Monday, May 4, 2020

4/19/20 Piketty “Capital & Ideology” p. 410

This blog has been disused for a while. Hardly anybody ever read it, so I decided to hardly ever write for it. But now I’ve decided to use it, for a while at least,  to start posting comments on things I am reading, copied from my notebooks. These are not edited, and particularly not made to function as stand-alone essays. I.e., I have not tried to paraphrase the arguments from the books that I may be discussing. The first book I’m doing this with is Thomas Piketty’s “Capital and Ideology”. Page references are to the 2020, hardcover, English language edition, published by Belknap Press.

4/19/20 Piketty “Capital & Ideology” p. 410

I don’t think the far flung parts of the world had previously “ignored” each other. Extensive and important trade networks had always existed, effectively linking people from Scandinavia to the Far East, and large parts of at least Northern and Eastern Africa. The Americas were largely unknown in Europe, but Norsemen had already explored them, some, and attempted colonization. Also, there had been important military excursions west to east and east to west dating at least from the Bronze Age (Sea Peoples), or even before.  In the Middle Ages, the Crusades and the Mongols are obvious examples, not to mention the Moors in Spain and Sicily.

What changed in early modernity was the possibility of European domination, based on improvements in technology (including weaponry and transportation) and organization. Prior conflicts had been reduceable simply to force of man against man, similarly armed, organized, and equipped. Such struggles had never shown the West to have the superiority it liked to claim.

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