At the start of the third Christian millennium we are aware of massive political, economic and ideological changes which condition the chances of liberty, wealth and equality. Yet it is surprisingly difficult for us to understand these forces, for we cannot see what surrounds us so closely. This book analyses our condition by looking at the work of two great thinkers, one of whom provides a deep historical perspective, the other a wide comparative analysis. F.W. Maitland (1850-1906) was more than the greatest professional historian of modern times, he was a philosopher who provides a brilliant sketch of how our strange world has come about, particularly in his work on associations and trusts. Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835-1901) more than any other created the institutions of modern Japan. As an outsider he provides a brilliant insight into the heart of the new capitalist and industrial civilization which had emerged in the west.