Brenner Redux (was Re: Russell R. Menard on Eric Williams)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Sun Oct 22 19:22:17 MDT 2000

Hi Lou:

> >periphery within the context of imperialism.  Brenner's emphasis on
> >the necessity to analyze specific class structures & class struggles
> >in concrete is an heir to the tradition of José Carlos Mariátegui
> >(recall his analysis of the Indigenous Question, for instance); his
> >warning against the _uncritical_ support for the national bourgeoisie
> >& bourgeois nationalist politicians inherits Frantz Fanon's
> >(tragically) prescient thought on "The Pitfalls of National
> >Consciousness" in _The Wretched of the Earth_.  You may also remember
> >Aijaz Ahmad's criticism of the 'Third-Worldism' of Edward Said &
> >post-colonialist critics (to whom, as I said to Mine, Wallerstein
> >stands very close) in _In Theory_.
>Are we talking about the same Robert Brenner? José Carlos Mariátegui was an
>anti-imperialist, while Robert Brenner's magazine supports Australian
>troops in East Timor and gave Branka Magas a platform from which she
>chastised the American left, including ATC, for not supporting the bombing
>of Yugoslavia. When he wrote a book length article in NLR about the world
>economic crisis, he neglected to mention the nations of Africa, Latin
>America and most of Asia.

Of course, we are not talking about the same Brenner.  My Marx isn't
the same as many Marxists' Marx either -- hence my (rather
individualist) refusal to join any party so far, including Solidarity
(and I've criticized _Against the Current_ more often than _you_
have!).  I intend to make my Marx, my Brenner, my Ellen Wood, my Eric
Williams, my Mariátegui, my Fanon, etc. popular, to the best of my

I never treat any individual writer's works as if they were _a
Microsoft bundle_ to be bought wholesale; I unbundle the package and
take what I like, which, naturally, is _the best part_.  :)

I can learn partial truths from many writers -- including bourgeois &
pre-capitalist writers (e.g., Aristotle, Hobbes, Mary Astell,
Machiavelli, etc.)!  And post-modernists, too.

Not only partial truths but sometimes even erroneous views can be
very revealing and important to read; analyzing particular ways in
which individuals & schools of thought err is the very best learning

>Yoshie talks about a synthesis of Eric Williams and Robert Brenner. I guess
>that this is a lot easier than speaking about synthesizing Paul Sweezy and
>Robert Brenner since Eric Williams can not make protestations from the
>grave. But I am sure that Paul Sweezy--even with all his infirmities--would
>have none of this. These differences go back 50 years to the Dobbs-Sweezy
>debate. I don't think they will ever be reconciled. Although I admire
>Yoshie's ecumenical spirit, sometimes for the sake of clarity is necessary
>to say that there are profound political differences and let it go at that.

Well, I also talked about synthesizing Brenner & Jim Blaut (whom I
class in the honorable Eric Williams camp), both of whom are alive.
I'm afraid neither probably wants to be synthesized by me (though I
have not put the matter to Brenner, so I don't know what he might
think; judging by my dear cyber-friend Jim's horrified reaction, I
should not expect to please Brenner either, probably).

A bold & daring dialectical approach, however, cannot hope to attain
immediate popularity.  :)

Yoshie (never known to be modest, as Doug says)

P.S.  I'm developing, on the question of history, something like the
Yoshie-Carrol Cox-Jim Farmelant-Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky-Jim
Devine-Michael Perelman-Michael Hoover tendency (I haven't asked any
of them if they want to be synthesized into one tendency [place a
smiley mark here] -- perhaps it will be controversial, and no one
wants to join me!).  I'm conducting a one-woman recruitment campaign
& charm offensive, and you are very, very cordially invited to join
this tendency.

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