Terms of Order, The

By Cedric J. Robinson

Paperback : 9780873954532, 283 pages, June 1980
Hardcover : 9780873954112, 283 pages, June 1980

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Do we live in basically orderly societies that occasionally erupt into violent conflict, or do we fail to perceive the constancy of violence and disorder in our societies?

Cedric J. Robinson contends that our perception of political order is an illusion, maintained in part by Western political and social theorists who share a dependence on the concept of leadership as a basis for describing and prescribing social order.

Robinson uses a variety of critical approaches in his analysis: he synthesizes elements of psychoanalysis, structuralism, Marxism, classical and neoclassical political philosophy, and sociology to support his case for considering Western thought on leadership to be mythological rather than rational. He then presents examples of historically developed "stateless" societies with social organizations that suggest conceptual alternatives to the ways political order has been conceived in the West.

As an American Black political theorist, Robinson examines Western thought from the vantage point of a people only marginally integrated into Western institutions and intellectual traditions. His perspective on the conceptualization that structures Western thinking on the most basic levels contributes to the questioning on how our conduct, values, and even perceptions may be shaped by our symbolization.

Cedric J. Robinson is Director of the Center for Black Studies and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.