30 Νοεμβρίου 2014

I) Emmanuel Todd on Europe - Can the European Union Hold? και II) αναφορές στο έργο του.


.~`~.
I
Η παρακμή της γεωπολιτικής ισχύος των ΗΠΑ αποτελεί τη βασική πρόβλεψη της ανάλυσης του ιστορικού και συμβούλου του γάλλου Προέδρου Ζακ Σιράκ (Jacques Chirac), Emmanuel Todd, στο βιβλίο του Μετά την Αυτοκρατορία (2003) [το οποίο θεωρείται και το λιγότερο σημαντικό και λιγότερο ρηξικέλευθο έργο του]. Το βιβλίο έγινε best seller και σχολιάστηκε πολύ και από τις δυο πλευρές του Ατλαντικού (άλλωστε ο Todd είχε προβλέψει σε μια προηγούμενη μελέτη του που είχε εκδοθεί το 1976 την κατάρρευση της Σοβιετικής Ένωσης - The Final Fall: An Essay on the Decomposition of the Soviet Sphere). Λέγεται μάλιστα ότι το Μετά την Αυτοκρατορία επηρέασε και την αρνητική στάση της Γαλλίας στην απόφαση της αμερικανικής κυβέρνησης να εισβάλλει στο Ιράκ. Οι ΗΠΑ, υποστηρίζει ο γάλλος διανοούμενος, έχουν παρακμάσει ως οικονομική, στρατιωτική και ιδεολογική δύναμη, και κατά συνέπεια δεν είναι σε θέση να ελέγξουν έναν κόσμο που «έχει γίνει πολύ μεγάλος, πολύ πυκνοκατοικημένος, με λιγότερους αναλφάβητους και περισσότερο δημοκρατικός»... Έτσι η Ουάσινγκτον αναπτύσσει ένα «θεατρικό μιλιταρισμό» που επικεντρώνεται στην ανάπτυξη νέων όπλων και στην επιβολή σε μικρές δυνάμεις (π.χ. Ιράκ, Συρία, Λιβύη, Βόρεια Κορέα κλπ). Ωστόσο αυτό δεν είναι σημάδι ισχύος, αλλά ένδειξη αδυναμίας. Η υποτιθέμενη «αμερικανική αυτοκρατορία», υποστηρίζει ο γάλλος διανοούμενος, «είναι σε κατάσταση αποσύνθεσης»... Η ανάλυση του κλείνει με μια βεβαιότητα: «δεν θα υπάρχει», γράφει, «αμερικανική αυτοκρατορία γύρω στο 2050».

Ωστόσο στην κάτωθι ομιλία του, ο Emmanuel Todd δεν ασχολείται με τις Η.Π.Α αλλά με την παρακμάζουσα «Ευρώπη» και την Γερμανία (όπως γράφει ο ίδιος, «αν θα είχα την επιλογή μεταξύ της γερμανικής ηγεμονίας και της αμερικανικής ηγεμονίας, θα επέλεγα την αμερικανική ηγεμονία χωρίς δισταγμό»). Emmanuel Todd attracted attention in 1976 when he predicted, at 25 years old, the fall of the Soviet Union, based on indicators such as increasing infant mortality rates. In the late 1970s Todd was widely pronounced "anti-communist", just as, following the publication of "After the Empire", he has been attacked as "anti-American" [λόγω της ομιλίας (video) ίσως κάποιοι τον θεωρήσουν "αντι-Γερμανό" - βέβαια όσοι ισχυριστούν κάτι τέτοιο δεν θα γνωρίζουν, για παράδειγμα, πως παλαιότερα είχε προτείνει η Γαλλία να μοιραστεί την μόνιμη θέση της στο Συμβούλιο Ασφαλείας του Ο.Η.Ε με την Γερμανία]. He challenges these labels and describes himself as a historian and anthropologist first, and it was his concern as a historian rather than political passion that motivated him to write After the Empire. In late 2002 he believed that the world was about to repeat the same mistake that it had made in regards to the Soviet Union during the 1970s—misinterpreting an expansion in US military activity as a sign of its increasing power, when in fact this aggression masks a decline.


Can the European Union survive — and should it? Does a united Europe represent the transcendence of the continent's bloody twentieth century, or its continuation by other means? Has a project begun in a spirit of liberty, equality, and fraternity turned authoritarian, hierarchical, and antagonistic? If the union is as bad as its critics claim, why does it remain so popular in many member nations? And what does all of this mean for the United States?

The clip is an excerpt of a panel discussion organised by Harper’s magazine (partial transcript). The panelists were James K. Galbraith, from the University of Texas, Austin; Ulrike Guérot, from the European Council on Foreign Relations; John N. Gray, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics; Christiane Lemke, Max Weber Chair in German and European Studies at New York University; and Emmanuel Todd, a social anthropologist at the National Institute of Demographic Studies in Paris (Εδώ όλες οι ομιλίες).

Ο κορμός της ανάρτησης -και η αφορμή γι' αυτήν- είναι το βίντεο. Απλά παρακάτω (II), για όποια και όποιον ενδιαφέρεται, υπάρχουν έξι (6) διαδικτυακες αναφορές από και για τον Emmanuel Todd (το έργο του οποίου είναι σημαντικό). Ο προβληματισμός που εκφράζεται στην ομιλία του είναι γονίμος κυρίως για μια ουσιαστική προσέγγιση των κοινωνικών και πολιτικών εξελίξεων και των βαθύτερων φόβων που αναδύονται στο εσωτερικό της Γαλλίας. Η ανάρτηση, στο πρώτο μέρος της, λοιπόν, αφορά περισσότερο τη Γαλλία παρα την «Ευρώπη» ή το €uro.

Χαρακτηριστικές στιγμές από την ομιλία του:
"The French ruling class are the first responsible for this massive blunder."

"The euro, from a French point of view, is one of the most extraordinary mistake in the history of France"

"I'm just taking the very fact that people think that it is unthinkable to get out of a human creation (euro)... This is basically a religious problem."

"Why no decision can be taken? Why nothing happens in the face of massive cultural, social and economic disasters?"

"France was the great promoter of the euro and now the key element in the system. The day France decides, the game is over. The euro is dead."

"When you think about the euro please in America stop thinking about the euro as an economic problem"

"There 's no link between the demographic map of Europe and the euro"

"Look at the differences in birth rate or fertility rate throughout Europe, you ll see that there is no such thing as Europe"

"I sympathize with the British dilemma... Britain's position is horrible... they 're very close and very dependent in terms of trade from a dying continent... continental Europe is an ageing continent"

"Do you realize that perhaps ten years from now you 'll have more inhabitants in the anglo-american world, the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand than in continental Europe... not including the Ukraine and Russia."

"We have this political discourse... We are supposed to imitate Germany, as if the French could become Germans!"

"The truth... is that at the heart of Europe we now have a very impressive national project. The German Project"

"In France, we are not so keen on having the Germans tell us to lose our sovereignty!" (Joke!)

"Good luck to America with the new German problem!"

.~`~.
II
1. Todd applies his family structure analytic model [The eight family systems] to explain why the Euro is doomed to fail. He notes that the French and the Germans, for example, have little in common. He expressly says that the French individualism is much closer to the Anglo-American individualistic culture, distinct from the German authoritarian style. He says that the French elite caused the problem and they cannot admit their mistake or the entire foundation of the French political structure would collapse. The European idea of a union of free and equal states has been destroyed by the Euro, and it is now an economic hierarchy, with the Germans at the top. Further, democracy itself is incompatible with the Euro. Todd notes that the very low birth rates in Europe have a positive benefit: There will be no open or violent conflict to resolve the current political conflicts. Rather, contentious issues are kicked up to the “European level” — which means nothing whatsoever will happen. He sympathizes with the British position. Britain is dependent on a dying content, Europe. “It is committing suicide under German leadership.” But Britain is part of a much larger Anglo-American world, which in ten years, on current trends, will have more people than all of Europe.

