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  • 8/3/2019 Rg Capi Issc Excerpt


    Draft for discussion: Not to be quoted

    Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation byDispossession: At the Heart and the Frontier of Capitalism

    Suhas Paranjape

    The following is a slightly edited excerpt from a draft of my forthcomingessay On Capitalism that deals with red and green issues that I wroteduring my visiting fellowship at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies inEnvironment and Development (CISED), Bangalore with their support. It isbeing circulated for discussion purposes only.

    1. Capitalisation of nature: a fruitful conceptThe concept of `capitalisation of nature put forward by Martin OConnor1

    is a fruitful concept that brings together many red and green concernsinto a single abstract concept. The term resonates across bio-physical,economic and semiotic aspects. By a redefinition of nature inclusive ofhuman nature as capital and what Martin OConnor calls a `semioticexpansion of capital,

    [w]hat formerly was treated as an external and exploitable domain is nowredefined as itself a stock of capital. Correspondingly, the primarydynamic of capitalism changes form, from accumulation and growthfeeding on an external domain, to ostensible self-management andconservation of the system of capitalised nature closed back on itself.2

    This expansion, he argues, leads to a mutation in the form of capital,

    The important theoretical point is that, through this process ofcapialization of all domains of raw materials and services, and through theinternalization via the extension of the price system as susceptible togiving account of everything and to directing all processes,3 capitalundergoes a qualitative change in form. No longer does it simply exploitbetter and more intensively a nature (and human nature) external toitself. In what we might call the ecological phase of capital, the relevant

    image is no longer of man acting on nature to produce value, henceforthappropriated by the capitalist class. Rather, the image is of nature (andhuman nature) codified as capital incarnate, regenerating itself throughtime by controlled regimes of investment around the globe, all integratedin a rational calculus of production and exchange4 through the miracle ofa price system extending across space and time.5

    While Martin OConnor contrasts the predation and cost shifting ofunvalorised/uncapitalised nature with this new form of capitalised nature,

    1 (O'Connor 1994b)2 (O'Connor 1994b) p. 126. Emphasis in original.3

    (Baudrillard 1981) p. 192 as cited in (O'Connor 1994b) p. 1314 (Baudrillard 1981) p. 188 as cited in (O'Connor 1994b) p. 1315 (O'Connor 1994b) p. 131. Emphasis in original.Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 1/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedhe also emphasises that in fact, capitalism continues to operate in bothmodes. But a consequence of this, as he notes, is that if nature is nowcapital incarnate, sustainability now means the preservation of this capital in its form as capital, adding another sense to the alreadyoveraccumulated meanings and senses of the term sustainability as theconservation of `the system of capitalised natureitself as an abstractsocial form6. And he goes on to point out that such a sustainabilityrequires different natural and social sectors to be potentially compatibleand also must be actually maintained in that relationship. But suchharmonious relationships evoking the notion of an equilibrium alsoincorporate assumptions about control that may be true of industrialsectors, but not natural sectors, something that he calls `naturesresistance to capitalisation and control. Simultaneously the capitalisationof nature involves dispossession of those who are living in/with thatnature in favour of private property in commodified and capitalised forms,

    and in many ways the whole purported exercise of taking all costs intoaccount is tantamount to similar processes of dispossession.

    The system of capitalisation of nature: beyond the `secondcontradiction?

    `Capitalisation of nature is a fruitful concept with tremendous potential. Itis admittedly at a very high level of abstraction, as Martin OConnorhimself admits, but it connects with many other issues and processes in away that brings them all into a single overarching process. In some ways,it is even more significant than James OConnors concept of conditions of

    production, and it has the same if not more explanatory power withoutsome of its disadvantages.7

    In its widest sense, capitalisation of nature may be seen as a process ofconceptual as well as actual appropriation of nature (including humannature) by capitalism, an ongoing process of the imposition of historical,social form on the transhistorical process that human appropriation ofnature represents. Here by human nature we do not mean the nature ofhuman beings or nature as transformed by human beings but ratherhuman beings as part of nature.8 In its transhistorical sense, and at thehighest level of abstraction, the process by which humans fulfil their

    needs in nature is a process of interaction between nature and humannature. At this level of abstraction, nature itself, in its entirety, is acondition of production for human nature. Capitalism, then issimultaneously a process of capitalisation of this interaction in two senses:

    6 (O'Connor 1994b) p. 133. Emphasis in original.7 In this and later sections I explore this potential, though it admittedly involves somewhat of anextension of the concept, an extension that I should be held responsible for, and could perhapshave been quite unintended and may even be seen as an unwarranted extension of MartinOConnors usage of the concept. In fact, throughout the rest of the essay I shall be using thisconcept with a clear debt to Martin OConnor, but without any responsibility for my particularusage. One example of such a usage is my suggestion that a theory of capitalist production ascapitalised nature allows us to do away with the need for the hypothesis of a `second

    contradiction as distinct from and counterposed to a first contradiction; in contrast, MartinOConnor takes support of the `second contradiction formulations in a number of places.8 It is proposed to engage with these concepts in a companion essay.Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 2/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedone, it is a process that maintains, reproduces capitalised nature (simplereproduction) and two, also a process of expanding, extending thisprocess (extended reproduction). It therefore carries with itself a movingfrontier of capitalisation of nature, a frontier where non-capitalised nature(including human nature) meets capitalism and is a potential site of beingcapitalised and incorporated into capitalism.

    First, it may then be asserted that capitalisation of nature is necessarilyincomplete. And incomplete in two senses: firstly, in the sense thatcapitalism can never incorporate all of nature, and secondly, in the sensethat reproduction of capitalised nature is itself incomplete9. This is in asense a restatement of the theory of natural limits. Secondly, whathappens at the frontier is then determined by the nature of the non-capitalist site and how it interfaces with capitalism in a given historicalconjuncture.

