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Common paradigm of the 20th century historians


Carlos Barros
University of Santiago de Compostela


Before asking ourselves where the history we historians make is going, it might be better to stop and elucidate where it actually comes from. Above and beyond the great historiographic Schools of the 20th Century, we historians come from such very different countries and with such very different historical specialities thet we find it hard to see what we have had, or indeed still have, in common, especially in times of fragmentation and uncertainty such as these.

The identity crisis history is currently going through thus makes it every more ugent for us to stop and take stock of the situation facing us at the end of the Century : the historians= common heritage is in desperate need of being put back together again and this task requires us to weigh up our collective successes and, more importantly, our collective failures in order to properly grasp the apparent dead-end we find ourselves in and in order for us to enter into the 21st Century both morally and scientifically rearmed. Basically, we must apply the method of history to the writing of history itself, which is a has until very recently been a far from habitual, not to say rare, practice on the part of historians.

The lack of studies, reflection and debate on historiography, the methodology and theory of history are the very features of the old, now questioned, common paradigm which helps understand both the difficulties we encounter when trying to understand it in bygone times as well as its more recent irreversible fall. Converting historians and their work, historiographic currents of thought and their crises, the values and practices of the trade into an object of scientific research (and debate), ie. knowing that what is said does not necessarily coincide with what one knows nor with what one does, putting our problem into context, is a need which is beginning to be sufficiently reflected on in the congresses, reviews and books. It stands as a symptom of a growing awareness on the part of the historians of the critical point we have arrived at.


From the history of science to historiography


The fact that the beliefs, practices and evolution of science remained practically unintelligible was a widespread problem until the history (or sociology) of science developed, vying with the philosophy of science to redefine the epistemological status of scientific knowledge. The history of the human and social sciences in general and of the history of history in particular was to cease to be an incidental literature in so far as they critically took on board the progress made by the history of science, which had already stated some time ago that scientists Aare little better than the quacks when it comes to characterizing the established bases of their field, their problems and their accepted methods[1]@.

The invisibility of the paradigms shared by the historians is, therefore, a problem which is also shared by the other sciences and  Thomas S. Kuhn brilliantly solved this by defining the concept of the paradigm and thereby uncovering the crucial role played by the scientific community in validating scientific knowledge, whose paradigms are not eternal, but being instead subject to change via revolutionary breaking points which differentiate - rather too clearly - between periods of normal science and periods of extraordinary science, ie. crisis, debate and the replacing of old paradigms with new ones.

The application of Kuhn=s discoveries to the social and human sciences can be inferred from his own open debts towards history, sociology, social and epistemological psychology[2] when it comes to studying the natural sciences - this latter being his main object of analysis - and regarding the experiences of history and historiography themselves and, in short, regarding the maturity history has won for itself as a social science over the 20th Century : its very expansion implies the existence of a vigorous common paradigm.


Kuhn is a physican who turned historian in order to try to come to grips with the sciences of Nature : AAmazed, I became aware that history could be useful to the philosopher of science[3]@.  He is proud of belonging to the North American History Association and not to the Philosophy Association, and he prides himself on the fact that his students want to go on to become historians rather than philosophers[4]. We should at least endevour to give back to history, and with arrears, that which Kuhn learned from history. Kuhn assures his critics that he works as a historian in order to find out more about epistemology[5]. Obviously, what we have here is quite a new cut of historian - even as far as New History goes - who does not look down on theory, taking it to be his final goal instead.

Initially, in order for it to be considered a science, history copied off classical, determinist physics,  leaving behind concepts such as the change and subjectivity of the process of knowledge. Now, however, thanks to Kuhn physics is learning from old history  (and also from Darwin) that scientific development is not cumulative, but progressing instead by means of Arevolutionary breaking points@. A parallel is sought between the historical revolutions in order to gain a clearer understanding of the scientific revolutions, ie. those moments when Aan old paradigm is replaced, wholly or in part, by another new and incompatible one[6]@. And the role played by the collective psyche is of great importance when it comes to the behaviour adopted by the scientific communities, both in the cumulative periods of normal science as well as in the critical periods when the paradigms shift. All in all, the the effect the external influences of the social and cultural factors have on the way the scientific communities evolve (notorious in the case of the social and human sciences) are on the whole quite far-fetched, although this is not to say they have no bearing whatever, indeed in his works. In fact, Kuhn comes to the conclusion that the evolution of the fully-fledged sciences comes about Arelatively independently of its social environment[7]@. His great contribution has been to highlight the role played by the scientific communities on the one hand and that played by the revolution of the paradigms on the other. It is for us, the general historians of society and the psyche, to supply the context and the synchrony.

In order to piece together a new history of science which would be neither linear nor cumulative, Kuhn makes use of a narrative concept of history, whilst at the same time rejecting the mere chronical and highlighting its explanatory nature (Anot only showing facts but also the relationships which exist between them@). Nor does he rule out the existence of laws of social conduct being applicable to history, although these Aare not essencial for its explanatory capacity@. Unlike physics, when once it has begun to be written the investigative process has already come to an end, Kuhn tells us that for history the moment of narration is crucial and is part and parcel of the research itself[8]. However, it was the structural-functional paradigm which held sway among historians in the 60s and 70s and not the narrative paradigm. And so the innovation proposed by Kuhn completely turns on its head both the established concept of history as well as the concept of science in general. Of course, we should be careful to distinguish between Kuhn=s narrative history with its explanatory and epistemological intentions and the well-known Positivist approach, that decrepit idea of history which our historian of science Adidn=t take too seriously@, [9]  and which entails Aexamining texts, extracting the relevant facts and retelling them with literary flare, in a more or less chronological fashion@. This means that Kuhn=s narrative-explanatory history is, therefore, more a thing of the future of our discipline than of its past and comes together with the efforts of other philosophers such as Ricoeur and historians such as Lefebvre and Topolsky in order to give birth to a new narrative history.


Notions of the paradigm


For Kuhn, the word >paradigm= has two different meanings : a specific, exemplicative meaning on the one hand and another more general - and original - meaning on the other hand which refers to the commitments shared by any given scientific community[10].  This latter interpretation has been imposing itself upon the original and literal meaning which equates the paradigm with the model and the example (as in the case of the conjugations of regular verbs). The attempt made by the autor himself in 1969 to replace the wider meaning of paradigm of the notion of a disciplinary matrix[11] in order to avoid any possible confusions and to claim back the plural nature of the theoretical, methodological and normative elements which enjoy the concensus of the specialists, met with failure because precisely what is so very revolutionary about Kuhn=s contribution is the very fact that the term >paradigm= can be used to cover such a wide range of ideas, being at one and the same time both the disciplinary matrix and the exemplative reference point. For the sake of clarity, here we will single out the plural paradigm (the shared paradigms) which more or less explicitly cover the majority of those people who belong to any given professional or scientific speciality, by adding the adjective Acommon@.

We can, therefore, assume that the general, common paradigm of any one scientific community will also contain a series of inter-related individual paradigms, among which the models/examples are of major importance, these being scientific entities which offer solutions to concrete problems and which are universally accepted, eg. Foucualt=s Pendulum used to demonstrate the movement of the Earth. These examplative paradigms work through similarity and emulation and are of great importance in teaching a discipline and in introducing research. The exemplative models shared throughout history boil down to be classical works of each respective discipline, subdiscipline or theme, although they are less important when it comes to solving typical problems in phyisics because shared rules are more common among professional historians[12]. With that proviso, we can say that Ait is the posession of a common paradigm which turns a group of people into a scientific community and without which it would just be a group of disjointed members@[13].  In the same way that no scientist can build up his field of activity from the bottom up, without concensual paradigms there can be no true science in the sense of a collective piece of work. The use of the concept of the paradigm as defined by Kuhn is becoming ever more widely accepted in the run up to the new Century, both in the natural and the social sciences, in academic circles as well as in the highbrow language of the mass media.

