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Thomas Reviewed work(s): Source: International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 47-65 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The International Studies Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2600412 . Accessed: 30/01/2012 15:23
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International StudiesQuarterly (1988) 32, 47-65
Debate The Brenner-Wallerstein
University Chicago of
worldOne of the most criticalevaluationsof Immanuel Wallerstein's comes fromMarxistswho dislikethe dominantrole systems perspective in played by trade as opposed to class interaction his analysis.At the of forefront this critique is Robert Brenner,whose articlein New Left Review, "The Origins of Capitalist Development: A Critique of NeoIn SmithianMarxism," elicitedfarless of a debate than is warranted. has outlinethe variouspartsof this the first part of thisarticlewe carefully to important critique,briefly drawingattention some of the much more issueseach addresses.In the second partwe considerone of fundamental of the mostimportant these issues,thatof the mostappropriatelevel of for analysis understanding political phenomena.The debateoverthispoint and revolveslargelyaround events in Poland in the fifteenth sixteenth Thus thisratherarcane topictakescenterstagein an argument centuries. We withfarbroaderimplications. concludethatwhileone shouldmaintain mustbe paid to theconcrete moreattention a widersystem levelof analysis, unitsas well. determinants powerwithin of political
The world-systemsperspective put forward by Immanuel Wallerstein has elicited a great deal of critical comment. Its stress on a system level of analysis and the importance it attaches to trade have not, however, gone unchallenged. The result has been a livelyinteraction that has advanced our understanding of the world political and economic system.However, one of the more interestingcritiques, now ten years old, has been largely ignored. Robert Brenner's "The Origins of Capitalist Development: A Critique of Neo-Smithian Marxism" (New LeftReview, 1977) is a complex Marxist critique of the firstof Wallerstein's world-systemvolumes, and takes the perspective to task for its methodological, conceptual, and empirical content. Yet to date few authors have addressed themselves to this major attack, and then only
Authors' note:The order in whichthe names of the authors appears is arbitrary. The workwas a trulycollaborative effort.We would like to thank Mark Gasiorowski,Piotr Gorecki, Charles Lipson, William Marty,Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, the membersof the Programon InternationalPolitics, Economicsand Security the University at of Chicago, and the editorsand anonymousreviewers ISQ fortheircomments.An earlierdraftof thisarticlewas of presented at the 1985 meetingof the American PoliticalScience Association. C 1988 InternationalStudies Association
The Brenner-Wallerstein Debate
cut because Brenner's criticisms to theheartof some selectively. This is unfortunate analysis, as critics world-systems of of themostimportant questionsposed byMarxist of wellas some of the more fundamental questionsraisedby students international political economyand worldpoliticsgenerally. This articleis designed to accomplishfivetasks.First,we will fullyoutlinethe and thatexistbetweenWallerstein Brenner.Each willbe placed pointsof contention of to economy. in itsbroadercontext partof a debateof interest students political as each Second, we will begin the process of assessingthe meritsof the arguments level makes.Particular attention be paid to thequestionof themostappropriate will school is thatthe of analysisfor studying politics.The claim of the world-systems system level of analysisis the correctone fromwhichto gain a vantagepoint on phenomena of interest.This is disputed by Brenner and others,and Brenner's analysisof this question will be the topic of much of the rest of this paper. For Brenner,the nation-state the proper level of analysis,and the proper unit of is in the is analysis theclass. For Wallerstein, contrast, world-systemtheproperlevel is of including classes of analysis, and thereare a numberof unitsof analysis interest, and states. Our third taskwillbe to takeup This debate willnotbe consideredin theabstract. We these argumentsempirically. have chosen to do so in the contextof a single critical and case. The case we have chosenis thatof Poland in thefifteenth sixteenth tookplace. restructuring theeconomy of centuries, periodin whicha fundamental a arcane case. A verystrongset of reasons existforour choice of such a seemingly both Brennerand Wallerstein relyheavily an analysis eventsin Poland on of First, Each agrees on the contentions. during this period to support their different questionat hand. centrality Poland duringthisperiod to the theoretical of The factthatbothBrennerand Wallerstein withPolandis nottheonlyreason deal forus to considerit important. Each authordeals witha numberof countries that thatPoland is in has us, might serveas good testcases. Our study convinced however, factthe ideal testing Poland's economy interpretations. groundforthesecompeting of duringthisperiod,and it was setin the context a far was relatively undiversified variables worldthanhas existedsince.Relatively historical contextual few or simpler standin the wayof a directconsideration the competing of propositions. Poland mayalso be identified a "strongly" area usingthe criteria as incorporated Poland provided levels suggested Hall (1986) fordifferentiating of incorporation. by an important amountsto the mostimportant areas staple,grain,in notinsignificant of thecore through mediumof a highly process.This the organizedand centralized nor smallregionof thecountry, werethetrade graindid not come froma relatively to thatdeveloped particularly vulnerable disruption. patterns Finally,Poland is not a "straw"case. In our viewBrenner'sargumentthateven internal,class-based intervention does not alter the essentially foreign military thatdetermine socialorganization a weak one thathas alreadyfallen is mechanisms He goes further. contendsthat preyto an analysisby Bergesen(1984). Wallerstein far thana foreign forces less obtrusive changes. military presencecan fuelimportant of thisstronger version Our choiceof Poland duringthisperiodallowsus to consider Wallerstein's proposition. for Poland may thus be formally identified a "crucialcase" under the criteria as such a test that Eckstein(1975) has developed. It is a strongcase that has been To theoretical as identified all theparticipants beingofcentral importance. a very by to of of extent significant onlythevariables interest us operate.This makesthestudy The sequenceof eventsthereis Poland duringthisperiod of greatgeneralinterest. makeregarding most the Brennerand Wallerstein relatedto the arguments directly appropriatelevel of analysis from which to understandpoliticaland economic events.If eithershould fail to adequatelyexplain eventsin Poland it would be a major stikeagainsthis chosen theoretical perspective.
