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Class Struggles, Ideologies, Economic Transformations and Colonialism

The Modern World-System I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century by Immanuel Wallerstein with a new prologue (original edition, Academic Press), 1974; pp xxx + 410, $29.95. The Modern World-System II: Mercantilism and the Consolidation of the European World-Economy, 1600-1750, with a new prologue (original edition, Academic Press), 1980; pp xxvii + 370, $29.95. The Modern World-System III: The Second Era of Great Expansion of the Capitalist World-Economy, 1730s-1840s, with a new prologue (original edition, Academic Press), 1989; pp xvii + 372, $29.95. The Modern World-System IV: Centrist Liberalism Triumphant, 1789-1914, pp xvii + 377, $26.95. (All the four volumes published by University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 2011.)

Class Struggles, Ideologies, Economic Transformations and Colonialism

Amiya Kumar Bagchi

The World-System Perspective

s we live in the shadow of the strikes by tanks, stealth bombers and drones destroying hundreds of thousands of lives, and relics of some of the oldest civilisations in the world, vast shopping malls in place of neighbourhood groceries and drug counters, the extravaganza of fashion parades and the ostentatious display of wealth in every possible form, side by side with endemic hunger of billions and death in famines and preventable diseases of uncounted numbers in Africa and elsewhere, we continually wonder, “How has it all come about?”. Great writers and artists have been driven by this question to create novels, plays, poetry, paintings of agonised intensity, and films that have lived since the days of silent cinema. But some historians and social scientists have spent their lives trying to answer this question, and fighting with their pens and voices to do something to change this horrendous scenario. Immanuel Wallerstein belongs in the company of that distinguished minority among the social scientists.

The four volumes of Immanuel Wallerstein’s magnum opus (I will label them as W1, W2, W3 and W4) contain a comprehensive account of his most outstanding achievement as a historian and sociologist. W1 opens with three epigraphs, one from Marc Bloch, the second from the article by Fernand Braudel and Frank Spooner on price changes in Europe in the 16th century (Braudel and Spooner 1967) and a third from Marx’s Capital, Vol I (Marx 1867-87).

Marc Bloch: “C’est par unecrise des revenusseignneuriauxque se termine le moyen-âge et s’ouvrent les tempsmodernes”, which can be roughly translated as “The crisis in the seigneurs” incomes

review article

The Modern World-System I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century by Immanuel Wallerstein with a new prologue (original edition, Academic Press), 1974; pp xxx + 410, $29.95.

The Modern World-System II: Mercantilism and the Consolidation of the European World-Economy, 1600-1750, with a new prologue (original edition, Academic Press), 1980; pp xxvii + 370, $29.95.

The Modern World-System III: The Second Era of Great Expansion of the Capitalist World-Economy, 1730s-1840s, with a new prologue (original edition, Academic Press), 1989; pp xvii + 372, $29.95.

The Modern World-System IV: Centrist Liberalism Triumphant, 1789-1914, pp xvii + 377, $26.95. (All the four volumes published by University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 2011.)

marks the end of the Middle Age and the beginning of modern times.

Braudel and Spooner: “This collapse in real wages [in Europe] formed the counterpart to the revolutionary rise of prices in the sixteenth century. The operation was fully paid for by the increased toil, hardships, impoverishments and dejection of the majority. Contemporaries were often aware that the deterioration was taking place.”

The Epigraph from Marx Reads: “The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the indigenous population of that continent, the beginnings of the conquest and plunder of India, and the conversion of Africa into a preserve for the commercial hunting of black-skins, are all things which characterise the dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief moments of primitive accumulation” (Chapter XXXI, “The Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist”, p 751).

These epigraphs signal that his grand history will be neither a simple story of the rise of the west, or that of the unique birth of capitalism from the class struggles waged by undifferentiated agrarian capitalists of England or that of the triumphal march of capitalism once it had begun its ascent as the dominating politico-economic system the world over. The time span of these volumes ranges really from the 14th to the beginning of the 20th century of global history.

Some of the themes bound within the covers of the four volumes discussed (“reviewed” is too grand a word for the small compass of this essay) are also pertinent to a fresh scrutiny of the way many of us have viewed the world for a long time. The depth of my discussion will necessarily fall far short of the fathoms to which Wallerstein’s probes descend, for several reasons. One of them is that his is a meta-narrative, and in the grand style – consciously combining history, sociology and political economy all along his five-century-long tale. A second reason is that he commands the secondary literature in all these disciplines in at least four European languages, namely, English, French, German and Italian. My knowledge extends only to English and Bangla, and the secondary literature translated in these two languages. The only advantage I can claim is that I am also acquainted with some archival materials on India, and that I have always viewed the world from the perspective of the populations of ex-colonies of European powers and imperial Japan and the poor of capitalist nations: these probably help in providing a slightly different point of vantage on what went on in the world during the periods covered by W2, W3 and W4.

One of Wallerstein’s major intentions was to strike a blow against modernisation theory beloved of the cold war establishment sociologists and economists of


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    april 14, 2012 vol xlvii no 15


    the US. For neoclassical economists, the corresponding template of “modernisation” theory was the theory of trickling down of incomes from the wealthy to the poor as the markets are allowed to work throughout the world. That theory pervades policymaking in most countries under the neo-liberal heel. For that reason alone, if for no other reason, these books deserve a close reading by all who are seriously troubled by the current state of the world. Therefore, it is post-Eurocentric without being postmodernist or irrationalist.

    The instrument Wallerstein fashioned for attaining his scholarly objectives is that of the world-system (WS) theory, one of whose core ideas is that WS is a system which is interconnected in all its parts through trade and fi nancial exchange, and that it contains a hegemonic power that dominates its working, until a new hegemonic power comes up to challenge the old one. The system may go on expanding even if some parts of it may decline. In fact, uneven development of the different parts is essential to the working of the system (for serious appraisal of the WS theory, see Skocpol 1977; Ragin and Chirot 1985; Arrighi and Goldfrank 2000; Robinson 2001 and several others). This concept is a generalisation of Fernand Braudel’s idea of a world economy, and it is partly as a tribute to Braudel, and partly to apply the ideas of WS theory to history in all its dimensions and to contemporary developments as well that Wallerstein founded the Fernand Braudel Center (FBC) for the Study of Economics, Historical Systems, and Civilisations at the State University of New York, Binghamton. The WS school has had very distinguished associates such as Samir Amin, Giovanni Arrighi and Andre Gunder Frank, all of whom had been treading parallel trajectories of analysis before Wallerstein fl oated his WS theory. Terence Hopkins joined the team at the FBC. Later on Frank fell out with Amin, Arrighi and Wallerstein, who contested the validity of Frank’s idea of a 5,000 year-old WS theory. But the WS framework has caught on and been diffused not only through the journal of the FBC, Review, which is now in the 35th year of its publication, but also through The Journal of World-Systems Research, which is now in the 17th research of publication.

