Five hundred years or five thousand?

Edited by Andre Gander Frank and Barry K. Gills

First published 1993; First published in paperback in 1996 by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE 1
Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001
Foreword by William H. McNeill
List of Contributors
Preface by Andre Gunder Frank and Barry K. Gills

Предупреждение: В тексте имеются повреждения!

Part I Introduction

1 THE 5,000-YEAR WORLD SYSTEM An interdisciplinary introduction Andre Gunder Frank and Barry K. Gills

Part II Building blocks of theory and analysis

3 THE CUMULATION OF ACCUMULATION Barry K. Gills and Andre Gunder Frank

Part III Using the theory to reanalyze history

5 WORLD SYSTEM CYCLES, CRISES, AND HEGEMONIC SHIFTS, 1700 BC to 1700 AD Barry K. Gills and Andre Gunder Frank
6 TRANSITIONAL IDEOLOGICAL MODES Feudalism, capitalism, socialism Andre Gunder Frank

Part IV The world system: 500 years or 5,000? Discussing the theoretical, historical, and political issues

9 DISCONTINUITIES AND PERSISTENCE One world system or a succession of systems? Janet Abu-Lughod
10 WORLD SYSTEM VERSUS WORLD-SYSTEMS A critique Immanuel Wallerstein
11 REJOINDER AND CONCLUSIONS Andre Gander Frank and Barry K. Gills



There is no doubt that world-historians and would-be world-historians have proliferated in recent decades, and this book constitutes a notable contribution to the resulting discourse. This foreword ought therefore to suggest how the thought of the two editors and of the other authors represented here fits into that discourse. Their diversity makes the task more difficult than it would be were a single mind at work. Still, all the contributors have a good deal in common since they subscribe to the notion that a transcivilizational entity, in exactly dubbed "world system," existed in ancient and medieval as well as in modem times.

How to understand human history as a whole is problematic. Indeed some historians even deny that the subject is a proper object of attention since it is not possible to know the personalities, institutions, and other relevant facts about the history of every pan of the inhabited earth. Such an observation about the unmanageable bulk of historical information is accurate, but irrelevant. If it were relevant, national and all other forms of history would also be impossible because personalities and other facts of local history of each part of a nation, not to mention the fleeting states of consciousness of individuals which constitute the ultimate ground of all history, are also too numerous for anyone to know.

Words, however, can extricate us from an excess of data by generalizing experience. Using words appropriately we habitually and as a matter of course understand whatever it is that confronts us by fixing attention on whatever matters most. In this fashion, words quite literally blind us to irrelevant dimensions of reality, and guide our action by turning the buzzing, blooming confusion that surrounds us into something intelligible. The whole trick is to exclude meaningless information from consciousness, even, or especially, when it is readily accessible.

This characteristic of human intelligence makes historical study and writing possible. Each scale of history has an appropriate set of terms and concepts for excluding irrelevancies. As a result, world history is as feasible as national or local history - no more, no less - as long as appropriate terms and concepts for each scale of history are employed.

But do appropriate terms for writing world history exist? And how can would-be world-historians cope with the diversity of tongues and concepts that different human groups have used to guide their conduct and understanding of the world? This is not a trivial question, nor is it likely to be resolved unambiguously and to universal satisfaction. As long as different peoples use different languages and subscribe to different outlooks on the world, terms of historical discourse that seem appropriate to some will repel others. Intensified communication across linguistic and cultural boundaries will not alter this situation, and is likely to reinforce conscious divergences.

Yet the rich diversity of human behavior guided by words of different languages operates within the same natural world. This means that words and actions that come closest to matching consequences with expectation have positive survival value for those using them; while words and actions that lead to disappointment and confusion have a contrary effect, hampering collective action by dividing a community between those who want to adjust the old, ineffective words and actions and those who wish to reaffirm the ancient verities more strenuously than ever just because they seem to be faltering.

