Finalist in 2012-13 PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE for Non-Fiction
The author was the first to forecast the events that ruptured the global economy in 2008 by applying an analysis that exposes the fault lines in the structure of the market economy. Having correctly forecast the timing of the global crisis, he now extends his analysis to the future of the West, to evaluate fears from distinguished commentators who claim that European civilisation is in danger of being eclipsed. He concludes that the West is at a dangerous tipping point and provides empirical and theoretical evidence to warrant this conclusion. He also explains why it is not too late to prevent the looming social catastrophe.
Attributing the present crisis to a social process of cheating, he develops a synthesis of the social and natural sciences to show how the market system can be reformed. He introduces the concept of organic finance, which prescribes reforms capable of delivering both sustainable growth, with a more equitable distribution of wealth, and respect for other life forms.
To explain the persistent failure to resolve protracted social and environmental crises, the author introduces a theory of social trauma. Populations have been destabilised by the coercive loss of land to the point where they have lost their traditional reference points. No longer able to live by the laws of nature, they are forced to conform to laws that consolidate the privileges of those who had cheated them of their birthright: access to nature’s resources. Many pathological consequences flow from this tearing of people from their social and ecological habitats. To recover from this state of trauma, the author argues, people need to use the new tools of communication, such as social media, to regain control over their future destiny through a kind of collective psychosocial therapy.
The author challenges the view that the West can climb out of depression by applying the financial measures known as “austerity”. He outlines a new strategy that would restore full employment and reverse the decline in middle class living standards in Europe and North America.
Fred Harrison is Executive Director for the Land Research Trust. He studied economics at Oxford, first at Ruskin College and then at University College, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. His MSc is from the University of London. He cut short a career as an investigative journalist in Fleet Street and embarked on a 10-year sojourn in Russia, following the collapse of communism, acting as an advisor to a number of Russian academic and political bodies, including the Duma (parliament), in order to help the Russian people avoid the economics favoured by rent-seekers.
“This thesis is not only a restatement of the social price of inequality … There is something deeper: humanity has lost touch with its spiritual roots … The result is a chaos of mass poverty, unemployment, and the erosion of values, so that a privileged minority profits from the productivity of [others].”
Dr David Atkinson, Church Times
“[Harrison] cites St Basil the Great and St John Chrysostom as well as Charles Avila and Walter Brueggemann to argue that ‘Money is made out of causing mass poverty. Money is made by abusing the environment. Money is made through the propagation of instability in the economy.’
“[His] analysis of capitalism’s flaws pervades the book, but the chapter on society’s automatic stabiliser begins with the question ‘why, despite more than 200 years of economic data, are economists still unable to offer a coherent explanation for the regularity of disturbing booms and economic busts?’ … The overwhelming strength of this one chapter – indeed, the book – is that the knowledge exists to correct course, but there is a lack of ethical or political capacity to make wise decisions.”
Michael Brett-Crowther, International Journal of Environmental Studies
“Many people are all too aware that there is something badly wrong with our current economic system, but they are less clear about how it got so bad, what an alternative might look like, and how we can make the change. This profound book admirably fills that gap.”
Bernadette Meaden, Ekklesia. – Read full review here.