The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy and

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Re: The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy

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Part 1 of 2

Chapter 12: The Classics as Cossacks: Classical Political Economy versus the Working Class

The head of the new school, Mr. Ricardo, has, they say, declared himself that there are no more than twenty-five people in England that had understood his hook. Perhaps he had cultivated obscurity, so that those who understood him . . . had become a sect of adepts with a new language.

— Sismondi, Nouveaux principles d'economie politique

The Scotland of Steuazt and Owen

Robert Owen was a successful cotton spinner. Like others of his trade, he discovered that the creation of a capitalist society in Scotland, or elsewhere, was no easy task. Workers generally resisted "the supervision of labour; fines; bells and clocks; money incentives; preaching and schooling; the suppression of fairs and sports" associated with industrial discipline (E. Thompson 1967, 90). This opposition was especially strong in Scotland. In Owen's (1857, 58) words, the "regularly trained Scotch peasant disdained the idea of working early and late, day after day, within cotton mills."

According to Sidney Pollard (1965, 261), "The Highlander," it was said, "never sits at ease at a loom; it is like putting a deer in a plough." He pointed out that "in Scotland, significantly, people referred to factories as 'public works,' revealing a mental association with workhouses, and migration to factory districts was likened to transportation" (Pollard 1965, 194; see also Kuczynski 1967, 70). Marx pointed out that even Adam Smith interchangeably used the terms "manufactory" and "workhouse" (8o8n). The feeling against factories ran so strong that the father of Richard Oastler, a famous industrialist, sold his business rather than employ the "machine [which] symbolized the encroachment of the factory system," machines that he regarded as "a means of oppression on the part of the rich and of corresponding degradation and misery to the poor" (cited in Thompson 1963, 548, 549).

Given the widespread revulsion created by factory work, employers had to go to great lengths to snatch labor from the depths of the urban centers.

For example, children were sometimes bound to the factory by indentures of apprenticeship for at least seven years and usually until they were twenty-one (Mantoux 1961, 410). "Lots of fifty, eighty or a hundred children were supplied [by the Poor Law authorities] and sent like cattle where they remained imprisoned for many years" (ibid., 411).

Prospective employers had to be quick to take advantage of fortuitous events. David Dale, a famous Scottish cotton lord and future father-in-law of Robert Owen, on hearing of two hundred emigrants shipwrecked on a nearby coast, rushed off to recruit them (Pollard 1965, 261). Dale, like other cotton magnates, eventually found it expedient to create entire villages in order to maintain a labor force (A. Robertson 1971, 150-51; Pollard 1965, 231-42; Collier 1930). Dale's village, located in Lanark County, home of Sir James Steuart, eventually passed into the hands of Owen.

Realizing that opportunities, such as the occasional shipwreck, would be insufficient to staff a modern textile industry, Robert Owen concluded: "Two modes then only remained of obtaining these labourers, the one to procure children from the various public charities of the country, and the other to induce families to settle around the works" (Owen 1813, 26).

In order to reconcile his workers to their condition, Owen established a nursery school for young children and night schools for older ones. He also developed a support fund to take care of the injured, sick, and aged. In addition, workers enjoyed the services of a company-owned savings bank and stores that undersold private dealers (on this latter point, see Ricardo 195I-73, 5:218).

Perhaps because of his enlightened policies, Owen's business was extremely profitable, but his partners were upset that Owen was spending too much on the welfare of his workers. As James Mill wrote to Jeremy Bentham on 3 December 18 13, the partners "had in general got soured with him on account of his endeavours (to which they were averse) to improve the population of the mills" (reprinted in Conway 1988, 31-32). Owen then turned to a group of new investors, including Jeremy Bentham (see Bowring 1962, 466-67).

Soon the relationship between these two unlikely partners also degenerated. By 25 March 1815, Bentham wrote to Owen to request money back from his investment (Conway 1988, 451-52). In a later conversation, Bentham described Owen in unflattering terms: "Robert Owen begins in a vapour, and ends in smoke. He is a great braggadocio. His mind is a maze of confusion, and he avoids coming to particulars. He is always the samesays the same things over and over again. He built some small houses; and people, who had no houses of their own, went to live in those houses— and he calls this success" (Bowring 1962, 10, 570). Owen (1857,95 -96) reciprocated, describing Bentham as a recluse, whose only contact with the real world was through his books and a handful of trusted friends. He claimed that Bentham's friends told him that the investment in New Lanark was Bentham's only successful venture (ibid., 96).

Certainly, Bentham's view of Owen's establishment was in a distinct minority. New Lanark won the admiration of people around the world. Owen's workers seemed to enjoy a better life than the urban proletariat, even though he paid them below the going rate. More important, his factory earned a healthy, but not unusual profit (A. Robertson 1971, 147-48).

Thomas Robert Mai thus offered a different dissenting report of Owen's works. In 1810, he entered into his diary, "About fifteen hundred people are employed at the cotton mill, and great debauchery prevails among them" (Malthus 1966, 233); however, his next sentence describes the thirteen-hour, six-day-per-week schedule. Unfortunately, Malthus supplied no details about the debauchery, which must have been confined to the Sabbath.

Robert Owen's Model of a Humane Economy

Although Owen's community had many progressive features, the workers themselves complained about the paternalism: "We view it a grievance of considerable magnitude to be compelled by Mr. Owen to adopt what measures so ever he may be pleased to suggest to us on matters that entirely belong to us. Such a course of procedure is most repugnant to our minds as men, and degrading to our characters" (cited in Robertson 1971, 150).

One need only follow the course of development of company towns to see the potential for abuse. We can begin with Francis Cabot Lowell, who had originally attempted to re-create what he saw at New Lanark in his Massachusetts textile towns (Dillard 1967, 328-29; Marx 1967, 2:516), including the emphasis on discipline (see Ware 1924, 78-79).

Next we can turn to the town that bears George Pullman's name. The company designed this community to "attract and retain a superior type of workingman, who would in turn be elevated and refined" by the physical setting (cited in Harvey 1976, 283). We could complete our tour with the grotesque system engineered by Henry Ford, with a "staff of over thirty investigators . . . [who] visited workers' homes gathering information and giving advice on intimate details of the family budget, diet, living arrangements, recreation, social outlook and morality" (Flink, 1975, 89; see also Sward 1972, 228-29; Harvey 1976, 277).

To his credit, Owen understood the shortcomings of his village. He attempted to create alternative communities with more self -governance, although the Black Dwarf, a radical newspaper, perceptively denounced his paternalistically planned community as a "nursery for men" (cited in Hollis 1973, 31).

Owen's involvement with the cotton industry educated him in many respects. He recognized that labor was being driven from the countryside much more rapidly than it could be absorbed in the factories. In this regard, Owen seems also to have been influenced by Thomas Spence, whose call for land reform was discussed earlier (Rudkin 1966, 19111.); however, with Owen, the Spencian demands for collective ownership of the land were softened. Rather, he had hoped that the wealthy, including the royal family, would help him in establishing villages that could set labor back to work on the land.

Like Steuart and Spence, Owen realized that the social division of labor in food production was a vital element in the determination of the level of real wages. In a letter dated 25 July 18 17, and published in the London newspapers five days later, Owen (1857, 74) declared, "Value must be restored to manual labour, and this cannot be done except by employment on the land."

Owen designed a plan for villages based on labor-intensive agriculture. He stressed the social, rather than the technical advantages of his plan, calling on the wealthy, and even the government, to invest with him in a program to correct the imbalances in the social division of labor.

Although most of the attempts to put Owen's ideas into practice met with failure, the Ralahine community in County Clare, Ireland, was, in fact, quite successful, even on purely monetary grounds, until its owner gambled away his fortune (Garnett 1971, 47-52; see also Bray 1841, 2:58085). Some members of the royal family were duly impressed.

Of course, a good deal of Owen's idea was by no means novel. Owen himself discovered later that John Bellers, who appeared in chapter 3, had already proposed much of his analysis, as well as much of his solution. Bellers, considered by Marx (1977, 619) to be "a veritable phenomenon in the history of political economy," advocated that capitalists invest in colleges of industry that could educate the poor, teach them industry, and shelter them from earthly cares, although he shrewdly observed that "the labour of the poor . . . [is] the mine of the rich" (Bellers 1696, 164).

And why was profit necessary? Bellers (ibid., 177) answered simply, "Because the rich have no other way of living but by the labour of others." This naive philanthropist hoped to benefit all humanity by virtue of an improved social division of labor in which the cooperation of concentrations of labor would result in a tremendous expansion of productivity. In Bellers's (ibid., 176) words: "As one man cannot and ten must strain to lift a ton weight, yet one hundred men can do it only by the strength of each of them." Bellers may have been the first person to suggest something akin to the modern notion of an efficiency wage, arguing that a decent life for the poor was compatible with a wholesome rate of profit for the rich.

Political economy recoiled from Owen's plan. After all, Owen intended to raise the demand for labor. As Steuart (1767, 1:175) had recognized earlier, increasing the mass of people employed in self-sufficient farming would reduce the number available for the production of the surplus. Steuart had fretted that profits would suffer as a result of a return to spade husbandry. Such honesty was nowhere to be found in later classical political economy. Instead, later political economists lashed out at Owen's scheme as nothing less than an assault on civilization.

A Brief Digression on Land Reform

Subsequent calls for land reform echoed Owen's ideas. In Britain and the United States, workers were in the forefront of the struggle for land reform, even though they might not ever get the opportunity to work the land themselves (E. Thompson 1963, 231, 295; P. Foner 1975, 44-45). The Chartists, for example, even bought up land during the 1 840s to lease back to their members (see Engels 1847; Tsuzuki 1971, 18-19). According to Feargus O'Connor in the 7 June 1845 issue of the Northern Star:

The first use the land would be to them was to ease the labour market of its surplus; the second was to create a certainty of work for the people; and the third was to create a natural rate of wages in the artificial market; for so long as there was a surplus to fall back on, or a warehouse from which to procure labour, so long would work be uncertain and wages low. (cited in Prothero 1969, 99)

O'Connor (1845, 307) had intended that workers could be drawn off into agriculture in such a way that "the number working at each trade (could be adjusted) to the amount of produce required from each as to ensure a healthy settlement of demand and supply."

Unfortunately, O'Connor's perspective was limited. He denounced "communism" as "a fascinating theory [that] . . . opens a wide field for indulgence of the wildest of visionaries" (O'Connor 1848b, 55). He wanted "to make idleness a crime" (ibid., 56). More important, O'Connor looked backward to a system of petty commodity production. In any event, the Chartists's plan failed and the capitalist system continued; so did its intended "screwing and grinding" (Spence 1807; cited in E. Thompson 1963, 805).

Not surprisingly, the left wing of the Chartist movement, as well as Marx and Engels, could not support O'Connor's project, just as they could not endorse Hermann Kriege's land reform activities in the United States (see Draper 1978, 411, 420-25); however, Engels did recognize that a program to give peasants land could be progressive in the context of less advanced economic conditions, such as were found in Germany (see Marx and Engels 1846b, 351-55).

The Chartist plan might have worked to raise the wages of labor in the short run. The case of Mr. R. F. Powell, hired by wealthy philanthropists as superintendent of the Philadelphia Vacant Lots Cultivation Association, illustrates this point (Dudden 1971, 36). As a follower of Henry George, Powell was keenly aware of the extent of vacant land held for speculative purposes in his city, which he estimated to have amounted to one-quarter of the urban area (see Kelley 1906, 306). Mr. Powell helped set almost one thousand families to work raising gardens on these lots. For the especially needy, Mr. Powell would hire them as gardeners at only twelve and a half cents per hour, although the organization would not have suffered a loss, even if the wages had been raised as high as forty cents per hour.

Why were wages set at the lower level? The board of directors of the association, composed of wealthy businessmen, would not allow a higher wage. Powell informed Florence Kelley, the translator of the American edition of Engels's Conditions of the Working Class: "It would make no end of trouble ... if these people were to find that they could earn as much as that they would either leave the factories or demand as much pay there" (ibid., 306).

David Ricardo

Owen's schemes stirred up a great deal of controversy. Classical political economy was drawn into the fray. This dispute is crucial for what it reveals about the attitude of classical political economy with respect to the social division of labor and self-provisioning.

David Ricardo, for one, became a reluctant participant in this wrangling. No one should have expected Ricardo to offer much support to Owen's plan. Although modern commentators often cite Ricardo's words of sympathy for the poor, this sentiment was rather abstract, if not hollow. Ricardo was not at all critical of the attempts of employers "to keep down the recompense to the labourer to the lowest rate" (1951-73, 9:54). In his very first speech to Parliament, he warned his fellow members against being overly tender to the children of the poor, lest such actions encourage the poor to breed more offspring (ibid., 5:1).

In 1818 Ricardo (ibid., 7:359-60) refused to send James Mill a donation for the Westminster Infant School because the children were to be given some dinner:

If it is part of the establishment ... to feed as well as to take care of and educate the children of three years of age, and upwards, belonging to the poor, I see the most serious objections to the plan, and I should be exceedingly inconsistent if I gave my countenance to it. I have invariably objected to the poor laws, and to every system which should give encouragement to excess of population. If you are to feed, clothe, and educate all the children of the poor, you will be giving a great stimulus to a principle already too active.

Even so, while attending a meeting of the Owenites, along with Robert Torrens, Ricardo succumbed to pressure to join a committee to study Owen's proposal. From the beginning, Ricardo was skeptical that the scheme could be administered in the socialistic form envisioned by Owen. As he wrote to his friend, Trower: "Can any reasonable person believe with Owen, that a society, such as he projects, will flourish and produce more than has ever yet been produced by an equal number of men, if they are to be stimulated to their private interest? Is not the experience of ages against him?" (Ricardo 195 1-73, 8:46).

Ricardo's objections were not limited to philosophical speculations on human nature. He charged Owen with the grave error of building "a theory inconsistent with the principles of political economy, and . . . calculated to produce infinite mischief to the community" (ibid., 5:30).

While both Ricardo and Owen argued that the then existing social division was brought about by matters of individual self-interest, Owen interpreted the result to be detrimental to the well-being of labor. Ricardo reasoned on a different basis, assuming that if labor-intensive technologies were beneficial to society, then they would turn out to be more profitable. Consequently, he told Parliament that "as soon as the farmer knew that it was in his interest to pursue a different system, he would adopt it as a matter of course" (ibid., 6:3 in).

Given this position, Ricardo could accept some of Owen's diagnosis, but certainly not his remedy. Ricardo was only willing to go so far as to ascertain if spade husbandry would be more profitable. The market could take care of the rest.

In this spirit, Ricardo (ibid., 5:31) responded to his own rhetorical question: "For what did the country want at the present moment? A demand for labour. If the facts stated of spade husbandry were true, it was a beneficial course, as affording that demand."

Later, Ricardo routinely equated charity with Owenism. For example, in 1819, Ricardo was nominated to a parliamentary committee of inquiry into the Poor Laws headed by William Sturges-Bourne, who proposed to eliminate all poor relief to destitute parents of large families, but advocated providing relief to hungry children on the condition that they be placed in workhouses. Ricardo dissented from this bill, contending that assuring parents "that an asylum would be provided for their children, in which they would be treated with humanity and tenderness . . . was only the plan of Mr Owen, in a worse shape and carried to a greater extent" (ibid., 1, 7).

Ricardo on Horses and Machinery

Despite his outwardly confident attitude about the market, Ricardo was intellectually honest enough to feel the pangs of skepticism. He eventually granted some credence to Owen's concerns in his unpublished Notes on Malthus. There, Ricardo explicitly recognized that an alternative agricultural technology might very well improve the position of the working class, even though it would not necessarily be more profitable to individual farmers:

It might be possible to do almost all the work performed by men with horses, would the substitution of horses in such case, even if attended with a greater produce, be advantageous to the working classes, would it not on the contrary very materially diminish the demand for labour? All I mean to say is that it might happen with a cheaper mode of cultivation the demand for labour might diminish, and with a dearer it might decrease. (Ricardo 195 1-73, 2:239)

Two comments are relevant to Ricardo's (ibid., 2:238) position here. First, Ricardo had already recognized in an earlier note that "diminished [net] production is, in fact, compatible with an increased consumption, by human beings." In terms of agriculture, the sum of the grain consumed directly by the farm workers plus the farmers' profits, measured in grain, might also be higher with spade husbandry than when horses are used, even though profits could be higher when farmers substituted horses for human labor. The fact that Ricardo even stopped to reflect on the possibility of diminished consumption indicates that he sensed something amiss in the marketplace.

Second, Ricardo wrote and then deleted the thought: "This is perhaps the only case in which the substitution of labour for fixed capital, if horses can be so called, is not attended with advantage to the capitalist yet is nevertheless beneficial to the working class" (ibid., 2:239. In other words, the possibility of detrimental effects from the introduction of fixed capital is limited to the case of substituting horses for human labor.

In opposition to Piero Sraffa (1951, i:lix), Samuel Hollander (1971; 1979; see also Maital and Haswell 1977) took the position that a concern about the effect of horses on the demand for agricultural labor did not necessarily lead to Ricardo's later idea that machinery, in general, could operate to the detriment of labor. Hollander's stance has merit for several reasons.

To begin with, a number of writers besides Owen noted the detrimental aspects of horse husbandry. At the time, one horse performed work roughly equivalent to five men (Daunton 1995, 46). Horses also consumed an enormous amount of food that might have otherwise fed farm workers. A single horse typically required an estimated three pecks of oats and a gallon of beans daily in addition to its hay (Ashton 1972, 55). One writer referred to the horse as "the most dangerous moth in the whole web of agricultural economy" (Tatham 1799, 412). We can even find an allusion to this phenomenon in Richard Cantillon (1755, 63).

Other economists found fault with horse husbandry without generalizing their objections to investment in machinery. Perhaps Nassau Senior (1868, 2:43) offers the best example of this phenomenon. Senior suggested that the use of horses might be excessive. However, despite Senior's doubts about horse husbandry, he never accepted the later Ricardian position on machinery. He wrote, "I do not believe that there exists upon record a single instance in which the whole annual produce has been diminished by the use of inanimate machinery" (Senior 1831, 39-40; emphasis in original).

Thus, even though Ricardo seems to have adopted his ideas on machinery only a few months after he made his observations on horse husbandry, we cannot say for certain that one necessarily led to the other. Nor can we ever know with certainty if Ricardo's discussion of machinery was somehow related to Owen's scheme. Ricardo presented his analysis in the form of an abstract principle, absolutely unrelated to any particular point of policy. He claimed to be "not aware that I have ever published anything respecting machinery which it is necessary for me to retract" (Ricardo 1951 731 1:386). Still, he added what might be an admission that he had not treated Owen altogether fairly: "yet I have in other ways given my support to doctrines which I now think erroneous" (ibid.). Could he have had his earlier critique of Owenism in mind?

Horses as a Special Case

Modern economists tend to sweep aside even modest speculations, such as Ricardo's qualms about horses. They presume that the supply of food is not an issue. New employment will come on line naturally, because the superior technology from horse husbandry will drop food prices, thereby expanding aggregate purchasing power. Since the augmentation of purchasing power will increase the demand for labor, labor replaced by horses will merely shift to new jobs. Any reference to the competition between horses and people for food would seem to be irrelevant. This optimistic perspective makes sense only if the displaced workers find alternative employment and earn enough to purchase comparable amounts of food. The experience of modern times does not give much cause for such optimism.

In contrast, classical political economists could regard horses as a special case for two reasons. First, a special model of agriculture colored their perception of the effect of horses. They often built simplified models of agriculture in which the input— grain— and the output— food— are more or less identical (DeVivo 1985).

Where grain is both the input and the output, the explanation that technical change will benefit the workers was not as convincing, especially because classical political economy assumed that wages ultimately depended on a fund, which employers presumably set aside to nourish workers. Moreover, that fund often seemed to consist of the real goods that workers consume. Since horses consumed food that workers might otherwise eat, horses could rightfully be said to diminish the fund.

Second, many people associated the substitution of horses for people with the enclosure movement. The enclosures were part and parcel of a momentous change in the mode of production, whereas the adoption of machinery in general took place within the capitalist mode of production. Thus, the case of horse husbandry may have been assumed to be unique, even though most political economists held that in spite of the suffering engendered by the initiation of market relations, the development of the market would make life better for all in the long run.

We should resist the temptation to add a third reason why Ricardo's discussion of horses might be considered unique: agriculture often seems to be an extremely labor-intensive business compared to the image of the modern textile works that were spreading through the British Isles during the Industrial Revolution. In reality, this impression is misleading— at least Ricardo thought so. He told Parliament on 9 May 1822, that he doubted that agriculture was less capital-intensive than industry (Ricardo I 9S 1 ~73, 577-78; see also Gordon 1976, 139-40). In fact, industry in lateeighteenth-century England was not very capital-intensive at all. The nation spent more money on horseshoeing than was invested in capital in the entire textile industry, even though textile production was the core sector during the Industrial Revolution (Crouzet 1972, 22).

Thus, the uniqueness of the agricultural sector, with grain seen as both an input and an output, might have left Ricardo free to see horses and agriculture as a special case without much relevance for manufacturing.

Economists still debate whether Ricardo was mistaken or not in his machinery chapter. I suspect that part of the reason that this subject has caused so much confusion is Ricardo's inadequate treatment of the depreciation of machinery. Paul Samuelson (1989) gave one of the better readings of this chapter. Perhaps because Samuelson used horses as his example of machinery, he had an advantage over those who thought in terms of machines proper. As a result, Samuelson was able to steer clear of some of the more common errors in interpreting Ricardo theory of machinery.

Ricardo and Depreciation  

Ricardo's theory of fixed capital might also explain why he did not consider his theory of horses to be comparable to his theory of machinery. As a background to this speculation, we should note that Ricardo's peculiar notion of capital created a serious flaw in his chapter "On Machinery." Like most economists of his day, Ricardo generally assumed that fixed capital does not depreciate. Instead, he treated fixed capital as permanently productive so long as sufficient maintenance would be performed to keep it intact (Chatfield 1977, 102; Brief 1965).

Yes, I know that sections 3 through 5 of Ricardo's first chapter of his Principles are filled with considerations about the durability of capital, but by the time we get to the chapter on machinery, all concern with durability has fallen by the wayside. Ricardo (1951-73, 8:388) almost admits as much in an 18 June 1821 letter to McCulloch, confessing, "If I have not said whether the machine was to last one, ten, or a hundred years I have not been so explicit as I ought to have been."

We should also note that elsewhere in the Principles Ricardo did allude at times to technological improvements that could cause machines to depreciate through obsolescence. For example, he discussed the case ... of a man who has erected machinery in his manufactory at a great expense, machinery which is afterwards so much improved upon by more modern inventions, that the commodities manufactured by him very much sink in value. It would be entirely a matter of calculation with him whether he should abandon the old machinery, and erect the more perfect, losing all the value of the old, or continue to avail himself of its comparatively feeble powers. (1951-73, 1:271)

Even so, in the chapter on machinery, Ricardo treated machinery as if it had infinite durability. We should not judge Ricardo too harshly for this shortcoming in his analysis. In the first place, he was merely following standard accounting practices of his day. Indeed, the fashion at the time was to treat all overhead costs, such as the original cost of a machine, as unproductive labor (Chatfield 1977, 102). According to one historian of account thought, Richard Brief (1965, 14-15):

The oldest assumption on which accounting practices were based implies that the value of fixed tangible assets remains constant if they are maintained in working order. . . . Under replacement accounting, all expenditures on maintenance, repairs and renewals were charged directly to expense. Expenditures on additions and betterments, i.e., capital expenditures, made with funds provided from the proceeds of stock and bond issues were capitalized. . . . the recognition of depreciation associated with the original plant is delayed until those assets are replaced.

Given this perspective, Ricardo and his contemporaries saw no need to take account of depreciation when discussing machinery; however, this neglect of depreciation significantly weakens Ricardo's treatment of machinery.

In the absence of depreciation, Ricardo's machinery, like his land, somehow becomes endowed with an imagined productivity that lasts indefinitely. Consequently, Ricardo did not count the labor used to produce the machinery as part of the value of the final output in that chapter, since the machinery itself is unchanged in the course of production. Given that setup, Ricardo only had to take the labor used to maintain the machine as a cost.

Why would Ricardo, the premier economic theorist of his day, fail to go beyond the crude capital theory of his day in his chapter on machinery? Why wouldn't he have integrated his observations about technological obsolescence into his more theoretical analysis?

Although there is no way to know Ricardo's thoughts on this matter, let me offer a conjecture. Ricardo's inconsistent capital theory may not be an indication of confusion on his part. Instead, it may reflect the depth of his understanding of capital theory.

Ricardo's allusions to the need to take account of the depreciation of capital suggest that he saw the deficiencies of the naive capital theory of his day. At the same time, Ricardo's sophistication might well have made him aware of the impossibility of a precise theory of depreciation within the context of economic models.

If Ricardo had attempted to come to grips with the concept of depreciation, he would have been swamped by the complexity of the subject. In fact, no economic model has ever introduced an even remotely realistic treatment of depreciation. The reason is not hard to fathom.

The rules of thumb that accountants use are inadequate for a theory of economics that purports to show how profit maximizing outcomes arise. Depreciation, however, requires that the theory confront the unknowable future.

For example, the depreciation of a capital good depends, among other things, upon the economic lifetime of that equipment. Most firms do not discard capital goods because they wear out. Instead, conditions change, making the good uneconomical. If the firm scraps the good in a year, it will have to depreciate it completely within that period. If the good lasts ten years, then the depreciation will be more gradual.