    The WS theory is an envelope, both in the sense of the mathematicians, namely, that it is a curve or a facet of many dimen sions that traces the outer contours of other curves or facets and in the day-to-day sense of a container that holds many objects. It can be useful in both senses, and it has its limitations in both senses. Since it spans at least fi ve centuries and often harks back to another two centuries, the enveloping curve or facet struggles to support all the changes in the contours. On the other side, many of the objects sought to be contained in the envelope spill out of them, and the spills are often as interesting as the contents held by the envelope. For instance, Wallerstein disagrees with the orthodox Marxist definition of capitalism as a mode of production in which the means of production are owned by a small group (“capitalists”) and workers who have to work for wages in order to make a living. He would put trade and fi nance in the core definition of capita lism and include within the capitalist WS many social systems in which the strict separation between workers has not taken place but have nonetheless come under the dominance of the hegemonic power. On the other hand, when talking about the core countries of the capitalist WS, I found him repeatedly referring to “owner-producers” as the principal economic agents. An orthodox Marxist might argue that they are really the capitalist farmers, manufacturers (skilled master craftsmen and employers of journeymen before the arrival of machine-dominated production) or industrialists and so the core social system conforms to the orthodox Marxist definition, although no social system can be free of some other types of socal relations.

    The basic contribution of the WS approach has been to insist that capitalism always has a tendency to cross the borders of any particular state or territory and that the ability of a particular state or system of states to dominate others has always depended on particular geopolitical conjuncture as well as the strength of the particular state or the coalition associated with it. But that success has perhaps been bought a little dearly because of the insistence of the leader that changes within the capitalist WS or as between the capitalist WS and the others are secondary to the vision embodied in the conception of WS itself.

    I will try to retell some of the most significant portions of Wallerstein’s grand narrative, with the warning that it is my way of telling it, and other students might find other bits more compelling. So let me start with a characterisation of the basic intentional and unintentional drives that push capitalism forward. In order to make profi ts, capital has always needed natural resources, labour and markets. Finance has been the means with which to mobilise all three. Competition for markets, natural resources, raw materials, labour and territories and use of all instruments including war, have been an essential part of the spread of capitalism from the Italian city states to north-west Europe and then to the rest of the world. That kind of competition has also meant the exclusion of regions and multitudes from the benefits of capitalism.

    Exclusivist Character

    This exclusivist character of capitalism was already understood by the Italian theorists of the 16th and early 17th centuries, with Giovanni Botero and Antonio Serra as the leading proponents of the adoption of capitalist logic by more “backward” regions such as Piedmont (in Botero’s case) and Naples (in Serra’s case, so that they could be as rich as Genoa or Venice). Botero emphasised the possibility of population growth pressing against the supply of subsistence under the city-centred capitalism he idolised, and thus became a precursor of the Malthusian theory, which served an insidious ideological purpose from the 19th century in denying the poor a decent standard of living and limiting their sexual and familial freedom. Soon after this, Francis Bacon advocated the decimation of the unruly “many-headed hydra” of the working class as a device of control, if the need arose (Bacon 1627, 1986; Linebaugh and Rediker 2000). It is instructive to re-examine the arguments of Botero and Serra in order to get away from the historical syllogisms of Eurocentric historians of capitalism such as Eric Jones, David Landes and Robert Brenner (for a critique, see Bagchi 2005-06). This will also help us better understand the complex narrative that unfurls in the tomes of Wallerstein.

    Botero was a Piedmontese monk and in his 1588 book on the Greatness of Cities (Botero 1588-1606) emphasised that cities needed to attract merchants and others as seats of both power and profi tmaking opportunities. While cities required supplies of grain and other commodities to support the urban population, a fertile land as such. For example, Botero’s native Piedmont would not produce great cities although it was very fertile and supported armies of France and Spain with grain and other agricultural produce because it lacked facilities of transport, both inland and across the seas and the ingredients of thriving profit-making exchange. Going further, Botero also regarded the attraction of luxuries and entertainment to the rich as contributing factors to the growth of cities. Writing over a century later, Daniel Defoe (1724-26-1971) also considered that one of the reasons for the greatness of London was that the rich from all over Britain set up houses in that city in order both to exploit the profi t-making opportunities and to enjoy themselves, in the process attracting custom from all over the kingdom.1

    Writing shortly after this, Antonio Serra, a Neapolitan scholar published his Breve Trattato in 1613 (Serra 16132011). Just as Botero had compared the greatness of Venice and Rome with the lack of cities (and by implication, the lack of comparable profi t-making opportunities),2 so also Serra pondered the reasons for the poverty of Naples compared with the affluence of Venice.3 He cited the dominance of nobility in Naples, which neither managed their land nor let the dependent peasants work it properly as a major factor. Serra had a sophisticated understanding of what makes a region rich when capitalism has already diffused its variety of inequality over space. He considered the following man-made or institutional causes (which he termed accidental cau ses) as factors facilitating the increase in riches of a state: (a) “a multiplicity of manufacturing activities”; (b) “an enterprising population”; (c) “extensive trade”; and (d) “effective government” (Reinert 2011: 63).

    Venice vs Naples

    Comparing Venice and Naples by this criterion, he found Naples to be defi cient in all these qualities or institutions. He particularly stressed that Venice had an enormous range of manufactures, and posited that in manufacturing the cost of production per unit goes down as the scale of production goes up, whereas the produce of the land cannot be increased in the same way as in the case of manufactures (ibid: 64-65):

    In manufacturing activities it is possible to achieve a multiplication of products, and therefore of earnings. The same cannot be done with agricultural produce which is not subject to multiplication. If a given piece of land is only large enough to sow a hundred tomoli of wheat, it is impossible to sow a 150 there. In manufacturing, by contrast, production can be multiplied not merely twofold but a hundredfold, and at a proportionately lower cost.

    Serra also pointed out that while Naples exported a large value of agricultural products, Genoa and Venice imported grain and other products for feeding their respective populations (Serra, Breve Trattato, Part One, Chapter VIII).4 Putting together Botero’s and Serra’s writings, it can be seen that these early theorists of industrial capitalism regarded both inequality of economic circumstances and the existence of regions that would not industrialise but act as suppliers of produce and workers driven from poorer regions as essential to the growth of industries and cities that would be home to those industries.

