Fri Oct 13 19:33:20 PDT 2000

In a message dated 10/13/00 9:43:43 PM Eastern Daylight Time, furuhashi.1 at writes:

I said:

<< The slaves were themselves

>commodities; their labor was not. But Charles knows this, and nothing in our

>disagreement rests on it. --jks

Yoshie asks:

> How can commodities "consent" in the Gramscian sense? Isn't the

essence of modern capitalist slavery -- unlike wage labor -- the

absence of "consent," whether one theorizes "consent" a la Gramsci or

social contract theorists?

Any oppressed group can "consent" in the Gramscian sense (which confers no legitimacy on the order to which they consent) if its members accept the conditions of their domination, internalize, at least partly, the values that make them subordinate, and generally acquiese to their life circumstances. The fact that the slaves were themselves bought and sold doesn't mean that they could not thus "consent." So I reject the proposition that slavery means absence of any sort of consent. In fact, slave societies, which have been the norm in human history, have been stable for millenia precisely because they succeeded in enforcing consent. Any class society that forfeits all consent and comes to rest purely on force rapidly becomes unstable.

> (BTW, do you think that so-called

"comfort women" -- women _forced_ to serve Japanese soldiers sexually

-- "consented" in the Gramscian sense? It would be so _grotesque_ to

stretch Gramsci's theory of "hegemony" to include rape!) >>

No, and I don't think the Jews consented to their own extermination under the Nazis. Consent is based on limited but real acknowledgemeny by the domiannt groups of the interests of the oppressed ones, an acknowledgement that may be merely instrujmental and cynical, but must be real to win consent. The Japanese merely used the comfort women; the Nazis merely attempted to murder the Jews. But American slaves were valuable property and had to be treated with attention to its survival and reproduction. Btw, American slavery involved massive rape, and although it may be grotesque, I think that a Gramscian theory of slavery must indeed extend to include that, or to explain it. That does not mean that there was no rape because the sex was consensual: the term "consent" does not have the same meaning in a feminist theory of rape anda Gramscian theory of hegemony.

Yoshie, you read and rather liked my paper on this, in which I used American slavery as my main example!


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