Are Marx and Weber’s explanations for the rise of the west were Eurocentric or not.

Topics: Capitalism, Sociology, Max Weber Pages: 6 (2200 words) Published: October 11, 2013
In this essay I will be analysing whether Marx and Weber’s explanations for the rise of the west were Eurocentric or not. Eurocentrism, in short, is looking at something from a European perspective. Firstly I will look at Marx. Marx looked at stages in history, most importantly in this case, the progression from Feudalism to Capitalism. With the emergence of Capitalism in Europe came the improvement of productive forces and changes within the social organisation, for example wage labour and capital. Work discipline was different to the Feudal way of life and there was a clear culture change. Marx saw Capitalism as the source of European power which then spread across the world. “As is well known, he declares that the slavery-feudalism-capitalism succession is peculiar to Europe.” (Amin, 1988, p 120) Marx saw the transformation from Feudalism to Capitalism a key factor in the success and rise of the west, here it is apparent this explanation is Eurocentric. This succession being peculiar to Europe very much suggests that the transition from Feudalism to Capitalism did not prosper in the east and therefore saw Europe as the driving force for rise of the west. Marx believed it was only because of Europe and its unique progression to Capitalism that Capitalism was then allowed to spread. Therefore it reinforces the fact that the progression from Feudalism to Capitalism is a Eurocentric explanation for the rise of the West. “The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoise. The east-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society a rapid development.” (Marx and Engels, 1967, p 3) Although Marx believed the rise of the West was because of European Capitalism, he also recognises the essential nature of capitalism meant that the bourgeoisie had to keep expanding and revolutionising production to fulfil proletariat exploitation. “The need of a constantly expanding market for its product chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe” (Marx and Engels, 1967, p 18) Another explanation Marx gave for the rise of the West was the emergence of private land ownership. This was a key factor in terms of why Europe progressed so well compared to Eastern civilizations. Marx saw social progress derive from private land ownership and with this the inevitable process of class divisions which made the European Capitalist society flourish. (Lindner, 2010) In Eastern societies, land was owned publically and the forces of production were owned by the state, which created an economical standstill. (Hobson, 2004) “British rule, in his estimation, has lead to the emergence of a system based on private land ownership.” (Linder, 2010, p 4) Clearly this is a Eurocentric standpoint. In the East, Marx noted that India was a society of little progress in comparison to Europe at this point in time. In the 1850’s Marx decided to write essays on India, “One hallmark of these essays is Marx’s perception of India’s social structure as static.” (Lindner, 2010, p 4) Marx’s views when writing the essays on India were Eurocentric. At this time Marx regarded India as an agricultural country where central rule created villages to be stationary in terms of progress and this meant urban centres were unable to emerge. (Lindner, 2010) In relation to the question, at this point in time Marx’s explanations for the rise of the west are Eurocentric, and suggest Europe and Britain especially to be a superior power over the East. However, “numerous historical analyses have established that, in pre-colonial India, land ownership was not centralised and landed property could be alienated, i.e., that private land ownership existed.” (Lindner, 2010, p 8) If this was the...

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