In This Review

Modernity and the State: East, West
Modernity and the State: East, West
By Claus Offe
MIT Press, 1996, 270 pp

This book by a leading German political theorist is a fascinating landmark denoting the movement of the left in recent years, and the dead end at which it has arrived. Offe is fully aware that the modern, ration al, regulatory welfare state that has developed in Europe over the past few decades is in big trouble, and he catalogs many of the reasons why the state has increasingly been unable to achieve the goals it sets for itself. On the other hand, he is extremely uncomfortable with the alternative neoliberal orthodoxy of deregulation and unfettered market competition in a globalized economy. But if the state is an ineffective instrument, where does that leave the left in its quest for equity and social justice? No clear answer emerges from this book. Though his writing is dense and at times full of academic jargon, the book represents an interesting effort to think through the beginnings of a coherent post-socialist position.