An Analysis of "The Original Affluent Society"

The metaphorical model "nature is a bank" implies a more complex development of their proposition, namely, that sharing constitutes an insurance scheme which also involves investment in a banking system. Not only does it safeguard individuals from unpredict- able troubles but also it increases their resources. The simpler way in which this may happen can be best ex- plained by an example drawn from a non-monetary banking system. For instance, with the blood bank each individual protects himself by giving blood when he can and receives blood when he needs it. However, the total volume of blood in the bank meanwhile increases as well, because what may not have been a resource before now becomes one. For example, blood which may have been the wrong type for one's friends and relatives be- comes a usable resource once it is deposited in the bank. We need to explore whether these hunter-gatherers' economy works in a similar way. For instance, does the general sharing of large game generate wealth because a large amount which would have been wasted on one's own friends and close relatives stretches farther when it is divided among all members of the group?

  (1994)Labour politics and the affluent society, 1951-1964. PhD thesis, University of Surrey.

By the same token, all cognitive concepts have a transitive meaning: they go beyond descriptive reference to particular facts. And if the facts are those of society, the cognitive concepts also go beyond any particular context of facts – into the processes and conditions on which the respective society rests, and which enter into all particular facts, making, sustaining, and destroying the society. By virtue of their reference to this historical totality, cognitive concepts transcend an operational context, but their transcendence is empirical because it fenders the facts recognizable as that which they reality are.


GALBRAITH, K. 1969 (1958) The affluent society. Harmonds-

I mean, again, all the people say, ‘Oh,these societies don't matter.

But critical analysis must dissociate itself from that which it strives to comprehend; the philosophic terms must be other than the ordinary ones in order to elucidate the full meaning of the latter. For the established universe of discourse bears throughout the marks of the specific modes of domination, organization, and manipulation to which the members of a society are subjected. People depend for their living on bosses and politicians and jobs and neighbors who make them speak and mean as they do; they are compelled, by societal necessity, to identify the “thing” (including their own person, mind, feeling) with its functions. How do we know? Because we watch television, listen to the radio, read the newspapers and magazines, talk to people.