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Are Western Historians Biased? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2007-2-18 02:52:41 |Display all floors
ReORIENT: Global Economy in the Asian Age

Book Description:

Andre Gunder Frank asks us to ReOrient our views away from Eurocentrism--to see the rise of the West as a mere blip in what was, and is again becoming, an Asia-centered world. In a bold challenge to received historiography and social theory he turns on its head the world according to Marx, Weber, and other theorists, including Polanyi, Rostow, Braudel, and Wallerstein. Frank explains the Rise of the West in world economic and demographic terms that relate it in a single historical sweep to the decline of the East around 1800. European states, he says, used the silver extracted from the American colonies to buy entry into an expanding Asian market that already flourished in the global economy. Resorting to import substitution and export promotion in the world market, they became Newly Industrializing Economies and tipped the global economic balance to the West. That is precisely what East Asia is doing today, Frank points out, to recover its traditional dominance. As a result, the "center" of the world economy is once again moving to the "Middle Kingdom" of China. Anyone interested in Asia, in world systems and world economic and social history, in international relations, and in comparative area studies, will have to take into account Frank's exciting reassessment of our global economic past and future.


American Sociological Association Political Economy of World-Systems Book Award 2000.
Andre Gunder Frank has been turning our thinking upside-down throughout his long and illustrious career. With his work on the development of underdevelopment, he successfully toppled the reigning orthodoxy of modernization theory and forced everyone to reconsider how underdevelopment comes about. The world, and our understanding of it has never been the same. Still working at full bore, fiercely attacking all of our preconceptions, Frank has written yet another masterpiece of provocative sociology. ReOrient calls into question virtually every set of assumptions that has dominated macrosociology since the inception of the discipline. All of the great thinkers of social science, from Adam Smith, to Weber and Marx, to Wallerstein, are put on the chopping block....Whether we agree with everything Frank says in this book or not, it is [a]major intellectual achievement. It forces us to confront the assumptions and concepts that our ideas and research have stood upon for generations. Now the rug is pulled out from under us, and we must question whether all of those "givens" are just cultural biases that we have inherited. This book is like a cold bath that you enter reluctantly, shiver in, and emerge from with a bracing vigor. What defines a great book? One model is a work that synthesizes everything that we already know. The greatness of ReOrient lies in an opposite principle: that of forcing its readers to revisit everything they have thought and read. We believe such a work deserves to be cherished and honored.

World History Association First Book Prize 1999
This book has just won the 1999 World History Association Book Award, which was presented at the WHA conference in Victoria, BC, Canada, on June 26, 1999. The choice was unanimous, because we regard this book as being in a class by itself. Its breadth of vision, courageous analysis and apt warning not to let ethnocentrism deter historians from pursuing a global perspective on the past, all make Gunder Frank's book exceptional and a must read for historians, teachers and students of world history. The book argues that European hegemony in the modern era did not really emerge until the nineteenth century, and that before that Europe was a rather marginal player in the Eurasian world economy that was centered on China. Only the windfalls of American silver and the Atlantic slave trade enabled Europe to buy its way into the existing world economy and industrialize. Its holistic approach forces historians to look beyond Europe to understand the making of the modern world, and Frank's attention to historiographic issues is outstanding.
David A Chappell Book Review Editor Journal of World History
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Post time 2007-2-18 03:42:05 |Display all floors


This is a topic with parameters as wide as philosophy. There will not be AN answer to the question posed, but many.

" Are western historians biased ?".

Yes of course. So are Eastern historians. His-story is the story of the egocentric and the victors.  " Our boys " are always the front and centre of justice, liberty , sweetness and light in any war. So is the other side, from THEIR historians' point of  view and records.

The collateral influence on the world's political stage determines which version of history gets the attention and focus it may  or may not deserve. English and the English speaking world have  been the world's empire builder, economic engine andhad the industrial might. They have had the privilege and continue to occupy the centre stage of literature and propaganda. So what is written in English " counts ".  A good and factual history in Swahili is not going anywhere fast is it ?

So my point of view is this. In order for the rest of the world to balance the bias, other poles of influence ought to be developed. To this end China and the Chinese are in the vantage position to make that break through. When Chinese become more and more universally used then automatically what history there is in Chinese will form the alternative and balancing view of the event. Lots of events are not even known outside China ( or Japan or Korea ) at the present English dominated era. This task of balancing is more a pro-active work to be done by the non-English speakers rather than to wait for them to be more " unbiased " I do not blame them for being bias ( if factural) because little Johnny the son is bound to be the centre of conversation of the English family rather than Xiao Ming , his Chinese playmate next door.

As Confucius said " Don't get angry, get even ".  

