Re: What newsgroup is this?
- From: am05@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 06:22:58 -0700
On Jun 12, 3:09 am, Renia <r...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Paul J Gans wrote:
Renia <r...@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.- Hide quoted text -
- Show quoted text -
"-ism" is fine by me (but why not "The time of the exotic
costumes"? :-) ) but, AFAIK, it was introduced at the time when
the ...er... "western europeans" considered medieval structures as
something reasonably uniform with, potentially, certain national
specifics. Probably this idea of general uniformity was supported by a
relative uniformity of 'appearences': "everybody" lived in the
castles, had been wearing a lot of a heavy metal around their bodies,
were reasonably chivalrious toward the ladies, brave and
undisciplined, despiced greedy merchants and unwashed peasants, and
were suppossed to be loyal to their feudal sovereign (except when they
were not). :-)
This schema proved to be extremely convenient to the Marxist ...er...
'historians' (if people like Engels qualify) because it put everything
into an orderly fashion:
pre-historical society (everybody hunted mammonths with the wooden
clubs) -> ancient world (everybody had slaves, did not wear trousers
and fluently spoke either Greek or Latin) -> feudalism (see above) ->
capitalism (bad capitalists are oppressing the poor workers) -> not
clearly defined bright future (after which no further social
development was possible).
In other words, these guys choose some generalities and declared them
as all-important at the expense of specifics.
Now, if I understand Paul correctly, the modern historians (at least
those he is familiar with) tend to consider specifics as more
important than (more or less arbitrary chosen) generalities and,
following this path, some of them are saying that there was no
generalities at all.
So, we have a choise between not seeing the trees behind the forest
vs. not seeing forest behind the trees. :-)