Re: [OPE] Marx on the U.S. Civil War

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Sat Feb 05 2011 - 09:06:25 EST

On 2011-02-05 14:47, GERALD LEVY wrote:
> I agree that thinking of the possible outcomes of ongoing social-historical
> struggles in terms of probability theory is a better approach. This approach
> is also beneficial strategically: i.e. it allows participants in a social
> struggle to identify different outcomes, their probabilities, the constraints,
> and the major variables which can alter the outcomes. IMO, it is a method
> of analysis which is also more consistent with the materialist conception of history:
> believing that there is absolutely only 1 outcome to a historical struggle is
> quasi-idealist, i.e. an overly simple application of materialism can also
> be akin to idealism because it also asserts 'absolutes'.

I agree, I'm very much appealed by this approach (especially since I
work with probabilistic estimation problems): it forces one to think in
terms of underlying structural mechanisms that would statistically bias
certain macroscale processes and outcomes in favour of others, including
identifying cases where the outcomes are highly contingent. It therefore
also demands spatial and historical comparative thinking.

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Sat Feb 5 09:09:18 2011

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