Each subsequent replacement will be affected by the expectation of later replacements in the still more distant future. A profit maximizing investor will generally require foreknowledge of the date of the introduction of the next generation of capital before making that replacement decision. As Joseph Schumpeter (1950, 98) once wrote:

Frequently, if not in most cases, a going concern does not simply face the question whether or not to adopt a definite new method of production that is the best thing out. ... A new type of machine is in general but a link in a chain of improvements and may presently become obsolete. In this case it would obviously not be rational to follow the chain link by link regardless of the capital loss to be suffered each time. (1950, 98)

Economists briefly looked at the incredibly difficult requirements for a realistic theory of the economic lifetime of capital toward the end of the Great Depression (see Preinreich 1940), but the demands of such a theory were so great that nobody dared to take up the challenge. Since depreciation depends on the economic lifetime of a capital good, analysis of depreciation requires a parallel analysis of expectations. Economists still have no adequate theory for expectations.

Just as Adam Smith built his theory to show that the market created a harmony of interests between the small masters, their workers, and the rest of society, modern economists construct their theory to show why market forces lead to the most efficient possible outcome. As a result, they avoid the theory of depreciation. This practice is part of a larger tendency to deny that accidents, ignorance, or anything else except intrusive government could cause an economy to wander off a path of maximum efficiency. Realism in such matters is a trivial consideration.

To have expected a Ricardo to have mastered the intricacy of a theory of depreciation a century and a half ago is wildly unrealistic. Ricardo was, above all, a master of making his models analytically tractable. Just consider how cleverly he eliminated any consideration of rent from his value theory. So while realistic comments about the realities of depreciation crept into his book, Ricardo was careful to avoid any examination of depreciation when it could threaten to garble the message of his theory of machinery.

Here we see that horses differ from Ricardian machinery in still another sense. The idea of an undepreciating horse is utter nonsense. Horses are not immortal. Despite the best care and maintenance, all horses eventually succumb to injury, disease, or old age. Thus, "horse capital" falls somewhere between Ricardo's notions of fixed and circulating capital, although a large enough farmer could theoretically have an undepreciating herd of horses— at least in an actuarial sense.

Ricardo and Machinery

The core of Ricardo's famous chapter analyzed conditions by which the introduction of labor-saving techniques in industry could harm labor. He even went so far as to speculate in a letter to John R. McCulloch that "if machinery could do all the work that labour now does, there would be no demand for labour" (Ricardo 1951-73, 8:399-400). Under this assumption, "Nobody would be entitled to consume who was not a capitalist, and who could not buy or rent a machine" (ibid.).

Ricardo offered the observation that "the labouring class have no small interest in which the net income of the country is expended, although it should, in all cases, be expended for the gratification and enjoyments of those who are fairly entitled to it" (ibid., 1:392). A few paragraphs later, Ricardo (ibid., 394) noted that wages could fall with the cessation of war if the wealthy people devoted their funds for "the purchase of wine, furniture, or other luxuries." In effect, he seems to have given labor the implicit right to have some say in how the wealthy classes spend their money, although he gives no indication that the working classes have any comparable right to question the distribution of wealth.

What do the consumption patterns of the wealthy have to do with the policy issues raised by the machinery model? After all, the substantial dislocations following the end of the Napoleonic Wars were too great to be explained by excessive purchases of luxuries. The mere mention of this period, however, seems to suggest an important policy dimension to the model.

In the next paragraph, Ricardo (ibid., 394) returned to the possible detrimental effect of the use of horses, again suggesting that his model was intended to be more than an abstract exercise:

There is one other case . . . the possibility of an increase in the net revenue of a country, and even of its gross revenue, with a diminution in the demand for labour, and that is, when the labour of horses is substituted for that of man. ... to substitute the horses for the men . . . would not be for the interest of the men, and ... it is evident that the population would become redundant and the labourer's condition would sink.

In other words, while machinery in general may be harmful to labor, the effect is far more dramatic in the case of horse husbandry because gross output and labor demand can fall together.

Rather than continue with this line of reasoning, Ricardo undercut any policy implications of his model in the following paragraph. He pointed out that his model only referred to the sudden improvement of machinery, whereas in reality, technical change is gradual (ibid., 395). Of course, sudden improvements in technology are inconsistent with Ricardo's static theory of value.

Ricardo further downplayed the relevance of his finding by implicitly arguing that machinery could not do a great deal of harm to workers, since the introduction of machinery would not be economical unless wages are high. Even high wages would not necessarily lead to the widespread introduction of machinery. For example, according to Ricardo, machinery was not economical in American agriculture because land was so abundant there (ibid., 395). Of course, the intensive use of agricultural machinery was soon to become a hallmark of agriculture in the United States.

The Corn Laws in England

Even if Owen's proposal were peripheral to Ricardo's theoretical activities, the question of labor-intensive agriculture was a hot political topic at the time. Parliament was actively enforcing a controversial policy that was discouraging labor-intensive agriculture: namely, the infamous Corn Laws.

In the first half of the eighteenth century, Britain was the granary to a large part of Europe, exporting an amount sufficient to feed one-quarter of the British population (B. Thomas 1985, 140-41). With the combination of population growth coupled with the process of primitive accumulation, the British economy became increasingly dependent on imported grain. In this respect, Hussain Athar and Keith Tribe (1981, 28) observed: "One may note that it was in Britain— the country with no peasantry and a country with a developed capitalist economy— that the largest contraction in cultivated area as a result of international competition occurred."

At the time, most economists attributed this trend to comparative advantage— the idea that Britain could specialize in manufacturing, leaving food production to the periphery. However, more recent history has shown that industrialized nations can also be major food exporters. In this light, the weakening of the traditional system of food production (including the greater concentration on livestock), associated with the process of primitive accumulation, was probably the major cause of the contraction of British grain production.

According to the conventional wisdom, the Corn Laws should have increased the demand for agricultural labor. Boyd Hilton (1977, 120) even insists that the Corn Laws expanded the demand for labor in general. He reasons that even if higher bread prices had restricted the demand for industrial labor, prior to the 1820s, this diminution would have been more than offset by the greater amount of labor employed in agriculture.

Following this reasoning, the Corn Laws increased domestic agricultural production because they impeded access to imported produce. In addition, the labor demands per bushel of domestically produced grain were supposed to be high on marginal lands. In effect, Ricardo himself appealed to the higher labor costs on marginal soil in constructing his theory of comparative advantage, which he used to argue against the Corn Laws (Ricardo 1951-73, ix chap. 7). Some defenders of the Corn Laws also pointed to the extra employment that import restrictions offered to justify their opposition to the repeal of the Corn Laws (B. Hilton 1977, 125). The Northern Star repeated this line as late as 1840 (see Hollis 1973, 280-81).

In truth, this argument is not necessarily valid. Judging from the experience of the United States, many agricultural economists have claimed that price supports can actually result in lower long-run prices. The initially attractive investment climate stimulates the long-term technical change that can eventually bring about substantial cost reductions for those with adequate access to capital (see Nelson and Cochrane 1976). Indeed, James Anderson and some of the supporters of the earlier Corn Laws had justified the legislation in similar terms (see Anderson 1777a; Hollander 1979, Appendix C), as did the British government in 1815 (B. Hilton 1977, 112).

We should also take account of the type of farmers who were attracted to the highly capital-intensive project of draining marshland for agricultural purposes. In the case of these improvements, Ricardo's interpretation of capital as permanently productive, which is generally inappropriate, might be partially justified. Once these investments were in place, much of the previously marginal land could remain highly productive. These operations would not necessarily use more labor than the typical, less-capitalized wheat farm. In fact, many of these farmers were in the forefront of agricultural improvement. The abolition of the Corn Laws might well reduce the domestic acreage used for grain, but many, if not most of these improved lands were likely to remain in production.

In terms of elementary economics, the sequence of introduction and repeal of the Corn Laws probably shifted the agriculture supply curve to the right. Consequently, these farms may have actually used less labor than the average wheat farm. Accordingly, the Corn Laws would not create as much employment as might be expected.

In fact, I suspect that the Corn Laws actually reduced the demand for agricultural labor because of their negative effect on labor-intensive farming. Of course, the demand for (agricultural) labor and the vigor of laborintensive agriculture are not identical. I will argue that, by reducing the viability of small-scale farming, the Corn Laws increased the amount of labor working for wages while expanding the extent of unemployment.

The Corn Laws and Small Farmers

The Corn Laws had a negative effect on agricultural employment in one significant respect. Grain uses relatively little labor compared to most crops. In addition, grain farming requires much more seasonal labor than most small-scale farming does, especially since the typical small-scale farmer adopted a system that included several crops in order to spread labor over as long a period as possible. Although the Corn Laws may have increased employment in grain production, a complete measure of the impact of the Corn Laws must include the consequences for more laborintensive crops as well as grain.

Labor-intensive agriculture was significant in the early days of classical political economy. Market gardening grew rapidly in the late sixteenth century (Thirsk 1967b, 196). By 1649, members of the London Gardeners Company employed 1,500 people and 400 apprentices, an average of 6 employees and 1 or 2 apprentices apiece (Thick 1985, 514). Wealthy people also had their own private gardens (ibid., 504). Gregory King estimated that the English ate more fruit and vegetables than the Dutch. Others thought that they also consumed more than the French (ibid., 508).

By the early eighteenth century, England had developed an advanced system of labor-intensive farming and gardening. English public houses served vegetables, such as broccoli, at a time when they were rare in France (George 1953, 80). Although France had a reputation as the leader in market gardening, England seems to have been ahead of France in such techniques as forcing cauliflower and asparagus under bell glasses.

During the early Corn Law debates, market gardening usually was a small-scale, but often successful enterprise. Most observers at the time understood that small-scale farmers had a competitive advantage in such vegetables and dairy products, whereas larger farmers tended to be more competitive in the production of grain (H. Levy 1966, 6-7).

For the most part, large farmers had no interest in producing specialty crops. As primitive accumulation accelerated, many small farmers disappeared. As a result, according to Nathaniel Kent: "Formerly they [the laborers] could buy milk, butter, and many other small articles in every parish, in whatever quantity they wanted. But since small farms have decreased in number, no such articles are to be had; for the great farmers have no idea of retailing such small commodities, and those who do retail them carry them to town" (1775, 238; see also 213-14). In addition, the imposition of duties made grain far more lucrative relative to fruits, vegetables, and livestock (Kautsky 1899, 149; Marshall 1920, 162; Senior 1928, 1:243). Consequently, the tariff on grain shifted production toward grain and away from meat, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables (Athar and Tribe 1981, 40).

The decline in the production of specialty crops occurred even though the English climate was particularly well suited to activities, such as dairy and vegetable production (see Senior 1928; 1:243). Conversely, with the later fall in grain prices after the abolition of the Corn Laws, England witnessed an acceleration in the rate at which resources were channeled into the market gardening industry (Bearington 1975, 39). However, this later English market gardening differed from the earlier variant. It tended to operate on a rather large scale. It also relied heavily on migrant labor (Bearington 1975,Samuel 1973).

The Corn Laws were doubly effective in turning the terms of trade against small-scale production. First, this legislation directly encouraged grain production, contributing to economies of scale in farming. Second, because the typical small-scale farmer had to purchase grain for personal consumption, the Corn Laws directly struck at the economy of smallscale agricultural production.

We can see this dependence of small-scale agriculture on cheap grain in France, where wine growers often rioted over the high price of grain (see Rude 1980, 64). Flanders offers an even more striking example. There, purchases of grain allowed farmers to devote a maximum of land and time to the higher-priced crops. B. H. Slicher van Bath (i960, 136-37) estimated that a nineteenth-century Flemish family could sustain itself with a mere one and a half acres of flax. The output of such a farm was not insignificant. Alexander Hamilton once observed that in a good year, one-half acre of flax land could supply the needs of the entire state of Connecticut at the time that the greatest quantity of flax was being used (Cole 1968; see also Tyron 1917, 207). Nonetheless, such enterprises still required cheap grain in order to make ends meet.

Consequently, the Corn Laws turned the terms of trade against the small-scale farmer, possibly encouraging, we might add infractions against the Game Laws. Moreover, by raising the cost of hiring labor during the harvest or planting season, the Corn Laws either reduced the profits of farmers or forced them to adopt labor-saving technologies.

Even with the Corn Laws, British agriculture did remain labor-intensive enough that many British farmers continued to use sickles instead of scythes, despite the fact that the sickle required much more labor (Collins 1969). Still, British agriculture was far less labor-intensive than that of the Low Lands of Europe.

Students of southern agriculture in the United States after the Civil War discovered a similar phenomenon. As the average size of farms began to shrink, small farmers had no choice but to grow cotton instead of corn. Although cotton production entailed much more risk, farmers could hope to survive only by adopting a strategy of buying corn in order to have more resources to devote to their cash crop (see Wright 1978, 169). Consequently, higher corn prices would tend to work to the disadvantage of those farms that were too small to market grain.

In conclusion, the higher grain prices worked against many parts of the English agricultural system. In this regard, Hussain Athar and Keith Tribe wrote: "That the benefits for grain duty were very unevenly distributed was widely recognized and not just by agronomists. For instance Count Hohenlohe stated in 1895 that holdings under 12 hectares (i.e. 87 per cent of holdings according to the 1895 agricultural census) had no corn to sell, and in a large number of cases they were even net buyers of corn" (Athar and Tribe 1981, 32; referring to Ashley 1920, 62). Except for a brief comment by Marx (1845, 289), in which he noted that the effect of the Corn Laws was "to convert the peasants into the very poorest proletarians through high rents and factory methods of exploiting landed property," economists seemed to be oblivious to the connection between the Corn Laws and the scale of farming. Instead, they treated agriculture as if it produced a homogeneous output of wheat. Similarly, they failed to recognize the different economies of largeand small-scale agriculture. Robert Torrens appears to have been the only classical political economist even to mention the importance of the terms of trade within agriculture. He remarked:

The moors of Lancashire could not have originally have been made to grow corn, because the quantity of corn consumed by the labourers reclaiming and cultivating them, would have exceeded the quantity they were capable of producing. But cheap corn was brought from Ireland and other places,increasing wealth and population created an intense and extensive demand for these agricultural luxuries, which, not entering into the subsistence of farm labourers, are not expended in reproducing themselves,and the consequence has been that what was the barren moor, now bears crops of great value, and pays higher rents than the most fertile corn lands in England. (Torrens 1835, 279; cited in Robbins 1958, 47)

Torrens was evidently satisfied with himself in having made this theoretical advance beyond Ricardianism. He repeated it word for word in his Three Letters to the Marquis of Chandos on the Effects of the Corn Law on the Budget (1839) and in The Budget (1842) (see Robbins 1958, 47). A somewhat similar line of reasoning is found in a letter he wrote to the Bolton Chronicle (Torrens 1833, 33). However, neither Torrens nor any of his colleagues bothered to take it any further.

In conclusion, we could interpret the Corn Laws as a measure primarily designed to help the larger farmers who marketed the majority of their produce at the expense of small ones. As a result, the shift to grain production probably meant a fall in aggregate agricultural employment.

Someone familiar with the literature of classical political economy might be tempted to interject here, "Wait a minute! Didn't the classical political economists oppose the Corn Laws?" I would have to respond, "Not exactly."

Only after the Corn Laws had served their purpose in manipulating the domestic labor market, did the British economists abandon them in the name of freedom of the market. Two strategic concerns caused this shift. First, now that British manufacturing had taken hold, they thought that the acceptance of imported grain would help to convince other nations to accept British manufactured goods, creating a more favorable international social division of labor, as we saw in chapter 4. Second, they thought that manufacturing would benefit from cheap food. As we shall see in the case of David Ricardo, however, this interest in cheap food was conditional.
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Re: The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy

Postby admin » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:39 pm

Part 2 of 2

Luxury Crops for the Rich

Given the unfavorable economic conditions for small-scale agricultural production under the Corn Laws, many specialty crops appeared to be in short supply in Britain during the period of classical political economy. For example, some Scandinavians complained to the vacationing Mai thus (1966, 106) of the scarcity of cream in England. Sismondi (1827, 195-97; see also Escher 1814, 31) reported that England had become dependent upon eggs from France; in addition, butter and vegetables were difficult for him to find when he visited Britain.

Ironically, many affluent Britons of the time still managed to consume fruits, since most of the upper class, perhaps even including some Ricardians, owned their own greenhouses (see Escher 1814, 50; Thick 1985, 504-5). Here is Adam Smith (1976, 1.xi.b.25, 169) on the differing pursuit of small-scale farming by the rich and the poor:

The crop too, at least in the hop and the fruit garden, is more precarious. Its price, therefore, besides compensating all occasional losses, must afford something like the profit of insurance. The circumstances of gardeners, generally mean, and always moderate, may satisfy us that their great ingenuity is not commonly over-compensated. Their delightful art is practiced by so many rich people for amusement, that little advantage is to be made by those that practice it for profit; because the persons who should normally be their best customers supply themselves with their most precious productions.

In other words, the wealthy joined the peasantry in the obstinate pursuit of uneconomical small-scale agriculture, the very same activity that political economy denounced so vehemently. Of course, the practice of small-scale agriculture by the elite was governed by the laws of aesthetics, not economics.

We already saw a similar phenomenon in our discussion of the deer parks in chapter 3. Hunting, which was deemed to be an improper activity for the poor, was a prestigious recreation for the wealthy. Certainly, Samuel Johnson was in a distinct minority of wealthy Englishmen in asserting that "the best garden . . . produced most roots and fruits, and that water was to be prized that contained most fish. ... As if one could fill one's belly with hearing soft murmurs, or looking at rough cascades" (cited in Ketton-Cremer 1965, 71).

The Coin Laws and Labor Supply

The foregoing reveals that the overall effect of the Corn Laws on the supply of labor could have been substantial. The number of small farms fell. Their places were taken by still smaller operations that were used to supplement nonfarm wages in accordance with the classical theory of primitive accumulation (see Wordie 1974).

John Barton, whose study is sometimes credited with prompting Ricardo's changed stand on machinery, associated poverty with a falling price of corn, which he took to be an indication of a higher demand for agricultural labor. He deserves much credit for bringing some attention to the appalling poverty of agricultural labor during the early nineteenth century (Barton 1817 and 1833). However, his analysis is not consistent with the idea presented here.

Indeed, without the Corn Laws, the falling demand for some types of agricultural labor would be more than compensated for by other, less seasonal farm labor demands. The resulting glut of agricultural labor would spill over into industrial labor markets, providing an increased supply of unskilled labor without helping to meet the demands for particular skills that were in high demand. To the extent that real wages fell as a result of the Corn Laws, this legislation would also serve to help establish labor discipline.

Between 1799 and 1815, grain prices rose, although as noted earlier, the conditions for a future price decline might have been set in motion by the growing rewards of potential productivity increases. In contrast to Ricardo, who theorized that the Corn Laws should have led to a rise in the real cost of wages and a fall in profits, Malthus recognized that as conditions for labor grew more unfavorable, employers were able to lengthen the working day (Marx 1977, 665-66). Although nominal wages rose, real wages actually fell and surplus value increased (ibid.). No doubt the contribution of the Corn Laws to the process of primitive accumulation in Britain assisted employers in this respect.

To make matters worse, the shift from manufacturing to agriculture, which one should expect to occur as a result of the Corn Laws, might have tended to make capital more scarce in industry. Recall that Ricardo thought that agriculture was more, not less, capital-intensive than industry. Assuming that Ricardo were correct, the artificial stimulation of grain production might increase the ratio of profits to wages by intensifying both the demand for capital and the supply of labor. This result would hold, even if we disregard the undermining of small-scale, labor-intensive farming.

After a while, a good number of the small farmers had been converted into industrial workers, and many industrial workers had come to accept the norms of factory work. At that point, a lower cost of food would result in a higher rate of surplus value. Since the continued existence of the Corn Laws might no longer be beneficial to capital, they could conveniently be abolished.

Yes, we have previously suggested that the Corn Laws may have actually decreased the price of grain; however, this factor did not enter into the logic of the repeal of the Corn Laws since few classical political economists perceived this benefit. In addition, farmers may have already exhausted the most efficient techniques for increasing the productivity of the land.

My understanding of the Corn Laws parallels a related thesis proposed by Nenri Nallet and Claude Servolin (1978), who have interpreted the persistence of relatively small-scale agriculture as an essential feature of capitalist development. Although the farmer's Janus-like appearance— half-capitalist, half-worker— frequently is seen as inconsistent with capitalist development, in fact, this arrangement is quite efficient in providing cheap food and raw materials.

The government allows this system of petty producers to feel a constant level of stress to spur them on. At the same time, the government provides a certain degree of protection to this seemingly archaic system of production, knowing full well that agriculture organized on a more strictly capitalist basis could prove to be substantially more costly. Nallet and Servolin argue their case on the basis of the French experience, but my own research on the U.S. system seems to bear them out (Perelman 1985).

The majority of the political economists of that time generally presented themselves as firm opponents of the Corn Laws. Accordingly, they would seem to be blameless for the hardships created by these measures.

In reality, however, Ricardo was far less doctrinaire in this matter than he was in his opposition to Owen (see Hollander 1979, chap. 2). Rather than calling for their immediate abolition, he recommended that the Corn Laws be gradually eliminated over a decade (Ricardo 1951-73, 4:243-44, 263-64).

Ricardo was not unique in this respect. In fact, none of the major figures of classical political economy called for outright repeal (see Grampp 1960, chap. 2). Nonetheless, the eventual abolition of the Corn Laws would have been slight consolation for those small producers without the means to wait until the repeal made cheaper food available.

This analysis of the Corn Laws runs counter to the common discussion of this legislation, which generally depicts it in terms of a struggle between business and landed interests. Certainly, more was involved than a simple question of largeversus small-scale farming; nonetheless, we still need to address the relationship between Ricardo and the state of the largely self-sufficient household or petty commodity producer.

In this respect, Barry Gordon (1976, 231; see also Johnson 1909, 122-23) correctly observed that Ricardian political economy was a continuation of those policies that "favored those agriculturalists who had access to capital without the need to mortgage estates." Ricardo's alliance with this class of farmers went deeper than the Corn Laws. According to Gordon (ibid., 153), Ricardo's deflationist policies generally favored "the interest of the rentier . . . which included the wealthier land owning aristocrats but took little cognizance of the needs of the entrepreneur," and one should add, the small-scale farmer. Given his importance in framing the attitude of classical political economy toward agriculture, Ricardo should be counted among the foremost influences in the development of primitive accumulation at the time.

Ricardo's silence about the differential impact of the Corn Laws was far from unique. Classical political economists never discussed the Corn Laws in terms of their impact on the small farmer. Given the level of economic sophistication found in the better works of English political economy, we can only ascribe the almost universal absence of comment on this effect of the Corn Laws either to an insensitivity to the conditions of the small producer or to a practice of obscuring the nature of their mission.

Ricardo on Ireland

Ricardo made his hostility toward small-scale agriculture especially evident in his private correspondence, but this hostility was not universal. Although he recommended large farms and cheap food for England, he advocated small farms and expensive food for Ireland. We can only resolve this apparent contradiction if we read Ricardo in terms of primitive accumulation.

In response to the suggestion of his friend, Trower, that "no permanent or substantial good [in Ireland] can be done until all small farms and small tenancies are got rid of" (Ricardo 1951-73, 9:145), Ricardo agreed with the ultimate goal of eliminating small-scale agriculture in Ireland (ibid., 9:153); however, he believed small farms were an effect rather than a cause of conditions in Ireland.

Ricardo added that he understood that small farms reduced the cost of food in Ireland. In words almost indistinguishable from those of Malthus, he wrote to Francis Place: "The evil of which the Irish ought to complain is the small value of food of the people compared with the value of other objects of their consumption, and the small desire they have of possessing other objects. Cheap food is not an evil, but a good, if it not be accompanied by an insensibility to the comforts and decencies of life" (ibid., 9:56; emphasis added). Ricardo's (ibid., 7:48) fear of cheap food in Ireland was so great that he maintained: "The evil they (the Irish) experience proceeds from the indolence and vice of the people, not from their inability to procure necessaries. By reducing their population, you reduce food in perhaps a larger proportion, and rather aggravate rather than remove their misery."

In the first edition of his Principles, he repeated the idea that the population of Ireland might be insufficiently large to encourage people to work enough: "The facility with which the wants of the Irish are supplied permits that people to pass a greater part of their time in indolence; if the population were diminished, this evil would increase, because wages would rise, and therefore the labourer would be enabled in exchange for a still less portion of his labour, to obtain all that his moderate wants require" (Ricardo 1951-73, i:ioo ; see also 7:334). This section is worth examining in more detail. The relevant portion began:

In those countries where there is abundance of fertile land, but where from ignorance, indolence, and barbarism of the inhabitants, they are exposed to all the evils of want and famine, and where it has been said that the population presses against the means of subsistence, a very different remedy should be applied from that which is necessary in long settled countries, where from the diminishing rate of the supply of raw produce, all the evils of a crowded population are experienced, (ibid., 1:99)

The first edition continued, "In the one case, misery proceeds from the inactivity of the people. To be made happier, they need only to be stimulated to exertion" (ibid.). This passage reads much like something from the mercantilist literature, or even Joseph Townsend. Ricardo (ibid., 100) continued:

In some countries of Europe, and many of Asia, as well as in the islands in the South Seas, the people are miserable, either from a vicious government or from habits of indolence, which make them prefer present ease and inactivity, though without security against want. ... By diminishing their population, no relief would be afforded, for productions would diminish in as great, or even in a greater proportion. The remedy for the evils under which Poland and Ireland suffer, which are similar to those experienced in the South Seas, is to stimulate exertion, to create new wants, and to implant new tastes. . . . The facility with which the wants of the Irish are supplied, permits that people to pass a great part of their time in idleness: if the population were diminished, this evil would increase, because wages would rise, and therefore the labourer would be enabled in exchange for a still less portion of his labour, to obtain all that his moderate wants require. Give to the Irish labourer a taste for the comforts and enjoyments which habit has made essential to the English labourer, and he would be content to devote a further portion of his time to industry, that he might be enabled to obtain them. Not only would all the food now produced be obtained, but a vast additional value in those other commodities, to the production of which the now unemployed labour of the country might be directed.