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Post time 2007-2-18 04:54:27 |Display all floors
ReORIENT: Global Economy in the Asian Age
by Andre Gunder Frank

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Reviewers Comments:

A fundamental book for the 21st century, December 3, 2000. Gunder Frank have really helped to open up the eyes of people, who have long gotten used to reading books and literary works written with Eurocentric bias. Gunder Frank provides ample proof in his arguments and successfully disproves long held Eurocentric ideas about the origins of the modern economics, commerce, and industry.

Frank's book makes two big arguments:

(1) The first demolishes one of the pillars of Eurocentric history: the false belief that Europe was more advanced or more rapidly advancing that Asia in early modern times. What it shows is that the global economy was centered around China until 1800 AD, that the main economic players of those 2 millennia were China, India and Japan assisted by Russia, Persia and the Ottoman Empire.

He conclusively proves that Europe's success was nothing unique, and that Europe was the lesser of the many players in world economics, technology, and industry until about 1800 AD. China, India, Central Asia, South-East Asia, and the Middle East were those main players of the global trade, spanning from 1500 BC to 1800 AD. These above five regions also had the world's highest standards of living, most advanced technology, greatest industrial and commercial enterprises, best art forms, literature, philosophy, and musical styles, and also the most sophisticated government and best infrastructure in roads, bridges, canals, river and seaborne transportation from 5000 BC to 1800 AD.

(2) The second argument is a theory aiming to explain why Europe began to outpace Asia in economic development around 1750 and, more concretely, to explain why the industrial revolution took place in Europe and not in Asia.

Special note must be made of the role that Native American gold and silver played in helping Europe to become a player in the global trade, by giving Europe with the purchasing power to purchase Chinese silks, tea, porcelain, Indian cotton textiles, and South-East spices and gems and other goods. The West was only minor and it is only because they achieved the conquest of the Americas and the exploitation of its silver deposits that they obtained a ticket in the global economy and gradually rose to prominence.

Britain was global hegemon from 1800 until 1914, displaced by the United States from then until present.

Europe played a significant role in moving the science, technology, industry, trade, and commerce of the world forward and to greater new heights, just as the other six regions of the world have done in the past.

Some forecasts predict that Chinese economy could outpace the US between 2013 and 2049.

His detailed and argumented study is confirmed by current reality. 4 of the 5 largest foreign currency deposits are already in East Asia: Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong. While US current account balance is at -$393 billion and EU current account balance is at -$14 billion, Japan current account balance is at $128 billion, Russia is at $30 billion and China is at $17 billion. Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia are all in positive waters. Most strategic technological monopolies are in Japan (Blindside from Eanmon Fingleton, 1995). 9 of the 10 largest harbours in the World are East Asian, leaving Rotterdam as the single exception. 70% of the World software production is in India. Most of the largest national GDP annual growth are in East, South-East and South Asia, making US robust growth of the last decade look pale and Europe's 2-3% definitly meaky.

The book is fundamental because it explains the basics of this Asian economic advantage, how post-1800 Westerners could delude themselves while their ancestors (Adam Smith being the most famous) dedicated pages of study to record and analyse why Asia was so superior to the West in almost everything and why the West has risen and is maybe falling beyond again (Only a blind could not notice that 1/3 of all US supermarket shelves are filled with Made in China or that the content of high-tech products is mostly Made in Japan, Taiwan or Korea and that Pokemon, Nintedno and Playstation are kids favorite).
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Post time 2007-2-19 02:03:32 |Display all floors

Manipulation and distortion of facts

It's not new that western imperialists skillfully control and manipulate world's perception on what is right or bad.

They even have fine established insitution for that. Now wonder much of the 'glory' always belong to theirs... at least according to their own words.

4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne)

The 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, NC, is the only active Army psychological operations unit. The 1,300-member unit constitutes 26 percent of all U.S. Army psychological operations units; the remaining 74 percent being filled by reservists. As of May 2006, the unit was slated to eventually grow to approximately 2,300 troops by the year 2011.

The mission of the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) is to deploy anywhere in the world on short notice, and plan, develop, and conduct Civil Affairs and Psychological operations in support of Unified Commanders, coalition forces, or other government agencies as directed by the National Command Authority.

The 4th POG (A) personnel (soldiers and civilian) include regional experts and linguists who understand the political, cultural ethnic, and religious subtleties of the target audience. They also include functional experts in technical fields such as broadcast journalism radio operations, print, illustration, interrogation layout operations, and long-range tactical communications.

The 4th POG (A) is capable of providing PSYOP support ranging from propaganda and product development, to media production, to strategic, operations, and tactical information dissemination. The 4th POG's organic media assets include light-to-heavy print production; audio production; amplitude modulated (AM), FM, and shortwave radio broadcasting stations; audiovisual production and dissemination; and tactical loudspeaker dissemination.

