Inikori vs. Brenner

Rakesh Bhandari rakeshb at
Thu Sep 11 19:46:15 MDT 2003

Here is part of Inikori's criticism of Brenner:

"Robert Brenner dismissed the importance of overseas trade in the
Industrial Revolution and argued that the class structure produced by
the development of capitalist agriiculture in England in the 15th and
16th centuries was the principal cause. The main weakness of this Brenner's presentation of class struggle as the main
determinant of development without showing hte factors in the
historical process that produced the classes and over times changes
in their relative strengths and weaknesses, as well as over time
changes in the way the members of the classes perceived their self
interests. To show that agrarian class structure was not a sufficient
condition for WEuropean development, critics point to the similarity
between England's agrarian structure and those of renaissance Italy
and 17th c Holland, countries where the agrarian class structures in
question developed much earlier than England without producing an
industrial revolution...
[Moreover]...regional studies by the main authorities all show
unambiguously that much of the agrarian development in England
between 1086 and 1660 was limited to counties in the South of
England, that is, counties lying to the south of a line drawn from
The Wash to the Severn estuary...Now if Brenner's agrarian class
structure were the principal cause of the Industrial Revolution,
clearly the leading regions would have been in the South of England.
But, as we have seen, it was agriculturally backward Lancashire and
Yorkshire that led the way, while East Anglia with its progressive
agrarian class structure stagnated."
p. 147-8 of Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England.

Any comments on this important debate much appreciated.


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