I have recently been critical of historical materialism as a lost cause in the realm of theory. But Marxists tend to have closed minds and cannot escape the fixed mindset created by Mar, or his successors. Instead of breaking out of the closed universe this writer tries to amplify the subject. In fact, it is a reasonable factual piece but as the mention of the ‘Asiatic mode of production’ makes obvious, Marx’s categories and periodization are simply archaic failed theory. The periodization of capitalism is mostly illusory although there is a clear intersection with the periodization of the eonic model: capitalism in the modern transition comes to a real reinvention in the period of the industrial revolution, etc…But the periodization is at a higher level.
Frankly, Marx’s attempt to decipher world history using economic categories is completely fallacious and should simply be dropped.
We are out of time for Marxists to get their act together tinkering with Maarx and writing narrow pieces on economic issues.
A new left needs to abandon Marx’s feckless historical ‘theories’ and proceed with a non-falsifiable empirical set of chronologies or outline. Socialists don’t need a theory of history or a mechanistic analysis of economic reductionism. They need a robust world history with a supersimple and non-speculative periodization that is not a theory but a simple outline.
The best and simplest is the three epoch version (if you must have epochs like Marx):
the period of Sumer/Egypt after ca. 3000 BCE
the period of the ‘Axial’ age classical world: after ca. 9/600- BECE
the period after 1500/1800: the so-called modern world
This is a solid outline of world history (with a preface of human evolution, the Paleolithic/Neolithic periods. Nothing more is needed. The economics, but more the culture and legacy, of these periods, open to hundreds of studies of differing forms of economy (Marx’s shortlist is fallacious, there are a host of economic formats), and more important the literary, cultural, religious, political, sets, aspects of each.
Socailism cannot reorganize society around economic reductionism, with no free will or free agency, not analysis of values in a realm of fact, etc…
But the current mar5xist left is totally incapable of change. A new left needs to start over and embrace reformist AND revolutionary options in unified systematics that isn’t theory but recipe=injunctions.