Over time, natural selection for terms more nearly adequate to reality certainly does occur in technology and the physical sciences. In the social sciences, however, the pattern of selection is more complex because words that generate enthusiastic agreement and inspire energetic adhesion to collective courses of action often prevail in ambiguous situations, whether or not the words in question match any external or natural reality. Indeed, a sufficiently energetic faith can often create its object. Modem nations have been created from local, peasant diversity by bands of zealots; and many other groups - youth gangs, religious sects, secret societies, and the like -also affect behavior solely because their members agree among themselves. Indeed, all human society is founded very largely on agreements, expressed in words and ceremonies, that become ends in themselves and are almost independent of external reality.

Hence the stubborn diversity of human society persists. Ever since Herodotus, historians have noticed this fact. In modern times, a few historians, anthropologists, and other students of society have even attempted to pull away from naive attachment to the pieties and practices of their own local community - whatever it may be - seeking to understand what happened among the different peoples of the earth by using terms that try to take account of the diversity of local outlooks and behavior without subscribing wholeheartedly to any one of them. Whether the enterprise can be successful - and for whom - remains problematic.

For many but not for all of the contributors to this volume the conception of "world system" derived from a Marxist tradition, emphasizing the economic exploitation of marginal peoples by a capitalist core. But Marx's vision of the uniqueness of modem capitalism falls to the ground if one affirms, with the editors, that a capital-accumulating core has existed (though not always in the same location) for some five thousand years. This constitutes revisionism expected in liberal discourse but repugnant to dogmatic upholders of Marxist Truth. The volume will be judged accordingly. It may even signify for the history of ideas the confluence of Marxist with more inchoate liberal ideas about world history. Whether it will constitute such a landmark or not depends on the future of Marxism on the one hand and of the literary and intellectual enterprise of world history on the other.

That enterprise, in its inchoate, multiplex, and vaguely liberal form, seems fully capable of absorbing and profiting from a Marxist (or ex-Marxist) stream. It derives, like Marxism, from the west-European civilizational tradition, having absorbed data but no organizing concepts from encounters with the other cultural traditions of the earth, whether great or small. Within the west-European tradition, two incompatible models of universal or world history coexisted for many centuries. One was pagan and cyclical - a pattern of rise and fall that repeated itself in essentials among different communities at different times becahuman nature was everywhere the same. The other was Christian and linear, beginning with Adam and ending with the second coming of Christ as set forth in sacred scripture.

These models still lurk behind the scenes in the pages that follow. The world system as described by Frank and Gills is, after all, unique and linear, yet passes through a series of repetitive cycles. Other recent efforts at world history also combine linear and cyclical patterns, though where the emphasis is placed varies with every author.

The first notable departure from the Christian unitary and linear vision of the human past took form in the eighteenth century, when Vico, Herder, and others started to speak of separate civilizations or cultures, each with a language and life cycle of its own. Their vision of the rise and fall of separate peoples and cultures was focused almost entirely within the bounds of the ancient Mediterranean and medieval and modem Europe. Only in the twentieth century did the rest of the world enter seriously into the picture when Spengler first applied the notion of separate and equivalent civilizations to all of Eurasia and Toynbee then extended the scheme completely around the globe.

From the point of view of Spengler and Toynbee, differences among the peoples and languages of the classical Mediterranean lands and of medieval and modem Europe, which had loomed so large for Vico and Herder, became trivial. Instead, all the classical peoples belonged together in one civilization, and despite their differences medieval and modem Europeans shared another. Thus the civilizational building blocks for world history took on far larger proportions in their hands, and others, including myself, who came after, have continued to think and speak of multiple civilizations that embrace all of western Europe, all of China, and comparably massive groupings in India, the Middle East, and pre-Columbian America.

The idea that humankind had developed a number of comparable civilizations, whose rise and fall followed approximately parallel lines, constituted a notable departure from the naively ethnocentric vision of the past that treated any departure from local norms as deplorable error and corruption of right and truth. But by treating a plurality of civilizations as separate entities this vision of human reality minimized the importance of outside encounters and overlooked transcivilizational processes and relationships.

