Jean Baechler (1937–)
author list

  • Baechler
  • Blamont
  • Braudel
  • Chelli
  • Cosandey
  • Diamond
  • Frank
  • Hallé
  • Huff
  • Hume
  • Jones
  • Kennedy
  • Landes
  • Lang
  • Lévi-Strauss
  • McNeill
  • Mokyr
  • Montesquieu
  • Needham
  • Sardar
  • Weber
  • Wesson
  • Wittfogel
    An early advocate of states systems, Baechler contended in Les Origines du Capitalisme (1971) that the Western European stable state systems had been instrumental in the economic development ("the growth of capitalism") of that region.

    Jean Baechler was born on 28 March 1937 at Thionville (department of Moselle). He is historian ("agrégé d'histoire", 1962) and got in 1975 a PhD in humanities ("doctorat ès lettres") with a thesis about suicides directed by Raymond Aron.

    He worked from 1966 to 1988 at the National center for scientific research (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, CNRS). In parallel, he worked from 1969 to 1984 at the European center for historical sociology (Centre européen de sociologie historique), whose director was Raymond Aron. Since 1988, he is professor of historical sociology at University of Paris (Paris-IV-Sorbonne). (Last update: early 2000.)

    Works related to the European miracle:
    (1) 1971: Les origines du capitalisme, Gallimard, Paris, France.
    – English version 1975: Origins of Capitalism, Blackwell; Japanese version 1991.
    (2) 1988, co-edited with John A. Hall et Michael Mann: Europe and the Rise of Capitalism, Oxford, Basil Blackwell.
    (3) 1995: Le capitalisme, Tome 1: "Les origines", Gallimard, Coll. Folio, Paris, France.

    A few extracts from Baechler books for French high schools students.
    A list of publications, and what looks very much like a homepage.

    My personal and subjective view of Baechler's contribution to the Grand Question
    Across his career, Jean Baechler worked marginally on the European miracle. He devoted most of his time to analyzing political ideologies and political regimes. In particular, he produced a theory of democracy in the history of civilization.

    Nevertheless, Baechler's contribution to the Grand Question is outstanding. He stressed the importance of the states system in fostering the "growth of capitalism" in Western Europe, i.e. economic growth between the XVIth and the XXth century. Baechler stressed the importance of the states system in the emergence of freedom for the merchant class, through the restraint that a multi-centered world imposed upon governments. He also emphasized the positive effect that competition between governments had on economic development.

    However, Baechler overlooked (or avoided) the whole military chapter. War spendings were crucial for the economic growth of classical Europe, and they were very much dependent on the existence of a states system. Furthermore, Baechler does not succeed in establishing the link between the wealthy states system and the flourishing of science. I expounded that link in Le Secret de l'Occident.

    Finally, a central issue is left open by Baechler, namely why a long-lasting, stable, states system developed only in Western Europe, and not in India or China. This as well is settled in Le Secret de l'Occident.

    Scholarship: 2/5   Theory: 3/5