The world desperately needs a new formulation or framework for the left: a modified Marxist plus reformist package, would be useful, but one suspects that the reputation of Marxist ideology has been crippled by its legacy. And also by its confusions of theory.
The historical periodization of epochs in Marx is useless now, and seems like an ideological fix.
Feudalism is not a stage of history nor is capitalism.
We suggest below a much simpler periodization, one that could lead to a whole new set of studies of actual economies in world history, starting in the Paleolithic/Neolithic.
The point here is that socialism/communism need to be constructed. They can’t be prophesied by a theory without specifics.
Although theories of world history usually fail, our periodization as below suggests there is a hidden dynamic but it is not a set of economic epochs.
The ‘end of history’ argument is fallacious: socialism (communism) and democracy emerge in parallel in the modern period and ask for a hybrid blend of the two.
Marx beyond his theories saw the dilemma of liberalism, but the attempt to pitch democracy against communism failed disastrously.
We need to create a new kind of political system and we can’t screw it up as did the Bolsheviks….
A system of epochs done right….
August 30th, 2018 ·
The eonic effect shows the very simple (and still mysterious) solution to the question of historical epochs:
there is a long and a short version, the long is speculative but strongly suggested, the short is right under our noses as an empirical given: the era beginning with Egypt/Sumer ca. 3000 BCE, the era beginning in proximate antiquity, and the rise of the modern…: this is pegged around a series of transitions, which some may find too speculative. In fact, we need to explain why these epochs begin begin with so much creative innovation. The sequence is challenged by the seeming eurocentrism of the modern transition: there is a very logical reason for this,
Here are your ‘epochs’, or simple intervals, if you don’t like the term ‘epoch’. We need more data for the first three, but in fact these are the only candidates for any such progression of epochs: either there are no such epochs, or the list starts roughly with these three. This can be taken as a falsifiable hypothesis. These are ‘relative’ transformations (like the annual tree rings in a tree) and there are no visible absolute beginnings, leaving us to wonder about the paleolithic.
Transition 1 ?Mesolithic transitions
Transition 2 ?Proximate start of Neolithic ca. -8000
Transition 3 ?The Middle Neolithic interval ca. -5400
Transition 4: The birth of civilization, interval before -3000
Transition 5: The ‘Axial’ period, interval before -600
Transition 6: The early modern, interval before 1800
This can be simplified since we have less evidence of the Neolithic to:
Transition : The birth of civilization, interval before -3000
Transition : The ‘Axial’ period, interval before -600
Transition : The early modern, interval before 1800
We cam simplify still further to three rough epochs:
The era from the rise of higher civilization
the rise of the modern
Note that this sequence has a trick to it: the translations occur at ca. 2400 year intervals. Stunning, but we don’t know why…It must be a significant clue… The term ‘birth of civilization’ is really a placeholder: ‘civilization’ is really a creation of the ‘neolithic’, ete…However, the sumerian ‘transition’ was a stunningly creative one…
You can take this list and throw it against the wall: try and refute it, by all means. But the final three epochs are really a no-brainer. For whatever reason we see three obvious ‘eras’: the succession to Egypt/Sumer, the succession to the axial interval, and now the succession to the modern transition, now a global oikoumene.
You can try and set your own periodization but the likelihood it will not work as well as this one, whose great virtue is a kind of simplicity (compounded by a mystery).
Where did marx go wrong? he confused feudalism with the medieval period (middle ages!) of the second epoch, and capitalism with the rise of the modern epoch. We can’t confuse epochs and economic systems, it confuses the question.
We are confronted with a modernity slanted toward capitalism, but we can transform that modernity into a socialist outcome. It is not surprising that attempts to do so, so far, failed: they miscalculated the dynamic they were dealing with (marxists).
There is a simpler solution to the issues: reconstruct the democratic revolutions around a socialist foundation, precisely what all parties said from the beginning until they got confused by theory. We don’t need a theory of history to do that. That is very different from saying that capitalism must continue til it exhausts its potential, to be followed by communism. Such a notion is pernicious.
Socialism is without meaning until you construct such a social system, with an economy. Marx tended to think that there would be a total transformation beyond markets. Doesn’t look like it. In our model, we consider ‘markets’ under the condition of a Commons, no private property (that is large-scale capital, your personal teddy bears are not the issue, etc…)
The most probable outcome is what we see in proximate antiquity: decline into a medieval period. ( A close look shows ‘declines’ of various kinds inthe wake of Egypt/Sumer,perhaps: consider the centuries ca. 1500 BCE onward, but there is still creative potential going on, it is a mixed situation, but nothing like the explosion of early Sumer, etc…)
Our pattern of epochs has a complication: the axial age shows parallel global action, very dumbfounding. We can’t produce a theory of this mysterious system. But we shouldn’t propose useless theories as a substitute.
If socialism is going to happen it will happen in the context of this system, and all that means is that socialism is a modern conception. That’s it (there were of course many proto-communists in early greece!)
This eonic effect is the obvious way to reform the marxist confusion, but the result needs to be left to an empirical history so we stay within the bounds of reasonable interpretation.
Note that here capitalism and socialism are not in a sequence but synchronous: that actually makes sense. A socialist (communist) foundation but some solution to the question of economy (which may or may not have vestigial transforms of so-called ‘markets’).
Debriefing historical delusion
December 12th, 2017 ·
R48G: detecting historical dynamics…the eonic effect as a test of the data of world history…
June 23rd, 2017 ·
We have often discussed the ‘eonic effect’ as an alternate historical framework.
Actually it not a completed theory or even a definite framework: rather, it works as a ‘test of the data’. We make a series of assumptions about history but fail to see how beyond religious historicism the field of modern scientism does no better. One might consider the way that a kind of orthodoxy is enforced by the new field of Big History which completely misses the point.
The eonic effect can be taken as a series of warnings: as we try to apply various models to world history we discover the unexpected, contrast of discrete and continuous processes. This is an empirical given, whatever we make of it. We can use the ‘model’ as a warning to be wary of dogmatic theories and simply operate with chronicles and empirical histories. It is also a warning that causal systematics just won’t work on history and that we must deal with free agents who are in a kind of hybrid state in a larger mix, partly causal but probably teleological. We cannot reduce this complexity to simplistic analyses of the type of historical materialism (or neo-classical economic models). One value of the eonic model is that the condition of historical determination operating on free agents is intermittent and subject to a end phase where the ‘eonic effects’ cease and free agents are bound to try and take over their own history. That’s a huge and dangerous task, and a new left must be able to operate via all categories, not just the economic. The eonic effect is a warning that virtually all parties have gotten history wrong. We must operate on the defensive and try to operate with a non-dogmatic constructivist practice. The eonic model is probably too exotic for braindead marxist but it can at least suggest a wariness about overly complex analyses that are soon millstones around one’s neck.