Our fourth taskwillbe to shed lighton some of the critical socio-economic and politicalprocessesof thisperiod. This is necessary thatno real consideration in of Poland can proceed withoutsome understanding the linkagesthat tie these of phenomena together.Centralto thispart of the paper are discussions surplus of transfer land/labor and ratios.The mechanisms surplustransfer of considerof are fromthe perspective variousliteratures of and we willchallengethe able interest waysin whichbothBrennerand Wallerstein deal withthissubject.We willalso offer the debate.Land/labor some pointsdesignedto help clarify natureof thisimportant ratiosare of less contemporary importance, although our discussion seekto shed will in fit some lighton whytheyare of interest thiscase and how such issuesmight into our consideration more contemporary of events. and Our final tasks are evaluative. We will consider the relative strengths weaknesses of each of the competingexplanationsofferedand conclude that Wallerstein's of a system use levelof analysis better is suitedto explaining socialand political phenomenathanBrenner's state-level analysis. willarguethatBrenner's We the reducesour understanding the of exclusivefocuson eventswithin nation-state for the patternof incentives actorswithin statein thosefrequent cases wheresuch incentives "externally" are generated. Nevertheless there are serious flawsin Wallerstein's argumentas well. Wallerstein'spositionis weakenedby his relianceon the processof unequal exchangein a period when the requirements necessaryfor thatdynamicto play itselfout were absent.Likewise,his broad focus,whileallowingus to understandthe forcesthat circumscribe events, presents of issuessuchas theexactform laborexploitation that evolvesand the methodsdesignedto implement in fartoo directly it predetermined a manner.Littleattention paid to the actual forcesand processesthatmold the is resulting social formsat the microlevel. We will conclude thatwhile one should maintainthe wider systemlevel of analysis,more attention must be paid to the concretedeterminants powerwithin political of a unitas well.Finally, willreview we of of therelevance theseconclusions students international for and political economy of worldpoliticsmore generally. The Debate betweenBrennerand Wallerstein Wallerstein lines.Each criticism RobertBrennercriticizes along six interdependent and pointsto a similarity betweenthe methodof Wallerstein thatof Adam Smithas comparedto thatof Karl Marx. TheDefinition Capitalism of of To The first itself. elucidatehis critiquerestson the verydefinition capitalism in of Paul Sweezy BrennerlocatesWallerstein thecontext thedebatebetween points, fromfeudalism capitalism to and MauriceDobb over the transition (Sweezy,1954). of tookplace in partbecauseofthedevelopment Sweezyargued thatthistransition of trade and in part because of the differentiation urban and rural life. The in of provision luxury goods (and weapons)via tradeengendered feudallordsa need in to increasetheirincomes.This need manifested itself thesearchformoreefficient of of The nascentdivision laborbetween forms accumulation. villageand estatethat thanthe manoralsystem and was had developed proved to be much more efficient of to thus strengthened. This led, albeitslowly, the commutation labor servicesto on to tenants the land. moneyrentsand eventually the use of (capitalist) tack. He emphasizesinternal, Dobb takes a verydifferent "qualitative" changes such as the increasingalienationof the workerfromthe means of production, increasing productivity, innovations and thatallowed forthe extraction greater of amounts of relative,not just absolute,surplus value. From this perspectivethe
The Brenner-Wallerstein Debate
of specific effects tradeand specialization werefacilitated thetransition; by theydid of Brenneragrees withDobb and is much more critical Sweezythan Dobb was. Feudal lords,he argues,could not envisionthe optionof increasing production by freeinglabor to increase workerproductivity and theirown incomes,since this The changefrom labordues to money assumesa capitalist logicnotyetin existence. rents likewise is seen as completely unimportant becauseserfs werenotyetseparated fromtheirmeans of production freeto seek wage labor (Brenner,1977:43-44). or Brenneralso notes thattherewas no necessary compulsionto increaseincomesas would exist given marketpressures.A simpleincreasein absolutesurpluswrung fromthe peasants,and not a transition a wholenew system, to would be the more likely responseto trade fromthisperspective. thatthe idea thatthebuddingurbanareas provideda Brennersuggests Further, havenforfleeing serfsand hencea home forwage laboris notcorrect. The periodic on of demographic crises, brought in partbecause of an increasedexploitation rural labor, limited the food productionnecessaryto support urban areas while the ultralimited marketforluxuriescreatedby the lords gave riseto a restrictive guild and not to freewage labor (Brenner,1977:47). system of fromfeudalism capitalism the pointat to as Sweezy'sdefinition the transition which productionfor exchange replaces productionfor use is thus rejected by Brenner,who argues thatboth trade and productionforexchangewere inherent The tradein preciosities weaponssupportedfeudaland partsof thefeudal system. ismrather thanundermined (Brenner,1977:46,49). The freelaborpoweroffered it as a commodity to and the necessity produce for the market-phenomena that definecapitalismin Brenner'sview-are not broughtinto being by what Sweezy Not surprisingly, for in Wallerstein's that"production sale in a market suggestion whichthe object is to realize the maximumprofit" the defining as elementof the capitalist world-system (Wallerstein, 1974b:398)is immediately rejected Brenner, by whosuggests thatsucha definition thatcapitalism simply inevitably is and the implies resultof a trade-baseddivisionof labor fueledby the profit motivein a worldof rationalactors (Brenner,1977:53-55). For Wallerstein, (capitalistically) then,the commodification labor power is not seen as essentialfor accumulationon an of extendedscale or forinnovation take place. to Brenner concludes that this view of capitalismas adopted from Sweezy by Wallersteinis at best ahistoricaland at worstcircularin that it assumes that a capitalistdynamicalready exists and leads to the developmentof the capitalist This logic is shownby Brennerto be an integral system. partof the ideas of Adam Smithand thus,he suggests, is prone to the same limitations Smith'sworkis. it as A synthesis thisdebate leavesus withthemuchbroaderquestionthatmade the of initialexchange betweenSweezyand Dobb of such interest. Whatis the natureof in and inherent a system induce paralysis epochal change? Do the contradictions or for allowfortheriseof a wholenew set of dynamics, does thegroundwork a new era lie just beneath the surface of society, waitingonly to be broughtout by a of more dominantforces? weakening older,temporarily
The Growth Capitalism of identifiesas important. not cause it.
