a real hiatus in struggle as a result, people felt the state was theirs now and with time their problems would be sorted......over the last few years I think since 2002 or 2003 this has changed and there is lots of struggles going on there, mostly about amenities - housing, water, electricity.

MJ what "expanding cycles of slave resistance"? I've never really heard of anything much of that in the United States.

Terry
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Jun 28 2007 18:45

There is an interview here:
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76097
...that I did with a South African women from an environmental justice group called Groundwork, it touches on some of these issues (scroll down it is the first comment)

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Jun 28 2007 18:46
Terry wrote:
MJ what "expanding cycles of slave resistance"? I've never really heard of anything much of that in the United States.

Read "American Negro Slave Revolts" by Herbert Aptheker.

Mike Harman
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Jun 28 2007 19:49

MJ, ta, I'll keep an eye out for that book. We had "abolition month" here not long ago, and they singularly failed to mention any slave revolts and a load of other stuff.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slave_rebellion
http://www.johnhorse.com/ http://www.johnhorse.com/highlights/essays/largest.htm
edit: http://www.rit.edu/~nrcgsh/BX/bx04b.html

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Jun 28 2007 19:54

The interesting thing is that at the time, many abolitionists argued that slavery should be abolished not because it was wrong but because it led to insurrection!

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MJ
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Jun 28 2007 19:56

So the question is, did any Left Communist groups during the apartheid era openly oppose the anti-apartheid movement as bourgeois manipulation?

Mike Harman
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Jun 28 2007 20:02

I don't know of any, but then I don't know much about Apartheid really. Dunno about everyone else, but stuff that happened from about 1975-1992 (I was born in 1980) tends to be the period I know least about in terms of working class history.

fwiw, this recent addition to the library has a short section on Apartheid: http://libcom.org/library/gasping-out-shallows-reflections-revolution-early-twenty-first-century

Terry
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Jun 28 2007 20:09

I remember reading that basically your North was an embryonic industrial society, whereas your South was totally based on the plantation economy and was almost a neo-colony of the Britain...or at least a part of the informal empire...maybe neo-colony is too strong a term...and that the conflict was between these two interests for control of the state as a whole (preceeding the civil war proper) and for control of the expansion into the West. Slavery was abolished in the hope that slaves would rise up or join the Union army...at a time when it was going pretty bad for the North....that said I do not know very much about this period of history.

What insurrections were they worried about? Were they looking south to the Caribeann and South America where much more of that went on? Like the likes of Nat Turner's revolt and that doesn't look like the sort of thing which would have you too worried....was there a lot of more small scale resistance that didn't get as much historical prominence?

Anyone have any opinions on why slavery was partially done away with in the British Empire?

I think the linear development that I think Marx wrote about .......capitalism starting with primative accumulation and that.... is only really applicable to England....or to 'core' countries actually....serfdom was intensified in central Europe as market relations developed. Likewise we shouldn't forget that versions of forced labour were an integral part of European colonial empires in Africa long after the slave trade proper was abolished.

Terry
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Jun 28 2007 20:14
Quote:
"So the question is, did any Left Communist groups during the apartheid era openly oppose the anti-apartheid movement as bourgeois manipulation?"

From my point of view depends on what the 'anti-apartheid movement' is. You would have to make a distinction between the ANC etc, and the strikes, riots, and so forth that made up the mass struggle. Given how things panned out this is obviously very important.

I don't understand your interest in what the left-communists and particularly baboon have to say as you will never agree with them or them you anyways.

Terry
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Jun 28 2007 20:19

John Pilger's 'Apartheid did not die' is here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWuJYOH7YW4