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      From R. Rojas S.: "Latin America: blockages to development", 1984
      * What follows are basic theoretical considerations on the
  formation of a DEPENDENT system of production as an outcome
  of colonization:
  1.- Collision, dissolution and fusion of modes of production
       The conditions of collision and dissolution
       The actors
       The collision
       Dissolution and fusion
  2.- Social structure as the dominant dynamic structure

1.- Collision, dissolution and fusion of modes of production

[pp. 38-46]            FIRST SECTION

     The stage of emergence, development and consolidation of
the colonial system in Latin America covers roughly three
centuries, from 1500 to 1800. In this first section I will
concentrate on that period, since it constitutes a historical
process in which two modes of production collide. The
collision originates the dissolution of both, a fusion of some
of their original elements, and eventually, a new mode of
production, which becomes the basis of a new social formation.

     The progress of my analysis will be as follows:

1.-The conditions of collision and dissolution. Spanish and
Portuguese invasion, conquest and colonisation of Latin
America were achieved within the framework of a world market
dominated by merchant capital, the latter being a component
part of the feudal mode of production prevailing in Western
Europe. Therefore, the main aim of this conquest was not to
impose on the defeated people a particular mode of production
(feudal), but to appropriate commodities that could be
produced in the continent, in order to accumulate monetary
capital in the conquering countries. That is, firstly the
plundering of gold and silver, and secondly agricultural
products. The imposition of tribute on the Indian population
was the first most important mechanism of exaction of
commodities during the XVI and XVII centuries. The conquest
and colonisation were achieved at the same time as the
Absolutist State emerged in Western Europe, marking the last
stage of the feudal mode of production. As a result of
military conquests, the wars in Europe exerted increased
pressure on the Absolutist State's needs for extra revenues,
in order to pay the expenses of the huge armies they
maintained and the bureaucracy they relied upon. For example,
by 1550 over 80 per cent of Spanish State revenues were
allocated to military expenditure. Consequently, there was a
constant pressure on the Latin American production system for
more gold, silver and cash crops. This pressure tended to
disarticulate the Indian production system, and led to a
search for new methods of organization of labour. Therefore,
the Spanish and Portuguese American production system was
submitted to a twofold constraint to maximise the
appropriation of surplus-labour: pressure from the Absolutist
State and merchants from Spain, and pressure from the Spanish
conquistadores who were the direct exploiters in the
continent. So, the latter had to work out a system capable of
maximising the appropriation of surplus-labour, reproducing
labourers at the lowest cost possible, and reproducing the
conditions of domination of the new white ruling class. The
direct labourers (Indians), instead, had to choose between
being overworked to pay labour tribute whilst living in Indian
communities, working as individuals for the white landowners,
or alternatively rebelling against the white ruling class.

2.-The actors. Two types of societies existed in the continent
when the Portuguese and Spanish invaders arrived:
agricultural-sedentary and nomadic-hunting. The former ( in
Central America and the western coast of South America ) were
the maya, aztec and inca societies, and the latter ( in the
Caribbean Islands, eastern part of South America, and today
southern part of Chile and the whole of Argentina ) were the
tribal societies in a classless stage of development. Maya,
aztec and inca societies were in a process of transition from
a classless to a class society, where the mode of
appropriation of surplus-labour was in the form of tribute:
maya and aztec direct labourers were submitted to tribute in
kind and in labour, and inca direct labourers to tribute only
in labour. Being the land property of the state and possessed
communally, the relations of production and forces of
production were related, roughly, as in the asiatic mode of
production described by Marx. Upon these Indian societies,
Spanish invaders built up the core of their colonial system,
unlike the Portuguese conquerors who faced the tribal
communities in north-eastern South America, destroyed them and
repopulated the region through imports of negro slaves.
     The white conquerors came from Iberian Absolutist States,
which, unlike the rest of Western Europe's Absolutist States
which developed a steady pattern of dissolution of feudal mode
of production during XVI-XVIII centuries, strengthened feudal
relations of production during the same period, maintaining a
society mainly composed of nobles, priests and peasants,
highly inimical to capitalist development. The royal
absolutism in Castile for instance, achieved its crucial
victory against the town's revolt in 1520, which marked the
course of Spanish monarchy as separate from its counterparts
in the rest of Western Europe. As a result of this, Spain and
Portugal's economies lagged behind their counterparts in
Western Europe; this situation had very important effects on
the development of the American colonies.

