The Prosperity of Vice: A Worried View of Economics

Overview

What happened yesterday in the West is today being repeated on a global scale.

Industrial society is replacing rural society: millions of peasants in China, India, and elsewhere are leaving the countryside and going to the city. New powers are emerging and rivalries are exacerbated as competition increases for control of raw materials. Contrary to what believers in the"clash of civilizations" maintain, the great risk of the twenty-first century is not a confrontation between ...

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The Prosperity of Vice: A Worried View of Economics

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Overview

What happened yesterday in the West is today being repeated on a global scale.

Industrial society is replacing rural society: millions of peasants in China, India, and elsewhere are leaving the countryside and going to the city. New powers are emerging and rivalries are exacerbated as competition increases for control of raw materials. Contrary to what believers in the"clash of civilizations" maintain, the great risk of the twenty-first century is not a confrontation between cultures but a repetition of history. In The Prosperity ofVice, the influential French economist Daniel Cohen shows that violence, rather than peace, has been the historical accompaniment to prosperity. Peace in Europe came only after the barbaric wars of the twentieth century, not as the outcome of economic growth. What will happen this time for today's eagerly Westernizing emerging nations? Cohen guides us through history, describing the European discovery of the "philosopher's stone": the possibility of perpetual growth.

But the consequences of addiction to growth are dire in an era of globalization. If a billionChinese consume a billion cars, the future of the planet is threatened. But, Cohen points out, there is another kind of globalization: the immaterial globalization enabled by the Internet. It is still possible, he argues, that the cyber-world will create a new awareness of global solidarity. It even may help us accomplish a formidable cognitive task, as immense as that realized during theIndustrial Revolution—one that would allow us learn to live within the limits of a solitary planet.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is a fascinating book that deserves a wide readership. I was sorry when it ended - which is a rare state of mind at the end of an economic tract."--Howard
Davies
, Times Higher Education

The MIT Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262017305
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 2/29/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,458,086
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Cohen is Professor of Economics at the École Normale Supérieure and the Université deParis-I. A member of the Council of Economic Analysis of the French Prime Minister, he is the author of The Wealth of the World and the Poverty of Nations, Our Modern Times: The Nature of Capitalism in the Information Age, Globalization and ItsEnemies, and Three Lectures on Post-Industrial Society, all published by the MIT Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xi

1 Why the West?

1 Genesis 3

2 Birth of the Modern World 13

3 Malthus' Law 25

4 Unbound Prometheus 33

5 Perpetual Growth 41

II Prosperity and Depression

6 The Economic Consequences of the War 53

7 The Great Crisis and Its Lessons 63

8 The Golden Age and Its Crisis 75

9 The End of Solidarities 83

10 War and Peace 97

III The Time of Globalization

11 The Return of India and China 109

12 The End of History and the West 131

13 The Ecological Crash 145

14 The Financial Crash 157

15 The Weightless Economy 173

Conclusion 188

Notes 189

Index 111

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