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Andre Gunder Frank and Barry K. Gills

We posit a world system continuity thesis. Our purpose is to help replace Eurocentric history and social science by a more humanocentric and eventually also ecocentric approach. Our guiding idea is the continuous history and development of a single world system in Afro-Eurasia for at least 5.000 years. This world historical-social scientific approach challenges received studies that attribute 'the rise of the West' to European exceptionalism. In our view. the rise to dominance of the West is only a recent, and perhaps a passing event.

Our approach is unabashedly historical materialist. Its main theoretical premises are: (1) the existence and development of the world system stretches back not just five hundred but some five thousand years; (2) tile world economy and its long-distance trade relations form a centerpiece of this world system; (3) the process of capital accumulation is the motor force of world system history; (4) the center-periphery structure is one of tile characteristics of (lie world system; (5) alternation between hegemony and rivalry is depletive of the world system, although system wide hegemony has been rare or non-existent: and (6) long economic cycles of ascending and descending pliascs underlie economic growth in the world system.

Theoretical categories and operational definitions

The world system

Per contra Wallerstein (1974a), we believe that the existence and development of the same world system in which we live stretches back five thousand years or more. According to Wallerstein and unlike our world system (without a hyphen), world-systems (with hyphen and sometimes plural) need not be even world wide. Braudel and Wallerstein both stress the difference between world economy system and world-economy/system. 'The world economy is an expression applied to the whole world ... A world-economy only concerns a fragment of the world, an economically autonomous section' (Braudel 1984:20-1). 'Immanuel Wallerstein tells us that he arrived at the theory of the world-economy while looking for the largest units of measurement which would still be coherent' (Braudel 1984:70).


In our view, shared by Wilkinson, this largest unit has long been much larger and older than the European-centered 'world-economy system' of Braudel and Wallerstein. Wilkinson (1987a, 1993c) emphasizes political coherence and sees 'Central Civilization' as starting in 1500 BC and expanding more slowly than its earlier and more far-flung economic connections. We use the latter as a major criterion for the identification of the world system since at least 3000 BC and sec its spread as having been more rapid.

The debate between 500 and 5,000 years of world system history is really about how to write world system history. It is a debate about continuity versus discontinuity. One position is that the mode of production or social formation in world history makes a sharp break about 1500. This position is dominant among historians and world-system theorists, including Wallerstein and Amin. The oilier position is that capital accumulation did not begin or become 'ceaseless' only after 1500 AD, but has been the motor force of the historical process throughout world system history. There was no such sharp break between different 'world-systems' or even 'modes of production' around 1500.

The real disagreement revolves around the question of what structures constitute a 'system' or a 'world(-)system' in particular. We contend that a hierarchy of center-periphery (and hinterland) complexes within the world system, in which surplus is being transferred between zones of (lie hierarchy, necessarily implies the existence of some form of an 'international' (at best a misleading term) division of labor. A criterion of systemic participation in a single world system is that no part of this system would lie as it is or was if oilier parts were not as they are or were. The interaction from one part of the system to another may be only indirectly chain-linked. A weaker systemic link would lie that the various parts may also have reacted to, and on, the same global ecological constraints. In dills and Frank (1990/1) we suggest:

The capture by elite A here ... of part of the economic surplus extracted by elite B there means that there is inter-penetrating accumulation between A and B. Tills transfer or exchange of surplus connects not only the two elites, but also their 'societies" economic, social, political, and ideological organization .. . This inter-penetrating accumulation thus creates a causal inter-dependence between structures of accumulation and between political entities . . . That is 'society' A here could and would not be the same as it was in the absence of its contact with B there, and vice versa.

Despite our emphasis on 'economic' connections to cement the world system, we also accept the world system connections established and maintained through recurrent 'political' conflict among 'societies' as emphasized bv Wilkinson (1987a). The recognition of such conflict as a mark of participation in (lie same world system is all the more important insofar as much of the conflict has been over economic resources and control of trade routes. Conversely, trade in metals and/or weapons could increase military capacity and enhance control over


sources of economic resources, including trade itself. Political conflict has also been the expression of the alternation between hegemony and rivalry within the world system and/or its regional parts.

Summarizing, then, we can list the following among the criteria of participation in the same world system: (1) extensive and persistent trade connections; (2) persistent or recurrent political relations with particular regions or peoples, including especially center-periphery-hinterland relations and hegemony/rivalry relations and processes; and (3) sharing economic, political, and perhaps also cultural cycles. The identification of these cycles and their bearing on the extent of the world system play a crucial role in our inquiry.

Indeed, the identification of the geographical extent of near-simultaneity of these cycles may serve as an important operational definition of the extent of the world system. If distant parts of Afro-Eurasia experience economic expansions and contractions nearly simultaneously, that would be evidence that they participate in the same world system.

George Modelski once counseled that if we want to study cycles, we should first define the system in which we want to look for them. Operationally it may be the other way around: the cycles can define the extent of the system!

The world economy

\\'c may distinguish two related issues about the role and place of 'economy' in the world and its history. One refers to the existence and significance of production for exchange and capital accumulation. The other is whether the division of labor and competitive accumulation were played out at long distance so as to tie distant areas into a single 'world' economy. Both propositions arc controversial, but we believe that both arc also supported by historical evidence.

The first proposition has been the subject of debate in anthropology between substantivists and formalists. Weber, Polanyi and Finley are prominent among the former, but their findings arc challenged by recent scholarship. One focus of the debate has been the Athenian economy. A lecture on the character of the ancient political economy by Millett (1990) argues for a political economy approach in which the 'primacy of exchange' is central. Milieu's approach rests on an important criticism of Polanyi (1944/1957), who unfortunately regarded the forms of exchange (e.g. rcdistributive, reciprocal, and market) in an evolutionary way, and hence incompatible with one another. Millett throws doubt on Polanyi's thesis of the 'invention' of the market economy in fourth-century Athens by pointing to recent work by anthropologists on the complexity of exchange in 'non-capitalist' societies. Millett contends that the primitivist approach, which minimizes the role of capital, 'is apparently contradicted by sheer volume of credit transactions in Athenian sources' as credit was 'everywhere' in antiquity. For evidence of the market/credit economy as far back as Assyria note Larsen (1967, 1976); Adams (1974); Silver (1985); and Rowlands, Larsen, and Kristiansen (1987).

