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the Eurocentric bath water, the baby, and AGF
by g kohler
21 March 2002 14:48 UTC
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This refers to, and is an interpretation of, Professor Frank's recent
piece (wsn, 13 March 2002) on "the Communist Manifesto: Abstract of a
world historical critique".

To give my conclusion first, it seems that, in order to get rid of the
Eurocentric bath water, AGF pretends (pretends only) to throw out the
baby (capitalism) as well. It's a Frankistic rhetorical strategy.

Details -
(1) Contradiction -
          on the one hand, AGF agrees with  Chaudhuri that "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";
          on the other hand, AGF does exactly the same, namely,
identifying the origins and roots of that same baby. AGF explains that
the baby, which is commonly called capitalism, originates in that
"historical process" (unit of analysis = the world) which is "world-wide
and world - including Europe - encompassing".

(2) An analogous reasoning would be that there is no such thing as "the
Canadian weather", because the Canadian weather
(a) has no historical breakpoints,
(b) did not develop in quasi-Darwinian stages of evolution from lower to
higher stages,
(c) is not made within Canada, and
(d) is not uniquely Canadian and is not essentially different from
weather in other parts of the world -- but must be understood as part of
a "universal" weather "process" which is "world-wide and world-including
. . . and therefore, my students, says the professor, there is no such
thing as "the Canadian weather."

(3) ... and therefore, my students, says Professor Frank, there is no
such thing as "capitalism".
It's a Frankistic rhetorical strategy, like the formula "development of

Gernot Kohler

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