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Essays in Our Changing Order is the ninth volume in the collected works of America's pre-eminent social scientist. Each volume has a new opening essay, in this case, a comprehensive review of Veblen's works by Scott Bowman that stands by itself as a premier statement. Using an innovative framework, Bowman sees Veblen as concerned with three unifying themes: the dynamic interrelationships between instinct, habits of thought, environment, and social change in human evolution; the essential contradiction between business and industry sustained by the instinctual dominance of pecuniary exploit over workmanlike efficiency; and the role of ideological and animistic thinking in human affairs.
This volume of Veblen's most important studies, published posthumously in 1936, illustrates and embellishes the themes Bowman outlines in a variety of ways, and is remarkable for its contemporanity and literary freshness. Veblen's editor, Leon Ardzrooni, divides the work into three major segments: essays on economics, including the history of the field; miscellaneous papers, which nearly all come to rest on matters of religion and philosophy; and what Ardzrooni calls war essays, which again reveal a very worldly and wise observer of current events and critic of national policies. What is so astonishing is the timeliness of these seemingly time bound concerns: whether dealing with the condition of women, the intellectual contributions of Jews, farm labor and unions, or the meaning of the Bolshevik Revolution, Veblen confronts us with insights into still-unfinished business.