Recognizing that scarcity is a key concept in how economic systems are approached, this becomes a central them to this book. Not all too shocking cons...moreRecognizing that scarcity is a key concept in how economic systems are approached, this becomes a central them to this book. Not all too shocking considering the title. However despite being so central to economics, Panayotakis presents a case that economists, and by this he means primarily neo-classical economists, have gotten it wrong. Initially he builds the case that the manner in which scarcity is commonly interpreted is limited. Indeed in it's attempts to be a value free science, it often presupposes many of the features of a neo-liberal capitalist society. Instead of being an informative and critical field, it becomes a handmaiden.
One area where this is demonstrated would be when it comes to the goals that people are pursuing. Neo-liberal politics does not concern itself with what the goals are. Whereas Panayotakis would argue that this is an important aspect to take into consideration, as the goals and aspirations of a populace do not spring out of nowhere. Rather they are influenced very strongly by sociocultural factors. Marketing for instance goes to great expense to attempt to shape these values, drawing on research conducted by psychologists and to a lesser extent other social scientists. This would be all good and well if it could be demonstrated that capitalism is an efficient means of addressing scarcity.
Panayotakis argues that this is not the case either. Looking at the culture of consumerism, as well as inequality and ecological destruction the case is presented that neo-liberal capitalism is having a disastrous impact. The problem he identifies is that the system promotes abstract logics of capital and profit which result in resources not being adequately employed towards the removal of inhumane conditions and ecologically destructive patterns of behaviour. Indeed the continuous need to increase one's relative profit results in the never ending pursuit of cost cutting and revenue increasing. These logics are in place, Panayotakis asserts, in large part due to the non-democratic nature of our economic system.
The book finishes off by exploring what an economic democracy might be like. He looks briefly at a few models which have been offered, identifying their relative strengths and weaknesses. He does not advocate what the goals of an economic democracy would be, outside of some rather general principles. Importantly he also spends a little time briefly postulating on what style approach would be required in order to bring this transition about.
Finally his writing style is incredibly clear and concise. I found it very enjoyable and easy to work my way through. Since he is advocating for a system which encourages more public participation, it is quite fitting that his ideas are presented in such a manner that a wider audience would be able to grapple with them. All in all a very interesting read. (less)
In many ways this was a much lighter version of arguments presented in Manufacturing Consent. Some similar examples are presented here to demonstrate...moreIn many ways this was a much lighter version of arguments presented in Manufacturing Consent. Some similar examples are presented here to demonstrate the ways in which the mass media, and politicians, influence the public consumption of news & politics. One example being the differntial portrayl of elections relative to whether they are seen as beneficial or detrimental to U.S. 'interests'. The style or writing presented here is, as mentioned, much lighter. Instead of a few well detailed case studies, we find ourselves with a series of short, conversational esque, essays covering a range of topics. At points he will be discussing the portrayl of entitlements vs subsidies, whereas later on he might be discussing how the forestry industry is portrayed. The short essays which comprise the first half of the book flow really nicely, and are both entertaining and easy to read. The dictionary which comprises the second half of the book is also incredibly amusing, with some quite fitting definitions being supplied. I would definitely encourage checking this book out for a light easy read. :)(less)
An introductory glance at the situation of peoples who find themselves within the fourth world. It is organized by geographical regions, with each sec...moreAn introductory glance at the situation of peoples who find themselves within the fourth world. It is organized by geographical regions, with each section beginning with an essay that presents an overview of the region in question. At times the essays were easier to engage with than the summaries that followed. Although that is because I was not reading this book as it was intended. I can however certainly see myself returning to it in the future. As a starting point, it will not doubt be very useful for gaining one's bearings. Some of the contributors are also people whose writing I am quite fond of.(less)
It is a fairly simplistic exploration of US foreign policy. Issues such as US backed Israeli aggression into Lebanon and Palestine, the US invasions o...moreIt is a fairly simplistic exploration of US foreign policy. Issues such as US backed Israeli aggression into Lebanon and Palestine, the US invasions of Iraq & Afghanistan and US/ Latin American relations are explored to name a few. The book, quite clearly aimed at a wider audience, is written in a clear and simple manner. Although despite being only 190 pages long, it still manages to feel somewhat repitious. Furthermore due to the nature of the book, Chomsky never really develops any of his stances to a real level of satisfaction. I would still assert he covers important topics and angles though. (less)