[Marxism] Anievas/Nisancioglu and Trotsky's theory of combined and uneven development

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Oct 16 12:00:29 MDT 2015


So it turns out that the Anievas/Nisancioglu critique of the Brenner 
thesis 
(http://www.amazon.com/How-West-Came-Rule-Geopolitical/dp/0745336159) 
rests on Trotsky's theory of combined and uneven development. That was 
the first thing that struck me when I read Brenner's NLR article about 
18 years ago. This was from my first response written in 1999:

http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/origins/brenner_thesis.htm

All in all, Brenner's problem seems to be one of understanding 
transition. His schema seems to owe much to the sort of "stagism" that 
characterizes the intellectual milieu of the Analytical Marxism school, 
to which he has had a loose affiliation. Although Brenner, who is around 
sixty years old, has been involved with the American socialist formation 
Solidarity, it appears that he was not part of the Draperite current 
that helped to initiate it. Hal Draper, who broke with Max Shachtman, 
retained many ideas from the Trotskyist movement that Shachtman once 
belonged to. A key element of Trotskyist thought is combined and uneven 
development, which first appeared in Trotsky's analysis of the coming 
Russian Revolution.

As opposed to the narrow "stagist" conceptions of much of the Russian 
social democracy, Trotsky believed that Russian capitalism and 
precapitalist forms had a dialectical relationship to each other. Rather 
than seeing a revolutionary bourgeoisie in a life-and-death struggle 
against Czarist absolutism, Trotsky regarded the two as mutually 
reinforcing elements of a total system. That is why it would be a 
mistake to search for elements in the bourgeois parties that could 
reproduce the 1789 revolution Russian-style. It would be up to the 
peasants and workers to break with the feudal and capitalist past and 
create the only conditions for modernization and progress--the socialist 
revolution.



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