Sunday, March 18, 2007


Book Discussion

Been reading America Beyond Capitalism. Some accuse Gar Alperovitz of being a commie in this book, but really, for all of the radicalism of his proposed solutions, he sticks close to some real centrist/capitalist, if not exactly mainstream at least "bipartisan" proposals in this book. Compare this book, for example, with Lind's "Made in Texas", which seems to have a similar perspective.

However, as much as I like micro-capitalist type solutions, Alperovitz seems a bit too in awe of the small in what really is a global economy. Anyway, as someone else otherwise in awe of micro-capitalism, Greg Palast, points out: entrepreneurs are not the social do-gooders, etc., some make them out to be: they are people like everyone else. Anyway, if the entrepreneurial spirit were as necessary and sufficient for a good economy as some politicians, as well as Prof. Alperovitz, make it out to be, countries like Nigeria, where everyone seems to be on the make with a new business scheme, would be the economic powerhouses of the world. And who knows, maybe they soon will be?

Still, I'm inclined to say to Prof. Alperovitz "I find your ideas intriguing and would like to sign up for your newsletter", however, I'm not so sanguine those ideas are all quite so good as some would think they are.

At the very least, Alperovitz quotes some fascinating paleo-con types who, contrasted with what passes for conservative -- either of the paleo or neo varieties -- thought nowadays, actually are coherent and make the obvious point missed by so many who claim to want to return us to Jeffersonian ideals of limitted government: you cannot have such a limitted government when you have big corporations organizing the economic life of society. As Jefferson, who opposed the very introduction of such corporations into our society, might have put it (considering the causation he really ment to imply with his famous quotation): "governments which recognize and enable corporations are not good governments because they cease to be able to govern least".

Still, call me Rooseveltian here, but have corporations been such a bad thing for our society? Don't the gains outweigh the losses? And would returning to a bunch of, c.f. Greg Palast, potentially equally selfish small businesses be any better?

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