PEN-L exchange on capitalism as a world system

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Jun 20 18:06:54 MDT 2001

>instantiation, but nevertheless was already a totality. Without this
>particular totality, capitalism could never haved 'emerged' in the 'English
>countryside' or anyone else specific.

You know, the other night I saw a film that I reviewed here. It was called
"Life and Death". I didn't want to give away the ending, but it seems that
nobody here will ever see it. So I am going to give it away now, since it
helps to illustrate a point about this whole English countryside business.

At the end of the film, the tough cop and the gang boss square off in an
open field near a factory. The cop has just lost an arm, but continues to
fight. After shooting each other multiple times, the two men glare at each
other. Who will go down first? Then they resort to their secret weapons.
The cop has an atomic rocket launcher in a backpack. Meanwhile, the
gangster reaches into his chest and plucks out his heart which has turned
into a radioactive, pulsating blue ball, which he hurls at the cop. The cop
returns fire. The moment the two projectiles reach each antagonist, a
nuclear blast not only sweeps across Japan but the world. Very powerful.
Irresistible in fact.

So coming home on the subway, it occurred to me that this whole English
countryside deal might have been included in the climax of the film.
Somebody reaches into his shirt and pulls out a copy of the Enclosures Acts
or something. But imagine the power of that change in English farming.
Without it, you never would have had capitalist colonialism, imperialist
war, socialist revolution, fascism, prosperity after WWII, computers, MTV,
microwave ovens, the Internet and everything else. Rather awe-inspiring
when you think about it.

Louis Proyect
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