3.-The collision. The first contact between the Spanish and
Portuguese invaders and the Latin American Indian communities
occurred in areas where tribal hunting communities lived ( the
Caribbean Islands and the Northeastern coast of Brazil ). As
the main aim of the colonial undertaking was mining (
extraction of gold and silver ), the invaders tried to supply
themselves with labour power, submitting the Indians to forced
labour and the tribal communities to tribute, in order to
supply the scarce white population with food and clothing. The
Indians reacted by running away to the hills or mounting armed
uprisings against the conquerors. As a result, the Indian
population was decimated in less than twenty years, and the
conquerors had to introduce negro slave labour both in the
mines and cash crop fields (plantations) and in the production
of food and shelter. It was only after the second contact
(Mexico) that the main collision between two different class
stratified social formations began. Following the defeat of
the Aztec empire, the white conquerors replaced the Aztec
nobility as the ruling class and submitted Aztec labourers to
the same system of labour service and tribute in kind which
was in use before the Spanish invasion. The same pattern was
followed in the conquest of the Inca society (Peru-Bolivia).
But even when the mode of appropriation of surplus-labour
didn't change fundamentally, this was not the case with the
mode of accumulation; most fundamentally, the main industrial
activity shifted from agriculture to mining. Unlike Aztec-
Maya-Inca's mode of accumulation which was  within the
boundaries of collective ownership of means of production, the
Spanish's was within the boundaries of private ownership of
the means of production, thus bringing about a dislocation
between an individual mode of accumulation of surplus-labour
and a collective mode of production of surplus-labour. This
dislocation led to a continuous scarcity and misallotment of
labour-power during the period in which encomiendas (grants of
Indians to the Spanish on individual grantee basis) were the
main units of colonial production.
     It was in the mining sector where the dislocation
appeared in its main form, taking in Indian labour displaced
from the agricultural Indian communities , thence impairing
the reproduction of direct labourers to an extent that the
encomiendas were almost depopulated in the XVI century. The
Spanish State tried to remedy this problem  reviving an Inca
system of labour allocation, putting the distribution of
native labour  under colonial bureaucratic management, in the
form of a sham public labour market (repartimiento).
Repartimiento was bound to fail as a feasible solution to the
problem of dislocation, since it was merely a different form
of that dislocation.
     The only way the colonial ruling class could maintain the
dislocation as a component part of the colonial production
system was by relying upon imports of means of subsistence and
production from Spain and/or utilising slave labour to
reproduce the ruling class and the remaining Indian labouring
class. Given the economic crisis in Spain and Western Europe
in general during the XVI and XVII centuries, and the high
costs of a slave labour system as compared with a rational
utilization of an already available supply of labour power,
the most adequate solution for the white colonial ruling class
had to be one that sought to erase the main dislocation of the
new system.

4.- Dissolution and fusion. The Spanish were facing a
collective peasant economy, unlike the Western European one
based on individual peasant economy. Thus, the former's
capacity to produce surplus-labour was far more limited than
the latter. Consequently, when this collective peasant economy
was required to pay higher tribute than in pre-colonial times
(both in kind and labour), part of its necessary labour was
expropriated from it, and the whole system began to collapse,
being incapable of feeding all its members. Members of the
Indian communities were forced to look for their survival
outside those communities. As the conquered people had no
right to possess land, their only way of survival was on the
Spanish's private land (outside the framework of the
encomiendas, which were not grants of land). This was the main
source of labour power Spanish private landowners tapped to
build up what was called haciendas. There was not need to use
force in order to obtain labour power for the haciendas, now.
     Two methods were utilized by the hacendados to make sure
a steady supply of labour was available: firstly, by granting
loans (in kind and/or in money) to individual indians in
exchange for their labour on the hacienda, and buying their
labour power (in kind and/or in money) well below the
subsistence level. As a result of this, indebtedness emerged,
and the labourers became attached to the hacendados land;
secondly, by ceding a small plot to the labourer, as a
compensation for the obligation to till the landlord's
hacienda. Eventually, both methods became one, and the small
plot, just enough to raise subsistence crops, became the main
compensation for the direct labourer. The hacienda succeeded
in removing the dislocation described above, and it appeared
in the Latin American colonial system as a unit of production
with an individual mode of accumulation (hacendado) facing and
individual mode of production of the surplus-labour (peon).
     The Western European feudal mode of production's main
feature (feudal rent), along with the asiatic mode of
production's main feature (a tax in labour and kind) dissolved
themselves in the hacienda, producing a new main feature
(compensation in land) after the process of fusion.
Furthermore, this solution to the dislocation enabled the
remaining indian communities to be used as unlimited sources
of labour power, achieving the objective of maintaining the
value of the social necessary labour at the lowest possible
level. A new mode of production developed around the hacienda,
a dominant mode in a new social formation.