In our definition of the world system, regular exchange of surplus also affects the 'internal' character of each of the parts of the world system. Some scholars,


like Wallerstein (1991), reject our definition because they do not believe that 'mere' trade makes a system. We do. We not only believe that regular and significant trade is a sufficient ground for speaking of a 'system' or of a real 'world economy,' but also that trade integrates social formations into something that should be called the 'international division of labor,' even in the ancient Eurasian world economy. This takes place because trade and production are not (falsely) separated. The nature of trade directly affects the character of production, as the history of the early modern world system so clearly illustrates, but which is also true much earlier. These effects are a consequence of specialization if nothing else, but we contend they are intimately related to the system of the regular transfer of surplus as well.

A related question then is how extensive was this division of labor and trade network. By our criteria it included Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, Anatolia, Iran, the Indus Valley, Transcaucasia, and parts of Central Asia, in the third millennium BC. All of these are south of the mountain ranges that ran across Asia from east to west. Chernykh's work (1993:302) leads to the inclusion in this world system of 'a whole chain from the Atlantic to the Pacific: the European, Eurasian, Caucasian and Central Asian provinces, along with others outside the USSR' all of which are north of these mountains. He also suggests in his foreword (xxi) that 'from at least the fifth millennium BC until the third millennium BC, the peoples of the EMA cultural zone seem to have shared the same developmental cycle: the formation and decline of cultures at various levels generally coincided.'

At least two kinds of evidence support the claim that the southern and northern regions were part of one world system emcompassing much of Afro-Eurasia by the Bronze Age. There were extensive and recurrent trade, migration and invasion, as well as cultural/technological diffusion, and north-south contacts across and/or around the mountains in various regions from Anatolia eastward. There was also substantial coincidence in the timing of long economic cycle phases identified independently for the north by Chernykh and for the south. This temporal coincidence may be traceable to ecological and/or other systemic commonalities. Therefore there is evidence for the existence of one immense Afro-Eurasian wide world system by the early Bronze Age. Therefore also, one of the important tasks of research and analysis is to inquire into its earliest development and explore its (cyclical?) expansion and transformation over time. We find that this world system was formed in the third millennium BC or earlier, and proceeds today.

Although preciosities did play a significant role in these trade and political relations, it is well to stress that there also were significant amounts of economically vital trade in bulky necessities: metals, timber, grain, animals and other raw materials and foodstuffs, and of manufactures such as textiles and ceramics. For instance, southern Mesopotamia lacked metals and timber and was dependent on their import from Anatolia and the Levant, while it exported grains and textiles.

Like Blaut (1993) we argue that the most important European impact was the injection of new supplies of American bullion, and thereby themselves, into the


already well established Eurasian economy. The Europeans did not in any sense 'create' either the world economic system or 'capitalism.' What the injection of new liquidity into the world economy actually seems to have done was to make important, though also limited, changes in financial flow's, trade and production patterns, and to permit the Europeans to participate more actively in the same. They specialized in exploiting global differences in resources, production and prices to maximize their profits as middlemen, and where convenient they used force to assure their own participation in this exchange.

Thus long before the birth of the putative 'European world-economy' and still long after its advent, the real world economy had a far-flung division of labor and an intricate trade system, which was preponderantly Asian. Its major producers/ exporters of silver were Latin America and Japan, and of gold, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. South, East and West Africa had been major sources of gold for centuries, but parts of Africa also exported slaves westward and eastward.

The major importer and re-exporter of lx>th silver and gold bullion was western and southern Europe, to cover its own perpetual massive structural balance of trade deficit with all oilier regions, except (perhaps) with the Americas and Africa, although the Europeans received African and especially American bullion without giving much in return. Western Europe had a balance of trade deficit with and re-exported much silver and some gold to the Baltics and eastern Europe, to West Asia. to India directly and via West Asia. to Southeast Asia directly and via India, and to China via all of the above. China also received silver from Japan.

West Asia had a balance of trade surplus with Europe, but a deficit with South, Southeast. East. and possibly Central Asia. West Asia covered its balance of trade deficits to the East with the re-export of bullion derived from its balance of trade surplus with Europe, tile Maghreb and via it with West Africa, and gold from East Africa, as well as some of its own production of both gold and silver, especially in Persia.

India had a massive balance of trade surplus with Europe and some with West Asia, based mostly on its low cost cotton textile production and export. These went westwards to Africa, West Asia. Europe, and from there on across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and the Americas. In return. India received massive amounts of silver and some gold from the West. directly around the Cape or via West Africa. Since India produced little silver of its own. it used the imported silver mostly for coinage or re-export, and the gold for coinage (of so-called 'pagodas') and jewelry. India also exported cotton textiles to and imported spices from Southeast Asia, and also via the same exchanged cotton textiles for silk and porcelain and other ceramics from China. However, India had a balance of trade deficit witli Southeast Asia and especially with China, and so was obliged to re-export especially silver to the east.

Southeast Asia exported spices and tin of its own production to Europe, West Asia, India and re-exported imports from India to China, which were its major customers, some eight times more than Europe. Additionally, Southeast Asia exported gold from its own production to India, China, and Japan, although it


received silver from India, some of which it also re-exported to China via Malacca. Southeast Asia seems to have had a balance of trade surplus with India, but a deficit with China.

China had a balance of trade surplus with everybody (making it a 'super-accumulator?') based on its unrivaled manufacturing efficiency and export of silks and porcelain and other ceramics. Therefore, China, which like India had a perpetual silver shortage, was the major net importer of silver and met much of its need for currency out of imports of American silver which arrived via Europe, West Asia, India, Southeast Asia and with the Manila galleons directly from the Americas. China also received massive amounts of silver and copper from Japan and some through the overland caravan trade across Central Asia.

Japan, like Latin America, was a major producer and exporter of silver to China and Southeast Asia, but also of some gold and considerable copper as far as India and West Asia. Gold was both imported to and exported from China, depending on changing gold/silver/copper price ratios. Silver moved generally eastward (except westward from Japan and Acapulco via Manila), and gold moved westward (except eastward from Africa) via overland and maritime routes. Some eastward moving gold even reached Europe.

The complexity of the international division of labor and the network of world trade was of course vastly greater than this. However, even this mere summary should suffice to indicate how, contrary to Braudel and Wallerstein, all of these world regions were integral parts of a single world economic system between about 1400 and 1800 AD. The injection of American bullion provided new liquidity that facilitated an important increase in world-widc production, which rose to meet the new monetary demand. This 'pull' factor encouraged further development in China, India. Southeast Asia, and West Asia, including Persia. Even so, the Europeans were able to sell very few manufactures to the East, and instead profited substantially from inserting themselves into the inter-Asian country trade.