2. The French anthropologist-demographer Emmanuel Todd, who is becoming increasingly fashionable in the Anglosphere, is also a scathing critic of the euro. Perhaps the most prominent French critic of the euro, Todd is an anthropologist-demographer who has documented the family structures of the world and their relation to political systems and ideologies. His very best book, L’invention de l’Europe, which has yet to be translated into English, reinterprets the whole of European history in terms of diverse family systems. (See Craig Willy’s masterly summary of the book.)

In an interview in Marianne, Todd compared Germany with China:
But the policy carried out by Germany in Europe, or by China in Asia, shows that globalisation does not, uniquely or even principally, pit the emerging markets against the developed countries. Globalisation leads to confrontation between neighbours. When the Germans conduct a policy of wage reduction in order to lower labour costs, the impact is non-existent on the Chinese economy, but is considerable for its partners in the Euro zone. When the Chinese manipulate the yuan, it’s against Thailand, Indonesia or Brazil, its competitors in low-wage labour. What we notice is a tendency of the emerging markets to fight amongst themselves and the developed countries to exterminate one another industrially, with the objective of being the last to go down with the ship. This mechanism has turned the Euro zone into a trap, with Germany, whose economy is the most powerful, in the role of fox in the henhouse.
The core problem, in Todd’s eyes, is a deep-seated chauvinistic quest across the Rhine for economic hegemony. According to himself, much of Todd’s analysis is a direct implication of his academic work. In Willy’s summary of Todd, the “stem family” that is characteristic of Germany is… «authoritarian and inegalitarian. Several generations may live under one roof, notably the first-born, who will inherit the entirety of property and family headship (and thus perpetuate the family line)».
In L’origine des systèmes familiaux, Todd’s magnum opus (also yet untranslated), the “stem family combines authority and inequality, essential bureaucratic values, and its ideal of continuity was one of the roads toward the modern state”. This implies:
Whether on the left, on the right or in the centre, German ideological forces always end up creating enormous agglomeration machines [“vastes machines intégratrices”]. The mass political parties — SDP, the Centre, NSDAP — are surrounded by a constellation of professional or cultural satellite organisations. Spontaneously, party loyalty produces in Germany vertically integrated “subsocieties” which realise, within the context of modern society and economy, the ideal of the “estates” system of the Ancien Régime. The social-democratic estate of workers, the Christian democratic estate of Catholics, the Nazi order of Protestant middle classes in 1930. [From L’invention de l’Europe, my translation.]
The book which discusses some actual economics is the untranslated L’illusion économique. It argues that globalisation is defined by the interaction of two opposite yet complementary systems of capitalism – the Anglo-American or individualistic capitalism ; and the “integrated” capitalism exemplified by Germany and Japan. (The book also contains a whole chapter bitching about the lack of anthropological perspectives in economic analysis.)
I paraphrase Todd: Anglo-Saxon capitalism is focused on short-term profits and consumption, resulting in, simultaneously, high turnover amongst workers, frequent creative destruction of businesses, a low savings rate and high external deficits. This system requires for its perpetuation the existence of its “double negative”, the “integrated capitalism” of Germany and Japan where
…the true objective of the firm is not the optimisation of profit, the satisfaction of the shareholder, but the conquest of market shares, through the perfection and expansion of production. From an ideological point of view, the producer is king : the attention to technological progress and the training of labour are intensive. You have to excel in quality. The consumer is but a modest subject and one is tempted to assert that the deep logic of the system is to treat consumption as a necessary evil… Germany and Japan are viscerally incapable of consuming the totality of goods produced by their industrial systems. Like Anglo-Saxon capitalism, the Germano-Nippon type is simultaneously coherent and unbalanced. Exports are a condition of survival, which presuppose the existence of its double negative, the capitalism of the importers.

3. One of this blog's constant themes is that Britain is shackled to a corpse: the EU is the only trade bloc on the planet that is not growing economically.

It's important to understand that this decline is not a temporary blip. Although the euro crisis has accelerated Europe's slide, the underlying problem is demographic... However, as Emmanuel Todd explains (in English) in the clip above, these figures gloss over the variations within the EU. Britain and Scandinavia enjoy better demographic prospects than do most Continental countries.

Emmanuel Todd, incidentally, has a pretty good claim to being France's leading anthropologist. Among other things, he has developed the idea that Anglosphere exceptionalism – our peculiar emphasis on liberty and property, our elevation of the individual over the collective – has its roots in different family structures. The family, he avers, is understood in much narrower terms in English-speaking societies (plus Normandy, Scandinavia and the Netherlands). To us, it means parents, children and siblings. Elsewhere, families are considered more than the sum of their individuals, and have a measure of collective personality in law as well as in custom.

In their seminal book America 3.0, James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus draw heavily on Todd's researches to explain why free-market capitalism developed in places where families are nuclear and limited. But that's another story. For now, take a couple of minutes to listen to Todd's eminently reasonable analysis.

4. SPIEGEL: Where do you draw the boundary of the West?
Todd: In fact, only Great Britain, France and the United States, in that historic order, constitute the core of the West. But not Germany.

SPIEGEL: Are you serious?
Todd: Oh, it's fun to provoke a representative of "the German news magazine." What I'm saying is that Germany contributed nothing to the liberal democratic movement in Europe.

SPIEGEL: What about the Hambach Festival in 1832, the March Revolution in 1848, the national assembly in St. Paul's Church in Frankfurt, the 1918 November Revolution, the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, (former Chancellor Konrad) Adenauer's integration with the West and the opening of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 brought about peacefully by the people?
Todd: Okay, the postwar history is all very well and good, but it had to be put into motion by the Western Allies. Everything that happened earlier failed. Authoritarian government systems consistently prevailed, while democratic conditions had already predominated in England, America and France for a long time. Germany produced the two worst totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century. Even the greatest philosophers, like Kant and Hegel, were, unlike David Hume in England or Voltaire in France, not exactly beacons of political liberalism. No, Germany's immense contribution to European cultural history is something completely different.

SPIEGEL: And now you're going to say something nice?
Todd: The Reformation -- and, with it, the strengthening of the individual, supported by his knowledge -- and the spread of reading through the printing press -- that's the German contribution. The fight over the Reformation was waged in a journalistic manner, with pamphlets and flyers. The spread of literacy among the masses was invented in Germany. Prussia, and even the small Catholic states, had a higher literacy rate than France early on. Literacy came to France from the east, that is, from Germany. Germany was a nation of education and a constitutional state long before it became a democracy. But Martin Luther also proved that religious reforms did not by any means require the support of a spirit of liberalism.

SPIEGEL: But Germany's Sonderweg, or "special path," [Η γερμανική «ιδιαίτερη πορεία»] has now come to an end.
Todd: Well, I believe that the Germans still feel a secret and, at the same time, slightly narcissistic fear, as if they sensed that they are not quite part of the West [How Western Is Germany? Russia Crisis Spurs Identity Conflict]. It seems to me that their preferred form of government is the grand coalition, not the abrupt change of power that occurs in France and the Anglo-Saxon countries. Perhaps Germany would rather be like a large Switzerland or a large Sweden, a consensus democracy in which the ideological camps come to resemble one another and the political extended family in the government takes care of everything.

