This Introduction explores the origins of capitalism and questions whether it did indeed originate in Europe. It examines a distinctive stage in the development of capitalism that began in the 1980s, in order to understand where we are now and how capitalism has evolved since. The book discusses the crisis tendencies of capitalismincluding the S.E. Asian banking crisis, the collapse of the Russian economy, and the 1997-1998 global financial crisisasking whether capitalism is doomed to fail. In the end, the author ruminates on a possible alternative to capitalism, discussing socialism, communal and cooperative experiments, and alternatives proposed by environmentalists.