Defending a Place in the City: Localities & the Struggle for by Erhard Berner

By Erhard Berner

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Central to the latter are the various phases of European colonialism from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries, what drove them, what forms they took, the kinds of agrarian change they induced and with what consequences — the subject of Chapter 3. We shall see that interpretations of these world-historical dynamics are shaped, in some important respects, by the kinds of issues noted here concerning alternative approaches to the origins of capitalism. Notes 1. 2. The rate of surplus value is the ratio of new value to the value of variable capital invested in producing it, while the rate of profit is the ratio of new value to the value of the variable and constant capital invested in producing it.

Throughout much of history, replacement was carried out within farming households: a certain proportion of the harvest was selected and saved as seed for the next cycle of cultivation; simple tools were made by farmers themselves or by neighbours who were specialized artisans (and who had to be compensated in some way for their work). In effect, satisfying the replacement fund represents a claim on labour and its product, whether keeping back part of the harvest for seed, using food stored from a previous harvest to feed people while they carry out tasks crucial to reproduction in-between farming seasons, acquiring basic means of production, and consumption, that farmers might not produce themselves.

I have sketched this in terms of funds for consumption, replacement and ceremonial activities, found in all agrarian societies from the beginning, and for rent, which emerges with the formation of agrarian class societies. I have also noted, as unique to capitalism, the appropriation of surplus labour for purposes of productive accumulation. This final question is about how different social relations of production and reproduction determine the distribution and uses of the social product. 23 CLASS DYNAMICS OF AGRARIAN CHANGE These four key questions can be usefully applied across different sites and scales of economic activity, from households to “communities” to regional, national and global economic formations.

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