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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real struggle for survival, 15 Oct. 2007
This review is from: The Nature and Logic of Capitalism (Paperback)
Robert Heilbroner analyzes perfectly the mechanisms of the modern capitalist system: the driving need to extract wealth from the productive activities of society and use the surplus production to amass more wealth. It is an insatiable process of expansion and accumulation with profits as its life blood.
Those profits go to the owners of the means of production, the dominating class. But their domination hinges on an army of workers who are dependent for their livelihood on access to these means of production.
The owners have the power to direct and mobilize the activities of society, but in capitalist States there is a dichotomy between the capitalist class and the State. The latter continues to be the owner of the coercion force. However, the relation between business and the State is pragmatic. The power to tax makes the State a participant in the accumulation process. On the other hand, some public needs cannot be provided directly and fully by private initiatives (defence, justice, legal bases for property rights and market regulation, infrastructure, education).
A remarkable characteristic is the fact that political freedom has only appeared in capitalist States.

This book has nonetheless a few flaws.
The author underestimates the real nature of wealth and power. For him, `power is obscure in its psychic roots', and `has only minor evolutionary significance.' But, power and wealth are not less than a matter of life and death. Only one example: in Jack London's `The People of the Abyss' the average life of the wretched was only 29 years (in the beginning of the 20th century!).
He also saw in the future an increased power of the State. His long wave economic analysis seems to be truly disturbed by the Chinese and Indian economic revolutions.

This book is not to be missed by all those wanting to understand the world we live in.
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Luc REYNAERT
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Location: Beernem, Belgium

Top Reviewer Ranking: 850