"For globalization to work, America must not demur from acting like the omnipotent super-power that it is. The invisible hand of the market never functions without the hidden fist. McDonalds cannot prosper without McDonnel Douglas, the builder of the F-15 fighter. And the hidden fist that guarantees a secure world for the technologies of the Silicon Valley is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines." -- Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 28 March 1999.
The very sound of the expression, primitive accumulation, drips with poignant echoes of human consequences [Perelman writes]. The word "primitive," first of all, suggests a brutality lacking in the subtleties of more modern forms of exploitation. It also implies that primitive accumulation was prior to the form of accumulation that people generally associate with capitalism. Finally, it hints at something that we might associate with "primitive" parts of the world, where capital accumulation has not advanced as far as elsewhere.The second term, accumulation, reminds us that the primary focus of the process was the accumulation of capital and wealth by a small sector of society, or as Marx described it, "the conquest of the world of social wealth. It is the extension of the area of exploited human material and, at the same time, the extension of the indirect and direct sway of the capitalist." Certainly, at least in the early stages of capitalism, primitive accumulation was a central element in the accumulation process.
Lenin [Perelman writes] understood the essence of the classical theory of primitive accumulation. He knew that once the traditional sector becomes sufficiently impoverished, poor peasants will have no choice but to accept wage labor. Lenin [praised Karl Kautsky,] whose work on agriculture [...] demonstrated how political acts, such as cutting off the peasant's freedom to gather firewood or hunt game, increased the number of hours that a family would have to work to produce the same amount of use value.
After Joseph Stalin took over the reigns of power, the imagery of Steuart continued to echo in the Party deliberations. Stalin called for a shift in policy relative to "the bond between town and country, between the working class and the main mass of the peasantry." He emphasized the role of producers' goods delivered to the peasantry rather than the consumer goods, as Steuart had done [...] Stalin's bond, unlike Steuart's, was intended "not to preserve classes but to abolish them." [...] Ultimately, the Russian countryside was also cleared of many "superfluous mouths."
Unlike Stalin, Mao believed that the proper arrangements could not be created by fiat. [...] Mao [...] stood for the substitution of the visible bond of politics for the invisible bond of Smith. In this sense, Mao's vision may nonetheless properly be called Smithian. In spite of the best precautions, he recognized that "the spontaneous forces of capitalism have been steadily growing in the countryside."