5.-Development. During the XVII and XVIII centuries a social
structure developed out of the reproductive requirements of
this new mode of production; the basic class antagonism was
determined by the structure's fundamental relation of
production: that between landowner and peon. Remnants of other
modes of production -such as slave labour (in plantations),
collective labour (in Indian communities), guilds in the
towns, and handicraft in the indian villages- co-existed
alongside this new mode of production. At the same time, there
were some trades where wage labour was utilized (mining,
cattle raising, manufacturing) as a supplement to the basic
organization of labour referred above.
     A major characteristic in the development of this mode of
production was the presence of a declining system of
production (the indian communities) in a subordinate position,
servicing the former with a provision of added labour-power.
The final stage of dissolution (XIX-XX centuries) led to the
emergence of the minifundio (a small rural property
reproducing itself at/or below the level of subsistence
farming), which eventually assumed the role formerly played by
the indian communities as a source of labour-power. Thus, the
unity of the opposites hacienda-indian communities transformed
itself into that of hacienda-minifundio, or, as is generally
known, latifundia-minifundia. This basic structure of landed
property became the most important component part of the new
mode of production in its period of consolidation (XIX
century). It is important to note here the similarity between
the minifundio and the plot ceded to peones (a subsistence-
subsubsistence piece of ground) in the haciendas; the first as
the property of direct labourers, the second as the property
of hacendados but possessed by the direct labourers as a
compensation for the latter's labour-power; both preventing
the direct labourer from accumulating surplus-labour. 
     Consequently, unlike the FMP in which the development of
the forces of production was determined by the dynamics of
independent peasant production (1), in the LAMP this
development was determined by big rural estate production
using recompensed  labour power. In the FMP the basic form of
the forces of production is the labour of the individual
tenant cultivator, whilst in the LAMP it is the collective
recompensed cultivator (2). The former saw the system as
expropriating part of the product of his labour, the latter
did not. As the recompense took the form of subsistence land,
the most adequate way to increase production for the landowner
was to utilise intensive labour instead of increasing the
productivity of labour. This feature crippled the potential
for primitive accumulation and impaired technological
development of the forces of production.
     This unique mode of organization of labour led to a mode
of distribution of the means of production, in which the
ruling class had the monopoly of its ownership; a mode of
appropriation of surplus-labour, in which the ruling class had
the monopoly of its accumulation; and a mode of circulation,
in which the collectively recompensed cultivator was
maintained outside the domestic market of commodities and
circulation of money. Therefore, it can be argued that at this
stage of development of the colonial production system in
Latin America, there existed specific relations of production,
forces of production and an articulation (social connection)
between them; a specific mode of production, that is.
     The social structure derived from this mode was based
upon an extreme polarization between the landowners and the
peasants, with no room for significant development of middle
sectors, impairing the growth of a "burgher class" as separate
from the landowning class. The landowning-ruling class exerted
its domination over the society from town to countryside, the
opposite to that in the FMP. Thence, the landowners were at
the same time "burghers", taking over the roles of both
merchants and manufacturers. This unique process produced a
cohesive ruling class, a dependent small middle sector, and a
dispersed class of direct labourers. From this point of view,
unlike the FMP in which there was room to develop the forces
of production in a capitalist direction (primitive
accumulation), in the LAMP development in that direction was
always impaired (crippled) both in countryside and town.
     In the early XIX century, when the emerging capitalist
mode of production in Western Europe was in a position to
fully extend its penetration in Latin America, and the social
formation in the latter was in the process of consolidating
its dominant mode of production, there occurred a new
collision of modes of production in the continent. The effects
of this collision were increasingly felt during the whole of
the XIX century, and it eventually led to the XX century state
of "underdevelopment" in Latin America. We will deal with this
point in the Second Section of my thesis.
     In the next three chapters I will develop each of the
above five points in turn.

