[PEN-L:11781] Re: more on col'ism

Charles Brown CharlesB at SPAMCNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Mon Sep 27 15:42:28 MDT 1999

I agree with Mat, Jim D. and Doug (and seemingly Marx).  But of course, disagreement
made us dig into this a lot. I would add that this duel or whatever labor market
continues throughout the history of capitalism, from the primitive accumulation to
1999. Capitalist mode = wage-labor + colonial/racist labor


>>> Jim Devine <jdevine at popmail.lmu.edu> 09/27/99 04:33PM >>>
I wrote:
>> Mat, these quotes fit with the "middle of the road" position I've been
>> advocating between those strawpeople who blame capitalism simply on the
>> agricultural revolution and those strawpeople who blame it simply on luck
>> (i.e., Europe being lucky to conquer the rest of the world before the
rest of
>> the world got to them). The primitive accumulation process -- the enclosure
>> revolution and then later stages of  rural and urban socioeconomic
>> -- was home-grown in England (and elswhere) but was nourished by the
loot from
>> the "new" world, etc.

Ricardo D writes:
>Here goes the happy-middle myth again - 'internal' means a lot more
>than 'agricultural revolution' - if there ever was such a revolution.
>I think your emphasis on property relations is important but
>that's not the other side but just one more piece of the puzzle. Is
>this what you mean by multicausality; two causes? I cenrtainly did
>not mean by 'systematic' one cause, nor even two, or three...

Doug writes:
>It's not the "happy middle" - nothing happy about it, in fact. It's a
>dia-f'in'-lectic, a mutual influence of internal and external
>phenomena. I really don't understand why that's controversial.

I agree with Doug. Though the "happy medium" may make some sense in terms
of ethics (Aristotle's golden mean) or individual choice (neoclassical
consumer choice theory), it's not what the interpretation of history is
about. Instead, I am advocating what I call a "critical synthesis."

Brenner's theory _per se_ is inadequate (IMHO) and so is a pure theory of
"colonial exploitation breeds capitalism" (IMHO). Both theories need to be
criticized, which means more than calling their authors names
("Eurocentric," "third worldist") but also involves finding what's _valid_
in their theories or presentation of the facts. The valid aspects of the
theories or stories can be synthesized into a coherent theory that fits the
perceived facts.

I haven't done produced anything close to that kind of synthesis, but I
think that an Aristotle-type theory of causation helps us go in that
direction: the general application of violence (enclosure in England, the
conquista in the "new" world, etc., etc.) set off an explosion, an
explosion for which the raw materials were basically in place. This sketch
(which Doug and I and others have stressed before), I think fits with what
Marx said, as Mat quoted him.

One thing missing in this Aristotelian sketch is that we're talking about a
dynamic process: internal causes drive capitalism outward which brings in
more fuel for the internal engine (and wipes out competiting modes of
production), allowing more expansion, etc.

Why is this controversial? Maybe because single-cause theories are so
popular. Academics love them, because it gives them something to fight
about forever, producing publications (vita entries) forever, allowing a
debating mentaility, and giving ego-boosts (and maybe even attention from
one's colleagues or in the press) when the struggle for one's single cause
wins a victory. All of this fits with the very individualistic culture that
prevails in the social sciences.

Jim Devine jdevine at lmumail.lmu.edu & http://clawww.lmu.edu/~JDevine

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