The historians represented in this book seek to correct this defect, affirming that interactions among the principal civilizations of Eurasia-Africa in the centuries before 1500 constituted a world system. This enlargement of scale resembles the shift Spengler and Toynbee achieved in the first half of the twentieth century, locating the most important entity of world history in a transcivilizational pattern of relationships that expanded geographically through time from an initial core in Mesopotamia.

It is undoubtedly true that some dimensions of human affairs transcended civilizational boundaries in ancient as well as in modern times. Traders, soldiers, and missionaries often operated among strangers of different linguistic and cultural traditions from themselves. Resulting contacts sometimes led one or both parties to alter their behavior by modifying old practices in the light of new information. Even in ancient and medieval times, a few really useful innovations spread very rapidly within the circuit of Old World mercantile, military, and missionary contact. Thus, the stirrup seems to appear simultaneously throughout Eurasia so that it is impossible to tell for sure where it was first invented. On the other hand, we know that the place value system of numerical notation originated in Indian mathematical treatises, where it remained safely encapsulated for many centuries before its sudden propagation throughout the Eurasian world for commercial calculations in the eleventh century.

Mere logical superiority could also provoke widespread alteration of belief and practice, though propagation of logically convincing ideas took longer. Nonetheless, the seven-day week, invented in ancient Sumer, proved contagious throughout Eurasia in very ancient times because it fitted obvious heavenly phenomena (the phases of the moon, and the seven movable lights of the firmament) so well. For similar reasons, Newtonian astronomy and the Gregorian calendar met with worldwide success in far more recent times.

All the same, commonalties that ran across the entire civilized world in ancient and medieval times remained exceptional. Differences of institutions, ideas, customs, and techniques, were far more apparent, within as well as across civilizational lines. Is, then, the world system these authors explicate really significant? Equally, is the term "civilization," as used by Spengler and Toynbee or by Vico and Herder, really meaningful in the light of all the local variability it overlooks? These are capital questions for world-historians, arid deserve the most careful consideration by anyone who seeks to understand the human past as a whole, since these are the key terms currently available for the purpose.

To some degree the choice between the rival concepts of "world system" and "civilization" as building blocks for human history as a whole depends .oo whether one reckons that material life is more important than ideas and ideals. World-system thinkers are especially conscious of material exchanges arid assert (or perhaps rather assume) that the accumulation of wealth in privileged centers through trade and the exercise of force conformed to a common norm regardless of local, cultural differences. Those who speak of "civilizations" tend to emphasize religious and other ideas, arguing that actual behavior in the pursuit of wealth and other human goals was subordinated to, or at least affected by, the ideals professed by the ruling elites of each civilization.

Even if one takes the view that pursuit of wealth was everywhere the same, regardless of religious and other professed ideals, the question remains whether long-distance trading and raiding were really massive enough to affect ancient societies in more than superficial ways. No one doubts that most people lived as cultivators and consumed little or nothing that was not produced within the local community itself. But luxury and .strategic goods mattered for politics and war; and such goods often came from afar, delivered by merchants who systematically weighed local variations in price against local variations in security for their goods and person.

Such calculations established a market that extended as far as merchants traveled and exchanged information about the potential gains and risks of their profession. And this in turn, if we believe what the authors of this book have to tell us, established wealthy centers and dependent peripheries, even in ancient times when the physical volume of long-distance trade exchanges was comparatively small.

Incidentally, the phrase "world system" for such relationships is obviously a misnomer for ancient and medieval times inasmuch as large parts of the globe then remained outside the limits of the largest and most active transcivilizational market, which was based in Eurasia. Presumably, though the authors here assembled do not address the issue, smaller and less closely articulated "world systems" also existed in the Americas and elsewhere. A market that actually embraced the globe could only arise after 1500 when the opening of the world's oceans to regular shipping allowed the Eurasian world system to engulf all of humanity - a process that took some centuries but is virtually complete today.

But this awkwardness of terminology does not really matter if the reality of human interrelatedness which "world system" expresses really shaped the human past. This is the critical question for the architecture and arguments of this book, and it can only be answered individually and subjectively.

