Review, Abstracts, Vol. XXIII

Review XXIII, 1, 2000

Y. Eyüp Özveren, "Shipbuilding, 1590-1790"

This work surveys shipbuilding by way of a commodity-chain approach. During the two centuries prior to the so-called "Industrial Revolution" shipbuilding was already characterized by many of the distinguishing attributes of an industrial activity, such as labor organization and technology, as far as manufacturing within the shipyards was concerned. Shifts in major sites of shipyards are traced giving a picture in which the Mediterranean world yields its primacy to the Atlantic seaboard, more specifically to the United Provinces first, and then to England, and finally to the North American colonies. Because of the commodity-chain approach adopted, the article deals not only with the activities concentrated within the shipyards, but also the processing and procurement of naval supplies such as timber and masts, flax used for sailcloth, hemp used for ropes, pitch and tar used for protection, and iron used for anchors and nails. Shifts in loci of production of these supplies, changes in their technologies of production, and organization of provisioning are depicted at length. The article demonstrates that the specific dates chosen for inquiry help delineate important periodic transformations within each part of the process as well as for the entirety of the commodity chain.

Sheila Pelizzon, "Grain Flour, 1590-1790"

The grain-flour commodity chain was studied for the period between 1590 to 1790 as a universal consumer item. The purpose of the study was: 1) to determine whether changes in the commodity chain corresponded to changes in the so-called A-phases and B-phases of Kondratieff waves; 2) to document the economic, political, and social differentiation between rural and urban areas and populations, and the increased power of the former over the latter; 3) to demonstrate the increasing polarization between core, peripheral, and semiperipheral zones within greater Europe (i.e., East and West Europe).

To accomplish the first objective, a number of cities were selected throughout western Europe, and changes in the geographical spread of their grain-flour supply routes over time were traced. These served to show the existence of the Kondratieff waves over the 200-year period under study. The second and third of these objectives were met by noting long-term conditions, trends, changes, and differentiation in such variables as welfare provisioning, diet and food consumption patterns, land-tenure arrangements, rewards to--and conditions of--labor and marketing, and the technology of growing, transport, and marketing of grain.

Part one describes the components of the boxes of the chain. Part three discusses the importance of the grain trade for cities. Part three shows the changes in the geographic spread of the supply routes of selected cities for grain-flour. Part four discusses the changes in supply routes for demonstrating the Kondratieff waves. Part five attempts to relate the information given in the entire study to suggest the existence of logistics--i.e., 80-100 year long economic cycles.

Immanuel Wallerstein, "Introduction"

The article offers a definition of a commodity chain as a transnational phenomenon. Its principal thesis is that such chains are not a recent construct but exist within the capitalist world-economy since at least the sixteenth century. We therefore study such chains in the period 1590-1790, and explain what the rationale is for choosing the two case studies of shipbuilding and grain flour. We describe how commodity chains may be analyzed, and what is the relationship between Kondratieff cycles and the functioning of such chains.

Immanuel Wallerstein, "Next Steps"

These studies have not been conclusive but simply constitute a preliminary elaboration of a model of how the axial division of labor in the capitalist world-economy actually works. We conclude with an agenda of further work that needs to be done.

Review XXIII, 2, 2000

Marjolein 't Hart, "Warfare and Capitalism: The Impact of the Economy on State Making in Northwestern Europe, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries"

This article investigates the impact of favorable economic conditions, in particular developed capitalism, upon the state making process in the seventeenth-century United Provinces and eighteenth-century Great Britain. The most crucial aspect of state making, the creation of a standing army, coincided with an enormous amount of surplus production and trade, a dynamic economic growth, and the accumulation of capital. These conditions allowed the state to impose manifold excises, that were used above all to pay for the debt charges incurred from the ever growing number of public loans, which insured in turn a close relationship with the dominant financial elites. Being thus allowed a most effective extractive capacity, avoiding at the same time the dangers of civil disturbances, these states were able to extend themselves as early modern imperial states.

Eric Mielants, "Perspectives on the Origins of Merchant Capitalism in Europe"

This article critically examines several theoretical perspectives which deal with the origins of capitalism in western Europe. The author examines the main arguments elaborated in these perspectives and attempts to rethink the long-term history of socioeconomic and political processes. In seeking to comprehend the transition from feudalism to capitalism, one should attempt to look at the European Middle Ages without prejudice and see to what extent, why, and how embryonic forms and features of capitalism within an intercity-state system came into being, matured, expanded, and intensified during the "long" sixteenth century. An alternative theoretical framework is presented, based on the hypothesis that one should move beyond the limited focus of the nation-state as the exclusive unit of analysis, in order to comprehend the European transition.

Duccio Sacchi, "Gathering,Organization, and Production of Information in Sixteenth-Century Surveys in Hispanic America"

During the sixteenth century, the Spanish government elaborated an extraordinary tool for gathering and organizing territorial data, the questionnaire, that was largely utilized throughout the "Empire" period (1530-1812). The study of sixteenth-century sources shows two main features: 1) the questionnaires were part of a single strategy for organizing knowledge of the world, including both Spain and the American colonies; 2) they were always based on the idea of progressive delegation of the gathering of information from the center to the periphery and from the representatives of the Crown to the representatives of local communities. Because of this delegation, the questionnaire became, for local power groups, both Indian and Spanish, a tool for producing information in order to formalize their own territorial rights. For the modern historian, the questionnaire is useful evidence of the dialectic, typical of ancien régime societies, between central and local influences.

