Brenner Redux (was Re: Russell R. Menard on Eric Williams)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Tue Oct 24 15:02:42 MDT 2000

>Yoshie Furuhashi quoted:
>>Ideas, of course, are not "national" in themselves. But every
>>Marxist (at least, every Marxist!) should know that ideas which are
>>not roted in the actual stream of human life within their own
>>people will hardly be anything but an exotic overgrowth. This is,
>>in my opinion, what tends to happen with most Latin American
>>Marxists. They take the cathegories, the result, and not the METHOD
>>of Marx and Engels. Thus, they try to enforce the square pegs of
>>Latin American historical, social and cultural reality into the
>>round holes that result from the Marxist analysis of other social
>But isn't the method part of the ideas?  Why is the method any more
>appropriate for importation, if you're adhering to some notion of
>cultural appropriateness?
>Didn't the ANC make an appeal to Enlightenment values while the
>apartheid regime clung to local values to defend itself?

I'm not talking about the import of _all_ ideas & ideals,
Enlightenment or otherwise; what is at stake is the _efficacy of
specific analytical categories_: whether the same categories have
explanatory values across social formations, trans-historically.
Some categories (e.g., class, evolution, etc.) may have such
universal explanatory values, but certainly not all categories do.
Does it make sense to analyze _Nashoku Okagami [The Great Mirror of
Male Love]_ by Ihara Saikaku (1642-93) in terms of modern categories
(born in the late nineteenth century): homosexuality &
heterosexuality?  I don't think it does.

To focus on the question of historical evolution, I do not
characterize Japan in the days of Saikaku, for instance, as either
"capitalist" or "pre-capitalist."  For all commerce & petty
production flourishing inside Saikaku's Japan, I do not think that
the country was _destined_ to evolve into capitalism.  So while it
was _non_-capitalist of some kind, it is improper for me to speak of
it as _pre_-capitalist.

Speaking of _any_ society as "pre-capitalist," in my humble opinion,
is guilty of the "stagism" of the Hegelian variety, though it is
understandable that some of us end up using the word as a kind of
shorthand to refer to an ensemble of social relations that cannot be
quite captured by this adjective.


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