re: Blaut and Modelski

Fri, 28 Feb 1997 16:57:19 -0500 (EST)
s_sanderson (

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Blaut is certainly right in his argument that Japan's isolation from the West
during the Tokugawa era facilitated its economic development. I quite agree.
Had Japan been colonized and peripheralized by Europe, then things would
undoubtedly have turned out differently. However, it's not just the absence of
a negative characteristic that made a difference in Japan. Europe was not
somebody else's capitalist periphery either. Like Europe, Japan had to have a
number of POSITIVE characterisitcs that stimulated its capitalist development.

I still disagree with Blaut on his overly general usage of the term
"feudalism." I follow Perry Anderson's conception of feudalism as a
politico-economic system based on fiefs, vassalage, and the
fragmentation of political
power. Defined as such, Europe and Japan have had the only true feudal systems
in world history. Blaut finds feudalism all over the place because of the
highly inclusive way in which he defines it.

Finally, I feel it is important to note that Blaut keeps insisting that I am
somehow claiming that Europe and Japan were "superior to" the rest of the
world. I make no such claim. Rather, I say they were DIFFERENT, not that they
were better, that they had a certain mix of characteristics not found
elsewhere. It is very much an open question as to the "superiority" of such

Steve Sanderson

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