3. Descent Of Man Revisited     

Conflict Theories: Incredulity Toward 'Infranarratives'


Section 3 .2.3

World History 
And The Eonic Effect

Civilization, Darwinism, And Theories of Evolution
4th Edition
The Book
By  John Landon





3. Descent Of Man Revisited 
     3.1 Climbing Mt. Improbable: The Eonic Effect  
        3.1.1 An Evolution Formalism and The Eonic Model 
     3.2 History and Evolution: A Paradox  
        3.2.1 Huxley's Contradiction and Evolution #1 and #2 
        3.2.2 Deconstructing Flat History  
        3.2.3 Conflict Theories: Incredulity Toward 'Infranarratives' 
     3.3 An Unexpected Challenge to Darwinism  
        3.3.1 The Great Explosion   
        3.3.2 Measures of Evidence Density  
        3.3.3 A Photo Finish Test 
     3.4 From Fisher's Lament to Kant's Challenge 
        3.4.1 A Certain Strangeness: Beyond Space and Time? 

     3.5 A New Model of History: Eonic Evolution  
        3.5.1 A Gaian Matrix: Detecting A Global System  
        3.5.2 Stream and Sequence, Transition and Oikoumene
        3.5.3 An (Eonic) Outline of History
        3.5.4 World Line of The Eonic Observer


 4. Idea For A Universal History


    World History And The Eonic Effect: Fourth Edition

   3.2.3 Conflict Theories: Incredulity Toward 'Infranarratives'


The companion to flat history is a conflict theory claiming to explain it. A little thought might suggest why: if all you see is a flat history of conflict then it seems logical to deduce that it is conflict that carries the day, and hence the future. But, actually, a closer looks shows that this thinking is false.

In any case, once we deconstruct flat history, a strange new situation arises: the standard type of historical explanation, often a conflict theory, goes bankrupt, and a sense of the meaning of history takes form. It is obvious from the eonic effect, despite its enigma, that innovations spring from something else than conflict! A good example of a conflict theory is Darwinian evolution. Most of all the competition for the local future via conflict ceases to hold sway. Our eonic system shows something unexpected: it seems to leapfrog g into a future course correction. Modern social thought, in the dread legacy of reductionism, is littered with conflict theories, Darwin ’s the most obvious, the results of staring at ‘flat history’ and asking how the big changes could ever occur. Somehow randomness has to hire ‘conflict’ as the generative scheme. Then a wistful glance at Adam Smith occurs, and ‘hard-headed realists’ are finished with ‘ethical nonsense’ as pseudo-theory gets down to the serious business of Progress through Selfish Mayhem.

Incredulity Toward ‘Infranarratives’ Despite the cogency of postmodern critiques, incredulity toward metanarraatives, it is the ‘infranarrative ’ that is really at fault in the legitimation ideologies under examination. The ‘flat history’ desert drives the agent in his thirst for conflict, and some theory to justify that. Economic competition, natural selection, Hegelian dialectic and ‘negation’, class struggle, even Kant’s ‘asocial sociability’ emerge as the leading contenders.

The place of conflict in history is historically given. Its generalization to a ‘conflict theory’ is something else. Until you can deconstruct flat history, conflict tends to haunt you in your search for a mechanism of history, the key to your Big Theory. All you see is conflict, therefore conflict must, somehow, be the key. It doesn’t follow. Marx almost escaped from the trap, was just at the point of exposing the whole game, but we should note that Hegel, a student of Smith, mixed ‘cunning of reason’ with ‘dialectic’, a conflict theory (!), and Marx, although rightly suspicious of the Adam Smith effect taken as ideology, drifted into the Hegelian trap (negation of the negation as grounds for revolutionary conflict, hence class struggle), and was followed by Engels who bit on the Darwin hook, despite Marx’s sniffing suspicions. Marx saw at once the connection to economic ideology, but somehow the later Marxism became more Darwinian than the Darwinists, with violent conflict and even class struggle mixed up with evolutionary innuendoes. It’s a sorry history, and even the great Kant nearly falls into the trap. But he was just on the verge and suspected rightly something different. We will take up his suggestion in the next section, and try to rescue his viewpoint from this trap.

This is not some idealistic rejection of the place of conflict in history. A good case can be made that martial conflict becomes so vexatious for rival parties that the very process of conflict leads to initiatives of peace. The place of conflict in history requires its own analysis, as does the history of warfare. Our objection is the generalization of this as a principle to explain everything else, as a theory of evolution.

Conflict theory, then, with a dash of Malthus, is suddenly hallucinated as the only candidate relevant to real science. The reason is that it is close at hand, like the teeming fields of competing life visible to the biologist, who cannot reckon the ‘hurricane argument’ over long time periods, for the elusive signs of directional evolution. Thus the conflict visible in the small rises to flush out motives of all other sorts. One would have thought someone would consider that a selfish motive is as (philosophically) ‘idealist’ as an altruistic one. Adam Smith seems to stand alone, however, as an honest commentator about economies, where competition is indeed a clear factor that requires careful treatment. But economic competition is not the driver of cultural advance, and Smith never said it was. Will the real Adam Smith stand up? The source of all these conflict theories was talking about something else. Note, in any case, that economic competition is conducted under a system of laws, supposedly, and immediately gets into trouble in a global field where those laws are not always specified, the beginning and end of the woes of ‘imperialism’, as global competition. So the evolution of laws can never be omitted from considerations of evolutionary economy.

Armed with a snapshot of the eonic effect , we can see at a glance that there is something completely wrong with selectionist theories, these being a special case of conflict theories. It is suddenly easy to see the problem: the Assyrians are a good case of the fittest. After two millennia of competition, these were the top dogs, so to speak. Then in the Axial interval new bypass sequences appear from nowhere and outstrip this deadlock. In general, the biggest empire is the fittest survivor. Now look at the eonic sequence that we have already outlined in our short history of the world, starting with the early Sumerians, who resemble the Greeks with their thriving small-scale city-states. Note what it shows: three turning points, and two mideonic eras in between them. Note closely, zooming in, that the mideonic periods show the fate of competitive ‘free action’, and the way this induces decline, with a strong trend toward empire consolidation. Even religion falls into the trend.

Note then how the system is dependent on its transitions to upgrade its act, ‘evolve’, often in a safe frontier area, and that this generates the pattern of non-random evolution. Thus it is important to challenge the dominant view here for we can see that it will slowly but surely degrade the tone of modernism and provoke the dilemma of mideonic drift.



   Web:  chap3_2_3.htm





Last modified: 09/21/2010