A scientific community is made up of those professionals who practice a given speciality, who have received a similar education and who have read the same books, who teach their successors in a collegial manner and who keep up a certain level of internal communication through societies, congresses, reviews as well as other less formal means, all of which is based upon their unanimity of opinions concerning their profession, although this unanimity is of course also rather relative owing to their diversity[14]. For Kuhn, the members of any one given scientific community are Athe sole judge and jury for the work produced by that same community[15]@.  Shared paradigms are only shared in a covert rather than in any overt way, they are more theoretical than practical ; they cannot be precisely pinpointed, nor of course are they exempt from internal disagreement and conflict. What we are dealing with are accepted beliefs (their stability means we can talk of values) which allow the members of the community to select, evaluate, criticize and interpret. The elements which make up these paradigms are drawn both from theory and from practice, from the particular discipline in question as well as from other disciplines, from scientific as well as from common knowledge, etc[16].  These values held in common by a whole scientific speciality differ from one community to the next and from one period to another[17]. They have their own peculiarities and their own histories which must be examined in order to overcome the pigeon-holing which afflicts academic life, ie. that ethnocentric, even egocentric, illusion that nothing exists beyond the confines of the ivory tower of the School, of the field of knowledge, of the line of research or the research team and beyond that individual >ego=, as if everything outside the particular, and safe, field of activity were nothing more than discord, confusion, eclecticism, etc. Objectively speaking, today the implicit recognition of the existence of  the active shared paradigms, was, and to some extent still is, more important than belonging to any given School, speciality, national tradition, philosophy or political creed and this means that we historians must engage in an act of both moral and scientific humility.

Scientific communities are not isolated from one another ; they maintain relationships of inclusion and inter-dependency. Contemporary historians consider themselves to belong together with the social scientists,  who in turn feel themselves to belong with the scientists as a whole (headed by the natural sciences). The paradigm which holds sway in the natural sciences conditions the paradigm of the social and human sciences, which in turn determines the historians= common paradigm. And these influences also work in the opposite sense, and increasingly more so in fact, Cf. Kuhn and history vis à vis physics.

The existence of a common paradigm does not, however, normally imply a common theory. This is what Kuhn has to say about theories ; Asuch traditional constructions are both too rich and too poor to be able to represent what the scientistis have in mind when they talk about subscribing to a particular theory[18]@. What is more, very few social sciences have a well thought-out and widely accepted theory to back them up[19]. Without a doubt, the Marxist theory of history has been the most widely accepted theory amongst 20th Century historians. It would, however, be excessive - and in fact untrue - to take this to be the common theory of something as wide-reaching as the Annales, Historical Materialism, and Neo-positivism which are the three traditions which came together after the Second World War to form our common, diverse and plural paradigm.

Values can be shared by people despite the fact that they may apply them differently because the common paradigm has an inbuilt tolerance towards individual and collective deviation[20]. Any agreement on the basic aspects of what the profession is understood to be is not, therefore, synonymous with having identical criteria[21]. All in all, diversity is the norm and not the exception for a truly functional scientific paradigm because normal science cannot be reduced to one single, monolithic, unified venture ; Alooking at all of the fields at the same time, it looks more like a disjointed structure with very little coherence between its different parts@[22]. This flexibility of the paradigm was not invented by Kuhn, but comes out clearly as the result of any sociological-historical approach to the real scientific communities which are not governed by rigid rules and theories but by shared paradigms which, it is true, must maintain a certain degree of coherence and compatibility for them to be able to guarantee a common, working framework, thus ensuring that the unavoidable polemics do not affect praxis in the periods of normal science[23]. And this explains why history and sociology of science have thrown out this false, oversimplistic, all too common alternative with its theoretical rigidity and its vulgar eclecticism. It also goes without saying that the unity, flexibility and diversity which can be seen should not be taken to imply weakness ; one needs only think about just how much effort it takes scientists to give up their paradigmatic beliefs to see that this is so. To sum up then, the existence of a common paradigm does not imply only one possible reading ; Ait can, therefore, determine several different traditions of normal science at one and the same time which come together without them having to be coexistent@[24]. In order to grasp this properly one has to think in a new way ; we must stop fooling ourselves if we are to overcome a wide-held Afalse belief@ about the way our discipline really works.


Our common ground

How do the complex contents of unity-plurality of the notion of the paradigm apply to history ? As we go through the exam pieces of produced in by professors before they are able to take up their lecturing chairs, we quite often come across joint references both to the Annales School as well as to Historical Materialism (with the appropriate dose of Positivist respect for the sources), ritual quotations from important authors and works, whereby what the would-be professor intends to do is to provide a certain degree of diversity in order to satisfy the foreseeably diverse jury formed by the drawing of lots*. These teaching projects are, then, one way of approaching the historians= common paradigm. But every teacher once was a student too and s/he learnt the bases of his/her subject in the textbooks[25], lecture theatres, obligatory readings, seminars and practical classes. The jargon of the particular discipline, catchphrases such as Athe historian is not there to judge historical facts@, recognition of the most widely accepted professionals and of the research and syntheses held up to be Classics, a negative or positive attitude to a particular interpretation, the subject matter and the method of research ; all of these are things which s/he learns in the history faculties, both inside and outside the classroom. The underlying paradigm can be seen reflected in the contents of the courses and in the choice of the backup materials used to teach these courses, all of which are pretty much of a muchness. In their lessons, professors and teachers spread and defend the established paradigm, even in times of crisis, even above and beyond their own personal opinions, which do occasionally come out in the originality of their research, although this is certainly not always the case. Over the years, the very many translations of sytheses and monographical studies (mainly translated either from French or from English) have had the effect of bringing together the national and international common ground for those historians who gravitate around the principal Schools and traditions, although also affecting others too. The very scarce but invaluable articles and books on historiography, and the methodology and theory of history (in spite of everything, the philosophy of history still tends to remain the preserve of philosophers rather than of historians), such as Apologie pour l=Histoire ou Métier d=Historien by Marc Bloch (Paris, 1949) our What is History ? by Edward H. Carr (London, 1961), republished time and time again in all of the main languages of the Western World, round of the mechanisms which bring about the homogenization and spread of the paradigm shared by 20th Century historians. And, it is worth stressing this once again, this makes itself known more through practical work rather than through theory, all of which makes it extremely difficult to identify despite the fact that it is so very efficient as a means of exemplification and gaining general approval.

The common paradigm is covertly present in the manuals intended for history students as well as in other sythesis-type history books. These works show the final product not the tools used to produce it, because historiographic concepts, methods and values are not talked about and no mention is normally made, therefore, of the historiographic revolutions. Could the intention here be to make the history of history look linear and cumulative, which is precisely what Kuhn argued against in the natural sciences[26] ? While on the one hand 20th Century history is part and parcel of the Enlightened paradigm of cumulative science progressing in a linear fashion, on the other hand, the texts reflecting on historiography tend to sway in the opposite direction by highlighting the historiographic splits and papering over the thread running through it, that continuity (be it diachronic or synchronic) which runs through the various different Schools which amounts to nothing less than covering up a common heritage[27]. This is what gives rise to the lack of precedents and the difficulties we encounter when we try to reconstruct a widely-shared asset with new bases which we usually refer to as the science of history, scientific history, history as a social science, the established paradigm in professional and academic circles in the Western World since the mid-Twentieth Century and which in a mere matter of five years= time will have become the shared paradigm of the historians of the Alast Century@.


The Twentieth Century Historiographic Revolution.


To a large extent, the 20th Century historiographic revolution toppled that narrative, event-orientated, political, biographical history, positivist, descriptive and historicizing history handed down from the 19th Century : that so-called superficial history from above. It boosted a certain degree of hegemony shared between the Annales School and Historical Materialism[28], which although they had been pushed to the fringes of Old History they had not been completely shelved as such[29]. It set up a common and varied paradigm which was a part of, abeit not always knowingly, and drew its strength and philosophical insipration from an Objectivist conception of science which had taken on a new leash of life at that time. This opened the way for Positivism to continue both directly[30] and, more especially, indirectly : that vague and certainly ambiguous influence which has been nevertheless much more widely accepted in practice by New Historians than it would at first seem and above all more than they let tell[31]. Otherwise, how could we explain the ease with which the traditional historiographic genres have been taken up anew over the last ten years ? Empiricism is by no means something peculiar to the Anglo-American world, but is instead a general trend running through the whole of historical science when compared with the theoretical concerns of sociology (from Comte, through Weber and finally the historical sociologists), of anthropology (Lévi-Strauss) or even psychology (Jean Piaget). Nor is this disregard for theory in favour of induction something peculiar to the Annales School[32] (the cause but also the effect of a paradigmatic revolution the course of which was strew with hurdles), but rather a minimum common denominator shared by professional historians[33]. If we refuse to acknowledge this Positivist, Inductivist and Objectivist undercurrent, we will be unable to understand the failures and limitations of the joint Annales-Marxist paradigm, nor will we be able to properly rate its successes. What is more, is it not true that Positivism, Historical Materialism and the Annales School are all part of one and the same progressive project which began with the Enlightenment ? It is the contiguity of these three paradigms which made it easy for them to funcion as communicating vessels, whilst their differences allowed for the transfer of values, all of which finally resulted in a balanced situation. 

