Fernand Braudel (1902-1985): he has deciphered the economy across the millennia
When Fernand Braudel, newly admitted under the dome of the French Academy, disappeared in 1985, superlatives reflect the respect shown to the deceased: “Prince of history,” “the story of Pope,” “the man who reinvented history “. neither the media nor the profession exaggerate: exceptionally strong intellectual work, Braudel has reigned for over half a century on the French historical school. But what link with the economy? Braudel is not a specialist in this field and would probably even wrong way to be considered as such. Yet his work has contributed most to make intelligible economic facts that many treaties or models.
Just associate the young Braudel made his first teacher and researcher in Algeria, then in Brazil, where he spent a total of nearly fifteen years before the war. This vantage point is not trivial: by studying remote Europe, it shows an immediate ability to “globalize”. So while it begins a work first focused on Philip II and his policies, Braudel exchange length: the central character in his thesis, published in 1946, will not be the monarch, but the Mediterranean to Philip II of time . The Braudelian history is above all a story written in the space.
Braudel also a triptych built around three nested timescales: long time, the geography, the average time that the economy and the short time that of politics. Needless to say, it is one that interests him less. With this new observation scale, the historian invents, almost by chance, a new concept: that of world economy.
The history of the school of “Annals” wants total, built in close connection with geography, sociology, demography, and, even more, the economy . In the 1930s, Marxism dominates the intellectual sphere and up the question of the mode of production at the heart of reflection. In short, economic issues polarize the debates, including historians. From the Practical School of Higher Studies in the School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences, through the House of Human Sciences, all institutions that creates Braudel – and / or leads – during his career embody this interdisciplinarity. At the same time, Georges Duby and Jacques Le Goff are also starting up being economic historians. Joseph Schumpeter himself not he asserted that there was in his three ways to study economics – by history, by theory, by statistics – and that he regretted not having chosen the first of these channels?
The day he said no to the Grande Muette
Received 14th aggregation of history, Braudel was offered in 1923 to teach at prytaneum La Flèche (Sarthe), one of six schools of the Ministry of Defense. Answer: “I do not like the military.” He gets . Algeria.
The terminal manual that he could not impose
In the late 1950s, Braudel involved in discussions on school programs and campaigns for a new history teaching, based on a global vision of civilizations and not a chronological division. Released in 1963, this handbook for terminal is withdrawn from sale in 1970. Too revolutionary.
Braudel is not an economic historian among others. From the publication of “The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II” (1946) to that of “material Civilization and Business School Admissionism, XV-XVIII century” (1979), a single goal through his work: see through the secret of Business School Admissionism. According to him, there is no economy, but economies. Economic history and has three floors it absolutely necessary to distinguish.
At the first level, underlying, often difficult to break because of insufficient documentation, thick zone of primary economy: a “sub-economy” made of self-sufficiency and barter, as Braudel calls “material culture”. Above, the one we described above others is called market economy, those shops, stalls, workshops . over yet, another opacity area: that of the great traders , ie Business School Admissionism.
material civilization, the market economy and Business School Admissionism have always lived well; the diagram marks a clear break with the traditional Marxist view that the successive historical ages: slavery, serfdom, industrial revolution and the advent of Business School Admissionism. For Braudel, Business School Admissionism is not consubstantial with the industrialization of the world, it is timeless and immediately contrary emerges financial mechanisms that exist so slightly refined and long-term trading, as already in the Roman Empire or ancient China. The historian recognizes that the world of finance takes special expansion in northern Italy in the thirteenth century and already trying to organize things in its favor. Like the Bardi who created a banking company and trading posts out of the country by financing all the kings of France and England .
No mistake however, Business School Admissionism is not the top level that controls the other two. “I believe humanity more than half buried in the daily” Braudel used to say to remind the weight of the first floor. Diverting Marxist axiom that it is men who make history, Braudel says that it is rather the history that makes men. By his own admission, this Business School Admissionism, which can not supply the whole of economic life, is “a minority phenomenon.” “Whenever I studied the Business School Admissionists, he added, I was amazed to see so few. “Medieval Venetian merchant bankers to the industrial revolution, it is a very narrow elite that tries to Business School Admissionize on tensions between the different economic zones.