    This theoretical construction of capitalism does not set up a dichotomybetween conditions of production and the other elements of production.Some of the difficulties with that dichotomy have already been touchedupon in the earlier section. However, there are other difficulties with thatdichotomy that the reconstruction based on capitalisation of natureavoids. If we go by the common sense connotation of conditions ofproduction, the means of production are as much conditions of productionas any other element. And in capitalism, so is capital. Moreover, whileMarx does use conditions of production in the way that James OConnordefines them, notably in the chapter on the labour process in Capital andin other places that refer to the labour process, he uses the term in its

    simple connotation in many more places. In fact, if we search for the termin Marxs writings as a whole, in an overwhelming majority of instances,Marx uses it in a sense that includes means of production as well ascapital rather than excludes them.10

    A more appropriate term would be external conditions of production, thatis, those conditions of production that stand outside the circuit ofindividual productive capitals. However, that does not end the difficultieswith the term. The additional problem is that of how one seesreproduction. In James OConnors distinction the distinction is alsosupposed to be coterminous with the distinction between those conditions

    9 Martin OConnors analyses of the issue of control, indeterminacy and coevolution are all relevanthere.10 `It is certainly true that Marx used the phrasein fact he used it on many more occasions thanthose highlighted by OConnor. But much more important than his mere use of the phrase is thefact that he invested it with a variety of different meanings. In The German Ideology (Marx, 1998a:66), The Communist Manifesto (Marx, 1998b: 16), and Capital Volume III (Marx, K., 1998c: XV-341)he used it roughly as a synonym for the social relations of production. In The EighteenthBrumaire... (Marx, K., 1998d: 19), and the Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (Marx, K.,1998e: 8) it carries a meaning closer to the forces of production. In the Critique of the GothaProgrammein the very same passage referred to by OConnor the phrase is used to refer tothe means or instruments of production (Marx, 1998f: 21). And in Value Price and Profit (Marx,1998g: 35) Marx uses it to refer to a mode of production, capitalist or otherwise. The only sensibleconclusion that can be drawn from this is that in the course of his work Marx used the phrase

    conditions of production to carry a variety of meanings, dependent on context. There is noevidence that he used it as an analytical category with the precision of meaning that OConnor nowascribes to it. (Spence 2000) p. 88-89Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 3/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedhaving to be reproduced and those having to be produced. However, thisdistinction is not very clearly made. There is a need, for example, todistinguish between those conditions of production that have to begenuinely reproduced (and may often not stand outside the circuit ofcapital in the same way) and goods and services that have to provided incommon. An example of the former is the productivity of soil in a farmwhich genuinely needs to be reproduced, but does not truly stand outsidethe means of production. An example of the latter is roads, which have tobe supplied in common but do not need to be reproduced in the samemanner. In much of the `second contradiction literature both of thesetend to be conflated, mainly because conditions of production tends tobecome a catch all category with very little operational content. What isimportant here is that by not depending on the `conditions of productionas a central founding concept, a theory of capitalisation of nature allowsus to go beyond the `second contradiction.

    Parallels with Marxs analysis

    In the context of that theory, reproduction of capitalist nature may betaken to include the reproduction of the physical productive potential ofthat nature, and this reproduction extends right into the heart of capitalistproduction and capitalised nature and is not restricted to those elementsthat stand outside the production processes of individual capital. It is thenpossible to see capitalisation of nature as sapping that very productivepotential even as it taps it on an extended scale and see that as a centraltenet of a critique. It is then possible to see it in continuity with Marxs

    analysis that sees capitalism as a historical form limiting the productiveforces even as it harnesses them on an ever increasing scale. This is partof the dialectic between the transhistorical dimensions (use value,concrete labour, nature) and the historical forms (value, abstract labour,capital) that capitalism imposes on them.

    Capitalised nature in this sense is coterminous with capitalism andrepresents its underbelly, not often visible even within Marxist analysis, sothat the history of the development of capitalism is also simultaneously ahistory of the developing capitalisation of nature. And here one must alsotake account, not only, of its development, but of its emergence. Given

    capital and labour and commodity production, simple as well as extendedreproduction of capitalism can be explained and related to the nature ofcapitalism and the logic of commodity production, but these elements arenot given during its emergence. The emergence of capitalism is not aprocess that can be explained with the help of the logic of capitalism.

    The emergence of capitalism, its prehistory, the process of what Marxcalls primitive accumulation is a process that has followed a differentlogic. It is a logic of violence, of violence as a means of dispossession andconversion to private property, commodity and capital, but in terms of thecapitalisation of nature it is also a process of an equally violent disruptionand attempted rearticulation of nature itself. It is possible to say that thisprocess continues even today at the frontier of capitalised nature. There is

    Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 4/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quoteda problem with using the term `primitive accumulation for this ongoingprocess. The primitive accumulation that Marx refers to is a once-in-timeprocess that has taken place in history and has resulted in the emergenceof capitalism. It may be better to use a more direct term `accumulation bydispossession on the lines of David Harveys usage of the term. It avoidsthe resonance of something primitive and outdated for a process that iscontemporary and thoroughly modern.

    Martin OConnors `mutation of capital leading to what he calls theecological phase of capital also has interesting parallels with the analysisof absolute and surplus value that has been described in the first section.The mutation can be roughly characterised as a transition from `costshifting phase of capital to its ecological phase. Cost shifting andexternalising of environmental costs is a euphemism that papers over theunderlying, often violent, process of dispossession (from means ofproduction or from fruits of labour or nature), a euphemism foraccumulation by dispossession. This is analogous to the process ofabsolute surplus value that is the extra obtained by the simple lowering ofwages and intensification of labour. The so called ecological phase thatrepresents capitalised nature, brings those costs inside capitalism,internalises them. This is analogous to the extraction of relative surplusvalue that extracts surplus value without resorting to wage cuts andintensification of labour.

    If absolute surplus value represents the rapacious, conservative face ofcapitalism, relative surplus value represents, the progressive, liberal faceof capitalism. In the same vein, cost shifting and externalisation of costs

    may be taken to represent the rapacious, conservative face of capitalismand the capitalisation of nature through internalisation may be taken tobe its progressive, liberal face. In capitalism both absolute surplus andrelative surplus value continue to be extracted, and the relative weight ofboth and indeed the shift to relative surplus is determined by how stronglyworkers defend their interests and oppose wage cuts and intensification oflabour at the workplace. Similarly, it may be said that cost shifting as wellas capitalisation are both processes that continue to take place, and anincrease in the relative weight of the so called ecological phase wouldonly be brought about to the extent that those being dispossessed fightand succeed in fighting their dispossession. And there is a price to be paidfor it too. The fight over the working day has also to take the form of anargument of whether or not the capitalist is using a fair share of thecommodity, labour power that he had contracted for. The price is theacceptance of the discourse, of the shift from dispossession toexternalities and externalised costs.

    Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 5/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quoted

    2. Capitalisation of nature: at the frontier

    From the heart of capitalism . . .

    Before we move on, a brief summary may be in order. If the system ofcapitalised nature is seen as capitalism itself, then this situates nature atthe heart of capitalist production, as the world of use values beingcapitalised and re-presented as the world of exchange values. Thisrehabilitates nature at the centre of a theory of capitalist production ascapitalised nature, not as an external condition of production but at theheart of capitalist production, as processes and things non-human andhuman, living and non-living that have now become reified as differentcomponents of capital. Moreover, this process of capitalisation wherenature is presented as and becomes capitalist production, is also aprocess that excludes and thereby externalises its non-capitalised

    counterpart as a necessary moment in its self positing. It compounds thisexternalisation of its conditions of production by its `arithmomorphic viewof the world. This arithmomorphism is ingrained in the historical form ofvalue that it imposes on all relations of production; a form that involvesboth a necessary quantification (reduction to a single quality) and theestablishment of a definite ratio with money (and value as measure ofthat quality). In doing this it ignores non-arithmomorphic dimensions ofnature and human nature.

    It is also then natural to assert the incompleteness of this capitalisation, incompleteness in

    both dimensions, quantitatively, in extent and qualitatively in degree of control11.Nature and

    the now externalised conditions of production now assert their existence in a tendency ofcapitals loss of control gradual, catastrophic or accidental over the larger process. 12 This is

    because ecosystems have internal structure and internal processes that in the first instance are

    built to resist change and secondly are complex systems that bring about unintended effects.

    The `natural response towards exercising greater and greater control over capitalised nature,

    or attempts to do so, are not of much use since the problem lies with what lies beyond. To

    anticipate somewhat a subsequent discussion, coping and living with has given way to control

    over.13Both imply control in some sense, but the former grants an autonomy notionally and

    practically that the other does not; an autonomy that then the other asserts and is experienced

    as loss of control whether the assertion is by capitalised `inanimate nature or capitalised

    human nature within and without the workplace. We see here an essential bond between the

    domination of non-human nature the environment and human nature the working classas aspects of the same process of capitalisation of nature and resistance to it.

    11 I prefer here the notion of degree of control than indeterminacy as used by Martin OConnor.They are different concepts and one need not imply the other. Indeterminacy is at the heart of allquantum processes, that does not preclude close control over lasers. Similarly, that processes aredeterminate need not imply closer control.12 `Attention needs to be focused not only on the way in which capital acts on its externalconditions, that is, on the dynamics of capitals transformation and attempted control of conditions,but also on these conditions resistance to, suborning of, and subversion of this attemptedcontrol. (O'Connor 1994a) p. 6813

    Martin OConnor has suggested an ecological episteme to replace the dominant industrialepisteme while Leff has suggested a different kind of rationality for a green production. (O'Connor1994a), (Leff 2000) and (Leff 1995). These are discussed in a subsequent essay..Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 6/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quoted

    . . . to the moving frontier

    So far what we discussed was in a sense a view from right insidecapitalised nature, at the heart of capitalist production. But there is also amoving frontier of capitalisation of nature, a frontier where non-capitalist

    nature in various forms meets capitalised nature and capitalist productionmeets non-capitalist production14. And this itself can be divided into twoperiods: the period corresponding to primitive accumulation, theprehistory of capitalism and a continuing process at its boundaries after ithas established itself as a world order.

    Primitive accumulation: the prehistory of capitalist nature

    I do not intend to go into any great detail of the sordid prehistory ofcapitalism that has been well documented by Marx in his section onprimitive accumulation in Capital15 and which he summarises in his now

    famous wordsTantae molis erat [Of such effort it took], to establish the eternal laws ofNature of the capitalist mode of production, to complete the process ofseparation between labourers and conditions of labour, to transform, atone pole, the social means of production and subsistence into capital, atthe opposite pole, the mass of the population into wage-labourers, intofree labouring poor, that artificial product of modern society. If money,According to Augier, comes into the world with a congenital blood-stainon one cheek, capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore,with blood and dirt.16

    What I intend to do is only to point out that if Marx had uncovered andgraphically described the violent separation of the labouring poor fromtheir means of production and the accumulation through loot and plunderthat went along with it and subsequent accounts have added to it there is now a parallel process of the violence done to ecosystems that isnow being uncovered as well. Primitive accumulation can now be seen asa violent, prehistoric event of the emergence of capitalist nature, a violentdisruption and rearticulation of nature, including human nature asincorporated into capital.

    The special violence of this period in its imagery of nature may also beseen as forming the other pole of the violence that capitalism wreaked on

    other peoples. It had to arrogate to itself the right to plunder anddominate nature as much as it had to arrogate to itself the right to ruleover and subjugate the heathens. If capital comes ` dripping from head tofoot, from every pore, with blood and dirt it also comes steeped in anideology that sanctions violence against nature, the heathens andunbelievers, the poor and women.

    And just as the original tendency of capital is absolute surplus value toreduce effective wages and increase the intensity of labour a strategy it

    14 Production here in the sense of appropriation: direct appropriation, nurtured appropriation or

    transformation as a continuum, as specified earlier.15 Part VIII: The So-Called Primitive Accumulation, in (Marx 1959) p. 704-6416 (Marx 1959) p. 747. References and footnotes have been omitted.Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 7/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedreturns to every time it gets into difficulty, the original form of the systemof capitalisation of nature is not its ecological mutant, but freeappropriation. And just as it is only to the extent that workers resist andare successful in resisting absolute surplus value that capital turns toforms of relative surplus value, it is only when free appropriation isresisted, by nature itself (difficulty of obtaining adequate materials) or bypolitical resistance that capital will if at all turn to its ecological mutantforms. As Martin OConnor puts it,

    Of course, violence in the sense of domination is the leitmotif of thecapitalist project. For those pursuing capitalist accumulation, supply-sidecrisis takes on meaning only when resource extraction, the environmentalside effects of production, or resistance by affected social groups reachsufficient crisis proportions to impair the availability of raw materials andservices sought by capitals proprietors themselves. If ready substitutesfor used up materials, labour, labour environmental services, and sites can

    be found, or if a shift to different commodity lines not requiring the sameinputs can profitable be made, supply crises are readily resolved. Onlywhen political opposition is overwhelming or substitution is not possibledoes the imperative arise that the environmental sites/sources bemanaged sustainably and conserved.17

    But here we are still within capitalised nature. There is a somewhatdifferent story unfolding at the frontiers of capitalist nature, a story thathas links with its prehistory.

