Bergesen and basic differences

Mon, 03 Mar 1997 13:48:43 +0800

Re: Bergesen's:
>The peninsula's theories of itself from Marx to Weber to
>Wallerstein mistakenly place the peninsula's changes as the cause of the
larger system, when it is just the opposite. It is then no >accident that
at the window of faltering in Asia that allowed the >Peninsula's rise (the
rise of the west) was also a window in which >the "theory of the
peninsula's rise was written" and it constitutes >the classics of social
>Most still see this as the "rise of asia" when in fact it is the end >of
>the EuroAmerican interlude (1750-2050) and the return to >where >the
center of world economic activity had been for eons.

Certainly, the existence of capitalist forms in other world-systems has not
been denied by the hyphenators. The argument, in my reading, is that in
the modern world-system, the capitalist logic has throughly dominated and
taken specific systemic-structural form. (Those among the hyphenators,
including Sanderson, who argue that "capitalism" emerged here and there,
including Japan prior to incorporation, overlook the systemic-structural
form of capitalism in this respect.)

The question is, who went out and conquered the globe and who is still the
core? To take note of the historical fact of EuroUS dominance through
colonialism and the geographic expansion of the modern w-s, is no more
EuroUScentric than in arguing that capitalists exploiting workers is

I think Arrighi's use of McNeill, Lane, etc., in The Long 20th Century
explains much on the rise to global dominance of the modern w-s (and why,
as a consequence of its development under US hegemony, the peculiar
European commercialization of warfare and warfarization of commerce is
apparently no longer key to shifts in the commercial center of the core,
which is in turn key to the new rise of Asia as part of the modern w-s).

This is partly the old question of units of analysis. It seems, still,
that a coherent division of labor (the interdependence of livelihoods), or
the dominance of states through tribute collection, as the basis for
measuring the spatial boundaries and exploring the systemic logics of
social systems, is so far more productive and convincing in finding
historical systemic causalities, processes, and structures than taking long
distance trade as constitutive of a "world system" and trying to do the
same thing.

It may be added that the 5000 years of world system view, even more than
IW, violently reduces the historically specific forms of systemic relations
to the common denominator of being part of long distance trade networks.
This view borrows the category of "core" from the hyphenators, but cannot
convincingly explain the governing systemic development or logic behind
this development because that so-called whole, from the view of the
hyphenators, is not a social system. It is rather, so many world-systems
and mini-systems with their own developmental logics, but which are
affected by inter-system trade, migration, etc.