Inikori vs. Brenner

Rakesh Bhandari rakeshb at
Sat Sep 13 14:03:37 MDT 2003

	I am wondering whether Lancashire, Yorshire, etc were
dependent not on net immigration or markets but food imports from the
south of England? Brenner argues that agricultural transformation and
growth of agricultural productivity allowed the economy to support an
ever greater proportion of the labor force outside of agriculture
(more than 60% of the population off the land by end of 18th century
as well as a tripling of population before imports become necessary).
Brenner would argue (as I know from personal correspondence) that the
specialization of south and east England in arable was part and
parcel of the capitalist transformation of the national regional
division of labor in which the north and west came to concentrate on
arable husbandry, sheep, cattle, etc also on a highly capitalist
basis. If so, industry develops in the north because labor is freed
up as a result of the low labor requirements of the pastoral
agriculture in which the North came to specialize.  Later the higher
rate of profit in industry over pastoral agriculture gives industry
the dynamism to suck in more labor as well as support a natural
increase in population. As always, Brenner has strong defenses.

	Yet if industry was dynamic enough in the north of England to
support its own population increase,  why could not grain have been
imported?  With such a possible "Dutch" solution, the agrarian
transformation in the south of England would not seem to have been
essential for industrial take off. Moreover, even if more labor could
be released from the arable husbandry in which the north of England
came to specialize, labor would not have been absorbed in industry
had it lacked the dynamism which arose of out of the huge Atlantic
market based in slavery (of course the Atlantic  system would not
have developed without slavery which is why Marx very accurately
referred to slavery as the pivot of capitalism: capitalism can only
grow on the foundation of a world market and international
trade--essential precondition for economies of scale, dynamic
returns, rapid accumulation--and that foundation was itself built on
slavery). Inikori argues that the south of England, enjoying
agricultural prosperity, did not generate the most important market
for the north of England's industrial goods; if true, this would seem
to be a very important piece of evidence against the Brenner thesis.
Yet if Inikori has underestimated the importance of the market which
arose out of English agricultural prosperity, this would serioulsy
undermine his argument.


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