    Botero and Serra had cited the agglomeration of people and their activities as factors promoting the cities and their neighbourhoods. However, medieval cities as such did not promote capital accumulation. Much of the potential capital was wasted in luxury consumption and in the maintenance of retainers. This was true also of Italian city states in

    april 14, 2012

    most respects (Le Goff 1972; Procacci 1973 Chapters 4 and 5). But as in Italian city states (Plumb 1964: 118-35; Procacci 1973, Chapters 3-4), so in other capitalistimperialist states, the capitalists have needed a labour force which they could capture for exploitation but exclude from all political rights and most civil (and human) rights as well. This need was succinctly expressed, a century after Serra by Bernard Mandeville, who obviously enjoyed shocking his contemporaries by blurting out unpleasant truths: a Free Nation where Slaves are not allowed of, the surest wealth consists in a multitude of Laborious Poor; for besides that they are the never failing Nursery of Fleets and Armies, without them there could be no enjoyment, and no Product of any Country could be valuable. To make the Society Happy and People Easy under the meanest Circumstances, it is requisite that great numbers of them should be Ignorant as well as Poor. Knowledge both enlarges and multiplies our Desires, and the fewer things a Man Wishes for, the more easily his Necessities may be supplied (Mandeville 1723-1989: 294) (quoted in Bagchi 2005-06, Appendix 1, p 385).

    I would conclude this part of my narrative by pointing out that while capitalism started in the city-states of Italy, and the essential requirements for construction of capitalist states were spelled out by two Italian savants from two lagging states, Italy as such did not make the grade as a part of the advancing front of capitalist states, because geopolitical, geoeconomic and domestic class situations demanded the construction of territorial states that would help rather than hinder the growth of the bourgeoisie. While Spain and Portugal became territorial states already in the 16th century, domestic class relations militated against their forging ahead in competition with the Netherlands and England. Italian states such as Venice and Genoa fell behind because of all the three factors mentioned earlier, and they never managed to break the shackles of many characteristics of feudalism (for an insightful but controversial analysis of the reasons for the Italian failure, see Aymard 1982). Wallerstein gives a detailed account of why the price inflation of the 16th century harmed Spain which owned the silver mines and helped the process of

    vol xlvii no 15

    accumulation in the Netherlands, England and France. (Felix 1956 and Vilar 1956 along with Batista I Roca 1971 give a full analysis of the limits of the Hamilton-Keynes thesis of price infl ation unambiguously helping profi t infl ation and productive investment.) W1 also debates issues of transition from feudalism to capitalism. Implicitly, Wallerstein considers this debate to be unhelpful, because according to him feudalism was not a system but a civilisation (see below the citations from W2), in the sense that it was incapable, unlike capitalist WS, of diffusing through various countries. There is another implicit critique of the importance attached to this issue, and it is that most other countries did not after all have a feudal system in the west European sense, and yet they had to submit to the embrace of the capitalist WS. Without entering into the debate over the issue of transition, I would argue that the literature on the transition debate (for authoritative statements on this debate, see Hilton 1976a and 1976b; see also Byres 2006a, 2006b and Heller 2011) is important because it demonstrated how a social system can break from within, even though some external events such as the growth of international trade (part of which can itself be endogenous to the system) can act as catalytic agents.

    W2 moves forward from the origins to the development of the capitalist WS from 1600-1750. That volume rightly focuses on mercantilism as a general instrument of the core capitalist states. But then in the new prologue of 2011, Wallerstein engages in a terminological polemic, which may obscure rather than illuminate the thrust of his analysis. He writes:

    This volume starts with the question of how to describe what was going on in Europe during the 17th century. The great debate of the 1950s and 1960s about the “crisis” of the 17th century laid a great deal of emphasis on the “feudal” character of its processes. Most authors interpreted this to mean that there was a “refeudalisation” of Europe. Volume 2 is an attempt to refute these characterisations and to insist once again that the European world-economy had become defi nitively capitalist during the long 16th century. In many ways, Volume 2 is the crucial volume of the whole set in that it makes the case for a certain vision and definition of capitalism as a historical system… (p xiii).


    We talk of the “feudal system” to describe this period I wonder about the word system, since feudal Europe was neither a world-economy nor a worldempire. As a “system”, it can be at most described as the remains of the disintegration of the short-lived Carolingian world-empire. It is perhaps better to call it a “civilisation”, which would mean it was a series of small systems (or divisions of labour) linked, to the extent they were linked, by a shared religious structure and to a limited extent by the lingua franca of Latin… (p xv).

    *** The politics of a capitalist worldeconomy were quite different from the politics of a feudal civilisation. The states became the key units of political organisation, rather than the local unit with the manor at the centre. The fi rst problem was the creation of signifi cant bureaucracies, both civil and military, such that the rulers were no longer primarily dependent for their revenues on their personal landholdings, but instead had a taxation base (p xx, W2). One problem with all this is that it obscures the fact that the Holy Roman Empire continued to operate down to the time when the French Revolutionary army and Napoleon showed it to be a terminal patient, and that dynastic claims continued to decide the fates of large territories such as Savoy, Piedmont, Sardinia and even Poland down to the end of the “Holy Alliance” of the 19th century. The second problem is that while Italy and Russia may both belong to the semi-periphery of the WS in the 18th century, the fate of the peasants and even artisans was considerably worse than in earlier times. Moreover, the enserfment of the Russian peasantry who had been free until the 15th century and had been accelerated under Ivan IV (“the Terrible”) was more or less concluded by Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, and that development was precipitated in conflicts with nascent

    capitalist powers, such as Sweden which failed at that time to emerge as successfully capitalist-imperialist powers because of geopolitical factors (Bagchi 2007; Hilton and Smith 1968; Bagchi 2005-06, Chapter 4).

    However, Wallerstein’s perspective is perhaps better captured in another passage in W2:

    In a capitalist world-economy, ownerproducers wish the state to perform two key functions on their behalf. They want it to help them gain or maintain advantage in the market by limiting or expanding the “freedom” of this market at a cost less than the increased profit, regardless of whether this is a positive or negative intervention by the state...The owner-producers in addition want the state to help them extract a larger proportion of the surplus than they could do otherwise...Hence, for the owner-producer, the strong state is not necessarily the one with the most extensive state-machinery nor the one with the most arbitrary decisionmaking processes. Quite often the exact opposite is true. Needless to say, a state’s strength correlates with the economic role of the ownerproducers of that state in the world-economy; but of these assertions are not to be mere tautologies, we must have some indepen dent political measures of this strength. We suggest five possible such measures: the degree to which state policy can directly help owner-producers compete in the world market (mercantilism); the degree to which states can affect the ability of other states to compete (military power); the degree to which states can mobilise their resources to perform these competitive and military tasks at costs that do not eat up the profi ts (public finance); the degree to which states can create administrations that will permit the swift carrying out of tactical decisions (an effective bureaucracy); and the degree to which the political rules refl ect a balance of interests among owner-producers such that a working “hegemonic bloc” (to use a Gramscian expression) forms the stable underpinnings of such a state. This last element, the politics of the class struggle, is the key to others (p 113).