George Ensor roundly attacked Ricardo for these words. He pointed out that the English labourer "is no object of admiration." Then he asked: "How are these tastes to be excited in Irish labourers? Is it supposed that they are not like other human creatures? but that they make choice of privations?" (Ensor 1818, 106; cited in Ricardo 1951-73, i:ioon). After the section came under the critical scrutiny of Ensor, Ricardo changed its tone, but not its meaning. He wrote, "To be made happier, they require only to be better governed and instructed, as the augmentation of capital, beyond the augmentation of people would be the inevitable result" (Ricardo 1951-73, 1:100).

Although food was cheap in Ireland, so too was life. British observers commonly denounced the Irish for their laziness, noting at times their excessive number of holidays (Mokyr 1983, 218, 222). Yet, for all the talk of indolence, the people had to go to great lengths to survive. The Irish collected and dried seaweed for manure. Irish children had to search for horse droppings on the roads in an effort to coax a few more crops from the soil (McGregor 1992, 479).

Primitive Accumulation in the Irish Breadbasket

Under conditions such as Ricardo saw in Ireland, workers chose leisure rather than wage labor. They had no desire to exchange many hours of wage labor for a few hours' worth of consumer goods. Thus, measures to eliminate indolence directly were of the utmost necessity for capital. Nonetheless, Ricardo only specifically mentioned increasing a taste for luxury. If the workers could be harnessed to wage labor, "a vast additional value in . . . other commodities would be produced" (Ricardo 1951-73, 1:100). Presumably, only a portion of these would do to satisfy the newfound tastes of the Irish workers.

Ricardo understood who was to benefit from the more intensive work that he advocated. In a private letter to Malthus, he admitted that the workers might even be behaving perfectly rationally in preferring leisure to increased consumption: "Happiness is the object to be desired, and we cannot be quite sure that provided he is equally well fed, a man might not be happier in the enjoyment of the luxury of idleness, than in the enjoyment of a neat cottage, and good clothes. And after all we do not know if these would fall to his share. His labour might only increase the enjoyments of his employer" (Ricardo 1951-73, 7:184; emphasis added). We should also note that, in his unpublished Notes on Malthus, Ricardo (ibid., 2:334-35, 339-41 / 286-87 nn 22 3, 22 6, 237) repeatedly dismissed Malthus's concern about the ease with which food can be obtained; but there he made his case only on the formal grounds that the examples Malthus used were inapplicable to England, which had "a dense population, abounding in capital, skill, commerce, and manufacturing industry, and with tastes for every enjoyment that nature, art or science will procure" (ibid., 344). However, Malthus did not have England in mind, but Ireland.

Ricardo's first edition of his Principles contained all the essential elements of the classical theory of primitive accumulation. Although he altered the tone of his discussion of Ireland in later editions, the substance remained unchanged. He inserted his oft-cited idea: "The friends of humanity cannot but wish that in all countries the labouring classes should have a taste for comforts and enjoyments" (ibid., 1:100). This version, which is often used as evidence of Ricardo's humanitarianism, merely served to soften his insistence that the natural process is for wages to fall.

We might expect that Ricardo took an active interest in the conditions of the mass of Irish people. After all, Ricardo sat in Parliament as their representative, even though he had purchased his seat and did not once set foot in his constituency of Portlarington.

In exploring the Irish problem with its attendant poverty, Ricardo fell silent about the great wealth flowing from Ireland. Instead, like so many of his contemporaries, he viewed that troubled isle as England's "most formidable" agricultural rival (ibid., 8:369). Indeed, the Irish agricultural potential was seen as virtually unlimited at that time (B. Hilton 1977, 4, 11, 23, 278). In 1794-96, Ireland supplied 44 percent of Britain's imports of grain, meat, and butter. From 1800-1814, no less than 35 percent of all British imports of grain, meal, and flour came from Ireland. Ireland shipped more than 5.5 million quarters of oats and almost 1.5 quarters of wheat (B. Thomas 1985, 142-43; see also Pollard 1978).

The extraction of Irish foodstuffs as a counterbalance to the claims of Irish rent recipients was thought to be unconnected to Irish poverty. One Irish writer, John Mitchel (1847, iv ; cited in Boylan and Foley 1992), observed: "English Professors of political economy have, by perverting and misapplying the principles of that science, endeavored to prove to us, that to part with our bread and our cattle is profitable 'commerce' and that intercourse with their country enriches us immensely whatever the ignorant and starving Irish nay say and feel to the contrary." Jonathan Swift (1723-24, 132), writing in The Diapers Letters, summed up the situation succinctly, "Poor Ireland maketh many rich."

The fault with the Irish economy, according to the classical political economists, fell at the feet of the wretched peasantry itself. In general, these economists expressed impatience with the Irish culture (Boylan and Foley 1992). They wrote off Irish civilization as barbaric, while they condoned the barbaric measures of the English in the name of civilization.

In Ireland, classical political economy confronted a people not yet subdued by capital. Recall Smith's concern about the want of order in Ireland. Rather than recognize this resistance to capital as a normal reaction to highly exploitative conditions, early economists were prone to attribute it to aracial defect. As Nassau Senior (1928: i, 233) toldhis students of 184748: "Races which like the Celts, have neither docility nor intelligence must be governed by fear." Consequently, simple market solutions were not sufficient to govern Ireland.

Although Ricardo was less extreme in his attitude toward Ireland than Senior, his call for further population growth there shows how casually laissez-faire ideology was cast aside when it ran up against barriers. One type of market force could potentially integrate the Irish into the market without external coercion. Specifically, all classical political economists agreed that if the Irish people learned to desire more luxuries, to be purchased by means of the proceeds of wage labor, they might become more tame (see Black 1960).

Ricardo's performance as a theorist of primitive accumulation does not diminish his brilliance as an economic theorist. If anything, it highlights his work as a dazzling exhibition of sleight of hand. Here we have a phenomenal display of intellectual achievement in the form of his value theory. Alongside this masterpiece, we find a practical refutation of the relevance of this theory in the form of his cynical policy recommendations for Ireland. In theory, cheap food is good. In Ireland, it is bad.

Certainly, Ricardo the political economist clearly understood the nature of the substantial difference between the Irish economy and that of England. Ireland was distinguished by the vigor with which people resisted capital. By contrast, England appeared to have reached the point at which it could rely on "silent compulsion," which becomes effective only after the "advance of capitalist production develops a working class which by education, tradition and habit looks upon the requirements of that mode of production as self-evident natural laws" (Marx 1977, 899-900).

Ricardo's Victory

Histories of political economy have not done justice to Ricardo's politics. They portray his fight against the Corn Laws as a struggle against irrational regulation of market forces. Some remember his staunch battle against inflation. His doubts about the effect of machinery stand as proof of his lack of ideological animus toward the working class.

In truth, Ricardo's legacy was even more ideological than Smith's. Ricardo merely managed to sanitize political economy. More than any other individual, he transformed political economy into economics— an abstract, deductive sort of logic that supposedly stands above the narrow interests of any individual group.

John Maynard Keynes (1936, 32-33) perhaps summed up Ricardo's victory as well as was humanly possible, writing:

The completeness of the Ricardian victory . . . must have been due to a complex of suitabilities in the doctrine to the environment in which it was projected. That it reached conclusions quite different from what the ordinary uninstructed person would expect, added, I suppose, to its intellectual prestige. That its teaching, translated into practice, was austere and unpalatable, lent it virtue. That it was adapted to carry a vast and consistent logical superstructure, gave it beauty. That it could explain much social injustice and apparent cruelty as an inevitable incident in the scheme of progress, and the attempt to change such things as likely to do more harm than good, commended it to authority. That it offered a measure of justification to the free activities of the individual capitalist, attracted to it the support of the dominant social force behind authority.

McCulloch and Primitive Accumulation

John Ramsay McCulloch, one of Ricardo's two most important disciples, continued to espouse self-provisioning as the primary cause of Ireland's poverty. Like most classical political economists, McCulloch was certain that, to be successful, agriculture had to be organized as capitalist agriculture. He generalized, "wherever an improved plan of agriculture is practised, or where it is carried on by persons of considerable capital farming for a profit, skill and attention are alike indispensable" (McCulloch 1864, 446). He added: "An individual possessed of capital will not engage in farming unless he expects to realise, over and above a remuneration for his trouble in superintending the business, ordinary profits on his capital" (ibid., 446).

McCulloch had no difficulty justifying the absentee control of Irish agriculture, both on historical and commercial grounds. In terms of history, he speculated: "The English noblemen and gentlemen who acquired large masses of confiscated property in Ireland, found their estates in the possession of a crowd of poor, uncivilised, and disorderly occupiers, whom it was impossible to eject, and of whose customs and mode of occupancy they were wholly ignorant. Such persons had no recourse but to let their estates to adventurers, who were ready to meet such a state of things, and to make the most of it" (McCulloch 1853, 245 J. In terms of the economic impact of absentee agriculture, he calculated: "Were the absentees to return to Ireland, there would be an increased demand for commodities, or labour, or both, in the home market, to the extent of four, or four and a half, millions. But it is plain that this increase of demand in the home market, would be balanced by an equal diminution in the foreign market" (ibid., 225). McCulloch (1825, 833) even alleged that restrictions on subdividing agricultural land were beneficial to the working class: "It has been extremely advantageous to the labouring class. By preventing the splitting of farms once joined together, it has tended to occasion cultivation by means of large farms, and ... so that there has not been that facility of obtaining slips of land and the means of support which there had been in Ireland."

The process of subdivision reached a peak in Ireland, where "large tracts were parceled out into patches of the size of potato-gardens, occupied by the merest beggars" (McCulloch 1864, 446). In this spirit, he informed a parliamentary committee on Ireland: "I consider the combination of manufacturing and agricultural pursuits to be a proof of the barbarism of every country in which it exists. ... I consider that the more labour is subdivided, the greater will be the quantity of produce obtained by each individual labourer. When you combine in the same family, the trades of manufacture and farmer, neither the one nor the other can be well carried out" (McCulloch 1825, 812). According to McCulloch, as a result of such subdivision of the land, "the country is overspread with a redundant and wretched population; so to in the end, rents are not paid, and the whole produce of the land become barely sufficient for the support of its occupiers" (McCulloch 1864, 446).

A Parliamentary questioner pressed McCulloch on this point: "Do you think that the condition of the labouring class is better, in consequence of their not being able to obtain land?" McCulloch responded, "Certainly, that is my clear opinion (1825, 833).

For McCulloch, the separation of workers from the land was justified in the name of progress. He denounced the security associated with the ownership of small plots of land as being "uniformly associated with poverty, frequently degenerating into destitution, it gives use to the most revolting of all combinations, that of penury, pride, and laziness,and instead of expanding, contracts and benumbs every faculty. . . . The happiness of peasant proprietors seems very much akin to that of the oyster— they are ignorant and satisfied" (McCulloch 1848, 89-90; cited in Coats 1971, 159-60). McCulloch's shrill advocacy of primitive accumulation offers a stunning commentary on the classical contribution to the analysis of satisficing!

Malthus on Economic Policy

Compared to Malthus, Ricardo appeared to be sympathetic to the poor. How else could we explain Malthus' bizarre assertion:

To act consistently, therefore, we should facilitate . . . the operations of nature in producing this mortality. . . . Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations. But above all we should reprobate specific remedies for ravaging diseases, and those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service to mankind by projecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders. . . . The necessary mortality must come, in some form or other, and the extirpation of one disease will only be the signal for the birth of another perhaps more fatal. We cannot lower the waters of misery by passing them down in different places, which must necessarily make them rise somewhere else,the only way in which we can hope to effect our purpose is by drawing them off. (Malthus 1803, 236)

Once a parliamentary committee asked Malthus: "Do you not admit, that with mere reference to the wealth of the country that the demise of those [unemployable] labourers would not be attended with any loss?" Malthus responded: "Rather a gain certainly" (cited in Grampp 1974, 283).

According to Malthus (1820, 381-82), to allow people the means to produce for their own needs would generate a widespread pattern of indolence among the masses. Where food could be produced with little effort, he observed:

We ought always to find a small portion of the population engaged in agriculture, and a large proportion administering to the other wants of society. . . . But in examining the state of unimproved countries what do we really see?— almost invariably, a much larger portion of the whole people employed on the land than in those countries where the increase of population has occasioned the necessity of resorting to poor soils,and less time instead of more devoted to the production of conveniences and luxuries, (ibid., 334, 380)

Malthus did prefer a smaller scale of agriculture, reasoning that, with small-scale agriculture, more people would be elevated to the status of property owners (see, for example, Malthus 1976, 115; see also 1820, 385-89). He recognized that property owners would be likely to serve as a conservative political force. Thus, Malthus appreciated the modest prosperity of the Scandinavian smallholders (Malthus 1966, 145), but he opposed holdings as small as were found in France (Malthus 1836, 378). Reflecting the classical theory of primitive accumulation, he insisted that "all the great results in political economy, respecting wealth, depend upon proportions" (ibid., 376).

Not surprisingly, Malthus was skeptical of Owen's plan that envisioned masses of people engaging in self-provisioning rather than participating in labor markets. In a letter of 21 November 1819 to Arthur Young, he asked:

Pray can you tell me in what small work I can obtain the best information respecting spade husbandry which has been lately talked of? I should also like to know what you think of it, and whether you are not of the opinion, that independently of the object of employing Parish Poor, our wastes are not likely to be cultivated by saving labour on the land, rather than increasing it. The great obstacle to the cultivation of Wastes is surely that the produce does not pay the expense of procuring it; and that this difficulty it appears to me is only to be overcome by skill and prices— not mere labour, (cited in P. fames 1979, 325)

In fact, Malthus proved himself to be an irreconcilable foe of all sorts of measures that might improve the ability of the poor to maintain themselves, including even the very means that could help them follow Malthus's own advice— birth control. He warned, "Prudential habits among the labouring classes of a country mainly depending upon manufactures and commerce might ruin it," "although the greatest resource of the labouring classes for their own happiness must be in those prudential habits" (Malthus 1820, 221, 291; Malthus 1836, 261).

Only the purist, Jean-Baptiste Say (1821, 30), seemed to notice the anomaly between this position and the famous principle of population. In his opposition to Malthus, Say was not particularly interested in people's welfare. Instead, he appealed to the logic of the classical model of primitive accumulation. According to Say, since a celibate worker needs less to maintain a household, wages would be certain to fall (Say 1880, 333).

In addition, Malthus was a stout advocate of the Corn Laws. Over and above his support for these measures, he opposed providing families with plots of land for cows or gardens; he even favored the tearing down of rural cottages (Cowherd 1977, 7, 32, 50, 162).

Malthus generally went much further than Ricardo on the subject of self-provisioning because of one major difference between their respective interpretations of English society. Each took a different mode of production for his frame of reference. Malthus was not convinced that enough British workers had accepted wage labor.

In contrast, Ricardo felt that England had already reached the point where household economy was no longer a serious problem for capital. For him, the time had almost arrived to increase the relative surplus value through the importation of inexpensive grain. For Malthus, British capital needed a still stronger dose of primitive accumulation.

Malthus on Ireland

We might think of Ireland as the litmus test for an interest in primitive accumulation. In Ireland, the question of the household economy was not merely ideological or theoretical. It had quite practical implications. In Ireland, self-provisioning was still an extremely potent force and capitalism proper still had to be fostered. Consequently, Ricardo stood alongside Malthus when the discussion turned to Ireland.

Malthus (1836, 348) complained that in a country such as Ireland, "where the necessary food is obtained with so little labour, it is perhaps impossible that the time not devoted to the production of food should create a proportionate quantity of wealth, without a decided taste for conveniences and wealth among the lower classes of society." Malthus chided the Irish for having too few wants. Like Ricardo, he wished that the Irish would somehow develop a greater preference for commodities such as "ribands, lace and velvets" relative to leisure (ibid., 314; see also Berkeley 1740, 423; Hume 175 2 d ; for earlier variants on this theme, see Appleby 1976, 505 ff.), but this recommendation rang hollow. As Sismondi (1827, 106; see also 127; Edmonds 1833, chap. 7) emphasized, luxuries become attractive only when they are bought with the labor of others.

Perhaps the Reverend Malthus should have adopted the practice later followed in the colonies. There, missionaries assisted capital by instructing people in a proper devotion to commodities as well as to God (see Magubane 1979, 60). More recently, the responsibility to inculcate a deeper respect for commodities has fallen on the shoulders of development advisers who labor to instill a taste for luxuries among the natives (Moser 1966, 34).

Besides having failed to develop a sufficient taste for luxuries, Malthus (1836, 349) charged that the Irish were also guilty of the further offense of "supplying [their wants] principally at home." In a 17 August 1817 letter to Ricardo he even went so far as to claim, echoing Steuart, that the basic problem in Ireland was production "with a view to support rather than sale" (reprinted in Ricardo 1951-73, 7:175). Malthus offered further insight into his attitude toward the Irish smallholders during a parliamentary examination by a member of the 1826-27 Committee on Emigration, who asked him if it were not true that "if a thousand [Irish] labourers . . . were to die, the wealth of the country would not be diminished by their decrease?" Malthus answered affirmatively (cited in Inglis 1971, 233).

We might dismiss as downright ridiculous Malthus's suggestion that the Irish workers should concern themselves with luxuries, although they were lacking the basic necessities. In fact, we should take his words seriously in the sense that the British used such sentiments to justify harsh measures against the Irish people.

Indeed, since the working class seemed disinclined to exchange an excessive amount of labor time in return for commodities of relatively little value, Malthus was willing to allow for extraeconomic pressures on the poor. Although he did not elaborate on how he wished to accomplish his objective, he opposed the use of the potato in Ireland on the grounds that it allowed the poor to survive with less effort (Malthus 1820, 344-45).

In all seriousness, Malthus saw water as an even greater threat to workers' discipline than the potato. In particular, he expressed serious misgivings about the work of Count Rumford, whose soups were said to be capable of feeding the poor for slightly more than one-quarter penny per day (Rumford 1795, 187). Rumford, whose scientific stature was considerably more solid than his political reputation, alleged that water was the major source of nutrients in his famous soups (ibid., 172). Although Malthus (1803, 298) admitted that Rumford's soups might be "excellent inventions for the public institution," he hoped that they "should not be adopted as the general food of the common people."

Malthus's ostensible concern was that cheap food resulted in low wages, but it did not take him more than a page to get from Rumford's soups to the dreaded indolence that threatened to plague capital.

Malthus's Evolution

In later years, Malthus anticipated the sort of underconsumption problems the Atlantic economies faced during the 1930s. His position won him the endearment of Keynes.

The evolution of Malthus's attitude smacked of opportunism. For most of his life, he expressed a growing confidence in the market, as primitive accumulation brought more and more workers under control. The earliest edition of his Essay on the Principle of Population was meant to forestall any plans to ameliorate workers' standard of living. Their lot, he believed, was hopeless in the long run. In 1 79 8, when he wrote it, he explicitly stated that "The consumable commodities of silk, laces, trinkets are . . . the revenue only of the rich, and not of society in general" (Malthus 1976, 112).

The workers' only hope was a temporary increase in their consumption of necessities. This improvement could not be permanent because an increase in the consumption of food would necessarily result in population growth, which would eventually undermine the improved standard of living.

Malthus continued to revise the Essay to address other problems. He ceased arguing for the futility of charity for the victims of primitive accumulation; instead, he was developing the position that the poor could share in the prosperity of capitalism, provided that they worked hard. In the third edition of the Essay, he was arguing, "The condition of the labouring poor . . . cannot be essentially improved but by giving them a greater command over the means of subsistence" (cited in Gilbert 1980, 92). By the fifth edition, he suggested that "the comforts of the lower classes do not depend solely upon food, nor even upon strict necessaries" (ibid.).

Toward the end of his life, Malthus observed that untrammeled growth by itself need not necessarily worsen the lot of the poor (see Gilbert 1980). Rather, his concern turned to imbalances between sectors. The depression following the demobilization of the British economy subsequent to the Napoleonic Wars focused his attention on the consequences of imbalances.

In light of this depression, Malthus recognized that supply and demand were inadequate guides for economic action. Underlying his concern was the realization that, should the economic situation deteriorate too much, workers would be likely to raise a political challenge to the system— a challenge that even the promise of a future of ribbons, lace, and trinkets would be inadequate to prevent workers from raising a political challenge. Consequently, the government had the responsibility to ensure a proper balance of agriculture and industry lest high levels of unemployment threaten political stability.

Robert Torrens

Because Robert Torrens was Irish, Irish poverty was a preoccupation with him (Robbins 1958, 145). In addition, he was an officer in the marines, promoted to the rank of colonel as a reward for his gallantry in the defense of Anholt, an island in the Kattegat (ibid., 3). This background colored his economics.

Torrens wrote a strong article in which he denounced Owen's project as a particularly serious menace to capitalist society. William Thweatt (1974) argues that McCulloch had a hand in the article; however, O'Brien and Darnell (1978) have made a powerful case for dismissing that contention and attributing the work to Torrens. Instead of giving the unemployed access to land, Torrens felt that society should manage unemployment through emigration.

In the article, Torrens (1817; cited in Robbins 1958, 149) denounced Owen's plan as "nothing more than a Spencian project in disguise." This heresy had to be eliminated root and branch. Torrens complained, "Inasmuch as his plans extend to make villages consume within themselves whatever they produce, the division of labor, whether territorial or mechanical, will be superseded" (1817, 453-77). If Owen's scheme were put into effect, Torrens (ibid., 515-16) predicted that "the whole net revenue would be required to supply the merely animal wants of the people: that art, literature, and science, would be abandoned; a more than Gothic ignorance prevailed." Although Ricardo was a personal friend of Owen (1857), he expressed approval of Torrens's position (Ricardo 1951-73, 8:159).

Although the market could be counted upon to take care of certain matters, Torrens called on the government to play an activist role in some crucial respects, just as Steuart wanted farmers to rid the land of "superfluous mouths," Torrens wanted the nation to deposit its excess labor in the colonies. Alongside his proposed efforts to export unemployment, Torrens favored restrictions on the export of machinery. Torrens thought that imperialism offered a positive solution to the problems that Owen tried to solve through spade husbandry. In fact, Torrens was the most realistic theorist of imperialism among those who are usually recognized as major classical political economists.

In his first work, The Economists Refuted, Torrens (1808, 14-15; cited in Robbins 1958, 20) wrote of the territorial division of labor. He emphasized that England's proper role was to trade finished products for the raw materials of the less developed countries. Torrens (1833, 56) informed his constituents: "It is not to France— it is the countries comprising the Russian empire, to the two continents of America, to our colonial possessions, to India, and to China, that we must look for new and extending markets. The measure which should be adopted, in order to open these vast regions to our commerce, must, however, be the subjects of future communications." Torrens warned that colonies would most likely suffer from their relationship with imperial England, at least in the short run. He wrote, "unless timely and energetic measures of precaution be adopted, Ireland, in advancing towards wealth and prosperity, must necessarily pass through a period of the most aggravated and intolerable distress" (Torrens 1828, 39-42; cited in Robbins 1958, 151).

We do not often find such realism in the annals of classical political economy. William Petty, knowing only an early sort of imperialism, never rose beyond the rank of cabin boy in the ship of state, whereas Torrens spoke like a true colonel in the Royal Marines.

Nassau Senior and Primitive Accumulation in Ireland

The 1840s brought ample confirmation of Torrens 's previously cited prediction of "aggravated and intolerable distress" in Ireland. George Poulett Scrope and John Stuart Mill both called for land reform as a means of invigorating the devastated Irish economy, but they were in a distinct minority. For most, the catastrophe of the Irish potato famine was further evidence of the need for a stronger dose of primitive accumulation. The consensus was that only fully developed capitalism could save the Irish.

No one addressed this thesis more eloquently than Nassau William Senior, although he vehemently denied that the Irish were as poor as had been claimed. He deduced that since the population had been growing, he had solid grounds to doubt "that the great majority of the inhabitants of Ireland are in the state of destitution which is popularly ascribed to them" (Senior 1832, 6).

In his Journals, Conversations, and Essays Relating to Ireland, Senior collected information, just as if he were organizing one of the many government reports he had prepared. Most informants were given the opportunity to read over Senior's transcriptions of their conversations. Just enough personal detail was left to give an appearance of spontaneity to his carefully crafted work.

We have already met with Senior's opinion of the Irish people. He knew that "ribands, lace and velvets" could do little to change their ways. An unnamed Englishman told him: "They are less industrious than the English, less cleanly, less decent, and less comfortable, but they do not feel the want of comfort, or decency, or cleanliness" (cited in Senior 1868, 1:163).

Senior placed great hope in education. In his opinion, "the political economy of the poor" appeals to the uneducated because "though it is in the power of human institutions to make everyone poor, they cannot make everybody rich; . . . they can diffuse misery, but not happiness" (Senior 1871, 1:150).

In this same spirit, Senior longed to convince the Irish to abandon their antagonism toward market relations. He visited schools, observed the classes, and even questioned the children about their knowledge of political economy:

I repeated the question which I have proposed in other schools [see ibid., 2:125)— "What would be the consequence of every man's being able to do four times as much as he can now?"

"To make all the working people," they said, "poor for there would be no demand for their work."

"Would not," I said, "the things which they consumed be much more abundant?"

"Perhaps so," they said, "But they would have no money to buy them."

"Why so?"

"Because only rich people have enough now, and would employ one-fourth of them."

This must be the obvious opinion, for I have always met with it. The poor seem to be unaware of the indefinite variety and extent of men's wants, (ibid., 2:137)

Senior hoped that the Irish would reject their political economy of class conflict, once Irish society as a whole changed. As proof, he noted that the Irish became excellent workers once they reached the United States (Senior 1928, 2:348).

Senior and his friends were acutely aware of the dimensions of their project of remaking Irish society. Although the poor people in the countryside did not actually own the land that they worked, the reorganization of Ireland amounted to something akin to primitive accumulation. A revealing conversation between Senior and a Dr. G. is worth citing in detail in this respect. Dr. G. began by explaining the beneficial impact of the recent famine:

Before the famine, the tenant had no creditor except his landlord. He sold only to pay his rent, and he bought nothing; he depended on his potatoes, his pig, and (when he was prosperous) his cow. . . .

