Banaji on Reconstructing Historical Materialism

“What I‘d like to do in this paper is raise the general issue of how we can develop historical materialism in more powerful ways than Marxists have tried to do since the sixties. The general issue is addressed by raising three specific questions. First, how should Marxists periodize capitalism? Second, is there a consistent materialist characterization of ̳Asiatic‘ regimes, since Marx‘s Asiatic mode of production clearly doesn‘t work as one? And third, why have Marxists had so little to say about the deployment of labour? By deployment of labour I mean not the general ways of controlling and exploiting labour that Marx himself would repeatedly refer to in categories such as ̳slavery‘, ̳serfdom‘ and so on, but the organization and control of the labour-process in concrete settings , as in Carlo Poni‘s fine monograph on the struggle between landowners and sharecroppers over methods of ploughing that increased the intensity of labour1 or Hans-Günther Mertens‘ discussion of the organization of Mexican estates.” Read the rest here.


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