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by Peter Pogany

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 2006
ISBN: 0-595-41079-0

Economist Pogany presents his new historical materialism to explain the unfolding of history.

Certainly there are elements of chance, randomness and entropy involved, writes Pogany, but the flow of history is a material process, “the complexifying self-organization of interconnected, brain-anchored codes on a global scale.” Once readers get beyond the leaf storm of his theory’s new wordplay, most will understand that the author is addressing how a burgeoning population will contend with the Earth’s material limitations and ideological flounderings, and perhaps even emerge with a higher form of cohesive global organization and decision making. He locates and expands upon the emergence of global systems after the French Revolution, a laissez faire period up to World War I, and a chaotic transition until the end of World War II, when a mixed economy/weak multilateralism attained steady state. Today, cultural evolution (the transformation of the mind, productive forces and relations, ethics, consciousness, language and intentionality, all at once) has taken us to the apex of the current global system. The fruits of past thought, technological advance and the progress of scientific thinking–the sum total of what is in our collective heads–will propel us materially to the next, more socio-economically humane, level (though vested interests may make it a bloody event). Since accumulated knowledge and inventive thinking is a crucial part of Pogany’s evolutionary materialism, he understandably brings a vast number of ideas to the table for examination. He chews through them with vigor, from Karl Polanyi (a favorite) to Karl Marx (historically necessary), inviting the reader into his own head to observe his material processes–and, once there, to grow skeptical (has cultural evolution really “moderated the fierceness of competition among its own ranks”?), nod your head in agreement with the value of the economic transformation curve, or marvel that “life is autocatalytic entropy defiance.”

Richly inclusive and wonderfully hopeful, Pogany’s theories are dense with dark matter, but lively.