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The Transition Debate, Period II Lecture class: „Transition and Transition Debates in Global History“, 25.04.06, David Mayer.

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Presentation on theme: "The Transition Debate, Period II Lecture class: „Transition and Transition Debates in Global History“, 25.04.06, David Mayer."— Presentation transcript:

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2 The Transition Debate, Period II Lecture class: „Transition and Transition Debates in Global History“, , David Mayer

3 Overview Summary of Transition Debates Period I The early 1970s and the emergence of World-Systems Theory World-Systems Theory on Transition Robert Brenner and the Brenner-Debate

4 Central topics/ issues at stake. What is the feudal society? What is serfdom? What is the role of towns? What is the role of handicraft? What is the role of merchant capital and the European expansion? What is the ‚prime mover‘ of change? What is the role of state power (absolutism)? What is the character of revolutionary events?

5 Two kinds of outlooks based on Marxian categories „In this exchange, we recognize the emergence and divergence of two kinds of Marxist analysis of economic history and development. One is decidedly economic, focusing on exchange relations, as in Sweezy‘s critique. The other in politico-economic, focusing on the social relations of production directing us towards class-struggle analysis.“ (Kaye, British Marxist Historians, p. 46). Productionists vs. Circulationists Internalists vs. Externalists Property/socialvs. Exchange-/market relations. relations

6 An Anglo-saxon debate? France: debate about the French Revolution and the character of the Ancien Régime (Albert Soboul et al.) Germany: Proto-industrialization debate (Kriedte/Medick/Schlumbon 1977) Dependency-Theory in Latin America Modes of production-debate in USSR and parts of the ex-colonial world Other Debates in the „real-socialist“-countries: e.g. GDR: Jürgen Kuczynski (Berlin), Leipzig School

7 World-Systems Analysis Emergence of World- Systems Theory in the early 1970 self- presentation of it‘s genesis by one of its founders and main proponents: Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis. An Introduction, Duke University Press, Durham/London 2004.

8 Setting the scene for the emergence of World-Systems Analysis According to Wallerstein, modern Western sciences by 1945 had developed a specific structure Disciplinary boundaries, divide between humanities and natural sciences etc. This structure was altered after WWII emergence of area studies, paradigm of development, worldwide expansion of university system : Four debates, that shook hitherto unquestioned certainties

9 Four debates as intellectual roots Dependency Theory: Debate on “Asiatic mode of production” in USSR and Communist Parties Transition Debate Dobb-Sweezy French Annales-group. (cf.: Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis. An Introduction, Durham/London 2004, p )

10 Dependency Theory: UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA/CEPAL ) Key Concepts: Core-Periphery (Raúl Prebisch), Unequal Exchange, Development of Underdevelopment (A. G. Frank) Debate on “Asiatic mode of production” in USSR and Communist Parties “the scholarly equivalent to the Khrushchev speech in 1956”

11 Transition Debate Dobb-Sweezy Wallerstein sees this debate as basically one about the unit of analysis (countries vs. larger units) French Annales-group. “Histoire totale” Fernand Braudel -> focus on temporal (longue durée etc.) and spatial dimensions of history.

12 Defining the modern world-system „a) The modern world-system is a capitalist world-economy, which means that it is governed by the drive for the endless accumulation of capital, sometimes called the law of value. b) This world-system came into existence in the course of the sixteenth century, and its original division of labor included in its bounds much of Europe (but not the Russian or Ottoman Empires) and parts of the Americas.

13 Defining the modern world-system (II) „c) This world-system expanded over the centuries, successively incorporating other parts of the world into its division of labor. [...] e) The capitalist world-system is constituted by a world-economy dominated by core- peripheral relations and a political structure consisting of sovereign states within the framework of an interstate system.“ Immanuel Wallerstein, The Rise of East Asia, or The World- System in the Twenty-First Century, in:http://fbc.binghamton.edu/iwrise.htm

14 Transition to the modern world system Crises of feudal society (14th/15th centuries): wars, peasant revolts, struggles for power among the nobility, economic decline, famine, plague, population decline. „Response“ during long 16th century: Geographical expansion of economic system (food, raw materials, bullion) New division of labour within expanded trading area Development of interstate system

15 What is subsumed within what? For Wallerstein various modes of labour control (slave labour on plantations, coerced cash crop production on landlord estates of Eastern Europe ) are subsumed within one single capitalist world-economy. -> Unit of analysis: The Totality of a trade- based division of labour. Focus on long-range interaction and the transition as world historical process.

16 Robert Brenner – the primacy of class structure Critique of Wallerstein for his focus on trade-based division of labour: „The Origins of Capitalist development: A Critique of Neo- Smithian Marxism“, in: New Left Review 104, 1977, p : Instigates the ‘Brenner Debate’, criticising the ‘demographic’ and ‘commercialisation’ models of transition. T.H. Aston/C.H.E Philpin, The Brenner Debate, Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre- Industrial Europe, Cambridge

17 Focus on production, property, class and class struggle. Class structures (relations among producers, property relations, surplus-extraction relations) are decisive. They “tend to impose rather strict limits and possibilities […] on a society’s economic development.” In “class conflicts – the reaffirmation of the old property relations or their destruction and the consequent establishment of a new structure – […] is to be found perhaps the key to the problem of long-term economic development in late medieval and early modern Europe.“ Robert Brenner, Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe, in: T. H. Aston/C. H. E. Philpin, The Brenner Debate. Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe. Cambridge , S. 12)

18 Unintended consequence… The key issues for Brenner: To explain the transition to capitalist agriculture in England To explain why Western Europe (France, Western Germany) and Eastern Europe experienced a different development To explain the role of the state in this process. The development of capitalist agriculture in England (private property of land with leasehold tenancy) was the unintended consequence of both landlords and peasants trying to maintain themselves in a feudal way. -> transition as contingent process?


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