on Given the fundamentalriftbetween Brenner and Wallerstein the nature of that disagreement would also exist on the central capitalismit is not surprising of For Brenner,growth and development occur when labor is dynamic its growth. suchthatneither nor divorced from meansofsubsistence production and worker the owneris self-sufficient. a situation fuelsthe need forextendedaccumulation Such
and innovation, whichgivescapitalism extraordinary its productive capacity and its particularviciousness.Technical advance, productivevariation,and any other actionsthatincrease productivity generaterelativesurplusvalue stand at the and heartof dynamiccapitalist growth. Brennerdoes notdenythatotherphenomena, specifically trade,mayplaya minor role in the growth process.But he is quickto downplay anyadditionalcontribution on the part of such secondaryphenomenaand hence clearlyrejectsWallerstein's and thattrade may have a determining proposition impactupon capitalist growth His denial is mostcompleteand proceedsin threeparts. development. Brennerbeginsbydenigrating suggestion the thatprimitive accumulation (usually via trade) played a decisive role in the developmentor expansion of capitalism (Brenner, 1977:66-67). Brennernotes thatprimitive accumulation was a concept criticized Marx in part for its circularnature-the used by Smithand harshly by of thatthe accumulation capital,whichpresupposessurplusvalue and assumption Brennersees the can explain the originof capitalism. hence capitalist production, reallyimportant questions as being those that considerwhy accumulationfrom of in outsidean area (as in exploitation theperiphery thecore) was necessary the by first place, whythisnew wealthwouldbe used forproductive and not unproductive purposes,and whyaccumulation thissort,whichhad existedbefore,had never of thatWallerstein beforehad thisparticular impact.Brennercontends addressesnone of thesequestionsand thattheanswersto themlie in theelucidation specific of class structures and relations and not in the simpleexistence such accumulation. of Brenner'ssecond criticism Wallerstein's of viewof growth development that and is it restssolelyon quantitative expansion.As more areas are broughtintoa system, increasesand more absolutesurplusmaybe siphonedoff(Brenner, specialization 1977:56-57). The firstpart of this formulation seen as based upon Smith's is of conception the gainsto be made fromexpandingspecialization. The second part fromthe disputeover definitions derivesdirectly discussedabove. The presenceof relative surplusvalue is viewedbyBrenneras evidenceof theinnerdynamic toward accumulation and growth, whichdefinecapitalism, whileincreasing absolutesurplus does not suggestthissame processat all. of whathe believesto be Wallerstein's Third,Brennerrejects picture thedynamics of the developmentof the systemas a whole. Brenner interprets as Wallerstein of thatthemode of laborcontrol, indeed theentire and classstructure an suggesting of area, is determinedby the requirements maximizingproductionof exports (Brenner, 1977:56-57). He reads Wallersteinas saying that once an area is intothe system, classformation bestfacilitates production that the the incorporated of goods to be offeredon the worldmarket willinevitably come intobeing.' Againwe are facedwitha muchbroaderquestionjust belowthesurface. The field of international affectedby studies of political economy has been significantly of dependencyand the imperialism freetrade.Along withour searchforquantifiBut to able variables appear to have adopted tradeas an important we phenomenon. whatextentis this(and notmuchmorecomplexphenomenasuchas theexpanding of of of division labor,theincreasedcommodification laborpower,or theacquisition surplus value) adopted for the sake of expediency?To what extentmightwe be ignoring what is truly fundamental,and instead studyingprocesses that are and measure quantitaepiphenomenallargelybecause theyare easiestto identify Both the proper role thattrade should play in Marxist tively? analysisand a more of carefulconsideration the role it does playin the worldare at issue here.
' Brenner's ratherodd interpretation between"capitalism"as he appears to resultfromhis failureto distinguish definesit and "the capitalistworld system"as Wallersteinuses the phrase.
The Brenner-Wallerstein Debate The Nature of Underdevelopment
on Following Brennerand Wallerstein's disagreement overdevelopment, their third major area of discordregardsthe natureof underdevelopment. Brenner'scritique includesa generalreviewof Andre GunderFrank's"development underdevelopof ment"hypothesis, analysisof the role thatWallerstein an assertsthe stateplaysin underdevelopment, questionof the impactthatthe typeof good produced and the traded may have on an area's development,and the applicability Arghiri of Emmanuel'sconceptof unequal exchange. Brennerplaces Wallerstein squarelyin Frank'scamp. Underdevelopment here is believedto be caused byexternal exploitation. Areascapableof providing important goods are dominatedby more advanced countries, withone alwaysin competition another for resourcesand outletsfor capital,whichquicklyintroduceor solidify of All systems forcedlabor or slavery. activity becomesoutwardly directed and takes of Frankbuttresses argument noting place to thedetriment the"colony." this that by where highlyvaluable goods were discoveredafterinitialcolonization, small (Euor ropean) freeholders werereplacedbyforced slavelabor,as happenedin Barbados in the mid-seventeenth century (Frank,1975:451-56). Wheregoods of greatvalue were not found, as in North America, exploitationwas less direct,immigrant freeholders were not displaced,and laterdevelopment was facilitated. Brenner'scriticism these propositions of echoes his earlierarguments. conHe tendsthatexploitation resultsnot fromexternaldemand but fromthe typeof class structure thatevolvesand it is onlywithin context the relations ownersto of the of labor thatunderdevelopment be understood(Brenner,1977:85-86). can Brenneralso takesissue withWallerstein's thatthe development a contention of weak statein peripheralareas allows for underdevelopment. Wallerstein suggests that countriesthat develop a strongstate apparatus gain both an initialand a lawsfavorable statemayactto codify long-term edge overthosethatdo not.A strong to commerce,and as a major purchaserof goods and services, a provideror as of guarantor capital, and as a mobilizer sundry of necessary resources. Areaswherea stateapparatus is not strongwill be at a disadvantage both in the shortand long termswhen stronger statesmay exploitthe weakerarea in such a way as to stop a there. strongstatefromever evolving and he Brennerargues againstthisidea boththeoretically empirically. First, notes that such a propositionassumes capitalistmotivation prior to the existenceof natureof a proposition thatsuggests capitalism. Second, he pointsout the circular and to thata weak stateleads to underdevelopment underdevelopment a weakstate. Finally,Brenner claims that the strongstateof France did not secure for itselfa statein Brenner'sview,and thisdid positionin the core. Poland, too, had a strong not prevent its ending up in the periphery.SimilarlyPrussia, a raw-materials producer,developed a strongstate.2 thatthe typeof good produced and Brenner is also criticalof the proposition Wallerstein thatone of the on exportedwillhave an effect development. suggests reasonsunderdevelopment existsin certainareas is thattheywere relegatedto the task of producing raw materials.Such productionentails few linkages and is thatthenatureof a good cannotin oriented.Brennercontends, externally however, in and of itself the determine natureof development the area thatproducesit. To but BrennernotesthatNorthAmericaproducednothing raw supporthis position, North its food staples,through earlyhistory. materials, mostly Rapid and successful however.What differentiAmericandevelopment not to be seen as an anomaly, is
2 A good analysisof Brenner and Wallersteinon the role of the state may be found in Garst (1985). He argues, correctly our view,thatWallerstein's in positionchanged subtly betweenthe first and second volumesof TheModern World-System.