Capital accumulation.

We regard the process of accumulation as the motor force of (world system) history. Wallerstein and others regard continuous capital accumulation as the differentia specified of the 'modern world-system.' We have argued elsewhere that in this regard the 'modern' world system is not so different and that this same process of capital accumulation has played a, if not the, central role in the world system for several millennia (Frank 1991b; Gills and Frank 1990/1; Frank and Gills 1993). Amin (1991) and Wallerstein (1991) disagree. They argue that previous world-systems were what Amin and Wolf (1982) call 'tributary' or Wallerstein 'world empires.' In these, Amin claims that politics and ideology were in command, not the economic law of value in the accumulation of capital. Wallerstein seems to agree.

It is particularly important to clarify our controversial suggestion that 'ceaseless accumulation' is a feature of the world system throughout its development.


Though there can be no real doubt that industrialization played a crucial role in bringing about a quantitative change in the rate of ceaseless accumulation, in our view this change is essentially a matter of degree. This debate turns on the definition of ceaseless.'

We contend, following Marx (up to a point), that 'ceaseless' accumulation implies that capital is constantly reinvested into the circuits of production in order to sustain capital accumulation. This ceaselessness is imperative given competition. The historical evidence suggests to us that capital accumulation has normally been 'competitive' and has involved a continuous reinvestment in the means of production, and indeed in a whole social and political ensemble of sectors, including infrastructure. This investment process is carried out both by private capital and by the state, which is the case even today.

Then, as now, states lived partly on a 'rent' from this international commerce, through direct taxation on trade; from 'profits' generated by 'national' merchants, manufacturers, and money-men; and partly from taxing the national product or income of the general population. Imperialism provided an additional source of revenue to powerful states in the form of 'tribute,' meaning extortion or loot acquired through conquest. Indeed the logic of conquest often followed the logic of the trade routes and the sources of materials, especially the precious metal means of payment (Gills and Frank 1990/1; Frank and Gills 1993).

There has been a fundamental misconception of the character of the 'premodern' economy, particularly of Eurasia, based on the mistaken generalization of the 'command economy' or as Anderson (1974b) would have it. the role of 'coercion' and determination by the 'political instance' rather than by "economies' (Gills 1993; 1995). In our view, what Amin (1991) and Wolf (1982) call the -tributary mode' is, more often than not merely taxation by another name. The fact that all historical states have lived by some form of taxation is hardly a revelation, nor is it incompatible with the idea that more often than not these premodern states coexisted with a vibrant commercial sector directed by private merchants and bankers and conducted on a vast international scale. The sheer volume of evidence from specialist histories of Eurasia corroborates the contention of the centrality of this world economic commerce again and again. (For the earlier period see Adams 1974; Ekholm and Friedman 1982,1993;and Frank 1993a.)

The centerperiphery structure

This structure is familiar to analysts of dependence in the 'modern' world system, and especially in Latin America, since 1492. It includes, but is not limited to, the transfer of surplus between zones of the world system. We now find that this analytical category is also applicable to the world system before that. However, the structure of this world system does not conform to the 'unipolar' model of center-periphery relations common in most dependency approaches. We now see more 'multipolar center-periphery relations. The world system is not viewed as having always been composed of a single core and single periphery, but rather of an interlinked set of center-periphery complexes (including 'hinterlands') as


discussed in Gills and Frank 1990/1 and Frank and Gills 1993. This approach to structuralist analysis allows greater flexibility, since distinct regional, imperial, or market mediated center periphery complexes are accepted and yet are all seen as part of a single whole with systemic links to one another. Yet this multicentricity does not mean equality among the various centers or between different center-periphery complexes. There is a very complex hierarchical chain of metropole-satellite relations of extraction and transfer of surplus throughout the whole world system.


We have defined 'hegemony' as a hierarchical structure of accumulation between classes and states, mediated by force. In this sense, the center-periphery structure of the world system is simultaneously an economic and a political hierarchy. Hegemony embodies both.

World system and nun-national relations literature has recently produced many good analyses of alternation between hegemonic leadership and rivalry for hegemony in the world system since 1492 (Wallerstein 1984: Modelski 1987; Modelski and Thompson 1988). \\'e find that hegemony and rivalry also mark world system history long before that (Gills and Frank 1992).

However, just as the world economy/system never entirely 'falls' but only changes, hegemonic ascent and descent arc usually quite gradual and do not occur in a unipolar framework, but rather in a multipolar one. This world historical process 'favors some at a particular time while discriminating against others, and so on through time' (Gills 1993:121). Indeed, it is integral to our structural theory of world development that areas once peripheral may ascend to hegemonic or core status while areas once in the core may descend into the periphery. We particularly emphasize how economic rhythms common to the entire world system, such as long cycles of expansion and contraction, affect the relative position of all of the 'pans' of the system. The schema of the structure of the world system should perhaps be akin to a truncated pyramid, at the apex of which there-is not usually one sole hegemonic center of political power and capital accumulation, but rather several. Our position is distinguished by the argument that these ascents and declines occur within the same world system.

We have serious reservations about received theories of hegemony, be they Modelski and Thompson's 'political leadership' or Wallerstein's 'economic hegemony.' To begin with, the claims that Portugal, the Netherlands, England (twice) and the United States have successively been hegemonic refer to their dominance in an essentially Western-based and centered 'world-system.' If however we recognize that in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries the world system was much larger than (he European world-system, then the claim to hegemony of little Venice, Portugal and the Netherlands within the whole Afro-Eurasian and American world economy becomes doubtful if not ludicrous. All of these economics were much too small to exercise any kind of hegemony in, let alone over, the world system. Moreover, they certainly were not the centers of world


economic accumulation. By comparison and instead, Ming/Qin China and Moghul India, as well as Ottoman Turkey and perhaps Safavid Persia politically and economically far outranked any of the individual West European economies and states, and probably all the European ones put together.

We find that hegemony at the scale of the entire world system, when conventionally defined as a unipolar hegemony, is extremely rare, self defeating, and perhaps non-existent. Rather, the norm is a situation we have called 'interlinked hegemonies' (Gills and Frank 1992; Frank and Gills 1993). In this regard we follow Abu-Lughod (1989), i.e. we do not see hegemonic ascent and descent so much as a process of absolute rise and decline by particular states, but rather as a situation wherein some states, or groups of states, temporarily gain relative power vis-a-vis others. On this basis they can set the terms of their interactions with subordinates as they ascend but gradually lose this capacity as they descend. We focus not so much on breakdowns of hegemonic power/s and still less on any supposed breakdown/s of the world system or its continuity, which so far have not occurred in the Central World System, but on world system cycles, which have characterized its continuous but cyclical development over the last five thousand years.