Across the past thirty years or so, my own view has been evolving away from "civilization" and toward "world system" as the best available framework for World hist; but I have also concluded that both terms can best be understood as pan of a far more inclusive spectrum of "communications nets," which are what really matter in denying human communities at every level of size, from biological family on up to the human race in its entirety.

Thus I agree with the authors of this book in thinking that the rise of specialized occupations producing goods for distant markets was a critical dimension of the deeper human past. Resulting alterations in everyday lives were among the most persistent and effective paths of innovation in ancient times as well as more recently. Yet markets and trade .constituted only part of the communications network that crossed political, civilizational and linguistic boundaries. Soldiers and missionaries as well as refugees and wanderers also linked alien populations together, and carried information that sometimes altered local ways of life as profoundly as entry into market relationships did.

I conclude, therefore, that if the notion of a world system were tied more explicitly to a communications network and if more attention were paid to changes in that network as new means of transport and communication came into use, the notion of a "world system" would gain greater clarity and power. Moreover, the polarity between the terms "civilization" and "world system" would disappear and the language of world-historians might gain greater precision if communications networks were to become the focus of attention. For what we commonly mean by a "civilization" is a population whose ruling elite, together with at least some segments of the people they govern, shares norms of conduct, expressed through ceremonial and literary canons which are accepted in principle, however far actual conduct may fall short of the ideal prescriptions of the canon. Such agreement on norms of behavior is, of course, the result of communication across the generations as well as among contemporaries. It resembles the communication merchants and artisans engage in when learning the skills of their trade and the state of the market.

Indeed, norms of conduct shared with others - whether rulers, equals, or subordinates - constitute an essential ingredient of all social life, and are always established by communication. Communication is what makes us human; and if history were written with this simple notion in mind, networks of communication would become the center of attention, and a more satisfactory history of the world (and of all the innumerable subordinate groupings of humankind) might emerge.

World system history, exemplified here, is a step in that direction. At any rate, it seems so to me. But more explicit attention to communications networks, and a serious effort to understand how human activity altered the natural environments of the earth throughout the past must be added to the conceptions explored in this book before historians of the twenty-first century can be expected to produce a more nearly satisfactory world history.

William H. McNeill 25 May 1992



Barry K. Gills is Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Andre Gunder Frank is Emeritus Professor of Development Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam.

K. Ekholm and Jonathan Friedman are at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Lund.

David Wilkinson is at the Department of Political Science, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Samir Amin is at the Third World Forum, United Nations University, Dakar. .

Janet Abu-Lughod is at the New School for Social Research, the Center for Studies of Social Change, New York.

Immanuel Wallerstein is at the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations, State University of New York (SUNY), Binghamton, New York.

How did this book come into being?... I think authors ought to look back and give us some record -of how their work developed, not because their works; are important (they may turn out to be unimportant) but because we need to know more of the process of history-writing. Writers of history are not just observers. They are themselves part of the act and need to observe themselves in action. Their view of what "really" happened is filtered first through spotty and often hit-or-miss'screens of available evidence, and second through the prisms of their own interest, selection, and interpretation of the evidence they see.... Once an author looks back at what he thought he was trying to do, many perspectives emerge. Foremost is that of ignorance... -. Fortunately, no one has to regard it as the last word.

(John King Fairbank [1969] Trade and Diplomacy on the China Coast, Stanford: Stanford University Press)

We emphatically agree with what the above-cited late dean of China historians at Harvard had to say. However, to relate the whole Entstehungsgeschichte of the present hook might require still another one. It may be as long as the five thousand years of our topic itself! Our principal "prisms" of. interpretation are center-periphery structures, hegemony/rivalry within them, the process of capital accumulation, cycles in all of these, and the world system in which they operate. They may be our modem prisms, but there is evidence that at least the first three, also had their counterpart both in world reality and in the consciousness and expression of the same by the Akkadian King Sargon in 2450 bc.

