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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bold new vision for capitalism, 4 April 2007
By 
Rolf Dobelli "getAbstract" (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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Activist Jonathon Porritt offers the startling proposal that capitalism may provide the best solution to poverty and global environmental degradation, though his solution requires reshaping capitalism. Porritt is aware that conventional environmental activists, greens and political academics favor socialism more than capitalism. However, he takes them to task for ignoring the power and potential of such capitalist mechanisms as markets and property rights and for their naïveté in expecting voters or political leaders to embrace their dismal vision of environmental responsibility as asceticism. We find his book more suggestive than programmatic. It meanders like a river and is sometimes directionless. The author makes his passions apparent, including anti-Americanism and scathing criticism of certain forms of Christianity. Though Porritt does not offer a detailed description of his vision or the practical steps needed to realize it, he does suggest a path toward a utopian ideal; for that hope, he deserves appropriate attention.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can capitalism ever be truly sustainable?, 3 Oct 2008
By 
Jeremy Williams (Luton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Capitalism as if the World Matters (Paperback)
In a consumer society slowly eating itself, there's no more pressing question than whether or not capitalism and sustainability can ever go together. Johnathon Porritt sets out here to prove that they can. On the one hand, "global capitalism as we know it today would appear to be inherently incompatible with the pursuit of either ecological sustainability or social justice." On the other hand, "capitalism is now the only economic game in town."

Capitalism has been effective in providing goods and services, in creating wealth and raising standards of living. It has also created gross inequality and laid waste to the planet. Business as usual will lead to ecological suicide, quite simply.

In its place, Porritt argues for better regulation, costings for externalities, better metrics than GNP alone. He questions our fixation with growth, and tests the limits of corporate responsibility.

Porritt has got in trouble with some environmentalists for working a little too closely with big business, and he explores some of these initiatives in some detail here - business excellence, business aimed at the poor, experimental corporate reporting. It's easy to see why he's been accused of selling out as he sings the praises of Dow Chemicals, but the corporation aren't going anywhere any time soon, so I applaud him for working alongside them to develop better business models.

For all its problems, capitalism is what we have to work with right now. Although it could do with an extra chapter after the events of summer 2008, this book is still a useful guidebook to the changes already underway, and a roadmap for more responsible capitalism.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking, easy access look at the global environmental 'crisis' and its future, 20 Aug 2010
This review is from: Capitalism as if the World Matters (Paperback)
The thrust of environmental discussion is so often that current 'capitalist' attitudes are totally at odds with environmental concerns, and are a cause of the current 'crisis'. Consequently the need to depart from capitalism is often seen as a prerequisite for environmental progress. Such a departure, however, is almost impossible to imagine.

This book addresses those apparent contradictions, and explores a possible route to more environmentally responsible capitalism, using the mores and mechanisms of the established global economic understanding to move to a hopefully more sustainable relationship with the world. It is a book for environmentalists, social scientists, students and ordinary readers alike. Presuming no previous in depth knowledge or scientific background, it guides the reader from the beginning, drawing together common knowledge from various arenas and building on this with easily followed arguments, to a refreshingly positive but realistic conclusion.

If this book were required reading for environmental policy makers, perhaps they could stop thinking in terms of environment *or* trade and development, and start moving towards some workable solutions.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 July 2014
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This review is from: Capitalism as if the World Matters (Paperback)
Very good although difficult read! Arrived in god time and in good condition. Many thanks.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent in-depth view on the crisis of capitalism, 2 July 2012
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For an in-depth, well-researched and an incredibly well-written summary on the crisis of capitalism, then look no further than this book. Porritt has a wealth of experience on the subject due to his time at time at Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and his time spent consulting organisations and governments on the subject. He takes a pragmatic view and is well-aware that the subject needs an approach not covered by the extremists within the green movement. It's long and detailed though, so I would not recommend trying to read this in a hurry.
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24 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air, 12 Jan 2006
Capitalism: As if the world matters is a very topical and thought provoking read. Jonathan Porritt addresses many key environmental issues for our plant and also opens up a discussion concerning why it is important to attempt to work with the capitalist social structure in which our society operates within if we are serious about actually addressing and solving serious long term environmental problems rather than instead trying to work against the capitalist social structure. It felt like I was reading a book that I had been waiting for somebody to write. A very enjoyable book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 10 Sep 2011
This review is from: Capitalism as if the World Matters (Paperback)
This book was in perfect condition despite being purchased as 'used' - i could only find one page with its corner turned down!
As for the content its a great read, not too academic that you struggle to read or understand content and it certainly caused some heated debates in my household!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The case for reforming capitalism, 29 Dec 2010
By 
Mark Pack (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Capitalism as if the World Matters (Paperback)
First published in 2005 and issued in a revised edition in 2007, Jonathan Porritt's book has played an important part in arguing the case that not only can capitalism and sustainability go together, but that a reformed version of capitalism is essential to achieving sustainability.