    Production processes outside the capitalist production process

    This frontier is the frontier between capitalist nature and non-capitalistnature. While one portion of non-capitalist nature does consist of pristine,or in the main pristine nature, untouched directly by humans, in whatfollows I shall confine myself to humanised nature, and within that tonature as a part of non-capitalist production processes in the sense ofprocesses of appropriation of nature for the satisfaction of needs orwants.18 There is no claim here that these processes are not affected bycapitalism; but only that they take place outside the sphere of capitalistproduction. They are production and labour processes that are not part ofcapitalistproduction but nevertheless are part of capitalist socialformations.19

    17 (O'Connor 1994b) p. 139. Emphasis in original. Martin OConnors version is more of a defensiveversion. On the other hand, if considerable gains are to be made, reservations about environmentaldamage may be thrown to the winds. Marx quotes Dunning in a footnote to the quote above, . . .Capital eschews no profit, or very small profit, just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum.With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent. will ensure its employmentanywhere; 20 per cent. certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent., positive audacity; 100 percent. will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent., and there is not a crime atwhich it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. Ifturbulence and strife will bring a profit, it will freely encourage both. Smuggling and the slave-tradehave amply proved all that is here stated. (Dunning 1860) p. 35-6 as quoted in (Marx 1959)18 Strictly speaking it may be preferable to speak of appropriation processes rather than productionprocesses, but I am not sure that the advantage may be marginal and pedantic. I continue to usethe term production processes, though as will turn out the absence of the more precise term of

    appropriation amy create somewhat strage combinations.19 These classes relate back to Benton's third point, and though Benton raises this point mainly inthe context of womens labour housework, child rearing, etc. it has a larger context.Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 8/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedFor the purposes of the discussion I classify them into three types. Theclassification is not meant to imply any kind of homogeneity. In factcontexuality and localisation turns out to be important elements of theseprocesses and their diversity is far greater. The classification is mainlyinto three broad groups where capitalisation takes broadly different forms:a) the production processes that take place within the family (houseworkand child rearing, etc.) and which are mostly carried out by women; b)non-capitalist commodity production b; and c) subsistence production.There is a need to clarify this usage, especially the distinction betweennon-capitalist commodity production and subsistence production.Subsistence production is often taken to cover commodity production byself employed persons in order to fulfil their needs. I prefer a somewhatdifferent classification, and the reasons for it will shortly become clear. Ipropose to reserve the term subsistence production for production directlyconsumed or needs satisfied without the intervention of the market. And I

    use the term non-capitalist commodity production to mean all commodityproduction that takes place outside of capitalist commodity production.20 Iprefer to view non-capitalist commodity production undertaken with aview to satisfy minimum needs rather than accumulation as subsistence-driven non-capitalist commodity production rather than subsistenceproduction itself, and still keep it separate from subsistence production.This is because the mechanisms of domination and incorporation of bothand the attendant effects are quite different in the two cases.

    In practice all these forms may interpenetrate, in that there will be manyhouseholds, especially in the rural areas in developing countries that may

    be engaged in subsistence production as well as non-capitalist commodityproduction, and housework or domestic labour being a given. In fact,there could even be prefigurative forms of non-capitalist commodityproduction in which networks attempting to work outside capitalismestablish links between production and consumption by either bypassingthe market or by subjecting it to network decisions so as to make themrelatively autonomous from the larger markets. However these are likelyto be miniscule and we shall not consider them in what follows.

    Implications of their non-capitalist character

    In capitalist production, especially as a system of generalised commodityproduction, specifying the distribution of the means of production into thehands of different classes, defining ownership relations in respect of themfor different individuals, sections and classes, is sufficient to getproduction going. The relationships that are inscribed into value andsurplus value also include the social connections and motivations thatgive social form to transhistorical requirements. Thus workers, who do nothave access to commodities that they need will sell the only commoditythey own, themselves in the form of labour power; the capitalist who ownsthe means of production will hire them, incorporate them into his capitaland the juggernaut of capitalist production begins to roll.

    20 Here again there is no presumption that they are not affected by capitalist production or thatthey are not part of capitalist social formations.Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 9/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedHowever, a simple specification of distribution or ownership of the meansof production will not be sufficient to do so for non-capitalistproduction. Itwill not do to say that human beings will commence production becausethey fulfil their needs, because that is to reduce those relations to theirtranshistorical aspect without a social form. It is the social form thatprovides the how and why of what humans produce. If I am a housewifewho has bought wheat and must make chapatis of it, I must have reasonsfor making them and then having them consumed by others and forspecifying who will comprise those others. In other words there must bethe family that draws these boundaries, defines who will produce thesechapatis for whom and by what right will the work and the chapatis getdistributed.

    In capitalist production systems, specifying ownership of something neednot in fact, `ought not specify what use shall be made of it and how.The owner is free to use it as he likes. That is the essence of capitalistprivate property and the essence of bourgeois freedom, of whatcapitalism drives towards and sees as ideal. This need not be the case fornon-capitalist production. Ownership and access rights often come withaccompanying injunctions and requirements; perhaps for example that Imay hunt in the forest, but I must not kill the bear or the mongoose or theparrot, I must not fell the mahua tree, and what I hunt I must share freelywith others.

    Moreover, none of these relations that specify who is to do what and getwhat need to be economic in form, nor need they be quantifications. Infact, the notion of economic relations forming the economic structure of

    all societies is itself questionable. It needs to be stood on its head. It is thesum total of the social relations of production that define what is toconstitute the economic structure of a society. It is in capitalism thatsocial relations of production are reducedto purely economic relations,and more, to quantitative relations between commodities. And it is theinfluence of capitalism that sees economic structures as universallyconstituted purely by economic relations and projects them back andforward in history on to other societies.21 And this projection has manifoldimplications.

