In the final analysis Hegel offers a mystical view of history: we need to arrive at the category of (quite postdarwinian) evolution (the ‘eonic’ evolution of civilization) and there indeed we can posit a conceptual format of the ‘evolution of freedom’…
Although the idea and material on the ‘eonic effect’ seems at first somewhat strange or speculative, the reality is that the method used is/can be self-limiting and is basically empirical. The problems lie with history itself and the difficulty of interpreting the actual content of particular historical moments. It is remarkable, amazing, that the method of correlation exposes the significance of specific eras, e.g. the Greek Archaic and its immediate aftermath. An immense series of innovations is clustered in this interval and its close succession (followed by a rapid waning of the effect) but it is often hard to really evaluate particular effects. A good example is the sudden flowering of Greek Tragedy as a genre. We are beset with something like an apparition, but that doesn’t actually explain to us the full significance of the phenomenon: to this day the definition of the phenomenon of the tragic genre remains a mystery despite the superficial definitions of it. Actually many of the attempts at definition are too arcane, and perhaps try hard: the phenomenon itself follows no simple definition. There are an immense number of phenomena like this that defy easy analysis. Does the emergence of democracy correlate here? It does, which raises very elusive questions on the nature of freedom as free agency. Twice in a row, just before the ‘divide’ at the end of a transition we see the birth of democracy against probability. What does that tell us? Is ‘freedom’ free if it is induced by system action, and then frittered away in free agency?
These correlations add up and challenge an understandable skepticism with a constellation of facts that defy probability against randomness.
At least the method isolates some of the key developments of world history, and this to the point that we wonder what in fact we have done for ourselves. It is a troubling question because it would seem terribly easy for man to self-annihilate and fritter away all the gifts of nature.
It reminds one of the ‘pushers’ attacked to freight trains going over mountains: an extra unit is hooked up to help with the load. In history this sudden driver effect is remarkable and quite mysterious.
With the rise of the modern we have to wonder if this effect has come to an end. It only seems to work when you are still unaware of it.
It is an ominous moment: suddenly, with a lot of historical innovation the result of this hidden driver (but always expressed in terms of the free agency behind its actual realization), the moment comes when man is, or will be, on his own, and that given the visible history of human limits forces us to wonder if we can manage, or if we will simply chaotify and revert to barbarism, as did the world of antiquity, especially in the occident. The contribution of free agency is a key learning aspect, but is it enough. Ready or not…
The example of Roman history in the wake of the Axial Age, e.g. Archaic/Classical Greece, and much else, is a grim reminder of how easily the whole potential slide away into oblivion.
Have we in the modern period acquired anything solid that can withstand barbarism…
At the least we need to become crackshots at the eonic effect! Not so simple, what is it? But the model in question is also able to throttle back to an ultra simple version: a simple correlation of epochs and outcomes, a process that, taken without speculation, is a question of almost overwhelming probability, whatever the case with ‘interpretation’…
And the left needs to consider the boost given by this effect–after all the very idea of revolution is a modern innovation–but at the same time be mindful of the extreme difficulty of creating a new form of society. Is leftist theory really up to the task, and is it able to see through the limits of something like historical materialism: the latter gives a rather limited view of historical evolution! And the example of bolshevism suggests a complete wipe out. The left had better hope its gets another chance…with something better than marxist historicism…
Two centuries after 600 BCE we see that the Greek flowering rapidly waned. Are we seeing the beginning of a similar effect two centuries after 1800? We begin to ‘get wise’ to this situation, at least.
A student of the eonic model might taste fear at this point.
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.
We have suggested a need for a broader view of history that can embrace history descriptively in its immense variety of categories. An additional strategy is open to anyone who can use the eonic effect/model as a substitute for ‘theories’ of history.
But the eonic effect is likely too strange for most and/or strikes the student as some exotic new form of speculative theory. That is not the case but we can foresee the worst and produce an ultra simple version of that model as a simple outline of history. Marx was big on ‘epochs’ of history. But his division into: …feudalism, capitalism, communism is fallacious from the start.
Actually the eonic effect produces the most obvious progression of epochs in a way that we already use, and one that is easily extended in the light of the revolution in archaeology: our cultural history is based on the massive set of innovations in proximate antiquity in the period after roughly 900 BCE, with a center of gravity aroundd 600 BCE plus a few centuries to indicate the onset of a new era of history: we see the Greek period of flowering, the birth of the Roman Republic, the Israel phenomenon and the birth of monotheism, the Buddhist ‘hindu reformation’ and the onset of a new world religion, and in China a huge flowering with tangible outcomes such as Confucianism and Taoism.
This new era tends to displace the earlier civilizations of Egypt, and Mesopotamia and we have a cultural matrix that stretches all the way to the onset of the modern world. The latter clearly indicates the same thing all over again and the explosion of modernity clearly indicates the onset of some kind of new era. That is the way we take it, although traditionalists tend to confuse the issue and denigrate modernity as some kind of deviation. But on the whole the new era of modernity suggests itself overwhelmingly.
That gives us one epoch of proximate antiquity and the onset of a new era in modernity.
The findings of archaeology have extended our knowledge backward and we can see that there is clearly an era prior to proximate antiquity in the civilizations arising in the wake of Sumer and Egypt whose sudden take offs around the period of 3000 BCE or so. As we examine this sudden transition we see in fact a third epoch prior to the two we see more clearly: the epoch of greater antiquity, and the legacy of dynastic Egypt and early Sumer. We don’t see the same parallelism in this period for a simple reason: China, India, Greece, and Rome, etc, are still untouched and begin to enter the sphere of higher civilization as the result of diffusion from the core area of the Middle East. While these produce their own cultures and innovations they are clearly direct descendants of Sumer and Egypt. Additional complexities no doubt enter here, but that picture makes sense of the data.
