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Re: question about Grapes of Wrath

Posted by Satya Gabriel on November 10, 2000 at 23:08:00:

In Reply to: question about Grapes of Wrath posted by Molly Olm-Shipman on November 8, 2000 at 19:51:26:

Feudalism can exist in conjunction with other class processes, e.g. capitalism, self-employment, slavery, and communal production and appropriation. Feudalism requires the creation of a work space where the workers have no choice. The workers, if they want to live a normal life using their skills, must work for the feudal director/lord. There is no reason this space can't exist, even if in an adjacent work space there are workers who are self-employed or slaves or capitalist wage laborers.

On your other question (regarding slavery): slavery became illegal in the United States during the Civil War, which was initiated by the southern states seeking to establish their own nation, founded on slavery, and independent of the laws of the North (including restrictions on the expansion of slavery and tariffs on imported manufactured goods, among other acts that came out of the increasingly northern dominated U.S. Congress). You should note that, despite President Lincoln's emancipation proclamation, slavery did not die immediately. There were reports of African-Americans held in slavery as recently as the 1950s and 1960s on isolated plantations in Alabama.

As for these class processes existing together, let me once again reiterate that there is no law of nature that blocks the simultaneous existence of many class processes within the same community. Indeed, in South Hadley you can no doubt find numerous instances of self-employment, even though capitalism is the prevalent class process. It has been theorized (Fraad, Resnick, and Wolff) that feudalism is common within American households. If this is the case in South Hadley, then we have feudalism, self-employment, and capitalism within South Hadley. No doubt there are also communal (or communist) households or other enterprises in South Hadley, as well. I will not speculate on whether there is slavery in South Hadley, but it would not surprise me to find that somewhere in this vicinity someone (adult or child) is being held as a slave and forced to do productive labor for a master, although such an economic arrangement would be illegal and subject to the political intervention of the state (if you know of such an arrangement contact the District Attorney's office in Northampton).




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