David's Reviews > The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy

The Value of Nothing by Raj Patel
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's review
Sep 17, 10

bookshelves: economics
Read from September 16 to 17, 2010

Seldom have I seen a book written by a PhD that could simultaneously argue for both deconstruction of government and a return of almost anarchistic democracy while maintaining that we our current regulation of corporations is inefficient and corrupt. Patel takes us on a whirlwind of topics, a torrent of quotations (many of which were taken well out of context), and a flood of criticisms. However, and quite disappointingly, he never actually proposes any solutions to his complaints, other than the aforementioned loose ideals of a dichotomy of tighter governmental control and Athenian style democracy. This leads me to question if the author is actually interested in any solutions whatsoever.

I found this book to raise many troubling concerns. It is true that we do abuse many of our planet's resources and it is true that our democratic republic is corrupt and inefficient. Nevertheless, I plead with our modern day intellectuals to provide solutions and blueprints, not just another complaint that we are not taxing the rich properly. I found this book to be valid, but ineffectual. It is just another case of a well-bred communist sympathizer with very little practical and applicable solutions. Perhaps in the future we will find something more concrete to use as a textbook for societal change, but this book is clearly not it.

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09/16/2010 page 89

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Larryk (new)

Larryk It ia indeed frustrating to see yet another book analyzing the problem - particularly our corrupt shell of a democracy - without offering a detailed blueprint of the solution that lovers of liberty can unite behind.
Please consider the following: http://moneyouttapolitics.org/

Katie I thought that he absolutely did propose solutions. The solutions is that we need to start exerting authority of the decisions that affect us all. Nobody is going to hand us a "plan" and I don't recommend waiting around for one to materialize. We need to actually work for a solution and become more involved in the decisions that affect us. This isn't a leader-follower situation (which you seem to be looking for). His solution is a more participatory society (a subject that has already been written about at length). He wasn't trying to explain the detailed workings of a participatory society, but making yet another case that it could solve many of our problems. I suggest you read more about it. It's a fascinating subject and it's gaining popularity.

message 3: by Larryk (last edited Sep 18, 2011 07:41AM) (new)

Larryk Nobody is going to hand us a "plan"

Well, um, Katie - http://moneyouttapolitics.org/ recommended in the first comment as a blueprint not only specifically presents a "plan," but the website itself executes the plan in a way that you can be a part of.
By all means do not wait around for a plan, but when one is presented to you do take a few minutes to consider it.

General exhortations of what solutions "we need," a more participatory society or any other result is not a plan on how we get there. The only people who get to participate in our politics are those who buy politicians. Until we get money out of politics, as is being demanded by those currently occupying wall street, calls for more participation without a detailed plan of how to get money out of politics are just naive.
The original criticism is widespread that there are way too many authors describing the problem of our loss of democracy and the resulting policy failures and too few paying attention to detailed strategies for solving the problem.
Again http://moneyouttapolitics.org/ is the exception

Katie It looks like they have some good ideas there. Money influencing politics is a big part of the problem. I also recommend reading about participatory economics (parecon). It's a really interesting theory on how we can organize in an inclusive way that avoids one group having power over another.

Lisa Faye I agree wit Katie. I would suggest anyting by Michael Alberts as a great start!

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