: Joel once denied that there is such a thing as capitalism, as I understand his argument, by Analogy, it was like him being in the middle of the Yellowstone park, and saying "there is no forest here, only a tree, and a tree, and a tree...".
: This lies at the heart of the difference between Joel's methodology, and my own.
No, I wasn't, back then, exactly sure of why I had a problem with terms like "capitalism" or "socialism", but I knew there had to be something wrong with these words. Now I realize their problem.
Historicists (not historicists, like me; note the small "h") are fond of analyzing stages of history, such as "capitalism", "feudalism", etc. The problem is that while Historicists claim that these are particular and actually existing stages of history they are attempting to analyze particular stages without any theoretical criteria. Deathy, for instance, once asked me, sarcastically, if I believed in "the division of labor". Of course I do. But I fail to see how this can act as a particular example of why we would identify any particular time period as a stage based upon specialization of tasks, since we even see specialization of tasks occur in the animal kingdom (non-human). Specialization has always occured and so I fail to see how noting a particular arrangement of specialization can give us a theoretical criteria where we can say "yup, this stage of history occured between 1000 and 1500".
Another criteria might be a particular arrangement of property customs. Again, property has always existed, as even the simplest biological organisms exhibit "propertarian" tendancies. Yes, what is considered property changes, the primary factor is population density, but the fact of property remains. For instance, in a region of 1 person per 100 sq. miles land is, for all intents and purposes, limitless (it is infinite). However, as population density increases land is either:
b) destroyed by uneconomic usage
So, again, I fail to see how a particular instance of property customs could give us criteria for particular historical stages.
Our difference is not methodology. Rather I have not heard of any criteria, formal criteria, where we can falsify, or at least cast doubt upon, claims of a particular stage of history actually existing. So, until Deathy can construct a formal thoery of the how to classify stages of history I will continue to assert that any claims of said stages are tautological and non-empirical.
Cheers, Deathy. :-)