[Marxism] Robert Brenner responds

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Thu Dec 2 06:32:57 MST 2004

>Brenner's anti-sprout view of the emergence of capitalism makes
better sense of peasant resistance than the pro-sprout view which is
more consonant with the stagist view of history.

In the case of Holland, merchant capitalism flourished during the 17th 
century, but large-scale capitalist industry and a comprehensive national 
banking system only really emerged in the 1870s (later than in Britain), at 
which time the industrial workforce began to exceed the agricultural 
workforce for the first time - so in this case you can hardly say that 
merchant capitalism led linearly to the capitalist mode of production.

The original Dutch proletariat was formed out of peasants working in 
industry in the off-season, paupers, children, but also foreign workers (the 
first railways and urban water pipes were laid by English workers, and the 
Haarlem textile entrepreneurs began their enterprises after the 1830s with 
Belgian, German and Swiss workers).

The historical delay of a Dutch industrial "take-off" had a lot to do with 
international competition, especially with Britain. If there was a link 
between merchant capitalism and the relatively small Dutch factories (mainly 
less than 100 employees) in the first half of the 19th century, it was 
mainly that many of those factories processed imported products (e.g. 
tobacco, cotton, silver, sugarcane, grain, diamonds).

I've previously translated several scholarly articles on Dutch mercantile 
capitalism into English. See:

Marcel van der Linden, "Marx and Engels, Dutch Marxism, and the 'Model 
Capitalist Nation' of the Seventeenth Century", Science and Society (New 
York), 61 (1997), pp. 161-192.

Ad Knotter "A New Theory of Merchant Capitalism?"; Jan Luiten van Zanden, 
"Do We Need a Theory of Merchant Capitalism?''; and Ad Knotter, "Afterword: 
Parasitory and Dynamic Elements in Merchant Capitalism", in: Review of the 
Fernand Braudel Center (New York),  Volume XX, Number 2, Spring 1997.


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