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Posts Tagged ‘M.I. Finley’

The most interesting aspect of Donald Engels’ 1990 book Roman Corinth: an alternative model for the classical city, and the reason why it’s still worth reading (at least in parts), is not its account of archaeological work at Corinth (very useful then, now outdated), nor its substantive attempt at disproving the ‘consumer city’ model (which, if I recall correctly, included the argument that if the non-producers were in a minority it couldn’t be a consumer city), but his excursus into a historicising intellectual history: Engels sets M.I. Finley’s approach to the economy of antiquity in a wider context of suspicion of modernity and capitalist values, a climate of thought whose most prominent exemplars were Pol Pot and the Sendero Luminoso. Guilt by association, at however many removes; forget the common assertion that all the ideals of communism are irrevocably tainted by the crimes of Stalin’s regime (see recent discussion over on Crooked Timber), in this discourse any deviation whatsoever from the wholehearted celebration of industry and the market leads directly to mass murder. In retrospect, one is simply surprised that he didn’t chuck in the Manson Family and Altamont for good measure.

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