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“Did feudalism and chattel slavery reside within the nascent globalizing frame? Did Kant drink coffee? The second question answers the first. Yes, and there’s no reason why we have to choose between these modes of production when thinking macrohistorically, as long as we are specific about what makes both so different. In this effort, it’s especially important to understand that consumption as the auratic telos of ‘trade’—the sweets you eat, the tobacco you smoke—has a pesky habit of mystifying differences in modes of production and unevenness in history (and thus in human lives), with the result that the vast distances between regions are closed into one airtight global space. The movement of commodities like sugar, tobacco, coffee, and cotton from colonies to nation-states; the transformation of European aesthetics to suit the colonial imperial imagination in all its overreach; the emergence of entire legal systems to try to eradicate feudalism (unsuccessfully); the parliamentary decisions to withdraw from the slave trade (unsuccessfully)—these all will disclose the total frame of their own possibility as long as we adopt a version of difference that remains deeply critical and enables us to think the abstract identities through which globalization itself obliquely appears.” –Andrew Cole, “The Function of Theory at the Present Time”

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