Brenner, C. L. R. James, & José CarlosMariátegui (was Re: Brenner Redux)

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
Tue Oct 24 18:44:57 MDT 2000



I think large part of the failure to communicate comes from the fact that no
*original* statements were cited from the _Modern World System I & II_  to
*check* the validity of Brenner's thesis published in the _New Left Review_. If
one reads the Polish economy at the 17 century through the eyes of Brenner, one
insists to continue that the class structure of Poland was serfdom at the time.
First of all, it was not serfdom; it was "second serfdom" (coerced labor)
characteristic of  the class structure  in the peripheral areas of the world
economy in the 16th/17th centuries. It is absurd to confuse this class
structure with classical feudalism (Middle Ages) at the time when the Polish
economy was witnessing a  development of farming by rich peasants and profit
from export crops were circulating in European markets. Where is the surplus to
the core is coming from then? Exploited peasants in the periphery. Not only W
cites data from Poland, Elbia, Hungary, Bohemia, Rumania and Denmark to show
that "there was an INCREASE in the amount of corvee labor in the 17th century"
but also discusses "how the  increased concentration of land went hand in hand
with the expanded extraction of days of corvee labor" (p.138). Accordingly,  W
does not say that class struggles did not matter. On the contrary, he examines
how the class structures of the Polish economy evolved in *relation* to (not
independently of ) developments in world markets, such as the pauperization of
peasantry through " a mechanism of labor control of the expanding capitalist
domains" (estate manufacturing in Poland; colonial silver production In
Hispanic America, the growth of the latifundium in the 17th century Mexico,
the iron and bronze industries etc..) and concentration of land in the hands of
seigniors holding *coerced labor* (sometimes *compulsory wage labor* in
different parts of the world economy, such as in mines in Latin America).

"World contraction did not imply a decline of capitalist economic
activity.Indeed, it probably signaled the increased strength of locally based
bourgeois enterprise. Furthermore, as with Europe, the point is not that there
was any decline in overall textile production but that this production was
moving to the rural areas, the  HACIENDAS AND INDIAN VILLAGES, and that "fine
clothes were being produced for the most part of OBRAJES". Nor were textiles
the only growing industry. The IRON and BRONZE industries EXPANDED AT THE
BEGINNING OF THE 17TH CENTURY TO PROVIDE FOR THE BUILDING OF LARGE CHURCHES,
WITH RENAISSANCE GRATING ON DOORS AND WINDOWS (verjas y rejas)", When the chief
export crops of Hispanic America (particularly silver) suffered a decline in
the world market, the producers in these old peripheral areas turned their
attention to other ways of making profit. They focused their productive
activities on growing regional markets, which from the point of view of
transatlantic trade, represented a relative withdrawal; but it can scarcely be
described as the rise of autarky. Meanwhile, within core countries, the high
level of demand created expanding markets for the export of sugar (and to a
lesser extend of tobacco). To some extend, this meant involving new peripheral
areas in the world economy the Caribbean islands, and their extension,and
southern mainland colonies of British North America. It is this story that we
must turn to complete the picture" (p.157, Modern World System II, Mercantilism
and the Consolidation of the World Economy, 1600-1750).

Xxxx

--

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222


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