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Re: the Communist Manifesto: Abstract of a world historical critique
by Boris Stremlin
14 March 2002 07:17 UTC
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On Wed, 13 Mar 2002, Andre Gunder Frank wrote:

> Indeed, Wallerstein's (1997: 244) intervention even stresses "let us not
> quibble about the unit of analysis"!  But the most important issue in this
> whole discussion is precisely the unit of analysis, which all of the
> participants disregard: the world economy and not their little European
> one. The moment we recognize that, the whole discussion about "modes of
> production" more than pales into  insignificance and irrelevance: For then
> it can finally been seen as the distraction that it really is from the
> real issue, which is the holistic analysis of the whole.

Actually, the most important issues in this discussion are the extent to
which particular units of analysis are reified, and the  extent to which
holist analyses fail to reassemble world-historical reality after they
finish breaking it down into little disconnected pieces.

> Therefore, it is much better to cut [out] the Gordian knot of
> "capitalism" altogether. That was already my argument in Frank (1991),
> Frank and Gills (1992, 1993), and Frank (1994,1995); and it is well put by
> Chaudhuri (1990:84) writing under the title Asia Before Europe: "The
> ceaseless quest of modern historians looking for the 'origins' and roots
> of capitalism is not much better than the alchemist's search for the
> philosopher's stone that transforms base metal into gold." Indeed, that is
> the case not only for the origins and roots, but the very existence and
> meaning of "capitalism." So, best just forget about it, and get on with
> our inquiry into the reality of "universal history, wie es eigentlich
> gewesen ist [how it really was]".

Wasn't that Ranke guy a little Eurocentric?

Boris Stremlin

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