Our guiding non-Eurocentrist idea of the unity and indivisibility of Afro-Eurasian history is at least as old as even the European "father of history" Herodotus, who already insisted on the same in and for his own time. The fact, but also the sociopolitical acceptance, of multicultural diversity within this unity is older than that. We suggest that racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and other diversity has .repeatedly been accepted and accommodated, at least in periods of (economic?) expansion. The affirmation and defense of separate identities, like today, has historically been the stuff of intermittent but recurrent political-economic crisis. Indeed, also like today, rallying) around this or that alternative flag has historically been an attempt to defend shares of livelihood of a shrinking or more slowly growing economic pie during times of crisis. Historical materialism, both as a fact of life and as a "philosophical" reflection of and on it, has accompanied all history, and indeed also prehistory. Such materialism competes less than it complements idealism, both in history and among the historians who reflect (on) it. Complementary also are determinism or determination and (not or) free will in the age-old dilemma of "structure" and "agency" in new-fangled social-"scientific" terminology. In other words, regarding all three of these historical and contemporary dimensions, the varieties and alternatives of identity, the material limitations of idealism, and the challenge of women making their own history but only in the historical conditions that they inherit, there is "unity in diversity." These more cultural and philosophical perspectives now emerge more clearly for the editors as we look back in this preface at what we thought we were trying to do with our (only?) apparently more structural analysis in the book itself.

It is not easy to follow Fairbank and say where and how this unity in diversity emerged and developed for each of the authors who contribute their diverse visions of it to this book. For, among the contributors, there is certainly much diversity both in their own histories and in their present-as-history rendition of history itself. Nonetheless, the contributors' unity about this historical unity is great enough at least to make this book possible, and indeed something of a common enterprise. As editors and principal contributors, it is both proper and easier to start with some record of how our own work developed and how it was and is related to that of other contributors to this book.

Frank has set on unity and structure for a long time, unity at least since high school and struat least since studying social anthropology (extra-curricularly to his economics studies) in graduate school at the University of Chicago in the mid-1950s. Then, also, Frank shared an apartment with Marshall Hodgson, who told him of an article he was then writing on eastern "Hemispheric interregional history as an approach to world history" for Unesco's Journal of World History, from which we quote in this book. Unfortunately, it would take Frank another three decades to understand what Hodgson was talking about. Nonetheless, Frank's writings in and on Latin America in the early 1960s not only featured dimensions of unity and structure, they also analyzed the history and present of Latin America and the "Third World" as part and parcel of a single "world system," to which he referred already in 1965 if not earlier. His reference then, however, was only to the capitalist world system during the past 500 years. Following les evenements of May 1968 in Paris various common concerns put him in personal, political, and intellectual contact with Samir Amin, who had been writing his like-minded Accumulation on a World Scale and Unequal Development. Amin and Frank published three different books together in French, Italian, and Norwegian originals. Now Amin contributes chapter 8 in the present book, which both concurs with and dissents from the latest perspective of Frank.

In the early 1970s, Frank wrote a book on World Accumulation, which featured its long cyclical history since 1492. On then receiving the manuscript of Immanuel Wallerstein's The Modem World-System, Frank wrote a note that it would become an "instant classic." This note appeared as one of the three blurbs on the dust cover of the first edition (the other two were by Fernand Braudel and Eric Wolf). Since then, two Joint books have appeared by Amin, Arrighi, Frank, and Wallerstein, in 1982 and 1990. Now Wallerstein also contributes a rejoinder to Frank and Gills in chapter 10 of this book. For Frank began tracing economic cycles backward through history and observing them also in the present "socialist system," which he increasingly regarded as part of the same world system. That far, Wallerstein agrees. However, both observations fed Frank's doubts about the uniqueness of the "modern capitalist world-system," on which Wallerstein continues to insist. An editor invited Frank among others to comment on an early version of our co-contributor Janet Abu-Lughod's "thirteenth-century world-system." That gave occasion to enquire if the long economic cycles and the world system in which they occur may not extend much farther back even than that. Frank was more and more persuaded .that one should "never try to begin at the beginning. Historical research proceeds backward, not forward," as per another rule of Fairbank in the same preface already cited in our epigraph above. The result was a sort of critique of received theory under the title "A theoretical introduction to 5,000 years of world system history," which was graciously published in Review by Immanuel Wallerstein, who was one of the principal authors Frank subjected to critique. Successively less critique and more approval were "bestowed" on our present co-contributors Amin, Abu-Lughod, Ekholm and Friedman, McNeill, and Wilkinson. The article opened with an epigraph taken from Ranke: "no history can be written but universal history."

