A reading list for Anthony

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Fri Nov 24 13:04:31 MST 2000

>Yes, but you know I'm not convinced of the late & lamented Jim
>Blaut's idea that it all happened because of "Europe's proximity to
>the New World."  Well, geography of the world -- as far as relative
>positions of what came to be known as Europe & the New World
>respectively are concerned -- changed little from the beginning of
>recorded history to now, so why in 1492, and not much earlier or much

I have trouble understanding your question, but let me try to explain based
on what I assume you are asking. In the period covered by Janet
Abu-Lughod--from 1250 to 1350--there was very little difference between
Europe, Asia and North Africa from a social and economic standpoint. If
anything, Europe was a country cousin to the more advanced societies to the

However, Europe in relation to the New World was qualitatively more
advanced. The tributary societies to the South, including the Incan and
Aztec empires were much more rudimentary in terms of nascent commodity
production. They had much more in common with the Europe of 500 years earlier.

Meanwhile, to the north tribes of indigenous peoples still existed on stone
age or hunting and gathering techniques. So Europe faced a much weaker
adversary. Add to this the susceptibility to diseases such as measles and
smallpox and you have a holocaust in the making.

In the south you had the wholesale extirpation of millions of people--those
that remained worked as slaves in the silver and gold mines, which went to
enrich Europe. In the north the conquest of peoples such as the Pequot
(celebrated by the settlers in the early thanksgiving dinners) led to the
availability of land for cash crop cultivation. The pilgrims were early
capitalist farmers and nothing else.

All this is abc. It only becomes problem when you are a middle-class
radical like Robert Brenner who has as much aversion to discussing the
pillage of the third world as a cat has to a bubble bath.

Louis Proyect
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