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THE SOUL OF CAPITALISM: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy

William Greider, Author . Simon & Schuster $28 (384p) ISBN 978-0-684-86219-4

The good news is, American capitalism has "solved the economic problem" of overcoming scarcity, says veteran journalist Greider, currently with the Nation. Most Americans live materially comfortable lives. The bad news: capitalism seems increasingly dysfunctional and alienating, and fundamentally conflicts with humanity's noneconomic values. Greider says we have the luxury and responsibility now to repair this, to transform the essential purpose of our economic system from the relentless pursuit of "more" to the fulfillment of "human needs." Greider (Secrets of the Temple) breaks from the standard left-wing critique in one critical respect: he believes the system will be changed not by activist government but by a variety of small-scale reformers working to transform the economic system from within. Greider reports on experiments in corporate governance, especially employee ownership and consultative decision making. He investigates initiatives in corporate financing, most significantly, the growing practice of socially responsible investing by union and pension funds. Toward ecological sustainability, Greider's proposals include industries' developing "closed-loop recycling that mimics nature." Arguing that current government policies amplify capitalism's distortions, Greider emphasizes redirecting government expenditures from corporate subsidies to long-term social investments. Greider is immoderately optimistic, but without illusions about the challenges these grassroots movements face. Wisely, he recommends local experiments before considering any grandiose plans. Greider concedes that people might perceive a "touchy-feely wishful thinking" in some of the reformers' projects, and that quality is not absent from the book, but his overall framework is fresh and valuable, and his reporting on specific efforts is resourceful and illuminating. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. 8-city author tour. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 05/19/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
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FORMATS
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-60812-729-0
Book - 978-1-56511-789-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56511-788-4
Paperback - 366 pages - 978-0-684-86220-0
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