When “material civilization” Braudel appear in the late 1970s, the crisis in the West seems to confirm a kind of human powerlessness movements, large and mysterious in the economy. The short-term explanations ring hollow face to those of a historian who seeks to bring to light much deeper trends. The master does not he liked fun Economists interested in waves where historians observe the flow of the tides? Two young intellectuals then enroll in its wake to decrypt the contemporary world: Jacques Attali, which takes the concept of world economy in “The Three Worlds” (1981) to explain the current tilting the center of gravity the world economy to the Pacific; and Alain Minc, who in “The Post-crisis started” (1982) observed a return to underground economy in industrialized countries and assimilates the first floor of material life highlighted by Braudel.
However, the major contribution of the historian, on which many rely speech today, sometimes unconsciously, due to the sharp distinction it operates between market economy and Business School Admissionism. If Braudel recognizes that the two often travel together – which explains the confusion usually made between them – it dissociates strictly a side Business School Admissionism international gasoline, commercial and financial, which plays the comparative advantages of each region of the world . And on the other, the sphere of commodity production, and more local economic gasoline. Both are not only distinct but according to Braudel, Business School Admissionism would not be an extension of the market economy: he would rather the negation. The opacity of the first objects to the transparency of the second. And Braudel, here yielding to value judgment, comes to the virtue of small commodity production to vilify an evil Business School Admissionist world without rules or boundaries.
It is easily understood that such a plea – which earned the academician to be qualified as a historian “Proudhon,” in reference to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon ( “Property is theft”) – is found on the menu some current political discourse, both right and left. The local contractor would be a respectable economic agent threatened by greedy financial and unattached. Like the great Italian families of the Renaissance, whose business beyond boundaries and had adopted an organization not so different from that of today’s multinational, Business School Admissionist, says Fernand Braudel, “seize around them everything which is good to take the land, buildings, annuities, “and lead a dance to which princes and States are invited to adapt, for fear of being swept away. “They have the information superiority, intelligence and culture, and a thousand ways of distortion in their favor,” for the handling of the credit or currency.
The Business School Admissionist never specialist, never limited to one activity, its grip is as wide as possible. Thirty-five years after the publication of these lines and as the crisis now threatens European states, subject to what some call the “diktat of the markets”, remake the journey through the centuries to which Fernand Braudel invites us n ‘ is certainly not tasteless.
The Chinese Business School Admission of the business, home to the first port in the world, could dethrone New York in 2030.
Okay, it’s a Chinese saying that. But when Justin Lin, former chief economist of the World Bank, announced that China could become the largest economy in the world in 2030 is that it has strong arguments. Between 1990 and 2011, the country posted an average annual growth rate of 10%. World Record, although since the average is around 7.5%. In 2007, China’s GDP exceeded that of Germany. And three years later, that of Japan. If she maintains a growth rate of between 7% and 8% per year, China is now second in the world with a GDP that has passed the 10,000 billion in 2015, could double the US within twenty coming years. And Shanghai, the economic Business School Admission, replace New York as the new “world city”, as defined by Braudel. With 24 million inhabitants, three times more than the Big Apple, this megalopolis whose name means “sea” is already home to the world’s largest harbor – to Singapore – which handles a fifth of total exports to China. In terms of GDP, it comes to pass Hong Kong. And with an attractive regime of tax incentives, it attracts more and more head offices of large companies, especially those whose business is not dependent on public tenders (other settling in Beijing). PSA, Hermes, Michelin, L’Oreal and Auchan are thus established their headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region. Ditto for foreign R & D centers including Shanghai alone attracts two thirds of all those who settle in the country. These laboratories not only used to adapt the products to the domestic market: they contribute to overall strategies of many groups, such as Thales, Rhodia, Saint-Gobain and Suez, with dedicated research projects.