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Re: Ricardo Duchesne on Ellen Meiksins Wood
by Charles Jannuzi
25 September 2003 02:22 UTC
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OK, I've recovered a version of Proyect's post from
the Marxmail archive. I assume it's the same one that
got posted to this list. Part of the problem I had
understanding it was that the quote marks didn't
convert properly on my Japanese language OS Windows
system. They just looked like  a single dark dot
instead of inverted commas. However, the other
misunderstanding came from this transition: 

>>Duchesne's article is not only worth tracking down
as a very effective rebuttal to Brenner and Wood but
as a rarity in the academic world: a witty and highly
readable essay that entertains while it educates.<<

This refers to the article Proyect is agreeing with.

>> For veterans of PEN-L, it might come as some
surprise to discover that he has written such an
article for in the past he was one of the most
vociferous opponents of James M. Blaut, both on that
list and other lists where the origins of capitalism
was a hot topic.<<

OK, Proyect is now referring to a time when Duschense
was anti-Blaut--which, I now take it to mean puts him
in agreement with Brenner and Wood prior to his
conversion to another position.  

>>For example in January 1998, he wrote the following
on PEN-L:

"Now consider the dilemma Blaut finds himself: why did
Europe came to dominate the rest of the World? Answer:
geographical proximity of Europe to the Americas(!)
gave it access to its metals and labor leading to the
industrial revolution. Obviously the notion that
European capitalism developed as a result of the
exploitation of the Third World has been so roundly
refuted I need not elaborate this here. Just a handy,
if incomplete, stats: At most 2% of Europe's GNP at
the end of 18th century took the form of profits
derived from commerce with Americas, Asia, Africa! (I
think source is K.O'Brien)."<<

OK, this is  Duschense citing O'Brien to support an
argument against Blaut. Had I seen the quotes, I think
I would have kept that clear. So I was questioning
Duschesne's use of Third World and 'profits', and the
significance of O'Brien's stats. But is Proyect at
least implicitly disagreeing with Duschense and
K.O'Brien here? What are his views on this crucial
issue? That England did indeed industrialize on the
back of the Third World? Does that term then take in
Ireland 1600-1850? 

>>However, Duchesne now believes:

"The major drawback of Wood’s Origins is its
Eurocentric presumption that explaining the transition
to capitalism is simply a matter of looking for those
'unique' traits that set Europe or England apart from
the rest of the world. Marxists can no longer rest
comfortably with the story that England and Europe
emerged from the Middle Ages with an internally
generated advantage over the rest of Asia."<<

OK, this is the more recent Duchesne position, with
which Proyect agrees? Is it not? Could Proyect please
explicate the change in or contradictions in positions
here? I'm not seeing the connection between England
emerging from the Middle Ages and England at the end
of the 18th century. But I think seeing the connection
would help me to understand just what Proyect's thesis
is here. 


Charles Jannuzi
Fukui, Japan 


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