    That capitalism reduces everything to a quantitative relationship lends it

    great power in universalising itself and driving towards homogenisation. Itestablishes its hegemony through numbers, through prices, throughpercentages, and numbers are after all just numbers. It is possible to talkof capital as a global phenomenon. Capital carries with it a social form ofproduction that paradigmatically decontextualises social relations, rendersthem abstract. In contrast, all non-capitalist forms of production arecontextual, local and comprise of social relations of production that arenot confined to the purely economic. And so, understanding how theyinteract with nature and how in turn they interact with capitalised nature

    21 As Marx says, `The whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy that surrounds

    the products of labour as long as they take the form of commodities, vanishes therefore, so soonas we come to other forms of production. (Marx 1959). Unfortunately, it does not alwaysautomatically happen.Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 10/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedand its impositions implies extricating them and returning them to theircontext. This is important to note especially because the broad grouping Ihave carried out places them, not in their respective contexts, but in theirrelationship to capital and what the process of capitalisation imposes onthem. The description of broad trends that follows needs to be seen in thislight, not as a reduction of their particular contexts.22

    Non-capitalist commodity production

    As said earlier I have distinguished between subsistence production andnon-capitalist commodity production, though the two are of course closelyrelated. Non-capitalist commodity production is often seen as subsistenceproduction since it goes through the C-M-C cycle. However, as explainedearlier, I use subsistence production for production for need that takesplace outside and bypasses capitalist andcommodity production. Non-capitalist commodity production may then be seen as subsistence-drivenproduction (rather than as subsistence production).

    It emerges from pre-capitalist forms of production, especially inagriculture and carries with it the diverse contexts of these forms,concerning social relations as well as relations with nature that shape howproduction, mainly agriculture, is carried on. Agriculture remains its mostimportant element because agricultural commodity production accountsfor the largest share of non-capitalist commodity production and alsobecause agriculture forms/ed the largest relationship of nurturingappropriation that we have with nature. However, in that earlier form it isself-centred and bypasses commodity production except for the small

    surpluses it may have sold for obtaining some non-agricultural productsthrough the market (many non-agricultural products would be madeavailable through non-market relationships like the jajmani or balutedarisystems in India). It comprises an amazingly large set of rich and diversetraditions in respect of agriculture. In those traditions, self realisation ofsubsistence needs is a large component.

    The switch to commodityproduction in order to obtain means ofsubsistence through the market, disrupts and decentres the earlier modeof production. An increasing compulsion is that subsistence now has to beobtained through the market. The effects of concentration of capital and

    gradual dispossession of these commodity producers is a process that iswell known. However, what is as important is the attendant changes thatgo hand in hand with it. This changes the mode of agriculture andparadoxically, this change is all the more severe for the small rather thanthe large farmers. While the rich farmers can afford to devote part oftheir farms for domestic and subsistence needs, it becomes more andmore difficult for the small farmers to do so and they are compelled moreand more to look for remunerative crops that will allow them to purchasemeans of subsistence. Self reliance and self-centredness is disrupted.


    In this context, that is why it is so difficult to classify pre-capitalist societies into neat categories.THe problem perhaps lies in trying to evolve a global category for a phenomenon that essentiallyhad to local, contextualised and diverse and had no inbuilt tendency towards globalisation. ICapitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 11/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedSecondly, the classic C-M-C thinking is now replaced more and more withan M-C-M+m drive.

    It continues to acquire an M-C-(M+m) cycle and its corresponding drive,without necessarily becoming capitalist production; in some sense it has

    the worst of both worlds. Already decentred and rearticulated withcapitalist production, it is unable to go back to its earlier self-centredforms, because the context itself has radically changed and cannot goforward and become capitalist production. Barring a few exceptions, itstagnates, neither able to move forward nor back. Non-capitalistagricultural commodity production has today become a blind alley whichforms the backdrop for the continuing farmer suicides in the country.

    Subsistence production

    Subsistence production as defined above is also generally rooted in and/or

    evolves from pre- or extra-capitalist relations of production. Subsistenceproduction may be said to form a spectrum in its relation to non-capitalistcommodity production. At one end of the spectrum, it is that portion ofcommodity production that goes directly into the consumption of itsowner, and is mainly restricted to farming and forms a portion of theproduce of the commodity producing, often rich, farmer that goes intohousehold consumption without mediation of the market. At this end ofthe spectrum, it is subordinated to commodity production and its totaldynamic differs little if at all from capitalist commodity production in itsobjectives and methods of production.23 However, outside of capitalistfarming, there is very little scope for this kind of short circuit subsistence

    production within the circuit of capital.

    At the other end of the spectrum are communities who live in relativeisolation and rely mainly on pre- or at least non-capitalist relations andforms of the labour process for their living. They do carry out exchangewith capitalist commodity production but what they get from it serves assupplements to the non-capitalist forms of their productive activity; that isto say, their exchange with the capitalist economy forms a secondaryportion of their livelihoods. These are mostly the adivasis, tribalcommunities who have succeeded in maintaining a relative autonomyfrom the capitalist economy in spite of the fact that it surrounds them and

    their habitats from all sides and indirectly influences and profoundlyaffects the context of their lives. There are very few such pockets, andtheir number and the degree of their autonomy is dwindling.

    Between them lies a vast middle portion of the spectrum that is occupiedby the rural and the urban poor. They have some access to the means ofsubsistence within commodity production either through access to themeans of production or through wage labour, but have to seeksupplements by seeking and creating avenues of direct fulfilment of theirneeds. At one end of it are the relatively better off who need very few


    Even here certain type of differences have often been observed different and better seed, moreeco-friendly methods of production overall a much better attention to the product as use valueand the process as nurture.Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 12/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedsupplements outside what they obtain through the exchange ofcommodities they produce and/or through selling their labour power. Atthe other end are poorer of the rural and the urban poor, for whomsubsistence production is crucial to their livelihoods and cutting it offwould threaten their very existence.

    Though they both occupy the lower end of this portion, the urban and therural poor differ considerably in their production relationships. In fact,there is a form of subsistence production present right at the heart ofcapitalism, in its urban areas as underbelly to its flaunted affluence. Thevery poor and very marginalised in capitalist societies (the homeless, thevagrants, the beggars, the tramps and hobos) often simply live off theproduct of capitalism by intercepting it at points where its commoditystatus is ambiguous or suspended (by foraging waste, by frequentingpublic facilities, etc.) This is also subsistence production.24 They live byseizing what capitalism can provide them `as found. This is then a form ofseizing back means of subsistence but from capitalised nature. In fact, theurban poor are more likely to be continually engaged in a struggle ofseizing back portions of capitalist nature in the form of encroachments,`illegal possession of the interstices and ambiguities and suspensions ofcommodity status of nature and social product. Their interaction is likelyto be with already capitalised nature and social product and theirsubsistence production is based on seizing back and retaining portions ofit.

