Answering the Brenner thesis

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at
Mon Oct 23 17:35:59 MDT 2000

On Mon, 23 Oct 2000 12:58:35 -0500 Carrol Cox <cbcox at> writes:
> 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.

Alan Carling in his take on the Brenner thesis draws an analogy with
Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection.  Just as Darwin
made a distinction between the origins of phenotypic variations and
their subsequent spread in a population via natural selection and
other forces, so Carling argues that it is necessary to draw a
between the origins of new variation in the social relations of
as a consequence of class struggles and their subsequnt spread as
a result of social selection in which these new relations of production
find themselves in competion with other regimes of production.
Brenner, as Carling understands him wa sattempting to explain the
origins of capitalist relations of production.  And Brenner, rightly or
wrongly finds their origins to lie within the outcomes of class struggles
between landlords and peasants which in Britain ended in a kind
of standoff between the two classes which happened to create conditions
propitious for the creation of a capitalist agriculture.  This
is quite different from the sort of explanation that Carling argues
is required for explaining why capitalist relations once they appeared,
eventually displaced feudalist relations of production.  That Carling
contends must be explained in terms of the greater productive efficiency
of capitalism as a regime  of productions as opposed to feudalism as
a mode of production.  Once capitalism appeared (in Britain or wherever)
it was only a matter of time before it would start to spread to other
like Germany or Japan.

Jim F.

> Carrol

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