TRADITIONALLY, WESTERN HISTORIOGRAPHY traces the origins of the so-called modern world to the Enlightenment and the revolutionary waves, political and economic, at the end of the eighteenth century. These eighteenth-century origins are related to the rise of a new social class and its triumph over the ancien régime as a precondition for the unfolding of the two major aspects of modern civilization—capitalism and statism. But is this view not oversimple? We historians know all too well—and recent scholarship repeatedly reminds us of it—that the past is much more tenacious than public opinion imagines it to be. Little of the past is every fully lost, though its dynamic role may change and its forms be transmuted.