    In rural areas, in addition to the struggles for subsistence productionbased on portions of capitalised nature seized back and retained and

    struggles around them, there is also the additional problem of protectingand resisting the process of capitalisation of non-capitalised nature that isthe basis of ongoing subsistence production.

    Family and patriarchy: invisible production

    Subsistence production and housework or domestic labour are intimatelyrelated. When a woman does not buy kerosene but goes out to fetchfirewood is she engaged in subsistence production or in housework? As amatter of fact, it is both. Housework or domestic labour may be viewed,with some qualifications as subsistence production carried out within the

    family. I would emphasise again a point that has been made earlier, thatin a transhistorical sense, housework comprises production and it needs tobe first reclaimed as such. It is the process of capitalisation that thenrelegates it to the sphere ofreproduction and renders its productivenature invisible. This transposition of form is itself a defining feature ofhousework under capitalism.

    Historically the family was as much a production unit as a consumptionunit, and kinship in some tribal societies can be looked upon as regulating

    24 It is difficult to see this as `production, but here we are using a rather broader concept of

    production as appropriation that we had outlined earlier (appropriation in various senses: directappropriation, appropriation by nurture and appropriation by transformation) and that we owe toBentons critique.Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 13/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedproduction as well.25 It is only in capitalism that family presents itself aspurely a consumption unit, pushing into the background and makinginvisible the entire process of production of use values that goes on underits aegis. Family is also the site that combines and interconnects thesubsistence production, the production process continuing within thehousehold and often non-capitalist and even some petty capitalistcommodity production as well. I am tempted to use the word householdinstead of the family, since the household is in many ways the family asorganised into a production unit. However, that would probably bepedantic, though I may switch over to the use of the term whereappropriate.

    Let us now take a look at the process of production that continues insidethe family. For the sake of brevity we call it family production and thework performed within the labour process embedded in it we shall callhousework. Of interest here is the status of family production andhousework under capitalism. In capitalism, the institution of familyprovides this production process as a service rendered `as found tocapital. Patriarchy further provides it in the form ofwomens labour `asfound. Since, under capitalism, the rejuvenation of workers lives, theirlife activity has come to be the reproduction of labour power (we mayrefer back here to the reduction of life activity to labour power) the familycomes to be the institution that reproduces the commodity labourpower26, this `as found nature means, firstly, that capital need not pay forit and secondly, since it contributes to the reproduction of labour power, itresults in placing in the hands of capital the rightto extract unpaid labour

    (surplus labour) from women.27

    Here we should also take into account the link that family production andhousework has with subsistence production as such. Both of them providea portion of the labour and use value requirement of the reproduction oflabour power; to the extent that there are family members selling theirlabour power. And in that sense both of them provide them `as found andhence capital again need not and does not pay for them. This also impliesa lower wage rate for migrant labour power that the sphere of subsistenceproduction often provides. It results in a double exploitation. Both aremechanisms that place in the hands of capital the right to extract unpaidlabour, or rather the right to convert that labour to unpaid labour forcapital, the bulk of it being womens labour.28 Visible here is also anoutline of how capitalism has historically reconstituted the family, first as

    25 Anthropologist Maurice Godelier, well known for his studies of the Baruya says that `kinshiprelations may directly function as relations of production in certain situations. (Godelier 1981)26 Reproduction in both senses. In the short run, the process of rejuvenation of the workers humancapacities now reduced to the reproduction of their labour power; in the long run, the birthing andnurturing of children now reduced to rearing additional labour power for capital.27 This is by no means simple to establish. The largely inconclusive debate around domestic labouror housework in the seventies and the eighties between and within socialist feminists attempted tograpple with this problem. One at least of the reasons is that labour power is not a `naturalcommodity but a `fictitious one a point that Elson makes quite forcefully (Elson 1979) it isforcibly treated as a commodity, or as I say elsewhere, is reducedto a commodity.28

    That this surplus is extracted in the form of surplus labourrather than surplus value hastremendous implications of how it evolves in capitalism and to the process of its incorporation incapitalism. REF Appendix if you write it.Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 14/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedan event that we can follow in its emergence and secondly in a continuingprocess at the frontier of capitalisation of nature. The following provides abrief sketch.

    As a historical event, firstly it disrupted the earlier productive unit that the

    non-capitalist household represented. Through a process of dispossessionit first cut off its links with nature and denied it the access to nature thatwas the basis of its non-capitalist production. Thrown on the streets anddelivered at the feet of capitalism bound and gagged, so to speak, in itsearly phases, the family was a source of labour power ofall the familymembers. Everyone worked, and everyone worked long hours. In fact, itseemed as if the family was breaking up, and capitalism was itselfresponsible.29 This was the ugly face of capitalism, the rule of absolutesurplus value.

    It is then later through working class struggles that we see the working

    class family being reconstituted. The working class struggles have adouble edge to them. They are as much struggles for a living wage, wherethe wage of one breadwinner would suffice for the entire familyssubsistence, as well as a trades union struggle to keep women out of jobsthat men could claim. It is both push and pull in the reconstitution of thepatriarchal working class family. It is through this reconstitution that thefamily (or the household) now becomes purely an instrument of thereproduction of labour power. Women are pushed out of capitalistproduction after all it is the only production that counts and areconfined to `housework. This is not a simple passive acceptance ofpatriarchy but an active construction of the patriarchal family by the

    working class men.

    And while this assumes patriarchy as an integral component it also has toreconstitute patriarchy and patriarchal relations. Power is associated inthe older versions of patriarchy with the eldest presiding male and age isas much a conduit of power as maleness. All that would now be anobstacle; now we have the breadwinner(s) in central position and all elsemust be subservient to his needs, others must be in relation of homemaker to him, and similarly the next generation must accordingly beraised to become good bread winners and good home makers.