SPIEGEL: What's wrong with that?
Todd: Nothing. The cultural difference between Germany and France shouldn't be buried under avowals of friendship. France is individualistic and egalitarian, at least far more so than Germany, where the tradition of the unequal, authoritarian tribal family still has an impact today, as in the debate over the right maternal image. Perhaps this also explains why Germany, despite its catastrophic birth rate, has so much trouble with immigration, and yet vastly outpaces France with its technical and industrial capabilities.

SPIEGEL: Does that mean that the German-French friendship is merely an illusion?
Todd: No, but the relationship is certainly shaped by an unspoken rivalry. However, if the European Union recognizes its diversity, even its anthropological differences, instead of trying to force everyone into the same mold with the false incantation of a shared European civilization [Γιατί η «Ευρώπη» αποτυγχάνει - μέρος α´.], then Europe will also be able to treat the pluralism of cultures in the world in a reasonable and enlightened way. I'm not sure that the United States can do that.

5. Le Figaro: Would such a crisis be the consequence of Bush Administration policy, which you stigmatize for its paternalistic and social Darwinism aspects? Or would its causes be more structural?
American neo-conservatism is not alone to blame. What seems to me more striking is the way this America that incarnates the absolute opposite of the Soviet Union is on the point of producing the same catastrophe by the opposite route. Communism, in its madness, supposed that society was everything and that the individual was nothing, an ideological basis that caused its own ruin. Today, the United States assures us, with a blind faith as intense as Stalin's, that the individual is everything, that the market is enough and that the state is hateful. The intensity of the ideological fixation is altogether comparable to the Communist delirium. This individualist and inequalitarian posture disorganizes American capacity for action. The real mystery to me is situated there: how can a society renounce common sense and pragmatism to such an extent and enter into such a process of ideological self-destruction? It's a historical aporia to which I have no answer and the problem with which cannot be abstracted from the present administration's policies alone. It's all of American society that seems to be launched into a scorpion policy, a sick system that ends up injecting itself with its own venom. Such behavior is not rational, but it does not all the same contradict the logic of history. The post-war generations have lost acquaintance with the tragic and with the spectacle of self-destroying systems. But the empirical reality of human history is that it is not rational.

6. The question posed in The Explanation of Ideology concerned the spread of modern ideologies across the globe. I set out to explain why communism has come to dominate certain regions, liberalism others, and social democracy yet others; likewise to explain the predominance, elsewhere, of the Catholic Right, or of ideologies that from the European point of view are unclassifiable, such as Muslim fundamentalism, Buddhist socialism or the Indian caste system. In The Explanation of Ideology the analysis of relationships between parents and their children - authoritarian or liberal - and of relationships between brothers - egalitarian or inegalitarian - led to a typology of family types which geographically coincided fairly closely with the mapped distribution of adherence to the great ideologies...
Below are a couple of chunks from the introduction, entitled “democracy and anthropology”, to The Explanation of Ideology, translated into English by David Garrioch.
First, the first few pages of that introduction (pp. 1-6 in my 1985 Blackwell hardback edition):
No theory has so far succeeded in explaining the distribution of political ideologies, systems and forces on our planet. No one knows why certain regions of the world are dominated by liberal doctrines, others by social democracy or Catholicism, by Islam or by the Indian caste system, and others again by concepts which defy classification or description, like Buddhist socialism.
No one knows why communism has triumphed after a revolutionary struggle in Russia, China and Yugoslavia, in Vietnam and Cuba. No one knows why in other places it has failed - sometimes honourably, for in certain countries it plays an important although not dominant role in political life. In France, Italy, Finland and Portugal, in Chile before the coup in 1974, in the Sudan before the elimination of the communists by the army in 1971, and in certain Indian states such as West Bengal or Kerala, communism has a stable electoral position and traditionally enjoys the interest and support of many intellectuals.
In some areas of the world communism has made a brief but conspicuous appearance. In Indonesia it once seemed set for a brilliant future but evaporated after a military take-over and a brutal massacre. In Cambodia, a near neighbour in global terms, its performance was still more striking, rapidly developing to such murderous intensity that it destroyed itself within a very few years. One suspects, however, that these last two examples, spectacular in their power and instability, are not representative of conventional types of communism.
Elsewhere we find that Marxist-Leninist organization, while not entirely absent, is very weak and of almost no political importance: for example, in Japan, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Greece. Throughout much of the world the conquering and would-be universal ideology of the twentieth century has no real influence and is represented only by tiny fringe groups. Communism, which in Russia and China has produced Titans, in the Arab world has given birth to no more than a few martyrs and in the English-speaking world to a number of eccentrics. In most of Latin America - if we exclude Cuba and Chile – in Africa, Thailand, Burma and the Philippines, Marxist-Leninist influence is insignificant.
The history of communism is similar to that of other universal creeds: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam. It has proved rapidly successful in certain societies with which it has a mysterious affinity, only to be stopped after this initial expansion by barriers which remain invisible.

The failure of political science
A simple enumeration, worthy of lonesco, of the regions and countries where communism is strong illustrates the failure of a political science at present largely dominated by utilitarian and materialist ideas. Liberals and Marxists alike now agree on the importance of economic factors in history: the public or private nature of the means of production and exchange, the level of industrial development, the efficiency of agriculture, the numerical importance of different socio-professional groups. But could one hope to find any economic characteristic which was shared by all the regions where Marxism-Leninism is strong: by Finland and Kerala, Vietnam and Cuba, Tuscany and the Chilean province or Arauco, Limousin and West Bengal, Serbia and southern Portugal, or even for that matter by Russia and China before their revolutions?

On the eve of 1917, Russia was overwhelmingly rural but had sufficient agricultural surplus and enough mineral resources to finance rapid industrial growth. China in the first half of the twentieth century was even more strongly rural, but would have had the greatest difficulty in producing any agricultural surplus at all. Even in good years she could hardly feed her population. So sparse was her industrial development that even the most hard-line Marxist would not dare to accord responsibility for the 1949 Revolution to the proletariat of the Celestial Empire. From a Marxist point of view, the China of 1949 differed from the Russia of 1917 in one vital respect: the peasants had a much clearer idea of private property than did their Russian counterparts, among whom a sort of agrarian communism, the periodical redistribution of land according to family size, was widely practised. But this difference does not really help explain these events because it invalidates the most convincing of the ‘economic’ interpretations of communism: that which portrays it as a more modern industrial version of a traditional agricultural system.

For we find Russia and China, entirely different countries, from an economic point of view, plunging with similar enthusiasm into the same political adventure only thirty years apart and with surprisingly similar results. They shared, to begin with, a single characteristic - their rural economy - which explains nothing: in 1848 when Marx called on the workers of the world to break their chains, 95 per cent of the inhabitants of the world were peasants. Ireland, Sweden, Greece, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, Mexico, all nations where communism was to remain weak, were no more developed industrially than Russia or China. The one major exception was Britain, whose working class was to remain impermeable to communist ideology for 200 years.

Theories of class struggle explain nothing. Some working classes are attracted by Marxism-Leninism and others are not. The same applies to the rural population which in some countries is open to communism, in others not. Even normally conservative bourgeois intellectuals in many countries betray the most elementary rules of class warfare and allow themselves to be seduced by Bolshevism.