of ated thisfromotherraw-materials producingareas was the existence freewage innovationand accumulationat an early stage (Brenner, labor, which facilitated 1977:86-90). Finally,Brenner questions the relevance of Emmanuel's concept of unequal a as exchangein thiscontext. Unequal exchangeis seen byWallerstein playing large to of the and even predominant role in thetransfer surplusfrom periphery thecore. thatunequal exchangeas conceivedbyEmmanuelrestson Brennernotes,however, of the equalization of profitrates across the world marketgiven the possibility cross-border capital mobility. Clearlyany systemso based would be hard set to discusses.The small function the period from 1450 to 1640 whichWallerstein in to thatmight expectedin thisera also limits be amountof traderelative production the relevanceof thismechanism. A numberof broad questionsarise fromthispartof the debate. In essenceit is a of betweenand call fora more carefulconsideration the natureof therelationships and exchange.More specifically, are led to we among classes,the state,production, guides and mediatesall of the other questionthe degree to whichclass interaction of processeswhileremaining insulatedfromchangesin the strength the state,the of or natureof production, in the extentand direction exchange. Individual TheRole ofthe of betweenthe two authorsconcernsthe ability The fourtharea of disagreement Wallerstein and his individualsto recognizeand act upon theirown best interests. thatindividuals wouldactin a mannerconsistent are precursors accusedof assuming That feudal lords would move to with what we today call economic rationality. increaseproductionwhen in need of additionalfunds,thatserfswould recognize decline,thattheleaders theirsuperiorbargaining positionin timesof demographic of of countrieswould help augmentsystems productionthatincreased revenues from exports-all of these are viewed by Brenner as incoherent,ahistorical of a is This atomism, keyfacetof theworks Adam Smith, clearly viewed assumptions. withthe Marxiantradition. as incompatible This atomism is criticizedby other authors as well. Theda Skocpol decries of to first "socio-economic structure determinaWallerstein's "two-step reduction," and technicalproductionpossibilities" and tion by world marketopportunities and classinterests" by second,of "statestructures policiesto determination dominant impliesthatindividuals alwaysand clearly (Skocpol, 1977:1078-79). Such treatment of fromamongtheuniverse possibilities thattheoptimization and see theirinterests into of thoseinterests clearly is and neatly convertible requisite institutions, policies, and actions. The role that the individual plays, the degree to which context of into constrains action, that and thetranslation interests outcomes-thatis,therole of politics-are all partof thisdebate. Level TheAppropriate ofAnalysis around thequestionof theappropriate level area of disagreement revolves The fifth is of analysis.Wallerstein suggeststhat his perspective superiorto othersin part natureof eventsthatoccur outsidethe identifies critical the because it successfully Foremost boundariesof an individual amonghisexamplesof theseimpacts, country. of in of is identified largely terms tradein necessities, the peripheralization Eastern Poland duringwhathe termsthe "long"sixteenth century. Europe and especially in century engenWallerstein argues thatthe crisisof feudalism the fourteenth dered in Europe the drive for threethings:gold to ease liquidity problems;new such as food and fuel; and a desireon the partof the sourcesof basic commodities
Debate The Brenner-Wallerstein
nobilityto augment their incomes. WesternEuropean states,notablyPortugal vis-a-vis position its position, weakmilitary because of itsadvantageousgeographical stateapparatus(a consequenceof the reconquest), centralized Spain, and its highly 1974a: chapter (Wallerstein, to foundexternaltradeto be a solution theseproblems need did thatthesecountries moveto increasetheir trade,a further 2). To theextent sector. urban commercial arose forfood to supportthe growing In EasternEurope the same crisisengenderedthe same drives.Here, however, the for and otherfactors (such as lack of capital)restricted opportunity geography European in overseasexpansion'a la Portugalwhileproviding itsstead the Western largely explainsthe "refeudalization" suggests, demand forgrain.This, Wallerstein thatoccurredin the 1500s when labor dues, whichhad declined withthe demofor were increasedin responseto opportunities trade.It is upon this graphiccrisis, bases hisclaimwithregardto theappropriate and similar examplesthatWallerstein can be understoodonly as a in level of analysis.The situation Poland, he asserts, on of manifestation the developmentof capitalism a world scale. He goes on to system: thatevolvedin Poland mustbe viewedas a capitalist suggestthatthesystem and thissystem's inclusion of elsewhere in capitalist thatthe development capitalism the relations of Poland through mediumof exchangehelped determine specific the can thatemergedin Poland. As Poland's development be understood of production of and as thosedevelopments werecapitalist elsewhere, onlyin terms developments system. in natuWre, Poland mustbe viewedas partof the capitalist is argument thatthe "big impact"of the His Brennerdisagreescompletely. first of worldmarket(by whichhe appears to mean the largestconcentration exports), and hence could have in no way can be seen in Poland only after refeudalization Polish to height contributed it(Brenner,1977:80-8 1). Second,he claimsthatat their exportswere too small (onlybetween5 and 7 percentof totalproduction)to have one.3 Third, he notes that had any real impactat all-much less a determinative as Poland did not respond to price increaseswithincreasedproduction one would expect of a "capitalist"area or system.While Polish exports did rise, Brenner of suggeststhe increasewas due more to the vicissitudes weatherthan to market demand. addresses the questionof the approTo Brenner'sdisservicehe never directly in is Each but priateunitof analysis, his position clearifonlyimplicit hisstatements. unitwithin whichall impermeable individualcountry viewedas being a virtually is If from of for relevant data necessary theexplanation eventsreside.4 Poland suffers the describedbut not explainedbyWallerstein, reasons the stateof affairs correctly of the class structure Poland without need to forthismaybe found in the internal neitherPoland nor cerconsiderexternalconditions(Brenner, 1977:71). Finally, sincecapitalism's could be consideredin anyway"capitalist," the tainly entiresystem of Brenner the element, commodification laborpower,was absent.On this, defining is mostadamant. fromwhichto addressquestions The questionof theappropriatelevelof analysis of debatedof theissuesraised.Sincethepublication Singer's is amongthemosthotly and three different levels are (1961) seminal articlethe debate has proliferated and outside of or by championed,explicitly implicitly, a variety authorsbothwithin of relations scholarship. the mainstream international
3 Brenner's estimateof the magnitude of exports relativeto total productionis part of a larger dispute on this issue, whichis discussed by Maria Bogucka (1981). She concludes thatPolish grain exportsduring thisperiod were more in the range of 20 to 25 percentof total production(Bogucka 1981:14). ' It is interesting note thaton page 76, in a discussionof the rise of England, trade is admittedto play a critical to
role, but that Brenner later ignores the implications of this for his assumption that the nation-stateis the appropriate unit of analysis.
Methodological individualists Buena de Mesquitaarguethat"scientific like analysis of and cannotevade thisultimate accountability responsibility the decisionmaker," and whilehis positionis not wholly the exclusionary regarding use of nation-states, as on alliances,or even systems, theyare seen to function constraints individual allowsus to avoid the pitfalls the of choice,whichwhen studied with"sensitivity," toward making the the of Arrowian paradox and proceedwith greatest the efficiency most"meaningful generalizations" (Buena de Mesquita,1981:5). relationsis the state. Krasner The traditional level of analysisin international "cannotbe reducedto the actor"whoseobjectives describes stateas an "autonomous of some summation privatedesires"(Krasner,1978:5-6). He argues thatthe state actorbecause itscentral decisionmakerspossessa consistent of set maybe a unitary goals acrosstimeand thatsuch a treatment providesa degreeof explanatory power superiorto thatof interest-group liberalism Marxism. or of Structuralists, too, have their representatives both traditionaland radical of flavors. theirbehaviorand Waltzarguesthatwhenthe"organization unitsaffects theirinteractions, thenone cannotpredict outcomesor understand themmerely by of and a knowing characteristics, the purposes,and interactions thesystem's units," systems approach is necessary (Waltz,1979:39). The need forstudyat the systemic level is strongly indicated,he suggests, the "repeated failure"of explanations by units"(Waltz, 1979:68). Outside the derived "throughexaminationof interacting NorthAmericanmainstream, issueis also addressedin theworkof Marxists this like unitof analysis socialclass,whilethe Poulantzaswho believethatthe appropriate is appropriatelevel of analysisis the nation-state (Poulantzas,1975).
