Re: [OPE-L] "Levels of abstraction"

From: Dave Zachariah (davez@KTH.SE)
Date: Sat Feb 02 2008 - 09:38:41 EST

on 2008-02-02 14:41 Jurriaan Bendien wrote:
> Thanks for the comment, but I am not going to keep discussing this,
> because frankly I am hostile to your species of historical materialism.

Agreed. Discussions are impossible if one cannot find a common ground to

For the record, and for other readers of this list, this is not a matter
of political preferences for 'heavy industry' or anything like it. It is
a commitment to the strategy that one must analyze how a society clothes
and feeds itself while rearing the next generation in order to
understand other social, political and ideological phenomena.

I have always taken this as a materialist conception of history. One can
probably trace this conception back to Ibn Khaldun or Adam Smith. There
are also modern non-Marxists, such as Marvin Harris and Jared Diamond,
who adopt this research strategy.

It is best summed up by the words of Friedrich Engels:

    "Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple
    fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind
    must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it
    can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore
    the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the
    degree of economic development attained by a given people or during
    a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state
    institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on
    religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the
    light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice
    versa, as had hitherto been the case."

That is the premise of all my posts on OPE-L.

//Dave Z

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