Michael Lebowitz: Primitive accumulation versus contested reproduction (video)
By Michael A. Lebowitz, Ljubljana
May 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- If we don't understand a system as it is fully developed [its "being"] and thus its critical characteristics, we cannot investigate the "becoming" of those characteristics.
This is why Marx discussed primitive (or original) accumulation of capital only at the end of volume 1 of Capital. Exclusive focus upon the emergence of the new elements, however, is not real history. "Becoming" is two sided: it is both a coming into being and a passing away. The concept of primitive accumulation explores only the former; it considers the new being born but not the old struggling to remain alive. It is, in short, one-sided. Not only does it fail to explore on its own the struggle of the old for its reproduction but it also does not consider the interaction, the morbid symptoms and dysfunction when two sets of productive relations are engaged in contested reproduction with respect to their control of the elements of production.
What is lost? The centrality of class struggle -- the struggle of two sides and the conditions thereby in which history is made. The paper considers various historical phenomena using the concept of contested reproduction.
[Michael A. Lebowitz is professor emeritus of economics of Simon Fraser University in Canada and author of The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development (2010) and Contradictions of "Real Socialism": The Conductor and the Conducted (2012).]