    I have argued (Bagchi 2005-06, Preface and Chapter 3) that successful, front line capitalist states, from the 16th century always combined the fi rst three strategies, and that merchants, capitalist farmers and manufacturers, fi nanciers and profit-seeking landlords formed the “hegemonic bloc”, whereas the hegemonic bloc in the Netherlands consisted mainly of merchants, manufacturers and financiers. The construction and deconstruction of an absolutist government could only be a way-station but not a stopping point of an ascendant capitalist state, because such a state would lack the flexibility necessary to rearrange elements of the hegemonic bloc and meet the challenge of other contending powers.

    Although W2 specifically refers to mercantilism in its title, temporally mercantilist strategies stretched all the way, in England, the voluble propagandist of free trade, from the policies initiated by Henry VII in the 1580s to the abolition of the Navigation Acts in 1849 (Zahedieh 2009). The 18th century saw the fl owering of theories of free trade from David Hume, Adam Smith to Edmund Burke, but it was also the century during which the British effected their industrial revolution largely through imitative and innovative import substitution of Indian and Chinese textiles (Allen 2009; Inikori 2002). It was during this century that protectionism reached new heights in Britain (Davis 1966). The doublespeak of the spokesmen of colonialism and imperialism has a venerable history (cf Bagchi 1992; Chang 2007). Practising protectionism at home and imposing one-way fre trade on colonies or neocolonial countries have been strategies pursued by imperialist countries, especially since the 19th century.

    Under the logic of uneven development, when a country catch up with the front line capitalist powers, it may become a direct colony or a politically independent and economically dependent country (such as one of the newly independent countries of Latin America in the 19th century). In either case, landlords become the intermediaries between the imperial powers and the local population and peasants (and more rarely, artisans and miners as well) live under feudal-type restrictions on their freedom. Within Europe, Ireland and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies are prime examples of the former. Of course, Spain did not belong to the core of the capitalist world-system during the epochs covered by Wallerstein’s volumes, and Ireland had been a colony of England since the 12th century. But in terms of the distinction adumbrated by Harlow (1952), Ireland remained a “colony of exploitation” as well as a “colony of settlement” down to the 18th century and a colony of exploitation down to the beginning of the 20th century, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies remained a colony of exploitation of Spain until the creation of an independent kingdom under a Bourbon ruler.

    Italy in the Gyrating Nets of Capitalism

    It is highly instructive to look at these aspects of the history of Italy, where capitalism originated, from the time. Charles VIII, the king of France, invaded Italy. France was defeated by Charles V, who was also the king of Spain and his son, kept the Spanish crown and hence the Kingdom of Naples which was already a Spanish colony. Naples was taxed heavily in order to finance the numerous wars that Spain fought against the Dutch rebels in Spanish Netherlands, the French and the English. One of the devices it used for getting more money out of the Neapolitans was to sell patents of nobility, in the process creating increasing numbers of dukes, marquises, counts, counts and other titolati, who enjoyed many feudal privileges and exercised arbitrary power over the common people (Braudel 1973: 717). Spanish exactions continued in the 17th century also, and people tried to stave off starvation by eating melons and other vegetables with little nutritional value (Pagden 1988-2000). “By 1636 the public debt had reached 40 million ducats, and the interest alone exceeded ordinary income” (Robertson 2005: 61). The desperation of the ordinary people provoked one of the largest revolts of the 17th century, led by Tommaso Masaniello, a fi sh-seller, in July 1647, and it continued till May next year, despite Masaniello’s murder in late 1647. The Spaniards returned in 1648, and the exactions eased a little but the sociopolitical system changed little.

    In 1734, Naples became an independent kingdom under the house of Bourbon, with Carlo Borbone as king. While the external drain of wealth to Spain ceased, the tax system changed little nor did the control of the land and

    april 14, 2012

    bureaucratic privileges of the baronial class (Procacci 1973: 239-45). Most of the attempts at reforming the system were defeated by baronial opposition. Naples witnessed a dreadful famine in 1764 (ibid: 243). Naples and Milan saw the flowering of enlightenment thought in the persons of Cesare Beccaria, Celestiano and Ferdinando Galiani, Antonio Genovesi, and many others: but their advice either fell on deaf ears or they faced active persecution (Ibid; Bellamy 1987; Reinert 2005). Genovesiand Galianiwere both Neapolitans and are credited with advances in the analysis of a commercialised society (Schumpeter 1954: 176-81; Reinert 2005). Genovesi was severely critical of the feudal system as impeding the economic and social development of Naples (Robertson 2005: 401).

    In other parts of Italy, such as Piedmont, reform of the social system began and was then stopped. There was no question of reform in the Papal States. In the Po valley, agriculture benefited from improving landowners investing in land in response to external demand from the rest of Europe and from the growth of population in the 18th century. But that area remained an exception. During the so-called age of reform in Italy, per capita income seems actually to have declined (Van Zanden 2002). So many progressive Italians such as Fillippo Buonarroti hailed the advent of the French Revolution, and many of them welcomed the Napoleonic conquest, with the hope that it would lead to the end of the ancient regime, the spread of civil freedom, and the improvement of the standard of living of the general run of population (Procacci 1973, Chapter 9). Of course, Napoleon’s conquest disappointed those who had expected a thorough social reform of an independent Italy in fulfi lment of the ideals of the French Revolution. Italy became totally subservient to French interests. “The Kingdom’s fi nancial and fiscal policy in fact remained subordinate to French military needs: out of a budget of 86 million in 1802 49 million went to war expenses and payments to France. Besides money, Napoleonic France demanded men, and resorted to compulsory conscription…” (Procacci 1973: 263). Nonetheless this

    vol xlvii no 15

    interlude led to some administrative reforms, and young Italians obtained military and technical training in the academies founded by Napoleon. Most of the reforms of land relations were reversed in most parts of the Italian peninsula after the defeat of Napoleon (Procacci 1973, Chapter 10).5 The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was wracked by a number of revolutions, and every restoration cost a large sum, generally raised by foreign, often French loans. For instance, “The restoration of Ferdinand I to the throne of Naples in 1815 cost his country more than 50 million francs for the army of occupation and related expenses in the first two years alone”. The house of Rothschild in France raised loans to liquidate the costs of the revolution of 1820-21 (Cameron 1960: 431). On the eve of the Risorgimento, the condition of the kingdom can be briefly sketched as follows:

    With more than 40% of the land area and an almost equal proportion of the population, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was the largest and most populous of the Italian states. It was also the most highly urbanised; Naples had a population in excess of 4,00,000 by midcentury, twice as large as the nearest competitor, Milan; Palermo counted more than 1,00,000 inhabitants. Nevertheless, agriculture occupied more than fi ve-sixths of the labour force; a large proportion of even the city dwellers, especially in Sicily, trudged great distances to work the estates of indigent absentee landlords…. The government tolerated the most vicious and degraded elements in the population in return for assistance in repressing revolutionary disturbances and frightening the fragile middle class into silent submission to the regime. It treated Sicily more as a conquered province than as an integral part of the kingdom, imposing upon the island a separate administration, different tariffs, and even different systems of coinage and currency... The few paved roads in the vicinity of Naples were not duplicated elsewhere; 1,300 of 1,800 communes had no roads at all. … (ibid: 428-30).

    Contrast between India and Italy

    The tribulations of Italy6 and especially of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies from the time of Spanish rule until the Risorgimento and up to the fi rst world war, have often reminded me of the situation of India under British rule and just after Independence. There was the similar burden of tribute extraction by a foreign ruler, there was the similar use of intermediaries titolati in the kingdom, and distribution of titles of Rai Bahadurs, Rao Sahebs, Khan Bahadurs, Raja Bhadurs to loyal subjects of the British Crown, the similar oppression of the peasantry under the mezzadria or sharecropping system, and rampant use of non-market power by landlords and moneylenders. In Italy, there were significant differences between the pre-Risorgimento states, and later the component regions in the weight of improving farmers and the bourgeoisie as compared with the absentee and unproductive nobility. In India also there were great interregional variations, especially from the late 19th century in the weight of the improving farmers and the Indian capitalists in the economy and society. Then why was India so impoverished compared in 1950 compared with Italy in say, 1913, let alone 1950? A complete answer would require a book, but some of the outstanding differences can be noted. First, the post-Napoleonic Italian states and unified Italy had considerable autonomy in policymaking so that they could not be flattened to a Procrustean bed under the kind of one-way free trade that the British imposed on India. Second, from the 19th century, Italy benefi ted along with most of the other states of the western European periphery from the expansion of demand from the industrialisation of Britain, France, and a little later, Germany (Senghaas 1985). This benefited the domestic producers of agricultural products including viticulture directly and when migration to the Americas became a flood from the 1870s, from the remittances sent from employment in the continents. The enormous importance of such remittances to the Italian economy has been summarised as follows:

    Just between 1870 and 1913, more than 45 million Europeans left their homeland in search of better opportunities in the New World, mainly in the US (23.8 million immigrants), Argentina (4.4 millions), Canada

    (4.3 millions), and Brazil (3.1 millions). On the other side of the Atlantic, the principal European emigration countries were Italy

    (14.1 million emigrants), the UK (10.8 millions), Austria-Hungary (4.3 millions), Spain (3.4 millions), and Germany (3.0 millions). Or, when measured as a share of total population, Ireland (11.0%), Italy (10.1%), the UK (7.3%), Norway (6.6%), Portugal (6.0%), Spain (5.6%), and Sweden (5.2%)…as a share of GDP between 1880 and 1913,… Italy registered the highest levels of remittances (2.8%), followed by Portugal (2.7%), Austria-Hungary (1.5%), Spain (1.2%), Sweden (0.8%) and the UK (0.4%)….remittances represented an additional income that allowed a significant part of Italian families to improve their lifestyle: more diversifi ed diet, better clothing, larger and more comfortable houses, etc. In addition, remittances stimulated savings, especially in Southern Italy…. To some extent, it is even possible to maintain that the migration process brought about an increase in the level of regional inequalities, since remittances were more widely invested in productive development projects in Northern Italy, while economic elites in the Mezzogiorno preferred to make financial investments to the detriment of local development initiatives (Esteves and Khoudour-Castéras 2008: 4-9).

    Indians could not have shared in this kind of external income fl ows because they were barred from migration as free workers under the racialism that had grown up as European capitalism crossed the Atlantic and Indian Oceans (Chaplin 2009). Indians were taken as slaves to Africa before the formal abolition of slavery in the British Empire or transported as indentured labourers to European-run plantations, under “a new system of slavery” in Hugh Tinker’s apt characterisation (Tinker 1974). I have used this sketch of a comparative history to show the relevance of geopolitical factors as well as internal socioeconomic change and barriers to change in determining the vicissitudes of the fates of large population groups over centuries. Now I turn back to Wallerstein’s WS narrative to see how it illuminates, but at the same time escapes from the confines of the strict WS framework.

    The French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution

    One of the most erudite and most instructive pieces of analysis in W3 concerns the interpretations of the French Revolution, extending from the work of Alexis de Tocqueville (1850-1988) through that of Marxists such as Albert Soboul and Georges Lefebvre (1957-62) to revisionists such as Albert Cobban, Francois Furet and Denis Richet (W3: 3353). The French Revolution may not have been led by the bourgeoisie when it started, nor were the bourgeoisie fully in control when it was over, but that its effect was to create the legal framework and the property rights can be denied by only flouting all the historical evidence. The fight over the various interpretations was not simply an academic squabble. As Wallerstein puts it (W3, p 50):

    I don’t believe we should try to preserve the image of the French Revolution in order to preserve that of the Russian Revolution as a proletarian one. But I also do not believe we should try to create the image of the French Revolution as a liberal one in order to tarnish that of the Russian one as a totalitarian one.

    Implications for Perspectives

    Interpretations of basic changes or revolutions are never innocent, because differences in interpretation do have implications for ideological perspectives and policies or strategies of revolutionaries and governments. For that matter, interpretations of changes in the structure of the economy and resulting growth or decline of incomes have led to formulations of theories of development and adoption of national strategies.

