Stone Age Economics, Marshall Sahlins (1972)
Beginning as a presentation in 1966, what Sahlins challenged was the historic prejudice which dismissed the rights and value of ‘undeveloped’ societies and their ‘state of nature’.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’ No.16 Podcast:
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Given the various forms of public anguish about the ‘cost of living crisis’, I thought it would be a good time to do another three-part ‘special’ focussing on the nature of how we live our lives – both today, and in the distant past – to objectively question the basis of this ‘modern’ lifestyle.
The first book is Marshall Sahlins’, ‘Stone Age Economics’ – published fifty years ago in 1972.
‘Stone Age Economics’:
First hardback edition, 1972. ISBN 9780-2020-1098-4.
First paperback edition, 1972. ISBN 9780-2020-1099-1.
Routledge revised paperback edition, 2017. ISBN 9781-1387-0261-5.
Free PDF of first edition, via Libcom.
Free text/PDF/epub of first edition, via Internet Archive.
Beginning with a presentation in 1966, ‘Notes on The Original Affluent Society’, what Sahlins challenged was the historic prejudice which dismissed the rights and value of ‘undeveloped’ societies and their ‘state of nature’ (I will not use the word, ‘primitive’, in this context as that is even more politically loaded).
The idea of ‘undeveloped’ societies lacking economic legitimacy, and therefore supremacy over their lands and resources, had been evolved by figures such as Hobbes and Locke in the Seventeenth Century; and was the basis of the justification which permitted the expropriation of land, and the enslavement of peoples, in Africa and the Americas under early European imperial expansion.
As Sahlins says:
“The familiar conception… makes assumptions peculiarly appropriate to market economies: that man’s wants are great, not to say infinite, whereas his means are limited, although improvable…
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