1) See Hindess and Hirst, op. cit., pp. 249-252
2) Ibid. p. 243

( Robinson Rojas, "Latin America: Blockages to Development", 
PhD Dissertation, 1984), pages 38-46

2.- Social structure as the dominant dynamic structure

[pp. 157-160]           SECOND SECTION


     The period analyzed in this section roughly covers from the
XIX century onwards.  During that period Latin America became
politically independent from the colonial powers Spain and
Portugal, fragmented in a score of nation states, economically
underdeveloped as compared with the industrialized countries of
Western Europe and North America, and tied to an international
economic system which apparently maintains Latin American nations
in a state of economic backwardness, political instability, and,
most important, striking social inequalities.
     I will argue that the structure of class relations existing
in the region at the beginning of the period in question
determined (1) the manner and degree in which external political
and economic pressures did effect already existing patterns in
the distribution of income and economic growth (2).  Therefore
I will argue that the present state of socio-economic
underdevelopment (3) in Latin America is the outcome determined
by the particular social structure that took shape in colonial
times.  A social structure created by the Ibero-American colonial
system: a specific social formation with a specific mode of
production as its basis, which I called the Latin American mode
of production (LAMP).
     On the other hand, in accordance with the concept developed
in the First Section - collision of modes of production - I will
argue that in the process of encounter between the LAMP and the
capitalist mode of production, the latter was a necessary but not
sufficient condition to underdevelop the region.


     At this stage of my argument it is necessary to introduce
some of the concepts I use as tools in the analysis of such
agricultural social formations as the Ibero American in the XVIII
and XIX centuries.
     THE CONCEPT OF CLASSES - In any social formation the
organisation of the process of production causes the grouping of
the members of society into classes.  The organisation of the
process of production is constituted by the relations between the
agents of that process: direct producers, objects of production,
means of production, and non-producers.  The set of these
relations constitutes a historically specific arrangement.  In
its turn, this arrangement is a historic product: the outcome of
the struggle between the class of direct producers and the class
of non-producers.  This struggle, at the level of process of
production, derives from the contradiction existing between the
immediate process of production and the outcome of this process
of production.  That is, between the level of actual production
and the level of social organisation:
     THE IMMEDIATE PROCESS OF PRODUCTION, in which the relations
are between the direct producers, to their tools and to the land
(the main means of production in an agricultural mode of
production).  In Marxian historiography this is called the labour
process, and its agents the social forces of production;
itself in the manner in which the distribution of the produce is
made between direct-producers, non-producers, and replacement of
means of production and objects of production already worn out. 
Here the fundamental relations are amongst direct-producers and
non-producers. They are:

       "the inherently conflictive relations of property - always
        generated directed or indirectly, in the last analysis, 
        by force - by which an unpaid-for part of the product is 
        extracted from the direct-producers by a class of 
        non-producers - which might be called the 'property 
        relations' or the 'surplus extraction relationships'... (4).

     So, the set of relations contained by these two aspects
might be defined as the social relations of production, which
embody the organisation of the process of production.  Hence, the
definition of the fundamental classes in a social formation is
therefore given by the "surplus extraction relationships" or
"property relations" - in a twofold meaning of ownership and/or
possession which belongs to the mode of production that is
determinant in the social formation in question.
     Consequently, a particular class structure persists through
time - if there are no external agents such as military conquest
and/or destruction by a different social formation - depending
on the outcome of the struggles between the class of non-
producers and the class of direct producers.  The former will
intend to maintain the current class structure, the latter will
try to destroy or modify it.  If the class of direct-producers
triumphs, a new class structure will replace the old one.  In its
turn, this new class structure will have its limits of change
posed by the balance of power between the two fundamental classes
in conflict after their previous struggle, and so forth.  The
different processes of transition from feudalism to capitalism
in the various countries of Western Europe is clear a case in
     In the case of Latin America during XVIII-XIX centuries, the
class of non-producers managed to defeat every single struggle
against it carried out by the class of direct-producers, with the
result that the class structure based on hacienda-peon surplus
extracting relationship remained unchanged (5).

