Enclosures and Discontents: Primitive Accumulation, Global Capitalism, and Resistance
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In the global present, violent conflict, crisis and austerity politics, and corporate expansion are forcing new and reworked forms of dispossession and enclosure, but also kindling new and reworked modes of resistance. The violence of what Marx referred to as ‘primitive accumulation’—the transformation of the social means of production into capital by means of mass dispossession—would therefore appear to be very much alive in our times. This special feature has been conceived to consider the extent to which the concept of primitive accumulation has analytical purchase in the present, the degree to which it requires adjustment, and the ways in which peasant and Indigenous critiques demand its reformulation or even its abandonment. In Marx’s formulation, itself adapted from that of Adam Smith, primitive accumulation described the processes by which the capitalist mode of production is violently instigated. Marx’s theory further relied on a dual aspect by which separation from the land in the form of dispossession, along with integration into the labour market in the form of proletarianisation, combine simultaneously to violently dislocate Indigenous and other non-capitalist communities from their diverse, often communitarian and self-sufficient, means of production.