For writers like myself who are freelance in style and are not under the restrictions imposed by censors, editors, or rigid research methodologies, two of the most effective literary devices at our disposal are the “stream of consciousness” device, as well as train of thought. Perhaps what is at the heart of literary culture in a liberal society is the freedom of allowing one’s stream of consciousness and train of thought to take one’s rational inquiry to wherever it wants to go. For rational inquiry to be truly beneficial and effective for oneself and for society-at-large, rational inquiry has to be left to take on its natural course and trajectory. And for rational inquiry to take on a natural course and trajectory, it must be left free to go wherever it wants to go. Allowing or disallowing an individual’s rational inquiry to go wherever it wants to go is what makes or breaks liberal culture. In essence, liberal culture hinges on free and unguided rational inquiry. Without such inquiry, a society loses its liberal culture and essence, as well as a criterion for what is true or not true.
In the previous blog post, stream of consciousness and train of thought brought us to the question of whether the 200-year period of Anglo-American global hegemony within the span of 300,000 years of human history was an anomaly or an aberration from the natural course of human history. But perhaps the aforementioned question is a sub-question within a broader question. Perhaps the overarching question is one that pertains to a subject known to social scientists as “World System Analysis.” In essence, world system analysis is the final distillation or summation of the social sciences. If academia or journalism had an underlying stream of consciousness or train of thought, it would end with the core question of world system analysis.
There are a number of issues covered by world system analysts. Among them are issues such as the role of capitalism in shaping the world system, in addition to the issue of “core states and peripheral states” as the main organizational issue of the international system. But the center of gravity within world system analysis is situated upon the central debate surrounding this field of study, and this field of study has two basic pillars. One pillar is the concept of “unbridled capital accumulation,” or greed. The other pillar is “hegemony rivalry,” or war. Thus, the nature of the world system is shaped by greed and war.
But the central debate of world system analysis revolves around the question of whether greed and war have gotten worse through the 500 years of European hegemony over the world system. One school of thought within world system analysis, which is known as the “humancentric” school, suggests that greed and war have always shaped the world system. Opposite of the “humancentric” school is the “Eurocentric” school, which concedes to the humancentric school that greed and war have indeed shaped the world system since the beginning of human history. The figurehead of the “humancentric” school is the late German scholar Andre Gunder Frank, and the figurehead of the “Eurocentric” school was Immanuel Wallerstein.
But where the “Eurocentric” school of Wallerstein diverges from the “humancentric” school of Gunder Frank is over the issue of whether greed and war have gotten worse during the 500-year period of European hegemony. Euro-centrists such as Wallerstein have argued that greed and war have gotten worse under Europeans, whereas human-centrists like Gunder Frank have argued that Europeans have not made greed and war worse. Considering that this author has discussed the issue of American global hegemony at length, perhaps the most viable argument within the core debate of world system analysis is advanced by the euro-centrists given the sheer scale of both greed and war during the 500-year period of European hegemony. This debate should also be brought out of ivory towers.