decoding-world-history-ed-1_6dcdx: Decoding World History…
Having critiqued historical theory in general, and Marxist historicism in particular, we might consider the eonic model for a moment to see how we might proceed toward a resolution of the dilemma of science and history. What grounds do we have to do this better than Marx and Hegel? Easy, neither had heard of Sumer. Their factual base was very limited, and a tremendous revolution in data has occurred in the last two centuries. It is suddenly clear where we were going wrong, although there is no simple way past chronic confusion. Why? Because the amount of data explodes almost exponentially and we have to read thousands of books, and then thousands more after that. That data is the first step to theory and without it theory is simply imaginary. But a strange thing has happened, we can at least get within ‘judicious guesswork’ range toward what is going on:
First we must get past Darwinism, an unlikely step but essential. The grounds for its rejection are completely clear however. We end with the same problem with evolution that we have with history: we have no theory of evolution, but lots of data about its empirical chronology.
But looking a world history now we have a strong hint: world history is an evolutionary continuation of evolution in deep time.
It is not random evolution in either case.
Historical evolution seems to appear in the simplest and most obvious fashion: a series of directed stages or eras, of which we can see only three, or two and a half: from Egypt/Sumer, classical antiquity, and the rise of the modern.
This system seems to be driven not by evolving civilizations but by a set of transitions inside them. The source of these is not clear but they constitute a direct and intuitive insight into how large systems can ‘evolve’, if we dare use that term, otherwise ‘develop’ would work fine.
That’s it to start. We get a strong hint, but we don’t have enough data even now to complete the analysis. But we suspect what a ‘theory’ about history would involve: a discussion of a system operating in a frequency sequence along with a way to operate beyond sequence in a parallel fashion. It shows directionality, thence we suspect teleology, but that term is unsafe to use without a long discussion, but the point is that development in all cases and here in particular shows design, or directed action. Everything in nature shows design and there is no theological conclusion to that.
We should stop there. We see why historical theory has proven so fruitless, and the way to get beyond that, but only if we can manage huge amounts of data, equally distributed across times and periods of world history.
There appears to be no economic key to this data. Economies appear quite obviously in all civilizations, and while that might well determine many aspects of culture there is no real base/superstructure conclusion we can draw. Our emerging model lacks data even for the Neolithic, what to say for periods before that but we are getting suspicious: the evolution of species probably will resemble our fragment: directed transitions in short bursts over a given range (world history only shows a limited range of ten thousand years since the period just before the Neolithic, and hard data only since ca. 3000 BCE). But this result makes complete sense as far as it goes, except for its strange self-contradiction, in reality a huge plus: operation in sequence and parallel. No theory there, but an intuitive insight into the obvious reason for that: to cover a given ground you can’t do that operating in a single path: you must integrate over multiple regions, to cover a surface.
We struggle with Marx/Hegel on history, but they both echo Kant whose short essay on history grounds the debate. That essay asks us to resolve the challenge of history and we must claim that our eonic fragment is the all important clue and that Hegel and Marx were without sufficient data to escape a huge swamp of confusion over theory, theory still in the far too limited range of (Newtonian) physics, which can’t resolve world history to a causal system of that type. History is an evolutionary system and we don’t know what drives evolution, although we can empirically map its phases as chronology.
The issues of democracy and socialism are easy to fit into this model (not a theory) in the most obvious way: democracy emerges in relation to world history as a breakthrough toward freedom in society, and socialism follows swiftly in its wake as a way to complete democracy which as Marx clearly saw was liable to capitalist penetration.
Hegelian geist and Marxist base/superstructure are theory phantoms. Hegelian geist sure would be handy as a tool in our kit: a X/something/gaseous vertebrate that can act anywhere at any time…Capitalism tends to dominate its superstructure, to be sure, but there is no direct determination and it does not really determine the overall culture.
The eonic effect is a direct glimpse or snapshot still incomplete but it can help us to stabilize thinking beyond the quagmire of theory in simple outlines and chronologies. .
Step one is to get free of Darwinism. The current generations of academic experts is incapable of doing that, so confusion will continue to reign. The whole field has become hopeless idiocy, and in more brands than just the Hegelian or Marxist.