    Wallerstein rails in different contexts against historians who regard the industrial revolution, defined as a decisive change of the structure of the economy in the sense of a drastic fall in the share of the primary sector in the national (or, let us say, territorial) employment and income, accompanied by the rise of factories utilising strong economies of scale and specialisation, a steady growth in the share of urban population in the total, and the growth of a proletarianised and wage-earning labour force. For example, in W3 (p 78) he writes:

    In this context, what is usually called the industrial revolution should in fact be thought of as the re-urbanisation and re-concentration of the leading industries alongside an effort to increase scale.

    But surely, the growth of urban populations in England and from the 19th century in western Europe was far higher than any similar development in earlier history. Moreover, economies of scale were important at different stages in the history of capitalism. For example, the shipping industry of the Netherlands benefited from the very large merchant fleet and navy. On the other hand, the size of the total protected market of the British Atlantic empire and a larger home base of production of raw wool in the second half of the 17th century became decisive in enabling England to beat the Dutch woollen textile industry in international competition (Wilson 1965; Zahedieh 2009). Again, while the Italians had built factories for production of manu factures before the English industrial revolution, the English spinning mills and later on engineering factories dwarfed those earlier factories in employment, capitalisation and use of nonanimal energy and other inputs. Wallerstein’s real targets are those analysts who regard only these features of capitalism as the motive force of capitalism: the aim of capital is to make profits and it does not care whether it utilises coerced labour of slaves, peasants of colonial or dependent countries or proletarianised labour in the core countries. For example, Wallerstein reproduces in W3 a cartoon by James Gillray which portrays the struggle between England and France during the Napoleonic wars as William Pitt and Napoleon trying to get the best share of the globe as a cake to be divided between them. In each case of his disavowal of the more orthodox interpretation of the factors causing the industrial revolution and their significance for the continuance of the capitalist WS, it is possible to cite passages where he acknowledges the importance of these factors. For example, in tracing the growth of the bourgeoisie in France before the French Revolution, he writes (W3, p 74):

    The division of the commons (in France) was generally supported by larger land-owners who could obtain a third of the land through the droit de triage. ….The French laboureur was being led in the same direction as of proletarianisation as the English yeoman. Indeed, Le Roy Ladurie tells us, speaking of 18th century France and not of England, “proletarianisation replaced the cemetery”.

    While capitalist countries of the core have used in different periods all the strategies listed by Wallerstein in W2

    april 14, 2012

    (p 113), and have used all kinds of coerced labour in different countries, in the periods of their ascent to the core, they have depended a great deal on proletarianised labour in their home base and have displayed their superior competitiveness in production as well as marketing, finance and warfare. Wallerstein recognises this and, as one of many examples to support my point, I cite his detailed analysis of how superior the Netherlands was in many branches of production to its closest competitors in the days of Dutch hegemony of the world economy:

    The United Provinces was not only the leading agricultural producer at this time; it was also, and at the same time, the leading producer of industrial products. So much ink has been spilled to explain why Holland did not industrialise that we tend to overlook the fact that it did so (W2, p 42).

    In the same chapter Wallerstein writes:

    We have argued that the sequence of Dutch advantages in the world-economy is productive, distributional, financial. If the fi rst part of the sequence is controversial, the second is conventional wisdom; but it is often presented as something a bit shameful, the transformation of the noble ascetic (commercial entrepreneur into a an ignoble, luxury-loving rentier. The turn to fi nance is not a sign of decline, much less of decadence; it is in fact a sign of capitalist strength that the Amsterdam stock exchange can be considered “the Wall Street of the 17th century” (W2, p 57).

    Yes, but… Inequality in the country increased from the latter part of the 17th century, population of the Netherlands stagnated in the 18th century (Soltow and Van Zanden 1998; Van Zanden 2002, Figure 3; Bagchi 2005-06, Chapter 6), and the growth of industries and trade fell behind those of England and France. In fact, per capita income of the Netherlands fell in the 18th century. The Netherlands became a province of Napoleonic France in the late 18th century. It was in fact the post-Napoleonic settlement, when in the name of legitimacy the Dutch Republic was converted into a monarchy and the British handed over the Dutch East Indies to the new monarchy that the Dutch began to recover a little of their prosperity. It was the plunder of Indonesia by the Dutch government and Dutch

    vol xlvii no 15

    businessmen that allo wed the Netherlands to become again an industrialised economy. All this is well-known to Wallerstein. The journal, Review, edi ted by him published a canoni cal article on merchant capitalism by Van Zanden (1997). But his attention is so riveted on the working of the WS as a whole that he often seems to understate the fates of whole archipelagos in his quest to demonstrate the resilience of this virus-like mutating system, called capitalism. A reader has often to wrestle with Wallerstein’s arguments and show that the evidence marshalled by him in some other part of his minutely referenced disquisitions may go against another part of his work. But in the process he again learns something new.

    Imperialist Conquest of the Rest of the World (1830-1914)

    In some ways, the latest volume Wallerstein has written (W4) is to me the most appealing. In this volume, he confronts the ideological foundations of liberalism and shows with detailed discussion of political and economic changes in England and France how this ideology was robbed of the kind of revolutionary connotation it had acquired, say, with Condorcet, Godwin or Tom Paine, and was converted into a technocratic and reformist dogma of rule over colonies and the frequently revolting workers and their generally timorous bourgeois associates. My favourite chapters in this volume are “The Liberal State and Class Conflict, 1830-75” (Chapter 3) and “The Citizen in a Liberal State” (Chapter 4).

    The first paragraph of Chapter 4 can serve as an epigraph to the whole book: Inequality is a fundamental reality of the modern world-system, as it has been of every known historical system. What is different, what is particular to historical capitalism is that equality has been proclaimed as its objective (and indeed as its achievement) – equality in the marketplace, equality before the law, the fundamental social equality of all individuals endowed with equal rights. The great political question of the modern world, has been how to reconcile the theoretical embrace of equality with the continuing and increasingly acute polarisation of real-life opportunities and satisfactions that has been its outcome (W4, p 143). The years 1830 to 1875 cover the real beginnings of French colonialism in

    Africa, the parcelling up of Africa among the European powers from the last quarter of the 19th century, the rounding out of the British empire on the Indian subcontinent and Myanmar, the subjugation of China to western interests without actual territorial conquest, the establishment of neocolonial regimes in Latin America and the rise of the working class as a political force in Europe. Wallerstein shows in a neat aside how liberal opposition to French aggression in Algeria in the 1820s vanished once the so-called liberals got, as a result of a coup, the so-called Citizen King, Louis Philippe, who became a tool for the aggrandising financiers and speculators. Then, as now, aggression abroad was a way of diverting attention from the woes created by official policies at home.

