Book Review of The Real Wealth of Nations
an article by David Adams
The new book by Riane Eisler, The Real Wealth of Nations, is an important contribution to a culture of peace. Eisler is best known for her earlier book The Chalice and the Blade, which is more explicit about cultures associated with war and peace. She also has previously published a book entitled Educating for a Culture of Peace. The new book, however, does not explicitly deal with culture of war or culture of peace.
Eisler contributes by promoting a "new economics" and by recognizing the recent efforts by a number of economists to include measures of household work as an important part of a nation's economic output. She convincingly shows that the ignoring of household work by the "old economists" was part and parcel of the sexist double standard of our societies which values the work of men but not the work of women.
She calls for a "caring revolution." An especially valuable contribution is the book's collection of evidence showing that it is profitable for private corporations to provide day-care, flex-time and other arrangements that value household work.
In my opinion, however, there is a serious omission in Eisler's "new economics." Military spending by governments is treated like other spending. Instead, it should be treated as a net loss, draining from the economy labor and materiel that could otherwise be engaged in production of useful goods and services. This approach has been effectively used by the economist Lloyd J. Dumas in his 1986 book The Overburdened Economy and it explains why the the Soviet empire collapsed. By failing to consider this, the Eisler book fails to consider the likelihood that the American empire is headed for a similar prolonged decline and possible eventual collapse.
Eisler's conclusion, that we need to move from "dominator systems" to "partnership systems" has many points of similarity to the United Nations analysis of the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace. A further comparison of these two analytic approaches would be useful.
The Real Wealth of Nations is published by Berret-Koehler Publishers of San Francisco.
Question(s) related to this article:
Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?,
How can we get to a sustainable, peaceful economy?,
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Latest reader comment:
In recent weeks, CPNN has published a number of reports that suggest that it is the private sector, in other words capitalist business enterprises, that have the potential to provide effective leadership toward sustainable development.
This is the theme of More Businesses Pursue Triple Bottom Line for a Sustainable Economy and
New report calls for 'extended leadership' on sustainability.
It was also the theme few years ago of an excellent book by Riane Eisler, The Real Wealth of Nations .
At CPNN we would welcome further discussion of this theme, as it is quite different from our analysis of the Rio+20 summit a year ago when we considered that the civil society and cities, rather than business was taking leadership in the face of the evident failure of national governments.
This report was posted on July 15, 2007.
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