Long and short economic cycles

We have already noted the apparent existence of alternating ascending ('A') phases of economic and political expansion, and descending ('B') phases of political economic crises. An important characteristic of the modern world system is that the processes of capital accumulation, changes in center-periphery position within it, and world system hegemony and rivalry are all cyclical and occur in tandem with each other. We now believe that we can identify a cyclical pattern of long A and B phases in the same world system back through the third millennium BC. We have already noted that a most revealing operational criterion of the extent of the world system is the participation or not in the same about 500-year -long economic cycle and the interregional near-synchronization of its about 250-year-long A and B phases. World economic synchronization of shorter cycles and their phases are even more revealing.

Our suggested datings of the A and B phases for the Bronze Age world system are BC:

A: 3000-28/2700, B: 2700-26/2500, A: 2600-2400, B: 24/2300-2000, A: 2000-18/1750, B: 18/1750-16/1500, A: 16/1500-1200, B: 1200-1000, which was the Bronze 'Dark Age' Crisis (Frank 1993a). Tentative Iron Age dates are: A: 1000-800?, B: 800-550?, A: 600/550-450/400?, B: 450-350?, A: 350-250/200? B: 250/200-100/50, A: 200/100 BC-200 AD, B: 150/200-500, A: 500-750/800, B: 750/800-1000/1050, A: 1000/1050-1250/1300, B: 1250/ 1300-1450, A: 1450-1600 (Gills and Frank 1992).

Wilkinson (1992b) and Bosworth (1995b) independently tested the existence and timing of our cycles using data from Chandler's (1987) census of growth and decline in city sizes. Both confirmed the existence and most but not all of the timing of our cycles, especially during the second half of the first millennium AD,


where we ourselves expressed doubt about our findings. The dating of periods during the Bronze Age first millennium BC by the Sherratts (1991) coincided almost exactly with ours. Kristiansen (1992) has similar datings, as does Randsborg (1991). Chase-Dunn and Willard's (1993) analysis, again using Chandler's data, lends less corroboration to our precise datings, but does confirm the simultaneity of cycle phases between East and West Asia since the mid-first millennium BC.

Other world systemic cyclical characteristics complicate this pattern. Expansion and contraction seems to begin in one part of the world system, usually in its core, and then to diffuse from there to other parts, including core competitors and the periphery Dales (1976) observed and Frank (1993a) pursued an apparent eastward displacement of cycle phases through West, Central and South Asia in the third millennium BC. Today cyclical expansion and especially contraction begins in the United States and spreads out from there. Cyclical decline tends to spell the relative or even absolute decline of the principal core power.

This decline offers opportunities to some core rivals, or even some peripheral parts of the system. Some of them advance both absolutely and relatively, perhaps even to replace the previous central core. Today, we witness this process in Japan and the East Asian NICs relative to the United States. While trying to identify cycles in World Accumulation 1492-1789, Frank (1978a) made the empirical generalization that incipient exploratory expansions of the world system occurred during B phases, like seventeenth century European settlement in North America. These new areas then offered the basis of subsequent major investment and expansion during the next A phase. These phase-displacement and/or out-of-phase characteristics in-and of economic cycles, of course, complicate the identification of system-wide cycles in the 'pasg' and all the more so in the distant Bronze Age. However, the existence of such complicating factors does not mean that there are, or were, no systemic cycles with distinguishable expansive A and contractive B phases. (Our more complete discussion of these cycles appears in Frank and Gills 1993 and Frank 1993a,b.)

We also inquire into the possible continuation after 1450 of our long world system cycle. We seek evidence for the continuation (or not) of this cycle and patterns of hegemonic rise and decline into die modern period. So far, our reading of the evidence is still very tentative. There seems to be evidence for its continuation far beyond the 'long sixteenth century' well into the eighteenth century. Apparently even over this much longer A phase, die world economy expanded, with the creation of vast new liquidity, capital formation, growth in population, urbanization, production, trade, and die simultaneous expansion of the imperial Ming, Jin, Mughal, Safavid, Ottoman and Hapsburg empires, up to the mid-eighteenth century. During this period the world economy was on a silver standard. The Ottomans, Ming and India coined huge quantities of silver to support their currency systems, ultimately sustained by the production of American and Japanese mines.

Of related concern are die shorter, approximately fifty-year 'Kondratieff cycles, and born how and whether they fit into our longer cycle. How far back


these Kondratieff cycles go is still in dispute. Modelski and Thompson (1996a) have identified nineteen 'K-waves' beginning in 930 AD. But can any of these cycles be said to have been world system wide? Modelski and Thompson say so; but after the first four in China may see hegemony moving to Europe. We would have to find evidence for K-waves that include large parts of die still dominant Asia.

We also propose to inquire to what extent we can identify shorter economic cycles, and especially financial crises and recessions, that were simultaneous in many far-flung parts of the world economy The recessions of the early 1760s, 1770s and again 1780s were world-wide economic downturns, each of which had simultaneous repercussions in India, Russia, Western Europe, and the Americas, including the American and French revolutions (Frank 1978a, 1994a). Other such cases can surely be identified and should be analyzed from a world economic perspective. We contend mat the simultaneity of such economic events in distant parts of the world is prima facie evidence of their participation in a single world economic system, rather than in several different and distinct 'world-economies' as per Braudel and Wallerstein. Both claim, for instance, that Russia was 'obviously' in a 'remote' or 'autonomous' 'world-economy' However, the three declines in Russia's balance of trade in die early years of the three decades mentioned above were, on closer inspection, connected to simultaneous and related events in many parts of continental Western Europe, Britain, North America, and far away India. All of these occurred during three important recessions in what should be termed a world system wide Kondratieff B phase crisis from 1762 to 1790 (Frank 1978a, 1994a). Other world system wide short cycles in modern history could surely be identified and analyzed, if only economic historians were willing to try.

