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The Economic Horror Paperback – 14 May 1999

3.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press (14 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745619940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745619941
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 1 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,469,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"People have found many scapegoats to explain the rise of unemployment and the inability to combat it – globalization, multinationals, neo–liberalism, even the end of history. Viviane Forrester goes beyond these concepts. Her book sets the terms of a real debate at last. Others will say whether her analyses are relevant, her concepts sound and her facts accurate – in short, whether she is right or wrong. But the reader of Economic Horror will undoubtedly be persuaded of one thing: what she says is just." Le Monde


"Economic Horror also comes to us as a European publishing sensation ... she does have a vision of contemporary capitalism which focuses almost exclusively on its destructive, disorientating side. And which does so in a passionate, pulsing style, clearly attuned to the everyday fears of its predominantly middle–class readership, but not asking them to think too theoretically about the sources of their angst ... Powerful stuff" Sunday Herald (Glasgow)


"Amid so many contemporary arguments about "Third Ways" and the inevitability...of capitalism, it is refreshing to read such an impassioned account of its essential malignance. Some may feel that the case is overstated by the lack of qualification of claims about globalisation and the lack of differentiation between nations, classes, ethnicities, genders. But this is partly deliberate, in order to present starkly that which is usually masked in qualification, to hold onto the wider picture, to refuse to set different sections of the population against each other."Ruth Levitas, Work, Employment and Society.


′Viviane Forrester′s The Economic Horror, a bestseller in her native France, is full of passion for the destructive nature of employment. While governments advocate the "sanctity" of work, the unemployed are made to feel excluded, worthless, detached from the mainstream of society. With the razzmatazz of new Labour′s New Deal fast fading, Forrester′s arguments have a knowing persistence that upsets the conventional wisdoms of even the most modernised politics.′ Mark Perriman, New Statesman

From the Back Cover

Why do we continue to value employment and economic success above all other things in life, when both are becoming increasingly hard to achieve for an ever–growing part of our population? Why are governments constantly fudging their figures to play down the unemployment statistics, when laying off workers is an accepted mode of management? More and more people are finding themselves caught in a trap of depression and despair, trying desperately to carve out a niche for themselves in a world where they feel marginalized and unwanted.

Economic Horror is an impassioned book addressed to the dominant political and economic elites in our society. Those in power, Forrester tells us, continue to present employment as the norm – and by doing so make the unemployed feel worthless. Everything of value in contemporary western society – our income, our status, our contacts, our self–esteem, our power and our peace of mind – is inextricably bound up with work. The panaceas of work–experience and re–training often do nothing more than reinforce the fact that there is no real role for the unemployed. They come to realize that there is something worse than being exploited, and that is not even to be exploitable.

The feeling that we must prove ourselves useful to society, or at least to the market economy, is rooted in the value system of a world which no longer exists. As we are unlikely ever to have a culture of full employment again, Forrester urges us to stop basing our identities, individually and communally, around the idea of employment. First and foremost, the new millennium calls out for a new culture, with a new social structure which is not centred on paid employment. Meanwhile, globalization should be managed and controlled by political processes, rather than seen as the inevitable product of an abstract "economy".

