gunder and the three bears

Fri, 07 Mar 1997 17:17:53 -0500 (EST)
s_sanderson (

This is Stephen (Goldilocks) Sanderson here, a little tired and sleepy from
reading all these posts and wanting to go to bed. But whoa! There's someone
sleeping in my bed. In fact, a lot of somethings in there. I understand why
most of them are there, but why is Jim Blaut there? Considering his recent
posts, I'm not sure he thinks we are supposed to be sleeping in the same bed.
And if I'm there because I still use the C word and see a big break in 1500,
then Tom and Chris should be in there too. They do the same, though not quite
in the same way.

But wait! There's another bed made up for me, with a lot of familiar faces
there too. And Jim is there too? I thought he would be sleeping in the third
bed, but maybe I'm overlooking something. And that third bed is starting to
get a little more crowded all the time. Is it really a good idea, Gunder, to
try to get everyone into it? They won't get much rest.

More seriously, it seems to me that much of this discussion is beside the
point. I always understood Wallerstein to say that what happened around 1500
was the beginning of a DIFFERENT MODE OF PRODUCTION, a CAPITALIST mode that
differed significantly from its feudal predecessor. As Warren Wagar has said
in his latest post, the system started small and grew much bigger over time. It
doesn't really matter very much whether China had more vessels and more trade.
Europe eventually conquered the world, for better or worse, like it or not, and
that is an undisputed fact. It did that, Wallerstein and I and many other
WSystemites argue, because it had a new mode of production
built around incessant
capital accumulation, something not found elsewhere (except, I would say now,
for Japan) in the world. There was a lot of "capitalism" in Asia, but it was
stuck within a tributary mode of production and couldn't flex its muscles as it
could in Europe. The issue, thus, is not the quantitative one of who had more
ships and more trade, but who had shifted to a qualitatively new mode of
production, one that would soon be world-transforming.

Yours in denial (but also willing to stretch some),
Stephen Sanderson