Marshall Sahlins
The Original Affluent Society How we used to live before the rise of the state, technology and government

adapted from Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics

The following essay, “The Original Affluent Society,” is written by Marshall Sahlins and was taken from the book Stone Age Economics published by Aldine-Atherton, Inc. We have liberally edited Sahlins’ important investigation into societies prior to the rise of what we generously call “civilization” but hope we have maintained the author’s clarity and purpose. We would suggest a reading of the original piece if at all possible.

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Marshall Sahlins
The Original Affluent Society Living Good in The Stone Age

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Marshall Sahlins

FE Note: The following is an edited version of the first chapter of Marshall Sahlins classic and groundbreaking work, Stone Age Economics (Aldine, 1972), entitled “The Original Affluent Society.”

In it, Sahlins confronts prevailing academic and popular myths regarding life before the state and technology which is usually conceived of, after Hobbes, as being “nasty, brutish and short.” As with most governing modern mythologies, this one turns out to be another apology for the reigning misery and a projection of our reality onto social forms that have all but been destroyed.

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