Kojin Karatani: “The Structure of World History”- The Four Modes of Exchange

book Karatani

Heavy stuff !! For political scientists and sociologists. But also an essential read for those who want to look ahead what may be coming (P2P Collaboration) in these turbulent transitionary times.

This book (and his video-lectures explaining it, see the link below) is essential fundamental knowledge to understand history, its empires, and the interdependencies created by their modes of exchange to the outside world. And Kojin Karatani describes how the Four Modes of Exchange for goods and knowledge shaped communities all over the world and are still at work shaping and clustering groups of people by power and/or mutual shared interests. It should be understood that Karatani streeses the fact that the four modes can and will coexist and interwork like 4 different staircases in a building, just like my Trias Internetica , is a call for new  (multimodal) balance instead of a unipolar dominance of either Capital or State or Market-power. 

Karatani schema

A = gift exchange rural tribes, B = State power hierarchy, C = Market invisible hand of Neo-Liberalism D = ? new incarnation of A with modern ways of communicationa and Commons exchange ? To repeat: new combinations of A & B & C & D will appear.


In my “Trias Internetica”  the combination of Civil Society (A & D) & The State (B) & The Market will result in synergetic value creation by way of Synthesis (combination of diverse contributions from diverse tribes —> Synthecracy


Book description on the publishers site:

In this major, paradigm-shifting work, Kojin Karatani systematically re-reads Marx’s version of world history, shifting the focus of critique from modes of production to modes of exchange. Karatani seeks to understand both Capital-Nation-State, the interlocking system that is the dominant form of modern global society, and the possibilities for superseding it. In The Structure of World History, he traces different modes of exchange, including the pooling of resources that characterizes nomadic tribes, the gift exchange systems developed after the adoption of fixed-settlement agriculture, the exchange of obedience for protection that arises with the emergence of the state, the commodity exchanges that characterize capitalism, and, finally, a future mode of exchange based on the return of gift exchange, albeit modified for the contemporary moment. He argues that this final stage—marking the overcoming of capital, nation, and state—is best understood in light of Kant’s writings on eternal peace. The Structure of World History is in many ways the capstone of Karatani’s brilliant career, yet it also signals new directions in his thought.


Video Lectures:

Lecture video 1 of 34 (press the Youtube icon on lower right)

This broad overview of history and the perceived patterns in it, has recently been reviewed and discussed by McKenzie Wark, with a comment by Michel Bauwens, both accessible through the following link:
jaap van till. TheConnectivist


About broodjejaap

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This entry was posted in belief system, Collaboration, Communities, coordination, Corridoria, democracy, dictator, empire, Ethics, Freedom, Geopolitics, Megaregions, moral values, Network Dynamics, New Power, Platform cooperativism, power, social innovation, TransTribalCollaboration, Uncategorized, Wealth creation. Bookmark the permalink.

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