This views sets Porritt apart from many of his former colleagues of his from his six years as chair of the UK Ecology Party (now the Green Party) and another six heading up Friends of the Earth. It made - and makes - his book controversial in many green circles but also makes the book appeal to business people who Porritt wishes to persuade to change their ways. "Like it or not (and the vast majority of people do), capitalism is now the only economic show in town," argues Porritt.

It is also an optimistic book for, as Jonathan Porritt writes, "There's so much to be hugely hopeful about - technologically, politically, spiritually ... Capitalism has always been a self-correcting system, capable of startling and seemingly `unthinkable' shifts at precisely the moments when those shifts are most needed". Optimism does not just reflect Porritt's outlook; he also argues that it is necessary for success: "changes have also to be seen as desirable changes: good for people, their health and their quality of life - and not just good for the prospects of future generations ... This means working with the grain of markets and free choice, not against it."

"Market-based, properly regulated capitalism is still capable of meeting today's daunting challenges ... [but] we will need to engineer tomorrow's world, step by step with great determination. It won't just happen by chance," says Porritt.

Tomorrow's world needs to be different in two main respects, according to this book: it needs to be sustainable and it needs to prioritise well being over financial wealth and economic growth.

On this point, Porritt cites JM Keynes's distinction between relative and absolute wants: "Keynes pointed out that our absolute wants (those which we feel regardless of our relative position in society) are limited and finite; it is our relative wants (those which we feel in comparison to what others have in society) that are apparently insatiable".

In this respect, therefore, the book is very much in line with arguments made by others such as The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone that, in developed first world economies, the link between well being and economic growth is extremely weak. As Porritt puts it, "What gives this analysis extra bite is the linkage between declining levels of contentment and inequality: the greater the inequality of income distribution within a developed country, the higher the levels of dissatisfaction and alienation - with the interesting exception of Singapore".

The book has some radical prescriptions, particularly on social justice's role in ensuring sustainability: "No serious definition of the word `sustainable' could possibly allow for a continuation of the grotesque disparities in wealth that we see today, both within countries and between countries". But, more generally Porritt, "demands a reform agenda, however radical it may appear to some, [but] not a revolutionary agenda".

That is what the book details, often more in textbook than polemic style, providing a comprehensive sweep of policies and supporting evidence which makes the book a useful reference source.
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13 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Message for the Future, 24 Aug 2006
By 
W. Stephens "Will" (Westonbirt, UK) - See all my reviews
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Porritt is THE leading environmental crusader in the UK and now vitally close to both governments and large corporations. Here is a man who has been working every minute god gives him for the last 40 years to promote social and environmental change. His knowledge of this subject is unequalled, all the major environmental analyses over the past 20 years are distilled within this elegant summary. His message is clear; -- Sure we could do with total social change but this isn't going to happen in the next 10 years and watching climate change in action we don't have longer - so we have to adapt our current system (capitalism) and use it to deliver the better world that we all long for. If you buy one book this year make sure this is it!
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6 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important and Impressive, 23 Feb 2007
A hugely important and passionate book written by someone who has real gravitas in this field. The messages are profound and they are pragmatic.The weight of Porritts intellect, based on 40 years of engagement in the environmental cause, is staggering and stretches into economics, business, psychology and ecology.

Read it. Then read it again. And then get engaged in the debates that it raises. It matters.
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Capitalism as if the World Matters
Capitalism as if the World Matters by Jonathon Porritt (Paperback - 6 Sep 2007)
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