Gills read and during many hours in Frank's garden in spring 1989 critiqued a draft of that first article on the 5,000-year world system. Gills was earning his daily bread teaching contemporary international relations and Korean studies. Discussing the Frank manuscript offered him a welcome opportunity to return (alas on his own time) to his burning interest in, and to draw on, in many a desk drawer, aging manuscripts on his vision of synchronic timing, core-periphery relations, and hegemonic transitions in world history since ancient times. Gills's personal journey began in the ecology movement. In pursuit of a critical understanding of the nature of the modem ecological crisis. Gills turned to study of the origins of the state and civilization in order to understand the historical roots of the crisis. By 1982 in Hawaii, Gills was convinced that the patterns of the modem world system existed much earlier and in a real historical continuum. He even challenged Wallerstein, who was visiting Honolulu at the time, to extend his analysis backward in time; but Wallerstein answered that for the time being five hundred years was more than enough to work on. In 1984-5 at Oxford, Gills began systematic historical research into cycles of hegemony from a world-historical, comparative perspective. This work remained dormant and unfinished until spring 1989, when Gills produced his first paper on his general ideas on synchronization of cycles, which was publicly presented at a professional conference. There, Gills and Frank met and noted their general agreement of views that enabled their subsequent collaboration, which is now presented in this book.

Gills's and Frank's co-authored chapters, and indeed this book itself, are the fruit of collaboration that emerged from Frank's initial manuscript and Gills's critique thereof, which was in turn based in pan on Gills's own old manuscripts. "The cumulation of accumulation," now chapter 3, was the "Theses and research agenda for 5000 years of world system history," which they proposed as their theoretical alternative to the received wisdom that Frank had critiqued. Gills also turned an earlier manuscript on "Hegemonic transitions" into chapter 4. Chapter 5 on "World system cycles, crises, and hegemonial shifts" represents their first joint attempt to apply their theoretical guidelines in chapter 4 to the reinterpretation of world (system) history. It presents the preliminary identification of system-wide, long economic cycles and their corresponding hegemonic shifts between 1700 bc and 1700 ad. Co-contributor David Wilkinson thas begun to subject the identification of these cycles to empirical testing based on changes in city sizes (see the epilogue to chapter 5). Chapter 6 represents an application by Frank of the common theoretical categories to the long-standing question and particularly of co-contributor Immanuel Wallerstein's reading of "the transition from feudalism to capitalism." Frank has made individual attempts, not included here, to apply the same theory to the historical place of Central Asia and Latin America respectively in the history of the world system. Gills has done so for other Eurasian regions and especially East Asia. All of these, of course, are no more than initial steps, to be pursued by further study especially of the long cycles and also many shorter ones within them, which are set out in Gills's and Frank's chapter 5. In the meantime, as Fairbank suggested, the perspective that stands out foremost is that of our ignorance.

The historian William McNeill, who now graciously contributes a foreword here, is incomparably more erudite. He was writing his magisterial and now classic The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community at the University of Chicago at the same time as the above-cited Marshall Hodgson worked there. The latter was writing his posthumously published, also magisterial three-volume The Venture of Islam and a manuscript on the ecumenical unity of world history (Hodgson 1993). Both stressed the word oikumene, and in their respective prefaces each acknowledged the influence of the other. McNeill went on to write many other books within the scope of his vision of one-world history. Then, returning to "The Rise of the West after twenty-five years," McNeill came to consider "the central methodological weakness" of his earlier emphasis on "interactions across civilizational boundaries and inadequate attention to the emergence of the ecumenical world system within which we live today." As he was so writing, McNeill and Frank met at 1989 meetings of the World History Association.

