Charles Brown CharlesB at
Mon Nov 27 11:16:10 MST 2000

>>> furuhashi.1 at 11/26/00 07:22PM >>>
>can you tell me how Brenner and Woods' work provides the grounds for
>a critique of eurocentrism? most people think they are eurocentric.
>perhaps I missed earlier debates on this question.

While the term "Eurocentrism" can be defined variously by different
intellectuals, here I use Jim Blaut's definition:

*****   By my reckoning four kinds of Eurocentric theory have been
advanced to explain the fact that Europe (or the West) grew richer
and more powerful than all other societies.  The four are:

1.  _Religion_: Europeans (Christians) worship the True God and He
guides them forward through history.
2.  _Race_: White people have an inherited superiority over the
people of other races.
3.  _Environment_: The natural environment of Europe is superior to all others.
4.  _Culture_: Europeans, long ago, invented a culture that is
uniquely progressive and innovative.

(Jim Blaut, _Eight Eurocentric Historians_, NY: The Guilford Press,
2000, p. 1)   *****

While 1 & 2 went out of favor, 3 & 4 are still in vogue, Jim says, and I agree.

In my opinion, Robert Brenner & Ellen Wood allow us to attack 4
especially effectively, because they focus on class struggles;
contingency in history (rejections of stagism, of a liberal notion of
linear Progress, & of the Hegelian explanation of history); &
comparative analysis of England with other "European" powers.

Through the focus on class struggles, we counter the Weberian
explanation of the origin of capitalism.  Through the emphasis on
contingency (contingent because the motor force of history is class
struggles, outcomes of which are not preordained), we debunk the
notion that capitalism was _destined_ to emerge & develop in "Europe"
or anywhere else for that matter.  Through comparative analysis of
England with other "European" powers, we establish that not only did
"Europeans" not possess a "uniquely progressive and innovative"
culture but different nations in the area that came to be known as
"Europe" had no unified "culture" either.

While many "European" powers sought & gained colonial possessions as
well as profited from the slave trade & chattel slavery directly or
indirectly, this fact alone did not make a crucial difference in
giving rise to capitalist social relations with the logic of M-C-M' &
market discipline.  Compare the fate of Spain with Britain.  What
made a difference?  Contingent outcomes of class struggles at home,
not "cultural" differences between Spain and England.


CB: This is good to show the advantages of Wood and Brenner over Weber, Hegel,
stagist, and liberal linear progressivists.

How is their approach different and the same as Marx's, since Marx analyzed this
specific historical problem extensively and wrote on it ? One thing Marx says that
seems a sure fire antidote for Eurocentrism on this is the significance he gives to
surplus products extracted by Portugese, Dutch , English, etc. from outside of Europe
or Northwest Asia. When Marx refers to the key role of force overseas in extracting
surplus product , this is a reference to class struggle.

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