A Difficult World: Examining the Roots of Capitalism

Maximiliano E. Korstanje
University of Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Visiting Fellow at CERS University of Leeds, UK

Series: Government Procedures and Operations
BISAC: POL010000



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In this book, Maximiliano Korstanje explores the dichotomies of capitalism, continuing the legacy of Max Weber, Ulrich Beck, Richard Hofstadter and Giorgio Agamben. Undoubtedly, we are living in trying times, which merits reconsidering the current conception of sociological theories. From disasters to terrorism, Occident seems to be trapped in an illusory landscape where risk plays a crucial role in the configuration of a new tragic ethos. Although Weber did the correct thing in pointing out that predestination was a key factor in the capitalist genesis, he ignored the influence of Norse culture, which was already rooted in the thinking of Luther and Calvino.

Whether in the battleground, Greeks and Romans were subject to an overt destiny which depended on individual actions (sacrifice) Norse mythology, on the other hand, offered the opposite context. The Walkyrias, Odin’s daughters, knew in advance who would be the fallen warriors (predestination). Complementary to what has been written, Korstanje established a new innovative thesis that explains why Anglo-Saxon culture was not only prone to develop a globalized capitalist system of production, but also prone to risk-perception. Combining a closed-conception of future (predestination) with a sentiment of excemptionalism given by the Reform, the US logically constructed a world of preemption that led to the dilemma of “preventive attack”. The role of government in posing threats to control the internal workforce, as well as how the principle of exception triggers fear, are fascinating themes discussed in this text.
(Imprint: Nova)


(Geoffrey Skoll, Department of Criminal Justice, Buffalo State College, USA)


Chapter I : Mobility on an Immobile World: The Analysis of the Film, The Island

Chapter II: The Future of Technology

Chapter III: Crossing the Boundaries of Empire

Chapter IV: The Logic of Risk

Chapter V: Exploring the Anglo Protestant Cosmology

Chapter VI: Terrorism, Work-force and Labor

Chapter VII: Discussing Terrorism, Isolationists vs. Interventionists

Chapter VIII: The Principle of Excemptionalism in America

Chapter IX: The Society of Terror

Epilogue: The Allegory of Violence in the Age of Terrorism


“This monograph comprises the completion of an intellectual project for which its author is best known as an international scholar. Its individual chapters involve meticulous elaborations on different aspects of North American national mythopoesis, so as to uncover US ‘exceptionalisms’ as problematic postulates. This is achieved with the employment of a looking-glass ‘from below’: the same continent’s Southern hemisphere, in which the author grew up. In this magnum opus Korstanje highlights how current global divides between ‘North’ and ‘South’ are shrouded in the old binarisms of civilization vs. barbarism to legitimize institutional terror and different forms of symbolic, material and physical violence by the powerful.” - Dr. Rodanthi Tzanelli, Associate Professor of Cultural Sociology, School of Sociology and Social Policy, Social Sciences, University of Leeds, UK

“Korstanje’s latest book, A Difficult World, is a wide-ranging and sophisticated exploration and analysis of contemporary world events and social/historical structures. The author provides a challenging, yet insightful, critique of contemporary capitalism-primarily its Anglo-American version-via an investigation of what he sees as an intimate relationship between U.S. attitudes of exceptionalism, risk, and fear. Along the way, he engages with the works of Baudrillard, Weber, Huntington, Virilio, and many other notables in arguing for links between technology, terrorism, and tourism, all of which are fundamental components of a contemporary world order that embraces complexity as a primary value. This book is a no-holds-barred and controversial evaluation of an indeed difficult world and it deserves a wide and close reading.” - David Boersema, Editor in Chief of Essays in Philosophy - Pacific University, Oregon, US

“This present book gives new conceptual framework to discuss critically the role of capitalism in configuring societal order. While US launches to colonize the future, it results in a state of uncertainness that leads to a much deeper fear. Paradoxically, Americans who feel superior or exceptional, are more prone to risk perception and panic than other cultures. The same ethnocentrism works in homeland, becomes in terror when they should travel abroad.” - Freddy Timmermann, University Silva Henriquez Chile

“Korstanje’s book brings a fresh new perspective to understanding the roots of the economics of present global systems. His understanding of American exceptionalism, viewed from South America, has relevance around the world today. This is a book on the side of the future of the creative individual against a globalizing system which benefits the few who own and control its central institutions.” - Gerry Coulter, Founder and Editor in Chief, International Journal of Baudrillard Studies - Bishop`s University, Quebec, Canada

“This is a must-read for anyone interested in the corss-disciplinary treatment of such paradoxical themes as tourism and terrorism, tourism as a so-called agent of peace, tourism and death, tourism and myth, tourism as escape, etc. Authored by one of the most prolific scholars of our time, Maximiliano Korstanje flits easily between various social science disciplines, choosing to write in English even though he is multilingual, hoping thereby to attract the attention of his largely monglot audience in the US and UK.” - Graham M. S. Dann, professor emeritus, Arctic University of Norway

“This is a bold and controversial thesis, that the roots of capitalism can be understood through the prism of risk. There is far too little imaginative, critical and historically informed reflection about either risk or capitalism and in this respect I really welcome Konstanje’s contribution. There is much to debate and argue with here, in how well the analysis really captures historical processes, but that is surely to be welcomed.” - Adam Burgess, Professor of Risk Research - University of Kent, UK

Click here to read the book review by - David L. Altheide, Regents’ Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University

Journal of International and Global Studies - Kenneth E. Bauzon, PhD., St. Joseph’s College, NY, USA

Audience: Sociologists, Historians And Lay Readers.

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