Theory & Struggle

The control of the labouring classes

From primitive accumulation to early industrialisation in England and the conquest of India

Theory & Struggle (2018), 119, (1), 48–58.

Abstract

This article examines the social system origins of capitalist production in England and particularly its most essential component: the separation of working people from their means of subsistence on the land, thereby creating a proletariat compelled to sell its labour power. Marx called this process ‘primitive accumulation’ because of its coercive, non-market character. He also argued that a key additional element of this ‘non-market’ accumulation was required to sustain the infant capitalist state system: the seizure of resources from other societies. The object of this article is to demonstrate the linkages between these two complementary sides of primitive accumulation: the dispossession of the English peasantry and the way in which some of the legal forms developed in this process were then applied elsewhere — specifically, in this study, to India.

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Details

Author details

Saville, Richard