Though he had an abundance of leisure, he seldom sought to work for wages. Indeed, he worked little even for himself, as the state of his fences and his copious crops of weeks showed. ... He no longer depends for everything on his land; he feels— what he never knew before— that a man may starve with his land, and may live without it. (Senior 1868, 2:274)

Then Dr. G. offered Senior a wonderfully concise description of the program of the classical theory of primitive accumulation:

"I believe," continued Dr. G., "that the struggle now going on in Ireland between cottiers and farmers, between agriculture on a large scale, takes place in almost every country that has been feudal, and is therefore in the hands of large proprietors— at a certain stage of its improvement. When there is little capital, and therefore few manufactures, the bulk of the population are tillers of the ground. There are few cattle or sheep. Meat is little used. The best soils only are cultivated, and, by profuse labour, a large gross produce, though a small surplus produce, of grain is produced. "Much food," says Solomon, "is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that which is destroyed by want of judgement." As wealth increases, and with it the demand for cattle and sheep, landlords find it profitable to substitute pasture for arable, and large farms for small ones. There is more surplus produce, more rent, and less trouble.

The first result of every such change is, at the same time, to turn the small farmer and cottier into an agricultural labourer, and also much to diminish the demand for labour. The existing occupants of the land suffer in every way. They lose the freedom and the apparent security of their former state. They must obey a master, keep his hours, give up the frequent holiday of the wake and the fair, and work for wages which a sudden supply of labourers must render low. . . .

No friend to Ireland can wish the war to be prolonged— still less, that it should end by the victory of the tenants; for that would replunge Ireland into barbarism, worse than that of the last century. The sooner it is over— the sooner Ireland becomes a grazing country, with the comparatively thin population which a grazing country requires— the better for all classes, (ibid., 2:264-66)

In 1832, before the famine, Senior had addressed the question of Irish agriculture. He recognized that the Irish worker produced a surplus— "for every bushel that the Irish labourer consumes, he enables more than a bushel to be gathered" (Senior 1832, 48)— yet this inveterate advocate of the market saw greater profits resulting from a shift to wage labor. He recommended the "extension of farm, and the consequent conversion of cottiers into hired labourers . . . which may be assisted by Government, if money is advanced ... to facilitate by emigration the consolidation of farms" (ibid., 20). This call for public funds to be spent to encourage larger farms is found in a work largely intended to warn the government of the dangers created by expending money to provide work for the impoverished Irish.

Senior's response to Dr. G. was more circumspect. He restricted himself to restating the doctor's case in positive terms consistent both with the tenets of classical political economy as well as the words of his informant:

"The suffering of England," I said, "gradually and slowly wore away, as the surplus agricultural population was absorbed by the spread of manufactures, and the increase of towns. The absorption of the surplus population of the Highlands of Scotland . . . was assisted by a large emigration, and in the case of Sutherlandshire— one of the largest and most beneficient clearings on record. . . .

"But in Ireland, there are scarcely any manufactures, except at Belfast. The trades-unions have destroyed them, or prevented their existence everywhere." (ibid., 266; emphasis added)

Senior's prescription for the ills of Ireland was fairly simple. He called for legislation to "enable the establishment of manufactures, by freeing the manufacturing population from the tyranny of the trades-unions" (ibid., 266). With these words, the enormities of English policy took on the mantle of liberty: Crush unions in the name of freedom. Political economy, even in Ireland, maintained the posture of laissez-faire no matter how brutal its policies actually were.

Senior was far more sympathetic to Irish small producers when he was speaking in his own voice. In his Edinburgh Review article of 1844, republished in his Journals, he wrote:

The Material evils are the want of Capital, and the want of small Proprietors. A people, indeed, ill-provided with capital cannot enjoy much division of labour. Its labour, therefore, cannot be productive, its manufactures must be few and rude ; the bulk of its members must be agricultural. ... A middle class is the creature of capital. But though without a middle class, and without the diffusion of moral and intellectual cultivation which a middle class produces, such a population, if it consists of proprietors, may be happy. . . .

On the other hand, in a country possessing abundant capital, the absence of small proprietors of land, though attended by considerable political inconvenience and danger— inconvenience and danger, perhaps, outweighing its economical advantages— is not inconsistent with general comfort and prosperity; and perhaps is a condition necessary to the greatest productiveness of labour, and to the greatest accumulation of wealth, (ibid., 2:22ff.)

In conclusion, a study of Senior not only shows how classical political economists analyzed primitive accumulation, it also clearly demonstrates the manner in which they attempted to avoid responsibility for what they wrote.
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Re: The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy

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Part 1 of 2

Chapter 13: The Counterattack

The discovery of America ... by opening a new and inexhaustible market to all the commodities of Europe . . . gave occasion to new divisions of labour and improvements of art, which, in the narrow circle of the ancient commerce, could never have taken place for want of a market to take off the greater part of their produce. The productive powers of labour were improved, and its produce increased in all the different countries of Europe, and together with it the real revenue and wealth of the inhabitants. The commodities of Europe were almost all new to America, and many of those of America were new to Europe. A new set of exchanges, therefore, began to take place which had never been thought of before, and which should naturally have proved as advantageous to the new, as it certainly did to the old continent. The savage injustice of the Europeans rendered an event, which ought to have been beneficial to all, ruinous and destructive to several of those unfortunate countries.

— Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

Robert Gomlay

Robert Gourlay was not a political economist. He does not even seem to have read much political economy. Still, he managed to have provoked others to read Smith in a new light, perhaps because of his experience in agriculture. He recalled:

When a young man, having time and money at command, I travelled over England for fifteen months together as an agriculturist, and during that time became acquainted with the late secretary to the Board of Agriculture [Arthur Young]. One day, in conversation with him, we hit upon a subject to which each of us had devoted peculiar attention. My father, and indeed my grandfather, had been in the habit of letting out small portions of land on a kind of perpetual lease, called in Scotland a feu, to labouring people, whereon each man might build a dwelling house, and enjoy the convenience of a garden. I had marked the wonderful influence which the possession of such a little property had upon the characters of the people ... I had noticed with what serene delight a labourer, especially of the sedentary class, would occupy himself in his garden at hours not devoted to his trade, and I had calculated what an addition, as well to individual as to national wealth and happiness, such economical arrangements, generally adopted, might produce. (Gourlay 1822, 83-84)

Arthur Young wanted to amend the general enclosure law so that "a portion of land sufficient to keep a cow should be secured to each man in lieu of his ancient right of pasturage." Young asked Gourlay to go to the "counties of Rutland and Lincoln, where the practice prevailed of letting the poor have land and cows" (ibid., 84).

During his travels Gourlay discovered the powerful impact of primitive accumulation on rural society. He recalled: "Year after year, at this place and that, the poor, seeing themselves unjustly deprived of advantages which they had inherited from time immemorial, grumbled, rioted, and were put down. The process of stealing gradually on, the strength of the mass was subdued piecemeal; and, finally, a change was effected, in the condition of English labourers, through a variety and succession of causes, but little reflected on or noticed by political economists" (ibid., 86). Gourlay was far from radical in his vision. Expressing "an absolute abhorrence of the spade husbandry, as proposed by the benevolent Mr. Owen," he wanted the distribution of land to be tied to the interests of employers (ibid., 156). Recall the long citation in chapter 5, where Gourlay (1822, 145-46), noted: "It is not the intention to make labourers professional gardeners or farmers! It is intended to confine them to bare convenience."

As Gourlay "despaired of seeing anything effectual accomplished by the Board of Agriculture, he insisted that "impressions as to the necessity of changing somehow the system of the poor laws became more and more riveted in my mind" (ibid., 86). The Poor Laws, he charged were "the greatest evil which overshadows the fate of England" (ibid., 83). How did he come upon this revelation? Gourlay (ibid., 87) reported that he was struck by the marked difference between the conditions of agricultural laborers in England and Scotland: "In the one [Scotland], labourers were independent and improving their condition, even in the face of growing taxation: in the other they were verging to extreme poverty and degradation, while all was flourishing around them. In Scotland it was more generally the custom to accommodate farm labourers with cows than in England, but this was far from constituting the difference." Although Gourlay was certain that the poor laws lay at the root of Britain's troubles, he did not join in the familiar lamentation about the excessive burden of the poor rates. Instead, he pointed out that the poor laws were meant to serve the interest of farmers: "Farmers had chiefly in view to hold down . . . wages of single men. . . . Thus, while the statute laws have been framed to prevent manufacturing labourers from combining to raise their pay, a most powerful combination . . . was at work to keep down husbandry labour below its proper level; and thus it was that I could hire an English ploughman for 12 pounds per annum, while I could not hire a Scotch ploughman of the same appearance at less than 18 pounds" (ibid., 109). By the time Gourlay was ready to publish his work, Scottish wages had fallen from twelve to nine pounds per year, while English plowmen continued to earn the same wage as before (ibid., 104). The superior wages earned in England were not a cause for rejoicing. In such times, we should at least hope that the fall in wages would be moderated so that both worker and employer would share in the losses that hard times bring.

Gourlay had a plan to rid England of its Poor Laws. It should unburden itself of its poor by having them emigrate to Canada. Thus taxes in Britain could be lower. Only one difficulty stood in the way of the Canadian economy being able to enjoy the benefit of this new supply of labor. Canada was cursed with an excess of cheap land. Gourlay (ibid., 414, 385) insisted:

It should never be forgotten that wild land is the chief bane of this country, and no fair means should be left unemployed to lessen it. . . . Land in America is the very lubber-fiend which checks its own improvement. Could nine-tenths of it be sunk into the sea, and afterwards emerge by tenths, gradually, as it became absolutely necessary for the wants of mankind, there would be infinite gain in every way. The people of the States are wasting their strength by spreading too rapidly over their wide domain.

He complained that the average Ontario farmer owned 237 acres, of which only 38 were cultivated (ibid., 415). Land should not be granted freely; nor should it be held tax free.

I confess that I have made Gourlay's argument considerably more coherent than he did. It is full of bile and incentive, with matters pertaining to his economic program randomly scattered about. In the middle of the book Gourlay burst out, "I have exhibited my case . . . : produced documents: stated what course I was pursuing, and was about to pursue for redress" (ibid., 317).

His writing style was no more bizarre than his personal life, which had brought him into disrepute. In fact, Gourlay's economics and his personal behavior were intimately connected. Like many other early economists, including Petty, Steuart, and the subject to whom we will next turn, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, Gourlay attempted to write about the economy to restore his tattered reputation, which had suffered from his repeated lack of self-restraint. For example, when Henry Brougham neglected to respond to one of his letters, Gourlay horsewhipped him (Mills 1915, 136). Gourlay's willingness to antagonize powerful people led to frequent incarcerations.

Although Gourlay's economic reasoning may seem rather commonplace, its influence turned out to be profound as it worked its way through the world of political economy.

Edward Gibbon Wakefield

One of the handful of people who paid some tribute to Gourlay was Edward Wakefield Sr. Wakefield was land agent to David Ricardo and brother of Daniel, the first author whom I know to have credited Steuart with superiority over Smith. Regarding an early work of Gourlay's, Wakefield Sr. wrote: "From my personal knowledge of that gentleman, I am inclined to pay very great attention to his opinion, for few have seen so much of England in a practical way as this intelligent North Briton" (Wakefield 1812; cited in Gourlay 1822, 89).

Some years later, Wakefield's son, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, seems to have drawn some inspiration from Gourlay, although the younger Wakefield never gave much public acknowledgment to what Mills (1915, 139) had called his "obvious debt to Gourlay." In fact, his endorsement of Gourlay's book was lukewarm. In an article for the Spectator, Wakefield wrote: "The author . . . has mixed up with much valuable statistical information an account of his own pre-eminent misfortunes and a picture of his own mental sufferings, so distressing, or so annoying, to the reader, that it becomes difficult to extract from his book those parts which are merely useful" (Wakefield, 1831a; cited in Mills 1915, 136). Aside from citing Gourlay in his pamphlet, "A Statement of the Principles and Objects of a Proposed National Society for the Cure and Prevention of Pauperism," which he published in 1830 (see Mills 1915, 136), and printing a few extracts from Gourlay in the appendix to his England and America (Wakefield 1834, 351-56), Wakefield generally refrained from mentioning Gourlay. According to Gourlay— not necessarily a particularly reliable source— Wakefield readily acknowledged his debt in private when they met in Canada in 1838. Gourlay claimed:

He introduced himself— Mr. Wakefield (the same who had been announced in the newspapers as accompanying Lord Durham, to instruct as to the settling of the wild lands of Canada). He told me that he was the writer of letters which appeared in the London Spectator, ["Letters from P."], some seven years ago, regarding me. I called to mind the letters: they were highly complimentary, and intended to draw towards me the notice of the Grey Ministry. Never before having known to whom I was thus obliged I thanked Mr. Wakefield. . . . He then went on to say that he was also the author of a pamphlet on Colonization ["A Statement . . ." cited above], which was sent to me, soon after, under the frank of Lord Howick. . . . Mr. Wakefield said he had taken his ideas on colonization from my book. I replied that it gave a very imperfect view of my projects: . . . Mr. Wakefield added, "Nevertheless, Government has established a colony on your principles in Australia." (cited in Mills, 1915, 139)

Although Gourlay never made much of a stir, the importance of Wakefield's work cannot be overestimated. As Lionel Robbins (1958, 154) has written, "The arrival [of Wakefield] on the scene may be compared to the descent of some gorgeous tropical bird among the sober denizens of a respectable farmyard." To translate this metaphor into more understandable terms, the challenge of Edward Gibbon Wakefield ended the triumph of Smithian ideology in England— at least in terms of policy considerations.

Wakefield was a most unlikely person to have effected such a revolution in economic thought. Certainly, his early years were none too promising. His mother had long despaired of him ever putting his bright mind to good use. Later, the state confined Wakefield in Newgate prison for the abduction of a wealthy schoolgirl. While in prison, Wakefield came into contact with many candidates for transportation to Australia.

As might be expected, travel books were quite popular in Newgate (see Tobias 1967, 66). Wakefield wrote, "Whilst in Newgate, I had occasion to read with care every book concerning New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land, as well as a long series of newspapers published in these colonies" (Wakefield 1831a, 266). On the basis of such books, newspapers, and probably information gleaned from other prisoners, Wakefield wrote a book that purported to be the product of an English colonist in Australia.

Wakefield's Colonies

Surprisingly, from his jail cell, Wakefield (1829) succeeded in reconstructing the social relations of labor and capital in a very realistic fashion. He scoffed at the notion that the social division of labor was the product of voluntary consent. Its creation required authority, hierarchy, and, generally, slavery (Wakefield 1835, 1:46-47).

Wakefield was not as hesitant to embrace slavery as was Steuart. In his words, "Slavery appears to have been the step by which nations have emerged from poverty and moved toward wealth and civilization" (Wakefield 1841, 4:333; cited in Robbins 1958, i6o ; see also Engels 1894, 217).

In his pretended letter from Australia, after bemoaning the scarcity of labor, Wakefield (1829, 112) cried out:

How often, in my presumption, had I cursed the memory of Las Casas, for bribing the first planters of Hispaniola to spare the inhabitants of that island, by suggesting that they might obtain slaves from Africa! How scornfully, in my ignorance of cause and effect, had I abused the Democrats of North America for cherishing the horrors of slavery! In moments of weakness, how I had sighed, and even shed tears of compassion and anger, at the damnable cruelties which I saw inflicted upon Blacks at the Cape of Good Hope! And yet, in spite of my reason and every better feeling of my nature, I brought myself to find excuses for the Spaniards, Americans, and Dutch; aye, even to think that a few thousand Negroes would be a great acquisition to New South Wales! So they would; and they would conduce to the wealth, and— deny it who will— even to the civilization of these colonial landowners.

Wakefield insisted that the importance of slavery had not disappeared, even in his day. He predicted that if slavery were abolished in the United States, the great cities of the North "would sink into insignificance" (Wakefield 1836, 11:2; cited in Winch 1967, 97n).

By extension, England itself was dependent on slavery. Herman Merivale, an Oxford professor and a disciple of Wakefield, delivered a set of lectures between 1839 and 1841 on the subject of colonizations and colonies, which won him an appointment as undersecretary for India. There, he explained to his fellow Britons, whose sensibilities were too delicate to accept the morality of slavery:

What raised Liverpool and Manchester from provincial towns to great cities? What maintains now their ever active industry and their rapid accumulation of wealth? The exchange of their produce with that raised by American slaves and their present opulence is as really owing to the toil and suffering of the Negro as if his hands had excavated their docks and fabricated their steam engines. [Everyone connected with the commerce between Britain and the United States] . . . is in his very own way an upholder of slavery: And I do not see how any consumer who drinks coffee or wears cotton can escape from the same sweeping charge. (Merivale 1841, 295; see also McCulloch 1845, 341)

Merivale (1841, 262; cited by Marx 1977, 937) instructed his Oxford students: "In the old civilized countries, the worker, although free, is by a law of nature dependent upon the capitalist. [In the colonies] it is of the highest importance to find some artificial substitute for the slave and convict labour, by which our colonies have been hitherto rendered productive."

Lessons from America

Although few were as open about the need for "artificial substitutes" as Wakefield, the problem of labor leaving for more accessible lands in the colonies was a fairly common theme in British mercantile literature after 1600 (see Appleby 1978, 135). Remember that Franklin's plans to colonize the Ohio Valley came to naught because of the resistance of Lord Hillsborough and other Irish landlords.

The Revolutionary War did not end British concern about the lure of cheap land in the United States (Herrick 1926, 156-59). As Daniel Webster (1879, 43-44; see also Fite and Reese 1965, 30-33; Harris 1953; and a similar assertion by Sir Robert Peel cited in Tuttle 1967, 221) noted, in New England, where settlers were "nearly on a general level in respect to property . . . their situation demanded a parcelling out of the land."

Employers resented the effects of cheap land. According to an eighteenth-century French ambassador, a group of influential Americans wished that Spain would close the Mississippi River to stop people from being able to live relatively unattached to commercial society (see Morgan 1976, in). Later, politicians attempted to maintain a restrictive land policy, especially in the West (see Zahler 1941). The situation in New England was so unfavorable to would-be employers of wage labor that parents had to take measures to prevent their sons from moving away. The most common technique was to threaten to disinherit them unless they delayed marriage (see Folbre 1980, 6-7).

Politicians, such as ex-president John Quincy Adams and Senator Foote of Connecticut, were especially vocal in calling for restrictions on the availability of public lands (see Schlesinger 1945, 347). This debate remained a major policy issue in the United States. Readers of political economy could learn of it from Thomas Cooper (Cooper 1833, 107; cited in M. O'Conner 1944, 220), who denounced "the cunning and selfish management of the manufactures . . . [that] discourages the low price of western lands, that the door of emigration may be closed on their slavish operatives."

The threat of cheap land in the United States reached as far as Great Britain. High wages in the United States intensified the demand for machinery. As a result, employers in the United States were willing to pay a premium for machine-oriented skills. As late as 1814, skilled mechanics employed in the British machine-making industry were prohibited from emigrating on pain of severe punishment (see Marx 1977, 719-21). In 1816, some Britons were urging their government to stop migration to the United States, although the rationale was to stifle development in the New World {Colonial 1816, 62).

True, the ease of access to land in the United States was highly exaggerated. Even so, western land remained cheap by international standards. The relative accessibility to land in Britain and the former colonies is reflected in the following comparison: In 1 8 30 a British farm worker could purchase about one-tenth acre of land with his annual wage; an Illinois farm worker could afford 800 times that area (Gates i960, 276; see also Shireff 1835,466).

Wakefield's Lessons from America

Drawing upon the American experience, as well as information from Australia, Wakefield argued that, where access to land was easy, capital would have to resort to coercion. According to his interpretation of history, "cheapness of land [was] . . . the cause of slavery" (Wakefield 1834, 152; see also Domar 1970).

As proof of this proposition, Wakefield offered the example of Virginia, which never was the best rich man's country. Indeed, the struggle between the poorer Virginian farmers and the wealthy plantation owners in 1676 was "the greatest social conflict of pre-revolutionary North America" (Brenner 1977, 89). The rich Virginia planters never found an adequate supply of wage labor. Only slavery "saved" Virginia insisted Wakefield (Wakefield 1834, 201-23; see also Morgan 1975).

Wakefield and his school recognized that the key to maintaining dependent labor was the high price of land; for where land is to be had cheaply, workers "cease to be labourers for hire; they . . . become independent landowners (ibid., 1834, 203; Wakefield 1849, 347). Much of the power of Wakefield's system stems from his awareness that his self-evident observation contradicted the sacred laws of political economy: "At length the true light broke upon me. The scarcity of labourers was an insuperable bar to any mode of cultivation that requires the employment of many hands! I profess my self to be little versed in the laws of political economy, but the fact was self evident" (Wakefield 1829, 108). According to Wakefield's (ibid., 156) interpretation of the North American colonies, "the doctrine of Adam Smith concerning the effect of cheap land and dear labour, in producing national wealth has been refuted by the safest of all arguments—an ample experiment." An experiment, I should add, of Smith's own choosing, as we saw in chapter 10.

In Australia in contrast, "During forty years we have combined the fire and water of political economy— dear land and cheap labor" (ibid., 127). Wakefield expressed pride in the novelty of his ideas, although in reality, they were anything but novel (see Marx 1977, 932). Even in Locke, we find vague hints of Wakefield's theory (Locke 1698, 316). Hobbes also displayed some striking similarities (see Hobbes 165 1, chap. 30, 387).

In the time of Locke and Hobbes, however, the working class was unaware of the doctrines of political economy. When Adam Smith was writing, the threat of working-class uprisings no longer seemed far-fetched (E. Thompson 1963). The French Revolution made the classical political economists put a premium on discretion. As a result, the classical political economists extolled the virtues of the freedom of market relations, even as nonmarket pressures on workers and peasants intensified.

Recall that the classical political economists were concerned about the difficulty that employers had in finding enough tractable workers. Those economists were intent of corralling workers into wage labor. Only Steuart and Malthus in his later works indicated an awareness that an excessive amount of labor could present a problem.

Writing at a time, however, when labor was temporarily in surplus, Wakefield had no particular reason to express concerns about induced labor shortages in England. Landholders had to contribute to the poor rates to support the unemployed workers. In this environment, practical economists were concerned to find a way to dispose of the excess supply of labor.

Always attuned to the needs of capital, Nassau Senior agreed with Wakefield in this respect. Senior believed that the reduced poor rates would more than pay for the cost of removing workers from England (Senior 1831, xvi). Also, Senior felt that emigration promised to reduce the pressure for social revolution (see S. Levy 1970, 70).

Wakefield, then, did no more than to bring a well-established practice into the discourse of economic theory. He dared to speak openly of such matters only because his program promised huge dividends at home and abroad. In the process, Wakefield gave lie to the laissez-faire pretensions of classical political economy. With Wakefield, we no longer hear of Smith's natural liberty; instead, Wakefield proposes the concept of natural slavery, going even beyond the language of Sir James Steuart.
Wakefield and Natural Slavery

Much of the emigration to Australia was hardly voluntary. The British routinely sent convicts there. Many of these people were guilty of the heinous crime of poaching (see Wakefield 1829, 105). The removal of the poachers eliminated those who were most likely to resist the demands of capital in England.

Emigration provided an additional benefit. It permitted the substitution of seasonal workers from Ireland for the more expensive permanent employees, who were to be removed to the colonies (Cowherd 1977, 158; Pollard 1978, 112). Yet for the Australian employers, labor was still too dear.

Wakefield's remedy for this situation was merely to make land artificially scarce by putting a sufficient price on it, thereby removing workers' opportunity to become self-sufficient farmers. This program, which he dubbed "systematic colonization," was clearly designed to limit access to land. He recommended these measures on account of their encouragement of "natural slavery . . . that natural subordination in which the greater part of mankind always has been and probably always will be" (cited in Semmel 1970, in). Wakefield (1835, 1:46) was convinced that slavery, whether "natural" or enforced, had the advantage of allowing a more advanced division of labor. As a result, his system could also lead to an expansion of social productivity.

Unlike Steuart, Wakefield preferred natural slavery to its more direct variant. He argued that systematic colonization promised higher profits as well as a better standard of living than the free market could offer. Wakefield even called on English workers to join with him in a program to restrict access to land in the colonies.

The combination of expensive land and wage labor would allow a great influx of labor to be absorbed. The more English labor was drawn to the colonies to avail itself of the cheap resources, the better the condition of the remaining workers should be, disregarding numerous other contradictory impacts. Wakefield (1834, 130) claimed: "In order to raise wages immediately, the field for employment of English capital and labour must be enlarged." Consequently, he advised workers that their self-interest required that capital be granted satisfactory conditions in the colonies. He never explained how they would benefit from restrictions to labor.

Wakefield (1835, 51 ff.) played down the effect of the artificial glutting of colonial labor markets by invoking Bellers's principle: that concentration of workers can make enough of an addition to the total product to allow for increased benefits to both labor and capital. Of course, this same line of reasoning suggests that British workers would improve their situation by restricting the flow of both labor and capital abroad.

In spite of his supposed concern for the working class, Wakefield's essential message was that, where workers found alternatives to wage labor, capital would even resort to slavery. Thus Smith's optimistic evaluation of wage labor had to be amended. According to the calculations of the Wakefield school, "slave labour is dearer than free wherever abundance of free labour can be procured" (Merivale 1841, 256). In short, capital would submit itself to the rules of the marketplace only after labor had been made to submit itself to capital.

We might also note that, in Wakefield's program, the rights of indigenous people did not merit even a trifle of concern.

