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Marxist History-writing for the Twenty-first Century$
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Chris Wickham

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264034

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264034.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Property and Progress: Where Adam Smith Went Wrong

Property and Progress: Where Adam Smith Went Wrong

(p.49) 4. Property and Progress: Where Adam Smith Went Wrong
Marxist History-writing for the Twenty-first Century

Robert Brenner

British Academy

During the first half of the twentieth century there was widespread agreement as to whether the way to understand the historical emergence of economic development in the West was through the theoretical lens provided by Adam Smith. This chapter critiques Smith's view of the transition through which the pre-capitalist social property relations were transformed into capitalist property relations – a transition that is believed to have been mistakenly attributed by Smith to the expansion of trade. It is argued instead that the rise of capitalist social property relations in England, which led to economic development, was instead catalyzed by the growth of specialization, investment, and the rising labour productivity in agriculture. In addition, it is argued that industrial and economic development were caused by the separation of the manufacturing from the peasantry.

Keywords:   economic development, Adam Smith, social property relations, capitalist property relations, trade, growth of specialization, investment, labour productivity, industrial development, manufacturing

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