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Re: the Communist Manifesto: Abstract of a world historical critique
by Boris Stremlin
15 March 2002 04:48 UTC
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On Thu, 14 Mar 2002, Elson Boles wrote:

> But is one not also reifying "world-historical reality" by presuming that
> everything is connected to everything else, and that therefore the
> disconnected little pieces are reifications?  I don't think the position
> that everything is connected socially-historically is tenable.  Some social
> processes and developments are not connected to others, and in other cases,
> the connections between people in different areas are so thin that to
> assumed they are part of the same world-historical process is itself to
> reify the boundaries of significant historical causality.

I'm not sure if you are referring to what I wrote here, or what I wrote to
you privately in response to the paper you posted to the list last week.
At any rate, nowhere did I imply that everything is connected, and that
any disconnected piece is a reification.  What is a reification is a claim
that any specific unit of analysis is equivalent to "the Whole", to
history wie es eigentlich gewesen.  That is precisely why I said that the
crux of the discussion was not about which unit of analysis was proper to
world-historical study, but rather to what degree we are privileging
specific units of analysis, and placing analytical categories outside of
historical time.

And in regard to Frank's "do as I say, not as I do" - Ranke's theoretical
position was derived from Romantic idealism and its transcendental Ego,
which served as the conceptual basis and philosophical justification for
the European nationalism and the European conquest of the world in the
19th century.  I suppose the transcendental Ego as the vantage point for
all of history does not have to justify Eurocentrism necessarily (though
mercifully there has been little such talk emerging from any other
potential hegemons in East Asia, etc.), but to attempt to construct a
historical social science and this same basis today doesn't qualify as an
improvement over Eurocentrism (one might call it Eurocentrism by other
means).  But it is no accident that the whole new unilinear history crowd,
whether they begin from the Big Bang, the evolution of homo sapiens, or
the rise of civilization has been Euro-American.

Boris Stremlin

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