Danish colonial ties


Some maritime gems in the library yesterday… ”Serampore had a certain importance to the illicit Anglo-Danish trade thanks to its facilities for anonymity and customs easements’ (Feldbaek 1969:199). Indeed, Feldbaek suggests that because of English East India Company restrictions, some 80-90% of goods sent from Bengal to Copenhagen were not consumed in Copenhagen, but moved along in various ways to London as the goods were shipped by English and Anglo-Indian traders working under Danish flags. In the late 18th century he suggests Serampore was more important than Tranquebar for the Asiatic trade (p232). This is in large part remittances because ‘by far the most part of the Anglo-Indian fortunes had to be sent to England through the foreign European companies (Feldbaek 1969:27) and banned ‘country trade’ by English EIC officials had been ‘driven underground and forced to seek cover of foreign European flags’ (Feldbaek 1969:11).


More notes on Capital:

Marx’s word is ‘prekärer’ Capital Vol 1 LW640, also LW707– and when the trades unionist and the precarious are not on good terms, precarity throws, for example, Irish families from the gaity of hearth into ‘hotbeds of vice’ (LW707). He mentions those ruined Ludford women again. Sickness and death among the ‘troglodytes working on the Lewisham to Sevenoaks railway line’ (LW664-5) while Millwall, Greenwich and Deptford are in utter distress and destitution (LW668), there are more kids on opium – the godfrey’s cordial stocks running low (LW695). The parson and gentlefolk seem ‘frit to death’ (LW691) at this scene. All labour is of course precarious, depending upon how ‘frit’ the labourers can make the bosses.

At this point that Marx describes how worker recognition that precarity is a condition determined by their predicament in capitalism is key (D669. P793) Precarity is the condition of having been ‘set free’ of old ties to community and possession. So that Marx writes, with more than a hint of grim optimism:

‘as soon as the workers learn the secret of why it happens that the more they work, the more alien wealth they produce, and that the more the productivity of their labour increases, the more does their very function as a means for the valourization of capital become precarious: as soon as they discover that the degree of intensity of the competition amongst themselves depends wholly upon the pressure of the relative surplus population; as soon as by setting up trade unions etc., they try and organize planned cooperation between the employed and unemployed in order to obviate or to weaken the ruinous effects of this natural law of capitalist production on their class, so soon does capital and its sycophant, political economy, cry out at the infringement of the ‘eternal’ and so to speak ‘sacred’ law of supply and demand. Every combination between employed and unemployed disturbs the ‘pure’ action of this law’ (P793-4 D669)

The next move is to the colonies. Where violence is used instead of a reserve army. (Reference also to Sancho).

Rumford – some like it hot.

A crater on the moon named after him. Soup maker to the poor. And had a hand in formulating the second law of thermodynamics.

Mentioned by Marx in Capital, here is the entry from wikisoup:

Rumford’s Soup

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rumford’s Soup
Region or state Bavaria
Creator(s) Benjamin Thompson
Main ingredient(s) Pearl barley, dried yellow peas, potatoes, beer
Cookbook:Rumford’s Soup Rumford’s Soup

Rumford’s Soup was an early effort in scientific nutrition. It was invented by Count Rumford around 1800 as a ration for the prisoners and the poor of Bavaria, where he was employed as an advisor to the Duke.

As a reformatory measure, the Bavarian government intended to institute workhouses for those on welfare. Rumford’s charge was to provide the cheapest possible ration that was still a high-calorie, nutritious food.


1 part pearl barley
1 part dried (yellow) peas
4 parts potato
salt according to need
Old, sour beer
Slowly boil until thick. Eat with bread.

Rumford’s soup is not noted as particularly tasty, but is palatable with long, slow cooking.

Nutrition and modification[edit]
Rumford’s soup is low-fat, with high protein and carbohydrate content — protein from the dried peas, complex carbohydrates from the potato and barley, and simple carbohydrates from the beer. Thus, Rumford’s soup was close to the optimum solution to the problem of cheap, nutritious food according to the knowledge of the day. Unfortunately, such knowledge did not extend to vitamins or trace elements. As a result, Rumford’s soup was often supplemented by corn or herring to supply Vitamin C and Vitamin D.

Rumford’s soup was a common base for inexpensive military rations in Central Europe for much of the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Molnár T. B. & Bittera Dóra: A gróf sparheltja (The count’s cooking range). Magyar Nemzet, 23 April, 2005.
“On the benefits of thermodynamics”, [1]
Categories: Copy to WikibooksSoups

God Complex

I cannot help but see debates about origins as theological. In religious studies we see two kinds of origin myth – in the Bible there is a God (well ‘the’ god) who intervenes upon the primordial swirl to separate out day from night, land from sea etc., then makes life and says that it is good. According to some anthropology I read way back when, in some parts of Papua New Guinea the ‘god’ is a crocodile who arrives the  with intent to eat men, and in thrashing about by their land, turns the area into swamps and marsh and rivers and land all mixed together. To the extent that men can kill crocodiles they might stop this thrashing about and so create dry land on which to live. See Gregory Bateson The Naven on this.

There is a debate over sovereign power versus the power of security – I read this as related to the theological approaches mentioned above. Agamben as monotheist, Foucault as pagan would not even do it justice as of course the thing is more complicated..

What does this mean for reading capital and the suggestion I made two years ago that sometime we might start reading Capital from section 8, so-called Originary Accumulation, before reading the rest? Reminding ourselves that the process of valourisation is ongoing [that ‘so-called’ is key].

It is not quite so simple as offering up some version of theological teleology in Marx as having an origin story in accumulation – the accumulation is not only at the ‘start’ just as I do not think his argument so easily fits a binary code of separating capitalists and labour in some co-constituting or contradictory embrace. It is also the case that the flux orientation of multivariant power is not simply randomisation interrupted by strategies of security – there is however agency of the class plausible here too, even as that is more evident against the hegemonic sovereign. Ahh mythology – and different versionings of the origin story, each obscure this possibility or intervening to make things really new. Thus ideology obfuscates.

Border residue

Spaces of Migration, just published by Pavement Books returns me to the suggestion on this blog some time ago, and no doubt elsewhere, that the discussion of borders has a too easy conception of space. Borders can be aural, temporal, conceptual, and proliferating right here. Where? He-re.

The policy pronouncements of the border authority replicates authoritarianism across the body politic. The compliance of some with G4s or other privatised border tools makes border agents of us all.

Abject humanity subjected to austerity and its justifications, proliferation of pollutants met only with fake environmentalist concern, the persistence, and indeed global extension of workplace ‘alienation’ viewed as nostalgia, deskilling/desktop killing for everyone, not just the ruling class – all this seems to generalise a lumpen character.

Maintain the reserve army and keep us all in fatigues seems the only strategy capital has in this crisis. Besides scrambling for a cut of course, and a crazy generous cut at that. Snouts in the trough, but keeping us all in the sty. Some are more in the mud than others, some are bacon, most are fed on swill – oink oink. The uniformed ones collaborate with the omnipresent butcher. Some are tagged with an RFID chip on their ear. Higgledy po.