Wakefield, Australia, and the Game Laws

In 1830, England was abuzz with the concern about the occurrence of widespread incendiarism in the countryside. Wakefield associated the leadership with the struggles surrounding the Game Laws (see also Hobsbawm and Rude 1968, 63, 99, and 287). He charged:

the privileged classes . . . inclose the commons. They stop footpaths. They wall in their parks. They set spring-guns and man-traps. They spend on the keep of high bred dogs what would support half as many children, yet they prosecute the labouring man for owning one. . . . They breed game in profusion for their own amusement, and having thus tempted the poor man to knock down a hare for his pot, they send him to the treadmills, or the antipodes, for that inexpiable offence. They make new crimes and new punishments for the poor.

Even in church, where some of them solemnly preach that all are equal, they sit on cushions, in pews . . . sheltered by curtains from the wind and the vulgar gaze. . . . Every where they are ostentatious. (Wakefield 183 ib, 14-15)

The gentry bred resentment as well as game. In Wakefield's words, "they entertain toward their oppressors feelings of rancorous hatred such as we have no account in the history of rural discontent" (ibid., 18). The response of the poor was more or less predictable. "Impelled by want of food, clothes and warmth, for themselves and their families, they become poachers whenever game abounds" (ibid., 12).

According to Wakefield (ibid., 9, 11, 12), two kinds of people took part in the actions: "[A] defective being, with calfless legs and stooping shoulders, weak in mind and body, inert, pusillanimous, and stupid, whose premature wrinkles and furtive glance tell of misery and degradation. That is an English pauper. . . . [The other has] large muscles, upright mien, and a quick perception. . . . The bolder sort of husbandry labourers, by engaging in murderous conflicts with gamekeepers and preventative men, become accustomed to deeds of violence."

Wakefield's recommendations are less trenchant than his diagnosis. He warned that raising wages would only impoverish manufacturing, transferring the problem to the cities (ibid., 41-42). In the short run, the rich could subdue the poor by force. He proclaimed, "Send troops into the blazing districts; proclaim martial law; shoot, cut down, and hang the peasants wholesale, and without discrimination" (ibid., 43; emphasis in original).

Wakefield admitted that such measures could not succeed for long. The elimination of poverty is required, but he does not explain how to accomplish this end. One would expect a strong plea for emigration at this point, but it is not forthcoming. More likely, Wakefield would have liked to banish the strong rebels to a far-off colony, while leaving the paupers to languish in a state of natural slavery.

Wakefield's Reception within Classical Political Economy

By suggesting that wage labor developed out of slavery or, even worse, that the prosperity of England continued to be dependent, even in part, on slavery, the Wakefield school undermined any humane pretensions of political economy. Yet Wakefield's ideas won him the support of virtually every major economist of his day, with the sole exception of McCulloch (Winch 1965, 128-35; Semmel, 1970). Wakefield's influence extended into the political realm. He became the major influence in the settlement of New Zealand, the land to which Franklin had earlier proposed introducing the benefits of capitalist civilization.

In the United States, academic thought thoroughly assimilated Wakefield's interpretation of North American history, as it has been passed down from Achille Loria through Frederick Jackson Turner (Benson 1950).

After reading England and America (1834), George Poulett Scrope wrote to the author, "I cannot remember reading any work with greater interest, or more thoroughly going along with any author in his views, opinions, and sentiments" (cited in Mills 1915, 87-88). Nassau Senior (1928, 35152), always an outspoken foe of the working class, announced: "It is a remarkable instance of the slowness with which political knowledge advances that though colonization has been vigorously carried on for about 3,000 years . . . the mode of affecting it in the manner most beneficial to the mother country and to the colony was discovered only twenty-five years ago. The discoverer was Edward Gibbon Wakefield." We might expect to find a clear exposition of Wakefield's theories in the work of his avowed disciple, John Stuart Mill; however, Mill felt compelled to dress up his master's ideas to make them more presentable. Accordingly, he introduced Wakefield to generations of students with a curious fable. Mill (1848, 2:119) asked his readers to "suppose that a company of artificers provided with tools, and with food sufficient to maintain them for a year, arrive and establish themselves in the midst of" a population of self-sufficient households. Consequently, he noted, "The economical position of the landed population is now materially altered. They have an opportunity given them of acquiring comforts and luxuries" (ibid.).

Just in case his readers missed his point, Mill (ibid., 121), the colonial administrator, shifted ground to recommend that "the best chance for an early development of the productive resources of India consists in the rapid growth of its exports of agricultural produce (cotton, indigo, sugar, coffee, etc.) to the markets of Europe."

Mill's effort is remarkable. In the first place, although political economy found Wakefield to be novel, a fable similar to Mill's appears in Steuart (1767, 1:254-62). Second, Mill attempted to take the sting out of Wakefield's program by allowing a Smithian extension of the division of labor. But where did he look? To India! India had never been used to translate Smith's ideology into practice; indeed, India's British administrators had always been congenial to the mercantilist conception of development. Finally, in Mill's fable, it would seem that wealth flowed from Britain, the home of the "company of artificers," to India. Repatriation of profits was not mentioned.

In discussing Mill's fable, we might also mention Marx's (1981, 3:445, 449-50) contention that the mode of production cannot be transformed merely by the actions of merchant capital. Nonetheless, stripped of its fantasies, Mill's fable smacks of Wakefield pure and simple: "The influence exercised on production by the separation of employments, is more fundamental than, from the mode in which the subject is usually treated, a reader might be induced to suppose. . . . The truth is much beyond this. Without some separation of employment, very few things would be produced at all" (Mill 1848, 2:118). Remember that this fable came from the pen of John Stuart Mill, who advocated a polite sort of socialism.

Marx reserved his last chapter of the first volume of Capital for Wakefield. He was not so much concerned with Wakefield's discovery of colonization. He had found those ideas more than a half century earlier in Mirabeau, as mentioned before (Marx 1977, 932). He could have also looked to Franklin and numerous other Americans. What then was the significance of Wakefield?

Recall Smith's failed attempt to discover the nature of the British economy in the colonies of North America. Wakefield, who attempted to refute Smith, was more successful on this account. In Marx's (1977, 932) words, "he discovered, not something new about the colonies but in the colonies, the truth about capitalist relations in the mother country."

Wakefield's Reception by Modern Economists

In spite of such fulsome praise, Wakefield is generally passed over in silence today. Even Joseph Schumpeter's (1954) encyclopedic History of Economic Analysis, which brings together a discussion of the most obscure texts, fails to give Wakefield a single mention.

The major exception to the general neglect of Wakefield was Lionel Robbins (1958, 154n), who reluctantly accepted Wakefield's importance: "This judgement is a complete reversal of a view which I expressed some thirty years ago when, in the course of controversy about some Marxian theorems, I reproached my opponent, Mr. Maurice Dobb, with paying too much attention to Wakefield's propositions."

Robbins, while recognizing Wakefield, was still not willing to accept the lesson Marx drew from his work. Robbins chided Marx (1974, 940) for misrepresenting Wakefield in the final line of the first volume of Capital: "The capitalist mode of production and . . . capitalist private property have for their fundamental condition the annihilation of that private property which rests on the labour of the individual himself; in other words, expropriation of the worker. " Robbins (1958, 163) cited Wakefield's Letter to the South Australian Commissioners (334) to prove his case against Marx: "Let it be clearly understood, that the object in putting a price on public land is not to prevent labourers for hire from ever becoming landowners. On the contrary, every one wishes that all the labourers taken out should be able to obtain land and servants of their own, after, and by means of, a few years of labour for hire. ... In my own calculations ... I have supposed that three years would be long enough for the capitalist and short enough for the labourer." Wakefield's key assumption in this work was the requirement that the stream of immigrants would be sufficiently large that the expanding population of employers could continue to have a satisfactory supply of labor. Such a condition would be rather unlikely.

Consider the case of the United States. Many observers estimated that frontier laborers could save enough to become independent within the three-year period that Wakefield recommended, but Wakefield regarded the resident of the frontier with displeasure. He described the frontiersman as "grossly ignorant, dirty, unsocial, delighting in rum and tobacco, attached to nothing but his rifle, adventurous, restless, more than half-savage (Wakefield 1834, 196). Thus, one must take his supposed support for easy access to land with a grain of salt.

Although an adequate labor force might have been theoretically maintained in the United States when people could obtain land within three years, in England, even with the proximity of Ireland, obviously too few immigrants were arriving to supply enough wage labor to satisfy employers. Labor had to be shaken loose from the countryside. In this sense, Wakefield demonstrated the need for the sort of primitive accumulation that actually occurred in England.

If Robbins wished to find fault with Marx's words, he could have pointed to the fact that capital can actually benefit from the workings of household production, as we learned from our analysis of the Classical Theory of Primitive Accumulation. Wakefield himself, however, made comparatively few direct comments on the English economy proper.
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Re: The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy

Postby admin » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:44 pm

Part 2 of 2

Wakefield and Primitive Accumulation

Perhaps Wakefield owed his relative originality to his thorough grounding in Irish affairs. Although he was not Irish, he was closely associated in his writings with his father, author of Ireland, Statistical and Political, which was considered to be the best work of that period on the subject of Ireland. Pitt supposedly consulted his father on Irish affairs (Lee 1879, 449).

Werner Stark (1944, 49n) once remarked on the importance of the Irish perspective in later British economic thought: "The apostles of historicism in England . . . were Irishmen. This is certainly no mere chance." We might also mention parenthetically that Torrens also was Irish. However, we must not let an overemphasis on Wakefield's Irish interests lull us into forgetting his critical exposure to the working classes at Newgate prison.

The crucial point here is that intensification of labor is a natural consequence of a regime of capital. Recall Smith's (1976, 1.i.8, 18-19) criticism of "the habit of sauntering and indolent and careless application [that] . . . renders [the peasant] almost always lazy and slothful." Wakefield concurred. He attributed the lesser performance of the Irish peasant to what he cites McCulloch as calling "the apathy and languor that exist in a rude state of society" (Wakefield 1835, 1:76).

We need not belabor the point: Wakefield did not see the opportunities for exchange naturally evolving out of the abstract higgling and haggling of the marketplace. True, like Steuart, Wakefield (1835, 1:77) attributed the unenthusiastic labors of the Irish peasant to the lack of opportunities for exchange. But, like Steuart, he attempted to encourage nonmarket forces to create the appropriate opportunities.

What concerned Wakefield most was the opportunity for the employer to exchange wages for labor power. Given the alternative of producing for itself, the peasant household displayed a marked aversion toward wage labor. The household members valued their chance to avoid exchanging many hours of labor for the equivalent of the value of fewer hours. Moreover, even when wage labor offered pecuniary advantages, workers still frequently chose the independence of a less regimented life (Pollard 1965, 166, 173). Wakefield (1835, 1:32) seemed to have much more to say on the subject, but he remained judiciously silent: "It must be confessed, that the power of exchanging has not been thoroughly analyzed by any writer on the subject. Of what element is that complex power composed, and by what circumstances it is apt to be increased or diminished; these are questions which would occupy much space in political economy." Moreover, Wakefield (1834, 25) recognized that this question of the social division of labor represented a theoretical challenge to political economy: "One cannot use capital merely by wishing to use it, nor can a single workman practice 'division of labour,' but the capital and the 'division of labour' arise from some anterior improvement."

Wakefield's insight into the political economy of wage labor might seem to be so self-evident as to be judged unworthy of consideration as theoretical analysis. Yet the same matter has often perplexed first-rate economists. For example, Ricardo (1951-73, 1:395), toward the end of his chapter on machinery, theorized that because of cheap food in America "there is not nearly such great temptation to employ machinery." If workers in both locations earned the same real wage, Ricardo might have found himself on solid ground.

More recently, Peter Temin (1971; see also David 1975, 19-91), who excels at the application of economic tools to historical material, has argued that extensive supplies of land should not have made industry in the United States more intensively mechanized than in England. Temin qualified his position by noting that industry in the United States would be more capital-intensive if interest rates were higher than in England (for a useful rectification of other aspects of Temin's work, see Clarke and Summers 1980, 129-39). The high proportion of farmers, traditionally debtors, did serve to push interest rates up. Although he based his conclusion on different premises, Friedrich List (1841, 332) proposed as a general rule that interest will always be higher in agricultural societies.

In reality, by restricting the growth of the industrial reserve army, the homestead was a great threat to profits. Had all workers been wage earners, the equations used to develop the argument might have been more sensible; however, even on the eve of the U.S. Civil War, a mere 28 percent of the northern labor force was estimated to have worked for wages (de Canio and Mokyr 1977). Wakefield (1834, 30), who was far more realistic in this matter, realized that only 10 percent of the labor force in the northern states earned wages.

Those economists who do correctly apprehend the conditions of employers in the early United States cannot resist obscuring the matter in a haze of neoclassical jargon. Heywood Fleisig (1976), for example, does not interpret the situation in terms of labor's opportunity to secure employment outside the wage nexus, rather, he pictures potential employers being denied outlets for their supply of entrepreneurial expertise.

Wakefield, in this sense, truly represents a high point in the study of wage labor. Political economy did not rouse itself to follow up on his insights until the appearance of Capital, exactly one hundred years after the publication of Steuart's Inquiry. Unfortunately, it fell back into a comfortable slumber shortly thereafter.

Wakefield and the British Economy

In Wakefield's opinion, Smith (1976, II.iv.8, 352; see also I.x.c.26, i44)was correct to teach that "as capitals increase in any country, the profits that can be made by employing them necessarily diminish." Wakefield (1835, 1:254) allowed for two means of improving the situation of capital: "Colonization and the importation of Food." Cheap imported food obviously implies that the same monetary wage would exchange for a greater use value. Wage labor could consequently become slightly less abhorrent compared to the alternative of petty commodity production controlled by merchant capital.

Colonization is another matter. Here Wakefield, in anticipation of Lenin, recognized that the export of capital can improve the rate of profit, providing the proper climate for colonization exists— namely, the absence of access to cheap land. Beyond this point, Wakefield was very evasive about what he found within the English economy.

Wakefield seems to have understood a reality that eluded Steuart: an honest exposition of the workings of the domestic economy would have made his theories too embarrassing for political economy to embrace. In describing his manner of presentation, he explained, "By dwelling altogether on the former question [of the distribution of shares], we make bad blood between the two classes; ... by examining the latter question [of the total product], we may prove that masters and servants have one and the same interest" (Wakefield 1834, 83).

In his commentary to The Wealth of Nations we read: "When a body of men raise more food than they want, and employ that surplus food as capital, paying it in wages to other labourers, those other labourers act in concert or combination with those capitalists" (Wakefield 1835, 1:29).

We have no need to go further. Despite Wakefield's brutal clarity in dealing with colonial economies, he carefully obfuscates the cleavage between those who employ labor and those who labor when dealing with the British economy. Once he has gone that far, he can simply slide into the technical advantages of the division of labor. Such a contrived performance teaches us more about Wakefield than about political economy.

When Wakefield did come close to the truth, he presented it as nonsense, perhaps to make it more palatable. For example, after asking himself, "Why does any man ever produce of anything more than he himself can consume," he satisfied himself with the Smithian fantasy: "Solely because he expects that some other man will take from him that portion of his labours which he does not want, giving him in exchange something which he wants" (Wakefield 1834, 242; emphasis added).

Where Wakefield did attempt to justify the relationship between labor and capital, he became even more ridiculous. He repeated a variant of Locke's (1698, 320) naive fable about the social compact. Accordingly, we are told, "Mankind has adopted a simple contrivance for promoting the division of labour: they have divided themselves into owners of capital and owners of labour" (Wakefield 1834, 26). Wakefield even went so far as to propose that these two groups complemented each other's psychological needs: The capitalists are happy to save because they can expect to have workers to employ, and the workers are happy to spend because they can expect to find employment (ibid., 26).

At one point, immediately after picturing the English farmworker as "a miserable wretch," Wakefield (ibid., 29) suggested that "the agricultural class seems to have come to an understanding with the other classes, to separate its employment from the manufacturer and dealer." Were we not to know better, we might be led to believe that Wakefield was echoing Rousseau, who sarcastically wrote: "I will allow you," says the capitalist, "to have the honour of serving me, on the condition that, in return for the pains I take in commanding you, you give me the little that remains to you" (cited in Marx 1977, 909).

When push came to shove, Wakefield would be likely to have no part in voluntarism. What if the smallholders had refused to enter into a "voluntary" agreement? Would Wakefield (1835, 1:38), who charged that "a monotonous people are necessarily dull and ignorant" have been willing to abide by their choice?

We do know that Wakefield violently opposed Owen's plan. He charged that, if Owen's ideas were put into practice, "All the people would be . . . precisely like another" (ibid.). Wakefield ridiculed Owen's vision of a voluntaristic division of labor in which one is found "now digging, then trading, then mending a shoe" (ibid., 1:42).

Certainly, Wakefield was easily able to recognize that where small, selfcontained households predominated, leisure would take precedence over production. Thus he asserted that "the labor of an Irish coal-heaver or pavior in London, whose labour, when he was without the means of exchanging, did just suffice to maintain his family, produced enough for the maintenance of perhaps a half-dozen families" (ibid., 1:77). We do not have to accept that the standard of living of the coal-heaver was so elevated even when compared to the impoverished Irish peasant, except in terms of monetary income.

At least, Wakefield signaled us when we could take him seriously. Consequently, we can separate the wheat from the chaff without much effort. Moreover, Wakefield's importance did not depend on his analytical gifts, but rather on his ability, generally, to keep from getting confused by the ideology around him, including his own.

John Rae: Preliminaries

Another frontal attack on Smith's theories came from the remarkable John Rae, namesake of both Smith's famous biographer and the no less renowned Arctic explorer. Such fame eluded this John Rae, although he was a political economist, as well as a doctor of medicine and a magistrate in Hawai'i, who made significant contributions in the fields of geology and linguistics.

Rae was even less recognized in his own lifetime. True, John Stuart Mill (1848) quoted from him extensively; Irving Fisher was also generous toward Rae, even dedicating his Theory to Interest to the memory of Rae and Eugen Boehm-Bawerk (see R. James 1965, 182). Acknowledgment from other quarters has been virtually nonexistent.

John Rae's assault on Smithian economics was even more significant than that of Wakefield, who never had any real pretensions as an economic theorist. By contrast, Rae was quite sophisticated. In addition, Rae knew about economic development, by virtue of his long experience living on the Canadian frontier, where he could study the meaning of primitive accumulation firsthand.

Rae does not seem to have owed anything to Wakefield, but he may have been indebted to Gourlay. In fact, their personal lives bore some similarity. Each wrote the bulk of his work in Canada. Both men seemed to embark on long journeys as an escape from private troubles (see Goodwin 1961, 7; James 1965, 14-15). Rae's proposal for dealing with the land set aside to finance the Canadian clergy had much in common with Gourlay 's recommendations (see fames 1965, 28). Finally, we might note Rae's appraisal of Gourlay's work was quite close to that of Wakefield.

In 1 840, after Rae's only major work on political economy had appeared, Rae published a prospectus of another book that he intended to complete. In comparing his proposed book with earlier works, Rae wrote:

It is believed that no work approaching in plan to the present, has been published by anyone personally acquainted with the country, with the exception of Dr. Dunlop's Backwoodsman, and Gourlay, Bouchette and Rolph's volumes. . . . With regard to the other books it may be remarked that Mr. Gourlay's book was published under very unfavorable circumstances that the talent which portions of it evidently display, lies buried under a heterogeneous mass of uninteresting matter, (cited in R. James 1965, 71)

Biographical Considerations

Rae is a difficult figure to approach. In some ways, his work is strikingly modern. He anticipated Boehm-Bawerk's capital theory, as well as Thorstein Veblen's notion of conspicuous consumption. Indeed, on two different occasions, he even described consumption as "conspicuous" (see Rae 1834, 287, 310). In another respect, he was almost a medieval thinker, ostensibly deriving his economics from an explicit theory of morality.

How might a writer as important as Rae get caught up in narrow-minded disputes over morality? In 1820, the North West Company was merged with the Hudson Bay Company. Montreal, in the process, lost its dominant role in the fur trade and its traditional mercantilist powers eroded. These new conditions opened the way for the merchant families of Montreal to increase their strength and influence in the economic life of the region (see R. James 1965, 134-35).

Rae, like the Montreal merchants, was a Scotch Presbyterian. He "was intimately associated with the Montreal merchants and their friends and in due course was to become one of their philosophers and publicists" (ibid., 134). His sister ran a boarding school that catered to the well-to-do merchant families. Her husband and brother-in-law were both successful merchants (ibid.).

The majority of the population in the region was Catholic and French. Dissimilar language, religion, and social customs among classes are familiar ingredients of violent turmoil. Canada was no exception. By 1837, armed conflict had broken out.

Rae became active in the movement that called for subsidies for the Protestant Church. According to Rae, the church had a legitimate claim on the one-seventh of Lower Canada, which was set aside "for the support and maintenance of a Protestant clergy" (31 Geo., c. 31, sec. 36). The Church of England held the position that the Presbyterian Church was not intended to be included in the phrase cited above. Rae's involvement in this controversy seems to have helped shape his economic theories, as we shall see.

Apparently, Rae's moral sensibilities had already put him in conflict with the theories of Smith while he was still young. In 1819, the Scottish public favored a reduction of the duties levied on alcohol. Rae recalled: "Almost everyone thought that great good would result from such a change of system and laughed at the fears which few entertained of its bad effects on the general morals of people. The authority of Adam Smith was cited as decisive on the question, and the measure was carried through amid a general acclaim of approbation. I own that I was among the doubters. . . . Time has now shown that I was not far wrong" (cited in R. James 1965, 13). We might note that Smith himself recommended taxes on alcohol (Smith 1976, V.ii.k.7); however, we have already seen that the people who invoke the authority of Smith are often more extreme than the great master.

The Durability of Capital

One would not expect a person with Rae's parochial mind-set to contribute much to a deeper understanding of the market, but Rae did. Rather than merely railing against the market as an amoral institution, he analyzed economic activity as a subset of morality. To understand his method, recall Gourlay's concern about the Canadian farmers' excess land. In the same vein, Rae (1834, 206; see also American 1775, 54) challenged his readers to ask a farmer:

Why, instead of stone fences around his fields, which decay, or hedges which require constant trimming and dress, he does not put iron railings, he will answer, "it does not pay." Ask the house-builder, why this is not cut stone, instead of brick, that oak instead of pine, this again iron, instead of oak or that copper instead of iron, and consequently the whole fabric doubly durable.

He will also reply, "it will not pay." In all these cases, and a thousand others that ought to be put, the answer is abundantly sufficient as regards the individual, but is no answer at all as regards the society.

Rae's observations were not unique. A few years earlier, Thomas Cooper (1830, 131) had used a similar image of a stone fence to illustrate the advantages of improvements in agriculture relative to industry on account of the less durable nature of investments in manufacturing. Even earlier, John Taylor (1818, 311) had written:

Let us suppose that dead wood fencing will consume 10 per centum of a farmer's time, which supposition devotes about 36 days in the year to that object. It would cost him 5 whole days in 50. If his farm afforded stone, and his force could in 1 whole year make his enclosures of that lasting material, he would save 4 whole years by this more perfect operation,exclusive of the benefits gained by a longer life, or transmitted to his posterity. ... It seems to me that the time necessary to rear and repair live fences, is less than one tenth of that consumed by those of dead wood.

Rae's comments were aimed as much at those farmers who had recently come from the British Isles as native-born Canadian farmers. Even though a farmer may initially look with disdain on the farming methods of the New World, the logic of profit maximization will force the adoption of the techniques that Rae (1834, 207) decried: "His neighbors will tell him, indeed, from the first, that if he expects the same profit as they have, he must have less dead stock on his hands, and he must give more activity to his capital; but he is slow of believing them."

Elementary economics predicts just such a result. The New World was short of capital. Thus, farmers as well as other businesses would be wise to ration capital very sparingly. Again, many other observers had noticed the same phenomena as Rae (see, for example, Morgan 1975, 141; Boserup 1965, 63; Grigg 1977, 63, 70; Kalm 1770-71).

We can also point to McCulloch (1824, 12311), who noted that British farmers who visited Flanders resolved to farm as carefully as the Flemish, but "a few years' experience . . . throws them back by a kind of necessity into their former habits, a falling off which they attribute to indolence or the incapacity of those whom they employ."

Rae, however, in analyzing this rationing, went further than anyone else would venture for another half century. Indeed, Rae himself seems to have inspired those subsequent developments. I cannot resist comparing the performance of McCulloch and Rae at this point. McCulloch came within a hair's breadth of stumbling onto Rae's brilliant insights. Instead, he attributed the failure of Flemish-style agriculture in England to the availability of land at a low rent. Thus he did not push his observation beyond the agricultural sector. In contrast, Rae used the same idea to develop sophisticated theories of both capital and the social division of labor.

Rae on the Division of Labor

Rae's theory of the social division of labor evolved out what he called "dead stock." In a society made up of identical, self-sufficient households, each one would have a complete outfit of the means of production. If some were to specialize in a particular trade, then society could economize on the total capital requirements (see Rae 1834, chap. 8):

The exercise of the arts of the weaver, the blacksmith, the carpenter, the farmer, implies the existence of a great variety of tools with which they may be carried on. But, as a man can do only one thing at once, if any man had all the tools which these several occupations require, at least three fourths of them would constantly lie idle and useless, (ibid., 164)

It is not perhaps likely, that this was the manner in which that division of occupations with which we are now familiar was originally produced, but it must evidently have been produced in this way . . . that even now it is thus brought to pass in the progress of settlements in North America. In such situations, every man is at first probably obliged to be his own carpenter, glazier, tanner, cobbler, and perhaps to a certain extent his own blacksmith. As the settlement fills up, and the population becomes sufficiently dense, he gives us this multifarious industry, and takes to some particular branch, (ibid., 165)

This idea was not entirely new. We can find it in Turgot (1766); still, nobody else seems to have given it much thought.