Received with enormous acclaim and success in France, Germany, Italy and elsewhere, and currently being translated into more than 20 languages, Economic Horror is a powerful attack on the hypocrisy and the dishonesty that informs contemporary debates on work and unemployment. It deserves to be widely read and debated throughout the English–speaking world.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Viviane Forrester passionately articulates the futility of basing our economic model around the idea of 'work', when the reality is that work is becoming ever more scarce. Large sections of Western society (and, indeed, the vast majority of the global population) are being marginalised and excluded. Many of her conclusions are painful, but most are accurate. However, I found the book painful to read not so much because of its conclusions, but because of the overly literal translation. Passionate discourse in French may lend itself to interminably long sentences with tens of confusing sub-clauses, but whoever translated this book does not demonstrate much command of readable English. In addition, some of the allusions and examples used by Forrester have little resonance outside her native country. If this book is truly to become the 'global bestseller' its cover claims, the publisher should have it re-translated - or, more broadly, re-interpreted - by someone with a bit of stylistic flair. It would then deserve a far higher rating.
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I find the book very interesting, with a point of view more than real about the degree of burnt caused in the occidental society by the neo liberalist capitalism. A must read for all those who think there is more than just paper in the money we use.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a 'post-modernist' contribution to the debate about unemployment. It starts from the facts that the present economic system prevents full employment, and that the working class as a whole is becoming surplus to requirements. There are now 18 million unemployed people in the EU alone. It is increasingly a world in which workers have no place at all, especially our young people. An OECD Jobs Study openly recommended raising unemployment to cut wages. The World Bank openly recommended cutting benefits to force workers into low-paid jobs, and said that "wage cuts and redundancies [are] essential."
Unfortunately, Ms Forrester argues that we must accept ever-growing unemployment. Instead of working out ways to end mass unemployment, she proposes, in characteristic post-modernist style, to end the 'culture' of employment. She writes that our terms of work and unemployment 'created such reality', so if we stop using the terms, we change the reality! She calls for "organising society starting precisely from the absence of work." According to her, unemployed people do not need work; they need instead to free themselves from the very idea of work.
She seems unaware of the paradox that she has produced a book - which is work - calling for everyone to recognise the end of work! Not surprisingly, she never mentions the words 'manufacturing' or industry': the idea that things are made and need making never seems to strike her.
But of course there is an alternative. We can change our ideology to change the world. Workers do have the right to work; we must organise to reclaim that right. We need to rebuild our industry, in order to rebuild our society. Work needs to be done: improving the environment and our transport services, building homes, schools and hospitals, developing education and culture. How can society survive without work? Jobs need doing, and people need to work. So let's put the two together!
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Format: Paperback
An extraordinary study of economics liberalism's destiny on how human nature responds to what is is's role in our society. Unemployment being the concern of millions of young people, Forrester gives them little to dream about but a lot to be changed by government's economic policy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9e1b242c) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e25d510) out of 5 stars The end of work 10 May 2000
By Walter Grant - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
What happens to society as more and more technology makes work less and less necessary? Viviane Forrester, in her book "The Economic Horror" brilliantly and passionately discusses this question. Her basic thesis is that the benefits and profits from this change accrue to a tiny oligarchy, while the mass of people worldwide essentially become surplus, dispensable trash. She mercilessly cuts through the subterfuges and band aids which have no purpose other than to conceal the impending economic horror for as long as possible, while behind the curtain of lies the politicians collude with business to bring it about as quickly as possible. She shows how racism, xenophobia, class divisions, indeed the whole institutional structure play into the grand scheme of rendering the human person, even human life itself, superfluous. Does she hold out any hope? Yes and no. No hope of a resurrection of work and economic productivity as the measure of worth and dignity. But understanding and acknowledging this truth is in itself a powerful shield for preserving one's worth and dignity. And once the truth is fully understood, there is hope for "organizing society precisely from the absence of work" and trying "to make life decent and viable by other means, and doing it today." Perhaps in another book she will suggest how this could be done.
The translation generally succeeds in maintaining the serious and passionate tone; but occasionally it interjects inappropriate or flippant colloquialisms, and sometimes it is simply unintelligible. But these are minor flaws, and they do not really detract from the power of this work.
If there is one book that can open one's eyes to the world being constructed by the corporate, financial and political powers, this is the book. Read and see.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e25e3b4) out of 5 stars French intellectual flop 31 July 2001
By William Podmore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a `post-modernist' contribution to the debate about unemployment. It starts from the facts that the present economic system prevents full employment, and that the working class as a whole is becoming surplus to requirements. There are now 18 million unemployed people in the EU alone. It is increasingly a world in which workers have no place at all, especially our young people. An OECD Jobs Study openly recommended raising unemployment to cut wages. The World Bank openly recommended cutting benefits to force workers into low-paid jobs, and said that "wage cuts and redundancies [are] essential."
Unfortunately, Ms Forrester argues that we must accept ever-growing unemployment. Instead of working out ways to end mass unemployment, she proposes, in characteristic post-modernist style, to end the `culture' of employment. She writes that our terms of work and unemployment `created such reality', so if we stop using the terms, we change the reality! She calls for "organising society starting precisely from the absence of work." According to her, unemployed people do not need work; they need instead to free themselves from the very idea of work.
She seems unaware of the paradox that she has produced a book - which is work - calling for everyone to recognise the end of work! Not surprisingly, she never mentions the words `manufacturing' or industry': the idea that things are made and need making never seems to strike her.
But of course there is an alternative. We can change our ideology to change the world. Workers do have the right to work; we must organise to reclaim that right. We need to rebuild our industry, in order to rebuild our society. Work needs to be done: improving the environment and our transport services, building homes, schools and hospitals, developing education and culture. How can society survive without work? Jobs need doing, and people need to work. So let's put the two together!
HASH(0x9e70e21c) out of 5 stars A book ahead of it's time 18 Jan. 2013
By bossaboy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A prescient look into the future from 1996. The author both observes what was occurring around her, and envisions a future world in which our young have no place, no work, no prospects for a future worthy of the name. I applaud the author's courage to look unflinchingly into the moral vacuum of our brave new world of neoliberal winner take all economics. She writes with passion and compassion, both qualities frowned upon by the apologists for our amoral darwinian system of dog eat dog capitalism. The author is not afraid to think critically about the very framework of our modern world, something that most of us fail to summon the courage necessary to accomplish. As worthwhile a read now as it was when first published.
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