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The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy Paperback – 6 Jan 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd (6 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846272181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846272189
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Combines sociology and neuroeconomics to ask the most fundamental question of the season: why do things cost what they do?' --Prospect

`This is Raj Patel's great gift: he makes even the most radical ideas seem not only reasonable, but inevitable. A brilliant book' --Naomi Klein

`A penetrating and admirably concise guide to the follies of market fundamentalism' --John Gray, Observer

'A tightly argued and timely study that deserves to be read by anyone concerned with the state of the world today' --Tribune

`Patel offers us a whole new way to think about price and value. Bracingly written and full of surprises'
--Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma

About the Author

RAJ PATEL was educated at Oxford, the LSE, and Cornell. A former fellow at Yale and Berkeley, he now holds a Visiting Fellowship at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has worked for the World Bank, interned at the WTO, consulted for the UN, and protested against his former employers. He is one of only a few activists trusted to work with the Via Campesina peasant movement. His first book was Stuffed & Starved. www.rajpatel.org


Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I don't normally write reviews, but I bought this book after reading the book-of-the-week review in The Observer, and after reading it in one sitting, felt I had to write.

I thought I knew a lot about why the financial crisis happened, but Patel manages to sum it up quickly, entertainingly and cleverly. There were lots of bits where I found myself giggling, or saying 'wow' - like the bit about Antons Blindness, where people believe they can see but actually can't, or the discussion of how nuts 'carbon trading' is. He's got lots of great insights into why we got here, but what that this book has that others don't is what we can do to fix things.

Patel talks about 'the commons' - the idea that won the nobel economics prize this year - and he shows how we can't really carry on with the way things are at the moment. There are loads of inspirational stories from around the world, and although it doesn't seem like shackdwellers in South Africa have much in common with us, I reckon we're much closer than people think.

Definitely recommend this book. It doesn't have all the solutions to today's economic collapse, but it has all the right questions.
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Format: Paperback
How often have you started off a book full of enthusiasm, loved the first few chapters, and then found yourself wishing the author had stopped half way through? I get that all the time. I imagine it's because it's natural to deal with problems in two parts - `what's wrong with the current system; what we should do about it'. Unfortunately it's much easier to knock the existing system than to outline a new one. So lots of books follow a detailed and interesting critique of the current state of play with a woolly cry of `something must be done, and it should look a bit like this'. This is a case in point.

There's a growing consensus that conventional economics contains some very, very dubious assumptions at its core. One of the most dubious is that of `homo economicus' - the person who in any given situation will act so as to maximise their utility. Another is the Efficient Markets Hypothesis - roughly the claim that markets are `informationally efficient', that prices reflect all publically available information and instantly change to reflect new information. A lot of economic models require these assumptions to get going.

Now, I'm not exactly an economics insider, but it's becoming increasingly obvious that neither of these claims comes close to representing the world as it really exists (as opposed to as it exists in the heads of certain members of the Chicago school), and that the most interesting work within the discipline is being done by people who make contrary assumptions. Patel takes aim at both of them - especially effectively at homo economicus - and scores a number of hits. We do not, it seems, behave much like this in real life. We would be pretty horrible if we did.
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8 Comments 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a whirlwind text on how to roll back the power of markets, use them for the good of society and redefine what we mean by democracy. I'd like to think of it as a very good anarchist manifesto without explicitly calling itself that. It has some great ideas on deliberative politics, very realistic ideas, and highlights some inspirational movements from around the globe. Read it. Now.
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Format: Hardcover
This gives a very entertaining survey of how we have all been caught up in this "faith in the market" and its unrealistic and fatally inappropriate values
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