With Rae, the division of labor is merely a passive factor in economic development. This interpretation put him in direct conflict with Smith, who portrayed the division of labor as the principal motor of economic development. Rae (1834, 353 (boldly challenged him in this regard: "In the Wealth of Nations, the division of labor is considered the great generator of invention and improvement, and so of the accumulation of capital. In the view I have given it is represented chiefly as proceeding from the antecedent progress of invention."

Rae (1825, 196) hypothesized: "Among a people chiefly agricultural, in the early stages of human society, some persons, more ingenious than the rest, make discoveries and improve the natural products in a variety of modes, whence gradually arise the division of labour, the difference of professions, and a new distribution of wealth among mankind." By emphasizing science, Rae implicitly refused to credit those who displayed business acumen as being significant agents of progress, since he separated scientific from business pursuits.

Efficiency and the Durability of Capital

Rae's seemingly casual remarks about the techniques used by Canadian farmers evolved into a theory that eventually formed the core of the modern neoclassical analysis of capital. We can outline this theory of capital without much difficulty.

Let us return to the case of a farmer, who could use either wood or iron in constructing a fence. The initial outlay for the wooden fence would be cheaper, but the fence would be less durable. A profit-maximizing farmer would have to weigh the relative costs.

Imagine that the iron fence was produced in two stages. First, a wooden fence would be created. Then some additional work could somehow give the fence the durability of iron. Profit maximization would require that the extra expense of purchasing the durability be weighed against the cost of tying up the extra capital required to produce that durability. Where the rate of interest would be high, investors would be reluctant to tie up much of their investment in durability. The discounted cost of future maintenance or replacement would be relatively low because of the high rate of discount.

Rae seems to have been the first political economist to have given this idea any thought. Had he gone no further, he would have earned himself a place of honor. In fact, he did not stop there. He noted that, other things being equal: "Every individual endeavors to exhaust, as speedily as he can, the capacity of the instruments which he possesses. By rapidly exhausting the capacity of any instrument, the returns yielded by it are not lessened, but quickened" (Rae 1834, 164).

In order to be able to compare technologies with widely differing characteristics, Rae made some simplifying assumptions. To begin with, he supposed that each piece of equipment lasted for a specific period of time. Next, he expressed their capacity in terms of how much labor would be required to do an equivalent amount of work. Then, he proposed to measure how much time would have to elapse before an implement yields a quantity of work double that required to build in the first place. Finally, he implicitly assumed that those technologies that produce an effect equal to twice the original effort expended in their production in the shortest period of time will be the least durable. In other words, the least durable method of production will have the highest rate of return. Nonetheless, as was the case with his example of the iron fence, those techniques that yield the highest rate of return are the least efficient.

I am using the term "efficient" in a special sense to reflect Rae's perspective. Efficient investments require the least labor over the long run. For instance, suppose that the iron fence requires ten times more labor to install than the wooden one. The iron fence has a lifetime of fifty years and requires no maintenance. The wood fence lasts only three years. After thirty years, the average annual labor input per unit of fencing becomes higher for the wooden fence. Over an even longer time horizon, the advantage of the iron fence will become even greater.

In effect, Rae favored a society with a system of values that created a low discount rate in which durable technology such as iron fences would be adopted instead of more short-lived technologies such as wooden fences.

Rae's Racial Theory of Capital Accumulation

By this point, Rae had come close to Boehm-Bawerk's theory of capital by identifying more efficient techniques with a lengthening of the lapse of time before investments repay themselves. The high interest rates that prevailed in Rae's Canada reflected a shortage of capital. Restricting investment to those techniques that yielded a high rate of return indicated a sensible rationing of scarce capital resources.

In reality, Rae could not accept the logic of modern economics. He believed that capital was not scarce because of the natural conditions in which Canadian settlers found themselves, but because of a moral and ethical failure on the part of the people of Canada. According to Rae, people who adopted technologies that were not durable were more like primitive than civilized people.

For Rae, primitive people do not use simpler tools as a rational adaptation to economic conditions. Instead, they resort to such technologies because they have too little regard for the future. In Rae's (ibid., chap. 8) words, such people have an insufficient "effective desire of accumulation." At times, this moral defect was explained in environmental terms. For example, Rae supposed: "The life of the hunter seems unfavorable to the perfect development of the accumulative principle . . . [and] necessarily improvident. . . . [T]he future presents nothing, which can be with certainty either foreseen, or governed . . . every member of such a community thinks of nothing but whether the supply of game will be plentiful, or scanty" (ibid., 131). Thus the resulting "naturally low degree of strength of the accumulative principle among nations of hunters, prevents them . . . from forming instruments of sufficiently slow return" (ibid., 147). Accordingly, Rae assumed: "Circumstances have given to every community a peculiar character; the moral and intellectual powers of every people have received different degrees of development" (ibid., 162).

Rae never explained how a community might advance to a higher level, but instead attributed the capacity to progress to racial causes. He argued that those who saw parallels between European civilizations and the aboriginal peoples of America were mistaken. The Europeans were not hunters. Rae (ibid., 148) admitted that "it is our business to inquire how he [the hunter] could be induced to adopt" the ways of the pastoralist.

This line of reasoning led him to contradict his other theory— that science was the cause of development. He suggested that only if people had a sufficiently advanced effective desire of accumulation would they put new technologies into use. He noted: "[The] possession of flocks and herds, implies a considerable degree of care and foresight both in protecting, and making provision for them, and in avoiding to consume too great a number of them. It also implies the existence of private property to a large amount, and, consequently, of strength in the ties binding families together" (ibid., 143). Yet Rae offered no explanation, other than race, to indicate why the Europeans had come to practice animal husbandry (ibid., 144). He also saw race as the cause of the poverty of the Chinese, a people whom he depicted as "abandoned to gross sensuality, to drunkenness, and degrading licentiousness" (ibid., 151). As proof, he cited testimony of travelers who described the simple instruments used by the Chinese (ibid., 152). Although the intricate system of terraces and water works were evidence of long and hard work, Rae insisted that such projects were not indicative of "effective desire of accumulation" on the part of the Chinese because the irrigation works owed their existence to public officials rather than to individual choice (ibid., 284).

Not having the benefit of the recent work of Joseph Needham (1969), Rae accepted the prevailing European view that Chinese science was inferior to that of Europe (ibid., 156). Although Chinese science had slowed down for a couple of centuries (Mokyr 1990, 218-19), "China came within a hair's breadth of industrializing in the fourteenth century" (Jones 1988). In his ignorance, Rae concluded: "It will I think be admitted as a fact, that Europeans in general far exceed Asiatics both in vigor of intellect, and in strength of moral feeling" (1834, 155).

Bad as the Chinese were, their "effective desire of accumulation [was] . . . greater than that of other Asiatics" (ibid., 151). Rae (1834, 166) offered the non sequitur: "Where, as in Hindostan, the loom is merely a few sticks, it would save one individual very little to employ another to weave for him. It is accordingly, in countries where the population is most dense, the facility of communication greatest, and instruments wrought up to the more slowly returning orders, that employments are most divided." Based on his theory of racial defects, he deduced: "We should, therefore, a priori, suppose that the instruments formed by them must be of orders of quicker return, and embracing a less compass of materials, than those constructed by European nations; but of slower return . . . than those to which the strength of the accumulative principle carries the other nations of Asia" (ibid., 151). Late in life, Rae (1862, 370) went so far as to claim that the "succession of race to race seems to have been one of the main causes of the progress of mankind."

Even so, race was not the only determinant of the effective desire of accumulation for Rae. He singled out environmental conditions for the changed behavior of the English farmers who migrated to Canada. In addition, like many other classical political economists, Rae attributed the same values to lower classes that he attributed to supposedly inferior races.

Not surprisingly, Rae criticized the lower classes for a failure to give sufficient attention to the future. He was convinced that improvidence kept the poor in a state of poverty (Rae 1834, 200). The small quantity of household utensils in the working-class homes was proof for him that such people had an inadequate desire of accumulation (ibid., 202). He complained that the poor squandered their funds on alcohol and tea instead of better pots and pans, which could have allowed them to reduce the amount of food that they waste (ibid., 202-4).

Those who are inclined to psychologizing might ponder on Rae's criticism of the lower classes. His own consumption of alcohol may have played a part in his dismissal as a teacher (see R. fames 1965, 95). Rae often identified an effective desire of accumulation with a desire for offspring, yet Rae seems to have had no children of his own.

John Rae and the Moral Value of Primitive Accumulation

According to Rae, the condition of self-sufficiency and independence, as it was found in Canada, was characteristic of "the most simple state of society, when art is so rude, and accumulation so little advanced, that each individual forms almost all the instruments he himself or his family exhaust (Rae 1834, 173). Rae complained:

In most communities where the population is scattered and the internal communications are bad, many trades are practiced in the farmers' houses and by their own families. In this way it is that, in very many of the recently settled parts of North America, every operation that the wool undergoes, from the taking off of the fleece to the cutting and making up the cloth, is performed in the farmer's house and by his own family. A similar state of things caused a similar practice to prevail in England a century ago, and, at present, keeps up many of those manufactures which are properly termed domestic, in many other parts of Europe. In Canada it is not uncommon for the farmer to have, not only the whole processes that wool undergoes til it comes to be worn, carried on by members of his own family, but also to get a great variety of other things made by them, which he could not procure otherwise by sending to an inconvenient distance the vegetables that supply his table, the animals he slaughters for it, the cider that refreshes his meals, the very sugar that sweetens his tea, and all that variety of fruits, that would attract the most fastidious appetite, are the produce of his own fields, and orchards, and woods, (ibid., 57, 230)

More than any other author whom we have seen, Rae did not oppose selfsufficiency as such. Instead, he kept his eye on the social relations of selfsufficiency, even though he couched his analysis in religious rather than economic terms.

For Rae, frugal independence could be the route to the development of a powerful bourgeoisie. Alternatively, it could represent a stubborn resistance to capitalist social relations. The Scottish Presbyterians used their self-sufficiency to harden their moral fibers; Catholics and other less respectable groups sunk in the face of the challenge of self-sufficiency, as far as Rae was concerned. Consequently, "There is not, in truth, a prouder man than the Canadian farmer. He has no superior; he is not dependent on the assistance, scarcely on the co-operation, of a single individual" (Rae 1828, 230).

Unfortunately, Rae believed that such pride was not characteristic of all independent farmers. Only the Scottish farmers, whose "feelings . . . are totally opposed to the principles and spirit of the Church of England" could claim such independence. Rae alleged that the typical representative of this group "had raised himself and his family from indigence to abundance." Such people formed "a class powerful enough to govern" (ibid.).

Rae saw another class, one "weak enough to be governed" (ibid.). Their fate was somewhat different. In Rae's view:

There are many individuals from Ireland, Scotland, and England, whose finances are exhausted, ere they reach Canada, and who are burdened with large and young families. It is impossible for these men, immediately to pursue, what has probably been their original plan, and directly push into the wilderness. They absolutely require to have previously provided some small sum for the expense of the journey, some necessary tools and utensils, and provisions for themselves and families, until they can reasonably expect to draw subsistence from the land, they had come to occupy. To obtain these indispensable, their only resource, in general, is to betake themselves to some town or village, or to its neighborhood, and then, from what they may be able to save from their wages, to collect a sum sufficient for their purpose. Years are thus inevitably consumed by the emigrant, and very often, ere he has attained his purpose, old age presses on him, or he yields to the temptations to intemperance, which new habits and foreign manners expose him to, or he sets out prematurely, and sinks under the united pressure of severe toil, want, and disease, (ibid., 249)

Rae's ideas about capital and the social division of labor combined to form a moralistic theory of primitive accumulation. If people could be induced to have a higher effective desire of accumulation, the prevailing rate of return would be lower. With a lower rate of return, the class composition of society would be transformed.

In this way, Rae used his vision of morality to sanction primitive accumulation. He clearly saw that neither primitive accumulation nor a market-based accumulation process would bring material gains for the working class that would be commensurate with the moral progress that it promised. In an essay, which has since been lost, he explained:

It is in the nature of this progress [of modern civilization] to convert the original simple and rude tools, first, into instruments of greater cost and efficiency, and these again into complex and difficultly constructed machines, still more costly and still more efficient. The distaff becomes a spinning wheel; and that changing its form, and wrought by other powers, is made part of a woolen factory. The rough edged blade of the original knife is first cut into a regular saw, and wrought by one hand; it is then put into a frame, which two men operate; and this, in turn, by means of a crank and opinions, is made to go by water, and becomes a saw mill. . . . And so it is with all our implements, they are passing on to great machines And yet there was a question which might possibly have occurred to the philosophic philanthropists of that day. "Who are to be the owners of these great machines? Will the mechanics and artisans who now wield the tools own the machines, or will they be the property of a distinct class?" ... So constantly has it occurred that it may be said it has invariably happened, that the former artisans, in giving up their tools, have never become the owners of the machines which have succeeded them. These Machines . . . come to be owned by a distinct class. The operative has no property share in the industrial operation, he owns nothing but his hands and the art of using them fitly. For opportunity to use them, and for pay for their use, he depends on the owner of the machine. He suffers in consequence a degradation in the social scale. Formerly he was a small capitalist, now it is the characteristic of his condition to be a mere operative, destitute of capital, (cited in R. James 1965, 57-58)

To make matters worse, Rae expected that the new technology would reduce the demand for skilled labor: "As art advances from its first rude elements, the hand does less, the instrument more" (1834, 353). In the course of such development, some would prosper and some would fail. Rae came close to recognizing that the probable outcome for any individual would depend upon class origins, but instead he turned to racially based explanations. Nonetheless, Rae managed to produce an extremely valuable analysis of primitive accumulation.

Why did Rae fail to win recognition for his obviously original analysis? His emphasis on personal and racial causes of poverty were not uncongenial to classical political economy. Even today, economists sometimes look to cultural, ethnic, and religious characteristics as a major determinant of growth (see Hall and Jones 1997).

Rae fell from favor because he, like Steuart, advocated state action to further economic development. Consequently, like Steuart, he was slighted. Take the case of Nassau Senior, whose own theory of capital owed much to the unacknowledged influence of Rae. Someone put the question to Senior, how such a fine economist as Rae could oppose free trade if the case against market interference were so self-evident. Senior responded, "Oh, I never looked at that part of the book; what I am referring to is a certain chapter on the accumulation of capital, and other discussions of a like kind." The disappointed questioner gave up on political economy as a result of this encounter:

He thought that pedants who were so afraid of entangling themselves in the labyrinth of their own science, that they would not follow a man whose genius and power they admitted a single step off the beaten road, lest they should find no end . . . were no guides for me, because it was clear that they could not have any confidence in themselves. (Doyle 1886; cited in R. James 1965, 167-68)

In the end, Senior parlayed his reputation as a political economist into a successful public career. His theory of capital was barely distinguishable from Rae's. Boehm-Bawerk then appropriated much of Senior's capital theory as his own. Later, Boehm-Bawerk "discovered" Rae, whose capital theory seemed to be strangely similar to his own. This brief moment of recognition soon passed. Today, Rae lies largely forgotten. His papers, which were deposited at the University of Hawai'i, have long disappeared.


Reading the modern histories of economic thought, neither Gourlay, Wakefield, nor Rae appear to have much to teach us about the subject. In fact, all three saw much that classical political economy preferred to obscure. They brought the subject of primitive accumulation to the fore. All three were rewarded with silence.
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Re: The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy

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Chapter 14: Notes on Development

Consequently, in the agrarian question and the agrarian crisis the heart of the matter is not simply the removal of obstacles to the advance of agricultural technique, but what way these obstacles are to be removed, what class is to effect this removal and by what methods.

— V. I. Lenin, The Agrarian Question in Russia at the End of the Nineteenth Century

Lenin and the Forging of Revolutionary Smithianism

The fallacy of Adam Smith's vision of the market has been a recurrent theme of this book. Some support for a Smithian interpretation of history may be found in a most unlikely ally— Lenin.

The convergence of such disparate individuals casts considerable light on the works of both. Although Lenin wrote as an avowed antagonist of Smith, his major anti-Smithian polemic was directed only at Smith's proposed resolution of value into wages and profits. In reality, Smith and Lenin shared a number of concerns. Each found himself in a country in which a relatively rapid rate of capitalist development required the eradication of the residues of earlier social formations. Like Smith, Lenin looked forward to rapid economic change as a means of transforming the psychology of the masses in his land.

An independent British scholar, Mark Jones, upon reading an early draft of this work, commented that Marx had never seen the squalor of a Russian village and Lenin had no firsthand experience of a British factory. As a result, Lenin might have sounded a different tone from Marx and the Marxists, who wrote from a western European environment.

In contrast to marxists such as Rosa Luxemburg, who saw primitive accumulation as an ongoing process occurring on a world scale, the early Lenin, like Smith, believed that the vestiges of previous economies were naturally dissolving as a direct result of market forces (see Luxemburg 1968, chap. 27). In fact, Lenin was much more explicit than Smith about the relationship between capitalist development and the evolution of the social division of labor. For Lenin (1893, 99-100), "the concept 'market' is quite inseparable from the concept of the social division of labour— that 'general basis of all commodity (and consequently, let us add, of capitalist) production' as Marx calls it."

In one sense, Lenin parted ways with Smith. Lenin was careful to maintain the distinctions between capitalist and precapitalist modes of production. Smith generally obscured them. As Lenin (ibid., 93) noted: "In the historical development of capitalism two features are important: 1) the transformation of the natural economy of direct producers into commodity economy, and 2) the transformation of commodity economy into capitalist economy. The first transformation is due to the appearance of the social division of labour— the specialisation of isolated (N.B.: this is an essential condition of commodity economy), separate producers in only one branch of industry." Lenin, of course, is a controversial figure, revered by some, despised by others. He enjoyed the advantage of the historical experience of the nineteenth century, but so did all his contemporaries. Nonetheless, a dispassionate reading of his works will reveal that whatever one may think of his methods and his goals, Lenin, more than anyone else, clearly addressed the subject of the social division of labor. Writing more than a half century before George Stigler's (195 1) celebrated article on the division of labor appeared, Lenin observed:

The growth of small production among the peasantry signifies the appearance of new industries, the conversion of new branches of raw material processing into independent spheres of industry, progress in the social division of labor, while the swallowing-up of small by large establishments implies a further step forward by capitalism, leading to the triumph of its higher forms. ... it is quite natural that in a more developed part of the country, or in a more developed sphere of industry, capitalism should progress by drawing small handicraftsmen into the mechanized factory, while more remote regions, or in backward branches of industry, the process of capitalist development is only in its initial stage and manifests itself in the appearance of new branches and new industries. (Lenin 1898, 382)

Lenin (1893, 101) cited another Russian author, Vestnik Yevtropy (1893), on the changing social division in the United States:

Recently, in the United States, the woodworking factories are becoming more and more specialized, "new factories are springing up exclusively for the making of, for instance, axe handles, broom handles, or extendible tables. . . . Machine building is making constant progress, new machines are being continuously invented to simplify and cheapen some side of production. . . . Every branch of furniture making, for instance, has become a trade requiring machines and special workers. ... In carriage building, wheel rims are made in special factories (Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee), wheel spokes are made in Indiana and Ohio, and hubs are made in special factories in Kentucky and Illinois.

Like Smith, Lenin had an eye for the positive developments in the countryside, but without Smith's blind spot for the harsher aspects of rural development. Although Lenin (ibid., 107) did not share the infatuation of Smith's successors for the consumption of baubles, he applauded the changing standard of living that was being adopted: "The rapid development of commodity economy and capitalism in the post-Reform epoch has caused a rise in the level of requirements of the peasantry."

Lenin (ibid.) was especially pleased with the cleanliness that these changes were bringing. Even more importantly, Lenin, like Smith, welcomed the potential of such capitalist development to eliminate dependency, or what he termed "the Asiatic abuse of human dignity that is constantly encountered in the countryside" (Lenin 1894, 235).

In an extended passage based on his study of the Statistical Returns for the Moscow Gubernia, Lenin penned one of the finest descriptions of the passage from precapitalist society to capitalism in the countryside. These words are especially striking because many of the same features that Lenin cites are identical to the examples used earlier by Steuart:

As industrial occupation spreads, intercourse with the outside world . . . becomes more frequent. . . . They buy samovars, table crockery and glass, they wear "neater" clothes. Whereas at first this neatness of clothing takes the shape, among men, of boots in place of bast shoes, among the women, leather shoes and boots are the crowning glory ... of neater clothing; they prefer bright, motley calicoes and kerchiefs, figured woolen shawls and similar charms. ... In the peasant family it has been the custom "for ages" for the wife to clothe her husband, herself and the children [Steuart mentions that the same practice was common in his Scotland]. ... As long as they grew their own flax, less money had to be spent on the purchase of flax, less money had to be spent on the purchase of cloth and other materials required for clothing, and this money was obtained from the sale of poultry, eggs, mushrooms, berries, a spare skein of yarn, or a piece of linen. All the rest was made at home. (Lenin 1894, 121)

The report then illustrated the manner in which commercial production was ousting traditional manufactures:

Lace was made mainly by young women of more prosperous or larger families, where it was not necessary for all the women to spin flax or weave. But cheap calico gradually began to oust linen, and to this other circumstances were added: either the flax crop had failed, or the wife wanted to make her husband a red calico shirt and herself a smarter dress, and so the custom of weaving various sorts of linen and kerchiefs at home for peasants' clothing gradually died out. . . . That explains why the majority of the population do all they can to make articles for sale, and even put their children to this work, (ibid., 121-22)

Both Lenin and Smith were in complete agreement that capitalist development was "natural." Lenin differed from Smith only in his conviction that the rise of large-scale industry was also natural. Was Lenin wrong, or should I withdraw my claim that Smith's theory of development was a failed ideological venture?
Lenin and the Naiodniks

We have already seen that the practical schemes of Wakefield had given lie to Smithian dogma. Why would Lenin, in effect, stand as a throwback to Smith? In part, Lenin's Smithian understanding grew out of his opposition to the Narodniks, whom he held responsible for the fate of his brother, who was executed for participating in a Narodnik plot to assassinate the Tsar (Weiller 1971).

The Narodnik economists, such as Vasily Vorontsov and Nikolai Danielson, took the position that capitalism was foreign to Russian soil. They protested against efforts of the state to implant capitalism artificially in Russia (Lenin 1894, 213; see also Walecki 1969). These attempts, such as the promotion of the Russian railroad system, were indeed both clumsy in execution and oppressive in effect (see von Laue 1963). Since much of the investment was imported, the net impact of this program would have been to restrict the home market, thereby stifling native Russian industry.

The distortions caused by the artificial promotion of capitalism were all the more destructive because of the gargantuan scale of the typical Russian manufacturer. In 1914, only 17.8 percent of Russian industrial workers were employed by firms with fewer than one hundred workers. In the United States, 35 percent of the industrial workers were employed by such establishments. In Russia, 41.4 percent of the industrial workers were in the pay of giant businesses with more than one thousand workers. Around Moscow, such firms employed 57.3 percent of the workers. The comparable figure for the United States was only 17.8 percent (Trotsky 1932, 8).

The Russian economy suffered from the usual symptoms of a dualistic economic growth pattern. The Narodniks preferred to avoid the costs associated with capitalist development in Russia by building socialism on the basis of the traditional village economy.

Lenin denounced their plans. The peasant's life was a constant round of toil. Maxim Gorky (1922, 370), the novelist, conveyed the sense of the Russian village in the following words: "The technically primitive labour of the countryside is incredibly heavy, the peasantry call it strada from the Russian verb 'stradat'— to suffer."

In contrast with the Narodniks, who condemned capitalism as an unnatural intrusion into the wholesome world of traditional Russian village life, Lenin interpreted the spontaneous growth of capitalism in the Russian countryside as part of a larger evolutionary process that would eventually lead to a socialist society.

Lenin (1913, 377) argued that peasants were not being crushed by railroads, but rather by the burdens of manual labor. To tread the Narodnik path, Lenin charged, was to be swept away by romantic illusions. Lenin asserted that the villages were not the bulwark of traditional social relations that the Narodniks thought them to be. Capitalism had already taken firm root in the countryside. He insisted:

Russia is a capitalist country, that the power of the workers' tie with the land in Russia is so feeble and unreal, and the power of the man of property so firmly established, that one more technical advance will be necessary for the "peasant" ( ? ? who is living by the sale of his labourpower) into a worker pure and simple. . . . [Despite] its general wretchedness, its comparatively tiny establishments and extremely low productivity of labour, its primitive technique and small number of wage-workers, peasant industry is capitalism. (Lenin 1894, 210, 217)

In this respect, Lenin's opinion squares with that of many modern, mainstream agricultural economists, who see peasants as precise maximizers (Schultz 1964, chap. 3; see also the references in Hagen 1980, 129). Lenin (1921a, 218) extrapolated from this observation, "Free exchange and freedom of trade . . . inevitably lead to a division of commodity procedures into owners of capital and owners of labour-power."

The Narodniks, in short, addressed capitalism in terms of the state's success in promoting it. Lenin analyzed capitalism in terms of its spontaneous growth within the villages. In this sense, Lenin may be termed Smithian, while the Narodniks may be credited with picking up the mantle of Steuart.

Lenin could also find support for his position that capitalist development was natural in Engels's Anti-Diihring (see, for example, Engels 1894, 195-96); however, Engels was engaged in an attack on Diihring's ridiculous "force theory," according to which Diihring all but denied any influence to economic forces inherent to the law of motion of capital. In this venture, Engels naturally avoided the subject of primitive accumulation.

Lenin's class analysis bore some similarity to Smith's. Smith saw the progressive bourgeoisie as a spontaneous outgrowth of the village economy. The established bourgeoisie were more or less in league with the forces of mercantilism. Accordingly, Smith did not regard them highly. Lenin, too, wrote off the liberal Russian bourgeoisie as incapable of promoting development (see Kingston-Mann 1980, 133).

