CXXX (Re)leituras -- A Study of History, by Arnold Toynbee, comments by André Bandeira

It's a long, long way to Tipperary. This classic on History was so much political! The more we write, on an Internet sheet, the more we go beyond books, where a kind of thourough thesis was supposed to be laid within covers. After all, Internet has helped us to write and read continuously, as it happened once with radio and TV. We swim in a kind of plasma which has only changed its consistency, since the times people were leavening their bioma, through words, gestures and expressions. We call it citizenship, «modern life», contemporaneity, whatever. I really think that the invention of printing made things more difficult, by means of facilitating them, since we didn't change our minds, we just amplifyied them. After all, Toynbee is no genious. He still tells History with a narrow set of moving characters. He masters Ancient Greek and Latin, but he cannot express India, neither Asia in his western History, albeit his extensive resources. This «Study of History» (not «on History») is no philosophical work, but it has a lot of religious. He sums-up History in 16/21 Civilizations, he spells them with three kinds of achievement, and he leads all that through a kind of weaving texture, better expressed by the ancient chinese dualism of Yin-Yang (first Yin, of course, otherwise he wouldn't have his Yang as the thing which is always present and never visible or, in other words, there is always a foundation for the tiranny of «whateverism», when freedom for anything doesn't leave one sole thing up). Let's say that Toynbee dances on a one-two/one-two/two-three step. He is superb in finding the intertwinement between «universal state» and «universal religion». He really manages to find the cultural forces which really define periods in History, thus satisfying Voltaire's claim that History shouldn't be a recitation of Kings and battles only (neither solely Civilizations). Of course he doesn't fall either in a continuum of tables of numbers, as the marxist «École des Annales» did. But he doesn't suceed in. Toynbee, despite being an anglican, still remains too much papist, a kind of stubborn hegemonist, a gambler who lost his bet but didn't lost his grip. Reading this classic of the Cold War, only urges us to look for other Civilizations which Toynbee didn't account for. I don't care if they are Civilizations lowsly deffameted by UFO chasers and other storytellers. After all, Caral in Peru, with its solid 3000 years B.C. was still unknown to Toynbee. It goes the same for the inception of the Maya culture, 1000 years before what was acknowledged, when Toynbee wrote. There are other things which the «unarmed civilian» of Cold War, who Toynbee was, couldn't guess at all. The older globalizations in archaic History, and this latter itself. Still, Toynbee got to be read again. He has three volumes devoted to the intertwinement of Civilizations, something he coined the difference between limes and limen (the military borderline which ultimately works against any Empire vs. the transitional room by which civilizations accommodate among them). In a world of immediacy, so typical of a Civilization about to commit suicide, there was some Samuel Huntington who devoted to this very matter only one volume, from time to time way misinformed in History and other times unreliable.


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