Brazil: Colony, Empire, Capital 2

2.The Persistence of Obsolescence

The history of modern capitalism is the history of its attachments to, entanglements with, destruction and recreation of it pre-modern, “archaic,” ante-bellum property forms. History is class struggle. Economics is concentrated history. The history of capitalism, its past and future economics, the class struggles waged by its ruling classes, is the persistence of the obsolescence of private property. Perpetual backwardness defines the bourgeoisie, permanent counterrevolution is final product of capital’s imagined progress.

The history of Brazil is the persistence of the history of Portugal; of Portugal in Africa; of Portugal navigating the Atlantic. The history of Brazil is the history of the persistence of slavery.

Of the estimated 54,000 voyages undertaken during the Atlantic slave trade, Portugal and Brazil account for 30,000.

An estimated 13,000,000 Africans were enslaved and shipped west.

Of that 13,000,000 Portuguese factors and traders supplied an estimated 6,000,000 from Benin, Congo, Angola, and Mozambique.

Of the 13,000,000 African people enslaved and shipped west, an estimated 11,000,000 survived the passage.

Of that surviving 11,000,000, an estimated 4,000,000 were transported to Brazil.

And of that estimated 4,000,000………..?

In the period 1576-1590, an estimated 50,000 slaves arrived in Brazil, yet in 1600 the total slave population measured just 15,000.

In the triangle trading of sugar, rum, slaves; of cowries, slaves, molasses; of cloth, slaves, cotton; of guns, slaves, tobacco, the triangles formed a pyramid with a base of bones. It is the extermination of labor, not just its aggrandizement, not just its consumption but its actual direct extermination in the production processes that defines the “backwardness” of Portugal in Brazil, the backwardness of mercantile capitalism; that persists in the development of capitalism in Brazil and defines the backwardness of private property for once and for all and forever.

S. Artesian December 10, 2006

address all comments to: sartesian@earthlink.net

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