[OPE-L:7483] Re: Re: Buying up and monopsony

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Wed Jul 31 2002 - 23:17:54 EDT

Just thought that I would note in passing that in The Great 
Divergence: Europe, China and the Making of the Modern World 
(Princeton, 1998) Kenneth Pomeranz argues that neither rising 
agricultural productivity nor the proto industrialization of the 
putting out system was unique to England or Europe and thus cannot 
geographic specificity of the Industrial Revolution and the 
consequent emergence of a core dominated world economy.  For 
Pomeranz, the key limit to industrial capital and modern industrial 
growth was ecological, an energy shortage and a shortage of land 
intensive goods on which the extensive development of proto 
industrialization had foundered in other parts of Eurasia. In the 
absence of the overcoming of serious ecological constraints, proto 
industrialization even if it was more advanced in Holland than say 
the Gujarat in the 1600s would never have escaped the cul de sac in 
which Asia was to be trapped.

The development of a new kind of periphery in the 
Americas--politically and militarily dominated, slave based and 
forcibly complementary to the mother country--allowed for the 
overcoming of ecological restraints on modern industrial growth in 
Europe (attention is also given to England's good fortune of coal 
deposits). Pomeranz denies that a shortage of capital prevented a 
similar transition in parts of China, and he denies that the property 
regime was uniquely biased towards modern industrial growth in 
Europe. Unlike Richard Jones and Robert Brenner, he does not locate 
the uniqueness of England in a novel tripartite agricultural regime 
of improving landlords-enterprising tenants--dispossessed wage 
laborers, though he does not in fact carefully refute this view.

For Pomeranz, modern growth was impeded not on the value side, not in 
terms of the shortage of investible capital which Europe would later 
overcome by plunder (there was no shortage of capital in parts of 
China) but on the use value or physical side. It was a physical 
shortage of energy and of land-intensive goods that had to be 
overcome. The development of a new kind of periphery in the Americas 
allowed for this. Pomeranz thus gives a very different importance to 
the colonization of the Americas than James Blaut (and others in the 
dependency tradition) has.

For our value- and social relations dominated OPE-list, it is 
interesting to take note of those whose primary focus is on 
ecological or use value impediments.

I don't know if Paul Burkett and others find this kind of 
comparative, ecologically sensitive historical approach complementary 
to their efforts at a green/red synthesis?

All the best, Rakesh

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