From an Economics of Power and Greed to an Economics of Compassion and the Common Good

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* Book: Economics Unmasked: From power and greed to compassion and the common good. By Philip B. Smith & Manfred Max Neef, Green Books, 2011


By Nic Marks, founder of the Centre for Well-being:

"This is a radical book – in fact it is a book to re-radicalise those of us who perhaps over the years have lost some of our edge!


Philip ... has done a great job at creating with Manfred a compact classic. In fact having a physicist poke holes in economics theory – with its oversimplification of human behaviour in a desire to be like the ‘hard’ physical sciences – is all the more fun and indeed powerful. His deconstruction of Bentham and Utilitarianism in chapter five is worth the price of the book alone.

In some ways the book goes over ground that those of us who have critiqued economics are already familiar with, but there is something about their directness that genuinely does ‘unmask’ economics. What do they suggest is behind the mask? A system that uses quasi scientific theory and language to reinforce and protect the power and wealth of the rich. Their treatise moves easily from philosophy to physics, from economics to environment and argues passionately for more compassion.

They identify what they consider to be the foundations of a new economics ... :

· The economy is to serve the people, not the people the economy. · Development is about people, not objects. · Growth is not the same as development, and development does not necessarily require growth. · No economy is possible in the absence of eco-system services. · The economy is a sub-system of a larger and finite system, the biosphere; hence permanent growth is impossible.

Towards the end of the book there is an important plea for a teaching of ‘non-toxic economics’ in universities, but aside from this there is not much in the way of ‘solutions’. This is not really a weakness of the book; it is simply not that type of book." (