Historical Progress
Charles Brown CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us 
Fri Feb 4 09:51:44 PST 2000 

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>>> James Farmelant <farmelantj at juno.com> 02/02/00 06:57PM >>That raises as 
>>> you point out below the issue of what Dawkins 
calls the evolution of evolvability. And Carling does address the issue in 
terms of using his version of historical materialism to explain why capitalism 
emerged in the West rather than the East - a question that has long bedeviled 
scholars, Marxists and non-Marxists alike (i.e. Max Weber). Carling draws a 
distinction between Western feudalism and the Asiatic mode of production 
(shades of Wittfogel) and he sees the former as having been particularly suited 
for the generation of new variations in the relations of production by virtue 
of its decentralized nature. China in contrast is seen as having been saddled 
with a centralized bureacratic control which stifled the appearances of new 
variations, so the pace of social evolution was necessarily slower than in the 


CB: Anthropology has a neo-Morganian school of evolution which it seems may be 
similar to this model. Sahlins and Service wrote _Evolution and Culture_ ( 
circa 1961) which uses analogies to biological evolutionary theory, concepts 
such as adaptation, et al. In that book, Service discusses the law of 
evolutionary potential, which is sort of like the Lenin/Trotsky idea of the 
weakest link in the chain as the explanation for backward Russia being the 
locus of the first socialist revolution. The law of evolutionary potential is 
that the least specifically adapted area in the current stage has the greatest 
potential to be the locus of the next leap in general adaptation to the next 

So, Asia's "centralized" systems may have made Asia the most stable and well 
adapted in the previous stage ; and conversely Europe was less stable and less 
adapted. Thus, Europe had the most evolutionary ( revolutionary) potential to 
be the locus of the next leap, the leap to capitalism 


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