In summary and comparison, we find that me principal systemic features of the 'modern world system' can also be identified earlier than 1500. Wallerstein and Amin argue that our world system emerged about 1500 and was essentially different from previous times and places. However, Modelski (1987) includes some leadership before 1500 in his analysis, and Modelski and Thompson (1996a) now trace nineteen Kondratieff cycles back to 930 AD. Chase-Dunn (1992) and others find parallels in 'other' and prior world systems. Wilkinson (1989) discovers at least some of these features also in his 'Central Civilization' and elsewhere. He sees historical continuity, but no world system. Abu-Lughod (1989) sees a 'thirteenth century world system,' but she regards it as different from the world system before or since. We combine all of the above into an analysis, or at least an identification, of the principal features of this world system over several thousand years.

Putting Europe in its Afro-Eurasian place

Seeing die origin of the world system five thousand years ago in Asia instead of five hundred years ago in Europe adds further dimensions to me critique of Eurocentrism. Firstly, a longer real-world-historically-based more humanocentric alternative, and secondly, a real basis for denying three related presumptions: (1) that the world system began in Europe; (2) that me 'Rise of the West' was based


on European exceptionalism, which is shared by Weberian and Marxist social science; and (3) that the Europeans 'incorporated' the rest of the world into their own 'capitalist modern world-system' after 1500.

Almost all modern and economic world history since 1500 has been written as though it began in Europe and then spread out to incorporate and modernize the Americas, Africa and 'traditional' Asia. The ancient roots of this 'modernizing' process are sought within Europe itself and earlier on in Rome and Greece, while the (Orientalizing) influence of Egypt and Mesopotamia upon Greece and Rome is ignored. Afro-Asian history is disregarded other than to note the Asian origins of such 'items' as numbers, compass, gun powder, etc., but omitting even printing, which originated in China centuries before Gutenberg was born!

Economic history is even more confined to the West. The Study of Economic History (Harte 1971) collects lectures by twenty-one eminent English speaking economic historians who review the literature of the century past. Almost every word is about Europe and the United States. The Europe and the People Without History (Wolf 1982) appear to have even less economic history.

A particularly Eurocentric example is The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History by the 1993 Nobel laureate in economics Douglass C. North and Robert Paul Thomas (1973). It merits note not only for the recognition given one author but also because of its explicitness. On the very first page they state 'the development of an efficient economic organization in Western Europe accounts for the rise of the West.' They then trace this institutional change, especially the development of property rights, to increased economic scarcity generated by a demographic upturn in Western Europe. The rest of the world was not there for them. Moreover, as North and Thomas (l973:vii) emphasize, their history is 'consistent with and complementary to standard neo-classical economic theory,' which we may suppose influenced the award of the Nobel prize.

Marxist economic history seems different in using concepts like 'mode of production' and 'class struggle,' but it is equally Eurocentric. Both of these concepts have been interpreted within a framework of a single society or social formation. Thus, Marxist economic historians look for the sources of 'the rise of the West' and 'the development of capitalism' within Europe and are equally or even more Eurocentric than their 'bourgeois' opponents. Examples include the nefarious concept of 'the Asiatic Mode of Production,' of which there was nary a trace anywhere in Asia. This concept bequeathed Marxism with a bias against Asian development, which it regarded as traditional, backward and stagnant.

In recent years, Fernand Braudel's (1984) Perspective of the World and Immanuel Wallerstein's (1974a) Modern World-System try to break away from some of this Eurocentrism. So did Frank's (1978a) World Accumulation 1492-1789 and the work of Samir Amin. Yet the last three (Frank even in the tide!) still mark 1492 or (hereabouts as a breaking point, and read all succeeding history as having been centered on Europe and its westward and eastward expansion. Only Braudel (1984:57) writes that 'I do not share Immanuel Wallerstein's fascination with the sixteenth century' as the time the modern world-system emerged in Europe. Braudel is 'inclined to see the European world-economy as having taken shape


very early on.' Nonetheless, he also concentrates on the emergence and expansion of a supposed autonomous 'European world-economy' even though his book is replete with evidence that Europe was part and parcel of a wider world economy centered in Asia through the eighteenth century.

Indeed a whole library full of books and articles has been devoted to explaining 'the rise of the West' in terms of its own supposed exceptionalism. Jones (1981) revealingly entities his book The European Miracle and many others do the same implicitly (e.g. White 1962; Hall 1985; Baechler, Hall and Mann 1988). They all find the rest of the world deficient or defective in some crucial historical, economic, social, political, ideological, or cultural respect. These authors then revert to an internal explanation of the presumed superiority of the West to explain its ascendance over the rest of the world.

Important critiques also emerge. William McNeill (1963), the dean of world historians who used The Rise of the West as the title for his pathbreaking book, is among the few Western historians to take exception to this exceptionalism. Islamicist and world historian Marshall Hodgson writes:

All attempts that I have yet seen to invoke pre-Modern seminal traits in the Occident can be shown to fail under close historical analysis, once other societies begin to be known as intimately as the Occident. This also applies to the great master, Max Weber, who tried to show that the Occident inherited a unique combination of rationality and activism. (Hodgson 1993:86)

Blaut (1992) exposes the 'myth of the European miracle' in its various versions based on biology (race and demography), environment, (Weberian) rationality, technology, and society (state, church, family) and demolishes the theory of European exceptionalism on all these counts.

Hodgson (1993) and Blaut (1992, 1993) derisorally call Eurocentric history 'tunnel history' derived from tunnel vision, which sees only exceptional intra-European causes and consequences and is blind to all extra-European contributions to modern European and world history.

Eurocentrism has also come under attack in Bernal's (1987) Black Athena and Amin's (1989) Eurocentrism, and more popularly by Afro-, Islamo-, and other 'centrisms' and 'multiculturality' (Voll 1994; Hamashita 1988, 1994). Some of these otherwise welcome critiques seek to replace one centrism by another and do so on a largely cultural/ideological level. We see no good theoretical or historical/ factual reason to make it Islamo- or Sino- (let alone Afro-!) centric. We believe that our work both on the pre- and post-1500 period can demonstrate the existence of a wider world system, which in fact does and theoretically can encompass the Islamic, Chinese-centered, and other supposedly independent 'world-systems,' all of which were connected with each other in a single world system.

A less biased reading of modern and economic world history would give Asia its historical due. Two recent departures stand out: Abu-Lughod (1989) describing a thirteenth-century Eurasian world system Before European Hegemony, and


Chaudhuri (1990) analyzing Asia Before Europe. As their tides imply, these writers recognize the significance of Asia before European hegemony. Chaudhuri also recognizes that Asian economic life prospered long after the supposed sixteenth century 'rise of the West.'

