Download Arise Ye Starvelings: The Jamaican Labour Rebellion of 1938 by Ken Post (auth.) PDF

By Ken Post (auth.)

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Additional info for Arise Ye Starvelings: The Jamaican Labour Rebellion of 1938 and its Aftermath

Sample text

At the same time, it contained the seeds of new modes of production which were to provide an economic centre for a new social formation after 1838. 22 It must be understood that the slave plantations in fact articulated two complementary (but antagonistic) modes of prodUction, that in which centrallydirected slave gangs raised cash crops, and another in which slaves were allowed to grow foodstuffs on their own plots, tended in their own time, and might often sell any surplus in a network of markets which emerged in the island.

In order to understand this, it is necessary to take up the question of plantation slavery as a pre-capitalist form. Many writers have treated it rather as a variant of capitalist production17 For me it was a distinct mode of production, even if incorporated into capitalist exchange. It was based upon a particular combination of capital, land and THE SOCIAL FORMATION AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS 23 labour power and, as Marx showed, the mere presence of capital, even in conjunction with 'free' labour, let alone chattel slaves, does not make a social formation capitalist.

It is thus central to this study that Jamaica was part of the totality of the British colonial system and by 1938 had been so for nearly three hundred years. The island was formed as a society not only in terms of its own internally uneven development, but even more by its place in the British imperial system; it was in a very particular way, a creation of external forces. 12 It thus belonged to the old, mercantilist British Empire, indeed was one of its most important parts supplying an essential commodity and - at least in theory - fitting neatly, through the famous 'triangular trade', into a pattern of production and exchange with two other parts of that empire, the trading forts on the West African coast and the thirteen colonies of North America.

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