Labour Research January 2012


23 things they don’t tell you about capitalism

Ha-Joon Chang, Allen Lane, 288 pages, paperback, £9.99

“Economics, as it has been practised in the last three decades, has been positively harmful for most people.”

From this starting point, Ha-Joon Chang, professor in the faculty of politics and economics at Cambridge University, goes on to debunk a raft of myths about the benefits of capitalism. For example, there’s no such thing as a “free” market; globalisation isn’t making the world richer; we don’t live in a digital world — the washing machine has changed lives more than the internet.

Moreover, poor countries are more entrepreneurial than rich ones and higher paid managers don’t produce better results.

This fact-packed book about money, equality, freedom and greed proves that the free market isn’t just bad for people — it’s an inefficient way of running economies too.

Here the author lays out the alternatives, and shows there’s a better way.

 Chang writes that “we should simply ban complex financial instruments, unless they can be unambiguously shown to benefit society in the long run”.

He is aware that he risks sounding extreme, but argues that the ban he proposes would be no different from those that have been enforced on other dangerous products.

“This is what we do all the time with other products — drugs, cars, electrical products and many others.”

Reviews contributed by the Bookmarks socialist bookshop. Order online at