Karl Marx's View On Slavery

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SMITH, MILL AND MARX ON SLAVERY

ABSTRACT: Economic ideas of Adam Smith, J S Mill, and Karl Marx on Slavery are discussed. Adam Smith’s views on slavery and the causes to persistence and possible solution of persistence of slavery had been discussed in details. Followed by JS Mill’s perspective of Savagery, Slavery and Civilization, they are analyzed in isolation along with the benefits of slavery. Also, the Marxian perspective of Slavery is discussed with modern and ancient slavery and its transition. Lastly, a comparison of the ideas is done to sum up the essay.

Adam Smith, J.S. Mill and Karl Marx present compelling arguments against slavery. This paper aims to elaborate on the various economic ideas on slavery that these thinkers have
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Marx, through his observation of the New World and Europe, likens slavery to machinery or capital without which a bourgeois industry not only cannot sustain but wouldn’t have found its existence. “Without Slavery you have no cotton; without cotton you have no modern industry. It is slavery that has given the colonies their value; it is the colonies that have created world trade and it is world trade that is the pre-condition of large scale industry. Thus slavery is an economic category of the greatest importance”. (Marx) The system of slavery like any other exploitative system is a dynamic system that transform from increasing production to stagnation followed by decline and over…show more content…
He identified that for indirect slavery to exist in Europe, in the industries, it was essential for direct, pure slavery to exist in the New World. As seen in the cotton industry, capitalism in agriculture follows development of industry because agriculture profit depends on industrial profit. The influence of capitalism is seen in industry much before it is seen in agriculture. And it is only after capitalism strengthens its hold over industry that the agriculture is forced to transform. It is the “stormy growth” of industry in England that transformed slavery in the United States into a form of commercial exploitation. This transition from pre-capitalist slavery to capitalist slavery comes about when the system devoted to earning subsistence evolves to a system that aims to generate surplus-value. In this process, the working condition is worsened. This becomes the seed for violent crises. Wage labour emerges from the breakdown of the system of slavery and serfdom however if slavery does survive as an anomaly, the slave owners become the capitalist, slaves the proletariats and the product becomes commodity.
According to Karl Marx within capitalism, slave and wage labors have a distinctive characteristic. While a slave has an exchange value, a wage-worker has no exchange value. A slave in
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