To those who need a little explaining as to how capitalism and poverty go hand in hand, and why poverty is necessary for capitalism to function, you could do worse than read the article by Simon Springer, of the Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Canada, called Property is the mother of famine: On dispossession, wages, and the threat of hunger:
Read the full article HERE:
Poverty is rooted in the accumulation of wealth, a process that plays out through the dispossession of the many so as to secure excess for the few. While this insight is commonly assigned to Karl Marx (1867) and particularly his understanding of primitive accumulation set forth in the ﬁrst volume of Capital, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1890) had worked out the contradictory underpinning of capitalism several decades earlier with his inquiry into the principle of right and of government, where he declared “property is theft!” Indeed, the very possibility of poverty, and its expression as famine, is rooted in the institution of property itself. If famine requires a combination of political, production and market shocks” as Alex De Waal (2017) argues, then it is a construction of capital-ism, unfurled when and where it is deemed appropriate by state elites holding the reigns of power. For Peter Kropotkin (1906: 220),“ it was poverty that created the ﬁrst capitalist; because, before accumulating ‘surplus value,’ of which we hear so much, men had to be sufﬁciently destitute to consent to sell their labour, so as not to die of hunger. It was poverty that that made capitalists.” I don't disagree with the sentiment, but I can't help but want to know what made poverty? Kropotkin (1906: 220) provides a partial answer when he suggests that,“ if the number of poor rapidly increased during the Middle Ages, it was due to the invasions and wars that followed the founding of States” .So we are starting to see a picture where capitalism and the state come together as indeed they always have as a dialectics of violence. Through the process of violent expropriation, people were taught to accept“ the principle of wages, so dear to exploiters, instead of the solidarity they formerly practised” (Kropotkin, 1906, p. 220). The history of capitalism accordingly suggests that poverty is always and only ever the effect of property, for in its historical and ongoing wars of plunder (Le Billon, 2012), capitalism seeks to secure the right of proprietorship. In order to create poverty it was ﬁrst necessary to establish property. It was in the form of dispossession that deﬁciency, deprivation, and destitution ﬁrst became possible. Consequently, in its most rudimentary form, capitalism is a process that ensures the production of hunger. As Kropotkin (1906:178) put it, “the threat of hunger is man's best stimulant for productive work” and to secure the lock on that cage, one must be stripped of all possession and removed from their connection to the soil, where the material basis of life is appropriated by private interest. In de Waal's account of famine I was particularly impressed with his refusal of the general pornography of violence that exists. Famine isn't as direct as mass execution in gas chambers, and so its slow temporal burn (Nixon, 2011; Springer, 2012) and diffuse geographical embers receive far less attention (Springer, 2011). Yet to me this is precisely what makes famine so compelling. If the original deﬁnition of genocide advanced by Rafael Lemkin “ dedicates more detail and space to …the use of starvation as an in-strument of extermination, persecution and inhumanity, than to mass killing” as De Waal (2017) argues, then indeed this should tell us something quite profound about famine as an instrument of control. With this being the case, then perhaps capitalism can be understood as the systemic and pervasive spectre of genocide, for privation of the majority is precisely what capitalism procures as a state of permanent being. This condition is produced through the private appropriation of all material needs land, water, housing,food, and tools the result of which is both the institutionalization of property, and a widespread reliance on wages as people are stripped of their ability to subsist off the land. One is enslaved by This system, where refusing it means starvation. The only thing that prevents our genocide is the acceptance of wages, an agreement that secures our political value. Without this exchange our lives are rendered useless to capital.
Please cite this article in press as: Springer, S., Property is the mother of famine: On dispossession, wages, and the threat of hunger,
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