An invitation to Yoshie

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Oct 28 18:13:43 MDT 2000

Yoshie, it has now been nearly a week since this discussion
on Brenner began. On the day it started I posted a 2-part
article on Brenner that I think most people found useful. It
described the overall context of the Brenner debate and then
presented a critique of the "agrarian capitalism" thesis using
Junkers Germany and the Meiji restoration as counter-examples.

When you embark on a defense of the Brenner thesis, it seems
that you have an obligation to explain it--as you see it. Thus
far you have failed to do this. You refer to its strengths
repeatedly--particularly as serving some kind of prophylaxis
against tail-ending the national bourgeosie--but you have not
really taken the trouble to show why the historical analysis of
15th century England is correct. You just take that as a
given, while it is the subject of hot controversy. Jim Blaut
sent you his highly detailed critique of Brenner from the
standpoint of its historical veracity, but you have not even
bothered to respond to Blaut, let alone what I wrote. You simply
ignored both presentations. How can we have a debate when you
fail to respond to something I worked on for weeks in order to
help define the parameters of the debate?

The reason I get hot under the collar with you is that you do
not treat this debate with the respect it deserves. If you respected it, you would
carve out the time to organize your
thoughts and try to educate all the people on this list who
do not have access to scholarly material the way that you do. If
I was not working at Columbia University, neither would I.

It seems to me that if you are serious about defending a
controversial theory that this would be the least you would
do. When I defended the Comninel theory, I organized my
thoughts after reading him and wrote a 2000 word defense. After
that, the list had a debate that lasted several weeks and that
was productive. I seem to recall Charles Brown and Jim
Heartfield attacking the Comninel thesis, one from a Hobsbawm
perspective; the other from a Furedi-ite perspective. Much
was learned, even though no minds were changed.

I implore you to refrain from the style of debate that marks
LBO-Talk and PEN-L where people feel free to offer up opinions
on everything in the world with very little scholarly substance.
Please try to carve out the time to organize your thoughts on
the subject. Right now we are going around in circles. Don't you
think the 300 subscribers on this mailing list living in the
four corners of the world deserve better?

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