Just as Smith unfairly criticized his mercantilist rivals, Lenin occasionally got carried away in his polemic with the Narodniks (Weiller 1971). Lenin may be charged with misreading some of his opponents,he may even have underestimated the potential of cottage industries "to gather up fragments of time" (see Georgescu-Roegan 1971, 252); nonetheless, he did provide a consistent revolutionary interpretation of Russian conditions.

Lenin and Smith Again

Lenin obscured the affinity of his analysis with that of Smith by identifying Smith with the Narodniks. However, this identification misrepresented Smith's purpose. Like the Narodniks, Smith did set out to show how market forces came to replace traditional relations of production. In direct opposition to the Narodniks, however, Smith attributed the evolution of the market to natural forces rather than the state.

Lenin and Smith also shared an interest in the social division of labor. Although Smith did not explicitly analyze the social division of labor, his antagonism toward traditional self-provisioning showed that he favored an intensification of the social division of labor evolved.

The social division of labor was Lenin's central concern in one of his first known works, On the So-Called Market Question. In Lenin's Smithian-like analysis, "the expansion of markets is made to serve both as condition and effect of capitalist development, obscuring the manner in which capitalist relations take root and the determinants of their specific course" (Tribe 1979, 4; see also Crisenoy 1979, 20). In his most important work on the subject, The Development of Capitalism in Russia, Lenin (1974; 37-39) repeated three times in the first three pages the assertion that the social division of labor was the basis of commodity production.

Furthermore, like Smith, Lenin insisted that no external measures were needed to separate households from their means of production. If the peasantry were to gain access to the land, "it will not abolish capitalism; on the contrary it will create a broader foundation for its development, and will hasten and intensify purely capitalist development" (Lenin 1905, 440).

Smith and Lenin were at one in their reading of the American experience as well. Sounding more Smithian than Smith, Lenin (1974, 85; see also 1908, 140) contended that, "in America, it was not the slave economy of the big landlords that served as the basis of capitalist agriculture, but the free economy of the free farmer working on free land, free from all medieval fetters, free from serfdom and feudalism." He may well have been correct, although quantification is difficult in this sort of matter.

We do know that early American farming was predominately a process of capital accumulation (Bidwell and Falconer 1941, 82-83; for a later period see Primack 1966). The homesteading family often pushed itself as hard as any slave driver could push his crew. Moreover, a relatively small share of its efforts were directed toward providing itself with consumption goods.

Hard work was not enough. Between 1710 and 1775, for example, per capita incomes were estimated to have grown at a modest 0.4 percent per year (Lee and Passell 1979, 20). Improved standards of living in the United States awaited the introduction of the intensive use of slavery to produce the exports that formed the economic base of the country.

True, slavery had its limits. Eventually, the slave system ran up against the dual barriers of soil depletion and the contradiction between the incentive system of slavery and the need for higher productivity, as well as the development of more advanced production techniques that were inappropriate for a slave system. By the time of the Civil War, the eclipse of southern agriculture was well underway. Hinton Rowan Helper (1860, 53) calculated that the combined cotton, tobacco, hay, hemp, and sugar harvest of the fifteen slave states was worth less than the hay crop of the free states. Still, Helper, like Lenin, overlooked the enormous contribution of earlier slave labor in the process of accumulation in the United States.

Lenin's Reinterpretation of Petty Production

To his credit, Lenin displayed a capacity to learn from current events. After the 1905 revolution, in which the peasants were supportive, Lenin significantly modified his stand on the role of the peasantry. This change did not represent a recantation of his economics, but rather a strengthening of his confidence about the degree to which capitalism had already established itself (Lenin 1907, 233).

Based on his reading of the American experience, Lenin posed two alternative paths for the Russian countryside: either the nation could distribute the land to replicate northern American conditions,or, it could give the land to large landholders who could maintain large estates such as were found in Prussia. Lenin wrote: "Both these solutions each in their own way facilitate the adoption of . . . higher technique, both are in line with agronomic progress. The only difference between them is that one bases this progress on the acceleration of the process of squeezing poor peasants out of agriculture and the other bases it on the acceleration of the process of the labor rent system by destroying the feudal latifundia" (Lenin 1908, 136). Consequently, Lenin (ibid.) believed that "the essence of the agrarian question and of the agrarian crisis is not the removal of the obstacles to raise agriculture to a higher level, but how these obstacles are to be removed, which class is to remove them and by what means."

Lenin (1918, 377) also judged the American path to be "the most democratic . . . [and to cause] the masses less suffering." Moreover, the American path was the most congenial to capitalist development (see also Lenin 1907, 238-42; 1908, 40-42). Lenin (1974, 91) contended that the American path "would inevitably withdraw the majority of these owners, whose position is hopeless in capitalist society from agriculture, and no 'right to the land' would be powerful enough to prevent this."

Lenin (1907, 241) confidently summed up his position with the conclusion that "peasant farming . . . evolves in a capitalist way and gives rise to a rural bourgeois and rural proletariat." Here again, Lenin's conclusions were identical to those of Smith.

Although Lenin may have underestimated the importance of slavery to the U.S. economy, his imagery of the U.S. path was consistent with the experience of history. No matter what Wakefield said about the ease of taking up farming in the United States, potential farmers faced numerous obstacles, which became greater with the passage of time. By the nineteenth century, a typical farm cost about $1,000 to establish (Danhof 1941 ). The extension of farming to new western lands glutted the markets and dropped prices to disastrously low levels (Field 1978). Around Cincinnati, corn prices sank to six cents per bushel in some districts; in others, they fell so low that corn was burned as fuel instead of wood (Gideon 1948, 215; for a theoretical discussion of this sort of phenomenon see Marx 1963-71, pt. 2, 302). Credit was hard to find. The rates farmers had to pay were exorbitant, running as high as 120 percent for short-term loans (Gates i960, 73). Especially in New England, where land was relatively scarce and infertile, farmers had to have recourse to debt in order to set their children up in farming (see Martineau 1837, 181).

The distribution of wealth in the United States, which had previously remained relatively stable during colonial times, began to become much more unequal after 1774 (Williamson and Lindert 1977). As a result, the U.S. economy began to create a substantial native-born industrial labor force out of the pool of largely self-sufficient producers. At first, these workers were women in the Northeast, left behind by the relatively more substantial exodus of men (Wright 1978, 118-19).

By the time Lenin was composing The Development of Capitalism in Russia, farms had become an important source of industrial labor in the United States. Between i860 and 1900, at least twenty farmers migrated to the city for each worker who took up farming. Ten farmers' sons took up residence in the city for each one who became a farm owner (Shannon 1945; 356-59; see also Goodrich and Davison 1935).

Unlike Smith, who rhapsodized about people moving to new professions by virtue of the pull of better opportunities, Lenin emphasized the push of hopelessness to explain the migration from the countryside. Although the mathematical calculations are formally identical in either case, the social chemistry is not.

The actual mechanism by which a native proletariat emerged in the United States was slightly more complex than what Lenin suggested. When times turned bad, people tended to return from the city to the farm. After the business cycle moved upward once again, the migration to the city could recommence on a larger scale. Andre Gunder Frank, for example, noted that as late as the 1958 recession, the city of Detroit alone lost 50,000 workers and their families to the subsistence farms of the southern and border states (Frank 1975, 30). Similar forces determined the flows of immigration into the United States. For instance, Mexican immigration to the United States is highly correlated with inadequate rainfall in Mexico (Cornelius 1979).

Marx suggested that this pattern of ebb and flow into the countryside dated back as early as the fifteenth century. He remarked that in the course of each cycle, the "peasantry turns up again, although in diminished number, and in a progressively worse situation" (Marx 1977, 912).

In any case, the coincidence of periods of prosperity and rural exodus was consistent with the schema of Smith, who emphasized the association of the migration with opportunities in the city. Lenin, however, more accurately identified the underlying forces that drove the people from the countryside.

In conclusion, the United States offered more substantial support for Lenin's model of development than it did for Smith's.

Lenin on the Process of Differentiation in the Countryside

Both Lenin's Russia and Smith's Britain shared one crucial characteristic: poverty was making the life of the self-sufficient household difficult, if not impossible. This poverty was not a natural result of resource endowments, but the product of centuries of exploitation. Recall Marx's (196371, pt. 2, 237) portrait of England:

Nowhere in the world has capitalist production, since Henry VII, dealt so ruthlessly with the traditional relations of agriculture, adapting and subordinating the conditions to its own requirements. In this respect England is the most revolutionary country in the world. Wherever the conditions handed down by history were at variance with, or did not correspond to the conditions of capitalist production on the land, they were ruthlessly swept away; this applied not only to the position of the village communities but to the village communities themselves, not only to the habitats of the agricultural population but to the agricultural population itself, not only to the original centres of cultivation but to cultivation itself.

We have already made the case that this transition often occurs over long periods of time (chapter 2). What happens when the household finds itself in an environment that is dominated by feudal employers?

Lenin (1908, 140) agreed with the analysis of the classical political economists: under such conditions, the lower the level of paid wages, the more people would produce for themselves. He did not suggest, as Steuart and others had, that such an arrangement would substantially benefit capital. Instead, Lenin was certain that it would only serve to preserve backward forms of production instead of promoting the accumulation of capital. Just as Engels observed in Germany, in Russia, too, the functioning of the household served to restrict capitalist development.

Lenin, however, understood the essence of the classical theory of primitive accumulation. He knew that once the traditional sector becomes sufficiently impoverished, poor peasants will have no choice but to accept wage labor. As a result, poverty, in this setting, did not reflect a disadvantage for capitalist development; rather, it was an important tool for organizing society according to its own interests.

In Russia, poverty in the traditional sector had become so extreme that Lenin saw great promise in the near term. In his mind, "The rapid development of commodity economy and capitalism in the post-Reform epoch has caused a rise in the level of requirements in the 'peasantry' too: the peasants have begun to live a 'cleaner' life (as regards clothing, housing, and so forth" (Lenin 1893, 107). Yet Lenin (1894, 211) also observed that the desire for cheap calico prints and the like was causing household production to die out. In the process, traditional rural society evolved into a rich mix of economic strata ranging from the landless laborer to the successful peasant, whom the Russians called a Kulak. Unlike Smith, Lenin devoted considerable attention to the specifics of this process of differentiation in the countryside.

We can interpret some of Lenin's analysis in terms of the exchange of labor power. Think back to the earlier example in which the typical household could produce all its own needs in four hours of labor (see chapter 4). Some households will require more time; others less. Thus, if the working day for a wage laborer is eight hours, an inefficient household that needs seven hours to take care of its own needs would be less likely to resist the conditions of wage labor.

In practice, the actual process of differentiation will not be as simple as the following discussion implies (see Deere and de Janvry 1979). Nonetheless, it will conform to the broad outlines that follow. Under the assumption that the household would earn the same standard of living whether it produced for itself or purchased commodities with wages, the inefficient household would have less to lose from wage labor than a more efficient one that required only two or three hours to produce the same goods.

What, then, determines the degree of inefficiency of a household? For Lenin, efficiency was synonymous with modernization. He mocked the pretended efficiency of traditional producers. Yes, traditional producers could sometimes compete with modern industry, but only by lowering their standard of living to an abysmal level (Lenin 1898, 400, 419). The answer will depend, in part, on purely technical phenomena. Better seed, more careful application of work, and superior equipment will all improve the efficiency of a small peasant farm.

Primitive Accumulation or Capital Accumulation!

Lenin, like Marx, stressed the technical and economic forces that condemned traditional producers to extinction. Of course, a family's access to the means of production is not the result of technology alone. Karl Kautsky (1899, 24), whose work on agriculture won the enthusiastic praise of Lenin, demonstrated how political acts, such as cutting off the peasant's freedom to gather firewood or hunt game, increased the number of hours that a family would have to work to produce the same amount of use value.

Families could cope with the difficulties resulting from primitive accumulation by curtailing their standard of living. For example, the consumption of meat seems to have fallen with the pressures put on the traditional peasant economy (ibid., 30). More productive households could try to overcome their difficulties by bringing more produce to market (ibid., 16).

Two factors complicate this latter approach: many households do not possess enough capital to bring a sufficient amount to market; and, if all households were to follow this strategy, a glut of produce would follow, such as we described in the case of the corn burned for fuel. Alternatively, families could attempt to maintain their standard of living by earning wages. In any case, the logic of the market guides the process of differentiation. Some households, whose degree of efficiency was indistinguishable from those of their neighbors in earlier years, demonstrate an aptitude for earning profits. Others, who were not able to compete, lose their property to more successful producers. Thus the surviving operations could increase their production while employing the propertyless workers to labor on their expanded holdings.

Despite his interesting discussions of examples of primitive accumulation, Kautsky glossed over the importance of the initial pressures of this process. For the most part, he accepted that economies of scale and specialization alone cause the process of differentiation. At times, Kautsky's faith in the efficiency of market forces seemed unbounded. He even went so far as to praise the efficiency of the division between mental and manual labor (Kautsky 1899, 101). Lenin, too, put excessive trust in market forces, assuming that those peasants who prospered were technically superior.

Emmanuel LeRoy Ladurie, studying an earlier period, argues that a different sort of mechanism was also at play. He describes the activities of Guillaume Massenx, a successful French proprietor who was born about 1495. Here, we find the acquisition of land based on usury and the reduction of costs by withholding tithes, ostensibly as an act of solidarity with the Reformation (LeRoy Ladurie 1974, 127-28). Massenx's break with traditional behavior may or may not have been socially beneficial. Certainly, it was consistent with the accumulation of capital. Yet we get no indication that Massenx was necessarily more efficient in using the means of production in producing commodities— only that he was better able to profit from market conditions.

"Men of small beginnings," the later counterparts of Massenx, appear to have formed the core of the emergent capitalist class (Hammond and Hammond 1819, 2-3; see also Hilton 1978; Moore 1966, 9-11). Others, such as Massenx's neighbors who forfeited their property in default of their debts, formed the proletariat.

Smith looked on the energy and enterprise of such successful people with favor. Indeed, they contrasted sharply with the decadent nobility whom he despised. His emphasis on the role of "stock" paralleled Lenin's insistence that success was not the result of personal virtue; it was a consequence of the possession of capital (Lenin 1974).

For Lenin, the Russian victims of the indigenous Massenxes of his day would have no other way to turn but to the Communist Party. The faster the process proceeded, the sooner the messy work of revolution would be completed. Implicit in this analysis is the idea that exactions imposed by earlier economic formations furthered capitalist development (see Brenner 1977; Banaji 1977). As Lenin (1974, 199; see also Marx 1977, 875) observed, "Life creates forms that unite in themselves with remarkable gradualness systems of economy whose basic features constitute opposite."

Lenin's Partial Recantation of Smith

Obviously, Lenin would have taken exception to this characterization of his work as Smithian. Even today, at times, Smithian is used as a rather harsh pejorative among people on the Left. For example, Robert Brenner (1977) flings the accusation at such influential theorists as Andre Gunder Frank, Emmanuel Wallerstein, and even Paul Sweezy. Surprisingly, Brenner (1977, 76-77) then himself sounds a Smithian note by asserting that the "original pressure" for the breakdown of feudalism came from the increased demand for English cloth.

This use of the expression, "Smithian," reflects Smith's attempt to advocate capitalist society without acknowledging the existence of the means that were historically necessary to create it. That position was essential, not so much as a practical plan, but to build support for his ideological justification of capital. After all, by the time Smith was writing, British agricultural society had already been formed, for the most part, in conformity with the needs of capital. Thus, England appeared to be well ordered.

In contrast, parts of Scotland still remained inadequately integrated into a more general social division of labor. Even so, for Smith, the standard of living of the Highlanders seemed to be low enough that they, too, could soon be absorbed into the social labor process through the workings of the marketplace. Thus, artificially created poverty did not appear to be necessary.

Smith's nemesis, Steuart, was less concerned with ideology. For him, too much work remained undone. The world still stood in want of statesmen to carry out statesmen-like business, such as the clearing of the estates. The pace of Smithian development was too slow for him. Wakefield intended to develop this approach on a global scale. With Lenin, the outcome of the process would reach a much more advanced stage— world revolution.

Lenin, to his sorrow, soon learned the limits of his Smithian ideology. Although Smithianism may have been useful in his ideological struggle against the Narodniks, capitalism had not proceeded as far as he had thought.

Consequently, Lenin turned to the market to help create the appropriate social conditions to establish socialism. The New Economic Policy was a masterpiece of practical finesse that contained a goodly number of theoretical ironies. Market relations were to be marshaled to build socialist relations. Concessions to individual incentives were to become the road toward constructing a broader basis of cooperation (on this, see Bettelheim 1976).

At this time, Lenin's use of the market was more akin to Steuart than Smith. Smithian theories gave way to the statesman-like actions implicit in Steuart. Lenin came to the Steuart-like recognition that "our task is to organize commodity production" (Lenin 1921b, 95-96; cited in Bettelheim 1976, 484) and to "establish proper relations between" the working class and the peasantry (Lenin 1921a, 404).

Stalin and Mao

As Steuart had observed long ago, people had to glean before they could reap (see chapter 7). Accordingly, the Soviets constructed the New Economic Policy to foster growth within the peasant sector as a basis for future socialist development (Lenin 1921a, 355).

After Joseph Stalin took over the reigns of power, the imagery of Steuart continued to echo in the Party deliberations. Stalin (1928, 169) called for a shift in policy relative to "the bond between town and country, between the working class and the main mass of the peasantry." He emphasized the role of producers' goods delivered to the peasantry rather than the consumer goods, as Steuart had done. Accordingly, he recommended a "bond . . . based not only on textiles, but also metals" (ibid., 170).

Stalin's (ibid.) bond, unlike Steuart's, was intended "not to preserve classes but to abolish them." His program of collectivism, therefore, was ironically justified in terms of cementing the bond between the town and the country (Stalin 1929, 60-72). Ultimately, the Russian countryside was also cleared of many "superfluous mouths" (Steuart 1767, 1:58, 198).

Like the Soviets, Mao Tse-Tung expressed a desire to establish "relations of production and exchange in accordance with socialist principles." Accordingly, he continued, "more and more appropriate forms are being sought" (Mao 1956, 294). China, however, had learned much from the mistakes of the Stalin era, but not enough (see Mao 1955a, 221; 1956, 291).

Unlike Stalin, Mao believed that the proper arrangements could not be created by fiat. Fiat, unfortunately, can become habitual. Yet, Mao's successors, sounding like almost plagiarists of Steuart, proposed an almost entirely economic program to "link the interests of the state, collective, and individual directly so that every person in an enterprise takes it as a matter of his own material interests to be concerned about fulfilling the state plan and about what results the enterprise management achieves" (Hu Chiao-mu 1978, pt. 2, 21; emphasis added).

Mao (1955b, 260), in contrast, stressed the importance of "political work as the lifeblood of economic work." Mao, thus, stood for the substitution of the visible bond of politics for the invisible hand of Smith (see Wheelwright and McFarlane 1970, 122).

In this sense, Mao's vision may nonetheless properly be called Smithian. In spite of the best precautions, he recognized that "the spontaneous forces of capitalism have been steadily growing in the countryside" (Mao 1955a, 201). The antidote for these Smithian forces of reaction was a patient "Smithian" program of socialist development. Mao insisted that economic calculations be performed on a long-term basis (1945, 75; 1947, 124). He also shared Smith's idea of a largely rural, agriculturally led development that would eventually produce the highest possible level of industrialization. Like Smith, he favored agriculture (Mao 1956, 286).

The most crucial parallel between Smith and Mao concerns their attitudes toward people. Smith, shorn of his ideology, represented a statement of confidence in the abilities of the emergent capitalist class to bring about a progressive development of society. Mao's theoretical work, too, was a vigorous affirmation of the abilities of the great masses to lift society to heights previously unknown, if only they were allowed an appropriate environment in which their abilities could flourish.

Such sentiments accurately echoed Marx's vision. Indeed, Marx's socialism may be said to be the proper heir to the best of classical political economy in this regard.

The Case of W. Arthur Lewis

The categories of political economy, such as primitive accumulation, shape its vision; they also define its blind spots. To give a fairly recent instance, one of the great failures of modern development economics has been its long neglect of food production.

The tone for much of the current work in development economics was set by W. Arthur Lewis, beginning with his classic 1954 article, "Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour." Lewis declared himself to be in the tradition of classical political economy. Indeed, although Lewis's article was not entirely faithful to the letter of classical political economy (see Darity and Hurt 1981), it did reflect the spirit of that literature.

Lewis attempted to understand how the seemingly unlimited supply of nonwage labor could be tapped. He even rehabilitated the categories of productive and unproductive labor in arguing for the necessity of squeezing the peasant producers (Lewis 1958, 8).

Lewis was not entirely candid. Like the classical political economists, he noted that:

the wage level in the capitalist sector depends upon earnings in the subsistence sector. . . . This is one of the worst features of imperialism . . . ; it is to their [the imperialists'] advantage to keep wages low, and even in those cases where they do not actually go out of their way to impoverish the subsistence sector, they will at least very seldom do anything to make it more productive. In actual fact, the record of every imperial power in Africa in modern times is one of impoverishing the subsistence economy. (Lewis 1954, 149)

Lewis interpreted primitive accumulation to be an important feature of imperialism, especially in Africa, but it had nothing to do with the market. In fact, Lewis advocated a vision of economic development in which the subsistence sector would disappear as quickly as possible so that market forces could rescue people in the colonial lands.

In describing how owners of plantations forced workers off the lands, Lewis (ibid., 149) even appealed to the authority of Marx. Why, then, should the conflict between capitalists and those who engage in selfprovisioning be limited to colonies? Was Lewis pointing to a racial or ethnic bias as the root cause of poverty in the colonies? He was silent in this regard.

Lewis saw no conflict between the goals of the classical political economists and the welfare of people in the subsistence sector. On the contrary, he counseled underdeveloped countries to follow the advice of classical political economy: increase savings and investment so that capitalist employers can hire the excess agricultural labor that leaves the countryside. The interests of capital and labor are apparently supposed to be united.

Classical political economy ostensibly took a similar position. With Smith, all evils are laid at the feet of mercantilist practice: capitalism was the source of salvation. Yet hidden within the works of classical political economy was the uncomfortable truth that capital would profit by attacking the ability of people to provide for themselves.

Thus, Lewis was true to the tradition of classical political economy in lauding laissez-faire theory without openly discussing the interventionist practices that accompanied it. Those who followed Lewis without fully understanding the classical policies fell into a grave error.

The classical economists were always mindful of the importance of food price policy. Lewis's followers, who listened only to his lectures on the beneficial effects of capital, ignored that aspect of classical political economy. The case of Lewis again shows that a proper reading of the classics may have significant practical implications. The effects of Lewis's policies have been disastrous for agriculture in the less developed countries.
Conclusion The conclusions reached in this book should be obvious by now. First and foremost, this book was intended to show that primitive accumulation was a crucial force in the process of capitalist development— not just during a precapitalist past or even some imagined moment when feudal society suddenly became capitalist. Rather, primitive accumulation played a continuing role as part of capitalist development.

In addition, I attempted to demonstrate that primitive accumulation has been shown to be a theoretical category that is especially valuable in analyzing the accumulation of capital in general. The category of primitive accumulation is central to understanding the evolution of the social division of labor.

This book reveals that the classical political economists' purported adherence to the values of laissez-faire was thin indeed.

In fact, classical political economy and primitive accumulation are inextricably entwined. True, the seeds of capitalism had been planted long before the age of classical political economy, but never before and nowhere else had the process of capital accumulation been so intense. The classical political economists took a keen interest in promoting primitive accumulation as a means of fostering capitalist development, but then concealed that part of their vision in writing about economic theory. By calling attention to the role of primitive accumulation in classical political economy, this book points to the need to revise the traditional reading of classical political economy. Within this context, Adam Smith becomes less original. His significance emanates from his ideological vigor in advocating laissez-faire and his eventual success in obfuscating all information that might cast doubt on his ideology.

Others, such as Wakefield and Rae, took a substantially more realistic view about the nature of accumulation, although later economists cast their analysis aside to create the impression of a humanitarian heritage of political economy. Judging from the literature of the history of economic thought, this revision of history has succeeded mightily. The Invention of Capitalism represents a plea to correct this legacy of error and omission.

Rather than discuss these results in more detail here, or even summarize them once again, I would prefer to direct our attention to an unmentioned theme of this book that deserves further study. In calling for the acceleration of primitive accumulation, classical political economy displayed a keen sense of the underlying forces of capital accumulation. Given the social relations of production, the small-scale producer represented an unmistakable barrier to the advance of capital.

In fact, the classical political economists realized that self-provisioning did not have to be restricted on account of its failure, but rather because of its success. Even while the Industrial Revolution was proving its enormous potential, small-scale producers displayed a remarkable tenacity. True, in many cases, they held on only by lowering their standard of living, yet that factor was not always a primary cause of their ability to continue. Small-scale production has its own economies, its own efficiencies. In the long run, they may not be equal to those of modern, capital-intensive production, but where capital is scarce, such technologies are particularly competitive.