The sixthand finalcritiqueleveled at Wallerstein clearlythe weakest.Brenner is notes thatif Wallerstein's positionis correctthe resultwould be some "politically" intothe world/market division unacceptableconclusions:"So long as incorporation of labor is seen automatically breed underdevelopment, logical antidoteto to the but capitalist underdevelopment not socialism, autarky" is (Brenner,1977:91). This is clearlya case of workingbackwardfromone's conclusionand does nothingto and underdevelopment. advance the debate on development The Question of the AppropriateLevel of Analysis With the exception of this last point, each of these criticisms interesting is and In warrants further consideration. thissection, we however, are goingto concentrate on the differences and Brennerregarding properlevel of the betweenWallerstein This is a central of issuebecause thedevelopment a system-level analysis. perspective is the raison d'etre of world-systems analysis.Since both authorsdiscuss Poland and since Poland otherwisefitsthe criteriaof a criticalcase, an extensively, of Polishhistory shed lighton their will examination fifteenth sixteenth-century and claims.We willcompare and reviewthe explanations competing givenby each for a thechangesthattookplace in Poland duringthosecenturies, periodduringwhich thelot of the peasantry became steadily moreonerous,theaforementioned "second
5 Recent historiography emphasized thatthe second serfdomwas not a homogeneous phenomenon and did has not touch all sectors of Polish society.There existed throughoutboth free peasants and free rural wage labor. Nonetheless, the second serfdom affecteda large proportionof the peasantryand concentratedresources into export production,cripplingPolish handicrafts and industrialdevelopment.A good introduction thisliterature to is Maczak et al. (1985).
Debate The Brenner-Wallerstein Explaining the "Second Serfdom"
as argues for using the nation-state the unit of While Brenner never explicitly can a on his analysis, position thequestionis quiteclear: socialchangewithin country thattake place and class struggle be explained by the processesof class formation are necessary.Althoughhe does not deny that a withinit. No other hypotheses theyenterintothe on can traderelations have some effect theseprocesses, country's equation only as one of many factorsthat influencethe relative strengthof of classes(Brenner,1976:53). Oddly enough,in hiscritique Wallerstein, contending and appears,to all intents purposes, gets eventhisqualification lostand classstruggle Indeed, he argues that Poland's as a deus ex machina with no presuppositions. of cannotaccountfortheworsening conditions intotheworldsystem incorporation in because thesecondserfdom factpreceded"thebigimpactof the forthepeasantry worldmarket"(Brenner,1977:81). In this section we will consider Brenner'sclaim by seekingto understandthe nature and timingof both the "big impact"of the grain trade and of the second and we suggestsome of castsdoubton Brenner'sversion, Carefulanalysis serfdom. processesthan Brenner the reasons whytrade plays more of a role in "internal" would have us believe. locates the beginningsof the Baltic grain trade in the fourteenth Wallerstein the and notes thatthe "coercedcash-croplabor" thatcharacterized second century serfdom was "widespread by the 16th centurythroughoutthe peripheryand 1974a:92). of semiperiphery the European worldeconomy"(Wallerstein, untilthePoles conquered werenotimportant Polishgrainexports In pointof fact, themselves assuring Danzig (Gdansk)in theThirteenYears War (1454-66), thereby in to secureaccess to the Baltic(Hoszowski,1960:122). According MarianMalowist, Danzig amountedto about2,500 lasts(1 last the 1460sannual grainexportsthrough to 60 equals approximately bushels),increasing 6,000 to 10,000lastsannuallyat the give 1959:184). Otherauthorities comparablefigures: end of thecentury (Malowist, of History Poland Hoszowskigives 10,000 lastsfor 1490,and the Cambridge Stanislaw (Reddawayet al., 1950:447). Trade also gives 10,000lastsfortheend of thecentury reachingthe level of century, half of the sixteenth grewsteadilythroughthe first Between1620 and 1650 this estimate. 50,000 lastsannuallyby 1560,by Hoszowski's the withMalowist giving of was to reacha peak in thevicinity 75,000 to 120,000lasts, for settling 100,000 History Hoszowskithe higher,and the Cambridge lowerfigure, lasts. place, theirlegal at Whatwas happeningwiththe peasantry thistime?In thefirst in began to surface 1493 peasantmobility New lawsrestricting was worsening. status the Sejm statutesof Poland's parliament, and are among the earliestsurviving off 1985:141). Subsequentlaws to reduce movement (Cowie, 1977:321; Wyczanski, theland werepassed in 1496 (whenitbecameillegalformorethanone of a peasant's the 1501, 1503, 1505, 1510,and sonsto leave thesoilwithout landlord'spermission), 1959:182; Maland, 1973:283; Anderson,1974:282). 1511 (Fox, 1924:111; Malowist, and in 1518 the king of In 1511 the peasantslosttheirright appeal to royalcourts, lordsat all (Reddawayet of againsttheir agreed notto acceptthecomplaints subjects al., 1950:260, 426). of thattheeconomicwell-being thepeasantsdoes not It shouldbe noted,however, of resultof the enactment as significantly an immediate seem to have deteriorated these laws. Malowistnotes thatincreasedduties placed on the peasants generally their impact and occurred when grain prices were favorable,thus minimizing 1959:188). have putup (Malowist, otherwise thattheymight reducingtheresistance in More detrimental nature were the sharp increasesin labor dues over this period.JeromeBlum notes thatlabor dues stood at one day per week in the first
quarterof the sixteenth century (Blum, 1957:830). By 1550 thishad increasedto three days, and in 1600 it stood at six days per week (Stavrianos,1981:66). This change took place over a period thatsaw a 300 to 500 percentincreasein grain exports.So while the second serfdom"ruined" the peasants in the long run, as Malowist asserts, appears to have had itsworst it effects laterin thesixteenth century betweengrain whenlabordues increaseddrastically. Figure1 showstherelationship the exportsas reportedby a number of sources,laws restricting peasantry, and feudal labor dues. Which came first,then? The answer depends on how we conceptualizethe of relationship betweentrade and the worsening the peasants' lot. Clearlygrain But evidence exportswere at theirpeak only afterthe bruntof refeudalization. indicatesthatsignificant increasesin exportsdid precede the major attacks against to the serfs'legal statusand ability appeal to royalcourts.These attacks began after the300 to 400 percent increasein grainexports thattookplace in thelasthalfof the increasein trademade landlordsaware fifteenth century. Our viewis thattheinitial of newopportunities increasetheir to incomeat a timewhenmanorsfacedeconomic of declinefromthe demographic crisis the