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by Michael de Socio
28 March 2002 19:45 UTC
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By no means do I want to jump into this conversation, lacking the background 
to comment; I'd rather leave it to the experts. But I did have a thought:

Perhaps "capitalism" doesn't exist in the same way that the nation-state 
"doesn't exist" (that is, it's a human construct, an idea that is relatively 
recent and surely transitory, but taken today as a fact, a universal 
condition, and inevitable - therefore, "eternal" as long as "civilization" 
continues; or at the very least, the end-all-be-all of civilization, its 
highest social organization).

But capitalism purely as an idea/l, as an invention, a construct, an 
ideology: can't one say that it exists as long as people think it exists? 
Because, even if one says that it doesn't exist, or at least it's not what 
most people (capitalists esp.) think it is: They assume it exists, they act 
as if it exists, they push forward agendas and their vision for the world as 
though it exists (and as though it is being constantly threatened - by 
communism, by "terrorism," and all manner of "evil menaces")...

I'll leave that idea hanging there. Sorry if I contributed absolutely 
nothing to the discussion :-)

Honestly, I'm not sure what one means by saying capitalism "doesn't exist"; 
maybe because, perhaps like Christianity and the idea of a spiritual 
explanation for existence in the Middle Ages, the idea of capitalism 
permeates so much of how we perceive reality that it's impossible to imagine 
a world w/o it (w/ its modes of production, its ideologies, its historical 
development, - as it's understood today) ... Any way these are new ideas for 
me, forgive me the intrusion.

michael de socio

>From: Andre Gunder Frank <franka@fiu.edu>
>To: "Carl H.A. Dassbach" <dassbach@mtu.edu>
>CC: wsn@csf.colorado.edu, H-NET List for World History 
>Subject: Re: CMP
>Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 13:46:20 -0500 (EST)
>                ANDRE    GUNDER      FRANK
>Senior Fellow                                      Residence
>World History Center                    One Longfellow Place
>Northeastern University                            Apt. 3411
>270 Holmes Hall                         Boston, MA 02114 USA
>Boston, MA 02115 USA                    Tel:    617-948 2315
>Tel: 617 - 373 4060                     Fax:    617-948 2316
>Web-page:csf.colorado.edu/agfrank/     e-mail:franka@fiu.edu
>NOTE TO H-WORLDers: this comes from a discussion string on another net,the
>World Systems Net, whihc also has its own net archive. I wish to
>cross-post it to H-World because it is not only equally relevant here, but
>because part of the SAME argument about differnet/common & which is on
>first, who is on second just appeared here as well. Below is my response
>to the last WSN intervention, part of which I also quote
>Like Carl , I dont wanna go on and on about the Capitalist Mode of Produc
>tion ... but this time I gotta agree with him when he says
>In a nutshell, I reject both the assertion that Capitalism or the CMP
>never existed (Frank) and the assertion that capitalism, as merely another
>manifestation of greed,  always existed (Alexander).
>Of course, to say that it always existed is effectively the SAME as
>saying that it never existed - as something different. And if CMP
>has alwats exited, it is not different from others, and then there is no
>point in either trying to distinguish as nor to name it something 
>Carl, like everybody since Marx - and lately especially the
>Reaganite/thacherite RIGHT=wrong - insist that there IS a DIFFERENCE
>and an important one, which the latter uphold and Carl and us combat.
>I say, and the historical as well as contemporary evidence suppoerts me,
>thaT these alleged differences are non-existent or spurious. Therefore,
>I say there has been NO ''capitalism'' as such. I do not say that there
>has awlays or for 5,000 years been capitalism, since that would be a
>non-sense statement that I do NOT make and I dont know that Alexander does
>Additionally, one step further, you all - and about this has been
>my longstanding on and on discussion  with my friend Samir Amin - focus on
>DIFFERENCES, which you regard as more important, and I focus on
>similarities and even more important COMMONALITIES, which ,i regard as
>more important [to say that both are important is a cop out]. Moreover, I
>maintain that in order to distinguish and understand differnces, it is
>imperative first to see the similarities/commonalities - within which
>only it then can make sense to look for differences.
>The entire Marxist, but equaLLY SO ''LIBERAL'' Western social science
>tradition and historiography since the mid 19th century has fallen
>into/made for itself/ this trap of posing an alleged duality between
>''us'' and ''them'' - with a dozen baptisms of modern/traditional,
>cap/non-pre-post- cap, rational/ non-ir-rational,
>gessellschaft/gemeinschaft, urban/folk, contract...organic.., lately well
>summarized as ''the West vs the Rest'' by Clash-of-Civilizations
>Huntington [there we go again, its a RIGHTwing thing]. Its ALL what Edward
>Said denounced as Orientalism, the studied [but without study!] invention
>of a fictcious Orient, not for its sake but to separate US/the West out
>from the rest - when in reality we are much more the same than different.
>Since Sept 11 actually, its been re-defined as CIVILIZATION - without an s
>- vs. presumably barbary. that is what the Argentinina Sarmiento called
>them in the 19th century, when he was on the ''civilized'' top dog
>European exploitative free trade side.
>I do NOT want to put Carl and my many ''capitalism is it'friends into this
>same bag, but - since comonalities are more important and prior to
>differecnes - they need to watch their own step if they wish to avoid
>themselves falling into that bag, where they are received with open arms
>by the RIGHT who glories in it, and who cheerfully bombs all
>civilizational law and institutions out of existence in the name of
>''saving'' them [echo of destroying Vietnam to save].
>Apologies for having gone on and on after all, to delve into the
>not only similarities but also the COMONALITIES of the Marxist and
>anti-Marxist [ they dont know how Marxist they themselves are!]
>anti- or pro- capitalist roaders, all of whom are travelling on the SAME
>road and mostly NOT even in as opposite directions as they would like or
>claim to.
>respectfully submitted
>gunder frank

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