Conference: Global History of Agrarian Labor Regimes, 1750 to 2000 (Harvard University)

My interest in Agrarian Labor Regimes was first awaken in my research on Opium trade in India. Since then, more readings have made me realize the complex structures behind the history of agrarian labor in a global context.

If you are also interested in the topic, the *Weatherhead Initiative on Global History (WIGH)* at Harvard University is planning a conference for *April 2013* that is focusing on changing labor regimes within global agriculture.

As posted by Blog de la AMHE by Manuel Bautista, they are interested in exploring the diversity of labor regimes, the paths along which they changed, and—most especially—the connections between these changes in different parts of the world. We are interested in work that explores the connected histories of propertied farming, sharecropping, wage labor, slavery, *cultures obligatoires*, and other such forms of labor, and how they have been connected to the spatial and social spread of capitalism.We are seeking proposals from historians, political scientists, economists, sociologists, and anthropologists at all stages of their academic career, including graduate students. We encourage proposals from those in relevant career paths or institutions outside the university. We are particularly interested in forging a global discussion of these topics, and therefore welcome especially contributions from outside North America and Europe.

The conference will try to balance broad comparative papers and revealing case studies. The Weatherhead Initiative on Global History is a newly created center that responds to the growing interest at Harvard in the encompassing study of global history. The Initiative is committed to the systematic scrutiny of developments that have unfolded across national, regional, and continental boundaries as well as to analysis of the interconnections—cultural, economic, ecological and demographic—among world societies. For further information about WIGH as well as the conference, please consult our website at http://wigh.wcfia.harvard.edu.

Proposals should include an abstract of no more than two pages and a brief curriculum vita. Please email your submissions to Jessica Barnard ( jbarnard @ wcfia.harvard.edu ) before *November 30, 2012*. Travel expenses as well as accommodation will be covered.

Holger Droessler hdroessl @ fas.harvard.edu

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Thanksgiving Greatest Quotes

Thanksgiving is a typically American holiday. In spite of its religious form (giving thanks to God for a good harvest), its essential, secular meaning is a celebration of successful production. It is a producers’ holiday. The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production. Abundance is (or was and ought to be) America’s pride—just as it is the pride of American parents that their children need never know starvation. Ayn Rand

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to recognize what we are truly grateful for, to appreciate and celebrate the fruits of our labor: our wealth, health, relationships and material things–all the values we most selfishly cherish. Debi Ghate

Article: The Global Reserve Army of Labor and the New Imperialism

Loyalist Arms Factory
Image by Burns Library, Boston College via Flickr

I managed to read this article while having coffee today in a exquisite café in front of the Palace Museum in Weimar. It was very hard to try understanding the author’s ideas while he refuses to accept that the value of a product is the result of an objective theory of valuation done by the consumers and sellers in specific contexts. He gives for granted that labor force is the one deterministic condition behind production and trying to get his point seems quite difficult at points. Nonetheless, this is a great opportunity to understand the mainstream ideas of Karl Marx theories in regard to Globalization and what some of them call “Global Capitalism / New Imperialism”. Here’s the intro and then a link to the article via EbscoHost,

The article discusses the ways in which the growth of the global capitalist labor force has altered the imperialistic nature of global capitalism, as represented by powerful multinational corporations, by negatively affecting wages in both developing and wealthy countries. The authors rely heavily on philosopher Karl Marx’s theories on the industrial reserve army and capital accumulation, which posit that wealth accumulation will invariably lead to increased suffering for the working masses. They go on to explain the exploitative nature of global labor arbitrage, which essentially means a corporation’s benefiting from low wages in developing countries. The process of arbitrage is related to the development of massive global supply chains.
Read more: The Global Reserve Army of Labor and the New Imperialism. (AN 66933797) Academic Search Complete. FOSTER, JOHN BELLAMY; McCHESNEY, ROBERT W.; JONNA, R. JAMILMonthly Review: An Independent Socialist Magazine; 11/01/2011

Occupying Wall Street for the wrong reasons

The group “The 99 percenters” (also known as the 99%) assembled in Wall Street to protest against the corporations of the United States that have benefited from the privileges granted from government through lobbying. They say to be tired of the social and economic inequality in their country.  Somehow, they consider Corporations to be the one’s to blame for this inequalities.

Now, lets hold on for a second and consider what are they protesting against and who’s to blame. Then, lets try to explain what and whom should be really blamed before continuing this protests.

What they say to be protesting against:

What are the really protesting against:

  • Social inequality: Is in fact the cultural and educational differences of those who know more than others.
  • Economic inequality: Is the result of those men who earn a salary that is higher than others; or of those who own a business and make more earnings than others.
  • Lobbying: Is the act of influencing decisions made by officials in the government in favor of some industries, unions, or groups of society.
  • Corporate greed: Is not to be confused with the profit that an entrepreneur earns in his ventures.  Greed should better be understood as the result of living and satisfying one’s wants wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. Corporations that profit with the privileges granted by government are the only ones to be attacked and denounced; not those entrepreneurs who took risks and invest their savings.

These “99 percenters” are confused.  They think that Corporations are to be blamed for the economic and financial crisis that started in 2008 in the U.S.  However, it is their government and their bureaucrats that through Congress ad the FED enabled for the crisis to happen.  This protests should have been taking place in front of the White House and the Senate instead of Wall Street. (Check this video of some of the protests in Wall Street agains the FED)

It is not all the rich and wealthy who benefit from government privileges.  The ones who did are to be blamed. But more so, the one’s to be blamed and taken to justice are the the government officials who created the legislation that ensures that corruption and impunity continue without being punished.

As Fréderic Bastiat, the journalist and philosopher from the 19th. Century, once said:

The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.

How has this perversion of the law been accomplished? And what have been the results?

The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and false philanthropy. (…)

But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws.

This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.

I invite you to continue reading Bastiat’s wonderful book “The Law” online. I am myself, have read it for dozens of times and consider it one of the most enlightening works ever written. Spanish versión: La ley por Frédéric Bastiat [PDF¨]