The political scientist David Wilkinson still speaks in terms of "civilization." However, he stresses the emergence and develoof a single "Central civilization," which was formed out of the relations between Egypt and Mesopotamia around 1500 bc and then spread successively to incorporate au other "civilizations" within the "Central" one, which has been dominant long since. In so doing, Wilkinson debated with all other "civilizationists" and drew a line that was first de facto parallel and then asymptotic to that of Frank and Gills - until they were joined in the present book. Like them, he denies that the "civilization" or "system" is necessarily the same as their "mode[s] of production." So do Chase-Dunn and Hall, who also suggest that Frank and Gills should rename what they are talking about as "the Central world system." Wilkinson leans increasingly in their direction and tests some of their hypotheses (see the epilogue to chapter 5 below). Nonetheless, in chapter 7 below he still maintains his more political and civilizational outlook and of course his reservations per contra Frank and Gills. Wilkinson and Frank first met at the 1989 meetings of the International Society for Comparative Study of Civilizations, of which Wilkinson is a very active member and to which Chase-Dunn had invited Frank in part to present his world-system ideas and to meet Wilkinson, The same year, Gills and he met at the International Studies Association (ISA) and discussed the idea of forming a group there to study world-historical systems.

Kajsa Ekholm and Jonathan Friedman work in anthropology and archaeology, among other fields. In the postscript, republished here as chapter 2, of their 1982 article, they stress how they sought to counter the then dominant received wisdom of the Karl Polanyi school in anthropology and of Moses Finley and others in classical history. These writers deny any significant influences of Trade and Markets in the Early Empires (Polanyi et al. 1957). Per contra, Ekholm and Friedman trace the same, and indeed the capital accumulation and core-periphery relations that later reappear in Frank and Gills, back even much further than Wilkinson's Central civilization. Like these three, Ekholm and Friedman also deny the equi-parity of "system" and "mode" of production. However, with most anthropologists, they stress greater multistructuraliry and multiculturality and, with some anthropologists, that ethnicity is circumstantial and relational rather than essentialist. There, however, they coincide with Frank and Gills, as they did in 1979, when they wrote that the so-called transition from feudalism to capitalism in Europe was essentially a shift in the center of capital accumulation from East to West. Friedman and Frank met at the former's university in Sweden and also with Gills at ISA.

The urban sociologist Janet Abu-Lughod returns to this theme in her Before European Hegemony in which she stresses that "the Decline of the East preceded the Rise of the West." As a long-time student of cities in contemporary times, she describes a chain of city-centered regions that were interlinked all the way across Eurasia in what she calls a "thirteenth-century world-system" from 1250 to 1350. However, she regards this world system as discrete and different from any previous ones and from the "modem world-system" described by Wallerstein. It was Frank's above-mentioned critique thereof that led to a meeting with Abu-Lughod. In her contribution here in chapter 9, she reconsiders the extent and timing of the development of the "world system" and explicates her agreements and disagreements with both Frank and Gills on the one hand and Wallerstein on the other.

The sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein comes from an Africanist background. His study of a region in the Third World was influenced by its dependence in and on the "world-system" and by the writings on the same by, among others, Frank and Amin. This influence and his subsequent book on The Modem World-System has led many commentators and critics, both friendly and unfriendly, to put "dependence" and "world-system" theory into he same bag. Brenner, Brewer, and many others speak of a single Franx-Wallerstein theoretical bag, into which some also throw Paul Sweezy and/or Samir Amin and others who publish in Monthly Review. However that may be with regard to dependence. The Modem World-System of Wallerstein and World Accumulation 1492-1789 and Dependent Accumulation and Underdevelopment by Frank did refer to essentially the same historical unit, structure, and process during the past five hundred years. However, Wallerstein and Frank have since then come to a partial parting of the ways on earlier history. That has not prevented them from co-authoring in 1990 a book on social movements in the contemporary system, together with Amin. In his contribution to the present book in chapter 10, Wallerstein emphasizes the essential conceptual or theoretical difference between his 500-year modem and other earlier, and for a time also contemporaneous, "world-systems" (with a hyphen), on the one hand, and Prank and Gills's "world system," which extends at least 5,000 years back (without a hyphen). The former arc characterized by a particular "mode of production," which is "capitalist" in the "modem" world-system. The latter exists prior to and independently of any particular mode of production or combination thereof, be they supposedly feudal or other tributary, capitalist, or socialist.

