Golden Fleece of the Cape
Capitalist expansion and labour relations in the periphery of transnational wool production, c. 1860-1950
Studia Historica Upsaliensia No. 247
By Fredrik Lilja
Uppsala University Press
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.
$72.50 Paper original
The Golden Fleece is a concept that signifies the success of wool farming in the Cape in South Africa during the ninteenth and first half of the twentieth century. Cape wool farmers were involved in a transnational production process, where the wool was exported to primarily Britain. That relationship enabled some farmers to invest in fences and windmills and start practicing rotational grazing in fenced camps instead of relying on shepherds. The new way of farming inproved the quality of both the wool and the land. The shepherds, however, continued to be important on those farms where few investments were made, and it was especially young boys who became crucial for herding.
By analysing wool farming in the Cape as part of a transnational production process, this book shows how capitalist production has incorporated new geographical areas and social groups into production through a commodity chain reaching from periphery to core. Rosa Luxemburg's thesis that capitalism must expand in order for capital accumulation to continue applies well to transnational wool production, but the way in which capitalism changes the incorporated areas is a result of various forces. The transformation of production on Cape wool farms was slowed down by nature, labourers' resistance to proletrianization and lack of capital among many farmers. The book therefore also shows the complexity of capitalist expansion and the interrelationship between social, economic and environmental processes on a world scale.
Return to Coronet Books main page