Habib, Capitalism in History

Nicholas Siemensma nsiemensma at yahoo.com.au
Thu Jul 3 20:41:51 MDT 2003

David Schanoes wrote: 
> If I read the article right, (which I've been able
> to print out thanks to
> the efforts of LS), Habib is really describing how
> the internal
> dispossession of the English peasantry allowed for
> the critical impact of
> the appropriated, extracted, looted wealth from the
> new world on the
> development of English capitalism

But how were rural social relations and the longterm
development of farming practice shaped by England's
involvement as a monetised economy locked into an
*already-existing* world-system and its global capital
movements, markets and global division of labour?

This thread has probably become a bit tangential to
our immediate concerns, and risks being mere
antiquarianism if we ignore its importance in
reminding us today that class struggle is primarily
not the provincial, domestic minutiae of parliamentary
struggles (whatever their horrific Dickensian results)
or royal marital and reproductive issues (how
important was Henry's dodgy sperm in ultimately
catalysing Enclosure?) for some alleged (falsely)
rural backwater and its "unique" events and processes.

Anyway, whether or not precapitalist global divisions
of labour have contemporary relevance, I'll ask David:
what motivations did the ancient Romans and William
the Conqueror have for invading Britain?  How did the
Normans develop English markets and the productivity
of English agriculture?  When did England become a
monetised economy?  What role did wool as a commodity
and the leading export have in producing wealth and
orienting the development of England (towards France,
Flanders, west and east Asia and ultimately the
Americas)?  What role did the European weaving and
dyeing industries have in the growth of Europe in the
12th-13th centuries, its major industrial cities as
well as general urbanisation, population and
productivity growth and integration into mercantile
and long-distance trade and a worldwide division of
labour?  How did London, this octopus' head completely
devoted to international finance and trade and the
world's (third?) biggest city, help to successively
transform the English "countryside"?   

I don't particularly want answers (actually I *really*
don't right now, this stuff bores the shit out of me,
so be kind), just for David and others to consider
these questions.


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