    In late capitalist affluent society that has developed in the West thereseems to be a further development. All vestiges of autonomous natureand the direct relationship with nature that household subsistence

    29 Thus the Manifesto at one point says, `[The bourgeois family] finds its complement in thepractical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution. (Marx andEngels 1969) emphasis added. But the clearest statement on this situation is in Engels, as thefollowing excerpts, all from (Engels 1969), show: `In all directions the family is being dissolved bythe labour of wife and children, or inverted by the husband's being thrown out of employment andmade dependent upon them for bread.' . . . `The labour of women entails the same consequencesas in the factories, dissolves the family, and makes the mother totally incapable of householdwork.' . . `The employment of women at once breaks up the family; for when the wife spendstwelve or thirteen hours every day in the mill, and the husband works the same length of time

    there or elsewhere, what becomes of the children?' Also of interest is the language in which theyare couched, already prefiguring the reconstitution of the patriarchal working class family.

    Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 15/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedproduction afforded are now eliminated. Household labour now has nodirect connection with non-capitalist nature. Household labour now workspurely with capitalist nature, and is confined to further processing ofmeans of subsistence received through wages or the market, furtherprocessing them for use and consumption within the family. Theexpropriation of the working classes from nature is complete. The familynow has truly become a `consumption unit. Further, it now acquires anew importance as market, besides being an instrument of reproductionof labour power. If women work, all the better, for the family will now buymore. Single parenting is even better, because capitalism knows thatwomen will put in the double shift, one of it free, whether they are singleor whether they live with their spouses and the separated spouses willbuy even more.

    This sketch may seem too broad brush, but that is what it is intended tobe. The point here is simply to illustrate that reclamation of housework asproduction continued within the family allows us to reconstitute thehistory of family under capitalism in a more meaningful and groundedmanner.

    Outside this heartland of capitalism, the continuing process ofreconstitution of the family is much, much more complex, too complexeven for something like the broad brush treatment above. That treatmentwas made possible because capitalism has itself established a much moreuniform context in its heartland and because in some sense the family hasvirtually moved inside the frontier, especially so far as nature isconcerned. Outside this heartland, non-capitalist nature is very much alive

    and the family has not yet moved inside the frontier, at least for the greatmajority of the population. All the elements described above are at play,but the contexts are immensely diverse and local. But the direction inthem is clear. It is the terrain of a struggle for livelihood as much as aresistance to the capitalisation of nature because the capitalisation ofnature means for them dispossession. And if women are in the forefrontof these struggles, it is also because it is they, in spite of patriarchy, whoare being dispossessed. They are caught up in an ongoing process that istaking place at the frontier between capitalist and non-capitalist nature,accumulation by dispossession.

    3. Accumulation by dispossession: a continuingphenomenon

    The processes that Harvey calls `accumulation by dispossession arecontinuing processes akin to primitive accumulation and are relevant towhat is happening at the frontier of capitalised nature and the shape ittakes. These are `non-economic processes, in the sense that they areprocesses that occur outside and/or in addition to the processes that aresubsumed by the value form, and hence the market.

    Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 16/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quoted

    The two aspects of accumulation

    Harvey takes us to the concept through Luxemburgs description in herAccumulation of Capital:

    [Regarded in the light of] the commodity market and the place wheresurplus value is produced - the factory, the mine, the agricultural estate .. . accumulation is a purely economic process, with its most importantphase a transaction between the capitalist and the wage labourer. . . .Here, in form at any rate, peace, property and equality prevail, and thekeen dialectics of scientific analysis were required to reveal how the rightof ownership changes in the course of accumulation into appropriation ofother people's property, how commodity exchange turns into exploitationand equality becomes class rule. The other aspect of the accumulation ofcapital concerns the relations between capitalism and the non-capitalistmodes of production which start making their appearance on theinternational stage. Its predominant methods are colonial policy, an

    international loan system - a policy of spheres of interest - and war. Force,fraud, oppression, looting are openly displayed without any attempt atconcealment, and it requires an effort to discover within this tangle ofpolitical violence and contests of power the stern laws of the economicprocess.30

    These two aspects of accumulation, Luxemburg then argues, are"organically linked"31 and "the historical career of capitalism can only beappreciated by taking them together"32. The importance of thisformulation in all its implications is only now being realised in the form ofa debate about the continuing relevance of the process of primitiveaccumulation. There seem to be two factors responsible for this.

    Firstly, Luxemburg makes this point in the course of a work that not onlymakes this a continuing process but she argues that it is the onlyprocessthat can allow capitalism to avoid a crisis ofoveraccumulation/underconsumptionn. She bases her argument on therelations between Departments I and II, and concludes that that thedemand will increasingly fall short of production. However, there are manyways of circumventing this, mainly by incorporating a Department III thatproduces non-wage goods or goods that exchange against surplus value.Secondly, primitive accumulation is supposed to be a process thatprecedes capitalism, and hence it is presumed, a process already over.

    In Capital Marx keeps this element out of consideration until the very laststage of analysis. There is a valid reason for it. He explores what wouldhappen ifcapitalism sticks to what it itself proclaims to be rational themarket and itself counterposes to force, fraud, oppression and looting.And it is for this reason that he succeeds in showing that even then,capitalism ends up as a system of deepening and relative dispossession ofthe majority. But this creates an impression that for Marx a true `modelof capitalism excludes these processes. Secondly, under thoseassumptions of a capitalism true to its self image, there are comfortably


    (Luxemburg 1968) p. 452-3 as quoted in (Harvey 2003b)31 (Luxemburg 1968) p. 452-3 as quoted in (Harvey 2003b)32 (Luxemburg 1968) p. 452-3 as quoted in (Harvey 2003b)Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 17/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedquantified `stern laws of the economic process. As soon as we step out ofthem, we enter a sphere of indeterminacy and uncertainty. Accumulationby dispossession is one such sphere.

    Primitive accumulation vs. Accumulation by dispossessionHarvey then goes on to describe the features of primitive accumulation.

    A closer look at Marx's description of primitive accumulation reveals awide range of processes. These include the commodification andprivatization of land33 and the forceful expulsion of peasant populations;conversion of various forms of property rights (common, collective, state,etc.) into exclusive private property rights; suppression of rights to thecommons; commodification of labor power and the suppression ofalternative (indigenous) forms of production and consumption; colonial,neo-colonial and imperial processes of appropriation of assets (includingnatural resources); monetization of exchange and taxation (particularly of

    land); slave trade; and usury, the national debt and ultimately the creditsystem as radical means of primitive accumulation. The state, with itsmonopoly of violence and definitions of legality, plays a crucial role in bothbacking and promoting these processes and there is considerableevidence (which Marx suggests and Braudel confirms) that the transitionto capitalist development was vitally contingent upon the stance of thestate. . .