As we stand at the end of this Century, what we quite rightly only consider to be nothing more than a partial vistory of the historians= first great common paradigm, brought together in one scientific community[34], was actually a giant step when compared with the previous ongoing situation in the Nineteenth Century, when Positivism and nationalistic Romanticism, Materialism and Idealism and amateurs and the first professional historians fought it out among themselves without ever coming to a historiographic agreement[35].  A failure to appreciate the scientific revolution heralded in with the advent of New History would be tantamount to stabbing ourselves in the back[36]. After the end of the Second World War, history came of age as an academic discipline, the process of professionalization it had been involved in came to a close and it took up a prominant position among the social sciences, gaining extraordinary recognition on the part of the public at large, riding on the back of the oportunism of the times which tended towards technological and economic progress and the subsequent transformation of society. This let loose great energies which, even continuing up until the present day, boosted historical research which stressed the importance of thematic and methodological innovation. We could even go so far as to say that all of this means that the New History we have been practicing is an goal fulfilled despite the fact that it is its death throes today. It is hard to say what would be worse : to wipe the slates clean by sweeping away the heritage which we have inherited or to stick our heads in the sand in the face of the irreversible crisis the 20th Century common historiographic paradigm is in. We firmly believe that both risks can be avoided if only we grow accustomed to thinking in a new, complex way.


Shared and Limited Hegemony


Fortunately, the historians= common and plural paradigm of the latter half of the 20th Century is composed of three relative parts, three rival paradigms,  all of which operate at one and the same time, namely: the Annales School, Marxism and Neo-positivism[37]. And whilst it is true to say that a joint hegemony does indeed exist between the Annales School and Marxism[38], we must relativize this statement somewhat : whilst it does take centre stage it does not fill the whole stage and the influence brought to bear by the surviving Empiricism, superbly moulded to fit in with the new circumstances, contradicts the Anti-positivist intentions of the two great Schools which tend to dominate the World to such an extent that it would be a grave mistake not to take its presence into consideration, and not merely in the rearguard of our profession. The shared values as regards the thematic, methodological and theoretical innovations are supplied by the Annales School and Marxism as follows : the Neo-positivist contribution is more involved with the generally valid concept of historical science and with the huge prestige which Empiricism has continued to enjoy in the teaching and research praxis of all historians. Positivism is able to form a part of the current historiographic concensus thanks to the Inductivist element which lies within all of us and which makes us say, for example, that there are Agood and bad@ historians. The very concept we have of the common paradigm  refers more to the practice of the profession than to its theory and in this field it is hard to avoid the usual pinch of Positivism which, centred, as we have already seen, on techniques and methods, adapts itself quite well to a whole range of different paradigms and theories precisely thanks its disdain for commitments to paradigms and theories.

The masters and young historians of the Sixties (and of the Seventies in Spain and elsewhere) were traditionalist and Postivist historians who instilled their pupils, who in turn went on to do the same with their pupils (in keeping with the ancient hierarchical reproduction of academic knowledge) with a taste for erudition, a belief in the impartiality of the historian and a wariness towards the theories and philosophies of history[39]. Even today, how often do we hear the members of a jury with an Annnales bent, or even a Marxist bent, criticize doctoral theses for their lack of sources and for the bibliography used, demanding erudition even above originality and innovation, interpretation and history as a problem, thus twisting the true meaninmg of what a Athesis@ should really be ? The contribution made by Positivism to the 20th century historiographic paradigm is basically its interest in archives and history=s so-called supporting sciences[40];  its interest in sources and a critique of the sources ; in dates and facts ; in cases and analysis ; in techniques and specialization. Furthermore, it is Positivism which also won the seal of academic approval for New History. Not only Marxism, but also the Annales School were born on the fringes of university power ; how else would either movement have been able to become the dominant School in the universities of many countries had they not enjoyed the tacit support of the traditional sectors of the academic Establishment ? Academicism and belonging to a university corporation lead to a whole set of attitudes, hierarchies and rituals which form a part of the values which historians hold in common[41],  even above and beyond individual Schools and even ideologies[42].

The paradigmatic balance between these three historiographic currents of thought implies the existence of mutual influences, recognitions and concessions which all but rarely come to the surface in any overt way. But this is perfectly understandable, because up until the Seventies, the Annales historians made favourable gestures towards Historical Matetrialism[43], and the French[44] and English[45] Marxists also in turn showed favourable inclinations towards their counterparts from the Annales School. In fact, at this time both Schools seemed mutually compatible[46] and complementary. For instance, the Annales School had always been more interested in methodolgy, structures and medieval and modern history, whereas Historical Materialsm had, on the other hand, been more interested in theory, revolutions and contemporary history. Whilst the Annales School had a greater bearing in the countries of Southern Europe, Marxist historiography made a greater impact in Northern Europe[47]. Without a shadow of a doubt, the one strong link which binds both tendencies together is their head-on opposition to the old, Positivist, conservative history[48].  The major concession made by the Empiricist historians, admitting as they do the public predominance of the great Schools whilst not ceasing to practice a classical and erudite history (although it is true that many of them changed ; political and event-orientated history for economic and social history), was the fact that, unlike Neo-positivist philosophers such as Popper, they did not strike out against Marxism.

The intertwining of the three paradigms/traditions means that, as everything is in each part, each of them takes in, adapts and represents the common paradigm in its own particular way. However, we should undeline the major contribution made by the Annales School to the common heritage of Western historians in the Fifties and Sixties[49], coinciding with the generation of the second Annales lead by Fernand Braudel, which, in the period between the Wars, involved the coming together of the innovative and splitting forces of Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre with traditional history. For better or for worse[50], owing to its radicalness, France was set to become the epicentre of the 20th Century historiographic revolution, with no other country coming close, fighting against and cornering the old historicizing history[51]. Not even our Marxist historiography was as brusque and sweeping when it came to changing paradigms, continuing, for instance,  to foster and/or accept a political history which the Annales refused on principle[52].  Thanks to its innovative approaches, the Annales secured itself a central position within the dominant historiographic paradigm which helped to hold together the diversity within the paradigm, ranging from Neo-positivism to Marxism. Historiographic convergence came about in different ways in different countries ; in Great Britain, for example, this bonding role played by New History turned it into the equivalent of new Marxist historiography.

In 1967, Pierre Vilar said that after fifty years of rejection, Ahistorical research is now going in the direction Marx had set it in@, and all thanks to historians such as Labrousse to name but one, steeped in Marxist thinking, although they did not always like to admit as much out loud[53]. Would it be fair to generalize this Marxism to cover all of the First, and more importantly the Second Annales ? The answer to this question  is >yes= in the sense that the new French historians considered, and indeed most still hold this to be true even today, that they had taken on board the scientifically valid teaching of Historical Materialism. It is common practice among contemporary historians, and also among some with a certain conservative bent too, to recognize the contribution made by Historical Materialism to the construction of scientific history whilst not actually thinking of themselves as Marxists. This is the most striking proof of the fact that a Marxist element does indeed exits within the common paradigm. The professional prestige of the Marxist historians corroborates the general feeling of everyone being in the same boat together, in spite of the fact that they research different themes and quite often from slightly different angles. The admission of Historical Materialism into the historiographic academy where it occupied and still occupies an envious position of power (which means we can all but dismiss it out of hand scientifically), serves to underline the autonomy of science with regards to politics[54].  If the truth be told, a large part of the spread of Marxist concepts in our universities has come about in an indirect way as a consequence of the coparticipation of Materialistic theory and practice of history within the paradigm common to the social and human sciences. In exchange, Marxism supplies the hegemonic ensemble with progressive credibility in the same way that the Annales School supplies the prestige of renewal and with  the Positivist historians supplying the academic image, particularly at a time when the new economic and social historians were entering into the Establishment in the Sixties and Seventies.

