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By Maurice Godelier. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 256 pages, $19.00 (paper), $45.00 (cloth).
The vista of the twenty-first century that unfolds before us seems to be one of the endless expansion of the world as we know it. From the perspective of political economy, the world as we know it is the combination of constitutional democracy and capitalism. This combination proved to be decisively victorious in the world-wide struggles of the twentieth century. However, such a victory comes at a price, and it is not simply the cost of achieving it. In the long run, the greater challenge is that of organizing the future in a manner which avoids the mistakes of the past.
Maurice Godelier is a careful social scientist who does not claim to possess a blue-print for social development. Rather, he invites us to look back into the past of human societies, in order to draw conclusions which he hopes will guide us in the future.
The contemporary challenge which Godelier addresses is how to build the foundations for a realist post-communist philosophy of social obligation. The resurgence of capitalist market economies, at …