"Wakefield discovered that in the colonies, property in money, means of subsistence, machines and other means of production does not as yet stamp a man as a capitalist if the essential complement to these things is missing: the wage-labourer, the other man, who is compelled to sell himself of his own free will. He discovered that capital is not a thing, but a social relation between persons which is mediated through things. A Mr. Peel, he complains, took with him from England to the Swan River district of Western Australia means of subsistence and of production to the amount of £50,000. This Mr. Peel even had the foresight to bring besides, 3,000 persons of the working class, men, women and children. Once he arrived at his destination, 'Mr. Peel was left without a servant to make his bed or fetch him water from the river.' Unhappy Mr. Peel, who provided for everything except the export of English relations of production to Swan River!
"What now is the consequence of this regrettable state of affairs in the colonies according to Wakefield? A 'barbarizing tendency of dispersion' of producers and of the wealth of the nation. The fragmentation of the means of production among innumerable owners, working on their own account, annihilates, along with the centralization of capital, all the foundations of combined labour."
-Karl Marx, Capital Vol 1, 932-933, 937.
Poor Mr. Peel indeed! Sailed his little ship straight off capital's map. Marx saw the comedic potential for capitalism's annihilation in Mr. Peel's doomed expedition up Swan River. An uncharacteristically Utopian moment in this text. It's as if the colonies presented Marx with some alternate universe -- contiguous with his own, but somehow apart from it -- in which there was no need for the appropriators to be appropriated; rather, the appropriators wake up one morning and find the appropriated have vanished into the bush.
These are the questions Capital poses for us today, on the eve of a system-wide "Week of Action" throughout the California school system:
How to turn the University into a capital project destined for failure?
How to develop a 'barbarizing tendency' to disperse ownership, wealth and means of production?
How to no longer be capital's perpetual debtor colony?
How to turn this into a human strike?
Such questions are to ask how to absolutely negate the Absolute which the current system has become.