period,from lords'desiresforgoods the now availablein themarket, and from financial the squeeze facedbythoselordswho receivedfixedmoneyrentsfromtheirpeasantsduringthattimeof inflation. Thus the earliergraintrade,even thoughitwas notverylarge,providedan incentive for landlordsto increasetheirproduction. Because of the relative shortageof agricultural labor and the low level of technology, theiractivity took the formof trying, to ultimately successfully, tie the peasantsto the land and destroytheirability to when theirburdensappeared unjust.If thisviewof the petitionhigherauthority is thenBrenneris wrongin searching a "big for process(tradeas motivator) correct, impact"of trade.The graintradeobviously could nothave grown itshigher to levels untilthere was a solutionto the problemof the labor shortage.Althoughexport at were low relativeto those of a century figures the end of the fifteenth century or later,theyhad experiencedan intenserise of three-fold four-fold proportions overa period of less thanfourdecades. More and morelandlords tobeproviding had to grainforexportand itis difficult imaginethatthefundsthey earnedwerenot part of the reason theydecided to engage in thisnew activity. Hence, we contendthat trade had its impactat relatively levelsof exports-prior to the passage of the low laws restricting peasantry-by providinga formof relieffromthe pressing the actionbythe lordsto solvetheirlabor problemsof the day and motivating political shortage. This viewis further supportedby the datingof the second serfdom providedby on and Blum,Malowist, Topolski,theauthorities Poland whombothWallerstein and Brenner accept, and whom Brenner accuses Wallerstein misusing(Brenner, of Blum saysmerely thatat theend of thefifteenth the 1977:80). For instance, century peasants were "well on their way" to reenserfment (Blum, 1957:821). Malowist describesthe second serfdom beginning the end of the fifteenth as at and century morethan 100 yearsto carry requiring through (Malowist, 1966:27).Jerzy Topolski, on whomBrennerreliesparticularly datesitas "the 16thand thefirst of half heavily, the 17th centuries"(Topolski, 1974:347). Brenner seems to be close to Blum's of whenhe saysthatby 1500 thedebasement thepeasantry "gone a long had position but this a way," as we have seen above he combines with claimthatthiswas beforethe worldmarketcould have had an impacton class structures (Brenner,1976:41). As we have suggested, thereis no need forthereto have been a largevolume however, of trade forit to have had a "big impact"on the class structure Poland. of of On thequestionof therelative timing thesetwoprocesses, then,we wouldargue thatonce Polishlordswereable to exportsignificant of amounts grain(whichbecame to possibleonlywhentheyhad a secureoutleton the Baltic),theyhad theincentive
Debate The Brenner-Wallerstein
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increasethe amountof farmlabor at theirdisposal.Under the prevailing ratiosof land to laborthiscould be done onlythrough reenserfment thepeasantry. the of We are able to date thisat least as earlyas 1490, slightly beforethe passage of the first laws restricting peasants. Thus, on the question of dating, it appears that the Brenner's explicit argument "The Originsof Capitalist in is Development" incorrect.
The Strugglebetween Lords and Peasants
The factthatBrenneris incorrect hisassertion in thattheincreasein tradecame too late to playan important role in the onsetof thesecond serfdom certainly does not provethatWallerstein bydefaultcorrect. we have noted,Brenner's is As viewis that the development Poland depended on the formand distribution class power of of withtrade playinga minor role as one of the many factorsthatin thisinstance increasedtheability thelordsto triumph. contends of He thatitwas thespecific class structure thatled to whatmightnow be called "thedevelopment underdevelopof ment."Brennersuggestsfourwaysin whichthe class relations broughtthisabout (Brenner,1976:41): 1. The availability serflabor discouragedinnovation agriculture; of in 2. thelord'ssurplusextraction meantthatthepeasantshad no money;hence,itwas for impossible a home market arise; to 3. therestrictions peasantmobility on of precludedthegrowth industrial labor,and weakenedthe towns; 4. the lords worked to eliminatemerchantmiddlemenbetweenthemselves and foreigntradersand encouraged importsof manufactures fromthe West,thus undermining for any possibility the growthof locallycontrolledcommerceor in industry Poland. We would not deny thatthese factorsplay a critically important role in underdevelopment.They are broadly acknowledgedin somewhatdifferent termsby Chirot(1975) and byWallerstein himself. Brenner'scontention, bothin his critique of Wallerstein and elsewhere, thatclass relations is determine mannerin which the commercial demographic) (or phenomenaare translated socialstructure into (Aston and Philpin,1985). Hence the distribution class forces, of and not the existence or theform trade,is theprimary of of determinant development. Whatdetermines the relativestrength the classes, however,are "the sources of class solidarity of and power of the peasantry, especiallyin theirvillagecommunities, and of the lords, especially in their militaryorganization and above all their state" (Brenner, 1978:129).6But neither natureof incentives actionnorthequestionof timing the for is wellunderstood reference thesefactors to by alone. As Richards(1979:492) notes, any search for "first causes" is likelyto founderon the shoals of the complexand interactive natureof tradeand classconflict. a Indeed, from Marxist it perspective is a truism thatclass struggle ever-present. is What Brennermustaccountforis why Polish class struggletook the formit did. He does not address the question of for incentives action and so is unable to explain whythe owningclass soughtthis set on specific of legal restrictions themobility thepeasants.Brenneris also unable of to address the questionof timing. Clearlypeasantmobility hinderedan increasein manoral production,but whywere earlier liberalizations overturned only at this Was particularjuncture? itcoincidence alone thatsaw suchchangesin classstructure takingplace so quicklyafterthe acquisitionof a secure Baltic port and a large increasein grainexports?
6A more detailed analysis of the peasants' organizationsmay be found in Brenner (1976). For a critique,see Topolski (1981).
Brenner's(Inadequate) Retort of Apart from the potentialshortcomings his own analysis,Brenner does not of points:the effects supporting stronger adequatelyaddress threeof Wallerstein's the importanceof the nature or relativevalue of the good surplus transfer, on of activities. Onlyin thecontext theargument produced,and the role of military in some real shortcomings Wallerstein's does he help illuminate surplus transfer failsto shed muchadditionallight however, at work.Brenner'sattempt clarification, on the subject.
