RE: Real History Vs Imaginary "Historical Processes"

Wed, 9 Apr 1997 14:30:49 -0400
David Lloyd-Jones (

Andrew Austin puts on his best Now Kiddies voice and pronounces the =
following simple-minded twaddle:


First, opposition to vulgar idealism does not imply a disregard for what
people think. What people think is very important. However, what any one
individual or groups of individuals think is not the motor force in

Can you spell "simple minded metaphor"? There, I knew you could.

World-historical development is a collective, objective and
deeply structural process. To think that China's relationship with the
rest of the world is primarily driven by ideas, particularly religious
ideas, is metaphysics, not science.

Wrong. Metaphysics is when you dream up "engines" to power a reified =
"history." Your engines are mystical phantasms as illusionary as any =
other ghouly host.
What explains foreign investment is a complicated set of political and
economic forces.=20

Ass backwards. What explains academics dreaming up "forces" is the fact =
of investment taking place.

These forces must be contextualized. Why any one TNC and
MNC would put a chemical plant in China depends on all of these forces =
decisions reached by planners and corporate executives both internal and
external to the TNC/MNC. One of the attractions in China, particularly =
region already cited, is infrastructural development and well-trained
labor pools at cheap wages. But the primary logic is (long-term/
short-term) political economic, not cultural-ideational.=20

A half truth masquerading as a principle. Everything you say in this =
paragraph is one way of looking at a part of the truth. To think that =
this is the whole truth and the sole true way of expressing it is =
arrogant lunacy, a specialty of the academic left.

My argument is that these transformations are caused by world-historical

I know that. You have these pataphysical spectacles which make visible =
to you flows, exchanges, boundaries... You are like a psychoanalyst of =
the corporation, the company, and the culture: you weave in and out of =
contact with reality as Freud sometimes came down out of his apartment =
to see, Lo! an actual Vienna.

World planners are guiding, in so far as they can, the development
of objective material (economic) forces through structural adjustment
mechanisms at the institutional level and through interstate trade =

"World planners"! <Giggle> Look, James Wolfensohn does not even have =
the illusion that he runs his bank, let alone that he plans the world. =
If he can avoid megalomania, you could at least have the decency to stop =
committing it on his behalf.

But the objective reality underneath issue and policy development is the
objective process of transnationalizing production; this is the context =
which elites theorize about the world.=20

"Objective process"?? I think we have that failure of vocabulary again. =
You are not speaking English. The processes of history are ex post =
facto analytical constructs; there is nothing remotely objective about =

One current contradiction =
to the Chinese nation-state that is important in understanding the
behavior of world planners and business elites, and in understanding
structural changes, is the intraclass struggle between capitalist forces
there. The linkages between fractions of the Chinese capitalist class,
TNCs, and the developing TNS is both contributing to and guiding China's
transformation. This is the conflict I brought out in my post.=20

"Jenny, have you been cleaning up my desk? Where did you put the bloody =
dialectic? I need it for a meeting this afternoon."

A word about the Mandarin being "statist, as per down through the
centuries"; this is a perfect example of your defective worldview, which
is vulgar ahistorical idealism. You have essentialized a group of people
you know as Mandarins as "statist." You have not argued that a =
ethnic group is currently associated with a statist ideology and =
but rather that they are genetically statist (for "centuries"); we know
you assert this because statism among the Mandarins is taken as a
constant, exogenous factor.

Andy, you've lost control of yourself: you're so lost in your =
metaphysical constructs that you don't recognise a simple empirical =
observation when you meet one. The counterargument to a report of the =
kind I make here is to say "No, here are a large group of Mandarin =
mandarins who were not statist." You won't find any.

You then take this =
characteristic and draw from it that cultural forces are the primary =
force internal to China, whereas objective material forces take a back
seat. This is the same sort of intellectual garbage that is offered up =
Huntington in his "clash of civilization" thesis.=20

Modulo your demonstrated inability to identify garbage when you're =
swimming in it, you could have a point here. My argument with =
Huntington is simply that he is a paranoid dolt. Cultures don't =
necessarily "clash." To express the meeting and melding of cultures in =
the vocabulary of warfare is the moronic macho of the fourteen year old =

Human beings are =
to their current cultural identity, the identity is essentialized as
genetic, and then conflict is attributed to what amount to racial
differences, not historical or structural forces.

Since was taking people's beliefs, cultures, lifestyles a "reduction." =
Reductionism is the failure of wit of the person who falls back on =
nameless and unidentified "world historical forces."

Ideology doesn't pass
for scientific materialism, David.

But your scientific materialism would be getting a large promotion if it =
could pass for an ideology. It is a mere cult.

Your arguments do not stand up to basic
scientific criteria of logical consistency and empirical verification.

So _you_ say.
* * *
A small note on evangelists. I do not have in mind the Christian =
Coalition or the Moonies, though I think the first domestically =
important in some States. I tend to think more of significant =
individuals -- Jimmy Carter would be an example -- at the city, town and =
suburb level. The fact that Austin thinks of Moonies and Ralph Reedies =
as representative of American organised religion simply demonstrates how =
little he knows about the United States.
A small factoid which will show how far people can be led if they =
operate on the daily newspaper view of reality: during the waning days =
of the Brezhnev Administration Russian _refuseniks_ were all the rage in =
the Western press, and it was commonly thought that Jewish unrest was a =
major problem in the USSR. In fact the total number of Jewish activists =
in jail or in "mental health" confinement was between three and four =
hundred. At the same time the number of Russian Baptist members of =
"Operation 2000, Evangelize the World by the Year 2000" (of which Jimmy =
Carter was then and I believe is now a Director) was over 5,000 people. =
Imprisoned for everything from street-corner ranting to running barge =
loads of Bibles up the Volga in the middle of the night.
I am not a Christian; I am a Social Democrat, and hence necessarily an =
anti-Communist at least in politics. (Some of my best friends...) And =
apparently unlike Andy Austin I take the newspapers' and the textbooks' =
arbitrary categories with a grain of salt.