eurocentrism: New models of history ( a lot like those of the old Marx)
Nemonemini at SPAMaol.com
Nemonemini at SPAMaol.com
Mon Nov 27 22:00:37 MST 2000
In a message dated 11/27/2000 1:19:43 PM Eastern Standard Time,
CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us writes:
***** 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
4. _Culture_: Europeans, long ago, invented a culture that is
uniquely progressive and innovative
A great deal of endless debate, of course, revolves around this question of
why Europe grew richer and more powerful... The curse of these questions,
then, is that an advance took place in one part of the world and this
inconveniences theories of general development. Linear continuity models all
have this problem, and are stuck with the Eurocentric problem.
Note the assumption in the statement, that there should be a general
development. Darwinian & Smithian econo-evolution don't have this problem.
The self-bad guys are really the good guys because self-interest and natural
selection solves all problems and is 100% good, and a sound theory. But there
is a problem with this! There should be a general development. There is!! But
we must revive the original Marxist genre, universal history, as, let us say,
a material version of the 'evolution of freedom'.
Consider a different model based on the following observation about the
problem, or the enigma, around which the issue always revolves. An evolution
of freedom, and a default evolution, general run of the mill happenstance
'historical flow'. The latter would include the general run of continuous
economic history, but not necessarily the birth of capitalism.
Now start looking at the data of world history. What evidence do we have of a
universal history? A massive takeoff after 1500 in a 'Europe' (Eurocentric
thinkers never say what this includes)
So, why did Europeans get rich and powerful after 1500? Actually we see the
same phenomenon, more broadly, in three waves across world history, starting
and stopping with clocklike precision. Each area is outside the previous
zone, ie. it never happens in the same place. This strange fact is one part
of the answer only, to be sure. But, as of 1500, the only untouched zones
that are both close and far to prior zones of advance are the exterior of the
Old Roman Empire (in the West), Japan, South East Asia, Siberia....
So we see an explosive partition after 1500 and rapid advance, rapidly
spreading, to the exterior of the prior zones (this explains the puzzlement
Weber had trying to expain why some Catholics were also his 'capitalist'
types, to his bafflement). The only thing that mattered was the partition.
>From our previous examples we see the rapid advance is localized, about three
centuries, after which a new period comes into existence.
The modern case shows the timing exactly. From 1500 to 1800 we see this
rushing generation, then, just at the boundary, the takeoff of a new system,
one of whose new institutions is a 'capitalism'. Noone can figure out why a
continuous proto-capitalism suddenly becomes a 'capitalism full blown'. But
the question is obvious in this new model. Our 'evolution of freedom' and
'other default evolution' should be labelled process A and B, so we don't get
confused by misuse of the term 'freedom'. The point being that a
discrete-continuous model does exact justice to the actual universal history
that we see from history. And note the extraordinary intuition of Marx to
approximate this type of model while Hegel was still floundering in his geist
metaphysics. The point is that Hegel's 'evolution of freedom' was too
inchoate, yet insightful, for he saw the basic point, that between ancient
Greece, and the modern period there!
was a gap, why?
Now we begin to see why, and why Marx' 'viconian' stages-model was a
premonition of a new perspective.
Note the question of Eurocentrism in this light. What is evolving, Europe?
Clearly, Europe is irrelevant. The local hotspot is the object of local
advance followed by 'turning outwards' toward 'ecumenization', in the modern
case we see Herr Marx and Co right on schedule appearing after our transition
to assist this turning outwards towards an 'explict program of
ecumenization', including in this case, of course, a Communist aspiration.
Note the way in which this type of thinking allows us to understand why the
outcome, apparent, is not the real outcome. The local evolution of capitalism
and the globalizing evolution of a general ecumenization are double outcomes
of the model, a point marxists had right, without being able to explain it.
This is a bit brief. But the full model does better justice to Marx than much
There is a problem: It is an empirical model. For the basis of universal
history is theoretically difficult. There is a way around this problem. But
we see why the peculiar character of Marx's work always confused people, yet
was basically on track.
or ask me for a pdf version of the (very long) argument, downloadable from
Anyway, to summarize: there is no evolution of Europe. Only a general
evolution with local 'stepping stones'. Once we can make even a partial case
for this, the ground dissovles under the Eurocentric viewpoint.
This type of 'discrete-continuous' model is very simple, obviates
metaphysical nonsense, and is a very powerful form of explanation for the
obvious evidence Marxists are trying to cope with.
World History and the Eonic Effect
nemonemini at aol.com
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