Answering the Brenner thesis

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Mon Oct 23 12:02:38 MDT 2000

Louis Proyect wrote:

> This post will focus on the "Brenner thesis" as it relates to Europe
> specifically, and the replies made to it made by various scholars, which
> are invariably and by necessity rooted in the rather dry and arcane world
> of medievalist studies. Once this is dispensed with, I will address the
> question whether a dynamic capitalism requires as a precondition the sort
> of capitalist agricultural transformations stipulated by Brenner. Not to
> keep people in suspense, I will argue that Germany and Japan, two of the
> most powerful adversaries of British imperialism in the modern era, did not
> undergo anything remotely resembling the capitalist agriculture
> transformation which anchors the Brenner thesis. Finally, I will try to
> place this controversy into a broader theoretical and political context.

The question is how so aberrant a system of capitalism could appear in the *first*
place. After it appeared and established itself in one area, there is nothing
mysterious about its appearance elsewhere. Your citing of Germany and Japan is
proof positive that you neither know nor want to know what others are trying to
say. A post that begins in this way can't be relevant to the argument before us.


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