Globalizing_the_history_of_capital_Ways

Globalizing_the_history_of_capital_Ways - Globalizing the...

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1 Globalizing the History of Capital: Ways Forward How the West Came to Rule is a welcome contribution to Marxist debates on capitalist origins not just for its sharp focus on the issue of Eurocentrism in the way capitalism is written up historically and conceived popularly, 1 but also because it sets out to develop an alternative framework to those histories. The essential feature here is its subsuming of large parts of the world outside and beyond ‗Europe‘ and the general argument that it is impossible to understand the true origins of western capitalism without assigning a central place to those areas of the world. Stated in this way the argument is unexceptionable, since no Marxists have seriously disagreed with Marx‘s view that western capitalism (capitalism as it emerged in Britain and more widely in ‗western‘ countries) would have been impossible without the preceding or accompanying histories of colonial subjugation, Atlantic slavery and the world market more generally. The debates have always been about how much all of that mattered and whether capitalism can really be said to have ‗started‘ in a single country, notably England, and somehow spread outwards from there. Both the critique of Eurocentrism and the call for a more integrated historiography of capitalism have the potential to steer future Marxist scholarship and debate away from the problematics and framing guidelines of the transition debates, not least of the one dominated by the work of Brenner and the perspectives of what is called ―Political Marxism‖. But for this shift to new ways of thinking about capitalist origins to come about How the West needs at least a preliminary critique that rids it both of its residual formalism (as I see it) and of the one or two confused characterizations this leads to. Whether ‗combined and uneven development‘ really does work as a framework of explanation at the level of generality at which the authors situate it (that is, beyond the dynamics of a capitalist world dominated by a mounting sense of nationality) is a separate issue that I shall leave aside for others to take up. Narratives of origins It may help to start by laying out some leading examples of h istorians‘ models of capitalist emergence and growth: 1. Capitalist emergence as a dynamic of accumulation that creates a self-sustaining, integrated national economy (Wood); 2. Capitalist emergence as a dynamic of accumulation that creates an expanding world economy (Braudel et al .); 1 Hobson 2004, Darwin 2008, Mielants 2008, etc. redress the balance in interesting ways.
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2 3. Anievas and Nısancioglu‘s geo -political model where the dynamic of capitalism figures less as ‗many capitals‘ than in the transmuted form of ‗many states‘; and finally, 4 . Beckert‘s recent global history of the cotton textile industry.
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