Spanish historiography is characterized by the fact that it has not developed a School of its own and by the fact that it was a latecomer[55] to the 20th Century historiographic renewal, due both to the hiatus caused by the Francoist régime as well as the same old academic lethargy, and this makes our country an excellent illustration of the triple origin of the common paradigm which established itself in the 60s and 70s, some ten to twenty years later than in France. Throughout 1975, a group of young, and some less young historians wrote about the situation and perspectives of history in the Boletín Informativo de la Fundación Juan March, where they clearly define the three contributions which either actively and passively spurred on the historiographic renewal[56], namely : the Annales (Antonio Eiras Roel and José Ángel García de Cortázar) ; Marxism (Juan José Carreras and Antonio Elorza) and traditional historians (Luis Suárez and José María Jover), whose writings[57] show a certain respect and openness towards the international avant-garde currents of thought. Unlike what happened in the case of the sociologists, philosophers, economists and political analysts, with the passing of time and in spite of the Marxist crisis, Historical Materialism has managed to continue to exert an influence in the field of history; Aon the whole, historians continue to hold that the main theses of Historical Materialsm are a good methodological tool@[58]. This statement might seem somewhat excessive in absolute terms coming as it did from a Spanish philosopher in 1991, but it is nevertheless true[59] in comparative terms and we should ask ourselves why. In spite of the the fact that the discipline is in crisis and split up into different fragments, the fact that the three-tiered common paradigm has continued  to be a basic historiographic reference point upto the present day is an essential part of the reply.

In the period following the end of the Second World War[60], while the  epicentre of renewal was strengthening itself in France, the Anglo-American world, and England in particular, still clung on to its respect for the old political history[61].  A social history with a Marxist bent was not to set in in the face of the dominant Positivism (which became even more accute from 1900 onwards) until as late as the 60s and 70s with the backing of the Annales School[62],  and in 1984 Peter Burke admitted that, in spite of the rise of the new economic, social and cultural history, political history still remained Athe most densely populated@ sector, which began to integrate itself into new history with the very early developments of a social history of politics, a new political history[63]. We were to have to wait until the Seventies for Anglo-American social history to spread its international influence when (structuralist) Marxism began to die away in France and the Mediterranean countries[64].  The main problem encountered in the 80s revolves around the weakness of the common paradigm, subject to both internal dissention (an increase in the rivalries between its three component parts) as well as coming under criticism from ouside and this context meant that the brilliant  (Cf. the works of Thompson) yet late[65] fruits of Anglo-American Marxism were unable to impose themselves and thus make up for the decline of the Annales influence (which also ended up by having an effect on it[66]), and even less so in the unfavourable climate which reigned in the 80s, ie. Neo-conservatism and the decline of the Humanities. English and North American social history both matured too late for the old 20th Century paradigm which it developed within and too soon for it to be able to tie in with the new paradigm which is taking shape today. The delay, and perhaps also moderation, in breaking way from traditional history is also useful in understanding why Anglo-American history was incapable of offering new and stable solutions to the problems facing us at the turn of the Century in order to reassemble the common paradigm.

Just like the Annales, from the late 70s Anglo-American social history (particularly Past and Present) began to come in for preceptive criticism from all sides, including Marxism. It was criticized for loosing its innovative spirit, for being conservative with regards to the history of the family, women=s history, oral history[67], etc. ; for abandoning political history[68] the qualitative-approaches and history as a problem[69] ;  for being weak in the face of the Whig tradition of British liberal and Positivist historiography[70]. Taking these and other criticisms levelled against the movements which served to galvanize both Past and Present as well as the Annales School, ie. the whole common paradigm, into account we have already sketched out our own alternative in another article[71], always with constructive frame of mind.


The Subject/Object Split


The 20th Century historiographic revolution intended that under the old criterion of the unity of the scientific method, history be admitted into the fold of the social sciences, which in turn since, Compte and in spite of Kant had derived their scientificness from the natural sciences. This aim was indeed achieved, but we will see later on at what price. This effort geared to the scientific acceptability of history with sociology, economics and the other social sciences was to met with fierce resistance from the the philosophers and thinkers, from Karl R. Popper[72] via Jean Piaget[73] to Calude Lévi-Strauss[74], who wanted to represent the new disciplines themselves, and who the new historians stayed off in their attempt to fall in with the social sciences as much as possible and, ultimately, with the long-standing natural sciences by encouraging an Objectivist Aimpartiality@ and by centring the few reflections that did actually exist on the question of methodology, Positivism=s  favourite area. This meant that the opportunity was lost to represent Aa beneficial effect offsetting the regional, temporal and objective provincialism in the dominant social research[75]@. Paradoxically, Kuhn has to apply history in order to Adepositivize@ the pilosophy of the natural sciences, thus bringing about a change in paradigms which has reached the social sciences and history itself, or this is our intention at least.

Theology and Metaphisics, superstition and dogmatics, as ways of Atruly@ getting to know the objective World, the World which exists outside ourselves were left behind on the road which lead from the naïve Inductivism of Newton and Galileo to the positive science of Auguste Comte. And that is by no means any small feat. In order for modern, enlightened science to be able to achieve this primordial aim, before it in turn became a non-religious and scientific creed[76] in itself, or in the words of the great master of the Positivist historians, Ranke, in order for it to be able to know the facts Aas they actually happened@, without resorting to the supernatural, has meant that science has got rid of the subject in one way or another - not only the transcendental subject, but also the human subject.  And it would be an anachronism to demand anything more of 17th, 18th and 19th Century scientists: science had to go through this Objectivist phase of cleansing. That is all well and good, but hasn=t this traditional conception of science gone quite long enough in the 20th Century ? Is it not absurd that, with the 20th Century drawing to a close, history remains faithful, or unfaithful depending on how one looks at it, to the mechanistic and Positivist conception of science ?

By declaring that the immutable and self-sufficient objects exist independently of the subject which serves only to confuse and give rise to error, Western science opened the way for the observation and explanation of Nature using experimentation and verification which was to mean a great step forwards for human knowledge. The Cartesian split between objective and subjective knowledge gave rise to two ways of thinking about modernity, and at that time both postures, ie. passive Materialism and active Idealism, were mutually irreconcilable. We know that the subject and the object are in fact inseparable, but Rationalist science forces us to separate them and to opt for either one or the other : either Objectivist science, or Subjectivist philosophy, which as far as historiography is concerned was represented by Romanticism in the 19th Century and by Presentism in the 20th Century. Thinking in a way which does not separate out the subjective and the objective calls for a U-turn in the way we conceive science, ie. what is needed is a radical turnaround, looking to new physics, but which also goes back over the path we have trodden so far, returning to Marx=s theses concerning Feuerbach where he criticizes Materialism Awhich only conceives the object, reality, sensoriality in the shape of object or observation, but never in the form of human sensorial activity, as a practice, not in a subjective way. This is how the active side was developed on by Idealism, as opposed to Materialism, although only in an abstract way@[77]. 

The stress Historical Materialism lays on the subjective, taken as a philosophy of praxis, contrasts starkly with the Marx=s objectivist postulate when he himself declared that Ait is the social being which determines consciousness@, which has lead one Popperian philosopher to rank Marx in a section on Objectivism in history, behind Popper and Lakatos[78].  This may well sound odd, especially when we know about Popper=s anti-marxist intentions, but it is not really all that strange if we realize that both are really just different consequences of one and the same scientific tradition, the difference being that, unlike Marx, the author of La miseria del historicism (The Misery of Historicism) doesn=t hesitate, doesn=t allow for any reading between the line, and so in 1979 he wrote ; AIn an objective sense, knowledge is knowledge without a knower ; it is knowledge without a cognizing subject[79]@. In 1973 it was Lévi-Strauss who argued that for them to be Atruly sciences@, the social and human sciences were bound over to maintain the dualism of the observer and his object, and this postulate for the exact and natural sciences only serves to back up one of the most important theoreticians and the one person most responsible for spreading Structuralism[80], alien to the epistemological consequences that the discoveries made by modern-day physics and biology have had on the social sciences. Here we are faced with one of the anomolies to be found in Kuhn as far as the dominant paradigm is concerned, although for the time being this hasn=t adversely effected on his followers to any great extent[81]. We can clearly see, then, the surprising continued validity of Positivism in the naturalist paradigm of the 70s which is the time when the paradigm shared by the new historians was at its peak. In 1977, Kuhn asked, and we asked with him ; Awhy is it that the philosophers of science have neglected the subjective elements for so very long ?@[82]. The truth is that in the latter half of the 20th Century, before Kuhn arrived on the scene, Popper and his followers were the paradigm for the philosophy of science (starting with La sociedad abierta y sus enemigos published in 1945, and Structuralist Objectivism set in in the social sciences). If we add to this the weight of Marxist economics which was going very strong after the Second World War, we have a good explanation of how Objectivism managed to survive for so long in 19th Century science, with all of the nuances one might wish to add, particularly vis à vis the discipline of history, conditioned to a greater extent than the new social sciences by an undercurrent of Empiricism hanging over from the Nineteenth Century.

Other features which characterized this active Objectivist scientific paradigm after the War, and thereby also going on to condition the well-intentioned Annales/Historic Materialism historiographic paradigm, include the absolute sense, ie. not conditioned by a subject, of its idea of truth and the methodological principle of simplicity.

