[PEN-L:3388] Re: Brenner Redux (was Re: Russell R. Menard onEric Williams)

Charles Brown CharlesB at SPAMCNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Sun Oct 22 12:22:32 MDT 2000

>>> furuhashi.1 at osu.edu 10/22/00 12:53PM >>>
Remember that Robert Brenner was writing not just scholarly articles
but _political tracts_ against neo-Malthusians, world systems theory,
etc. -- hence his polemical _emphasis_ on class struggles in the
English countryside, Poland, etc.  The point is to synthesize the
partial truths of Brenner (& Co.) & Eric Williams (& Co.), which I
think constitutes a properly knowing return to Marx.  One or the
other alone won't do.


CB: Yes. Jim Blaut seems to think that Brenner was polemicizing against emphasis on
national liberation movements at the time.


In fact, Brenner, properly read, is a friend of your thesis on the
revolution (recall your debate with Andy Austin, etc. on Lou's list),
against the empiricist inability to grasp the meanings of revolutions
_& counter-revolutions_ (within empiricist discourse, "The feudalist
mode of production just sort of slipped away smoothly without any
revolution," as you noted on Lou's list).  Empiricism is an enemy of
historical materialism.


CB: As Lenin said, without revolutionary theory, there is no revolutionary movement.


Admire Brenner (and Ellen Wood, Aijaz Ahmad, etc.) but scorn Laclau,
Genovese, Fogel & Engerman, etc.; treasure Eric Williams (and C. L.
R. James, Jim Blaut, Samir Amin, etc.) but forget Wallerstein, Andre
Gunder Frank, Fernand Braudel, etc.  No one scholar can be wholly
correct, is what dialectics teaches us; at the same time, we should
avoid empiricism, whose chief error is *inability to see the forest
for the trees*.

(And keep Alan Carling's "Analytical Marxism and Historical
Materialism: The Debate on Social Evolution," _Science & Society_,
47.1, Spring 1993, pp. 31-65 in the _back_ [not the foreground] of
your mind, when you are not writing a political tract; in the
production of political tracts, however, _err_ on the side of
Brenner/Williams -- political Marxism's emphasis on class struggles.)


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