Fibonacci series -- and Culture

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Feb 19 16:48:12 MST 2001

>As far as I can see there are no great difficulties in the semantic analysis
>or use of the word 'rational'. The only real "difficulties" come from people
>(usually those trying to cover up explitative class interests and the like)
>using the word in objectionable ways.
>--Scott Harrison

Just a reminder on terminology since I started the thread. By rationality,
I was not using the word in the positive sense, as in "Cuba makes rational
use of resources" or "It is not rational to eat genetically modified food."
I was using it in the sense that the "Eurocentric" historians--Max Weber,
most of all--use it. It has to do with the introduction of capitalism and
the associated technological-scientific revolutions of the 15th to 18th
centuries. For example, some Eurocentric historians would argue that the
Spanish conquered the Aztecs because they were more rational. This is not
to say that they were decent or reasonable, only that they had mastered
certain technologies that made it possible to sweep across Mexico. So in
this sense we can also say that capitalism is a "rational" system even
though it is filled with contradictions. Moreover, in a very real sense the
problem with capitalism defies "rational" fixes since the problems exist at
the root: declining rate of profit, etc. The economic system generates
destructive wars and economic crisis, even though at a certain period of
history it represented an advance over feudalism. When Marxists talk about
rationalism, we are using the word in an entirely different manner. We mean
it as a descriptive term for the scientific use of labor power and natural
resources for the benefit of humanity.

Louis Proyect
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