    From 1830 to 1848, Europe was convulsed by various movements aiming at changing the political order, increasing the reach of formal democracy, and in some cases, with the slogan of socialism on the lips of the revolutionaries, changing the whole sociopolitical order (Hobsbawm 1962, Chapter 6; Hobsbawm 1975, Chapter 1; Dorothy Thompson 1984; W4, Chapters 3 and 4).

    Wallerstein points out that during the early part of the period covered the “artisans” were generally the militant vanguard of the working class. But these artisans could include workers in many sunrise as well as declining industries, because they were all made insecure by the competition unleashed by a market and state that had little regulation or provision for workers’ employment or even subsistence (Dorothy Thompson 1984, Part 2). In most west European countries were still illegal, but artisans’ associations could still function. Artisans and skilled workers in textile and engineering industries had better levels of education and higher earnings than the navies working to build railroads or doing other unskilled work. Then, of course, their skills were threatened by new, especially labour-displacing machinebased technologies:

    The most dramatic expression of protest by the “artisans” was that of the canuts (a nickname for the silk workers: AKB) of Lyon, first in 1831 and then in 1834. The struggles began right after the July Revolution, and included machine destruction and eviction of “foreign” workers. The background to this was an 18th-century militancy which had erupted in 1786 in the so-called tuppeny riot (émeute de deux sous), in which journeymen sought to obtain a fi xed minimum rate for finished cloth. The ongoing confl ict continued up to the French Revolution and the enactment of the Loi Le Chapelier’ (W4, pp 81-82).7

    It is interesting to note that as in the case of women, whom the (male) revolutionaries of the French Revolution decreed to be passive citizens, without political rights and took away some of their residual rights to property, so also in the case of the workers, the (ultimately) victorious bourgeoisie forced back some rights the workers had enjoyed.

    The Lyon silk workers’ strike in 1831 failed but discontent continued and erupted in a general strike in 1834 with both economic and political demands. This second strike was brutally suppressed and some 300 were killed. In Great Britain, soon after the electoral reform act of 1832 was passed, demand for extension of the suffrage to include all males, the institution of a secret ballot, abolition of property qualifi cation and payment for Members of Parliament (embodied in the People’s Charter of 1836) took the form of the huge mass movement, namely, the Chartist movement. A petition was sent to Parliament in 1842 with more than three million signatures. After a number of strikes, arrests and trial of the leaders, ultimately the movement dissolved, but by the end of the 19th century, most of the demands for extension of the suffrage had been met.

    There are continuities and discontinuities between the revolutionary movements involving the old-style workers and new-style wage-earners in large industrial organisations, railways and mines. The biggest workers’ party, the Social Democratic Party of Germany, derived its descent from the German General Workers’ Association (the English translation of the German name) founded by Ferdinand Lasalle, long before there was a unionised working class in Germany and in the 1870s adopted Marxism as its official ideology (Miller and Potthoff 1983-86, Chapters 1-2). That ideology took shape in the crucible of the economic depression and revolutionary upsurge in the 1840s. Independently of that influence, in Britain, the increasing urban concentration of new industries, the huge increase in coal mining and the railway network and the growing importance of the workers in the electoral arithmetic defined a more organised working class by the last decades of the 19th century (Hobsbawm 1987, Chapter 5; Hobsbawm 1998b).

    The series of revolutions that convulsed western Europe in 1848 collapsed and most governments were back in the saddle by 1850. In France, Louis Napoleon founded the Second Empire in 1851. But the rulers followed the policies that hastened the growth of the bourgeoisie, in essence following the recommendation made by List (1841-1909, Chapter X), List’s prescription was that the “civilised” nations, which had already justified their claim to be civilised by getting manufactures to be the driving force of their economies, should allow (or force) the “barbarous” nations to introduce free trade and thus get acquainted with the benefits that civilisation brings, and those nations which have no fi ve managed manufactures to be the leading sectors of the economy should imitate the strategies of the English, who beat the Dutch and the Indians by restricting the entry of their products into England, imitating those products and ultimately beating the Indians and the Dutch in export markets as well (ibid, Chapter 4). If necessary, war should also be used as an instrument for getting even in this competitive game. Essentially, this Listian strategy led to the industrialisation and military preparedness of western Europe, and of Tsarist Russia as well, with consequences we are familiar with.

    Wallerstein defines “Centrist” liberalism as the liberalism of neither the radical, T H Green variety, nor the liberalism of the right, the conservatism of the liberals who supported Bismarck’s policies of unification of Germany through war, and the suppression of socialist parties and trade unions for the sake of stability of the status quo. In a sense Wallerstein is right. As Marx (1852-1962, pp 354-55), writing about England in the 1850s, pointed out:

    The Whigs as well as the Tories, form a fraction of the large landed property of Great Britain. Nay, the oldest, richest and most arrogant portion of English landed property is the very nucleus of the Whig party… What, then, distinguishes them from the Tories? The Whigs are the aristocratic representatives of the bourgeoisie, of the industrial and commercial middle class. Under the condition that the Bourgeoisie should abandon to them, to an oligarchy of aristocratic families, the monopoly of government and the exclusive possession of office, they make to the middle class, and assist it in conquering, all those concessions, which in – the course of social and political development – have shown themselves to have become unavoidable and undelayable. Neither more nor less. And as often as such an unavoidable measure has been passed, they declare loudly that herewith the end of historical progress has been obtained; that the whole social movement has carried its ultimate purpose, and then they “cling to fi nality”.

    Whenever this notion of fi nality, or the end of history rewarding the centrist or right liberals with the victors in the capitalist game is threatened, the pretence of liberalism is given up. Generally then the ruling classes of the metropolitan countries resort to some foreign adventure, and that is preceded or accompanied by a severe restriction of the citizens of that country and its allies. The extreme form the change in policy takes is fascism at home and war, preferably against powers that are judged to be unprepared or weaker. So continual improvement in weapons of mass destruction has been a feature of existing capitalism. Economies of scale in production, research and marketing and the promotion and manipulation of big media have played a very important role also in the ongoing militarisation of power.

