A Blaut article

Greg Schofield gschofield at SPAMone.net.au
Tue May 22 23:26:54 MDT 2001

I have just finished reading the article referred to below by Blaut, I am
afraid I have major disagreements with it from a number of perspectives. I
had previously stated that I found nothing substantially wrong with Woods
article and if the two are sat side by side I am very much in Woods'camp.
However, not knowing anything more of her work I of course cannot vouch for
any greater agreement and am in no position to defend her outside this
small sample of her work.

My disagreement with Blaut's position as outlined in the article referred
to below should not be a surprise to anyone having read my own poor effort
"On the Vexed Question of Socialism" (http://www.ucc.org.uk/RS/1.1.htm), as
the argument there is exactly the theoretical position that Blaut argues
against (albeit the imperialism/colonialism question is not central by
definition to my own perspective and eurocentric errors are something I
would dispute in this regard).

First I would like to settle on what is germane to this debate. There are a
great number of different issues that touch on Blaut's thesis, some have
theoretical precedence and others political, mixing the two would be fatal
to any sensible discussion of the actual issues raised.

I can only usefully criticise Blaut's position from a historical
theoretical perspective, as this is clearly what his political appreciation
rests, though it can be argued that his political viewpoint has engendered
his theoretical investigation and are thus inseparable.

The second alternative may well be true, for who is this not true for? But
as I would, as far as I can extrapilate his political view from this
article I am in broad agreement with the thrust. I am not in agreement with
the methodology.

Given this, all I am saying is simply that I want to concentrate on the
methodology question and not be distracted by political questions that I am
probably in accord with anyhow.

Methodologically there a number of interrelated points that need to be
1)Eurocentric distortions.
3)Modes of Production.
4)Historical assumptions (details of methodology).

It would seem to me that the last two are theoretically prior to the first
couple of points. Specifically if 3 and 4 can be debated thoroughly then 1
and 2 need to be explained by some other method.

There can be no clarity in debate if the results of analysis (1&2) are
mixed up with the method of approach, after all the same conclusion may
well be supported by a much different, indeed opposing, method.

I say this now, because the debate as it has already developed seems to do
just that, justify a method by the results attributed to it. As far as I am
concerned this is not on. If 3&4 are justified then and only then can 1&2
be addressed in the form that Blaut suggests, if what he argues about in
the latter two is justified then 1 (Eurocentrism) must be seen as a likely
casual candidate and this makes it very likely indeed that 2 (colonial
exploitation) made a much greater contribution to capitalism's growth than
has been allowed for, again I use the words likely in both cases, final
proof cannot be found in an article. Besides if Blaut's views on 3&4 are
correct then this fact opens up a lot of potential territory that goes well
beyond 1&2.

Not knowing James Blaut personally, I do not naturally wish to attack him
now that he unable to respond, I therefore want to confine myself as
closely as possible to what he has written, rather than what I considered
implied by what has been said, this will open up areas which others who
know his work better may supply details and move the debate on, but from
time to time I will have to simply pose questions as matters reach beyond
what can be encompassed in a small article.

All this is said in order to set decent parameters to a debate which has
already show tendencies to be needlessly passionate. It is the condition of
my arguments, the rules I will attempt to obey in order to present a
different perspective, it need not be acknowledged or abided-by by anyone
else - though I would argue that there is some good reason in doing so.

In my next post I will try and outline what I see as the main theoretical
problems of Blaut's approach.

Greg Schofield
Perth Australia

At 10:07  22/05/01 -0400, you wrote:
>several people on this list have read Ellen Woods' ATC article. however this
>article makes little sense out of context. it needs to be read in relation
>to the work of James Blaut and other Marxist critics of eurocentrism. I
>asked Louis if he could post a short essay by Jim Blaut for those who are
>not familiar with his work. this article has the virtue of clarity and
>focuses on many of the central issues we are all concerned with
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com>
>To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>
>Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2001 7:08 PM
>Subject: A Blaut article
> > http://www.marxmail.org/euromarxism.htm. It is a good introduction to
> > Blaut's views on Eurocentrism in general as well as including a discussion
> > of Brenner.
> >
> > Louis Proyect
> > Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org/
> >
> >

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