Two Cents

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Fri Nov 3 06:53:32 MST 2000


>Robert Brenner:
>>Thus so long as incorporation into the world market/world division of
>>labour is seen automatically to breed underdevelopment, the logical
>>antidote to capitalist underdevelopment is not socialism, but
>>autarky.  So long as capitalism develops merely through squeezing dry
>>the 'third world', the primary opponents must be core versus
>>periphery, the cities versus the countryside -- not the international
>>proletariat, in alliance with the oppressed people of all countries,
>>versus the bourgeoisie.  In fact, the danger here is double-edged: on
>>the one hand, _a new opening to the 'national bourgeoisie'_ [Yoshie:
>>Think Dengism here, for instance]; on the other hand, _a false
>>strategy for anti-capitalist revolution_....   (emphasis mine, "The
>>Origins of Capitalist Development: a Critique of Neo-Smithian
>>Marxism," _New Left Review_ 104, July-August 1977, p. 91)   *****
>Do we need to study 15th century British agriculture to come to this kind
>of conclusion?

Brenner's study of agrarian class struggles & class structures in the
early modern period in the British countryside & elsewhere concerns
the _origins_ of capitalist social _relations_, from which, as I
said, I think we can learn much.  On the other hand, concerning the
_development_ of capitalism, I said we should take insights from the
dependency theory camp _selectively_ (e.g., Eric Williams, Samir
Amin, etc.).  I think the causes of the _origins_ of capitalist
social _relations_ & those of subsequent _capitalist development_ are
not identical.

>The only problem is that
>the art of politics is knowing what to do next.

Yes, but without forgetting our long-term goal (communism), though,
right?  If we forgot the long-term goal, we would end up becoming

>I told Yoshie, which she studiously ignored, that the
>formulations expressed above that have Brenner so worked up are identical
>to those found in the early Comintern and that found expression countless
>times in alliances between communists and national liberation movements
>that included sections of the bourgeoisie.

I don't ignore this; however, for instance, if the Chinese Communists
had followed the Comintern slavishly, there might not have been the
Chinese Revolution at all.  "Alliance between communists and national
liberation movements that included sections of the bourgeoisie" is a
formula that sometimes made sense in the twentieth century, but it
all depended on _how_ the formula got carried out; _whether_ the USSR
was actually willing to support a given movement; etc.  There is
nothing automatic here.

Now, Brenner's article on the dependency theory was published in
1977, just at the moment when the Soviet economy was beginning to
show signs of stagnation; when China was turning to Dengism ("it
doesn't matter what color the cat is as long as it catches mice");
when the developmental state's import-substitution strategy was about
to become a thing of the past because of the coming debt crisis as
well as its internal exhaustion; etc.  We must gain the knowledge of
this reality in our attempt to change it.  Your grand struggle
against Brenner doesn't bring back the Soviet Union; replace Dengism
by Maoism; re-introduce import substitution; etc.


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