Inikori vs. Brenner

Rakesh Bhandari rakeshb at
Fri Sep 12 16:34:47 MDT 2003

Richard Harris writes:

>  The key issue is were there wage workers to go to the
>factories?  That seems to be the significance of Brenner's appreciation of
>the significance of the breakdown of feudal holdings in parts of England
>(and Ireland which was ravaged by English landlords.)  Marx's concept of
>capital requires, not just money (Smith had got that far) but a working
>class.  Where did they come from?

Inikori's answer emphasizes that changes in demographic behavior
arising from growing employment opportunities in the non agricultural
sector, especially commerce and industry were principally responsbile
for sustained population growth. This means that expanding oversas
exports by creating more employment  contributed to the growth of
population and the expansion of the domestic market. So population
growth  in the main export producing and rapidly industrializing
regions of the north of England--Lancashire and Yorkshire was the
fastest in the whole country. In this way, the fast growing regions
largely created their own labor force through natural increase and
did not depend in a significant way on net immigation from others
regions in England. So if rapidly industrializing regions of the
North of England did not depend in a significant way on the other
other regions for their labor and for the sale of their products,
then the home demand argument based on agricultural prosperity and
population growth seems weakened. From Inikori, p. 145.
Yet throughout his counterargument Inikori does not really speak to
the spectacular fact that agricultural imports are not necessary
until after 1820 or 1830 despite a level of population out of
agriculture that few economies reached until the 20th century if
even then. Brenner's theory focuses on this astounding performance.
And we can see a lot of downplaying of it or shifting attention away
from it by Inikori and Pomeranz, however important their many other
criticisms may be. This debate seems to me far from settled. Brenner
would also deny that Inikori's implicit contention that there had not
been a transformation of agriculture on a capitalist basis in the
Midlands and northwest.
There is also the question of why the spectacular Dutch developments
in the early modern period fizzled out even though her agricultural
sector showed dynamism as a result of changes in the social property

Yours, Rakesh

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