Comment on Brenner
When I read Robert Brenner’s article, I rubbed my eyes in wonderment.  Robert Brenner, ‘On the Origins of Capitalist Development: a Critiqúe of Neo-Smithian Marxism’, nlr 104, July/August 1977. It was a long time since I had last looked at the debate on the transition from feudalism to capitalism in which I participated along with Maurice Dobb and others some thirty years ago (recently re-issued in expanded form under the title The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism, nlb 1976, cited in what follows from this edition). I certainly had no recollection whatever of having presented what Brenner calls a neo-Smithian account of the origins of capitalism (the growth of trade gives rise to increased division of labour, rising labour productivity, and a smooth transition to a self-generating process of capital expansion). Could it be that my memory had completely failed me, or was Brenner making it all up out of an apparently fertile imagination?
Subscribe for just £36 and get free access to the archive
Please login on the left to read more or buy the article for £3