Newton=s deterministic machine is perfect, governed as it is by absolute order : because it is the work of God. Kant swapped this absolute God for absolute Reason, but the end result remained the same : the objective truth of enlightened science is a transcendental attribute, a utopian goal beyond the grasp of the cognant subject. This Idealist dimension of scientific truth has greatly helped to spoil the practical application  of a key paradigmatic concept common to both the Annales School and to Marxism, namely Total History. For the guardians of these absolute truths, the existence of a common paradigm is logically quite out of the question, ie. that place where values, methods, lines of research and concepts backed by rival Schools are all held in common.

This perfect, Objectivist and absolute order has to be sought beneath the haphazard appearance of reality by means of a methodology based on simplification[83]. There is no doubt about the worth of a type of scientific thinking which separates out that which is joined together (disjunction) and unified from that which is varied (reduction), selecting and ranking, classifying and pigeon-holing a reality which, as it progresses, research itself understands to be more complex, relative and global in its contents. The original act of the simplifying rationalization of modern science therefore involved the split between the object and the subject. The success of the new scientific paradigms will depend, amongst other things, on its ability to overcome the metaphore which encompasses this conceptual view of reality in order to conceive reality, including historical reality, as being both objective and subjective at one and the same time.


Overlapping influences


The Objectivist influences that the predominating scientific paradigms have exercised on New History, from the old Positivism to Structuralism in the 1960s, ended up encouraging its more economistic and quantitative trends whilst at the same time doing away with the double-edged subjective dimension of history, ie. the subject as a historical agent and the historian as an epistemological subject. The upshot has been the grave identity crisis which has been going on throughout this Century.

Marxism has also had a contradictory effect on the historians= common paradigm, although this set in much later on in the sense of the remark made by Marx which we quoted earlier regarding his theses on Feuerbach. The English Marxist historians became interested in the social subject, ie. the change and revolutions which also guided Kuhn at that same time, and in the cultural subject, with Thompson=s Cultural Materialism, thus going against and in reaction to a wide-spread Objectivist reading of Marxism rooted first of all in evolutionist Positivism and later in Althusser=s Structuralism.

For Tom Bottomore, the Vienna Neo-positivist Circle which bloomed between the Wars and whose work was taken up to a large extent by Popper after the Second World War, was Athe most influential tendency of the philosophy of science in the 20th Century@, and he explains how one of its most outstanding representatives, Otto Neurath, encouraged a Positivist brand of Marxism (which was lurking around in the background for the others too), consisting of a symbiosis of Empirical sociology, technocratic and evolutionist ideology and which Ain stages@ served as the theoretical basis for the revisionism of the IInd International[84], thereby also feeding Stalinism with its crude Determinism and the development of the Five-Year Plans[85].

It was the political inroad which, from the outside, helped the rise of this Empiricist brand of Marxism in the new historians ; we all know about the active militancy of the majority of the founding members of the Past and Present group[86] as well as the most prominent figures of the Annales School (Friedmann, Furet, Le Roy Ladurie) in the Communist Parties and in the Socialist Parties (Labrousse and even Febvre) after the Second World War. The moral recognition on the part of the intellectuals regarding the contribution made by the Communists and the USSR to the fight against the Nazis and the Fascists is also a useful element when it comes to trying to understand this Aoutside@ influence. The critical Marxism of the Frankfurt School which also developed in the 20s and 30s and which has been continued up to the present day by Habermas was impotent in the face of the political power wielded by this official, Positivist brand of Marxism. Taken to the extreme, the economic optimism and development in the Post-war period encouraged a triumphal Marxism, streching out from Elba to the China Seas and with its belief in the Aultimate@ determination of the superstructure by the economic and technological base of society ; its belief in an ideology reduced to a Afalse awareness@, the distorted reflection of objective reality ; its belief in the inexorable need which drives Humanity on, in stages, from slavery, to feudalism, to capitalism, to socialism and finally arriving at communism. Looking beyond the ritual quotations which we find in the manuals, in practice the subjective Marx, ie. dialectics,  was forgotten, wherby it is Man who creates history : the class struggle. Nor should we forget that at that time, and also up to 1989 in a certain sense, the most important politically active subjects were two opposed blocs : the Cold War between 1946 and 1956 and Peaceful Coexistence from 1956-1963. This then was the prevailing international context which existed at the time new history set in academically.

Marxism without a subject took advantage of the Empiricist-Objectivist climate which reigned in scientific circles in the 40s and 50s, the same period which witnessed the Neo-positivist offensive in the field of the philosophy of science, thus blocking the way for the more creative Marxist historians to contribute to the common paradigm which spread to the whole community of historians at about that same time. In the critical 60s, Structuralism in general, and Athusser=s structural Marxism in particular were to be responsible for stirring up a genuine paroxysm of the object in the New History of the subject.

The paradigmatic swap of Positivist Marxism for Structural Marxism was, in spite of everything, a necessary turn of events. The end of the hardest part of the Cold, Kruschev=s destalinzation and the repression of the Hungarian Uprising, make 1956 the key year for understanding the political disenchantment and mood which set in in those intellectuals with Marxist leanings: what was needed was to quickly put something capable of inspiring new faith and hope in the place of the economicistic Evolutionism. Under the pretext of keeping the haggered old Positivism at bay and developing the scientific nature of Marxism, Louis Althusser  seized upon Structuralism in order to turn the concrete determination of the empirical data into the abstract determination of the hidden structure : simple, perfectly objective order buried beneath the apparently complex (Aideological@) surface of reality. Although strategies differed, there is a common philosophical base underlying both Positivism and Structuralism, namely Objectivism.

Unlike Positivism, however, Structuralism is a philosophy of science which was born, developed and died (with the return of the subject in 1968) within the heart of the social and human sciences. Whether it was Saussure in linguistics, Lévi-Strauss in anthropology, Lacan in psychoanalysis, Althusser in Marxism, all of them had the same thing to say : the aim of science is to discover the underlying and determining structure (language, symbols, the subconscious, modes of production, etc.). No-one more so than the structuralists paid so little heed to the subject; for instance, the most prominent 20th Century anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss, even went so far as to write Awe believe that the final goal of the human sciences is not to make Man, but rather to dissolve him@[87].  The history of Mankind was replaced by the history of structures, Athe emphasis shifts from time to space[88]@, and this brought with it geohistory and the >long span= of the Second Annales[89].

The most highly subjectivist of the historians= common paradigm, as well as its Empiricistic component in its historican guise, came under attack by Structuralism which, taken to the extreme, even went so far as to deny history, which did provoke responses. In 1967, with the decline of Structuralism already lurking under the surface[90], Pierre Vilar took part in a round table debate with several Althussians, where he criticized the anti-historical basis of Structuralism, but he did so in such a measured and syncretic way that it only serves to show just to what extent the Structuralist paradigm had become so very deply entrenched in the New Historians at that time. Robert Paris and others made a more open and aggressive stand in favour of the human subject of history, attacking Structuralism which they accused of being a donnish discourse, of empoverishing history by reducing it to immobile structures[91]. In the Seventies, Structuralism gave way to Post-structuralism, French Marxism entered into decline and by the end of the Seventies the British and Americans took over.  E.P. Thompson wrote a very combative book entitled The Poverty of Theory (1978) in which he argues against Althusser[92] and his English followers, Hindess and Hirst (and by extension, the New Left Review, edited by Althusser), denouncing the abstract sterility of Structuralism. But by then it was too late, and by the 80s[93] Marxist Structuralism was no longer the enemy, and I would go so far as to say Marxism per se if pressed, at least when contrasted with the political and intellectual influenced it had had in previous decades.

