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Reply to Sweezy
Readers will have to judge for themselves whether or not I have mischaracterized Paul Sweezy’s arguments. I do not think my understanding of his case is idiosyncratic. Other writers, most recently John Merrington in his ‘Town and Country in the Development of Capitalism’ (nlr 93, September–October 1975, pp. 71–5), have emphasized not only the derivation of Sweezy’s arguments from Henri Pirenne’s, but the parallel between the arguments of both of them and that of Adam Smith—especially, Smith’s ‘smooth’, evolutionary interpretation of the transition through the rise of trade and the division of labour.
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