This morning I am thinking about the words of the French Historian Fernand Braudel. Attila is asleep, the coffee is hot and sweet and delicious, so what else can a girl think about on a sunny Sunday morning!
While studying for my PhD, I was chastised by a conservative Professor of the faculty for reading Braudel’s work. That Professor was a well connected and powerful fellow. Certain Professors of the faculty had strong feelings about students being allowed to read beyond the heavily circumscribed reading lists. That did not deter me, I was there to learn, and learn I did (This independent quest for knowledge, the effort above and beyond, was NOT a feather in my cap, which says a lot about the institution of higher learning, in my humble opinion). I found Braudel’s writing fascinating.
“Braudel argued that capitalists have typically been monopolists and not, as is usually assumed, entrepreneurs operating in competitive markets. He argued that capitalists did not specialize and did not use free markets, thus diverging from both liberal (Adam Smith) and Marxian interpretations. In Braudel’s view, the state in capitalist countries has served as a guarantor of monopolists rather than a protector of competition, as it is usually portrayed. He asserted that capitalists have had power and cunning on their side as they have arrayed themselves against the majority of the population.”
Source: Wallerstein, Immanuel (1991), “Braudel on Capitalism, or Everything Upside Down”, Journal of Modern History (The University of Chicago Press) 63 (2): 354–361, doi:10.1086/244319, ISSN 0022-2801, JSTOR 2938489
Braudel’s writing presaged our present economic reality with great perspicacity. The cunning of the capitalist owned media, is that it took decades for the general public to become aware of the processes that have sucked the life out of the world economy. It has been difficult to watch, oh so difficult, to watch the socioeconomic conditions of the world devolve. It has been difficult over the last 25 years to watch the smoke and mirrors, and skewed logic, presented to the public. It has been difficult to see what and how things have been devolving, and to cry into the wilderness of the human condition, unheard, silenced. And yet, like Braudel, I feel that the capitalists are as prone to underlying structures, that they cannot completely perceive or control, as any other merely human group on planet earth. Therein lies hope for the species. May every dog have his day under the sun.
And so say I on a Sunday morning.
The Wheels of Commerce (Civilization and Capitalism: 15Th-18th Century -Volume 2) by Fernand Braudel
Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century, Vol. I: The Structure of Everyday Life (Civilization and Capitalism: 15Th-18th Century -Volume 1) by Fernand Braudel
The Perspective of the World: Civilization and Capitalism 15Th-18th Century, Vol. 3 by Fernand Braudel
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Sunday 11 October 2015
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Visibility: 24 km
Wind: SW 28 gust 39 km/h
“A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions–as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.”
1844 – 1900
Ah, the joys of supposedly not being allowed to read something. I always found it to be a great incentive to do just that. Then again, like you, I’ve been in trouble most of my life for reading things I’m not supposed to read, thinking things I’m not supposed to think, and especially for sharing those thoughts.
My mother gave up on the first two early on, but continued to admonish me that my life would be easier if I’d just learn to keep my mouth shut. I haven’t been in trouble for breaching that one since last week. Then again, at the age of 59, I’m not too concerned about “being in trouble” of that kind. Mostly, it amuses me.
Absolutely true. The myth that our capitalist society is all for competition is a laughable farce. I totally agree with Mr. Braudel. We are all sheep being led to the slaughter, in reality. And it’s too big and widespread for us sheep to change it, as well. All we can do is try to make a life for ourselves filled with love for our families and friends, try to do good as often as possible, and try not to understand the whys and wherefores of the dilemma the world has gotten into. It’s depressing when you start thinking about it, so I try to focus on smaller things — things I can change — and not all the rest that is, by this point, inevitable.
Otherwise, Happy Sunday! xxxxx
“in trouble for breaching that one since last week.”
I guffawed at that one!
Isn’t it wonderful though, when someone recognizes you in the crowd, and engages in a real conversation! It would happen less often if we “kept our mouths shut”. 🙂
Bex, as usual you have cut through rhetoric to the salient point. The smaller things in life are where life is actually lived, and I think we do make a difference, those of us who believe in love and honesty and integrity… and all those things that feel really really good when you stay true to yourself.
Happy Sunday to you!
You are so right that “the capitalists are as prone to underlying structures, that they cannot completely perceive or control”, that being the effects of global climate change caused by human beings tinkerings. They long for the good old days of prosperity, failing to understand that this was only possible because of abundant natural resources. Interesting days we live in. But the strength of the human spirit, when empowered by “love, honesty, and integrity”, and I would add the beauty of the creative arts and in addition relentless curiousity to make new scientific and innovative discoveries, will carry us through the days to come.
And a happy Sunday and week to you!
Well said Joan! The species does have a lot going for it, when you consider the majority, rather than the shenanigans of the minority.
Happy Sunday to you too!
In what way(s) do you think we’ve devolved, Maggie?
Not being allowed to read outside a certain list of books? I presume you were going to school in Canada, a free country, correct? So, who is to say what and who you read in addition to the prescribed list? I think that you and he had some words on occasion. I know I would have! But yes, Capitolists don’t see beyond the end of their noses.
Have to agree with Bex!
Teri, a specific example would be corporate farming, which has changed slowly from many small operations supporting families, to most of our food grown by large corporations hiring seasonal foreign workers.
Lee Ann, you are correct. There is an invisible to the public requirement for scholars, it is called collegiality, an informal measure of suitability. That is where the word “free” gets obscured.
I agree, the end of the capitalist nose is pointed at making money. Everything else is secondary, or even further down the list of priorities.
My grandmother and great- grandmother lived out on the Plains. Before she owned her own restaurant, my grandmother cooked food for the seasonal workers, which included some Mexican migrant workers but were mostly Chinese or white workers that followed the crops. My great-grandmother was a mid-wife and delivered their babies. I still have a China cup one worker brought to her as thanks for their healthy child. We’re talking in the 1880-90s.
The migrant workers were always there, it’s just where the foreigners came from has shifted. But they were still used on family owned farms in the Plains, just maybe niot an the small farms in this area.
With reading requirements for scholars, I have a Magna cum Laude science degree. We definitely had required and recommended reading lists. Can’t say I ever came up against a ‘no read’ list, though – and I was rather the rebel then, frequently disagreeing with my professors and reading treatises that went against the zeitgeist.
Might be a bit off on my great-grandmother. That would be around 1900. My grandmother would be around the 20s to 30s.
Please forgive any typos. I was sitting on our deck and the sun was a bit too bright.
Teri, your ancestresses led fascinating lives.