Monday, October 20, 2008

Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker: The Hidden Labor of Capitalism

For the African, European, and American hewers of wood and drawers of water in the early seventeenth century, work was both a curse and a punishment. These workers were necessary to the growth of capitalism, as they did the work that could not or would not be done by artisans in workshops, manufactories, or guilds. Hewers and drawers performed the fundamental labors of expropriation that have usually been taken for granted by historians. Expropriation itself, for example, is treated as a given: the field is there before the plowing starts; the city is there before the laborer begins the working day. Likewise for long-distance trade: the port is there before the ship sets sail from it; the plantation is there before the slave cultivates its land. The commodities of commerce seem to transport themselves. Finally, reproduction is assumed to be the transhistorical function of the family. The result is that the hewers of wood and drawers of water have been invisible, anonymous, and forgotten, even though they transformed the face of the Earth by building the infrastructue of "civilization." (42)

2 comments:

René said...

Peter Linebaugh talks about 'The Magna Carta Manifesto' in this podcast:
http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/archive/2009/03/the-magna-carta-manifesto/

Thivai Abhor said...

Rene,

Thank you for the link... I am interseted in the "flow" of ideas/tools for a better life.

What are you thinking?