In the days of the First Annales (1929-1945), practically the one overriding factor had been the vague and ambiguous influence of the old Positivism[94] : the French fought off the episodic history espoused by Langois and Seignobos, based slavishly on the written texts, and in an attempt to keep the Apure science@ of Positivism at bay. However, in a more international context, the Presentism defended by Croce and Collingwood which exaggerated the role of the historian as well as Spengler and Tonybee=s Cyclical Metaphysics[95] also came under fire. And whether we like it or not, these battles were really only a hang-over from those which had been fought out in years gone by Positivism, particularly German Positivism, in favour of a critical, scientific method. And this explains why the founders of the Annales School found themselves drawn to methodological Objectivism[96], together with their well-known Relativist, Humanist and Subjectivist positions[97], all of which was very much in keeping with historians who favoured renewal whilst remaining faithful to their trade, ie. they were oposed to both abstract simplification and to the reification of the text/object. This means that the Annales is always open to two possible readings : an Objectivist reading, with economic history, demographic history, regional monographs, serial history, or alternatively a Subjectivist reading, with the history of mentalities, human history, the history-problem, past/present/future. Bloch and Febvre managed to maintain a certain balance in their works between economic and social history on the one hand and the history of mentalities on the other, although this does not mean that the traditional thematic pole disappeared all together (Cf. Martín Lutero=s biography of Lucien Febvre). But as the new School became more dominant, it began to tip: initially towards economic history and social structural history (the Second Generation, 1945-1968) and then later towards a history of mentalities far removed from social factors[98] (the Third Generation, 1968-1989). The changes in the paradigm were so very radical in fact that they can=t be explained simply by alluding to the external factors at work and we have to examine the internal faults within the Annalist founding paradigm with its congenital, epistemological and methodological difficulties in ensuring sythesis and a united focus for the discipline, which can of course be extended to cover the whole of Historical Materialism[99]. In both cases, the undervaluing or elimination of the subject naturally affects both the subject/agent (Man) as well as the subject/observer (the historian).

The Marx we find in his Theses on Feuerbach (1845) where he defines his thinking as the philosophy of praxis, or the Marx we find in the Communist Party Manifesto (1848) who states that the history of Humanity is synonymous with the history of the class struggle are in contradiction with the Marx who wrote the 1859 prologue to the Contribution to the Criticism of Political Economy where he sums up his philosophy by saying that, willingly or unwillingly, Man enters into economic relationships and these relationships shape his social, spiritual and political life and so, therefore, social and economic life are not determined by consciousness, but it is rather the social being which determines consciousness[100]. And the young, Humanist Marx of the Philosophical Manuscripts (1844) contradicts Marx the mature economist in Grudrisse (1857-1858) and Capital (1867-1875), and so on and so forth.

Politically, at the turn of the 20th Century, Marxism went through a brief phase of Objective Positivism with the IInd International, going on to a voluntaristic brand of  Subjectivism with the IIIrd International (only to return again to the former with the arrival of Stalin).

More recently, on the intellectual level, this double reading of Marxism has been well represented by the positions espoused by Althusser and Thompson, for example.

Just as was the case for the First Annales, we can say that Marxism is also open to two virtual readings, one Subjectivist and the other Objectivist, both of which are impossible to reconcile in practice. And this problem also extends and includes, more importantly, the Positivist component - the very crux of this epistemological problem - within a plural common paradigm which thus shows us its most vulnerable point and which has been the cause of many of its defeats.

In principle, history, as the science of change, should resent this renewed Objectivist approach, be it Economicistic or Structuralist. However, the practice of the discipline actually stands to demonstrate the contrary, in fact,  it because it is of decisive importance in its will and the need to look like the other natural and social sciences and to be considered a part of them. For all of these reasons, we firmly believe that there will never be a more coherent and unified, less bipolarized and pendular vision of Marxism, of the Annales, of the historians= common paradigm as long as the general paradigm of the system of the sciences remains unable to bring together and articulate the object and the subject, the simple and the complex, the absolute and the relative. And the new scientific paradigms are already heading in that direction.

It was in the period of the Second Annales (1945-1968), when the Marxist[101] and Annales contribution began to function, that the Aexternal@ influence had a greater impact on the French School. We can say that the climate of development which followed the Second World War, official Marxism and anthropological Structuralism all helped give birth to the Second Generation of the Annales, and this movement was marked from the outset by an overly economistic[102] and quantitative bent. In order to rid itself of the bad name of Empiricism which history had been branded with by Lévis-Strauss and Althusser, the Annales School turned Structuralist (the paradigm/example, the chef d=œuvre was Braudel=s Mediterráneo, published in 1949), sacrificing human history and social change to make way for geohistory, economic structure and the long span. Although it is also true that it did not fall into abstract modelization and theorizing, thus conserving the practical-empiricist component of history working with facts and documents, which is precisely what set it apart from Lévi-Strauss and Althusser ahistorical Structuralism. In 1980, Pierre Vilar still used a concept of history hinged around the concept of structure[103].

Since 1945, the most obvious effects the Positivism undercurrent, the Economistic context, the Marxist vulgate and the overbearing Structuralism have had on the values held in common by scientific historians are as follows : 1) brushing to one side the history of mentalities (the mental subject) in favour of an economic history ; 2) the marginalization of conflicts and uprisings (the social subject) in favour of a structural social history ; and 3) the marginalization of qualitative methods to make way for a quantitative, serial history. And this explains why the history of mentalities developed so late on in the Annales as well as the late arrival of social history in the Past and Present group. And here we can sense the obvious décalage between the commonly accepted paradigms/examples on the one hand and their practical application on the other : the most complex and Avenerated@ classics such as Bloch=s Sociedad feudal or Thompson=s La formación de la clase obrera are not always followed, and even less so emulated efficiently. It could be said that, in spite of appearances, the historians= 20th Century paradigm was only a partial triumph and, for objective reasons, was unable to fully develop. However, to leave things there would be to contradict what we have been saying so far : the problems lies within ourselves, there are also subjective reasons and anomolies which affect the functional paradigms and we must opt to try and solve them with our eyes firmly set on the immediate future, on the 21st Century.

[1]  Thomas S. KUHN, La estructura de las revoluciones científicas, Mexico, 1975 (Chicago, 1962), p. 98.

[2]  La estructura, p. 3 ; Kuhn=s claims to the effect that what distinguishes the social sciences from the natural sciences is the fact that they are more strongly bound up with society in the choice of their subjects for research (idem., p. 254) have been loosing ground over the last thirty years or so. Today, for instance, certain branches of biology and chemistry concerned with health and the environment are at least as strongly related to social needs as the social sciences, if not more so in fact.

[3] This should not, however, be taken to imply that all philosophers of science are of the same opinion. And it is for this reason that Kuhn has a meaning for historians that Popper=s contributions do not have, nor indeed even those provided by Lakatos.

[4] La tensión esencial. Estudios selectos sobre la tradición y el cambio en el ámbito de la ciencia, Mexico, 1983 (Chicago, 1977), pp. 27-28.

[5] AAlthough my professional identity is that of a historian of science, what I am interested in when I venture into the kind of event which I am engaged in in this simposium is, basically, epistemology. I really would love to know what that thing they call knowledge is@, Segundos pensamientos sobre paradigmas, Madrid, 1978 (Illinois, 1973), p. 83.

[6]  La estructura, pp. 149 & 317.

[7]  La tensión esencial, p. 15.

[8]  La tensión esencial, pp. 10, 32-33, 39-42.

[9] La tensión esencial, pp. 10.

[10] The plurality and complexity of the contents tends to bewilder the uninitiated : every paradigm is in turn made up of other paradigms.

[11]  La estructura, pp. 279-280

[12]  Segundos pensamientos, p. 40

[13]  Segundos pensamientos, p. 13.

[14]  Segundos pensamientos, p. 14.

[15]  La estructura, p. 318.

[16]  La estructura, pp. 43, 81-82, 199.

[17]  La tensión esencial, p. 22.

[18]  Segundos pensamientos, p. 68.

[19]  La función del dogma en la investigación científica, Valencia, 1979 (New York, 1963), p. 18.

[20]  La estructura, pp. 284, 318.

[21]  La estructura, p. 113.

[22]  La estructura, p. 89.

[23]  La estructura, pp. 276-277.

[24]  La estructura, p. 90.

*  (Translator=s note : In Spain, would-be professors have to sit what is known as a >competitive examination= before they can become permanent members of a university=s teaching staff. This examination involves the reading of a piece of work before a jury chosen at random from among the staff of the university and who decide upon the worth of the piece of work. Because these juries are named at random, they are often made up of professors with different leanings, etc.)

[25]  Basically, textbooks play the main role, almost to the exlusion of all others in fact, in the natural sciences and the social sciences where the student suddenly has access to anthologies of sources, monographical pieces of research and classical works, La tensión esencial, pp. 251-252 ; La estructura, pp. 254-255.

[26]   La estructura, pp. 212-216

[27] Kuhn himself recognizes that, on the whole, the historians of science tend to pay much more attention to changes in the paradigm whilst to a great extent neglecting the periods of normal science, which is what takes up the greater part of most scientists= lives, La función del dogma, p. 26.

