I have often suggested a look at the eonic effect as a substitute for historical theories, which means causal theories in search of ‘historical laws’. You don’t have to agree save only that it is an empirical data set: be wary of negating historical facts connected to that.
The problem is that history requires free agents and this seems to contradict deterministic approaches. This is not a free will debate but the effect of choice on events. Choice may or may not be free will.
But the eonic effect sees through the dilemma and forces a hybrid: as causality retreats it has a number of option of greater generality: a discrete/continuous model can serve as a causal stand in IF there is evidence of what it represents: a discrete series of some sort. Remarkably world history suggests this as a series of epochs.
Note that Marx had a sense of epochs, a discrete series, remarkable but not formulated correctly.
Attempts to find a science of history are one wing of a double fallacy. The other is the fallacy that history is just a random outcome with no structure.
So the new approach allows us to demonstrate some form of ‘determination’ without eliminating free agency. The result is an empirical chronicle that blends some kind of determination in relation to free agency. There are a host of examples in real life: cf. a computer mouse: the computer is determined, but the mouse allows the free agent to input a choice. The machine can’t determine that choice, but its functionality shows determination (in the case of the computer, electronic determinism).
History is like that: it shows an overall driving motion but only in the context of free agency. There is no mystery there, as such: the weather shows overall influence on a population, but the population remains a set of free agents, within the limits imposed by weather. A hurricane restricts your options! But you are still a free agent. You can try to esccape.
It is a very simple solution to the hopeless effort to find a science of historical laws. Study the eonic effect at its key moments: e.g. the Axial intervals: some overall determination creates an influence, but free agents remain within the context of that influence. The outcome is a hybrid of different things.
You don’t even need that much: we have suggested an ultra simple version of the eonic effect: a simple outline of history. But the real issue is to study the whole of world history, a big job. Specialized areas taken alone is not good enough. The result is a very simple progression of eras, something we are already using.
This empirical approach allows us to take history as is, but with suggestions of a larger structure, or at least enough of something to be wary of saying history is random overall.
This kind of loose structure mixed with ordinary chronicle is all the left needs and we include ordinary historians, economists and even capitalists. There the issue of economics is secondary. The attempt to reduce history to economics is misguided. You can study economies empirically and history shows a huge variety, far more than the stereotyped ‘feudalism, capitalism, communism’. In fact every economy in every culture is somewhat unique. Capitalism is not some universal stage of history, although in modern times it does have some overall characteristics: markets, investment finance, etc…. It was always present in history, turning into something almost new in the period of the industrial revolution. Marx made a horrible mistake: he said capitalism is a stage of history and that we must exhaust its potential to move on. That’s not true. To exhaust its potential would require making the whole galaxy capitalist. Let’s hope not. Note the fallacy of privatization resembles this: to exhaust the potential of capitalism we must make everything capitalistic. That’s just nonsense. Capitalism has no inevitable future.
In fact we can move beyond capitalism at any time and should have done so at the start. Marx/Engels started out thinking as much: could the 48 revolutions do that? They tried, but those revolutions failed and Marx then changed his views to something pernicious, but understandable: capitalism wasn’t quite done at that point, somehow. But would that their early view of ‘socialism now’ had prevailed.
Thus the reality remains that a socialist system should have been established at the start. It is not the same as saying you have to abolish markets or have state capitalist economies. What does it mean. Socialists have never really said. To say that capitalism is stage of history is thus false and misleading and can lead only to wrong results.
Our DMNC shows a hybrid of communism and markets/planning that can be adopted at ANY point in a cultural/economic history.
In any case economies don’t determine history. They might overwhelm it but that’s different.
In my view, and I don’t want to turn the eonic effect into another theory, the question of historical dynamics if not the question of science, lurks near the eonic effect but is too elusive so far to create a theory. We adopt a hybrid as above. This could work beautifully for the left. Flush out the whole muddle of marxist historicism and adopt a simpler approach. And be wary of crypto-theories: Marx calls class struggle the mechanism of history: still another theory. It isn’t true: the truth is that class struggle occurs over and over again but doesn’t really resolve itself. It is a descriptive fact of life. The proletariat is not the driver of change either. It might be nice if it was, but the real situation is complex. Getting the proletariat to establish socialism would be nice, but no theory of historical laws can prove its a law of history.
Note that democracy and socialism emerge in the context of eonic determination, demonstrated empirically. We have to respond by clicking the ‘MOUSE’ to input our realization of the abstract potential… the other metaphor we used is that of a novel: the abstract potential of the genre (here given by history) and the free agency to realize it…but that’s another discussion.
So use a minimal version of the eonic effect, throw out the term eonic effect and consider that you must as a free agent first define and then create a postcapitalist system. Not so easy. It is not enough to just say ‘socialism’, what does that mean? It requires solving a hundreds of difficult problems.