As a historian, James Blaut became so popular because of his criticism with the idea of Eurocentrism. From the word itself, Eurocentrism promotes the idea that European civilizations are superior to others and they have a lot of advantages compared to other civilization in Asia and Africa. In his book entitled 1492: The Debate on Colonialism, Eurocentrism, and History, Blaut argued with some of the famous philosopher and authors who are known for their Eurocentric ideas.
Blaut tried to weaken their arguments and show to this modern world that our idea that Europeans have superior culture is only a delusion. Why 1492? According to the author, that year is the start of cultural evolution in Europe that brought them so much success in terms of dominating the world. According to Blaut, Europe is not ahead of Asia and Africa in terms of development and even the precondition of development. Europe just take advantage of the situation which is opposite to the beliefs of the proponents of Eurocentric idea that it has something to do with their superior culture.
The year just inaugurated a set of historical process the helped the Europeans to develop their economy. One good example is their triumph over feudalism which was later on replaced by capitalism. We can say that Blaut was able to give good arguments and strong evidences that disprove the arguments presented by famous Eurocentric author such as Karl Marx and strengthen his theory that Europe’s exploitation of America paves their way to world domination. His arguments are the following: (page 2) 1.
“Europeans had no advantage over Africa and Asia prior to 1492. Indeed, we cannot say that European culture is superior to those of Africa and Asia for the later two regions has their own economic and cultural advantages. ” As oppose to the idea of Eurocentric theory which says that their weak culture resulted to their weak civilization, African and Asian civilization has their own cultural strengths that helped their economy to flourish. 2. “Colonialism is inevitable, it will happen even if there is no capitalism in Europe.
” It is oppose the Eurocentric idea that the success of capitalism in Europe is the reason for their colonial expansion in different parts of the world. It is a very Eurocentric idea because it implies that colonialism starts in Europe as capitalism birthed in that region. Blaut argues that even if capitalism didn’t develop in Europe, powerful countries will still colonize other regions of the world. The birth of colonialism is a destiny for human civilization and an inevitable product of the natural characteristic of human society. 3. “Economic exploitation in America in 16th and 17th century was vastly intensive.
” It is the main reason and explanation why Europe dominates the world not the rise of capitalism in Europe. Thus, the transformation of European society is just a mere product of major historical events and Europe just grabbed the opportunity. It contrasts the Eurocentric idea that the superiority of European culture and the weakness of others is the cause of their cultural transformation. 4. “There was no transition from feudalism to capitalism, rather a sharp break, a historical unconformity between medieval Europe and the Europe of bourgeoisie revolution.
” Blaut disprove the belief that Europe experienced a social transformation which they triumph over the medieval feudalism. The idea of this social transformation implies that Europe of capable of transforming its society which can be attributed to their cultural superiority. Blaut theory vs. Eurocentric diffusionism For a long time, Eurocentric diffusionism is the dominant belief of the Europeans as well as other historians. It implies that the diffusion of Europe’s superior culture has brought progress throughout the world and caused worldwide social revolution.
Eurocentric diffusionism believes that there is no need to look at other cultures which are lesser than those of the Europeans. Instead, historian believes in tunnel history as a source of historical reasoning. “Historical reasoning thus looks back the tunnel of time for causes of important changes in their history”. ( Blaut, p. 8). Because they see themselves as superior, they use their own history to interpret their society and disregard the contribution of the lesser civilization.
The only exemption to this kind of social reasoning is when those lesser civilization caused so much decivilizing change such as barbarian invasion, plagues, and heresies. This reflects how the Europeans see the outside world. The significance of the outside culture is based on their effect on the ethnocentric Europeans. Another doctrine which is part of Eurocentric diffusinism is the outward diffusion of European intellect and spirituality that brought social evolution to the outside world of Europe.
Actually, we cannot separate European intellect from spirituality for European intellect was shaped by Christian faith. As written by Blaut: “Two centuries ago it was axiomatic that God and his church were the fountainhead of progress. A Christian God ofcourse will put ideas in the heads of Christians particularly those Christians who worship him the right way and he will lead his people toward civilization. Gradually this explicit doctrine became implicit and Christians Europeans were themselves seen as the source of innovative ideas and hence evolutionary change for reasons not usually grounded in faith. ”