The 4th POG (A) is normally assigned to the AC of the unified command, but may be assigned as the joint PSYOP task force on the unified command. It may be designated as the senior PSYOP headquarters over US RC POGs or allied elements at EAC.

The 4th POG (A) provisional task organization consists of a group HHC, three regionally oriented battalions, one tactical support battalion, and one PSYOP dissemination battalion.

During contingency operations, PSYOP battalions or their subordinate elements are task-organized to provide the full range of PSYOP support required.

The 4th POG (A) was comprised of a Headquarters Company, 4 Regional Support Battalions, a PSYOP Dissemination Battalion, and an Operational/Tactical Battalion. With about 1,145 soldiers and 57 civilian analysts in the entire group, the battalions are small with generally fewer than 200 soldiers, compared with a standard infantry battalion of about 750 soldiers.

The 4 Regional Support Battalions (RSB) were the the 1st Psychological Operations Battalion, which had regional responsibility for the southern hemisphere covered by Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion which supported the Pacific (PACOM), the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion, which supported Europe (EUCOM) and Africa (not including the Horn of Africa), and the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion, which supported the Middle East (CENTCOM). The 5th Psychological Operations Battalion appears to have inactivated.

Regional PSYOP is conducted at the strategic and operational levels and operates under the staff proponency of the Theater/Joint Task Force (JTF) J3. The regional PSYOP battalion commander develops and executes the CINC-JTF Commander's PSYOP campaign plan, and when directed by the Commander, 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), provides the Joint PSYOP Task Force Commander.

Each Regional Battalion consists of a Headquarters Support Company, a PSYOP Development Company which is further broken down into a Plans Programs Detachment, a Target Audience Analysis Detachment and a Test Evaluation Detachment, and a Strategic Studies Detachment which includes civilians with language and cultural expertise in the region supported by the unit. The civilians provide long-term regional analysis and may deploy on missions.

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Post time 2007-2-19 02:58:33 |Display all floors

Historical bias...

Everyone has a bias towards a particular event.  This is true of every individual on Earth.

Every historian reflects that bias in their work, regardless of how the claim or try to be nuetral.

It would be an outright lie to deny factual events,  But historians can add bias by inferring who or what may have influenced these factual events.  In this respect, it is always good to read histories of a particular event from several different points of view.  Anyone taking the trouble to do so is intelligent enough to weigh the different biased writings against one another and form their own opinion.  Of course, all readers maintain their own bias, and will reach different conclusions than others.

So, any educated person takes for granted that histories or biased, and they themselves will reached a biased conclusion from reading these accounts.  So Western, Eastern, Northern, Southern, etc histories will all be biased.  No great revelation here.

The second point amongs many of these posts deal with outright lies or distortions of facts.   Again, an educated person may read a historical account of some event, and question major deviations from accepted fact.  If something deviates too greatly, then the reader will recognize it does, and should do more research before blindly accepting any radical change in history.

A third more important point brought up was assigning proper credit for discoveries and influences.  There is a large difference between discovering/creating something and making that discovery practical and recognizing it is a major discovery.  One of the forumites discussed this with the credit for discovering the Americas.  Columbus is celebrated as the person who was credited with visiting the Americas first, when in fact, Leif Erikson/scandinavians wa/were the first supported by evidence.  And the explorer Amerigo Vespucci realized the Americas were not India, hence his name is used in naming the two Western continents.

Another example would be Thomas Edison, given credit for developing many practical items from inventions other people made.  But he made them practical and useful, therefore he is given the credit.

So while many other nations may have 'invented' useful tools or processes, these same things may have been developed in parallel in another part of the world.  Or that process may have been rarely used, but a foreigner may have observed the thing/process and made it practical, or brought it back to his own nation where its applications became widespread.

Nothing wrong with adding a footnote to history to mention the first to use/discover a process, but credit should always go the one who really understood how to make practical use of the discovery.

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Post time 2007-2-19 03:11:05 |Display all floors
Originally posted by nosferatu at 2007-2-19 02:58
Everyone has a bias towards a particular event.  This is true of every individual on Earth.

Every historian reflects that bias in their work, regardless of how the claim or try to be nuetral.


You mean that... we should cherish the PR guy more than the inventer?

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Post time 2007-2-19 03:24:50 |Display all floors
There are honest historian and there are biased historian. Whether they are western or eastern is irrelevant. The point is, biased historians contribute to the loss of human heritage.

Another point of note is to understand that historical events are by nature impossible to be totally unbiased. bias should be allowed as long as events are recorded and details be provided.

However, that doesn't excuse certain so-called scholar from willful neglection of historical evidents and write untruths. Honest difference in perspective is one thing, perversion of history is another.

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