Although he was not a close 'relative' of this group, another important precursor in this recognition was Marshall Hodgson. His Venture of Islam (1974) not only claimed the central place in world history for Islam from the seventh through the ninth centuries, he also argued that Islam still or again merited this place through its expansion (again) in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. The recent posthumous compilation of some of Hodgson's still earlier articles and manuscripts underscores the importance of Rethinking World History (1993). Hodgson wrote:

A Westernist image of world history, if not disciplined by a more adequate perspective, can do untold harm; in fact it is now doing untold harm. That is why I lay so much stress on not assuming 'decadence' in Islamic society before the 18th century unless one has really good evidence ... One of the most important tasks of world history, as I see it, is to give people a sense of the pattern of time periods and geographical areas which is free of the multifarious Westernist presuppositions. (Hodgson 1993:94)

Even the master Europeanist Braudel (1984:496) finds that 'it was only because the accessible markets of the Far East formed a series of coherent economies linked together in a fully operational world-economy, that the merchant capitalism of Europe was able to lay siege to them and to use their own vitality.' Or as Abu-Lughod (1989:388) put it, 'the decline of the East preceded the rise of the West.'


Braudel and Wallerstein address the question of whether the European world-system was or is 'capitalist' and whether this term clarifies more than it obscures. The answer, and indeed even the question, has important ideological/political consequences. They have been the subject of intense debate about the 'transition from feudalism to capitalism' (Hilton 1976), the 'Brenner debate' (Aston and Philpin 1985), and the 'European Miracle' Jones 1981; Hall 1985), and others. All these debates have been Eurocentric. Even Blaut's (1992, 1993) anti-Eurocentric formulation remains limited by his attachment to the idea of transition, of a break between 'feudalism' and 'capitalism.' Even Metzler (1994) and Sanderson (1992) seem similarly obsessed by the ideas of feudalism and transition at the same time that they research the advanced commercialization of Tokugawa Japan.

However, as Tibebu (1990:50) suggests, the fundamental justification among almost all Marxists for the term 'bourgeois revolution' is an argument based on an analogy to the long awaited proletarian revolution. He argues that both revolutions are 'imaginary.' So are, we submit, both 'transitions.'


Palat and Wallerstein (1990) insist that the European-centered 'modern world-system' is distinguished by its unique capitalist mode of production. Yet according to Braudel (1984:57) 'capitalism did not wait for the sixteenth century to make its appearance.' Braudel sees the commercialization, expansion and Renaissance of the European world-economy since the eleventh century. Braudel (1984:91) suggests that 'The merchant cities of the Middle Ages all strained to make profits and were shaped by the strain ... Contemporary capitalism has invented nothing.'

By at least the twelfth century ... everything seems to have been there in embryo ... bills of exchange, credit, minted coins, banks, forward selling, public finance, loans, capitalism, colonialism - as well as social disturbances, a sophisticated labor force, class struggles, social oppression, political atrocities. (Braudel 1984:91)

But was this past limited to, and 'capitalism' invented in, only one world-economy centered in Western Europe, which then exported it to others in Asia? No.

Everywhere, from Egypt to Japan, we shall find genuine capitalists, wholesalers, the rentiers of trade, and their thousands of auxiliaries - the commission agents, brokers, money-changers and bankers. As for the techniques, possibilities or guarantees of exchange, any of these groups of merchants would stand comparisons with its western equivalents (Braudel 1984:486)

Braudel and even Wallerstein concede that there was no dramatic, or even gradual, change in mode/s of production. There was no such noticeable change, not to mention any succession, from other mode/s to a 'capitalist' one, and certainly none beginning in the sixteenth century or in Asia after centuries of European re/incorporation into the Asian world-economy.

So, these Eurocentric and (anti-) historical categories of 'feudalism,' 'capitalism,' and the alleged 'transition' between them merit criticism from an alternative world economic perspective. We agree with Chaudhuri (1990:84) that 'The ceaseless quest of modern historians looking for the "origins" and roots of capitalism is not much better than the alchemist's search for the philosopher's stone that transforms base metal into gold.' Better, as we have argued, to abandon the chimera of a unique 'capitalist' mode of production, not to mention its supposedly West European origin (Frank 1991b, Frank and GUIs 1992, 1993). All these 'world-economies' in the 'west' and 'east' were only parts of a single age-old world system, within which this change took place, like all else, only temporarily!

Thus we believe, as Chase-Dunn and Hall also seem to, that the modes of production are not the key to understanding the 'transitions' in the history of world development. Rather, the developmental dynamic of the world system as a whole is far more important. Furthermore, 'transitions' seem to be more a


consequence of larger competitive patterns in the world system than of changes in modes of production. Above all, 'transitions' seem to be a matter of the role and position a particular entity fills in the world accumulation process.

Clarifying some misunderstandings

The most common misperception is that the term 'world system' means that there has only ever been one single world system throughout all of world history. Herein we find no difficulty in joining Chase-Dunn and Hall in their reference to 'world-system?.' Not only do we find a largely separate development of the political economies of pre-Columbian America vis-a-vis those of Eurasia, but even for Eurasia it would not be correct to conclude that there has only ever been one giant all-encompassing world system. Rather there were several streams of regional development, that at earlier periods in their development may have constituted separate systems. We hold however, with Wilkinson, that one world system gradually came to 'incorporate' (if only by merger) all others, first in Eurasia, and then after 1492 over the entire globe. It is this Afro-Eurasian born and then overarching world economy that we have called 'the world system.' This argument cuts against the grain of so much received theory and so many compartmentalized branches of knowledge and so many specialized histories (and historians), that it is very controversial even when properly understood. In hindsight it may have been an error to adopt the term 'world system' since it has facilitated misunderstandings of our theses on world development.

We are also unashamedly (historical) materialist. We define the world system on the basis of regular trade which embodies a transfer of surplus, implies a 'division of labor' and brings in its train systemic political, social, ideological, cultural, and even religious rhythms as well. However we are not simply 'economic determinists' because we insist that the 'economic' is also 'political.' This is why, in our own defense, we chose the term 'world system' for our concept of the world political economy, because we also argue that an integral aspect of the world system's development process is its hegemonic rhythm, i.e. a 'political' pattern. We reject sterile debates about causality based on a false separation of the 'infrastructural' from the 'superstructural' or of the 'economic' from the 'political' or that the economic rhythms automatically determine the hegemonic/political rhythms. In our formulation, economic and political power are inseparable, as are economic and political means to desired ends.