Social democracy, Islam, Hinduism, and the rest
As the most crucial ideology of the twentieth century, communism has been widely studied. Traditional political science, although unable to explain its appearance in a particular country, has nevertheless managed to give a good description of it, one which also serves to define, negatively but with equal precision, its economic and political antithesis and its world-wide enemy, Anglo-Saxon liberalism. The characteristics of communism are therefore absence of elementary political, religious and economic freedoms; egalitarian subjection of the individual to the state; and a single permanent ruling party. The features of liberalism, on the other hand, are seen to be free exercise of political, economic and religious rights by the individual; abhorrence of the state, which is perceived as an administrative necessity but also as a threat; and rapid changes of the party in power as a result of the workings of an electoral system.

Anything beyond these two poles is heresy. Yet the nations which subscribe to one or other of these ideologies, to liberalism or to communism, account for only 40 per cent of the world’s population. The remaining 60 per cent have not received nearly the same attention from political scientists, and are considered conceptually irrelevant. Their ideologies and political systems are at best treated as imperfect forms, somewhere in between communism and liberalism according to the degree of economic, religious or political authoritarianism. At worst, they appear to social scientists as legal or religious monstrosities, aberrations of the human imagination that cannot be registered on the scale dictated by European political conventions whose linear structure is like a thermometer, capable of measuring only hot or cold, the degree of liberty or of totalitarianism.

Putting together all these misfits, all the ideologies which are neither ‘communist’ nor ‘liberal’, gives another of those comical lists which political science is capable of producing: social democracy, libertarian socialism, Christian democracy, Latin-American, Thai or Indonesian military regimes, the Buddhist socialism of Burma or of Sri Lanka, Japanese parliamentarianism, technically perfect but with the sole flaw of never changing its ruling party, Islamic fundamentalism and socialism, Ethiopian militarist Marxism, and the Indian regime which combines parliamentary and caste systems and whose 700 million subjects have in one swoop been disqualified by ‘modern’ political science.

Social science has found a justification for refusing to fit these exotic systems and ways of thinking into its conceptual framework: is it reasonable to hope to understand them when the principal mystery, that of the liberal/communist conflict, has yet to be resolved? But this argument is easily refuted: it is precisely because of the refusal to look on all political forms – whether European or not - as normal and theoretically significant that communism has never been fully understood, and nor, as a direct result, has its liberal ‘antithesis’.

Furthermore, if we move from a politico-economic definition of ideological systems to a religious one, the opposite of communism is no longer liberalism but the whole group of doctrines which proclaim the existence of a spiritual realm. For communism alone declares that God does not exist and is prepared to impose this belief on humanity. Here the liberal, pluralist systems, tolerant or agnostic on religious questions, are out of the picture. They cannot provide a conceptual framework for the increasingly violent conflict between communism and Islam in Afghanistan, or between communism and the Catholic church in Poland.

Is it, then, too much to allow that the range of political and religious ideologies spread around the world does not divide into two camps, but forms a system with many poles, and that all these poles - communist, liberal, Catholic, social democratic, Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist - are equally normal, legitimate and worthy of analysis?

A satisfactory explanation of communism must also provide the key to other world-wide ideologies. The situation is precisely that which is encountered in the natural sciences: one cannot partly understand the principle of the attractive force of matter, that of the circulation of the blood or of the classification of the elements in chemistry. To take the whole world as the field of study, therefore, is simply to apply to social science the minimum of intellectual rigour which the natural sciences take for granted. Any hypothesis must take all the forms observed into account.
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Πηγές αναδημοσίευσης:


.~`~.
Για περαιτέρω ιχνηλάτηση και πληρέστερη προοπτική

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- Το μέλλον της Ε.Ε, η Ανατολική Ευρώπη -η Ουκρανία- και τα Βαλκάνια, ο Huntington, ο Brzezinski και οι πλανητικές πολιτικές των Η.Π.Α. Τα «Ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα», η «σύγκρουση των πολιτισμών» και τα «Ευρασιατικά Βαλκάνια» ως βαλκανοποίηση της υφηλίου και καλλιέργεια της ελεγχόμενης αναρχίας. Η απόρριψη του διλήμματος μεταξύ πυρηνικού ολοκαυτώματος ή πολιτιστικής ανυπαρξίας - προς μιας νέα ιστορική σύνθεση που θα εναντιώνεται στις θεωρίες και τους υπολογισμούς γραφείου-εργαστηρίου.
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A Note on Civilizations and Economies.


.~`~.
A Note on Civilizations and Economies
Richard Swedberg
Cornell University, NY, USA
Richard Swedberg's Research Page. Cornell University, NY, USA. European Journal of Social Theory 13(1): 15–30. Copyright © 2010 Sage Publications: Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC.

Abstract
This article approaches the topic of civilizations and economies through a discussion of two key texts that appeared during the first wave of interest among social scientists for the phenomenon of civilization: ‘Note on the Notion of Civilization’ ([1913] 1998) by Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss, and ‘Author’s Introduction’ ([1920a] 1930) by Max Weber. Durkheim and Mauss were of the opinion that civilizations have their own, unique form of existence that is very difficult to understand and theorize. Civilizations, they nonetheless suggest, are marked off by symbolic boundaries and consist of elements that are hard for political authorities to control, including money,commerce, techniques and tools. Max Weber’s most important attempt to struggle with the idea of civilization, can be found in his portrait of Western civilization in ‘Author’s Introduction’. Weber, as is well known, suggests in this writing that Western civilization is characterized by a ‘specific and peculiar rationalism’ – and he devotes a large part of the text to a portrait of modern rational capitalism. This type of capitalism, we conclude, is consequently civilizational in nature. Its emergence, as Weber also shows elsewhere, cannot be explained by referring to some special group or nation. The two works by Weber and Durkheim and Mauss, the article concludes, allow us to better understand civilizations as distinct social-cultural configurations and also to approach their economic dimension. Both works emphasize the fact that one needs to use an interdisciplinary as well as a comparative approach to undertake a civilizational as well as a civilizational-economic analysis.

In recent years the notion of civilization has attracted quite a bit of attention, in the media as well as among scholars. This is largely due to the work of Samuel Huntington, author of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996; see also 1993). There is also the important work on civilizations by S.N. Eisenstadt, the recipient in 2006 of the prestigious Holberg International Memorial Prize (e.g. Eisenstadt, 2000, 2001). At the center of the work of Huntington is a concern with the reemergence of Islam on the international political scene; and his concept of civilization is primarily informed by an attempt to understand political-religious conflicts. Eisenstadt similarly views civilizationas closely related to the phenomenon of religion, although he casts it primarily in ontological and not in political terms.

In order to address the theme of economy and civilization – the central topic of this note – one may therefore want to rely on the writings of some other authors than Huntington and Eisenstadt. The ones I have chosen are two articles by Max Weber and Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss. What these works have in common is that they constitute the foundational texts when it comes to the useof civilization as a social science concept. As I hope to show, they also allow us to start a fruitful discussion of the role of the economy in civilizations.

The texts of Weber and Durkheim and Mauss were produced at a time when the concept of civilization was for the first time attracting serious attention among social scientists; this is what makes them foundational. The first article, co-authored by Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss, is entitled ‘Note on the Notion of Civilization’ ([1913] 1998). The second article is from a few years later: Max Weber’s, ‘Author’s Introduction’ ([1920a] 1930).

These two texts, to repeat, constitute the first wave of important social science writings on the concept of civilizations. They are both very brief and even fragmentary in nature. They by no means ‘solve’ the problem of civilization. But, asI shall try to show, they are very suggestive. They are first of all united in a belief that civilization represents an important phenomenon as well as one that is hard to theorize. They further hint at the existence of a number of interesting social mechanisms at work in civilizations. The two texts, as I shall try to show, provide a theoretically sound foundation from which to proceed.

Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss, ‘Note on the Notion of Civilization
Little is known about the background to Durkheim and Mauss’s joint note about civilization, except that it appeared in Durkheim’s journal, l’Année Sociologique in 1913. It would seem that the inspiration for the text mainly came from Durkheim since Mauss’s later writings on civilization pursue somewhat different ideas.

The following should be added so the reader is able to situate ‘Note on the Notion of Civilization’. First, Durkheim often referred to national society as well as international society in his writings; and he saw the two as logically connected. National societies developed first in human history, but one day they would be replaced by an international society (e.g. Durkheim, 1915). Civilizations did not fit this linear evolution and were awkwardly situated in between the two. Civilizations, in brief, represented something of a challenge to Durkheim and his view of the evolution of society. They should not exist; and it was not all that clear what they were.

The second point to bear in mind when one looks at Durkheim’s concept of civilization has to do with his general theory of social phenomena. Durkheim was convinced that social phenomena are deeply mysterious and that the social scientist can only understand them through laborious and ingenious research.The social scientist typically has to rely on ‘social facts’ in the form of signs and indices (say, suicide rates) and from these reconstruct the contours of some social phenomenon.

The ‘Note on the Notion of Civilization’ is only five pages long and does not contain a definition of what a civilization is. This would seem to indicate that its value for the discussion of civilizations – including their economic element –is minimal. This, however, is not the case. Instead, as I shall try to show, ‘Note on the Notion of Civilization’ contains a number of fertile ideas that can be further developed. These either explicitly touch on, or can easily be related to,questions about the role of economic factors in civilizations.

Durkheim and Mauss make four major points in their note. The first has to do with the argument that civilizations differ from states, nations and other political formations. While the latter have ‘political boundaries’, civilizations have‘symbolic boundaries’ (Durkheim and Mauss, [1913] 1998: 153; emphasis added).

Second, while there is a difference between political societies and civilizations,this does not rule out interaction or interpenetration between the two. For one thing, civilizations typically include several or many political societies. A political society such as the nation state may also try to make use of a civilization for itsown purposes. ‘Without doubt’, as Durkheim and Mauss phrase it, ‘every civilization is susceptible to nationalization’ (Durkheim and Mauss, [1913] 1998; 153;emphasis added). This does not mean, however, that a civilization and some nation state can become one. ‘[A civilization] may assume particular characteristics with each people of each state; but its most essential elements are not the product ofthe state or of the people alone’ (Durkheim and Mauss, [1913] 1998: 153).

This point leads to the next and most important one in the Durkheim and Mauss note, namely that a civilization constitutes its very own and unique type of social formation. It constitutes a formation that differs from all other social groups, not only from political societies but, to repeat, from all groups (sociétés).Civilizations, the authors suggest, are ‘less clearly defined groupings, which do have individuality and are the seat of a new sort of social life’ (Durkheim and Mauss,[1913] 1998: 153).

The term ‘grouping’ is not to be found in the original French but is an invention of the translator, Benjamin Nelson, a sociologist who also happens to be an expert on civilizations. It is nonetheless an apt term since civilizations, according to Durkheim and Mauss, are not like other groups or societies; they ‘have their own unity and form of existence’ (p.153).

And this unity and form of existence are very hard to capture. The authors suggest at one point that civilizations constitute ‘a kind of moral milieux’ (p.153). Given the authors’ view of morality, this means that there exists some kind of moral-cognitive glue that holds civilizations together. They also say twice that civilizations can be described as ‘interdependent systems’ (systémes solidaires). Civilizations, to cite the fullest of these two statements, are ‘complex and inter-dependent systems, which without being limited to a determinate political organism are, however, localizable in time and space’ (p.152).

The authors, to repeat, do not provide the reader with a full definition of what a civilization is; and the quote about complex and interdependent systems is as close as they get. But even if Durkheim and Mauss fail to come up with a definition, they do provide some tantalizing hints of what constitutes a civilization.These are mainly related to the symbolic boundaries that were mentioned earlier,and which in their turn grew out of the authors’ attempt to differentiate civilizations (with symbolic boundaries) from political societies (with political boundaries).

Political societies consist of social phenomena that can be directly controlled,the authors argue, such as political and legal institutions. Civilizations, in contrast,seem to be related to phenomena that cannot be controlled in this fashion. The authors write:

Not all social phenomena are equally apt to internationalize themselves. Political institutions, juridical institutions, the phenomena of social morphology constitute part of the specific character of each people. On the other hand, the myths, tales, money,commerce, fine arts, techniques, tools, language, words, scientific knowledge, literary forms and ideas – all these travel and are borrowed. In short, they result from a process involving more than a determinate society. (p.153)
Finally, Durkheim and Mauss also argue that civilizational research has its own methodological demands. The study of civilizations, they emphasize, has to be interdisciplinary and comparative. Three sciences are explicitly mentioned as important to civilizational analysis: sociology, history and ethnography.

The authors insist that sociology is absolutely central to civilizational analysis and that its task is to address ‘more general questions’ (p.154). History and ethnography, in contrast, deal with ‘preliminary tasks’: ‘to map [the] areas of civilization and to link diverse civilizations to their fundamental source’. As to the type of method that should be used in a civilizational analysis, Durkheim and Mauss mention one only: ‘It is a matter of arriving at causes and laws by means of methodical comparison.’

The main points that Durkheim and Mauss make may not seem much in themselves, but if one takes a closer look at them, they turn out to be useful starting points for a discussion of our three key questions: what constitutes a civilization?; what role do economic elements play in civilizations?; and how are this type of issues to be studied? The discussion below aims to illustrate this fecundity.

One may begin with Durkheim and Mauss’s idea that a civilization has symbolic boundaries, while political societies have political ones. A civilization typically covers a number of political societies; and a civilization can presumably also cross the area of a political society, say a vast empire. Since symbolic boundaries lack a political staff to enforce them (in contrast to political boundaries), a civilization can easily be invaded by a political society. The flip side of this is that a civilization may in its turn easily spread to or invade a political society since it can bypass conventional defense lines.

While the notion of symbolic boundaries has some obvious consequences for political affairs, how about economic affairs? Economic ideals or usages should in principle be able to bypass political boundaries as easily as, say, religious ideals and usages. But there may also be a limit to the travels of economic ideals and usages. Recall that Durkheim and Mauss argue that political and legal institutions are immobile and typically limited to the area that is controlled by a political society. Some crucial aspects of economic life – such as property and economic legislation more generally – are equally dependent on, and therefore limited to,political society.

Durkheim and Mauss’s point that political societies may attempt to ‘nationalize’ a civilization can similarly be developed in a number of directions. The reason for wanting to nationalize a civilization in the first place may be that a country and its ruler may want to acquire some of the prestige that comes from being closely associated with a certain civilization. If, say, Sweden decides thatits church should be Christian, this may strengthen the defense of the country since appeals can now be made to the Christian faith of its citizens. This represents one of several advantages of having a state church.

Nationalizing a civilization can, in brief, be useful for the ruler of a political society. But according to Durkheim and Mauss, there is more to the story than this. A civilization can by definition not be kept within the borders of a political society; it always slips away. To nationalize, say, Christianity only goes so far since it is a religion that is universal in nature.

It is, on the one hand, clear that a civilization can be expanded through the activities of a political state. But even if a civilization comes to cover a larger area in this way, it can never be totally controlled by a political society. Its boundaries, once more, are symbolic and not political. This results in an interesting dynamic that can be called ‘the civilizational dilemma’: a civilization can be used by a political society – but it ultimately eludes its control.