Review XXIII, 3, 2000

Christopher A. McAuley, "Oliver C. Cox's World-System: Insights, Omissions, and Speculations"

Despite having authored three volumes on the history and structure of the capitalist world-economy--The Foundations of Capitalism, Capitalism and American Leadership, and Capitalism as a System--Oliver C. Cox is rarely recognized as a world-systems theorist. This article seeks to reestablish Cox's rightful place in that school of thought. Secondly, the author highlights the principles that Cox believed guided the domestic and especially, foreign policies, of capitalist leaders. The most important of these is the cultivation of neocolonial trade relations with weaker polities. Finally, the author suggests that Cox's perspective on the capitalist world-economy can be traced to his experience as a colonial subject.

Jason W. Moore, "Sugar and the Expansion of the Early Modern World-Economy: Commodity Frontiers, Ecological Transformation, and Industrialization"

This article contends that the ecologically destructive nature of capitalism was operative from the very beginning of the modern world-system, and was a major force in the geographic expansion of the system. The case of the "sugar frontier" demonstrates that early modern capitalism was both highly "industrial" and profoundly destructive of the natural environment. The ecological devastation caused by sugar cultivation and processing, in combination with booming European demand, was a major force behind the geographic expansion of the world-economy in the early modern period. The article shows the interconnections between the sugar frontier, the world-economy, and such socioecological issues as: deforestation, soil erosion, livestock overpopulation, delocalization of food supply, hydraulic systems, worker health and safety, monocultures, species extinction, and climate change.

Review XXIII, 4, 2000

Manfred Bienefeld, "Structural Adjustment: Debt Collection Device or Development Policy?"

Structural adjustment engulfed the developing world in the wake of the debt crisis of the early 1980's. As defined by the World Bank, it required distressed and often deeply indebted economies to introduce sweeping, market-oriented reforms in return for emergency finance in the form of Structural Adjustment Loans (SALs). After twenty years of such reforms, UNCTAD's 1999 Trade and Development Report concludes that "the expectations of the gains from such [policies] ... have been disappointed," while "the downside risks have proven far greater than was generally expected." This article shows why these results should not come as a surprise. In fact, the international financial institutions had little or no empirical evidence to support the claim that these policies would promote growth, development, or human welfare. In fact those claims were simply derived from a very narrow, ideological reading of economic theory that could not legitimately be used as a basis for real world policy prescriptions. Moreover, once these policies were being implemented, those same institutions systematically misrepresented the accumulating evidence in order to justify policies to which they were clearly committed, in spite of, and not because of, real world evidence. The explanation for their a priori commitment to these policies can only be found by examining the interests most directly served by them. This leads directly to the conclusion that the overriding priority of structural adjustment was the maximization of the developing world's capacity to service its international debts. This was achieved by creating a framework in which key allocative decisions would be increasingly dominated by financial markets that allocate resources strictly in accordance with an increasingly unequal distribution of "effective demand"--or income. When combined with the insistence that "all debts must be repaid in full," this created a situation in which long term development and human welfare in the developing world were given a distinctly lower priority than debt repayment and rewards to current investors. And that is likely to remain so unless political processes within sovereign nation states can insist on a different set of priorities.

Marcus Faro de Castro, "Latin America and the Future of International Development Assistance"

The practices of Official Development Assistance (ODA) that have prevailed since the Second World War are in serious crisis. This crisis has been attributed to budgetary constraints in donor countries and to perceived aid ineffectiveness, often leading to judgments that aid must be curtailed or simply withdrawn. This article argues that the debate on the practices of international official savings allocation was developed as part of a system of international economic security backed up by a system of international political security. It discusses the past and future of international development assistance having a specific concern with the differing views of the North and South on the issues of international assistance as well as with Latin American perspectives on the topics discussed. Relevant changes in the international environment are described and possible or desirable future developments for international aid are also addressed, having in mind South and Latin American experiences and interests.

Hannes Hofbauer and Andrea Komlosy, "Capital Accumulation and Catching-up Development in Eastern Europe"

The authors argue that the present economic deficiencies of eastern Europe's capacity to catch up with the West result from specific historical developments and the region's peripheral position within the international division of labor. Analyzing differences in geography, settlement, religion, agrarian systems, and power structures back to the Roman Empire, they discuss the reasons for the dividing lines separating Europe into a Western and an Eastern development. The course of the dividing line shifts between the socioreligious border separating Roman Catholicism from Christian Orthodoxy on one side, and the type of lordship over land and subjects distinguishing the zone of estate agriculture with strong restrictions in geographical mobility in the East (Gutsherrschaft) from Western type seignorial systems with independent peasants and tenants (Grundherrschaft) on the other. After 1945, the East's separation from the West was not a freely chosen strategy. It resulted from the U.S. embargo-policy vis-à-vis eastern Europe imposed on all recipients of Marshall Plan aid, thereby cutting the traditional lines of cooperation in central Europe on the one side and the strategy of the former Soviet Union to sovietize all the countries within its influence and integrate them in an emerging Eastern block (Comecon) on the other. As soon as the West selectively integrated eastern Europe in the 1970's by lending out money and dislocating labor-intensive production to eastern Europe, the gap between East and West which had diminished between 1950 and 1975 widened again. All further attempts to catch up resulted in the reperipheralization of the area.

Prabirjit Sarkar, "North-South Uneven Development: What the Data Show"

The present study finds strong evidence of North-South divergence or uneven development during the period, 1950-92, for which internationally comparable real income data are available: the gap in the real GDP per capita between the two regions widened in the last four decades. Only countries such as Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand experienced a movement convergent towards the rich North. There is some evidence of convergence within the North: the countries of the North who were relatively poor in 1950 came closer to the other countries who were already rich. This is also true for the South.


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