The rise of capitalism to global dominance is still largely associated – by both laypeople and Marxist historians – with the industrial capitalism that made its decisive breakthrough in 18th century Britain. Jairus Banaji’s new work reaches back centuries and traverses vast distances to argue that this leap was preceded by a long era of distinct “commercial capitalism”, which reorganised labor and production on a world scale to a degree hitherto rarely appreciated.
Rather than a picture centred solely on Europe, we enter a diverse and vibrant world. Banaji reveals the cantons of Muslim merchants trading in Guangzhou since the eighth century, the 3,000 European traders recorded in Alexandria in 1216, the Genoese, Venetians and Spanish Jews battling for commercial dominance of Constantinople and later Istanbul. We are left with a rich and global portrait of a world constantly in motion, tied together and increasingly dominated by a pre-industrial capitalism. The rise of Europe to world domination, in this view, has nothing to do with any unique genius, but rather a distinct fusion of commercial capitalism with state power.
Paperback, 200 pages: ISBN: 9781642591323; Hardback, 200 pages: ISBN: 9781642592528;
Ebook: ISBN: 9781642592115
“In this majestic work of critical historical scholarship, Jairus Banaji has built a definitive argument that commercial capitalism is the essence of capitalism, that it has dominated eras usually asserted to be pre-capitalist, and that it has persisted into the present.”— Barbara Harriss-White, Emeritus Professor of Development Studies, Wolfson College, Oxford University
“This book is Jairus Banaji at his scholarly and provocative best. With his remarkable knowledge of world literatures, Banaji has produced a major exercise in the global and historical analysis of capitalism, affecting how we grasp capitalism today and how we understand and use Marx to do so—theory as history indeed.” — Henry Bernstein, Emeritus Professor of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
“With mind-boggling erudition, command over an extraordinary range of historical materials in multiple languages, and a theoretically sophisticated irreverence for received dogma, Jairus Banaji dislodges many a eurocentric account to offer an absorbing, thought-provoking, and truly global story of the emergence and varieties of capitalism.”— Laleh Khalili, Professor of International Politics, Queen Mary University of London and author, Sinews of War and Trade
More information at www.haymarketbooks.org/books/1475-a-brief-history-of-commercial-capital…