[28]  The International Congress on the Historical Sciences held in Paris in 1950 marked the the acceptance of the Annales School while the Moscow Congress of 1970, which beat all records for the number of people who registered, marked the acceptance of Marxist historiography as a part of historical science, Eloy BENITO RUANO, El Comité Internacional, el Comité Español y los Congresos Internacionales de Ciencias Históricas, Madrid, 1990, pp. 16, 20.

[29]  Traditional, Empiricist historia remained particularly alive in the United States and in Germany for example, and also, in a certain sense, in the practice of New History.

[30]  The programme for the 1950 International Congress was a programme based on New History (demography, economic and social history, the history of mentalities) plus two other sections dedicated to institutional history and political history.

[31]  The Annales School finally began to acknowledge this towards the end of the Seventies, Cf. Jacques Revel and Roger Chartier ; AThis voluntaristic, conscious Empiricism certainly helped boost the AAnnales@@, La nueva historia, Bilbao, 1988 (Paris, 1978). Jacques Le Goff ; ASoyons justes. Ce renouvellement que s=est fait contre l=histoire médiévale traditionelle a été en partie permis par les productions de celle-ci. Les méthodes érudites, les éditions de cartulaires et de textes, le travail où s=est appuyée la nouvelle histoire médiévale, même si, pour changer notre connaissance et notre vision du Moyen Âge, elle a dû s=en arranger@, L=histoire en France, Paris, 1990, p. 57.

[32] Ciro F.S. CARDOSO, Introducción al trabajo de la investigación histórica, Barcelona, 1981, pp. 127-128.

[33] It is far from easy to find relevant professional historians who have made any significant theoretical contribution to the common paradigm of the social sciences.

[34]  Here were are taking as our starting point the fact that, owing to a lack of compatible partners, the very first definition of history as a science which we owe to Positivism never actually managed to become generalized in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries to the extent that it did following the advent of New History.

[35]  We can say that a science is in a pre-paradigmatic situation when rivalry between different Schools holds sway over shared beliefs, Thomas S. KUHN, La función del dogma, p. 15.

[36]  Here the term ANew History@ is used as a synonym for the 20th Century common paradigm, as opposed to AOld History@, ie. renewal versus tradition. In a stricter sense, the same term is also used to refer to the Third Generation of historians from the Annales School, ie. the so-called Nouvelle Histoire.

[37] The North American New History and Social Scientific History might well be taken as the most representative of the Neo-postivist currents of thought.

[38]  Ciro F.S. Cardoso is one of the writers who has most clearly acknowledged the convergence of Marxism and the Annales School as being at the basis of the reconstruction of history as a science, Introducción, p. 115.

[39]  This Empiricist background also helped Western Marxist historians avoid, generally speaking, their research becoming a a dogmatic illustration of a priori theorizing.

[40]  Four of the twelve internal commissions which currently exist within the International Committee for Historical Sciences refer to bibliography, diplomatics, metrology and the publication of sources.

[41]  The École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris still keeps up certain democratic traditions which harp back to its origins, such as, for example, not insisting that a directeur d=études must be a doctor (for example, Jacques Le Goff and many other of its members are not in fact doctors, although they are nevertheless involved in the training of future doctors), deciding in the assemblies on the acceptance of new researchers, opening up the possibilities to foreign researchers, etc. All of these are unimaginably egalitarian rules for the Sorbonne, or indeed for any other university for that matter. However, we should say that with the passing of the years and as its gains in academic prestige with the arrival of professors trained in the Sorbonne, the EHESS is going through a certain degree of academic hierarchization.

[42]  We all know that a left-wing academic can be just as conservative as a right-wing one.

[43]  Marc BLOCH, L=Étrange défaite, Paris, 1946, p. 189 ; Lucien FEBVRE, Pour une histoire à part entière, Paris, 1982, pp. 350-366 & 665-678 ; Fernand BRAUDEL, AHistoire et sciences sociales : la longue durée@, Annales, 4, 1958, pp. 725-753 ; Emmanuel LE ROY LADURIE, Le territoire de l=historien, Paris, 1973, p. 17 ; Jacques LE GOFF & Pierre NORA, preface to Hacer la historia, I, Barcelona, 1978 (Paris, 1974), p. 9 ; Jacques LE GOFF, AL=histoire nouvelle@, La nouvelle histoire, Paris, 1988 (1st ed., 1978), p. 61.

[44]  Pierre VILAR, AHistoria marxista, historia en contrucción@, Hacer la historia, I, Barcelona, 1978 (Paris, 1973), pp. 197-199 & 204-205 ; Guy BOIS, AMarxisme et histoire nouvelle@, La Nouvelle Histoire, Paris, 1988 (1st ed., 1978), pp. 255-275. The Marxists also levelled some criticism against the Annales School, albeit of a dogmatic nature on the whole ; Jacques BLOT, ALe révisionnisme en histoire ou l=École des Annales@, La Nouvelle Critique, Nov. 1951 ; Jacques CHAMBAZ, ALe marxisme et l=histoire de France@, La pensée, Nov. 1953 ; Michel GRENON & Régine ROBIN, APour la déconstruction d=une pratique historique@, Dialectiques, N1 10-11 ; Cl. S. INGERFLOM, AMoscou : le procès des Annales@, Annales, 1, 1982.

[45]  Harvey J. KAYE, Los historiadores marxistas británicos, Zaragoza, 1989 (Cambridge, 1984), pp. 205-206. In 1978, Immanuel Wallerstein in a voluntaristic fashion salutes the resistence of the Annales in line with the dominating culture in the social sciences which separates the political and the economic, and the economic and the cultural, AAnnales as Resistance@, Review, 3/4, 1978, pp. 5-6. In 1985, Hobsbawm was still defending the Annales School, or what was left of it, as a necessecary interlocutor ; Anão abandonou o horizonte globalizante que partilha com os marxistas, se bem que os seus métodos e as suas posições ideológicas sejam diferentes@, Ler História, 4, Lisbon, 1985, p. 136.

[46]  If this were not true, one of them would most surely have displaced and pushed the other one out, Thomas S. KUHN, La estructura, pp. 272 & 274.

[47]  Carlos AGUIRRE ROJAS, Construir la historia : entre materialismo histórico y Annales, Mexico, 1993, pp. 9-27.

[48]  Carlos AGUIRRE ROJAS, AConvergencias y divergencias entre los Annales de 1929 a 1968. Ensayo de balance global@, Historia Social, 16, Valencia, 1993, pp. 115-141.

[49]  Nationalist phobias, albeit latent ones, do not always make this an easy task. It is usual to search for and to find precedents for the revolution heralded in by Bloch and Febvre, but it is a well-known fact that none of these new forerunners of  history had any great bearing on international historiography for the simple reason that, amongst other factors, they never managed to become a School of the same importance as the Annales.

[50]  It is also in France that the limitations of new history became apparent with a geater level of radicalness.

[51]  So then, what sets France apart from the rest is a greater cornering of the traditional historians there, even the converts, which meant that Positivism exerted a covert and indirect influence.

[52]  J. OBELKEVICH, APast and Present. Marxism et histoire en Grande-Bretagne depuis la guerre@, Le Débat, N1 17, 1981, p. 97.

[53]  Althusser, Método histórico e historicismo, Barcelona, 1972 (Paris, 1968), pp. 20-21.

[54]  This autonomy also serves to explain how, unlike in Southern Europe, the Anglosaxon countries have been able to develop strong Marxist currents of thought in the universities without there being any corresponding political influence.

[55]  Vid. Carlos BARROS, AHistoria de la mentalidades : posibilidades actuales@, Problemas actuales de la historia, Salamanca, 1993, pp. 59-61 for a more detailed account of the reasons why Spain lagged behind.

[56]  Once ensayos sobre la historia, Madrid, 1976.

[57]  Once ensayos, pp. 21-24, 227-228, 233, 236-238, 240 & 244-245.

[58]  Francisco FERNÁNDEZ BUEY, AMarxismo e historia hoy@, Problemas actuales de la historia, Salamanca, 1993, p. 220.

[59]  Be that as it may, Historical Materialism has been more widely accepted than actually put into practice in Spanish historiography, as far as we can tell from the historians with such leanings who went on to denounce "barren" "dry"and "wanting@ theoreticians, gaps usually filled by Empiricism. Perry Andersen believes that the theoretical weakness of Spanish Marxism came about as a result of the lack of a general philosophical tradition (Consideraciones, p. 40 n. 4). This is, however, only a part of the problem because it also lacked in the broadmindedness which meant that, for example, Marx and Gramsci were able to learn from such Abourgeois Idealists@ as Hegel and Croce.