The lessons that can be drawn from the classical political economists' analysis of small-scale production may be especially useful for poor, emergent socialist states. Such societies may do well to adopt a transitional program that relies heavily on the potential of technologies similar to those used by the traditional household sector. Obviously, in working out this sort of program, classical political economy did not provide a blueprint, but, then, neither did Marx. Although classical political economy was originally written to aid capital in the exploitation of labor, it may, nonetheless, prove to be a crucial source of inspiration. Perhaps one of the by-products of this book will be to rekindle an interest in this aspect of classical political economy.
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Re: The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy

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Re: The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy

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Absenteeism, 119

Achenwall, Gottfried, 274

Adams, John, 270

Adams, John Quincy, 327

Australia: emigration to, 44, 325-30

Bacon, Francis, 213

Bagehot, Walter, 227, 277

Bancroft, George, 246

Barter, 41, 213-14, 224-25

Barton, John, 301

Bellers, John, 46, 283-84

Bentham, Jeremy, 20-22, 193-94, 199, 237,
245, 281-82; Panopticon of, 21, 245; on
prison labor, 21-22

Berkeley, George, 19, 313
Big push, 153

Biological resources: in primitive accumula-
tion, 65

Black Acts, 43, 51

Blackstone, William, 46, 53

Board of Agriculture, 98, 108, 166, 321-22

Bohm-Bawerk, Eugen von, 101, 103, 339-40,
345, 35 1; and John Rae, 339

Botanical exploration, 64

Bourgeoisie, 14-15, 18, 31, 45, 50, 51-52, 57,
91, 103, 121-22, 133, 187, 195, 197, 199-
202, 205-6, 208, 217, 348, 358

Brockway, Lucille, 64

Buchan, earl of, 170

Canada, 264, 323-24, 340-49; English claim
to, 264; primitive accumulation in, 340,

Cantillon, Richard, 9, 18, 124, 129, 130, 131,
133, 136 , 145, 288 ; influence on Steuart,
146; political economy, contributions to,

Charles II, 163, 197

Chartists, 284-85

Child, Josiah, 175, 261

Child labor, 10, 18, 22, 26, 60, 73, 76, 99,
108, 112, 129, 148, 153, 154, 156, 167, 224,
275, 281, 286, 287, 306, 317, 331, 355, 360;
in Scotland, 28 1; Steuart on, 153-54, 156,

China, 65, 116, 117, 118, 206, 316, 346, 347,

Class relations, 39; Franklin on, 271

Class struggle, 44, 116

Coalmining, 144, 199; slave labor in, 250

Cobbett, William, 40, 46, 51, 52, 54, 99

Collectivism, 149, 366

Colonics: agriculture in, 219, 230-40, 246,
248, 260-70, 272, 274-75, 315-16, 325,
328, 330, 333, 338, 360; labor migration
to, 248, 328, 360; as raw material sup-
pliers, 64-65, 230, 232, 233, 234, 237,
238, 261, 269, 270, 316. See also North

Colonization: systematic, 330; Wakefield's
interpretation of, 10, 29, 248, 252, 267,

Colquhoun, Patrick, 23, 77

Comparative advantage, 295

Consumption: conspicuous, 340

Corn Laws, 49, 64, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298,
299, 300, 301, 302, 303, 308, 312. See also
Industrial labor; Malthus, Thomas Robert:
advocacy of Corn Laws; Ricardo, David: on
Corn Laws; Senior, Nassau William: on
Corn Laws; Surplus value

Corporations: Adam Smith on, 217

Cotton industry, 71, 283

Cotton production, 249, 298

Curwin, John Christian, 52

Dale, David, 281

Defoe, Daniel: on aristocracy, 213; on child
labor, 19; on Scotland, 40, 139, 144, 262

Development of capitalism in Russia (Lenin),

Economic development: Smith on, 9, 26,
143, 219-20, 234, 238, 241, 272, 343; state
role in, 26, 155, 166, 219, 241, 272, 350;
Steuart on, 9, 15 1, 157, 166, 219, 241, 278

Emigration, 142, 196, 262, 269, 313, 316,
319-20, 323, 327-30, 332

Enclosures, 13-14, 57, 94, 98, 109, 118, 134,
142, 289, 342

Engels, Friedrich, 25, 27, 28, 38, 39, 54, 57,
59, 60, 62, 70, 72, 75, 105, 113-17, 121-22,
126, 170, 217, 284-85, 326, 358, 361

Farming, small-scale, 2-4, n, 34, 53, 104,
108-10, 112, 116-17, 133, 156, 177, 184-
86, 199, 296-304, 311, 319

Feudalism, 37-38, 49, 150, 182, 201, 358, 364

Flanders, 114, 298, 342

France, 17, 18, 28, 45, 47, 57, 95, 102, 105,
128-29, 131-32, 136, 145, 147, 167-69,
263, 297-98, 300, 311, 316; agriculture in,
95, 105, 128, 131, 136, 147, 167, 168, 298,
300, 311; peasantry in, 17, 47, 54, 95, 131-
32, 134, 168-69, 300, 329, 363; self-
sufficiency in, 105

Franklin, Benjamin: accumulation theory of,
272, 274, 277, 279; as authority on colonial
affairs, 243; on class relations, 271; Hume
on, 258-59; influence on Malthus, 263; on
Irish poverty, 261-63; on luxury, 141, 272,
273, 279; on manufacturing, 260, 264-71,
275, 278; on Native Americans, 254-55,
258, 275-77; and political economy, 254-
57; on slavery, 265-67

Free enterprise: and slavery, 247

Game laws, 5, 37-59, 121, 181, 250, 298, 331;
Black Acts, 43, 51; convictions under, 40,
44; feudalistic aspects of, 5, 37-40,43-45,
49-50, 54-55; primitive accumulation and,
5, 37-38, 40, 45-46, 52, 59, 121, 181; prop-
erty rights and, 39, 45, 5 2; reform of, 44, 52-
53; Smith on, 49-56, 59, 121, 181, 250

Germany, 38, 64, 113-16, 285, 361

Gilmore, Alexander, 250

Gorky, Maxim, 356

Gourlay, Robert, 10, 107, 321-25, 340, 351

Hamilton, Archibald, 170

Fiegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 124, 170

Helper, Hinton, 358

Hobbes, Thomas, 96, 196, 254, 329

Household production, 59, 73, 78, 80-83, 85,
88-92, 96, 104-5, 107, 115-16, 128, 135,
155, 335, 362.

Hume, David, 92, 102, 136, 146, 148-49, 153,
155, 160-63, 175, 181, 187, 189, 197, 202,
207, 232-33, 258, 259, 261, 313

Hutcheson, Francis, 16, 19, 23, 150, 220

Hutchison, Terrence, 137, 173

Indentured servitude, 240, 246, 248, 265,
266, 281

Industrial labor, 93, 295, 301, 360

Inequality, 190, 191, 209, 216, 217

Ireland, 100, 107, 122, 126, 128-29, 145, 191,
233, 249, 261-62, 263, 283, 299, 303-10,
313-14, 316-20, 330, 335, 349; agriculture
in, 128, 261, 283, 299, 303-4, 309, 315,
318, 319; and emigration, 3 1 9; as England's
agricultural rival, 307; food prices in, 303;
Franklin on, 261-63; Malthus on, 313-15;
poverty in, 93, 122, 127, 191, 249, 262, 307,
309-10, 315, 319, 339; primitive accumu-
lation in, 17, 83, 93, 100, 107, 122, 126,
127, 129, 303, 304, 306, 308, 309, 310, 313,
314, 315, 317, 318, 320, 335, 349; resis-
tance to capital in, 93, 107, 307, 327, 33O;
Ricardo on, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308,
310, 313, 316, 336; self-sufficiency in, 107,
303, 330; Smith on, 17, 100, 126, 127, 191,
233, 241, 249, 251, 261, 262, 263; wage la-
bor in, 93, 107, 127, 249, 261, 306, 308,
319, 327, 330, 335, 336; Wakefield on,

Japan, 16, 100, 116, 236

Jefferson, Thomas, 57, 229, 243, 270, 271

Johnson, Samuel, 40, 41, 65, 88, 139, 141,
142, 202, 301

Jones, Richard, 144, 167

Journals, Conversations, and Essays Relat-
ing to Ireland (Senior), 317-20

Kautsky, Karl, 17, 46, 54, 73, 297, 362, 363

Labor markets, 114, 229, 250, 301, 312, 330;
in North American colonies, 229-30

Landholding restrictions, 97, 188, 209, 239,
2-55, 309, 316, 327, 330

Land reform, 283-85, 317

Lectures on Jurisprudence (Smith), 97, 188,
209, 239, 255

Leisure, 16-17, 23, 41, 55, 76, 156, 185, 203,
210, 245, 249, 306, 313, 318, 339

Lenin, Vladimir I., 10, 60, 114, 116, 337, 352,
353, 354, 355, 356, 358, 359, 360, 361, 362,
363, 364, 365; on capitalist development,
10, 352-59, 361, 364; Narodniks, 355-56,
358; revolutionary Smithianism of, 352; on
slavery, 358-59; on social division of labor,
353, 358, 364

Leslie, Cliff, 247

Lewis, W. Arthur, 149, 179, 367

List, Friedrich, 64, 242, 336

Locke, John, 19, 175, 209, 223, 254, 329

Longfield, Montifort, 100, 104, 221

Lowe, Joseph, 61, 63

Lowell, Francis Cabot, 282

Luxuries, 85-88, 140-41, 154, 161-62, 181,
202, 209-11, 215, 219, 236, 250, 272-73,
279, 293, 294, 299, 300, 306, 308, 311, 313,
314, 333; Franklin on, 141, 272, 273, 279;
leisure vs. desire for, 210, 313; Smith on,
140-41, 162, 209-10, 250, 293

Madison, James, 57, 243, 270, 271, 275

Malthus, Thomas Robert, 10, 147, 175, 263,
300, 304, 310, 312, 314, 329; advocacy of
Corn Laws, 300-301, 304, 312; on Frank-
lin, 263; on Ireland, 313-15

Mandeville, Bernard, 209, 211, 220-21

Manufacturing: Franklin on, 260, 264-71, 275

Mao Tse-Tung, 10, 131, 365-66

Market dependence, 31, 34, 70, 76, 107, 153,
163, 233

Market gardening, 96, 297

Market relations, 29, 34, 59, 70, 76, 97, 103,
131, 166, 183, 200, 221, 289, 317, 329, 365

Marshall, Alfred, 68, 79, 80, 122, 297
Marx, Karl, 1-3, 6, 9, 13-15, 17, 18, 19, 23-
34, 36, 37, 38, 54, 57, 58, 59, 60, 6i, 62, 63,
66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77,
78, 80, 84, 86, 89, 90, 98, 99, 100, 102, 105,
109, no, 114, 116, 117, 118, 119, 125, 126,
131, 139, 142, 143, 144, 148, 155, 165, 166,
169, 170, 196, 212, 217, 218, 224, 225, 227,
242, 246, 247, 249, 252, 253, 280, 282, 283,
285, 299, 301, 308, 327, 328, 329, 333, 334,
338, 352, 353, 359, 360, 362, 364, 3^7; on
agriculture, 1 17; on household production,
73; on Scottish depopulation, 142-43, 320;
on Steuart, 144; on Wakefield, 29, 334

McCulloch, John Ramsay, 64, 100-101, 249,
261, 263, 290, 293, 309, 310, 315, 327, 332,
335, 342-43; on agricultural production,
309-10; on Irish poverty, 309-10; on land
ownership, 310; on profit and wages, 100-
ioi; on self-sufficiency, 343

Mechanization, 114

Merivale, Herman, 326-37, 331

Mill, John Stuart, 177, 184, 317, 333, 339

Miners: slavery of, 120, 249, 250

Mirabeau, Marquis dc, 95, 131, 133, 134, 136,
145, 150, 223, 270, 334

Narodniks, 355-56, 358, 365

Native Americans, 209, 254-55, 258, 275-77

New Economic Policy, 365

New Lanark, 282

Non-wage labor, 35, 74

North America, 219, 229-30, 233, 239, 241,
252-57, 260-66, 271, 326, 328, 334, 343,
348; agriculture in, 219, 230, 239, 260-61,
264, 328, 343, 348; economic development
of, 219, 241, 257, 260, 343; labor markets
in, 229; land availability in, 229, 230, 239,
262, 264, 271; self-sufficiency in, 256, 343,
348; slavery in, 239, 254, 264, 266, 326,
328; wage labor in, 219, 233, 241, 252, 257,
326; Wakefield on, 326, 328, 334. See also

Oastler, Richard, 280

Observations Concerning the Increase of

Mankind (Franklin), 257

O'Conner, Michael, 327

O'Connor, Feargus, 95, 241-42, 284, 285
On the So-Called Market Question (Lenin),

Owen, Robert, 24, 93, 280-89, 294, 302, 311,
315-16, 322, 339

Owenites, 286

Ownership: of land, 35, 43, 47, 103, 113, 222,
262, 283, 310; of means of production, 35

Panopticon, 21, 245

Peasants, 4, 13-14, 16-17, 34, 47, 54, 58, 71,
92, 95, 98-99, 100-101, 107, 109-10, 114,
116, 118, 121, 126-27, 131-32, 134, 142,
148, 160, 168-69, l8 6, 218, 280, 285, 295,
299-300, 307, 310, 329, 332, 335-36, 339,
353, 354, 355, 356, 358-63, 365, 367; and
commodity production, 285, 358, 365;
French, 17, 47, 54, 95, 131-32, 134, 168,
300, 329, 363; primitive accumulation of,
4, 13-14, 17, 34, 58, 71, 92, 100, 107, 109-
10, 118, 121, 126-27, 131, 142, 168, 169,
295, 310, 335, 358, 361, 362, 363, 367; Rus-
sian, 116, 353, 355, 356, 358, 359, 360, 361,
362; Scottish, 142, 160, 354

Peel, Robert, 54, 176, 327

Pennant, Thomas, 40-42, 143

Petty, William, 1, 9, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128,
129, 130, 138, 175, 187, 194, 197, 199, 200,
201, 202, 203, 205, 206, 208, 217, 229, 255,
302, 317

Physiocrats, 9, 95, 124, 130, 132, 133, 134,
136, 137, 138, 147, 148, 149, 157, 182, 183,
230, 243, 269

Pollard, Sidney, 15, 93, 156, 172, 252, 280,
281, 307, 330, 336

Poor Laws, 83, 164, 252, 277, 281, 286-87,

Population growth, 225, 257, 295, 308, 315;
Malthus on, 315

Poverty, 15, 23, 60, 93, 98, 101, 102, 114, 121,
122, 123, 124, 127, 143, 151, 155, 191, 206-
7, 215-16, 249, 262,268,271, 277, 301, 307,
309, 310, 315, 322, 326, 332, 346, 347, 350,
361, 365, 367; capitalist development and,
361; classical political economy on, 121-
22; exploitation and, 114, 361; in Ireland,
93, 122, 127, 191, 249, 262, 307, 309-10,
315; Raeon, 346-57, 350; in Russia, 361;
Smith on, 23, 121, 124, 127, 143, 155, 191,
206, 207, 215, 216, 249, 262, 268, 277, 365

Price, Richard, 257-58, 272

Primitive accumulation, 1-6, 9-18, 23-34,
36-38, 40-41, 45-46, 52, 58-59, 65, 70-72,
74, 80, 83, 88, 90-94, 100-10, 112, 115,
118-22, 126-27, 129, 131, 138-39, 141-43,
149, 151-52, 157-58, 163, 168-71, 173-74,
177-78, 181, 196, 208-12, 217, 220, 223-
24, 226-27, 229, 237, 239, 242, 256, 274,
295, 297, 301, 303-4, 306, 308-18, 320,
322, 335, 340, 348-52, 358, 361-64, 367; of
biological resources, 65; capital accumula-
tion and, 2, 12, 80, 83, 90, 157, 163, 170,
181, 358, 362; classical theory of, 36, 122,
158, 211, 212, 301, 306, 311, 318, 335, 361;
division of labor and, 2, 9; game laws and,
5, 37, 38, 40, 45, 46, 52, 59, 121, 181; house-
hold production in, 59, 80, 83, 88, 90-92,
104, 107, 115, 335, 362; labor force and, 15,
46, 92, 108, 109, 226, 335; Marx on, 1-3, 6,
9, 13-15, 17-18,23-38, 58-59, 70-72, 74,
80, 90, 100, 102, 109-10, 118-19, 126, 131,
139, 142-43, 169-70, 196, 212, 217, 224,
227, 242, 301, 308, 352, 362, 367; model of,
3, 36, 41, 90, 92, 103, 106-7, 109-10, 115,
274, 312; moral value of, 348; ongoing na-
ture of, 3 1 ; origin of term, 2 5 ; peasant econ-
omy and, 34, 363; pre-Marxian concepts of,
92; Raeon, 340, 348, 349, 350, 351; Smith
on, 3, 9, 11, 17, 23, 25-26, 28, 41, 52, 59, 65,
90, 103, 106, 115, 119, 121, 126, 127, 138,
139, 141, 143, 157, 158, 163, 164, 170, 171,
173, 174, 177, 178, 181, 196, 208, 209, 211,
212, 217, 220, 223, 224, 226, 227, 229, 237,
239, 242, 256, 352, 358, 362; Steuart on, 9,
91, 102, 106, 139, 141-43, 149, 151-52,
157, 158, 163-64, 168-70, 173, 177, 178,
217, 242, 313, 350, 358, 36 1; in urban so-
ciety, 34, 83, 104; Wakefield on, 10,29,
217, 227, 335, 340, 351

Proletariat, 32-33, 36, 93, 100, 129, 282, 359,
360, 364

Property rights, 13, 39, 45, 52, 141, 188, 262;
game laws and, 39, 45,52

Race: poverty and, 346, 347

Rae, John, 8, 10, 41, 72, 74, 124, 339-51; on
capital, 74, 340-45, 349-51; Gourlay on,
340; on poverty and race, 346-47; on prim-
itive accumulation, 41, 72, 74, 340, 348,
349, 350, 3 5 1; on self-sufficiency, 72, 343,
348; Senior on, 350-51; on social division
of labor, 72, 74, 343, 349

Ravenstone, Piercy, 135, 233

Reciprocal wants, 154

Ricardo, David, 1, 7, 8, 10, 19, 100, 135, 170,
280-81, 285-95, 300-13, 316, 324, 336; on
agricultural technology, 135, 287; com-
parative advantage theory of, 295; on Corn
Laws, 294, 295, 300-303, 308, 312; on Ire-
land, 100, 303-8, 310, 313, 316; and Owen,
286-88, 302, 316; on small-scale agricul-
ture, 300-304

Robertson, William, 97, 174, 202, 254

Rodbertus, Carl, 62, 63, 103, 118, 227

Roman Empire, 149-50

Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 149-50, 221, 318

Ruskin, John, 5 7

Russia: bourgeoisie in, 358-59; industrial la-
bor force in, 360; peasantry in, 356, 359,
362; poverty in, 361

Say, Jean-Baptiste, 19, 74, 125, 164, 229, 242,

Scotland: depopulation, 143, 226; economic
dependence of, 107, 233, 234; emigration
from, 142, 262, 320, 323; hunting vs. wage
labor in, 40, 42, 57, 139, 181, 234; industry
in, 280-81; landlords in, 141-42; peasantry
in, 142, 160, 280, 354; primitive accumula-
tion in, 40, 41, 97, 139, 141-43, 152, 157,
173-74, 178, 181, 212, 226, 320, 322, 348,
349; slavery in, 150, 155,202, 249-51,266

Senior, Nassau William, 76, 80, 119, 125, 252,
288, 307, 317, 329, 332, 350; categories of
abstinence of, 125; on Corn Laws, 64, 297;
emigration advocacy of, 329, 332; on indi-
rect labor, 101; on the Irish, 307, 318; on
primitive accumulation, 318; on Rac, 350-
51; on Wakefield, 252, 329, 332, 351

Serfdom, 16, 78, 247, 358

Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy in
Three Books (Hutcheson), 16

Shropshire, 98

Skilled workers: emigration of, 196, 328

Slavery, 19, 23, 78, 103, in, 120, 149-51,
155, 164, 199, 202, 214, 218, 227, 239-40,
246-51, 254, 264-67, 270, 325-32, 358-
59; cotton production and, 246-47, 249,
326, 358; Franklin on, 246, 254, 264-67,
270, 332; free enterprise and, 247; Lenin
on, 358-59; "natural" vs. enforced, 329-
32; in North America, in, 120, 239-40,
246-49, 251, 254, 264-67, 270, 325-30,
332; of Scottish miners, 249-50; Smith on,
23, 78, 103, 164, 199, 202, 214, 218, 227,
239, 240, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 25 1, 254,
264, 265, 266, 267, 329, 358, 359; Steuart
on, 149-51, 155, 164, 202, 214, 218, 251,
326, 329-30, 358; tobacco trade and, 251,
266, 358; Wakefield on, 227, 248, 267, 325-
32, 359

Smith, Adam, 1, 8, 9, 16, 49, 55-56, 59, 62,
65, 90, 103, 105, 116-17, 121, 137, 140,
146, 154, 157, 158, 162-67, 170-73, 175-
76, 178, 185, 187, 191, 193, 196-98, 200-
203, 205, 210, 212-17, 219-34, 237-38,
241-45, 247, 250-52, 255, 258-60, 293,
300, 321, 329, 341; on agricultural work-
ers, 211; on agriculture, 16, 55, 65, 105,
117, 137, 146, 162, 166-67, 202, 212, 217,
219, 221, 230, 232, 234, 238, 300, 321; divi-
sion of labor theory and, 9, 25, 55, 59, 62,
65, 90, 154, 163-64, 167, 171, 185, 212-13,
215, 217, 219-21, 224, 232, 234, 242, 245,
258, 269, 300; eclipse of, 251; economic de-
velopment theory of, 219; on feudalism,
49, 55, 103, 198, 200-201, 229; and Frank-
lin, 243, 255, 258, 269; on free trade, 232,
234; on game laws, 49, 55, 56, 59, 121, 250;
on Ireland, 191; Lenin contrasted with,
352; on luxury, 215, 300; and North Amer-
ican reception of Smithian theory, 241; and
practical rejection of Smithian theory, 245;
on primitive accumulation, 59, 65, 90, 103,
121, 157, 158, 163, 164, 170-71, 173, 178,
196, 229, 237, 242; psychological analysis
of wealth by, 215; on Scotland, 117, 139-
41, 143, 155, 160, 173, 178, 181, 197, 201-
2, 207, 212, 226, 233, 249-50, 262, 266,
280, 321, 354, 364; on slavery, 23, 78, 103,
155, 164, 199, 202, 214, 218, 227, 239-40,
246-51, 254, 264-67, 329, 358-59

Smith, Captain John, 241

Smith, J. Russell, 119

Smith, Sydney, 52

Social division of labor, 3-6, 9-10, 19, 35-37,
59-63, 65-74, 81-84, 90-92, 101, 126-28,
133, 138, 147, 153-54, 159, 163-64, 167,
188, 212, 213, 215, 217-22, 224, 226-28,
235, 242, 245, 258, 263, 275, 283-85, 300,
325-26, 343, 349, 353, 358, 364; agricul-
ture and, 4-5, 65, 72, 83, 128, 133, 147,
167, 212, 217-19, 221, 235, 283, 284, 300,
336, 343, 358, 364

Sparta, 141, 149-50, 161

Spence, Thomas, 23-24, 283, 285

Stalin, Joseph, 365-66

Standard of living, 17, 82, 86, 87, 100, 314,
315, 330, 339, 354, 362-64

Steuart, James, 8, 9, 42, 54, 55, 76, 91, 105-6,
139, 141-70, 173, 176-79, 184, 188, 202,
213-14, 217-19, 221, 232-34, 241-45,
251-52, 257, 277-81, 283-84, 313, 316,
323-24, 326, 329, 330, 333, 336-37, 350,
354, 358, 361, 365-66; economic develop-
ment and, 9, 143, 151, 155, 157, 160, 166,
179, 219, 234, 241, 257, 278, 350; eco-
nomic theory and, 156, 158, 242, 244, 251,
329; Franklin and, 141-42, 243, 257, 277-
79; Hamilton and, 170, 243-45; Hegel, in-
fluence on, 170; on household production,
91, 105, 155; intellectual roots of, 145;
Madison, influence on, 243

Stewart, Dugald, 112-13, 138, 146, 165, 168,
170, 172, 174, 212, 220, 278

Stock accumulation, 25, 221

Superfluous hands, 148-49

Surplus value, 15, 29, 38, 66-67, 85-91, 94,
104-5, 107, 113, 123, 136, 155, 158, 227,
267, 301-2, 313

Swift, Jonathan, 129, 307

System of Moral Philosophy (Hutcheson), 16

Temin, Peter, 336

Temple, William, 19, 92, 97, 102

Theory of Moral Sentiments (Smith), 154,
175, 179-80, 203, 214-17, 367

Thirsk, Joan, 13, 17, 173, 174, 184, 297

Thomas, Gabriel, 240

Tobacco trade, 251,266

Tocqueville, Alexis de, 131, 137, 207, 208,
236, 254

Torrens, Robert, 286, 299, 315-17, 335; as
imperialist theory, 316-17; on Owen,
286, 316; on terms of trade in agriculture,

Townsend, Joseph, 18, 52, 97, 102, 163, 164,

Travels in Prance (Young), 105, 166

Treatise on Commerce (Wheeler), 213

Tucker, Josiah, 16, 109, 175, 232-34, 260

Turgot, M., 124, 149, 222, 257, 343

Unemployment: emigration and, 316

Unproductive labor, 77, 79, 180, 182-83,
213, 241, 291, 367

Use value, 62, 337, 363

Wakefield, Daniel, 165

Wakefield, Edward Gibbon, 8, 10, 29, 165,
217, 225, 227, 248, 252, 267, 323, 331-40,
351, 355, 359, 365; on colonization, 10, 29,
248, 252, 267, 325-30, 332-34, 337-38; on
Gourlay, 324; importance of, 8, 325, 334,
339; on Irish peasantry, 335-36; Marx on,
165, 227; Mill, influence on, 333; on North
American colonies, 326-29; Senior on, 329

Walpole, Horace, 45

Waltham Black Acts, 43, 51

Wealth of Nations (Smith), 165, 172, 238

Webster, Daniel, 327

Wheeler, John, 213

Working class, 12-13, I 7, 23-24, 30, 33, 73-
74, 76-77, 79-84, 86-87, 89, 91-92, 106,
124, 156, 185, 188-91, 193, 195, 200-201,
252, 280, 287-88, 308-9, 314, 329, 331-32,
347, 349, 365

Working day, 18, 23, 31, 85-88, 104, 133,
211, 301, 362

Young, Arthur, 45, 98, 105, 107, 113, 166,
175, 218, 312, 321-22
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