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