The most important part of Durkheim and Mauss’s analysis of civilizations is their suggestion that a civilization has its very own and elusive identity. They do not, as earlier mentioned, try to give a definition of a civilization except to emphasize that it is not locked into one carefully guarded area along the lines of a political society. Instead they point to the fact that certain elements cannot be locked into place; they also hint that these are central to the phenomenon of civilizations.

Durkheim and Mauss do not spell out exactly how these elements constitute a civilization, so on this point we may want to add to their analysis. Let us begin by looking at their list of items that cannot be kept within the boundaries of apolitical society. They are the following:
• myths
• tales
• money
• commerce
• fine arts
• techniques
• tools
• language
• words
• scientific knowledge
• literary forms and ideas.
The first thing to notice is that this is a bit of a rag tag collection. If we try to sort the various items into categories, however, the list begins to make more sense. The key categories now become:
1. Religion (myths, tales)
2. Economy (money, commerce, tools, techniques)
3. Language (words)
4. Art (fine arts, literary forms and ideas)
5. Science (scientific knowledge)
These five elements, I would argue, give a hint of the basic building blocks that together make up a civilization for Mauss and Durkheim. Note also what they do not consider to be part of a civilization, namely political and legal institutions. For the moment, then, let us assume that what Durkheim and Mauss regard as a civilization is a special configuration of elements that belong to the areas of religion, economy, language, art and science.

We can also look at the individual items in the list of Durkheim and Mauss and see where this leads us. The items that relate to the economy are the following: techniques, tools, money and commerce. Techniques and tools are closely related phenomena. They are also interesting for our purposes because they are not directly tied to the legal-institutional part of political society. One may speculate whether they indicate a deeper level of the economy than the legal-political structure – a civilizational level? We speak, for example, of the Iron Age and the Bronze Age, and mean by this that the tools that were used during these periods were made of a certain metal.

What then about money and commerce?; how are these related to civilizational analysis? Again, they have supposedly a tendency to escape from political society. Money, as we know from Gresham’s Law, if nothing else, travels its own ways, driven by individual interest. And commerce makes people leave their political society and seek out actors and profit in other societies. Capitalism, as we know, has a tendency to expand; and here we have two mechanisms through which this takes place.

Maybe one could call the various items on the Durkheim and Mauss’s list‘civilizational carriers’. One might also push the analysis further than Durkheimand Mauss by arguing that certain groups of people act as ‘exporters’ and others as ‘importers’ of civilizations through their economic and other activities.Merchants are an obvious example of people who are both exporters andimporters of civilization. Explorers, travelers and migrant workers are some other groups. Certain groups may also see it as their task to blockthe import or exportof civilizational elements.

The list of Durkheim and Mauss also provides us with some hints about the method to be used in a civilizational analysis. If art, language and science are part of the civilizational phenomenon, the analyst has to have recourse to expertise in these areas. Art historians, linguists and historians of science will be needed.And to analyze the economic elements of a civilization, you not only need experts on economic theory, but also other experts with other types of economic expertise, such as economic geographers, economic anthropologists, economic sociologists and economic historians.

Max Weber, ‘Author’s Introduction’
When Max Weber’s work on civilization is discussed, the focus is usually on his studies of the so-called world religions. Weber began work on this type of religion in the early 1910s; and his studies are known in English as The Religion of China, Ancient Judaism, and The Religion of India (Weber, [1920d] 1951, [1921a] 1952,[1921b] 1958). Three important essays are also part of this project, which Weber referred to as The Economic Ethics of the World Religions (see Weber, [1920a]1930, [1920b] 1946, [1920c] 1946).

The problem with equating Weber’s work on civilizations with what he had to say about world religions is that this project had been constructed with a very particular problem in mind, namely to investigate the role of major religions in the emergence of modern rational capitalism. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904–1905) was viewed by Weber as the first installment in this project, while The Religion of India and so on continued the query.

It is true that some interesting concepts and ideas that are helpful to civilizational analysis can be found in the volumes that resulted from this project. There is, for one thing, Weber’s idea that the basic vision and diffusion of each world religion is associated with the activities of certain social groups – what Weber calls carriers. In the case of Christianity, for example, the carriers were itinerant artisan journeymen; and in the case of Buddhism, mendicant monks (see Weber,[1920b] 1946: 268–699, [1921–1922] 1978: 468–518). There is also Weber’s notion of economic ethic or the fact that economic activities are always evaluated,in religions as well as in society more generally. Most religions, for example, put a positive value on charity and a negative value on profit-making as a major goal in life. Similarly, economic activities in a civilization are always evaluated; and one may perhaps speak of a civilizational economic ethic.

Still, there exists only one single writing in all of Weber’s production that directly addresses the issue of civilizational analysis, and that is his introduction from 1920 to the writings that make up The Economic Ethics of the World Religions. This is the famous ‘Author’s Introduction’.2This article is a little less than twenty pages long and delivers its complex argument at a fast pace. Weber starts out by saying that the type of analysis he will be engaging in represents a form of ‘universal history of culture’ (Weber,[1920a] 1930: 23). Another term for this genre is ‘cultural history’ (p.24). The term ‘culture’ (Kultur), as used here, means more or less the same as ‘civilization’ (Zivilisation), a term that Weber rarely used in his work. The translators of‘Author’s Introduction’ also agree that what Weber had in mind in this essay is civilization (e.g. Weber, [1920a] 1930, 2002a, 2002b).

‘Author’s Introduction’ is centered around a famous portrait of Western civilization. It starts in the following way:
A product of modern European civilization (Kulturwelt), studying any problem of universal history, is bound to ask himself to what combination of circumstances the fact should be attributed that in Western civilization (Okzident), and in Western civilization only, cultural phenomena have appeared which (as we would like to think)lie in a line of development having universal significance and value. (Weber, [1920a]1930: 13)
As this quote makes clear, there is some very special quality to Western civilization, according to Weber, that makes it seem ‘universal’ [Δυτικοευρωκεντρισμός]. By this, Weber presumably means that Western civilization is seen as a model for other civilizations to follow. What accounts for this universality is especially one item, namely ‘the specific and peculiar rationalism [Rationalismus] of Western culture’ (p.26).

The first part of ‘Author’s Introduction’ is devoted to a presentation of the different elements or spheres (Sphären) in Western civilization that all have under-gone the process of rationalization. There is, for one thing, science; and Weber mentions, among other things, the rationalization that astronomy, mathematics and chemistry have undergone. He also refers to the rationalization of art, politics and religion. All of these topics – science, art, politics and religion – are quickly touched on in four pages, followed by a section more than twice as long on the role of the economy in Western civilization. What Weber calls ‘modern rational capitalism’ has only appeared in the West, and it constitutes ‘the most fateful force in our modern life’ (pp.17, 25).

It deserves to be mentioned that the nine pages devoted to capitalism in ‘Author’s Introduction’ constitute the longest and fullest discussion of this topic that can be found in Weber’s work. He suggests that there exist three types of capitalism: modern rational capitalism, political capitalism and adventurers’ capitalism. The latter two have existed far back in history and in all parts of the world,while the former is relatively young and has only emerged in the West. While the latter two can co-exist with traditional economies and with traditional types of rulers, this is not the case with modern rational capitalism which is also very dynamic in nature.

