Weber's Genteel Racism

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Wed Dec 6 20:33:29 MST 2000

Charles wrote:

>When they say "history is a history of class struggles" it is clear
>from what follows that they are treating the European territory as a
>unit for the history they refer to.

It begs the question of when "the European territory" became a "unit"
for the history of class struggles.

>Ancient Greece is not identical with capitalist Europe, but it has a
>historical relationship to capitalist Europe that is like a kernel
>to a flower.

You are much more Hegelian than I am.  A kernel does not necessarily
flower, a fetus may become spontaneously aborted even without an
intervention by an abortionist.

Why should you assume that ancient Athens has a closer historical
relationship with our contemporary Sweden than Egypt?  Why should you
believe that Thucydides has a more intimate historical relationship
with Oliver Cromwell or Max Weber than Frederick Douglass or Saddam

>Rome and Middle Ages are intermediate phases. Marx and Engels do
>recognize a connection between the class struggles of ancient Greece
>and the class struggles of capitalism, as all part of a history with
>some unity ( relative to other areas with their own histories of
>class struggles).

A connection, yes, but of what kind?  Not an unfolding of Reason, surely?

>"Class struggles" is not synonmous with contingent process. Marx and
>Engels intend to elucidate laws of historical development by this,
>with "laws" referring to determined, not chance, elements of history.

Whether or not laws (e.g., M-C-M') emerge is a matter of chance; once
emergent, laws exert their powers.  I refer you to Alan Carling or
Jim Farmelant.  As Stephen Jay Gould notes, the emergence of the
species to which both of us belong was contingent.  Unless you
believe in Providence, it is self-evident that the birth of human
beings was not a matter of necessity.

>They want to indicate that there _was_ some tendency in the long
>term to modern European capitalism from the class struggles of
>ancient Greece.

If Marx & Engels do, they are following an irrationally teleological
husk of Hegelian philosophy of history.  In the main, however, the
_rational kernel_ of Marx & Engels does not locate a tendency to
develop into "modern European capitalism" in the class struggles of
ancient Greece.  It was not determined during the class struggles of
ancient Athens that denizens from the area which has come to be
called Africa were destined to become chattel slaves toiling on the
cotton plantations in the American South in order to fuel the
development of industrial capitalism.

>When they say that history is a history of class struggles, they do
>not mean that history is series of accidental and unconnected
>events, but something of the opposite

History is neither a series of accidental & unconnected events nor
its opposite.


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