Humanisation of Classical Marxism
John Clammer (ed.). Beyond the New Economic Anthropology, Macmillan Press ,1987.
This book edited by John Clammer contains a number of articles which raise contemporary, issues in economic anthropology. In light of the rapidly changing world situation, the validity of economic anthropology lies in analysing data that belongs to the immediate present. Another new methodological reorientation is of the synthesis of the economic, political and sociological in a truly 'political economy* approach. The major areas of interest are of capitalist penetration into pre-capitalist social formations; including such aspects as social movements. The question of the 'informal sectors* loom large along with the nature of its articulation with the capitalist sector. The idea is to see the world as a total system with regional variations. Economic anthropology can no longer keep itself aloof from the people in the sense of their cognitive model and point of view. Abstract structuralism is becoming less popular, the emphasis shifting to humanism. Another important issue deals with the role of the state. The state's hegemony, including that of the colonial rulers and the First World in relation to the Third, are issues that recur in this book.
Schwimmer's study of the cognitive categories of the oppressed and their ideology is a study in the nature of the newly found emphasis on humanism. This is done through a reappraisal of Gramscfs concept of hegemony as used by Lantenari and analysed by Schwimmer.
Lantenari has used the Gramscian concept of hegemony to describe Cargo Cults amongst the Orokaiva of Papua and New Guinea. The pre-colonial society is not classless, it has its own hegemonic structure. Under the impact of the colonial rule which is often coercive, traditional hegemony is threatened. At this time, the society has to choose between an already outdated tradition or a new way which is culturally specific to the situation. The colonial is equated with the spread of capitalism and the extraction of surplus from the dependent countries.
The prophetic movements which are basically seen as anticolonial, are an unmistakable sign of capitalism taking root. Lantenari has
Social Scientist, Vol. 18, Nos. 6-7, June-July 1990