What is needed

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sat Oct 28 20:06:40 MDT 2000

Let us stop assuming that the Brenner thesis is correct. We
have no way of knowing that this is the case until there is
a thorough debate of the issues. Scholars such as Bois and
La Durie (spelling?) deny that the Brenner thesis is borne
out by 15th century data. Jim Blaut has been involved in these
controversies since 1972 and argues that nearly everything
Brenner writes is at odds with the historical evidence.

I am a newcomer to these debates, but at least I took the
trouble to read the book on the Brenner thesis and came to
a decision based on my own thinking about the appropriateness
of "agrarian capitalism" as a paradigm for national development.

Yoshie repeatedly refers to the implications of the Brenner
thesis for politics in the third world as if the thesis itself
was correct. This is putting the cart before the horse.

It is also a little bit like discussing navigational techniques for avoiding falling
off the edge of the world because
the Earth is flat. We can't assume that the Earth is flat, can
we? Or discussing what diet is best for fighting AIDS, because
it is not caused by HIV. Can we assume that HIV does not cause
AIDS? Or organizing resistance to Zionism because it is a
racist, imperialist state that is based on the myth that Jews
were exterminated by the Nazis. Leaving aside the question of
Israel's conduct, it is by no means the scholarly consensus
that Jews died because of overwork and illness rather than
gas. Let's stop assuming that there is a scholarly consensus
that the Brenner thesis is correct. No such consensus exists
and Yoshie has a major burden to prove that it is true. To do
this requires an engagement with the scholarly minutiae of land
ownership patterns in the 15th century, class stratification
data, demographics, etc. This is what we need and not bald
assertions that Mariategui--founder of the Communist Party of
Peru and Robert Brenner, a tenured UCLA professor, have something in common.

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