    Bolshevik Revolution

    When the most important systemic challenge to capitalism occurred in the shape of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the capitalist-imperialist powers at once sent their armies to help the White Russians fighting the infant Soviet regime. As soon as formally fascist regimes came to power in Italy and Germany, communists and the Soviet regime became their chief targets. That regime had then

    april 14, 2012

    perforce to choose industria lisation and development of lethal weapons following the same route as the US and its allies in order to prevent their own destruction and the mass genocide and mass enslavement of the peoples of eastern Europe openly proclaimed by the Nazis as among their principal war aims. This is not the place to discuss why the Soviet regime turned into a one-party dictatorship and the systemic challenge ultimately collapsed in 1989. But it is not accidental that after 1989 (a) the capitalist powers have openly mounted wars under any pretext against any regime that seems to be inimical to the interests of their ruling classes and (b) that they have mounted a systematic attack against the social entitlements of the workers and the civil rights of all residents, including their own. So the protection of the values proclaimed by the advocates of capitalism when it was still fighting the forces favouring a return to a hierarchy determined by status and religion required a political and military threat from a systemic challenger, however short of socialism and democracy that challenger might be. But as the perceived threat from that challenger became weaker, those values of freedom were also watered down in the politics of the ruling classes. Wallerstein’s geopoliticallyoriented view is extremely valuable for understanding the gyrations of the capitalist order even now.

    There have been many revolts against the capitalist juggernaut led by workers as well as peasants. Even when major revolts have not been mounted by the subject peoples, they have mounted campaigns against financial or cultural policies of the colonial powers.8 One has only to think of Rabindranath Tagore, Rosa Luxemburg, Mao Zedong, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Frantz Fanon, Ben Bella, Aimé Césaire, Ho Chi Minh, Jose Marti, Fidel Castro, W E B Dubois, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela and Amilcar Cabral as political and cultural contestants of Eurocentric, racist hegemony of the colonial powers. Many of the revolts by workers and peasants collapsed because of disunity among the Left forces (see, for example, the analysis of the failed

    vol xlvii no 15

    German Revolution of 1918-19 in Harman 1997); many national liberation movements have ended in corrupt and neocolonial regimes because of both the poor preparedness of the leaders and the machinations and aggression of the imperialist powers (Amin 2006, Chapters 3-8; Chabal 1983; Prashad 2009). But new forces of revolt against the system have come up in Latin America, and the “Arab Spring”, starting in Tunisia are not just the result of imperialist manipulation. Wallerstein’s densely packed analyses demonstrate that neither the dogmatism of a revolution to be led by an organised working class or the voluntaristic optimism of a social movement leading to the installation of a democratic regime has any sanction in history. Furthermore, resource and capital-intensive industrialisation is unlikely to be the trajectory for the development of the full human potential of all the peoples. These volumes are also meant to disturb our complacent beliefs about the correct way out of the current impasse and they have accomplished that objective, even if we might often disagree with the author about the interpretation or significance of particular events, such as the French Revolution or the pioneering industrial revolution in England.

    Wallerstein has treated the histories of the countries outside Europe only when they come into the shadow or penumbra of the capitalist world-system. In this review article, I have deliberately tried not even to sketch what was going on in the rest of the populated world during the centuries the rulers of the promontory of Europe was emerging as the dominant capitalist-imperialist powers in the world. From a non-Eurocentric perspective, some aspects of that history have been captured in brief accounts (Amin 2011; Bagchi 1982, 2005-06; Dirlik, Bahl and Gran 2000; Mote 1999; Parthasarathi 2011; Wong 1997). However, an analysis of their history since the 16th century from a unifi ed perspective, without losing the specificity, let us say, of the Aztec and Inca empires in the Americas or the Ottoman empire of west Asia, eastern Europe and north Africa, the Ming and the Qing empires of China, the Mughal empire and the sultanates and kingdoms of southern India, or the Islamic regimes of west and sub-Saharan Africa or the Safavid empire of Iran will require the lifetime labours of another Fernand Braudel, Eric Hobsbawm, Irfan Habib or Immanuel Wallerstein. In the meantime, we have to depend on the multi-volume histories of China, Japan, and other major countries that are coming out of Cambridge, Oxford or other leading university presses. One of the marks of our own inability to shake off the legacy of colonial dependence is that offi cial efforts to preserve, catalogue and publicise the immense records that have escaped the attack of pests, damp, floods and sheer callousness on the part of the holders of records fall far short of what are required.

    Wallerstein’s work indicates that instability and geopolitical strategies to combat that instability have been constant companions of capitalism. While the demise of capitalism is not yet certain, perhaps it has by now exhausted most of the devices with any positive import (such as comprehensive social insurance or globally enforceable labour standards with the security of life, health and education everywhere). But it still has any number of negative devices in its arsenal. In the process it has already posed a threat to survival of many speciesof flora and fauna, killed millions during the two decades of its feebly challenged rampage. Instead of an organised working class, which it has succeeded in disarming, if not dissolving, in most countries, 90% of humanity are now ready to challenge its continuance. Wallerstein’s narrative should strengthen the determination of the challengers.

    Amiya Kumar Bagchi ( is at the Institute of Development Studies Kolkata.


    1 While Botero is justly celebrated (for example, Schumpeter 1954, pp 254-56) for having anticipated, in The Greatness of Cities, Book 3, the basic analytical structure of Malthus’s theory of population, his contribution to the formulation of capitalist and urbanised growth is less well-known.

    2 Incidentally, Botero considered Europe to be far inferior to the east (especially China) in respect of the greatness of cities and the variety of products, including manufactured commodities.

    3 Serra, along with his great predecessors such as Dante, greatly admired the Venetian Arsenal, and took it as his model in portraying the superiority of manufactures to agriculture. Reinert 2011 follows Serra in this respect, without, however, pointing out that the main use of the Arsenal was the expansion and defence of the Venetian empire and without paying attention to the oppressive conditions of work on Venetian galleys, a fate they shared with the sailing ships of later maritime powers such as the Netherlands and England. See in this connection Romano 1954-68, and Linebaugh and Rediker 2000.

    4 Serra was also remarkable in pointing out fi rst, that agriculture was far more subject to uncertainty caused by nature than manufacturing, that the prices of manufactures a were more stable than those of agricultural products and that the profit obtained from manufactures was greater than from the sale of unprocessed raw materials (Serra 1613-2011, Part One, Chapter III). Serra may be also credited as a pioneer of the advocacy of export-led growth, because he repeatedly mentioned that internal trade alone does not lead to “extensive trade”.

    5 Hobsbawm (1962, Chapter 8) tends to overestimate the immediate effect of the French Revolution on the rest of continental Europe and underestimate the degree to which the Holy Alliance was able to reverse many of the Napoleonic reforms.

    6 For a slightly different reading of the problems of Italy shaking off feudal fetters – a reading that adheres more closely to the framework of WS – see Aymard 1982.

    7 This law, passed by the National Convention of France in 1791, banned guilds and strikes and organisations of workers.

    8 For an analysis of contestation over the standard of the Indian currency in the late 19th century, see Bagchi 1997.


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    vol xlvii no 15

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