So we have three epochs, the third being one in which we are immersed.
Presto: we have an empirical map of a set of three epochs of world history. We can see that this is the way we take history, almost, if we can begin to study the details and it shows the real meaning of feudalism as the ‘middle part’ of the epoch of proximate antiquity. Taking feudalism as an epoch in itself was always misleading: it is the middle of something and the result of the decline from the high point of the start of the era of proximate antiquity onward.
The issue of capitalism is also given a new perspective: to equate capitalism with modernity is surely wrong. The forms of early capitalism are already present in the antiquity and we can see in early ancient Greece the equivalents of ‘primitive’ capitalism, and that because the greeks invented history and describe their own. But primitive capitalism was surely very real in the earlier epoch of the Mesopotamian world. Capitalism is an economic category and doesn’t really describe the broader forms of culture. We need broader categories that indicate that a culture has a multiplicity of factors beyond the economic.
But wait, this ultra simple framework (which doesn’t even need the idea of epochs, although the interval indicated are more than real) immediately suggests an extension. Why would this history start with Egypt and Sumer and then after their ‘real’ beginnings in the Neolithic? The answer is simple: we suspect that our epochs stretch backward into the Neolithic. Any student of the Neolithic can see the outlines of two or more earlier eras: the agricultural revolution around 8000 BCE and a secondary Neolithic around the middle of the sixth millennium BCE, and this emerging at first out of the Middle East, once again. Unfortunately our evidence thins out and we might do better to be wary of generalization, taking our suspicions however into account as a probable more complicated picture. Note that with the invention of writing we begin to get records at the level of centuries, and then decades and instantly the later progression of epochs stands out: look at the early history of Greece at the dawn of our ‘second’ epoch: consider how much we know is due to its historical record. Suppose we had no records of that history at the level of centuries: we would know almost nothing of what happened. So we see the problem with the Neolithic: we suspect but aren’t quite sure our phenomenon includes the Neolithic. But we can see that Sumer (and Egypt to some extent) has an earlier source in the preceding era prior to the 3000 explosion. And so on.
So, by simple inspection we have a usefully outline of world history with or without the Neolithic and the result is much better than a theory of history. The question of modernity is still a bit ambiguous. But almost every student of the subject has had the feeling this was the onset of a new era. Whether it is or not that’s the way we take it and look at the medieval period as receding into the past.
This is all we need to recast the issue of socialism and communism: we see that they are innovations or strong amplifications of the early modern. We don’t need end of history ideologies or theories of epochs. Instead we simply see that we are realizing modernity and that’s its innovations (or reinventions of things from antiquity lost in the middle ages) include a new form of capitalism, an immense technological revolution, and the parallel emergence of democracy, socialism, communism.
We have thus a more robust version of socialist history based not on a theory of economic epochs but on the cultural emergence of modernity taken factually as a set of cultural not just economic principles and as occurring in the dawn of the revolutionary transition to the modern world.
The conclusion suddenly becomes obvious: the modern world is moving to integrate the modern social transformation with the forms of new kinds of economy, along with much else. Let us note the huge achievement (or reachievement) of democracy in modern times. It is a simple deduction to see that socialism and democracy are part of the same trend of innovation and in that context the critique of Marx, his theories aside, of the way capitalism distorted democracy became an element of the search for a modern social construct that was liberated from the capitalist runway market phenomenon that within two centuries has put the whole planet at risk.
We can see that this kind of simple chronicle approach produces a much better and better founded world history than the ponderous attempts at theory.
We can try to create a theory of our own here, but we will find that the complexity is still great, the data insufficient and a host of other problems: for starters our empirical eonic effect is enough.
Applying the term ‘evolution’ to world history seems counterintuitive to many, but in fact the influence of darwinian ideology has distorted perception and blinded historians, and everyone else to the hidden developmental driver behind civilization. It is the range of standard views that are at fault, including even the marxist crypto-teleological thinking matched with economic determination, etc…
This interpretation as ‘evolution’ is postdarwinian, and invokes a mystery we call the eonic effect of barely visible directionality in the successive progression of epochs and their dynamic cyclicity. Standard views of evolution try to invoke some causal view in a unity of physical interpretation at all levels. Such an approach to a science of history is obsolete even by the standards of current physics which has spawned quantum mechanics and its continuation up to string theory, which is hardly a conclusive subject, if it is a subject at all: we actually don’t yet have a physics to apply to the whole of reality: it is an unfinished subject about which we can hardly draw any conclusion to apply to history.
The eonic effect suggests the most natural model of ‘evolution’ of any kind, historical or biological: some higher level factor must operate on the life sphere and do this intermittently to overcome causal slump.
The interesting thing is that we catch a glimpse of this in world history and this beggars the views of standard historiography, darwinian evolutionism, and religious historicism.
Actually the ancient israelites sensed the eonic effect but spoiled that insight with a theistic invention that turned into a pernicious religious ideology which then entered into christianity. Whatever the case the biblical view of history is grossly aberrant yet contains the implication that a mysterious ‘something’ can interact with the continuous stream of history.
Despite its incomplete nature the model of the eonic effect points directly to something physics, to some scandalously, has already stumbled on: the mystery of fine-tuning in the display of cosmic evolution: we must suspect that some factor is pre-arranged to emerge in its own logic connected connected ultimately to the big bang. Fearfully for by the book physicists that sounds awfully like some form of teleology. But in any case the issue of evolution we begin to suspect is connected to cosmological emergence. That makes sense: we suspect where the unity of physics and biology really applies at the level of cosmology.
The question of evolution in general, and the related ‘evolution’ of civilization has been so totally muddled by science, biology, and everyone else that is almost impossible to conside…