Does Fernand Braudel’s Analysis In Civilization & Capitalism (1955-79) Still Hold?

The problem is, I’m not sure what you are really asking here.

If you mean, that the success of europe was due to the independence of small city-states that were privately owned enterprises (oligarchies), with heavy integration between the governemtn and privileged (monopolist) industries, and that european success can be attributed in part to this relationship rather than ‘free trade and Smithian compeition”  then his analysis holds as far as that statement is concerned.  I think Smith’s argument was an attempt to suggest free trade would limit wars caused by these monopoly interests, since the transformation that we call the enlightenment was an effort to correct the problem of the 30 years war by finding an alternative social order.

If we mean, that capital has been divorced from the city state by more widespread production networks, I think that’s accepted wisdom. I think it’s become apparent that capital is mobile and that states have a limited ability to control it.  States generally desire to remain autarkic and capitalists have the polar opposite position.

If we mean, do norms and culture matter and does it matter that they remain constant and uninterrupted, I think Hayek and others have supported that pretty aggressively, and that the right agrees and the left hates it because it violates postmodernism’s religious doctrines.

That governments operate almost entirely today as insurance companies, and that in retrospect it looks like city states insured their industries, I think also that this is accepted wisdom. 

That capitalists compete against the state is also true, and if we understand that the state has appropriated the capitalist-oligarchical-industrial organization that was the reason for the success of europe, I’m not sure that the fact that the insurance company (the state) has invaded and stolen the assets of the business people, on behalf of the common people, is probably the way most look at it. But that is what happened.

That Braudel may have attempted to justify state monopoly and socialism rather than small states, is propbably an incorrect deduction to make from that analysis. 

Braudel is one of many historians, social scientists, economists and  philosophers, that have tried to solve the problem of the theory of the social sciences.  One thing I would suggest and so would have Nietzsche, is that the fundamental disconnect in Braudel’s argument is that there is a common good, and one that can be known, and certainly one that is homogenous, and about which we can achieve consensus. Instead, this is one of the mistakes we inherited with the conquest of European paganism by judeo-christian totalitarian mysticism.   Democracy being yet aother instantiation of that monotheistic and therefor monopolistic and therefore totalitarain mysticism. (If you can follow that line of Nietzscheian reasoning. 🙂

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