If memory serves David Graeber referred to the work of Jairus Banaji in several of his responses to criticisms of Debt. Graeber rightly pointed out that Banaji’s work departs from the model of the ideal average that Marx provides in Capital in order to investigate the variety of ways capitalism developed historically. Graeber used Banaji’s historical account to back up points he makes in Debt that question the pervasiveness of doubly free labour in capitalism. Unfortunately, Graeber does not seem to have engaged with points Banaji makes about how these types of labour are subsumed by the overriding ‘laws of motion’ of the world capitalist system. In doing so Banaji also points out how forms of debt that Graeber accounts for in a non-capitalist, actually functioned in the process of capitalist valorization.
A case in point is Banaji’s analysis of the Hacienda system, where he makes the following point contra Knight (who’s argument seems to resemble Graeber’s):
Gibson’s reversal of perspective, in turn, was the basis for the kind of distinctions that Alan Knight went on to make in an essay that breaks with the ‘superficial similitude of debt’ to distinguish classic debt-servitude from other more ‘proletarian’ and certainly less coercive forms that are usually conflated with it.32 Knight’s paper contains a brilliant description of the fiercely repressive form of capitalism that prevailed in late nineteenth-century Yucatán, where the boom in fibre-production was met by a monocultural, quasi-industrial hacienda-régime based on extreme coercion (flogging, debt-servitude, etc.)33 but also financed to a great degree by New York brokers and the banks they borrowed from.34 As Wells points out, the expansion of the henequen industry was bound up with legal changes that stipulated that ‘the peón who left work without paying the sums that he owed would be prosecuted before the courts’.35 But Yucatán’s ‘classic’ debt-servitude was part of a capitalist labour-régime where it functioned to reinforce the ‘internal mobility and flexibility’ of a tightly regulated labour-force where workers were transferred between tasks and in general piece-rated,36 and it is worth emphasising that, in Mexico anyway, these types of extreme coercion (‘comparable to chat- tel slavery’) were more characteristic of quasi-industrial enterprises such as those in timber and tobacco than of the coffee-plantations of Chiapas or the purely agricultural haciendas of central Mexico.37 (340)
I’m also unaware of Banaji engaging with Graeber’s work. It would be interesting to see the two debate the matter.