"Stagism," Etc. (was Re: Two Cents)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Fri Nov 3 12:25:10 MST 2000

>Actually, the sort of "criticism" that Lou, etc. have made of Robert
>Brenner has been sadly off the mark, falsely associating Brenner
>(with his Trotskyist tradition) with Eugene Genovese, Eric Hobsbawm,
>& other CP or CP-related historians with the "stagist" view.

The plain truth is that Robert Brenner never writes about contemporary
politics. He is best known for his articles in Past and Future from 25
years ago that laid out the thesis that capitalism began in 15th century
England. His NLR article that followed up these articles was 85 percent a
restatement of that thesis, and a conclusion that charged Paul Sweezy and
Paul Baran with mixing up Adam Smith and Karl Marx.

Then 2 years ago he wrote a book length article in NLR on the world economy
that barely spoke about politics (or the third world).

If you look at the online archives of Against the Current going back to
1995, there is a single article by Brenner--a short version of his NLR
article. In all my email exchanges with Brenner, I have never found him to
express an interest in anything that did not fall in his immediate purview
of early English history and the financial meltdown. What an odd
'Trotskyist'. Leon Trotsky wrote prolifically every day of his life around
a universe of topics and you never had to speculate on his beliefs.
Brenner, on the other hand, is fairly inscrutable. I guess you need to
maintain that kind of profile to get ahead in academia. Alan Wald once told
me that the process of getting tenure is a lot like getting housebroken.
Only the strongest have the ability to piss on the floor.

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

More information about the Marxism mailing list