Re: What newsgroup is this?
- From: Renia <renia@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 10:09:41 +0300
Paul J Gans wrote:
Renia <renia@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
The last several times I've opened there hasn't been a single medieval thread unless one is hiding in the garbage.
I've tried it before so I'll try again. Let's discuss FEUDALISM?
Please don't go there. It was discussed in enormous detail
on the mediev-l mailing list. The almost unanimous opinion
is that the -ism word does not have any general meaning.
It was discussed here, on shm. Your unanimous opinion was the word had no meaning, principally because you didn't understand the meaning and had fallen in love with Susan Reynolds. Other views differed.
Your job is to find a modern medieval historian or three who
insists that the word has a general meaning.
My job is no such thing. All I've done is open up a medieval topic for debate in this wasteland of a medieval newsgroup.
Having said that, the word "feudalism" has no general meaning and means different things to different historians according to their particular objective. Put very simply, it is a word that means "not Communism", "not Captialism" or not "any-other-20th-century-ism". Because of its complexity and pan-European nature, it intrinsically devolved and changed over several centuries in different countries.
The modern trend is to change word usage because a word no longer suits a politically-correct world. We cannot call people "spastics" any more, simply because of the connotations of that word. (It derives from the Greek word for "broken".) So we devise another word, which in the end, will itself have unfortunate connotations. Words are words, and they change according to what is fashionable. "Feudalism" is another such word and it is no more than trendy and pseudo-intellectual to discount it.
The value of Reynolds' book is a wake-up call to remind historians that "feudalism" does not mean one SINGLE thing, but is something of great complexity and variety over time and place. To that end, modern historians should define their version of "feudalism" and if they cannot, then they should be wary of using it.
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