Modern rational capitalism is defined by Weber as follows: ‘the pursuit of profit, and forever renewed profit, by means of continuous, rational, capitalistic enterprise’ (p.17). By the term ‘rational’, Weber means that this type of capitalism is methodical and systematic in nature. Greed is not its essence nor its moving force:

It should be taught in the kindergarten of cultural history that this naïve idea of capitalism must be given up once and for all. Unlimited greed for gain is not in the least identical with capitalism, and is still less its spirit. Capitalism may even be identical with restraint, or at least a rational tempering, of this irrational impulse [greed]. (p.17)

What characterizes modern rational capitalism is a small number of key institutional features. First, there has to be a rational organization of (formally) free labor. This means that huge parts of the population must gain their livelihood exclusively by working for capitalists. Second, there is the rational capitalist firm. Its distinguishing features are that it is separate from the household and that it makes use of rational book-keeping. Third, there are some complementary rational institutions that have developed in the West, without which rational capitalism could not exist. These are the legal system and the political system.

One obvious concern of the student of Western civilization, according to Weber, is why this particular type of rationality has only developed in Europe and not elsewhere in the world. One can, for example, find capitalist interests in India and China, Weber says, but ‘why did not the scientific, artistic, the political, or the economic development there enter upon that path of rationalization which is peculiar to the Occident?’ (p.25).

This last concern points to the fact that the student of civilization has to make use of the comparative method, something that Weber also explicitly states. He adds that the student of civilizations in addition needs to draw on the work of many different specialists, such as sinologists, indologists, anthropologists and more. ‘Trespassing on other special fields cannot be avoided in comparative [civilizational] work’ (p.29; emphasis added). That a civilizational analysis has to draw on knowledge from so many different fields, Weber also points out, makes it extra brittle. ‘[Analyses of civilizations] are destined to be superseded in a much more important sense than this can be said, as it can be, of all scientific work’(p.28).

So much for the content of Weber’s article. Just like Durkheim and Mauss’s ‘Note’, it is clear that ‘Author’s Introduction’ contains a number of ideas that can be further developed. While Weber does not explicitly state what the elements (or spheres) of a civilization are, one can nonetheless make an educated guess about his answer, based on the discussion in ‘Author’s Introduction’. A civilization, more precisely, is made up of five types of elements: religion, politics, the economy,art and science. There may also be some extra element that is common to thesefive elements. In any case, what characterizes Western civilization is, to repeat, a ‘specific and peculiar rationalism’.

What role does the element of the economy play in a civilization, according to Weber? Since Weber only discusses Western civilization and not civilizations in general, it is not possible to answer this question. We do know, however, that Weber (in retrospect) considered The Protestant Ethic to be part of his study of civilizations; and based on this work we can say that at least in the case of Western civilization, the role of the economic element can vary quite a bit. Before the Reformation, the economy was an important part of Western civilization,but religion had monopoly on the legitimate view of what constituted the goal and meaning of human existence. This changed, as we know, with the Reformation; and from now on it became acceptable and legitimate to view work as well as profit-making as the goal of life.

Very importantly, Weber’s decision to include The Protestant Ethic in his work on civilization provides us with some important clues about the way that he looked at a civilizational analysis of the economy. This study does not discuss the development of a new capitalist spirit in one or several countries but in one civilization: Western civilization. Lutheranism as well as ascetic Protestantism could at the time be found in a number of countries but it did not follow national boundaries.

The central problem in The Protestant Ethic is the emergence of a rational capitalist mentality or spirit in the West. According to Weber – and this represents an important point from the perspective of this note – we will only be able to analyze this problem if we start with the role that a certain type of religion played in Western civilization. This religion then migrated to the area of the economy, where it helped to spark a new and rational capitalist mentality.

Or to put it differently: a social science that is limited to one type of analysis(say economic history or the history of religion), and to one or several nations (say, England or the Netherlands), will be unable to track and explain this process. In brief, in order to properly understand the emergence of modern rational capitalism you need to make a civilizational analysis.

This represents a strong claim for civilizational analysis. Note that the argument presented here is supported by other and related analyses of capitalism in The Economic Ethics of the World Religions. To understand the operations of modern rational capitalism (not only its emergence as in The Protestant Ethic),you need to draw on a civilizational analysis. The reason for this, according to Weber, is that capitalism is not only an economic phenomenon but also a political, legal and cultural phenomenon. We can see this, for example, from its need for a certain type of state, legal system and culture.

Weber presented his analysis of modern rational capitalism during the years 1900–1920, and much has of course happened since then. Nonetheless, his analysis seems as relevant today. Can economic development – to generalize Weber’s argument – only be understood through a civilizational analysis, that is,through a type of analysis that not only takes economic factors into account but also politics, law and culture (and probably also art and science)?

Weber, as we know, did not live to spell out his ideas about civilizations in detail. In the famous Chapter 1 of Economy and Society, called ‘Basic Sociological Terms’ (1921–1922), he presents the reader with definitions of all the key categories in sociology – but not ‘civilization’. He starts with ‘social action’ and then proceeds to higher and more complex forms: from ‘social relationship’ over ‘order’ and ‘organization’ to ‘the state’ and ‘the church’. A question one may ask is therefore the following: what would Weber’s definition of civilization have looked like, if he had decided to include one in Economy and Society?

Even if this question may seem a bit artificial, the answer is fairly straight-forward. The reason for this is that Economy and Society provides the reader with a number of theoretical building blocks that can be used to construct new concepts.The key concept to be used in this particular case, I suggest, is ‘order’ (Ordnung)– which Weber defines as obligatory or exemplary ways of acting to which actors orient their actions. Orders have a certain continuity to them; sanctions are also connected to them, and these come into play if the actors deviate from the prescribed ways of acting.

A civilization, from this perspective, may be defined as follows: A civilization is a cultural order, to which actors orient themselves and which consists of economic,religious, political, artistic and scientific elements. By being oriented to the order,the actions of the actors are provided with a general meaning. The task of the analyst can be summarized as follows (and I paraphrase Weber): he or she has to causally explain the course and consequences of the particular type of social action that is informed by the civilizational order. By consequences are meant intended as well as unintended results.

Before leaving the argument in ‘Author’s Introduction’, something also needs to be said about one particularly difficult and intriguing aspect of Weber’s argument. It has to do with Weber’s emphasis on the ‘specific and peculiar type of rationalism’ that is characteristic of Western civilization. It is this rationalism, to recall, that according to Weber invests Western civilization with ‘universal significance and value’. While Weber’s way of expressing himself on this point is not very clear, a likely interpretation of this statement is that the rationalism of Western civilization makes it exemplary and seen as worth imitating by people in other civilizations.

Weber’s idea about the exemplary nature of Western civilization is interesting; and it is clear, for example, that the Western type of civilization is today spreading all over the world. This includes, among other things, Western modes of politics (e.g. the idea of democracy) as well as Western modes of legal thought (e.g.antimonopoly legislation and bankruptcy legislation). Quite a bit of globalization,including economic globalization, can be understood as the spread of what Weber terms Western civilization.

Note also the interesting twist to Weber’s argument, namely that rationalization does not only represent the most efficient way of doing something but the most efficient way of doing something to which a certain value is attached. Weber is perfectly clear that rationality and rationalization do not only involve means but also ends – in this case, Western ends. Referring to the fields of the economy,politics, religion and so on, he writes: ‘Each one of these fields may be rationalized in terms of very different ultimate values and ends, and what is rational from one point of view may well be irrational from another’ (Weber, [1920a] 1930: 26).
The fact that what is ‘rational’ constitutes a mixture of efficiency and values is helpful in understanding both the spread of Western civilization and the resistance to it. Precisely because of its value component, Western civilization invites some of its adherents to spread it (‘it is the best way to do things’), and some people to oppose it (‘we prefer our own values’). Some people, to use the terminology introduced earlier, become in this way exporters of Western civilization, some importers, while others construct obstacles to its spread.