     THE CONCEPT OF LIMITS - from the above it follows that
causes and effects interact with each other in social formations. 
Moreover, what in the first place was a cause of a particular
effect, can be transformed into an effect of its effect, the
latter now becoming a cause.  For example, class structure as
effect of the organisation of the process of labour, can become
the cause for a different organisation of the process of labour.
     So, in the first stage, the particularities of an
organisation of the process of production poses limits to the
variations of its correspondent  social structure.  In the second
stage, it is this class structure which poses the limits within
which the organisation of the process of production can vary. 
This leads us to the use of the concept of limits in a given
social formation. Those limits are posed, simultaneously, by the
material and the social conditions of production.  But, in a
historically given period one of them determines the outcome. 
For instance, in colonial times the material conditions of
production in the continent determined the shaping of the
relations of production hacendado-peon.  Conversely, in post-
colonial times, the existent social structure determined the
making of what is called Latin American underdevelopment.
     This concept of limit is basic to my argument and requires
further elaboration.  For the moment, let us say that these
limits derive from the interaction between the set of relations
and each one of the these relations within a social formation
     It is common knowledge that, commencing in the XIX century,
the economic and political encroachment of the capitalist mode
of production in Latin America - mostly through what has been
called "trade imperialism" of the British Empire - was the most
important external influence in the region.  It is also common
knowledge that following the independence wars there was a
relative scarcity of money capital in the former Iberian
colonies, and that contemporaneous with that scarcity there was
a dumping of British manufactures into the area.  Nevertheless,
neither these "relative scarcity factors" nor the trade
imperialism in itself were the decisive factors in setting the
path of socio-economic development that the Latin American
nation-states have been following until the present.  The
determining factor was the class structure existing at the time
they achieved independence. 



1) My notion of DETERMINATION here must be understood (as through
all my thesis) as both pressure and limitation placed by a
particular aspect within a social formation to the forms of
development (social and/or economic) of the others, which, in
turn, exert pressure and limitation on the former. That is, the
same notion as in Marx's definition: "The material life of
individuals, which by no means depend merely on their 'will',
their mode of production and forms of intercourse, which mutually
DETERMINE each other...." (Marx-Engels, THE GERMAN IDEOLOGY, 2nd.
ed., Moscow, 1968, p.366).

February 1976, Oxford, England, p.60.

3) Underdevelopment means here and through all my thesis a state
of economic and social backwardness as compared with
industrialized countries. Thus, it is a descriptive notion, not
an analytical concept. Conversely, my notion of DEVELOPMENT
embodies a state such "that transcends the limiting terms of
economic growth to embrace such features of social justice as
equality of opportunity, full employment, generally available
social services, equitable distribution of income and basic
Henry Bernstein, Penguin Books, Middx., England, 1978, p.13).
Therefore, my concept of DEVELOPMENT is not equivalent to
capitalist development.

4) Brenner, op. cit. pp.31-37

Barrie and Rocklif, New York, 1966, pp. 127, 173, 247, 287, 293.
C. H. Haring, THE SPANISH EMPIRE IN AMERICA, pp. 57n, 67, 152,
1808-1826, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1973, pp. 341-342.

6) This notion of limits is embodied in what Taylor describes as
"the relative autonomy of the various levels within the social
formation, and the relative autonomy of classes as agents of
social transformation" (J. G. Taylor, A REPLY TO MOUZELIS, The
Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 8, n.3, April 1981, p.392), and
in what Marx defines as "a historical created relation of
individuals to nature and to one another, which is handed down
to each generation from its predecessor; a mass of productive
forces, capital funds and conditions, which, on the one hand, is
indeed modified by the new generation, but also on the other
prescribes for it its conditions of life and gives it a definite
development, a specific character. IT SHOWS THAT CIRCUMSTANCES
IDEOLOGY, p. 50) (Underlined by me).

(R. Rojas Sandford, "Latin America: Blockages to Development", PhD
dissertation, 1984, London)