International Relationships Status Quo, economical versus anthropological approach

Nov 2012
179
Discussing with a friend how to change things for the better he came off as very conservative from my viewpoint, he held the position that economy is the greatest driving force in international relationships, that there would never be a unified world government and that third world countries have no choice but to kiss the ass of world powers because they lack the power to change history by their own... He studied law and then went on to join my country's diplomatic force however he has little expertise beyond the fields of economics, law and diplomacy... So I think he might be biased due to his lack of knowledge of sociology and anthropology... Nonetheless I reckno that I am also quite ignorant when it comes to economics... So... Bottomline... Are there approaches to this subject that are based on both economics and anthropology? Or are both human sciences always opposed?
 
Nov 2012
162
USA
I don’t see where economics and anthropology are opposing forces.

There is the Marxist approach to anthropology based on the theories of Louis Henry Morgan and his model of social evolution based on the struggle for available resources. Morgan asserted that societies moved from more primitive to more civilized stages of development. The Marxist interpretation of Morgan’s ideas was that this resulted in transitions from primitive communism, through feudalism and capitalism, to communism. Marx did not perceive that such a progression was necessary, he instead looked at the development of historically contingent communities and their modes of production.

In any event, post-colonial anthropology, the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, Bloch, Wolf, and others who use Marxism as a tool to make sense of the various cultural paradigms, have taken into consideration the role of resources, modes of production, oppression and resistance, and other conceptual frameworks such as gendered space, the role of orientalism, etc. in order to come to a better understanding of existing cultural models.




 
Nov 2012
179
I must admit my friend is very anti-marxist and takes after Adam Smith and Hobbes in his approach to economics
 

Tuthmosis III

Ad Honorem
Oct 2011
3,738
the middle ground
One needs economics, anthropology, and a host of other social sciences to properly explain international relations or any similarly big topic. I cannot think of any recent macrohistorical study that does not at least acknowledge the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach.
It seems to me the opposition is in the interpretation of the data, not the sciences themselves.
 

unclefred

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
6,731
Oregon coastal mountains
I've thought that Technology and Economics are the prime movers. Especially in the Macro sense. In the details is where other disciplines can find their share.
 

Tuthmosis III

Ad Honorem
Oct 2011
3,738
the middle ground
I've thought that Technology and Economics are the prime movers. Especially in the Macro sense. In the details is where other disciplines can find their share.
More than likely true for the last few centuries, but there have been ages and cultures where, say, religious expansion or military competition have had more direct impact on the "course" of history. (As this century wears on and we brush up against the limits of cheaply produced energy, we may yet see a full-fledged return to 'tribal' politics... :think:)
 

unclefred

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
6,731
Oregon coastal mountains
More than likely true for the last few centuries, but there have been ages and cultures where, say, religious expansion or military competition have had more direct impact on the "course" of history. (As this century wears on and we brush up against the limits of cheaply produced energy, we may yet see a full-fledged return to 'tribal' politics... :think:)
Religious movements are a wild card. I wonder though if even religious movements and the military are not often, if not primarily, driven by economics? A case can be made too, that the exponential growth of technology also affects religious concepts and practices. From primitive animism on up to the religious changes we see today in the technologically leading nations. Animism is alive and well in primitive forest dwelling societies today.
 

Tuthmosis III

Ad Honorem
Oct 2011
3,738
the middle ground
Religious movements are a wild card. I wonder though if even religious movements and the military are not often, if not primarily, driven by economics? A case can be made too, that the exponential growth of technology also affects religious concepts and practices. From primitive animism on up to the religious changes we see today in the technologically leading nations. Animism is alive and well in primitive forest dwelling societies today.
A case can be made for belief systems and attitudes legitimating certain business/trade practices and expectations over time as well.
It's all intertwined ultimately. Broad definitions (economics = everything pertaining to people making a living; politics = everything pertaining to power/influence in and among groups; ideology = everything pertaining to world-view and belief, &c) are actually helpful in showing how any one factor can be isolated for the purposes of analysis, but is clearly insufficient to be the 'whole' explanation.
 

unclefred

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
6,731
Oregon coastal mountains
A case can be made for belief systems and attitudes legitimating certain business/trade practices and expectations over time as well.
It's all intertwined ultimately. Broad definitions (economics = everything pertaining to people making a living; politics = everything pertaining to power/influence in and among groups; ideology = everything pertaining to world-view and belief, &c) are actually helpful in showing how any one factor can be isolated for the purposes of analysis, but is clearly insufficient to be the 'whole' explanation.
That's a good way to express it. I think of Economics and Technology in the macro view of history and other disciplines in the micro aspects. The details, which can be varied but ultimately become joined.
 

Fantasus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2012
2,381
Northern part of European lowland
Discussing with a friend how to change things for the better he came off as very conservative from my viewpoint, he held the position that economy is the greatest driving force in international relationships, that there would never be a unified world government and that third world countries have no choice but to kiss the ass of world powers because they lack the power to change history by their own... He studied law and then went on to join my country's diplomatic force however he has little expertise beyond the fields of economics, law and diplomacy... So I think he might be biased due to his lack of knowledge of sociology and anthropology... Nonetheless I reckno that I am also quite ignorant when it comes to economics... So... Bottomline... Are there approaches to this subject that are based on both economics and anthropology? Or are both human sciences always opposed?
When it comes to predictive power in generals, who says any human "science" has it at all or ever will (be it economy, anthropology, history)?
And why is scepticism towards a "unified world government" regardeed as so conservative? Is such a government, as we traditionally see a government, even desirable? have You thought about what speaks for aand what against it?