Brenner First,Brenner'sinternalfocus obscuresthe questionof surplustransfer. fromthe core to the periphery, then contendsthatsurpluswas transferred initially of of transfer himself and refusesto rule out the possibility "a long-term contradicts (Brenner,1977:84, our emphasis).Clearlyany surplus away fromthe periphery" into whichmeansthatsomecountries could such surpluscan be transformed capital, than theywould have benefitfromhaving more available capital for investment argues, there was a at otherwise, the likelyexpense of others.If, as Wallerstein easierforthe transfer surplusfromPoland to theWest,itwouldbe comparatively of than it would be for Poland (Wallerstein, countriesof the West to industrialize because, most industrial 1979:18). This is true even if, and perhaps specifically small amountsof start-up century required relatively productionin the sixteenth suggests (Brenner,1977:67). capital,as Brennerhimself actually givesus a very It should be noted thatneitherBrennernor Wallerstein occurred.Neither provides withthe us of argument how surplustransfer persuasive from on typeof data thatwould help decide thisissue (such as information profits ledgers). Indeed the data theydo cite are manorialaccountsor earlycommercial to per irrelevant thequestionof surplustransfer se. Brennersees therelative largely He of in whether thereis surplustransfer. argues terms tradeas important assessing in to thatbecause the priceof grainincreasedrelative manufactures theseventeenth of ratherthanaway a therewas probably transfer surplusto the periphery century, on the other hand, from it at that time (Brenner, 1977:63,72). Wallerstein, as believes that the balance of trade is more important, he pays close apparently to century. attention Poland's tradebalancein thesecondquarterof theseventeenth thatgrain pricesfelland the At the same time he suggests, following Wyczanski, termsof trade declined (Wallerstein, 1980:131-33). In fact,neither the termsof trade nor the balance of trade can be directly on Withinthe confinesof Marxist translatedinto information surplus transfer. in of Brennercannotargue thata shift theterms tradecauses moreover, economics, in shift in a similar shift surplustransfer, becausetheremayhavebeen an underlying labor timethatled to thepricechanges.In thecase of Polishgrain necessary socially of and Dutchcloth, is quite plausiblethatthisoccurred.In Marx'sversion thelabor it will of theory value, a gain in productivity mean a fallin the value of each unitor around all beingequal. And sincethepriceof a good oscillates product, otherthings its value, the price should fall by a similarproportion(Marx, 1976:36). In the was it seventeenth century was indeed the case thatDutch productivity increasing was stagnant or even declining (Wallerstein, while Polish grain productivity in of is comprehen1980:132-33), so theshift terms tradeBrennerreports perfectly sible. of on effect thetransfer surplusvalue because if Yet thiswould have no necessary of and exporting therewould be no transfer price equals value in both importing sellingtheirgoods at a price surplusvalue. However,if the Dutch wereconsistently
above theirvalue,and/orbuying grainbelowitsvalue,they wouldreceiveadditional surplusvalue. This would be trueno matter whatthe processbywhichit occurred, and itwillbe trueindependent therelative of value of thegoods traded.It shouldbe equallyclear,too,thatthereis also no necessary connection between balanceof trade and surplustransfer, unlessand untila consistently negative balanceof tradecaused an actual shortageof physical capital. in Brennerdoes pointout a majorflaw Wallerstein's discussion surplustransfer: of the method by which it occurs. As we have noted, Wallerstein explicitly invokes Arghiri Emmanuel'sconceptof unequal exchangeto accountforsurplustransfer in the sixteenth to century. According Emmanuel, unequal exchangetakesplace when countriesexchange as "equal" commodities thatdo not have an equal amount of labor embodied in them. The countrywith the higher organic compositionof capital7or the higher wages will see a gain in surplus value as a resultof the exchange,as long as thereis sufficient capitalmobility betweenthe areas to bring about an equalizationof the ratesof profit bothof them.If thiscondition in holds, higher wages(adjustedforproductivity) cannotaffect rateof profit the (which be will whichwillthen determined competition by amongcapitalists) can increaseprices, but be higherthan theirvalue in termsof labor. When such goods are exchangedfor productsfroma low-wageor slightly mechanizedcountry, whichwill have prices below their values, there will be a transfer surplus from the low-wage (or of low-mechanization) the high-wage(or high-mechanization) to area (Emmanuel, 1972: chapter2). As Brenner rightly points out, Wallerstein overlooksthe necessity for capital to mobility make the whole processwork,and capitalwas not verymobilein the sixteenth century(Brenner, 1977:63). Emmanuelhimself believescapital mobility was verylow then,and adds thatdifferences wage rateswerealso muchless than in they are today (Emmanuel, 1972:41). If we remove the dynamic of unequal exchange from Wallerstein'sargument,he is hard-pressedto account for the of transfer surplusvalue. The closesthe comesto giving alternative accountof its an occurrenceis when he discussesthe debt cycleof Polish lords. These lords often borrowedfromDanzig merchants who had in turnborrowedfromDutch internationalmerchant bankers.This led to low pricesforthe purchasers sincetheyessento the tiallyhad a monopsonyvis-'a-vis producersand merchants whom theylent withan acceptablealternative (Wallerstein, 1979:41). This mayprovideWallerstein workremainsto be done. And althoughthisis an important but analysis, substantial is problem,we maystillconclude thatWallerstein on firmer groundthanBrenner. did The factthatBrenneracceptstheclaimthatsurplustransfer takeplace (even if to he does so onlygrudgingly without and reference anyspecific process)helpsmake of Wallerstein's case the stronger the two.
Relative Value of theGood Produced
A second of the strengths found in Wallerstein's argumentthat Brennerfails to the adequatelyaddress revolvesaround the effect natureor relativevalue of the Brennercontends has good produced in a country on thatcountry's development. thatNorthAmerica,whichproduced primary productsfora metropolitan market, than developed much differently South or CentralAmericaalthoughbothof those areas were engaged in the same general task. Surely then the role of primaryproduct producer determinesnothingin and of itself.What Brenner fails to is consider,however, thatNorthAmericawas not as highly soughtafterforwhatit was producedas wereotherareas and henceitssocialand economicstructure notas
raw materials,etc.) and variable capital (wages). 7 This is the ratio between constantcapital (machinery,
for highratesof return products If classesare receiving controlled. dominant closely will labor,they wantno alternative scarce,yetlow-wage beingproducedbyrelatively activitiesto develop that might draw away that labor or raise wages. Where where landholdingsare smaller and returnsare less remunerative, agricultural is of wherethecontrolthatcomes fromtheattention jealous lordsor themetropole are more likely to develop and this is absent, commerce and manufacturing in beneficial the long term. undoubtedly