    With the possible exception of the slave trade depending on whether wecall trafficking and flesh trade in women and minors a slave trade or not all the other processes may be seen to be continuing, though in ageographically uneven pattern. After pointing out that `all the featureswhich Marx mentions have remained powerfully present withincapitalism's historical geography he also goes on to describe how thecredit and finance system have created new avenues and opportunitiesfor predation, fraud and thievery and also points out whole newmechanisms related to the new developments, ranging from IPRs, WTOnegotiations and TRIPS to the dismantling and auction of public assets andutilities at a pittance. The potential role of this accumulation bydispossession in relieving crises is also clear; it brings in new resources,creates new markets by bringing to the market both, the dispossessedpersons on the one hand and the newly possessed assets that they have

    been dispossessed of on the other, and also adds a sphere of low organiccomposition of capital to the capitalist economy.

    More and more studies are pointing out that there is a possibility thatthese processes have never really disappeared and have been present atall moments in the history of capitalist34 accumulation necessitating,according to Harvey, a `general re-evaluation of the continuous role andpersistence of the predatory practices of "primitive" or "original"accumulation within the long historical geography of capitalaccumulation. Harvey renames the processes as accumulation by


    And one may add, water, and increasingly, wind and sunlight.34 Harvey quotes (Perelman 2000) and an extensive debate around the issue in The Commoner(www.commoner.org). and a useful summary in (De-Angelis 1999)Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 18/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quoteddispossession `since it seems peculiar to call an ongoing process"primitive" or "original", The phrase has now stuck. Also, primitiveaccumulation refers to a long historical event in which all thepreconditions of capitalism came together. As such, we need todistinguish that event and its context from the process that is unfolding infront of us and Harveys term also may be used to make that distinction ina convenient manner. We would then have primitive accumulation as aparticular historical event/process in which the preconditions of capitalismwere brought together by a process of accumulation by dispossession,which could then continue side by side as accompanying the`mainstream process of accumulation.

    The site of a different type of contradiction

    Once again, just as we had with the spatio-temporal fix, and also becausethe spatio-temporal fix also involves a substantial dose of accumulation bydispossession, we have here the site of a different kind of contradiction.Here we would need to and should distinguish between subsistencesystems being incorporated into capital through this process ofaccumulation by dispossession and the marketinduced dispossession ofsmall commodity producers through competition. Both have a similareffect but differ greatly in their impact and their discourse. Subsistencesystems imply a direct possession of nature by humans and a directinteraction with it to fulfil their needs. Dispossession here is synonymouswith capitalisation of nature. Accumulation by dispossession is here calledfor precisely because markets by themselves cannot be relied upon to

    bring about the dispossession and bring these resources and that part ofnature into the circuit of capital.

    Secondly, the discourse here is reminiscent of the `civilising missions ofcolonial powers yet distinct from them. Here we have the supplanting ofbackward forms with more advanced forms of production and economiesin the interests of their own and the common good, and with due`compensation. In so far they open up a discourse of what constitutescommon good they are cast differently from the early enclosures whichwere direct assertions of private interests and rights. Nonetheless at corewe have the same monopoly of violence and the power to define legality

    that can be invoked whenever resistance spills its bounds.The great mass of the rural and the urban poor in countries like India tryto meet their livelihood needs through a combination of selling theirlabour power, non-capitalist or petty commodity production, subsistenceproduction and production continued within the family or household. Theoperations of the household are not neatly divided into these separatecategories, but form a multifarious and unique network itself adumbratedinto the circuits of capital. The household (in the sense of the familyorganised as an operational living unit) and the community that formstheir context is riven by divisions of caste, class and gender, butnevertheless is the medium through which they hold access to the natureand the spaces around them. What is important is that the possession

    Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 19/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quotedthat they have of the nature and the spaces around them, howeverprecarious, is a vital component of their lives and supports a significant,not necessarily a major but certainly a critical, portion of their livelihoods.In a situation where this access now occupies virtually all of what liesoutside already capitalised nature, any geographical expansion in thenature of a spatio-temporal fix will have to take the form of accumulationby dispossession: a dual process, a dispossession of the people who holdpossession of non-capitalised nature and direct incorporation of thatnature into the circuit of capital.

    The expropriation of subsistence production

    Expropriation of subsistence production is also the expropriation of anydirect productive relationship that humans have with nature unmediatedby capital. It is conquest of nature and humans by capital. However, thisdoes not mean that subsistence production is unaffected by capitalism. Infact, it is likely to be a dismal halfway house. Capitalism is likely to havedestroyed or utterly transformed its local ecological and social context sothat the current subsistence production would be a pale replica of what itmight have been in its own context. If this is not kept in mind, it is easy toliken this pale replica to a fully evolved ecologically sound productionsystem, by superposing on it ones own notions and see in the struggleswaged by subsistence producers against this capitalisation, not simply adefence of the natural environment they see as their natural possession,but an environmentalism. This environmentalism is then often seen to liein the non-capitalist complex of ideas and practices regarding nature.

    Given the earlier pre-capitalist context, many of these ideas and ideasmay be seen to blend into a whole that preserved and reproduced theecological context in which they operated. However, in the context of anongoing capitalisation of nature that surrounds them and modifies them,the context that made for the efficacy of the blend of ideas and practicesis often found to be irreparably modified, especially for the rural andurban poor, who can no longer rely on their disrupted practices to ensurethem a livelihood and must combine them with wage labour as well ascommodity production. In such a situation it is important to realise thatthough the blend of their earlier ideas and practices served to reproducetheir earlier ecological contexts in an efficient manner, it does not

    constitute an `ism that can be freely transported across time and contextand though we may learn from it and incorporate that learning in futurepractice, we can neither return to them nor take them over unchanged inthe name of their environmentalism.


    Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 20/21

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    Draft for discussion: Not to be quoted

    Capitalisation of Nature and Accumulation by Dispossession: Suhas Paranjape p. 21/21