Conclusion
By now I hope to have shown that the two articles by Durkheim-Mauss and Weber allow us to approach the subject of civilization and economy in a fruitful manner. The topic is demanding, but it also yields in interesting ways when analyzed by seminal social scientists such as Weber, Durkheim and Mauss. Most importantly, ‘Note on the Notion of Civilization’ and ‘Author’s Introduction’ both provide a foundation, on which to build an analysis of civilization and economy, and some suggestions for how to proceed in methodological terms.

There exist some similarities and differences as well as complementarities between the approach of Weber, on the one hand, and that of Durkheim and Mauss, on the other. As to similarities, both Weber and Durkheim and Mauss suggest that the economy is an integral part of every civilization. Both assign a place to trade and commerce; Durkheim and Mauss also point to the role played by various material factors, such as tools and techniques.

Weber, however, is the one who proceeds the furthest by arguing that certain economic phenomena can only be properly understood and analyzed with the help of a civilizational type of analysis. Modern rational capitalism is not a national or a local creation but a civilizational creation, he suggests, more precisely,a product of Western civilization.

Weber’s reasoning on this point raises the question if certain key problems in economic development should not similarly be approached as civilizational problems, with all that this entails. One especially wonders if a multitude of interacting forces are not at work when a huge country or a whole continent – say, China or the United States, South America or Europe – either take off or do not take off. I would say that the argument for using a civilizational analysis in this case is strong enough to be taken seriously.

Weber, on the one hand, and Durkheim and Mauss, on the other, also argue that civilizational analysis has to be comparative as well as interdisciplinary. It has to be comparative because knowledge of a civilization can only be acquired by confronting it with other civilizations. And it has to be interdisciplinary,because civilizational analysis draws on topics that are handled by different disciplines in the modern university. One may of course argue that the academic division of labor today is much too advanced and much too artificial. But civilizational analysis is so broad that unless there is no division of labor, there has to be co-operation – or ‘trespassing’, as Weber put it – between different experts.

To analyze civilizations and economies, you also need a very broad concept of economics. Mainstream economics with its traditional focus on microeconomics is not enough, nor are the attempts of ‘economic imperialism’. One also needs the support of many other experts who all deal with some special aspect of the economy: economic historians, economic sociologists, economic geographers, economic psychologists and economic anthropologists. To this, one can add members of neighboring disciplines who are especially interested in the link between their own discipline and the economy, such as legal scholars who specialize in economics, political scientists with an interest in political economy,and so on.

There also exist some differences between the views on civilization that one can find in Weber and Durkheim-Mauss. While they agree that the core of a civilization consists of a small number of interrelated elements, the ones that they single out are not totally identical. This becomes clear if we enumerate them in Table 1.


While Weber and Durkheim and Mauss agree that the economy is an integral part of a civilization, they disagree when it comes to politics and language. The reason why Durkheim and Mauss do not include politics has to do with their argument that political society differs from a civilization mainly through its political and legal institutions. Weber would presumably have agreed with this, so why does he include politics? The reason is that he is not talking about concrete political and legal institutions, as Durkheim and Mauss do, but about political-legal models– general ways of doing things that transcend national and political boundaries.

What about language; why does not Weber include language in his analysis of civilization? This is more intriguing than why Durkheim and Mauss do not include politics in theirs. Weber, it appears, was not very interested in language, something that becomes clear if one quickly surveys his work. For an anthropologist such as Mauss, it was of course different; and also Durkheim spent several years working closely with anthropological literature. In any case, it would seem that language is central to cultural and civilizational concerns, and that it should be included on the list of the components that make up a civilization.

That this is the case also becomes clear if one starts to scrutinize various economic phenomena. While there is an obvious material dimension to economic phenomena – from tools and other parts of production to the need of the human body to be sheltered and fed – these also have a meaning structure. If language involves communication between people, and communication presupposes shared meaning, it is clear that language is an integral part of economic acts. Money, for example, has a very distinct meaning structure – and so do acts of exchange, firms, and so on.

As has just been mentioned, there exist similarities as well as differences between the ideas about civilization and economy that can be found in ‘Note on the Notion of Civilization’ and ‘Author’s Introduction’. Are there complementarities as well? Most importantly of all, are there complementarities that point to some novel and interesting idea – beyond what Weber and Durkheim and Mauss say individually?

One complementarity, I would argue, is that while Durkheim and Mauss ask questions about the boundaries of civilizations, Weber looks at their core.Durkheim and Mauss hint that it is by focusing on the boundaries, on the fact that certain elements so easily slip through political boundaries and establish their own symbolic boundaries, that we may get a handle on the phenomenon of civilization. Durkheim and Mauss say, on the other hand, very little about the content of civilizations. Weber, in contrast, is much more interested in the core of a civilization, as indicated by his fascination with the element of rationality in Western civilization, but he pays little attention to boundaries.

My sense is that Durkheim and Mauss and Weber nicely complement each other on this point. The former are much more sensitive than Weber to the fact that a civilization is an elusive phenomenon and hard to grasp; but they push this view, it seems, even to the point of forgetting about its main content or at least to theorizing about it. Weber is just the opposite. He is obsessed with the content of Western civilization; and he pays little attention to its boundaries.

If we were, so to speak, to add Durkheim and Mauss to Weber in the particular case of Western civilization, we may get a bit closer to the truth. This type of civilization is indeed centered around rationality and reason, as to its content,but is nonetheless like all civilizations cast in a social-cultural form that follows its own laws – and these have little to do with the way that reason and rationality have developed in the West.

This may also be true for the element of the economy and what Weber terms modern rational capitalism. On a series of points, it is clear that this type of capitalism represents a very efficient and dynamic way of organizing the economy.But if it is also civilizational in nature (part of a civilization), as Weber believed,it will ultimately also follow a set of other laws than those that economics so far has tried to establish.

By now the reader will hopefully agree that the two fragmentary writings that have been presented and discussed in this note are valuable in several respects.First and foremost, they allow us to construct a strong conceptual foundation in our attempt to deal with the topic of civilization and economy. A civilization,they suggest, can be defined as a cultural order, with symbolic boundaries, to which individuals orient their actions. The economy is part of this order and can be described as exemplary and obligatory ways of acting when it comes to people’s livelihood.

But the writings of Durkheim and Mauss and Weber also have another quality,which is perhaps even more important. This is that they allow us to ask new questions about the economy, questions that come from confronting the topic of the economy with that of civilization. Civilizations, they suggest, follow their very own laws; and these must be taken into account since they affect the economy in a number of ways. Is it for example enough with knowledge about national economies or does this type of knowledge have to be complemented with knowledge also about civilizational economies? Is modern capitalism a very advanced form of capitalism – or just a very advanced form of Western capitalism? Is economic globalization a single force – or rather the conflux of various economic forces, including civilizational ones?

Richard Swedberg

Η αποικιοκρατία δεν είναι τίποτα άλλο παρά η κατεξοχήν κατάκλυση ενός πολιτισμού από έναν άλλον. Οι ηττημένοι σκύβουν πάντα το κεφάλι εμπρός στον ισχυρό. Αλλά, εφόσον υπάρχει σύγκρουση πολιτισμών η υπόταγη είναι μόνο προσωρινή. Αυτές οι μακρές περιόδοι αναγκαστικής συνύπαρξης δεν είναι δυνατές χωρίς αμοιβαίες υποχωρήσεις ή συνεννοήσεις, χωρίς ουσιώδη και καμιά φορά γόνιμα πολιτισμικά δάνεια. Που δεν υπερβαίνουν όμως ποτέ ένα όριο.

.~`~.
Για περαιτέρω ιχνηλάτηση και πληρέστερη προοπτική