Another implication that has been wrongly attributed to the idea of the five thousand year world system is that capitalism is five thousand years old. We argue instead that the concepts of feudalism, capitalism, and socialism are transitional ideological modes (Frank 1991b) and are best abandoned for their lack of real or 'scientific' basis. They obscure more of the fundamental continuity of the underlying world system than the historical differences and transitions that these terms supposedly clarify.

Misunderstanding has led to the unfounded charge that in our view nothing ever changes, and there is nothing to be done about it. No. We do live in the same


world system that began to develop more than five thousand years ago; but the system is not the same, or not everything is the same in the system. There have been many changes. Indeed, some of the structural features of the world system (inequality, cycles, etc.) seem endogenously to generate processural and evolutionary changes in the system.

Thus, we do not deny qualitative changes and secular trends in world development. Rather we emphasize the essential continuity of fundamentally embedded patterns of overall systemic dynamics. This does not require a strict determinism whereby everything that happens 'on the ground' at a 'lower' level is simply a mechanical expression of determining overall patterns. Indeed, we think that the specific characteristics of each area of the world system at any particular time should be taken into account in order to understand the specific responses each makes to stimuli that come from the systemic rhythm as a whole. The structure of the system imposes limitation to voluntaristic action and policy to transform it into 'another system' (e.g. from 'feudalism' to 'capitalism' to 'socialism' to 'communism'). Nonetheless, some (policy?) alternatives are possible and many popular struggles are necessary, and will continue to be, against the exploitation, oppression, inequities and polarization, which the system itself generates. As the people struggling against Portuguese colonialism said, and as we will also conclude, 'A Luta Continua' - The Struggle Continues!

Possibilities for collaborative research

We are gratified that our continuous five thousand year world system scheme is gaining increasing acceptance from Wilkinson (1993c); that Modelski and Thompson are pushing their own empirical work beyond their previous 1494 divide; and that Chase-Dunn and Hall (1994) are moving in our direction, as we are moving in theirs! They (1994:22) refer to 'the general idea of a single Afro-Eurasian world-system with nearly synchronous phases of growth and decline.' They ask whether that is correct; answer that they hesitate to so conclude; but end up with 'what are the alternatives?' The only one they offer is that an East Asian world-system may have developed independently of the West Asian one, but that interaction between them, and of both of them on Central Asia, created a dynamic which then affected both simultaneously, at least since the middle of the first millennium BC. Chase-Dunn and Hall agree that climatic changes need further study in this connection, and suggest that our five thousand year world system perspective can also 'be used to tease out the real structural and processural differences as well as the similarities across time and across different systems.' We are happy to cooperate with them, although perhaps a division of labor in which they concentrate more on the differences and we more on the communalities would be fruitful.

World system history scholars increasingly try to extend studies farther and farther back through history and prehistory. This procedure conjures up the question of how alike or different the early world system was from the modern and contemporary one. The 'continuationists,' like Wilkinson and ourselves and increasingly


Chase-Dunn and Hall (who like us eschew modes of production and prefer modes of accumulation) and Modelski and Thompson, emphasize the commonalities. The 'transformationists,' especially Wallerstein and Amin, focus on, or only see, the differences. Yet what both lack most, as per Sanderson (1990), is a systematic theory of social or historical evolution. In our case, if as Gills puts it, it is the same system but it is not the same, then what has made the same system different?

We do not have many answers to that question, except the very general, albeit we think important, ones that the unequal social (including center-periphery) structure and uneven temporal (cyclical) processes of the world system generates change within it and thus its transformation. These days it is increasingly fashionable at least among the more materially inclined to look at ecology, demography and technology as major factors in the generation of the social/historical 'evolutionary' dynamic. Our own work has given these factors too short shrift. We could benefit from the technological propositions of Chase-Dunn and Hall (1994); the ecological propositions of Chew (1995); and the demographic propositions of Goldstone (1991). Nonetheless, though we are not monetarists, we are inclined also to recognize a decisive role in monetary factors, such as changes (even if not autonomous ones) in bullion supplies.

Chase-Dunn and Hall (1994:6) also suggest that 'all world-systems pulsate in the sense that the spatial scale of integration, especially by trade, gets larger and then smaller again' and that 'all systems experience the rise and fall of hierarchies' (Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997:204). We agree and have found large regions which seem to 'drop out' of the world system for long periods of time as evidenced by the lack of evidence for continued cyclical up-swings. Examples include India, which apparently dropped out from 1900 to 900 BC, as well as Western Europe between 500 and 1000 AD. However, if a region was an integral part of the world system and was marginalized during (and by?) a major world crisis, then we should not regard that region as being separate from the world system even, or precisely, during the time when it is not or less active within it. Paradoxically, it was the very participation in the world system that generated the non- or reduced-participation. This is a process that we can observe today, particularly in Africa. The extent of the world system cannot be read from the amount of interaction within it at any particular time. The cyclical rhythms or pulsations of the system itself generate greater or lesser scales of integration, especially by trade.

A related issue is that of 'internal' vs. 'external' influence or determination. Weberians and Marxists privilege 'internal' ones. World system theory stresses influences that are 'external' to a particular 'society' or 'economy.' However, world systemic influences may be more important at some times than at others. Expansive cyclical A phases in the world system, like the rising tide, can raise most individual political and economic boats, as it also strengthens the economic relations among them. The onset of a receding tide B phase crisis also affects most boats. We see the breakdown of these closer economic relations and a turning-inward-on-itself involution of some or even many parts of the world. This makes 'internal' processes seem more preponderant. Further empirical testing of these propositions would be a useful cooperative endeavor.


This understanding of world system cyclical expansion and contraction could also help bridge the differences between our larger world system and Wilkinson's smaller 'Central Civilization,' while at the same time allowing us to benefit from his detailed analysis of the rise and decline of polities within the same. Wilkinson (1987a, 1993c:235,240-l) concurs in the importance of Central Asia, finds that 'civilizations follow oikumenes and "the flag follows trade" and not the reverse,' stresses that no endogenous crisis has ever made the central world economy itself collapse, and regards our apparent differences as 'not in principle unresolvable,' especially with data on city sizes below those recorded by Chandler. These could resolve our chronological disagreements by demonstrating more world systemic economic connections than Wilkinson has found.

