A reading list for Anthony

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sat Nov 25 06:50:36 MST 2000

>These things are simply beyond the scope of Brenner's studies.
>What is your basis for saying, Lou, that Brenner "tries to subsume chapter
>of Capital?

"These things" such as the vast silver mines of Potosi and the sugar
plantations of Jamaica in the 17th century are not regarded as capitalist
by Ellen Meiksins Wood, who regards them as part of the world of
"trade"--buying cheap and selling dear. As far as what her guru thinks, I
have no idea. He simply chooses not to write about them. That is why Jim
Blaut accuses him of "tunnel vision".

As far as explaining the origins of capitalism in Great Britain is
concerned, I am surprised that somebody trained in the Trotskyist movement
such as yourself would accept those parameters. Capitalism was and is a
world system, just as socialism will be. It is as nonsensical to talk about
"capitalism in Great Britain" as it is to talk about "socialism in Cuba."

>From Perry Anderson's review of Brenner's "Merchants and Revolution" in the
Nov. 4, 1993 London Review of Books:

"For all the power of this case (Brenner's thesis), there were always
difficulties with its overall context. The idea of capitalism in one
country, taken literally, is only a bit more plausible than that of
socialism. For Marx the different moments of the modern biography of
capital were distributed in a cumulative sequence, from the Italian cities
to the towns of Flanders and Holland, to the empires of Portugal or Spain
and the ports of France, before being 'systematically combined in England
at the end of the 17th century'. Historically it makes better sense to view
the emergence of capitalism as a value-added process gaining in complexity
as it moved along a chain of inter-related sites. In this story, the role
of cities was always central. English landowners could never have started
their conversion to commercial agriculture without the market for wool in
Flemish towns--just as Dutch farming was by Stuart times in advance of
English, not least because it was conjoined to a richer urban society."

Louis Proyect
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