1492: The Debate on Colonialism, Eurocentrism, and History by James M. Blaut

By James M. Blaut

Publication via Blaut, James M.

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Extra resources for 1492: The Debate on Colonialism, Eurocentrism, and History (Young Readers)

Sample text

There is no more environmentalism here than there is in, say, some statement about the effect of oilfields on societies of the Middle East. I am asserting only the environmental conditions which support and hinder long-distance oceanic travel. In any case, if the choice were between an environmentalistic explanation and one that claimed fundamental superiority of one group over all others, as Eurocentric diffusionism does, would we not settle for environmentalism? Before we leave this topic, there remain two important questions.

Colonialism and Capitalism in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries Enterprise in the Americas was from the start a matter of capital accumulation: of profit. No matter if some feudal traits were incorporated in legal and land-granting systems in the Americas, and if the Iberian governments took a substantial share of the profits. The goal of all European groups involved in the enterprise was to make money. The leading group, almost everywhere, was the European protocapitalist class, not only merchants but also industrialists and profit-oriented landlords, not only Iberian but also Italian, Dutch, English, French, German, Austrian, and so on.

The major modes of production which were widespread in Europe were also widespread in the other continents. The cultural attributes which would tend to be involved in cultural evolution out of feudalism and toward capitalism and modernity were present in the main social formations of Asia and Africa as well as Europe in 1492. I do not think it is necessary to insist upon a definite theory, Marxist or non-Marxist, as to how and why feudalism decayed and capitalism (and modernity) arose, in order to defend the thesis that the process, viewed at the continental scale, was going on evenly, not unevenly, across the medieval Old World.

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