Debate: The Origins of British Capitalism

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Historical Materialism has posted a useful exchange on the origins of British capitalism, which we repost to encourage debates on this question.

Leading Marxist figures have always taken for granted that they must provide a clear analysis of the nation state in which they operate in order to chart the way forward. Marx and Engels charted that with their writings on both Germany and Britain. Lenin and Trotsky did the same in regards to Russia, and Gramsci Italy. 

One of the weaknesses of socialist theory in Britain can be said to be the lack of such analysis in recent years in regards to the British and English state and its elite. An exception to that has been Perry Anderson of the New Left Review. He has written on this subject repeatedly over six decades and whether you agree or disagree with him he not just deserves respect but praise for addressing a shortcoming of the left within the British state.

In the 1980’s there was something of a debate about Anderson’s analysis, unfortunately broken off and not resumed in any substantial way. Historical Materialism has just posted a challenge presented to Anderson by the  Northern Marxist Historians’ Group in 1987 which Conter is happy to share because we believe socialists in Scotland need to understand the way capitalism developed in England, how what became the UK state was established and how it differs from its rivals. In other words we need to know our enemy. Consequently its an issue to which we shall return.

Read the full exchange on the Historical Materialism site here

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