Re: what exactly do anthropologists do?

ra (
11 Jul 1995 19:35:12 GMT

In article <>, (Gerold
Firl) wrote:

> Here's a little story you may find amusing.
> I date the origin of modern capitalism to 1566, when the protestant dutch
> territories revolted against the spanish usurpation of their traditional
> liberties. The habsburgs were attempting to enforce religious orthodoxy,
> and sent the duke of alva to smash the rebellion. Spanish infantry was able
> to eliminate overt opposition, and the kind of savage repression typically
> used by imperial autocrats was superficially successful at quashing
> dissent. But someof the rebels escaped to england and germany; known as the
> "sea beggars" they preyed on spanish shipping and published revolutionary
> pamphlets. When phillip II pressured elizabeth to expell the subversives,
> the sea beggars returned to the netherlands, where the frisian maritime
> provinces of holland and zealand once more rose in revolt. The spanish
> armies were unbeatable in the field, but they could not take the islands of
> the rhine delta. After 4 years of siege warfare, phillip had exhausted his
> credit, and spain was bankrupt.
> Spain would continue to attempt a dutch reconquest for another 70 or 80
> years before finally recognizing the impossibility of turning back the
> clock; all the while, amsterdam was booming, creating all the modern
> mechanisms of capitalism - banks, stock exchanges, and fiscal speculation/
> investment vehicles.
> Here we see the connection between the struggle for freedom and the
> creation of the modern world. The struggle is far from over, though we've
> come a long way.

The bourgeoise classes of Europe have a history rooted in conflict with
the existing feudal order. Monarchy tried hard to suppress the growth of
the capitalist class. The 'struggle for freedom' referred to here
pertains to the struggle between an infant capitalist class and the
existing monarchic feudal order tied to imperial Rome. However, note that
the early protestant move against Rome's authority went only so far as it
promoted the interests of the capitalist class. Peasant revolts against
feudal lords in Germany were crushed with the consent of people like
Martin Luther, protestant warlord, because they were considered too
'radical,' since they reflected the sentiments of the lower classes. Many
leaders of such revolts were put to death since they posed a threat to
both the feudal order, and also the interests of the small but growing
capitalist class, the members of which largely though not exclusively
arose from the ranks of the merchants and nobility.

While you call this a struggle for freedom which somehow is 'far from
over,' I have to retort that, the 'far from over' cliche points to the
ideological megalomania in capitalism which speaks about slavery in the
language of liberation, even going so far as to claim that European
capitalists, by engaging in four hundred years of barbarism, only did so
because they were moved by the higher principle of 'liberating' others
from the shackles of 'primitivity,' which going back to an earlier point,
is another word for 'traditional.'

> >Indian people will stand up and defeat their oppressors
> >just as surely as the American people will stand up and defeat theirs.
> and just who are the oppressors of the indian people?
> --

the same international capitalist system and its local and global agents,
that destroys all peoples for profit and promotes slavery in the guise of
'free markets,' and 'free enterprise,' that uses passive suburban
intellectual neurotics as its faithful footsoldiers, until there comes a
time when its life depends upon their destruction as well: capitalism's
alterego and lowest manifestation is fascism: one might even say,
capitalism's soul is revealed in fascism. be continued..