Plasticity into Power

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Plasticity into Power works out, through historical examples, a major theme of Unger’s work—the relation between institutional and organizational flexibility and the development of our collective ability to produce or to destroy. The message of the book is that the practical success of a society depends on its capacity for permanent innovation. Certain practices and institutions—the history and content of which Unger explores—can nurture this capacity.

Unger pursues this topic ...

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Overview

Plasticity into Power works out, through historical examples, a major theme of Unger’s work—the relation between institutional and organizational flexibility and the development of our collective ability to produce or to destroy. The message of the book is that the practical success of a society depends on its capacity for permanent innovation. Certain practices and institutions—the history and content of which Unger explores—can nurture this capacity.

Unger pursues this topic through wide-ranging historical inquiries into the European escape from the recurring crises that foreclosed political and economic breakthroughs in the great empires of the past; the invention of revolutionary approaches to the governmental protection of wealth; and the social conditions of military success, viewed as sources of insight into the social foundations of economic growth. Throughout, Plasticity into Power exemplifies a conception of the relation between theory and history that remains faithful to the surprising, open-ended quality of lived experience.

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Rorty
“[Unger] does not make moves in any game we know how to play ... [His] book may someday make possible a new national romance ... [It] will help the literate ... citizens of some country to see vistas where before they saw only dangers – see a hitherto undreamt-of national future ...”
Perry Anderson
“A philosophical mind out of the Third World turning the tables, to become a synoptist and seer of the First.”
From the Publisher
“[Unger] does not make moves in any game we know how to play ... [His] book may someday make possible a new national romance ... [It] will help the literate ... citizens of some country to see vistas where before they saw only dangers—see a hitherto undreamt-of national future ...”—Richard Rorty

“A philosophical mind out of the Third World turning the tables, to become a synoptist and seer of the First.”—Perry Anderson

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844675166
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Series: Politics Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Roberto Mangabeira Unger is one of the leading social and political thinkers in the world today. He is also active in Brazilian politics. Verso has published much of his work: False Necessity: Antinecessitarian Social Theory in the Service of Radical Democracy, What Should Legal Analysis Become?, Democracy Realized: The Progressive Alternative, Politics, and The Left Alternative.
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Table of Contents

1 The periodic breakdown of governments and economies in agrarian-bureaucratic societies : its causes, antidotes, and lessons 3
2 Wealth and force : an antinecessitarian analysis of the protection problem 113
3 Plasticity into power : social conditions of military success 153
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