his to considerations restricting levelof analysis by Brennerignoresmilitary Finally, disrupted In Poland he notesthat"thewarswhichtotally a singlecountry. discussing did Polisheconomyfromthemiddleof the 17thcentury notallowfor thesputtering to the foregoingdynamicretrogression workitselfout" (Brenner,1977:70) This as of eventsas central majorwarsis of surrender theutility Marxismforexplaining for a explanation theseevents Anderson(1974) provides Marxist Perry unfortunate. thanwithBrenner.In discusswithWallerstein thatappears much more consistent to in ing theriseof absolutism theEast (as contrasted itsrisein theWest)he suggests to populatedrelative the thattwinprocessesshould be noted.The East was sparsely because no powerexisted had primarily Westand labor scarcity fueledliberalization of areas or escapingto theestates leavingforunknown thatcould stoppeasantsfrom labor and a structure of more "liberal"landholders.A codification laws regarding anticentralist even to thefiercely thoselawsappeared necessary capable of enforcing leaderswould obviously be Largelypowerless"central" easternfeudalaristocracies. quick to complywithsuch demands,and Andersonconcludesthatin one sense, a of centralstateapparatuswas "purchased"at thecostof the formalization serfdom, communal freedomsof the poor" of the destruction the remaining"traditional (Anderson,1974:195). Anderson suggeststhat the centralstate apparatus was also necessaryin the stateswere more capable of in contextof growingabsolutism the West.Absolutist giventhattheycould especiallymilitarily, and identifying realizingtheirinterests, than could greaterresourcesby virtueof theirstructures call upon significantly states.Anderson suggeststhatnowhereis thismade clearerthan in decentralized paid for its ideology feudal aristocracy antiabsolutist Poland, where the virulently in country Europe and one withitsnationalindependence.Poland,once thelargest was successively defeated was a "strong state," possessedby whatBrennersuggests in states what and thusmilitarily oriented superior and partitioned morecentrally by in as Brenneridentifies a discontinuity the Polishdecline. thatthe Andersonconcludesthatsuchlessonswerenoteasilyignored.He suggests and the need to controllabor necessity createdby military need forcentralization statein the East. While not as autonomousas its helped give rise to an absolutist set in counterparts the West,such an apparatusclearly the stageforthe changesin in class relations whichthe centralstateapparatuswould be involvedin the future. not whendevelopment is The military aspectof thischangeis simply comprehensible individualcountries. viewedsolelyfromwithin to on his Brennerin no waystrengthens position thiswhenhe turnshis attention were in large part determinedby military other areas where class structures conquest.Brennerchooses to discussthe case of the Caribbean,wherethe indigenous populationwas largelywiped out and slaves importedto produce sugar, in of Brenner of that terms classstruggles are viewedas independent theworldmarket. appears to believe that the crucial issue is whether "the class structurewas determinedby the needs of the marketand capital accumulation" immediately of (Brenner, 1977:87). While it may well be that the extermination the original
by determined" the market(and he populationof the Caribbeanwas "immediately it if does notconsidertheimpactthiswouldhave on hisposition itweretrue),surely is not necessary to meet such a high standard of proof to demonstratethe of the of importance the sugar tradein determining classstructure theWestIndies. of the operationsthathave affected class structure a country Many other military economicreasonsas well. Bergesen (1984:367) have been undertakenfor directly asks and rightly Brenner:"How can examplesfromSpanishAmerica, givesfurther the autonomousevolutionof Aztec and Inca class relationshave created Spanish Latin America?" Quite simply,Brenner's narrow focus does not allow us to comprehendadequatelysuch cases.
Summaryand Conclusion school includes a and the world-systems RobertBrenner'scritiqueof Wallerstein points,all of whichspeak to broader issues in the studyof numberof important is and economicphenomena.Of centralimportance the questionof socio-political and interpreting such the most appropriate level of analysisfor understanding is use phenomena.Here we have to concludethatWallerstein's of theworld-system In superior to Brenner's narrowerfocus on the nation-state. the criticalcase of analysisis more consistent Wallerstein's Poland and the rise of the second serfdom of record and bettersuited to explainingthe timing important withthe historical of thatrefeudalization preceededthegrowth the grain events.Brenner'ssuggestion takenin the verysourceshe cites.His withthe positions tradeappears inconsistent flawedand on onlyon theperiodof peak tradeis logically insistence focusing implicit of or the subtleties complexities productionand does not take into consideration of fail Brenner'scounterarguments to explainthespecifics method classinteraction. as or of timingand do not address pointsas important the relativevalues of the On of actionsor of surplustransfer. thislast goods produced or the effects military but analysis, some seriousproblemswithWallerstein's pointBrennerdoes identify does not draw them to their logical conclusionor offera viable and consistent alternative interpretation. is accountof theriseof thesecondserfdom This does not mean thatWallerstein's of the It satisfactory. is,in itsessence,bicausal,with growth tradeand thelow entirely of labor/land ratiothe main determinants the lords' decisionto seek reenserfment (Wallerstein,1974a:99). While this speaks to the incentivesthe lords had for to it peasant mobility, tellsus littleabout theirability carryout such a restricting about thisissue ratiowilltellus something politicalprogram.While the land/labor werenotenough peasantsto could mean theresimply (sincelow populationdensity otherexplanationfor thatwithWallerstein's combining resistance), put up effective 1974a:104) stilldoes not thelords'success,(the weaknessof the towns;Wallerstein, to seem sufficient explain fully whythe lordswon. of might It is at this point that a useful synthesis these disparateperspectives of provideus witha muchmorecompleteunderstanding theprocessof peripheralito stimuli an undiverand disincentives providedbyexternal zation.The incentives and of interactions providethe area explainthe timing critical sifiedand stagnating will supplyand whichthey takeplace. Wherelaboris bothin short within parameters to incentives alter dominantclasseswillhave strong too poor to serveas a market, of to Labor willbe appropriated servetheinterests theone dynamic conditions. their to willbecome harsheras the returns this sector-that of exports-and conditions become betterand more widelyrecognized.This peripheraliformof exploitation of vulnerability the regions zation will be exacerbated by the physical(military) low natureof producinggoods of relatively value and few the involved, debilitating
Debate The Brenner-Wallerstein
linkages, and by the possibletransfer surplusvalue. All of theseprocesseswillbe of conditioned the natureof the marketforthe good or goods offered trade. by in in With this synthesis place three general conclusionsmay be drawn fromour analysis. First, debateoverthemostappropriate the levelof analysis welladdressed is of to by applyingthe arguments both Brennerand Wallerstein the critical case of Poland. We mayconcludethatWallerstein's level focuson thebroaderworld-system is a more usefulbasis fromwhichto understand socio-economic and politicalphea nomena.This is wellillustrated thecase of thesecondserfdom, critical in eventthat of cannotbe understoodin the absenceof a consideration system-level interactions. that leads us to theconclusion whileWallerstein's Second,thisanalysis emphasison it of level orientation Brenner, theworld-system is superiorto themorestate-centric intoprocessesand eventsof is notalone a sufficient basis fromwhichto gain insight and importance. World-system phenomenacircumscribe interaction provideimportantincentives and disincentives, one cannotadequatelydeal withsocial reality but intothemorespecific will unlessone learnsto translate theseforces effects they have on internal of politicaland economicinteractions. Neitherthe identification worldforcesnor of internal can system politicaldynamics standalone. that we Finally, have outlineda modelof Polishperipheralization we believehelps thatprocessin general.So longas one is careful considerthe to us better understand relevant market, natureof the goods beingproducedand the linkagesbetween the domestic theincentives disincentives market and that providesforimportant forces, to one mayapply thismodel of Polishperipheralization other,more contemporary For the situations. manyreasonsand in manyrespects debatebetweenBrennerand of to Wallerstein of significant is interest students international politicaleconomy and of worldpoliticsmore generally.
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