dmschanoes dmschanoes at
Sat Sep 13 21:41:47 MDT 2003

Maybe it's time to parse...
From: "Rakesh Bhandari" <rakeshb at>

 1. Inikori argues that mercantilism creates political obstacles to  the
growth of integrated European markets, not that it eliminates  them. Those
obstacles were of
course broken down by British control  over tropical products (see below).
Exactly because Holland is tied  into politically restricted, if not feudal,
European markets which  were stagnant in the latter half of the 17th century
its agrarian  revolution does not issue into a full scale industrial
revolution.  Agrarian capitalism is simply not a sufficient condition for
the  industrial revolution.
1/1:   Inikori is arguing something more and less in this article.  He
argues that trading opportunities had become "increasingly limited by the
16th century."  He then supports this statement by citing the population
crisis of the 14th century!  In fact, Inikori repeats this hopping around on
the calendar of centuries several times in this article.  I don't know all
that much about 15th/16th century Europe but I do know that Genoa had
significant trading links with Portugal and Spain, and that
English/Portuguese links were particularly strong. I know Venice was the
trading power in the early/mid 15th century.

Inikori goes on to describe the rise of nation states in the 15th/16th
centuries as another factor restricting trade, as the states attempted to
become self-sufficient by employing protective measures to sustain domestic
industrial production.  Can you provide more detail? Of the industrial
production so protected? Of the measures taken?

Inikori extends this argument into the 17th and 18th centuries, to
mercantilism-- but mercantilism accompanies the increase in trade.

Then he states, "The foregoing evidence indicates strongly that the movement
of West Europeans into the Atlantic where commodity production offered
immense opportunities for trade expansion, was initially triggered by the
diminishing extent of the market accessible to West European traders and
producers."  First, on internal structure alone, this statement presumes
that the traders knew there were opportunities to the West when no such
knowledge existed.  Secondly this ignores the fact that merchant classes,
unlike oil companies, don't risk their money in exploration of unknown
territories. Portuguese navigation along the coast of Africa followed those
contours looking for a new route to the spice trade.

Whether or not agrarian capitalism is a sufficient condition-- the necessary
condition for the industrial revolution is the existence of a dispossessed
class of laborers who have no use for their labor other than to exchange it
for wages equivalent to the cost of subsistence AND the private ownership of
the means of production.  Trade, in and of itself does not create that
2.  Brenner/Inikori-- as stated earlier, not about to engage in the Brenner
debate again.
 3. You argue that the mass markets come from Europe and to have been
growing before slave plantations were established to service them.  But
you're not making contact with Inikori's arguments:
3/3.  I am in contact with what he is saying in.this paper.  Unlike Eric
Williams who claims that the profits of the plantation slavery were critical
to the rise of British capitalism, Inikori is claiming that trade, and trade
alone, regardless of profits is the critical element.  He says that the
cheapness of tobacco, sugar, (he leave out coffee) made them everyday goods
for consumption.  But the mere cheapness of goods does not make them
everyday-- there is a whole structure of urban and rural relations that is
necessary to circulate these commodities and truly make them everyday
accessible products.  Without that, the price of the goods is incapable in
and of itself as creating economic growth.  Inikori then refers to the
falling prices of cotton and dyestuffs as contributing to the development of
mass consumer markets, but again, a mass  market is not simply shopping for
clothes, it's the ability of the entire structure to reproduce itself, to
circulate its values.  Cheap cotton does not create a textile enterprise.
Wage-labor employed by the owner of the textile making machinery does, and
that gives the price of cotton its significance.

Inikori then proceeds to make some bizarre comparisons of the transAtlantic
commerce over a period of....350 years, broken into strangely discreet but
uneven segments  1501-1550 compared to 1651-1670 to 1781-1800 to 1848-1850.
Call me picky, but I'd like to know the rationality for this sorting of

Then we get told that over 150 years England's woolen export trade with
Europe declined and that it was "in the Atlantic world that those industries
found their export markets."  But he provides no numbers describing the
growth in woolen exports to the colonies over 150 years.  He uses this
argument to cite the impact of mercantilism on all of European trade.  But
Britain's trade was increasing with Europe over this period of time, wasn't

And finally, we get the Britain was able to leap ahead in this Atlantic
trade due to the strength of its navy.  But how was that strength, of both
its merchant and military marine developed and supported.  Did it precede
the transAtlantic trade?  Was it absolute?  Did the French transAtlantic
trade not exhibit similarities with the British, despite their marine
inferiority?  These are questions for inquiry, but before we start
overvaluing British naval power-- we should all recall just how incapable
the British navy was of interdicting the slave trade after 1808.  Then and
there, climbing to the peak of its emerging industrial power, the British
navy proved just how much it didn't rule the waves.

Actually, I think the points Inikori thinks he's making have for the most
part been made before, and better, by Eric Williams.

There is no doubt about the functioning, the importance of the plantation
slave system,  the value producing system as Melvin has so succinctly
identified it, to
the world markets.  But Inikori's arguments do not show the importance.


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