[60]  The Ve Section de l=École Practique des Hautes Études was set up in 1946, thus heralding in the institutional phase of the School and starting up again the Annales review, although this time with new spirit.

[61]  Peter BURKE, ALa historiografía en Inglaterra desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial@, La historiografía en Occidente desde 1945, Pamplona, 1985, p. 20.

[62]  Peter BURKE, AReflections on the Historical Revolution in France : the Annales School and British Social History@, Review, 1, 3/4, 1978, pp. 147-151 ; Xavier GIL PUJOL, Recepción de la Escuela de Annales en la historia social anglosajona, Madrid, 1983, p. 35.

[63]  ALa historiografía en Inglaterra desde la segunda Guerra Mundial@, pp. 26-28.

[64] Perry ANDERSON, Consideraciones sobre el marxismo occidental, Madrid, 1979 (London, 1976), pp. 126-127 ; Tras las huellas del materialismo histórico, Madrid, 1986 (London, 1983), pp. 33-34 & 43.

[65] We should remember that Annales was founded in 1929 and Past and Present in 1952. Bloch=s Apologie pour l=histoire came out in print in 1949 and Carr=s What is history ? in 1961...

[66]  So much so in fact, that in 1978 Thompson actually denied that history was a science, preferring to include it within the Humanities instead ; AI am prepared to admit the attempts to describe history as a Ascience@ have always been unfruitful and a source of confusion. If Marx, and more especially Engels, committed this mistake from time to time, we should forgive them@, Miseria de la teoría, Barcelona, 1981, p. 68. Perry Anderson replied to this quite rightly by refering back to the philosophy of science, in Teoría, política y historia. Un debate con E.P. Thompson, Madrid, 1985 (London, 1980), pp. 12-13.

[67]  J. OBELKEVICH, APast and Present. Marxisme et histoire en Grande-Bretagne depuis la guerre@, Le Débat, N1 17, 1981, pp. 106-107 & 111.

[68]   AIn avoiding political history, they avoid everything that is essential for the development of human society in spite of its espoused radicalness@, Elisabeth FOX and Eugene GENOVESE, ALa crisis política de la historia social. La lucha de clases como objeto y como sujeto@, Historia Social, 1, 1988, p. 106. Others see in this political Marxism a certain continuity following on from traditional, Empiricist and pragmatic historiography. In other words, the resurgence of a Positivist component within the common paradigm.

[69] Julián CASNOVA, La historia social y los historiadores, Barcelona, 1991, p. 125. This author highlights a second generation of Bristish and North American Marxists= intentions to take over from a an already out-dated social history.

[70] idem., p. 126

[71]  vid. ALa historia que viene@, Historia a debate. I. Pasado y futuro, Carlos Barros (ed.), Santiago de Compostela, 1995.

[72]  La miseria del historicismo, Madrid, 1984 (1st ed., 1944-1945), p. 158.

[73]  Tendencias de la investigación en las ciencias sociales, Madrid, 1982 (1st ed., 1970), pp. 47-50.

[74]  Barry HINDESS & Paul Q. HIRST, Pre-capitalist modes of production, London, 1975, pp. 308-313.

[75]  Jürgen HABERMAS, La reconstrucción del materialismo histórico, Madrid 1986 (Frankfurt, 1976), p. 183. Recently, historical sociology has been trying to fulfill this aim, although the community of historians has not shown itself to be particularly receptive.

[76]  Alberto TREBESCHI, Manual de historia del pensamiento científico, Barcelona, 1977 (Rome, 1975), pp. 280-281.

[77]  Obras escogidas, 2, Madrid, 1975, p. 462. AThe question of whether human thought can be attributed with an objective truth is not a theoretical problem but rather a Apractical@ one. Man must demonstrate the truth in practice, ie. in reality@, ibid.

[78]  Alan F. CHALMERS, )Qué es esa cosa llamada ciencia ?, Madrid, 1989 (1st ed., 1976), pp. 169-171.

[79]  Ibid., p. 169.

[80]  Antropología estructural, II, Mexico, 1987 (1st ed., 1973), pp. 276-277.

[81]  La estructura, pp. 100-111 & 131-135.

[82]  La tensión esencial, p. 349.

[83]  Edgar MORIN, Introducción al pensamiento complejo, Barcelona, 1994 (Paris, 1990), pp. 75, 82, 89, 102 & 144.

[84]  Popper was to rename this Asocial engineering@ Afragmented social technology@, Ángeles JIMÉNEZ PERONA, ARacionalidad y método de las ciencias sociales en las obras de Karl R. Popper@, Zona Abierta, Madrid, 39-40, pp. 230-237.

[85]  Tom BOTTOMORE (dir.), Diccionario del pensamiento marxista, Madrid, 1984, (1st ed., 1983), pp. 596-597.

[86]  Most of them left the British Communist Party in 1956. Had they not distanced themselves from this truly existing Marxism, would they have been able to develop a non-objectivist brand of Marxist historiography ? The truth of the matter is that all of the great Western Marxist critics such as Lukács, Gramsci and Marcuse were political heretics vis à vis Soviet Marxism and even vis à vis the official brand of Marxism espoused by the majority of the Marxist Parties of their day, although this didn=t prevent these Parties from politically winning over many of the run-of-the-mill historians.

[87]  El pensamiento salvaje, Mexico, 1964 (Paris, 1962), p. 357.

[88]  François DOSSE, Histoire du structuralisme, I, Paris, 1991, p. 431.

[89]  We will never quite get over at Braudel=s surprising capacity not only to make history survive in such an unfavourable climate, but also to keep it centre of the stage, for which, of course, a price had to be paid.

[90]  Idem., p. 14.

[91]  Althusser, método histórico e historicismo, Barcelona, 1972 (Paris, 1968), pp. 23, 39, 58, 61 & 74.

[92]  The author justified himself in 1979 with the following words : Ait was not an act of agression, but rather a counter-attack against a decade of Althussian rejection@, ALa política de la teoría@, Historia popular y teoría socialista, Barcelona, 1984 (London, 1981), p. 307.

[93] Althusser had already published his book Éléments d=autocritique in 1974, translated into Spanish in 1975 and into English in 1976.

[94]  The Vienna Circle began functioning in 1929, but the new French historiography does reveal any traces of having been influenced by Logical Positivism, not even as a rival.

[95]  Lucien Febvre quite rightly questioned Spengler and Tonybee=s opportunitic brand of history, linking it to the rise of Hitler and finally underlining the need to bring history and its new methods into the fold of the new natural sciences in order for it to be able to become something more than the Cinderella of the human sciences, Combates por la historia, Barcelona, 1975 (Paris, 1953), pp. 175-217.

[96]  AWhat the scientific method should to deliberately abandon the observer in order only to centre its attention exlusively on the objects observed@, Marc BLOCH, Introducción a la historia, Mexico, 1952 (Paris, 1949), p. 117.

[97]  AEssentially, Man is the object of history. Or, to put it more correctly, men. Rather than a singular, which tends to favour abstraction, what is needed is a science of variety, plurality, that being the grammatical mode of relativity@, Marc BLOCH, idem., p. 25. When he defined the history-problem, Lucien Febvre suggested : ATaking the Trojan Horse of subjectivity into the city of objectivity@, Combates por la historia, p. 43.

[98] Carlos BARROS, AHistoria de las mentalidades, historia social@, Historia Contemporánea, Bilbao, 9, 1993, p. 117.

[99]  This genetic defect involves maintaining the split between the object and the subject in 17th Century science and of Positivism (vid. analysis infra). And this is just yet another proof of the common bonds which are at the basis of 20th Century historiographic traditions as well as being a challenge for a new historiographic concensus.

[100]  Karl MARX, Introducción general a la crítica de la economía política / 1857, Cordoba, 1974, pp. 76-77.

[101]  Hervé Coutau-Begarie ; AWith the Second Generation, the influence of Marxism stopped being indirect and unconscious, becoming omnipresent instead@, Le phénomène ANouvelle Histoire@. Stratégie et idéologie des nouveaux historiens, Paris, 1983, p. 235.

[102]  In 1946, George Lefebvre remarked upon the boost give to economic history by Marxism, Réflexions pour l=histoire, Paris, 1978, p. 278. However, the economic and social contents were already the majority tendency in the Pre-war period in the Annales review, Charles Olivier CARBONELL, AEvolución general de la historiografía en el mundo, principalmente en Francia@, La historiografía en Occidente desde 1945, Pamplona, 1985, p. 8.

[103]  Iniciación al vocabulario del análisis histórico, Barcelona, 1980 (Paris, 1980), pp. 49-77.

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