Ellen Meiksins Wood addendum

Charles Brown CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Tue Jun 12 20:35:14 MDT 2001

>>> lnp3 at panix.com 06/12/01 09:52AM >>>


The Wood article in the July-August 1999 issue has one advantage. It puts
forward in the most extreme manner imaginable the proposition that
capitalism only existed in England. She states categorically, "Capitalism
had emerged first in one country."


CB: Sort of like socialism in one country.


In England, the capitalist
economy preceded the bourgeois state, while everywhere else the opposite
was true.

CB: But would Wood call it a " bourgeois state " , if according to Wood ,the class struggle that gave rise to the original capitalists was feudal country squires vs peasants, not the feudal bourgeoisie vs the feudal country lords ?


In any case, the main thrust of Wood's article and her sort of
super-dogmatic reading of Brenner is that capitalism is an economic system
that began in a single country and then diffused outwards. As Mark Jones
has pointed out, to support such a reading involves not only a willful
disregard of the historical record but an anti-Marxist approach to the
question of how social systems emerge. To quote Charles Brown's favorite
passage in V. 1 of Capital:

"The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement
and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the
conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a
warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rosy dawn
of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the
chief momenta of primitive accumulation. On their heels treads the
commercial war of the European nations, with the globe for a theatre. It
begins with the revolt of the Netherlands from Spain, assumes giant
dimensions in England's Anti-Jacobin War, and is still going on in the
opium wars against China, &c."


CB: I used to lose track of where this passage is in _Capital_. Then I was reading W.E.B. Dubois's _The World and Africa_. Dubois quotes this.

I hope to put some of _The World and Africa_ on the list, as it addresses the  history and origin of capitalism questions.

It is interesting that the section Lou quotes above is in the Chapter on "The Genesis of the _Industrial_ Capitalist.  Most of the Section on the "Socalled Primitive Accumulation" is chapters on agricultural capitalists. Of course full capitalism is industrial. What would capitalism be without its history of industrial production, industrial revolution, industrial strength wars ?  We would not be so "obsessed" necessarily with it. Anyway, slavery and colonialism Marx connects to the genesis of the "_industrial_ capitalist ", and all the stuff Wood emphasizes he chapters under agricultural, country squire capitalists, pretty much. I have to go back an  check , but I did before and I think that's accurate.

Jim Blaut has more data on the industrial production in the first slave and colonial enterprises of capitalism, its rosy dawn.

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