There is also the problem of refining the calibration of the overall world systemic cycles across all of the regions. The clearest working hypothesis seems to be that world systemic cycles are probably more sequential than simultaneous, though there is also a causal link in the sequentialization. Following Dales (1976), Frank found a sequential eastward shift through West and South Asia of the Bronze Age world system cycle in the third millennium BC. The process is also uneven. Even in a general world economic crisis not all core or peripheral areas are equally affected.

Most importantly, the world system approach must be extended by research into the causality of the cycles, both the economic and the hegemonic, and their mutual relations. In this regard and even if they may not be causative, the intervention of climatic, ecological, and demographic change, and their relations with each other and in turn with social structural ones have received far less attention than they merit. This problematiquc also invites further research into how local conditions interact with systemic level impulses and stimuli. Specifically, there should also be further research into how local responses affect ascent and decline in the 'interlinked hegemonies' hierarchy.

Modelski and Thompson's (1996a) temporal and spatial expansion of their empirically grounded work overlaps with ours in several respects and offers opportunities for mutual enrichment and cooperation. They now also refer to five thousand years of world history, but refer only to stages of its 'evolution' before 1000 AD and do not carry their cyclical analysis farther back. We do, and perhaps they could join us, or use some of our findings in their own work, and then let us benefit from their sophistication to improve our own work. They already offer an analysis of Kondratieff cycles centered in China and the Mongol Empire from 930 to 1350 AD, and from then in Egypt and Venice until 1500. Their data for this period are welcome grist for our mill, and we will have to see if and how their long leadership cycles and our 'long' cycles fit together. The same is true for the later period, for which we seek to investigate possible relations between K-waves, 'hegemonic transition' and our long/er cycles.

Despite our welcome, we also have some serious reservations about their work. We could grant them that the 'lead economies are the spark plugs of the world economy' and that as McNeill (1982) already claimed, the lead economy in the eleventh and twelfth centuries was in China. But in their schema the shift to


European dominance occurs in the fifth Kondratieff beginning in 1190, which they see as centered on the Champagne fairs, the sixth on Black Sea trade, the seventh on Venice after 1300, from 1350 on the pepper trade, from 1430 on Guinea gold, from 1494 on Indian spices, 1540 the Baltic and Atlantic trade, and' 1580 Asian trade. Yet most of these relate to Asia more than to Europe! For Modelski and Thompson 'The principal structural change experienced by the global economy in the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries was the construction of an oceanic trading system ... [and] innovations in long-distance trade after 1500 ... centered around the pioneering of new trading routes ... [in] new phases of European imperialism' (1996a:70-8). True for Europe, but only for Europe and its new American colonies. For Asians these same 'innovations' were age old.

How, and through what cause or at least mechanism, does the Modelski-Thompson center of gravity in the world economy shift from Song China westward allegedly all the way to Portugal? We need more explanation of this crucial process of transition, if it took place at all, which we deny.

We invite Modelski and Thompson to continue bringing their analytic sophistication and empirical knowledge to bear on economic and political cycles, and to carry it back as far as the historical evidence permits, perhaps well beyond the 1000 AD date that they now view as the beginning of the 'global economy process.' We would be honored to be permitted to join them in such a common enterprise.

Chase-Dunn and Hall valiantly come out for comparative analysis, which is exactly why they insist on studying world-systems. Indeed, they are so anxious to do comparative work that they categorize not only all or parts of Eurasia, but also the Wintu Indians in California or 'indigenous' Hawaii as 'world-systems.' We agree that the more comparison we can manage, the better; but we prefer to use the term 'world system' for as mach for Afro-Eurasia and later the 'New World' as can legitimately be viewed as sufficiently interconnected to have been parts of a single world system. The point of Chase-Dunn and Hall's project is to undertake comparative analysis, where the units of analysis being compared are 'world-systems,' including even the putative 'mini-systems.' This worthy and potentially fruitful project could generate useful abstractions about similar (and different) large-scale, long-term processes of social change and especially about the transformational logic in world system evolution, particularly if the comparisons were among long-lasting large-scale historical world systems. We see three possible problems with the inclusion of 'mini-systems': (1) the vast amount of historical data that must first be gathered and analyzed before meaningful comparisons become possible; (2) the resulting temptation to simplify the processes too much, particularly if this takes the form of some kind of economic reductionism, as pointed out by McNeil in his recent comments on Chase-Dunn and Hall at the 1995 International Studies Association meetings; and (3) the tendency to emphasize evolutionism too much to the detriment of other types of change, e.g. conjunctural, retrogression, crisis, etc. In so doing they risk losing the parsimonious elegance and the comparative potential of their original project.

Of course we welcome all useful comparisons promoted by Chase-Dunn and


Hall both within this 'central' world system and between it or any part of it and other places.


We believe that a humanocentric history of the world can form the intellectual basis for a new cosmopolitan praxis. Since we reject essentialist views on ethnicity and civilization in favor of our structuralist approach to ever-changing political economic configurations, our humanocentrism speaks directly to the present era of conflicting nationalisms, localisms, religious identities, and fragmentation. From our perspective humanity truly is one, having a true common heritage and sharing a common destiny. We do not propose to return us to the cause of universalism(s), and especially not of the Western-based universalism of 'development' or 'modernization' now being sold in the guise of the equation 'democracy = free market' (GUIs, Rocamora and Wilson 1993; Frank 1993b). This modern 'universalism' has been inextricably linked with imperialism, and perhaps all universalism must be so to some extent. Modern European colonialism and imperialism, it must be said, was not the first or only attempt to impose universal values.

However, one can and we believe we should propose a defense of cosmopolitanism in the face of a growing chorus for particularism, methodological individualism, fundamentalism and emotive nationalism. A cosmopolitan praxis, based on a humanocentric understanding of the common historical development of humanity, could serve to rechannel the impulses of rebellion so prevalent in the present world crisis situation in a more positive direction. The present situation breeds new construction of new separate historical narratives and emphasizes separation, distance, and otherness. Such historiography, if that is what it can be called, can have little other effect than encouraging conflict and mutual suspicion, even hatred and contempt. If humanity is truly to have a common future on this planet, it is most imperative that the intellectual underpinnings of a new cosmopolitan praxis be established, and the sooner it is translated into practice the better. We must learn to accept our differences while recognizing our common history and working toward our common future. Those who have rejected our world system approach because they believed that it denied all agency and practice in favor of some ahistorical view of unchanging world history have been totally mistaken. On the contrary, our perspective has been intended from the outset to rethink the fundamentals of political economy, world history, and world development precisely in order to try to find a broader and better basis for progressive, cosmopolitan praxis.

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