Samir Amin, per contra, considers these differences to have been and to continue to be of both paramount scientific and political importance. The Egyptian-born and French-educated political economist wrote a draft of \as Accumulation on a World Scale as his doctoral dissertation in Paris in the mid-1950s. Literally countless books and articles later and also in his contribution to this book in chapter 8, Amin still emphasizes the important difference between "politics and ideology in command" that he sees in precapitalist tributary systems and the economic "law of value," which is in command in the "modem world-capitalist system." Wallerstein also affirms this difference, wording it slightly differently. He asserts that what distinguishes capitalism as a mode of production and therefore the modem world-system is the priority given to the "ceaseless accumulation of capital," whereas in the other historical systems, the accumulation of capital is subordinated to other politicocultural objectives. Frank and Gills, as well as Ekholm and Friedman and Wilkinson, dispute this difference and the related, supposedly fundamental break between the past and the "modern world capitalist system" around 1500. Abu-Lughod takes an intermediary position.

This book is devoted to elucidating this debate, and the introductory chapter 1 that follows details its far-reaching theoretical, political, and policy implications for some dozen-and-a-half social-scientific disciplines and philosophical positions ranging from archaeology and anthropology, via international and gender relations, to world systems theory. The introduction also supplies ample documentation of and detailed references to the above-mentioned discussions and publications, with which we did not wish to encumber this preface, seeking rather to focus on people and their ideas. The publication of this book is meant to solicit and encourage the individual and collaborative work that we hope will diminish in the future the "foremost perspective, which is of ignorance." Our co-contributors, already named and introduced above, evidently have pride of place among the many people whose influence and help we would like to acknowledge in this enterprise. We are grateful also for their readiness once again to write or revise chapters of "discussion" for publication in this book.

A related step toward altering the perspective of ignorance was the recent founding of, and already very encouraging collaboration in, the World Historical Systems (WHS) Sub-Section of the International Political Economy Section of the International Studies Association, which emerged from the meeting between Gills and Wilkinson at ISA. Some of our co-contributors as well as we editors have been active members, and our agreements and dissare set out below. WHS has been organizing conference panels on which several of the chapters in this book have been presented and discussed. WHS has served as well as a forum of discussion of alternative and complementary perspectives of other friends and colleagues, with whose work ours and others' in this book also interact. Some of these friends in turn helped us along the way in the preparation and revision of one or another of the chapters below, and we wish to acknowledge their cooperation on both counts. These include especially the above-mentioned Christopher Chase-Dunn and Tom Hall, and Robert Denemark. Moreover, their own comparative work on world systems and on trade-generated linkages respectively is very much related to our own. George Modelski and William Thompson merit special mention here for their work on "political" long waves since 1494 and their current interest both in relating them more to economic ones and in extending them further back through history. They also served as panelists or discussants in WHS sessions. In addition to all these, Albert Bergesen, John Fitzpatrick, Mogens Larsen, K.P. Moseley, and Matthew Robertson have given complementary papers at WHS sessions. In turn, Michael Doyle, Joshua Goldstein, Frank Klink, and Mary Ann Tetreault have served as formal discussants on our WHS panels. We and some of our co-contributors have benefited from their insights and critiques. We would like to thank Sing Chew, Paulo Frank, Ronen Palan, and Peter Taylor who commented on one or more article manuscripts included as chapters here. We would also like to thank Sarah-Jane Woolley at Routledge for her constant assistance and Andrew Wheatcroft for his support. Of course, we have also benefited from the influence and help of many other people, known to us personally or not, too many to be able properly to acknowledge them here,

Andre Gunder Frank, Amsterdam Barry K. Gills, Newcastle 16 May 1992


Hodgson, Marshall (1993) in Rethinking World History. Essays on Europe, Islam and World History, ed. Edmund Burke III, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.